HC Deb 20 June 1951 vol 489 cc534-67

Lords Amendment: In page 1, line 11, leave out "immediately before" and insert: at all times during the period beginning with the twentieth day of November, nineteen hundred and fifty, and ending with".

4.10 p.m.

The Attorney-General (Sir Frank Soskice)

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

This Amendment raises an issue which was very fully discussed when the Bill we are now considering was passing through its earlier stages in this House, and I do not know that I can really add very much to what was then said. I do not think that much of the arguments which were fully examined earlier can be gone over with advantage.

The apprehensions which led the noble Lords in another place to make the change which we are now discussing were that, unless there was some qualifying period of residence, it would, in some circumstances, be possible for an unscrupulous person who really did not want to reside in the premises for his own occupation, to make use of the provisions of the Bill when it became an Act in order to give himself an income.

As I think was pointed out when the Bill was earlier before the House, in some cases that may be possible, but the disadvantage of inserting any qualifying period is that even if it prevented some unscrupulously-minded persons from profiting in a pecuniary sense by the protection given under the Bill, it would also exclude from its protection a great many extremely deserving cases who certainly ought to come within its ambit.

For example, it would exclude from the protection the following kind of case. A person may have bought the tail end of a lease some considerable time ago. He may have bought it with the idea of living in the premises on retirement, or something of that sort, and he may have bought it knowing that there was a tenant in the premises. As I say, he may have bought the lease some considerable time ago, perhaps a year or two or even more ago, and after having secured a promise from the occupying tenant that he would soon vacate the premises so that the purchaser of the lease would be able to move into them.

Owing to the post-war scarcity of accommodation, it would not be unnatural if the tenant asked the purchaser for some indulgence. Even though he bound himself to vacate the premises, he might, nevertheless, ask the purchaser of the lease to give him further time. If the purchaser gave him further time, and, in other words, showed clemency to the tenant, the result might very well be that the purchaser who bona fide wanted to get into the premises as soon as he could in order to retire and live in them would be deprived of the protection given by the Bill for the very reason that he showed clemency to the existing tenant.

The tenant might repeatedly promise to go out and repeatedly secure indulgence from the purchaser of the lease, and, in consequence, the time might come when the Bill had been introduced and when 20th November, 1950, had gone by. The result of that would be, if this qualifying period were inserted, that all perfectly deserving cases of that sort would be excluded from the protection of the Bill. In those circumstances, the choice before the House is this. If we insert a qualifying period, some undeserving persons will be kept out. They will be few in number and there has been no indication that any attempt has been made to make use of the provisions of the Bill for purposes other than those intended under it.

4.15 p.m.

Let it be conceded that there will be some rare cases, but nevertheless some cases. That is an argument in favour of the Amendment, but, against that, there will be a great many deserving persons who will not get the benefit. It is a question of weighing one against the other. This is not a permanent Measure, but simply a standstill Measure, and, that being so, I hope the House will record its disagreement with the Amendment and its agreement with the view taken by the Government that it does not improve the Measure, but weakens it by cutting out a great many people simply and solely because they may then exercise mercy in not turning others out of premises in which they themselves wish to live. It is a question of choice between those two things, and I sincerely hope that the House will decide against this proposed change introduced in another place.

Mr. Manniagham-Buller (Northants, South)

In asking the House to disagree with this Amendment, the right hon. and learned Gentleman has put forward one instance where he contends that some hardship would occur if we agreed to the Amendment. It is true that we have had considerable discussion on this question in the past, and a considerable time has indeed elapsed since the House last had an opportunity of discussing the Bill. But I would remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman that the provision of a qualifying period was, in fact, recommended in the majority report of the Leasehold Committee, and that the period which they recommended was one of three years, a much longer period than that suggested in this Amendment. That, I suggest to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, was in accordance with the main principle advanced in favour of this Measure in the first place.

As I understood it, it was said that this Bill had to be brought in to protect those who had been living for years in houses held under ground leases from the situation which would arise on the termination of those leases in view of the acute housing shortage, for which the party opposite are so largely responsible. That was the main argument put forward, and it was for that reason, and to ensure that the protection went to those people, that the majority of the Leasehold Committee recommended a three-year qualifying period.

We discussed that—I do not think at undue length in view of the importance of this Measure—in Committee of the House on 30th January. The Government resisted that proposal and we were defeated on it. It was on Report in the House that we moved an Amendment providing that this Clause should only apply to those in occupation on 20th November and who are still in occupation. Again, the Government resisted that, and again we were defeated in the Lobbies, but not, in my view, in the argument.

The question having been considered afresh in another place, the noble Lords made the Amendment which we are now discussing and which the Government ask us to reject. I think I have heard all the debates on this question in the House and I have read reports of what took place elsewhere, and I can only say that the arguments so skilfully advanced by the right hon. and learned Gentleman and by others on that side of the House have struck me as very thin and very unconvincing.

I should like to deal with the argument advanced today by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. Obviously, if this Amendment is accepted it will not exclude any of those for whose benefit the Bill was primarily intended at the time of its introduction. I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman recognises that. Even the man who has been in residence for only a week before the publication of the Bill would come within its scope. All the Amendment does is to eliminate those who first take up residence after they have been able to see the contents of the Bill, after they have become aware that if this Bill becomes an Act they will get a further two-year tenancy at a rent which was perhaps a proper rent for the property 99 years ago.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has put forward the case of someone who made an arrangement with a tenant—as an example, someone who has made an arrangement with a tenant to go into occupation towards the end of a lease. In his example it must be an arrangement to enter into occupation and to reside there some time after 20th November.

The Attorney-General

Not an arrangement with somebody to go into occupation towards the end of a lease. It may well be an arrangement with the purchaser to go in himself almost immediately, but he cannot do so and the tenant stays in month after month because there is nowhere the tenant can go. That is simply an example. I could give many others.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I will give an example or two to the right hon. and learned Gentleman of cases which perhaps he has ignored. The case which he put— and I do not think I misunderstood him—was that in which a man goes in after 20th November for what remains of the lease. That is departing from what was the original motive of the Bill, and in departing from it the right hon. and learned Gentleman has asked the House to ignore completely what arrangements may have been made, and in all probability were made, by other people for what should happen when the lease expires.

He has talked of someone making arrangements to go in after 20th November and to reside for the last bit of the lease, but it is very likely that the number of cases where that has been arranged—and I should not have thought there were many—is far exceeded by the number of cases in which people have arranged to take the property to secure residence for themselves—where people, knowing that the lease is running out, have agreed to buy a house so that they might go in. Surely those people who want the house for their own residence are equally deserving of consideration.

What the right hon. and learned Gentleman seeks to do is to exclude all those categories of persons, who are just as anxious to obtain housing accommodation; whereas all we are seeking to do is to make the Bill accord with the object for which it was originally intended—namely, to apply to those who have for a long time been living in these houses and not to give priority—as the rejection of this Amendment will give priority—to the person who obtains the fag end of a lease and resides in the property after 20th November. The right hon. and learned Gentleman will give priority to that person over the person who has arranged to buy his own residence and to reside in the property when the lease has expired. Those people are being driven to the wall.

By their action on this issue the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his party have convinced me that their attitude is due either to obstinacy—to showing the people that they are the masters now—or to the fact that they are unable to refrain from pursuing their vendetta against landlords, just as they have pursued it against other classes of the community, as we have seen in the last few days. The arguments advanced by the right hon. and learned Gentleman in resisting this Amendment are very thin and completely unconvincing. They amount to a complete disregard of the interests of other people who are seeking residential accommodation for themselves.

As I understand it, the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not prepared to consider any qualifying period whatsoever from 20th November onwards to the date when the lease expires. Anyone who, by some means or another—by paying a premium—is able to get himself into residence a moment before the lease expires, is, in the opinion of the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his party, a worthy beneficiary of this Measure.

Sir Patrick Spens (Kensington, South)

I want to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to reconsider this matter. On either the Report stage or in Committee I cited a case which had arisen in my constituency where a tenant of a house on a long building lease, which will come to an end very shortly, bought the lease and became the landlord of the eight or 10 occupiers of the house. He did that two or three years ago as nothing but a speculation. He proceeded not only to put up the rents in every way he could and whenever he got a chance, but when premises became vacant he introduced tenants of a most undesirable class who were ready to pay high rents for those premises. He never came near as a resident until after the Bill was printed and then, as I informed the Committee when the Clause was being discussed, he managed to get possession of one room and from time to time he sleeps there.

The situation is that the sub-tenants as a body desire that he shall cease to be their landlord. The ground landlord is a well-known family estate and is a good landlord; and the sub-tenants want that estate to become their landlord as soon as the lease comes to an end, as it will on the 24th of this month. What has happened? This man goes into residence and, as a result of this Bill, will be put in possession for another two years to go on behaving in the way in which he has been behaving.

Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)

What does the hon. and learned Gentleman suggest to deal with that?

Sir P. Spens

If this Amendment is accepted that lease will come to an end automatically on 24th June and the occupiers will become the tenants of the ground landlord. In other words, they will become the tenants of a good, responsible landlord.

Mr. Hale

But what does the hon. and learned Gentleman suggest?

Sir P. Spens

That this Amendment should be accepted and that this sort of arrangement should be brought to an end once and for all.

Mr. William Elwyn Jones (Conway)

The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the occupiers will become the tenants of the ground landlord. In view of the Knightsbridge case, is he quite certain that that is so?

4.30 p.m.

Sir P. Spens

Yes, certainly. They will become the tenants of the ground landlord. It is true that the ground landlord will be in a position to deal with the tenancies as they come to an end. That is perfectly true; but those thoroughly undesirable tenants under the long lease will be got rid of, and there will be a much more satisfactory situation in that particular house.

I cannot say whether that is a common instance. I know of another in another part of London—another instance of exactly the same thing—where a man bought up a long lease and has been making money out of it during the last two or three years by introducing thoroughly undesirable tenants who are prepared to pay very high rents. In that instance, too, the ground landlord is a responsible, well-known body we all know as a good landlord. In that instance, too, that leaseholder and tenant will be allowed to go on as the immediate landlord of the occupiers for another two years, thanks to the view being taken by the Government upon this qualifying clause.

Mr. L. Hale

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Sir P. Spens

No. I want to deal with the case put up by the learned Attorney-General.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has suggested that the people who will suffer are those who buy these tenancies to try to make these places their homes. He presupposes that the premises are in the occupation of sub-tenants. He presupposes that those people are buying in order to make the places their homes. Those are the people with whom we are dealing. In fact such a person is buying the lease only in the last year or two of the long lease. Obviously, he is not buying that to make it his home.

If he had bought it years and years ago and allowed tenants to go on for a whole series of years with their tenancies then it would be possible to presuppose that he bought it for the purpose of making it his home; but if he allowed them to go on holding right down to the time when the Bill was introduced it is quite impossible to believe that he bought it for the purpose of making it his home. It is quite impossible, I suggest.

I simply cannot follow the learned Attorney-General's argument on that at all. If he bought, and found himself the landlord of, a lease with two years to run, I cannot imagine that he bought it for his home. The man who has done that has done it not to get a home but to be the landlord of the occupiers of places like that, and that person finds that, because he is in the occupation of one room, he will be able to extend his very profitable investment another two years.

That has nothing to do with what the Bill was introduced for. It was introduced for the purpose of protecting people who bought these houses for their homes and who have been in occupying possession of their homes for years and years. We all want to protect those people. All that this Amendment does is simply to say that if one is the owner of a long lease, and one was not in occupation before the Bill was printed, then the fact that one went into occupation after the Bill was published shall mean that one is not entitled to the benefit of the protection of the Bill.

The Government's view means that the only people who are going to get that protection are people who have bought in order to become immediate landlords and to make money out of the premises. The Attorney-General shakes his head. I have done my best to convince him. I am perfectly certain that the qualifying period will do far more good than harm, but the Government are determined about this matter, and I cannot do anything more.

It may have something to do with subtenants. I do not think so, because this Bill does, I think, protect sub-tenants, but I cannot believe that sub-tenants will be better off if this Bill is passed without this Amendment, and I beg the learned Attorney-General to put in a provision of this description to prevent the sort of bad thing I have been describing from continuing any longer.

Mr. Janner (Leicester, North-West)

I think it is advisable for a few minutes to make a somewhat different approach to this matter from that which has been taken so far. This Amendment is an attempt to limit the Bill itself. That attempt was made here and in another place, and it is something we ought very strongly to resist, not only for the reasons that have been given by the learned Attorney-General, but because it strikes at the very root of the Bill. If the Amendment were accepted, it would still further limit what is intended—the protection of leaseholders whose leases are coming to an end.

Let me take the very illustration that was given by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller). He was complaining that people purchase the fag ends of leases so that, in consequence of the Bill, they can get possession of properties when the leases terminate. Is he unaware of the fact that for years people have been purchasing the fag ends of leases—purchasing the ground rents—so that they may turn out the tenants when the leases end? That is what we on this side of the House want to stop. We want to make it perfectly clear that this is only a Measure for the time being, until the introduction of a better Measure which will protect leaseholders.

Let us not make any bones about that. If hon. Members on the opposite side of the House want to stop leasehold reform let them say it now so that the country may see what exactly is the attitude they are taking. We on this side of the House say we want this moratorium, as it were, to give the Government an opportunity of deciding what is the best way of protecting leaseholders who have built the houses, or whose predecessors built the houses, and who, at the end of their leases, look like being turned out, to be charged five, 10, 20, 30 times the amount of rent they have been paying.

Sir P. Spens

And who are not occupying their houses.

Mr. Janner

That is where I differ from the hon. and learned Gentleman. There are hundreds and hundreds of cases, even if the question of occupation only is taken into consideration, of hardship. There are people who have let their places and who cannot get in because there has been delay in the courts. I do not want to pursue that matter.

We want—we on this side, certainly, and, I think, all of us—the leasehold system to be reformed. We want to make it clear that, when this Bill has been passed, we shall consider ways and means whereby this vicious system, which allows people at the end of long leases not to get the benefits of what they have themselves done for improving lands and buildings will be remedied. With that in view I am glad to hear that the Attorney-General is resisting this Amendment. I think that we have already gone much farther than we should have done in conceding things to those who want to destroy the idea of leasehold reform. If the Amendment is pressed to a Division the country will see that we are resisting an attempt to reduce a Measure which is intended to help the people.

Mr. Derek Walker-Smith (Hertford)

I usually listen to the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) with attention, occasionally even verging on admiration, though IS do not as a rule agree with him. But I think the House will agree that he was hardly at his best in the speech which he has just made. It was really a short but rather violent Second Reading speech about the Bill as a whole. The hon. Member sought to say that the fact that we on this side of the House are supporting this Amendment meant that we were against what he is pleased to term leasehold reform. He did not condescend to a definition of what he meant by leasehold reform.

If he meant that we on this side of the House were against the principle of the Bill and were against doing something to meet this situation, then clearly he was entirely wrong. As he well knows, there was no Division against the Second Reading of this Bill either in this House or in the other place. The hon. Member for Oldham—

Mr. L. Hale


Mr. Walker-Smith

—for one of the less fortunate parts of Oldham, dodges in and out of the House at his own sweet will and, as soon as he comes in, from a sedentary position, he starts to direct towards me a barrage of interruptions, as he did towards my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kensingtin, South (Sir P. Spens) and—

Mr. Hale rose

Mr. Walker-Smith

When I get to a semi-colon I shall be happy to give way, but on the last occasion when the hon. Member managed to favour the House with his presence—

Mr. Hale

The hon. Gentleman is rather less than courteous. I think it was the hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd), who was a member of the Committee, who attacked the whole of the proposals, not on the basis of the Report he had signed but on the basis of instructions which he had from the Conservative Central Office. We had, from start to finish, a devastating attack from hon. Members opposite designed to destroy the whole of the proposals of this Bill.

Mr. Walker-Smith

If I had realised that there was to be so little point in the interruption of the hon. Member, I should have hesitated to exercise the usual courtesy of giving way. My hon. and learned Friend is able to look after himself, and the House will recall the admirable constructive speech which he made on the Second Reading of the Bill.

All we are concerned with, in spite of the fire of the two hon. Members opposite, which is in inverse proportion to the light which they shed on these problems, is the one issue of whether or not there should be a residential qualification before people can get the very substantial benefit that the Bill confers. The matter was put quite temperately, as one would expect, by the Attorney-General, and it was temperately put in another place. It was there described as a balance of convenience. I think that one noble Lord, perhaps rather less precise in his use of language, called it a balance of equity. The Lord Chancellor admitted that it might well be that he was wrong in the view he had formed. Hon. Members opposite may think that that shows an unfashionable broad-mindedness and fairness of approach. But that is the sort of way in which we have dealt with the Bill—not in these violent terms but as a balance of convenience.

I accept that position but I believe that, when weighing that balance, it comes down clearly in favour of imposing a residential qualification. If that is not done two undesirable results ensue. First, there is the case of the person who takes the assignment of the lease after publication of the Bill to get the advantages of the two-year extension at an uneconomic rent. Secondly, there is the position of the man who is paying what is an uneconomic rent for what he is getting. I am glad to note that there appears to be one provision in the Bill which hon. Members opposite understand and agree with. A lessee who has a sub-tenant in occupation may himself seek to get possession, for precisely the same reason. Both of these cases were canvassed in another place.

4.45 p.m.

In both cases undesirable results follow, because there would be somebody getting the one-way benefit of this Clause who does not, in my view, deserve it. Secondly, it leads to interruptions of occupancy at a time when that is undesirable. In the unlovely jargon of the day, it favours what is called the fag-end speculator. I did not speak on the Second Reading of the Bill and so, perhaps out of an abundance of caution, though I have declared it before, I should say that in addition to the interest that we all share in these matters, I am a director of a public company which owns a substantial amount of property both residential and otherwise.

As a matter of fact, my company is not at all interested in the first part of this Bill and very slightly interested in the second. But I make that declaration out of caution. It enables me to say that, having that special interest in these matters, I consider that the curse of the property world is the property speculator. I am glad to see that one hon. Member opposite nods his head. A short time ago—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

The hon. Member appears to be going into a much wider question than that covered by the Lords Amendment.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I want to understand your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I have only made one observation following a formal declaration of interest which, as I did not speak on the Second Reading of the Bill, I thought it appropriate to do. Am I to apprehend that you think it inappropriate that I should have made that declaration, or is it that you do not wish me to proceed with my argument?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

It was quite proper for the hon. Gentleman to make that declaration, but I understood that he was about to make some animadversions on some class of property owner or speculator which appeared to be somewhat far from the subject we are discussing.

Mr. Walker-Smith

Constantly, both this afternoon and during the Second Reading of this Bill, reference has been made to what I call this unlovely jargon—the fag-end speculator. All I was concerned to say—and in my respectful submission it must be in order—was that speculators are the curse of the property world. As this Clause encourages the speculator it is desirable that it should be amended in the way suggested. If I am right in thinking that that is in order, having made the point and having, to some extent, won the assent of the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West, I leave it and come to what I might call the other side of the balance sheet, that is, the deserving people who might conceivably be prejudiced if the Amendment was inserted.

The Attorney-General has spoken of the tardy person who gets possession—a deferred possession from his sub-tenant. I think that point was effectively dealt with by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kensington, South, who pointed out that such a person getting possession at this stage could not have very serious intentions in regard to permanent residential occupancy. Further, I submit that one of the considerations put forward from this side of the House on the Second Reading of the Bill was the disadvantage to which people were exposed who had been counting, on the expiry of the lease, on regaining possession for purposes of their own occupancy.

Mr. Janner

Were not all those people aware that for years a committee was sitting to inquire into the question of lease-holds? Did not they have a shrewd idea that the system was vicious and ought to be altered?

Mr. Walker-Smith

So far as this system is concerned, there is an infinite variety of cases to be judged on their own facts. There has been a committee on rating of site values, sitting for years, but no one expects anything to emerge from it.

To return to the point that I was making, may I say that hon. Members on this side of the House did point to that position in its much wider context on the Second Reading of the Bill? Hon. Members who were speaking from the other side of the House brushed that consideration aside in its wider context, but now praise it in this much narrower content as the sole ground for opposing this Amendment.

There was another class of case referred to in another place which I do not think the right hon. Gentleman dealt with, namely, the case of the previous occupying lessee who has sub-let at the material time. An instance was given of the person who may have gone to the Argentine or to Paris because he did not like the climate here. It was put forward that those were the people who might lose the benefit of the Bill by not being in residence on the material date.

Mr. L. Hale indicated dissent.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I do wish that the hon. Member for Oldham, West, would not shake his head.

Mr. Hale

The hon. Gentleman would not let me intervene.

Mr. Walker-Smith

I did, and the hon. Gentleman's intervention was entirely irrelevant.

That was the best instance that the united wisdom of the hon. Gentleman's party in another place could give. They instanced the case of the person who sub-let at the material time to go to the Argentine or to Paris because he did not like the rigours of the climate here. On that point I say that the one-way benefits of this Clause should go to those who deserve them most and those who are in need of accommodation. I seriously submit to the House that people who are in such desperate need of accommodation that they need the one-way benefits of the Clause, are not the sort of people who would be globe trotting, even if their visits to the Argentine or to Paris were of an official nature, as I believe was suggested in that debate.

For all these reasons and for one other, it seems to me that this case is abundantly made out. The other consideration is, of course, that the Leasehold Committee, as a result of their deliberations, or, at any rate, the majority of them, in paragraph 108 of their report, did prescribe a residential qualification for this purpose, and, in my view, the House would be wise to adhere to that view, taken as a result of long deliberations, rather than to take the view of hon. Members opposite which has been put forward with more fire than enlightenment.

Mr. L. Hale

The hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) repeatedly refused to give way when a Member of this House who has been considering this matter for several years desired to give certain facts. I appreciate that in the speech we have just heard facts would have been irrelevant and inappropriate. Had I managed to insert certain facts, they would have destroyed the value of the hon. Gentleman's speech.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

May I interrupt the hon. Gentleman to say that I did not interrupt him?

Mr. Hale

I was referring to the hon. Gentleman opposite who refused to give way.

Sir P. Spens

Will the hon. Gentleman give way to me?

Mr. Hale

No, I will not. I tried to interrupt to give certain facts, which I consider are relevant, for the consideration of the House. The hon. Gentleman opposite refused to accept facts and to give way, and I now rise to give them.

Sir P. Spens

On a point of order. I very rarely rise on a point of order, but when the hon. Gentleman says that I refused to give way and that is not correct I am entitled to point out that I did give way once. He tried to make me give way a second time, but then I did not. I did give way once to his interruptions.

Mr. Hale

I do not know what is the relevance of that intervention. There are certain facts. We are not today discussing people who live in the Argentine or France. We are discussing people who are wandering about the streets of London looking for houses and who have not a roof over their heads, and the problems of everyday life that confront every Member of this House.

I ask the hon. Member for Hertford if he is living in a rarified atmosphere and does not know that people are living in overcrowded conditions and trying to find houses. Is he suggesting that this is an academic problem of whether some one who is going abroad wants to arrange accommodation for some one else, or a serious problem of people who need houses?

Mr. Walker-Smith

As the hon. Gentleman appears to be putting a question to me at some length, may I answer as briefly as I can? The illustration about Paris and the Argentine was, of course, not mine.

Mr. Hale

Yes, it was.

Mr. Walker-Smith

The hon. Gentleman says that it was mine. It was not; it was, of course, the Lord Chancellor's, as the hon. Gentleman will speedily discover if he rather tardily reads the proceedings on this Amendment in another place. He asked me what has come to my notice in regard to this matter. I will answer by saying that in regard to this particular Bill I have had, so far as my recollection goes, only two written communications from my 66,000 electors, and I have not had any representations on the Bill.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I hope that hon. Members will confine themselves to the particular Amendment we are discussing and not to wider issues.

Mr. Hale

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, because he has confessed that he has not even sought to consult his constituents on this problem. He has sat back and written a couple of letters. He has probably had ten or dozen letters on speedways in which the public are not greatly interested. We who try to live with the people who suffer know that day after day fantastic problems arise concerning men, women and children who are seeking a roof. The whole object of this Clause, which is not very important or constructive, was merely to say that in leasehold property that protection should be given. I tried to interrupt the hon. Gentleman several times, but he refused to give way.

We have listened during the course of the debate to speeches from hon. Members opposite which have been completely destructive. They wish to destroy the Bill. The House of Lords wish to destroy this Bill. The whole object of this Amendment has been to completely frustrate the Bill. I think that we are entitled to say that the whole object of the Amendment in another place has been to destroy and frustrate this Bill, and we are here to battle with that desire to frustrate it.

The Amendments as they are tabled make the Bill negative. We are discussing at the moment the first Amendment, and I will confine my observations to it. Anyone in this House who has listened to this debate cannot fail to realise that what we have heard from the opposite benches are all arguments on behalf of the absentee landlord and the other financial interests concerned with house property, while, on the other hand, we on these benches have been concerned with the tenant whose home, life, tenure of property and the very future of his family are at stake. That is the fundamental battle.

5.0 p.m.

There have been fantastic illustrations from hon. Members opposite. In the law we have two curious phrases, one suppresio veri and the other suggestio falsi. Both these phrases probably represent the arguments of the Opposition. They cannot be translated here because of our Parliamentary language, but they mean playing down the truth and something that is false. That is what hon. Members opposite have been doing during the whole course of this debate. It has been a case of suppression of the truth, suppression of the suffering, agony, dismalness and frustration of the man who finds himself forced out of his home. Of course, the suggestio falsi is talking about the Argentine, people going abroad and so on—

Mr. Walker-Smith

On a point of order. Is it in order for the hon. Member to reflect on a noble Lord in another place in this way?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I did not gather that the hon. Member's remarks were a reflection on a noble Lord, but in any event references to noble Lords in another place are out of order.

Mr. Hale

I have not made a reference to any noble Lord in another place for this reason, that I have not even read the speeches there. What I am suggesting is that you said something which was not true, and that the whole of your speech was not facing the situation but was suppressing the truth.

Mr. Walker-Smith

On a point of order. Much may be forgiven to an overwrought Member who has not shone in this debate, but I must seek your protection, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and ask whether that remark is not grossly out of order and a grave abuse of the traditions of the House.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member strictly was referring to the Chair in what he said. I hope and feel that he did not intend any reflection on the Chair.

Mr. Hale

I did not quite clearly hear what you said, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but I bow to the Ruling which you made. All I suggested was that the speech of the hon. Member was devoid of fact and was based only on oratory. In my view it was not very good oratory at that. I may be wrong on the second, but I am right on the first. That is all I wish to say on this point. I think the whole attack on this Bill from the benches opposite and from another place—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member must relate his remarks to the Amendment on the Order Paper, which really deals with the precise point of the occupation of a tenant or a member of his family and the date thereof.

Mr. Hale

I realise that my remarks must be limited to the Amendment before the House. The view of another place is really antagonistic to reform and opposed to the provision of the security of the people who are suffering and are displaced. Therefore, I hope we shall resist this Amendment and every other Amendment in the course of the afternoon.

Mr. Henry Brooke (Hampstead)

Whether the speeches from this side of the House have been destructive or constructive, the speech to which we have just listened has been entirely irrelevant to the Amendment under discussion. Not being a lawyer myself, I feel incredibly audacious in taking part in this debate at all, but perhaps a few words from a non-lawyer may encourage the small scattering of non-lawyers whom I see in the House at the moment.

At an early stage of the Bill I said that this Clause as drafted by the Government seems to give assistance to people who have no claim whatever to that type of assistance."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st January, 1951; Vol. 483, c. 916.] The Amendment that has been passed in another place is designed to exclude one section of those people, who have no right to assistance, from the Bill. That is why I hope that we shall agree with the Lords in their Amendment, because I see no need whatever why Parliament should go out of its way to help the speculator or the person who is not suffering hardship and has no special claim to any assistance.

I have criticised this Bill, not because I do not realise the existence of a potential evil which must be remedied, but because I think this is a bad instrument for remedying it. We on this side of the House are endeavouring to turn it into a better instrument. The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Leslie Hale), has spoken of people tramping the streets looking for a home. I know it. I have thousands of people in my constituency on the waiting lists. Hampstead consists largely of leasehold property. No single deserving case where this Bill will prevent hardship has in fact come to my notice.

What I want to point out to the hon. Member is that it is not the deserving people who are tramping the streets who will be assisted, if this House disagrees with the Lords Amendment. The people whom this Amendment is designed to exclude from the advantages of the Bill are people who have a home already, who are people of some substance, in that they are non-occupying lessees. Unless this Amendment is inserted in the Bill, an opportunity will be offered to them somehow to get into occupation just before the date of expiry, and then enjoy the privileges which the House in general intended for those who were long-term occupiers.

We on this side believe that there is a considerable number of not very desirable people who may seize on this loophole and enjoy the Bill's advantages. The learned Attorney-General has told us that there are a great many people, who, if this Amendment is agreed to, will be excluded from advantages which they ought to possess. He instanced the retired man who has bought the end of a lease and has been kindly allowing the existing occupier to remain in occupation until such time as he could find another place to go and live. This man who was retired must have had a very short expectation of life, in his own view, if he took the trouble to buy a property with only two or three years' lease unexpired to retire to, and I cannot accept that this represents a substantial category of people who are going to suffer if this Amendment is not agreed to.

It is a matter of balance, I agree, for we have to make up our minds as to where the greater amount of advantage or disadvantage lies, but I take unkindly the allegation that has been made from the other side of the House this afternoon that we on this side are not addressing ourselves to the practical problem and are not trying to fashion this Bill to be the most effective instrument of justice. I therefore hope that the House will be convinced by the same arguments which convinced another place that the Clause, as it left this House, was unsatisfactory, and that we must reduce the opening here for people to gain benefits whom we did not really desire to enjoy the advantages of the Bill.

Mr. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)

This is a very short but very important point. It is a topic which should receive dispassionate examination. I am sorry that we have had a copious exchange of dubious compliments across the Floor of the House, which neither does credit to the House nor illuminates the point that we are investigating. I listened with great pleasure—as we always do—to the eloquent speech of the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith). He has the exceptional gift of being able to make a solid speech on the smallest point that arises. [An HON. MEMBER: "Is that a dubious compliment?"] I personally forgive him because he usually introduces a good deal of interesting— although also a certain amount of irrelevant—material.

The point, as I see it, is whether we are to have a qualifying period or not. That seems a simple point. In other words, it is whether the conditions imposed by Clause I that the provision is to apply to a tenancy which expires within two years of the beginning of this Bill when it becomes an Act, or whether the period to apply is to be qualified in the terms of the Amendment and is to be fixed as from the 20th November, 1950. That seems to be the question. Is it to apply to all leases on expiry or is there to be that qualifying period, as from the 20th November, 1950, and to relate back to that date?

I am not prepared to say that there is no ground for support to be given to the Amendment, in the sense that it is possible that this legislation may be used—I say "may," and I emphasise that—by people who want to speculate and operate in fag-end leases, but one has also to look at the other side of the scales. It is not the end of the matter merely because there happens to be the rare chance of someone speculating in these expiring leases. If we accept the principle that there is to be this extension to all the leases which it is proposed that this legislation should embrace, I do not think it is possible, without doing some injustice and probably greater injustice than would be avoided, to limit the period as suggested by the Amendment.

The principle, as I understand it, is that long leases should have a certain amount of time added to them so that the Government can give consideration to the necessity of bringing in some legislation to deal with them. If that is so, why we should now seek to refine that position by making the date 20th November, 1950, rather than the date which is included in the provision in Clause 1 of the Bill, is very difficult to say. The ground, and the only ground, that has been put forward, certainly with some force, by the hon. and learned Member for Kensington, South (Sir P. Spens), is this question of speculation in fag-end leases.

Is there any real danger of that? The argument that was put forward gave no illustration that this speculation was likely to take place. No sufficient evidence was given that was worthy of acceptance.

5.15 p.m.

Sir P. Spens

Does the hon. and learned Member realise that the illustration I gave is actual fact? It is the case of a man who bought up about 18 leases of the fag-end character. He has never occupied the premises himself and has made as much rent out of the occupiers as he could. Now he goes in and occasionally occupies a room so as to qualify for the extra two years' extension.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

That is one case, but one must have regard to the scarcity of accommodation and it is putting the case much too high to think that there can be any likelihood of property being available for speculation of that kind. If we were living in normal times—when there would not be this scarcity—and we saw a danger of any general speculation of that kind there might be something to be said for the Amendment. The present circumstances of scarcity of property and of accommodation are such that there is no serious danger of this speculation substantially taking place at all.

There are, too, cases on the other side of the line. It is a matter of balance of convenience. Suppose that a man has sublet his property for a short time and has gone abroad, as may well happen today. The crucial date, 20th November, 1950, might prevent him from taking advantage of the provisions of the Bill which is intended to protect him. No doubt if there were a serious risk of speculation in fag-end leases the Amendment would, as I have said, cut it out. I can see that, but it would also disqualify people who ought to come within the provisions of the Bill and be protected by them. But the apprehended danger of speculation in fag-end leases is not really likely to arise at all events to any serious extent, because of the scarcity of property and accommodation. Having regard to those circumstances the Amendment ought not to be accepted.

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

I was much struck by the extraordinary slenderness of the grounds which the Attorney-General offered to the House for disagreeing with the Amendment. He told us there were a great many deserving people who might be excluded from the protection of the Bill by the Amendment, but he gave only one particular instance. It is, therefore, reasonable that we should examine that instance.

It was, as I understand it, that before the publication of the Bill a person had purchased a lease with the intention of going into occupation of the premises himself at some date between the date of publication and the commencement of the Act. In fact, on the date of publication, a sub-tenant or the previous tenant was still in occupation. That, I take it, is the particular case. It was argued that the purchaser who had intended to go into occupation before the commencement of the operation of the Act would be excluded from the benefit which he might otherwise have enjoyed.

I submit that that will be the case even if we do not amend the Bill, because the person who is in occupation of the premises at any time between the publication of the Bill and the commencement of operation of the Act has only to remain there. No effort of the superior tenant or the landlord can, as the Bill stands, get him out of possession, and he will be the person who will enjoy the protection. I do not believe that the one case given by the Attorney-General is valid.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) mentioned, another class of case was referred to in another place. That was that the tenant might happen to have been absent, for example in the Argentine, at the date of the publication of the Bill. But there are further Amendments which substitute the term "residing" for the term "living" in the Clause and I suppose that a person who is temporarily absent from leasehold premises by reason of absence abroad would still be found to be resident for the purposes of the Clause.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

If a person in a case like that had sub-let the premises for three or six months, what would then be the position?

Mr. Powell

I should be of the opinion that even then he could claim to have been resident at that date—he would certainly be resident at that date for many purposes—and could show that he had been resident continuously from the date of publication to the date of commencement of the Act.

On the other hand, the cases which are clearly excluded by the Amendment are cases of two classes which I should have thought it would have been the desire of both sides of the House to exclude. The first class is where a lease has been purchased after the publication of the Bill. Where a person purchases a lease after the publication of the Bill, he does so with his eyes open to the effect of the Bill and there is no reason why the protection should be extended to him. The other case is that which has frequently been mentioned, where a sub-tenant is got out of possession by some means or other so that the head tenant may be in residence on the appointed day.

In that case the sub-tenant has clearly been got out not for the purposes of providing a dwelling place for the tenant but simply for the purpose of getting the advantages of the Bill either by way of mesne profits on sub-lettings or by way of an extra two years' occupation under the low ground lease. The Amendment will thus not exclude any deserving type of case, but will exclude two categories which ought not to receive protection.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)

I am certain that it will be the view of the House that we should come to a conclusion on this matter with reasonable rapidity. I frankly confess that I have no great enthusiasm for discussing these matters, because I was appointed a member of the Leasehold Committee in March, 1948, and we seem to have spent a great deal of the past three years in discussing this subject. However, this appears to be almost the final stage of the Bill in this House.

The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. L. Hale), made a reference to me. He also said something about suggestio falsi and suppresio veri. He is not at the moment present to hear my reply. I considered that he made a cheap and offensive remark in which he implied that in my Second Reading speech I spoke not according to what I believed but in accordance with instructions that I had received from the Conservative Central Office. That is a cheap and rather offensive remark to bandy across the Floor of the House. I adhere in every particular to the views I expressed in my Second Reading speech, which are the views I had formed for myself after cosiderable study of the problem.

The hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner), said that the Measure was the prelude to a better Bill. I agree that any other Bill would be better, for it is hard to conceive a worse Bill than this. The hon. Member talked of the Amendment as being a wrecking Amendment, as did the hon. Member for Oldham, West. That is completely untrue. Our attitude to this matter has been made clear again and again. We have great sympathy with tenants who have for many years been the holders of long leases which are now falling in.

The Leasehold Committee put forward a constructive method of dealing with that situation. It was a unanimous recommendation and it was submitted to the Government in November, 1948, but the Government took no action on it. It does not lie in the mouth of any hon. Member supporting the Government to say that we did not desire to do anything to protect these people who, we agree, are put in a bad position on the termination of their leases.

If we had had our way, these people would have had the protection of the Rent Restriction Acts which would have given them security of tenure on very reasonable terms. I would repeat that it was in November, 1948, that that unanimous recommendation was put to the Government and that the Government have taken no action whatever upon it. It was because of that that I have described the Government's attitude as one of cowardly evasion of the problem. I got a good deal of support for that from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels). He does not altogether share my views on this matter, but he agreed that this was cowardly evasion by the Government.

Mr. Turner-Samuels

I did not agree that it was cowardly evasion. What I said was that it was a very unsatisfactory Bill.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I did not mean to imply that the hon. and learned Gentleman had used the phrase "cowardly evasion." He was very much ruder about the Bill than that.

Having dealt with the general attitude, I now come back to the merits of the Amendment. As to the suggestion that it is a wrecking Amendment, the Government's contention in another place was that, if there was to be a qualifying period, this was the right qualifying period to have. It was also the Government's contention in another place that there was great substance in the arguments for the qualifying period but that on the whole it was considered that the balance of convenience came down against the qualifying period. That is a very different attitude from the suggestion that it is a wrecking Amendment. The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester also put the matter in a very much more reasonable way when he endorsed what I have just put forward as the Government's attitude in another place.

Let us consider upon what side of the scales the balance of convenience lies, and let us do so without any ill-temper and remarks about "wrecking Amendments." That brings me to what the Attorney-General said. I do not know whether it is a product of his arduous efforts on the Finance Bill, but he was guilty of forensic effrontery in the illustration which he put forward. He said that the Amendment should be rejected because it would prevent the advantage of the Act being given to a person who had bought the fag-end of a lease and had allowed a tenant to remain in occupation for a week or two after the qualifying date for reasons of clemency, and so on.

If the Government's case is supported on those grounds, what about the case of a man who has bought a reversion intending to go into occupation? Has not he just as much right as had the man in the case which the Attorney-General put forward? If someone bought a reversion in order to occupy premises, why should he not be entitled to get possession as against someone who bought the fag-end of a lease?

5.30 p.m.

We are not contending that such a person should get possession, as against someone who had been in possession of a lease for 10, 20 or 30 years. That is quite a different proposition. We are

contending that if after the publication of the Bill a person bought the fag-end of a lease in order to take advantage of its provisions, he is not entitled to preferential treatment as compared with the reversioner who bought the right to possession of the premises before the passing of the Bill.

I do not understand the intellectual argument for the case of the Government. I thought that the whole idea of the Bill was to protect people on the termination of long leases, people who had been in possession for many years or at least a substantial period of time. But what intellectual argument is there for giving the protection to people who buy the last six or three months of a lease, well knowing that at the end of that time their occupation of the premises would normally come to an end? If they come along and enter into such a bargain deliberately to get an extension on the cheap, I should have thought they were entitled to no sympathy.

Had there been a provision in the Bill for discretion, had there been some court which could have dealt with the matter on the ground of greater hardship—I am not saying I advocate that course—which would hold the balance of hardship as between the reversioner and the person who purchases the fag-end, that would be different. But there is no such loophole, and, therefore, the balance of convenience, so far as the view of my hon. Friends and myself is concerned, comes down on the side of the imposition of this qualifying period. I would remind the Committee once again that it is a much shorter qualifying period than was the one put forward by eight out of 10 members of the Leasehold Committee. In view of what I have said, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I hope that my hon. Friends will divide against the Government on this matter.

Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 262; Noes, 219.

Division No. 147.] AYES [5.32 p.m.
Adams, Richard Baird, J. Bing, G. H. C.
Albu, A. H. Balfour, A. Blenkinsop, A.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J. Blyton, W. R.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven) Bartley, P. Boardman, H.
Awbery, S. S. Benn, Wedgwood Booth, A.
Bacon, Miss Alice Benson, G. Bottomley, A. G
Ayles, W. H. Beswick, F. Bowden, H. W.
Bowles, F G. (Nuneaton) Hobson, C. R Pearson, A.
Braddock, Mrs Elizabeth Holman, P. Peart, T. F.
Brook, Dryden (Halifax) Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth) Popplewell, E.
Brooks, T. J. (Normanton) Houghton, D. Porter, G.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hoy, J. Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Brown, George (Belper) Hudson, James (Ealing, N.) Pryde, D. J.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Pursey, Cmdr. H
Burke, W. A. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Rankin, J.
Burton, Miss E. Hynd, H (Accrington) Rees, Mrs. D
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.) Hynd, J. B (Attercliffe) Reeves, J.
Callaghan, L. J. Irvine, A. J (Edge Hill) Reid, William (Camlachie)
Carmichael, J. Irving, W. J. (Wood Green) Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Champion, A. J. Janner, B Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Chetwynd, G. R. Jay, D. P. T Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)
Clunie, J. Jeger, George (Goole) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N)
Cocks, F. S. Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Coldrick, W. Jenkins, R. H. Ross, William (Kilmarnock)
Collick, P. Johnson, James (Rugby) Royle, C.
Collindridge, F. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Shackleton, E. A. A.
Cook, T. F. Jones, David (Hartlepool) Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
Cooper, John (Deptford) Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Shurmer, P. L. E.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda (Peckham. Jones, William Elwyn (Conway) Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Cove, W. G. Keenan, W. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Kenyon, C. Simmons, C. J.
Crosland, C. A. R. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W Slater, J.
Crossman, R. H. S. King, Dr. H. M Snow, J. W
Daines, P. Kinghorn, Sqn. Ldr E Sorensen, R W.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Kinley, J. Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir Frank
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Kirkwood, Rt. Hon D Sparks, J. A
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Lang, Gordon Steele, T.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Stross, Dr. Barnett
Deer, G. Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith
Delargy, H. J Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Sylvester, G. O.
Diamond, J. Lindgren, G. S. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Donnelly, D. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Taylor, Robert (Morpeth)
Driberg, T. E. N. Logan, D. G. Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich) Longden, Fred (Small Heath) Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Dye, S. McAllister, G. Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. MacColl, J. E Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Edelman, M. McGhee, H. G. Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) McGovern, J. Thurtle, Ernest
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) McInnes, J. Timmons, J
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Mack, J. D. Tomney, F.
Ewart, R. McKay, John (Wallsend) Turner-Samuels, M.
Fernyhough, E McLeavy, F. Ungoed-Thomas, A L
Field, Capt. W J MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Vernon, W. F
Finch, H. J. Mainwaring, W. H. Viant, S. P
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Wade, D. W.
Follick, M. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Fool, M. M. Mann, Mrs. Jean Wallace, H. W.
Forman, J. C. Manuel, A. C. Watkins, T. E.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)
Freeman, John (Watford) Mathers, Rt. Hon. G. Weitzman, D.
Freeman, Peter (Newport) Mellish, R. J. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Ganley, Mrs. C. S. Messer, F. West, D G.
George, Lady Megan Lloyd Middleton, Mrs. L. Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John (Edinb'gh, E.)
Gibson, C. W Mikardo, Ian White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Gilzean, A. Mitchison, G R White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Gooch, E. G. Moeran, E. W. Whiteley, Rt. Hon W
Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Monslow, W. Wigg, G
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield) Moody, A. S. Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Grenfell, D. R. Morgan, Dr. H B. Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Grey, C. F. Morley, R Williams, David (Neath)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Morrison, Rt Hon H (Lewisham, S.) Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Mort, D. L Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Griffiths, William (Exchange) Moyle, A. Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'lly)
Grimond, J. Mulley, F. W. Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Gunter, R. J. Murray, J. D. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)
Hale, Joseph (Rochdale) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J. Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Oldfield, W. H. Wise, F. J.
Hall, John (Gateshead, W.) Oliver, G. H. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Orbach, M. Woods, Rev. G. S.
Hamilton, W. W. Padley, W. E. Wyatt, W. L
Hargreaves, A. Paget, R T. Yates, V. F.
Hastings, S. Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Dearne V lly) Younger, Hon. K.
Hayman, F. H. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Henderson, Rt. Hon Arthur (Tipton) Pannell, T. C. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Herbison, Miss M. Pargiter, G. A Mr. Wilkins and Mr. Hannan.
Hewitson, Capt. M Paton, J.
Aitken, W. T. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.) Nugent, G. R. H
Alport, C. J. M. Harvie-Watt, Sir G. S. Oakshott, H. D
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Hay, John Odey, G. W.
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton) Head, Brig. A. H. Ormsby-Gore, Hon W. D
Arbuthnot, John Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C. Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Heald, Lionel Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Heath, Edward Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)
Astor, Hon. M. L. Hicks-Beach, Maj. W W Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Baker, P. A. D. Higgs, J. M. C. Perkins, W. R. D.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton) Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
Baldwin, A. E. Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Pickthorn, K.
Banks, Col. C. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Pitman, I. J.
Bell, R. M. Hirst, Geoffrey Powell, J. Enoch
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston) Hollis, M. C. Price, Henry (Lewisham W.)
Bennett, William (Woodside) Hornsby-Smith, Miss P. Prior-Palmer, Brig, O.
Bevins, J. R. (Liverpool, Toxteth) Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence Raikes, H. V.
Birch, Nigel Howard, Greville (St. Ives) Redmayne, M.
Bishop, F. P. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Remnant, Hon. P.
Black, C. W. Hudson, Rt. Hon. Robert (Southport) Renton, D. L. M.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Roberts, Major Peter (Heeley)
Bossom, A. C. Hurd, A. R. Robertson, Sir David (Caithness)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Boyle, Sir Edward Hutchison, Col. James (Glasgow) Roper, Sir Harold
Bracken, Rt. Hon. B Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M. Ropner, Col. L.
Braine, B. R. Jeffreys, General Sir George Russell, R. S.
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.) Jennings, R. Ryder, Capt. R. E. D
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Savory, Prof. D. L
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead) Jones, A. (Hall Green) Scott, Donald
Browne, Jack (Govan) Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Kaberry, D. Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)
Burden, Squadron Leader F. A Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge) Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Lambert, Hon. G. Soames, Capt. C.
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Lancaster, Col. C. G. Spearman, A. C. M.
Carson, Hon. E. Law, Rt. Hon. R. K. Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)
Channon, H. Leather, E. H. C. Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard (N. Fylde)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A H. Stevens, G. P
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead) Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.) Linstead, H. N. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Colegate, A. Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (King's Norton) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M
Cornell, Lt.-Col. Uvedale (Ludlow) Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.) Storey, S.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Cranborne, Viscount Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.) Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Low, A. R. W. Summers, G. S
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Lucas, P. B. (Brentford) Sutcliffe, H.
Crowder, Capt. John (Finchley) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Cuthbert, W. N. Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.) McAdden, S. J. Teevan, T. L.
Davidson, Viscountess McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Thompson, Kenneth Pugh (Walton)
de Chair, Somerset Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight) Thompson, R. H. M. (Croydon, W)
De la Bère, R. Mackeson, Brig, H. R. Thorneycroft, Peter (Monmouth)
Digby, S. Wingfield McKibbin, A. Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C N
Donner, P. W. McKie, J. H. (Galloway) Thorp, Brig. R. A. F
Drayson, G. B. Maclay, Hon. John Touche, G. C.
Drewe, C. Maclean, Fitzroy Turner, H F L
Dugdale, Maj. Sir Thomas (Richmond) MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.) Turton, R. H.
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Tweedsmuir, Lady
Dunglass, Lord Macmillan, Rt. Hon Harold (Bromley) Vane, W. M. F
Duthie, W. S. Macpherson, Major Niall (Dumfries) Vaughan-Morgan, J. K
Eccles, D. M. Maitland, Comdr. J. W. Vosper, D. F.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Manningham-Buller, R. E. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Fisher, Nigel Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin) Walker-Smith, D. C.
Fletcher, Walter (Bury) Marshall, Sidney (Sutton) Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Fort, R. Maude, Angus (Ealing, S.) Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Maude, John (Exeter) Wheatley, Maj. M. J. (Poole)
Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Maudling, R. White, Baker (Canterbury)
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D (Pollok) Mellor, Sir John Williams, Charles (Torquay)
Gammans, L. D. Molson, A. H. E. Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Gates, Maj. E. E. Monckton, Sir Walter Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Glyn, Sir Ralph Morrison, John (Salisbury) Wills, G
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Gridley, Sir Arnold Mott-Radclyffe, C E. Wood, Hon R
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Nabarro, G. York, C
Grimston, Robert (Westbury) Nicholson, G.
Hart, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Noble, Comdr. A. H. P TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Studholme and Major Conant.

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 1, line 12, leave out "is" and insert "has been."

The Attorney-General

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

This is consequential on the last Amendment. As that Amendment was negatived, I take it that this one will fall.

Lords Amendment: In page 1, line 12, leave out "living" and insert "residing."

The Attorney-General

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

This is one of a long series of Amendments whereby the word "residing" is substituted for the word "living." When the matter was before the House of Commons in Committee, the Government resisted this substitution, and we still do not think that it makes any difference, but in another place it was strongly urged that the substitution should be made. As we intimated before, we have no very strong view about it, and therefore I suggest that the House should agree with the Amendment. Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the House if I indicate that the reasons for which I urge the House to accept the Amendment apply equally in the long series of similar Amendments which are to follow.

5.45 p.m.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

I should like to make a few observations about the Amendment and the subsequent similar Amendments. When the Bill was before the House, on more than one occasion we suggested that the wording of the Bill would be improved by the use of the word "residing," which is in more regular use, I think, in statutes. Every time that that suggestion was, put forward, it was strenuously resisted by the right hon. and learned Gentleman and a great deal of time was taken up in that resistance. Now, I am glad to say the Government have accepted this suggestion. I only point out in welcoming their acceptance of it that a great deal of time would have been saved had they accepted this reasonable suggestion from the Opposition when it was first put forward.

Lords Amendment: In page 1, line 12, after "in" insert "a dwelling-house comprised in."

The Attorney-General

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

I can make similar observations with regard to this Amendment as I did with regard to the last Amendment. This kind of change occurs over and over again, and the reasons which, I suggest, should move the House to accept it apply in all cases. In our view, the change effected by the addition of the words "a dwelling-house comprised in" is very small. This alteration also was suggested during the Committee stage, and we expressed our preference for the wording as it stood before, but we did not express a strong view and we do not think that the change makes any substantial difference. Therefore, as it was persisted in in another place and hon. Members opposite still hold the view which they previously expressed that the Amendment improves the Bill, we do not desire to continue our opposition to it. Accordingly, I suggest that the House should adopt the Amendment.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

We put forward the proposal during the Committee stage that this new phrase should be used. Again, it was resisted by the then Attorney-General. We raised the matter again on Report stage. It was then again objected to. The right hon. and learned Gentleman now says that the Government did not have a strong view about it. It seems to me a pity that so much time should have been taken up in discussing something about which they did not have a strong view and which they are now prepared to accept.

I welcome the Government's conversion to supporting an Amendment put forward with a view to improving the drafting and operation of this part of the Bill. I am glad that this has now happened, but again I point out that a great deal of time would have been saved if the right hon. and learned Gentleman had paid more attention to the Amendments moved by us during the Committee stage.

Mr. Powell

I wonder whether, before the House agrees to the Amendment, the Attorney-General would confirm exactly what is its effect? As I understand it, it means that the premises to which the residential qualification applies must be a dwelling-house, but that it is the whole property comprised in the tenancy to which the renewal of the tenancy applies. If so, it would seem to follow that the Amendment prevents a tenant from, for example, moving a camp bed into one room in a block of offices and thereby obtaining a renewal of the tenancy of the block of offices. It does not, on the other hand, as I understand it, prevent him from occupying, for example, the caretaker's house in a factory and thereby obtaining a renewal of the lease of the entire factory property comprised in the tenancy. In effect, therefore, the Amendment does not restrict the protection of the Bill to dwelling-houses.

The Attorney-General

If I may have leave to speak again, in reply to a question which has been put, the effect, as I previously intimated, does not really alter the position as it was before, except to a very slight extent. In regard to moving to the caretaker's premises, supposing a factory were owned by a partnership, if all the owners and their families moved into the premises they could, no doubt, secure the premises. I do not know how many there would be and it might be a little uncomfortable. If it were a company they could not do so because they could not in a sense "reside"; but, in the case of a single individual, if he were so minded as to turn out the caretaker, that could be done before.

Mr. Charles Williams (Torquay)

I wish to support my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northants, South (Mr. Manningham-Buller). We welcome the fact that the Government have at last agreed to accept this Amendment, but I think we back benchers have a right to protest, as we are under very great pressure on our time, that the Government seem to be deliberately wasting our time, a thing I have never done myself and would never dream of doing. [Interruption.] I do think that, after those cheers, hon. Members opposite ought to get up and help me on Amendments which they know are necessary and which would save time and not waste time in an endless and, as usual, perfectly senseless way.