§ Sir K. Joseph
I beg to move, in page 43, to leave out lines 6 to 9.
It may also be convenient with this to take the Amendments in Page 89, Clause 87, leave out lines 4 to 8 and in page 103, line 6, Clause 102, at end insert:and 'lease' includes an underlease, sublease or any tenancy, and any agreement for a lease, underlease, sublease or tenancy, and 'lessee', 'lessor' and 'leasehold' shall be construed accordingly".In view of the comments of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan), I undertook to look again at the definition of "lease" in Clause 40. This is the interpretation and construction Clause for Part II of the Bill. The point at issue was that the definition of "lease" included a reference to any tenancy", but "tenancy" is later required to be construed in Clause 40, as the hon. Gentleman pointed out, as excluding a tenancy held under a lease granted for more than 21 years at a low rent.
This conflict has been resolved by taking the definition of "lease" out of Part II and transferring it to Clause 102 in Part V which is the general interpretation Clause for the Bill as a whole. The effect is that the words "any tenancy" which appear in the definition of "lease" are no longer required to be construed by reference to the particular meaning given to "tenancy" for the purposes of Part II. The Amendments taken with this are consequential.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I beg to move, in page 44, line 16, at the end to insert(a)".It may be convenient with this to take the Amendments in page 44, line 17, leave out "or will be" and in line 17, leave out from "habitation" to end of line 19 and insert:orThese Amendments are to enable the Government to meet a commitment which I made to my hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Mr. More) who pressed upon us that it was only sensible to consider the normal maintenance of the building which a local authority might assume to be carried out when judging whether it had a fifteen-year life in the light of the age of the building itself.(b) will be likely, subject to normal maintenance, to remain fit for human habitation and available for use as a dwelling for a period of not less than fifteen years, 1377 and in determining the question under paragraph (b) of this subsection the term 'normal maintenance' shall include only such repairs as are reasonable having regard to the prospective life of the dwelling".
§ Mr. MacColl
This may go rather wider than the right hon. Gentleman has suggested, for in this context it raises the whole problem of the expectation of life of a house. We have had a lot of argument about whether or not there is a case for reducing the expectation of life from 15 to ten years. We put a proposal for having proportionately reduced grants in order to meet that difficulty. One of the problems here is not just the question of the expectation of life—I hope this will not be thought an indelicate remark to make—but the question of the burden of proof.
In other words, when a local authority looks at a house to decide whether it will last 15 years, does it—or the Ministry, when it comes to consider consent—say that it has no certainty that the house will last that time and that it must therefore assume that a grant should not be made in order to safeguard public money? Or is it considered that as much work as possible should be done and therefore it should be assumed that the house will last 15 years although the probability is that it will not?
This makes a considerable difference in the case of many houses. Very often, the cause of misunderstanding and complaint arises from the fact that people are sure that the local authority will not get round to doing anything within 15 years but lose their grants because there is no certainty that the house will stay up 15 years.
§ Sir K. Joseph
This point was much stressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Sir E. Errington) in Committee. I said then that the administrative advice given by me to local authorities is that they should give the benefit 1378 of the doubt to applicants whose buildings are expected to last 15 years unless some rather unexpected redevelopment scheme by the local authority happens to come earlier. This Amendment deals with a much narrower point. It deals with what maintenance can be assumed by the local authority in considering the normal expectation of life of a dwelling.
Obviously, the local authority must assume that some maintenance is carried out. At the moment, the drafting requires that if the local authority believes that a house has 15 years life it only has to take into account the normal maintenance. My hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Mr. More) asked what normal maintenance meant and was concerned about old buildings.
To meet his case, this Amendment spells out that, in considering normal maintenance, the local authority should assume only such repairs as are reasonable, having regard to the prospective life of the dwelling. That is a narrower point than that made by the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl). I have tried to remind him of the answer I gave in Committee to the larger point he raised.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made: In page 44, line 17, leave out "or will be".
§ In line 17 leave out from "habitation" to end of line 19 and insert
"or(b) will be likely, subject to normal maintenance, to remain fit for human habitation and available for use as a dwelling for a period of not less than fifteen years,and in determining the question under paragraph (b) of this subsection the term 'normal maintenance' shall include only such repairs as ire reasonable having regard to the prospective life of the dwelling".—[Sir K. Joseph.]