§ A person occupying a dwelling under a contract of employment within the meaning of section 7 of the Act of 1957 (houses occupied by agricultural workers otherwise than as 1244 tenants) may make representations under section 19 of this Act as if he were a tenant of the dwelling. The cost of any works required to be carried out under section 19(5) which in the case of a tenant could be recovered by the an increase of rent may be recovered in accordance with the provisions of section 7(3) of the Agricultural Wages Act 1948.—[Mr. MacColl.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Mr. MacColl
I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.
The new Clause is in exactly the same words as a new Clause mover in committee. At that time the Parliamentary Secretary expressed considerable interest, and promised to consider it. I gather that he is still considering it—at least, I hope so. I am rather perturbed that he has not been able to come to a decision on it. I do not want to be obstructive, or unduly take up time, but in the absence of any clear indication from the hon. Gentleman of what he intends to do it may be necessary to 1245 press this further than I would have wanted to press it.
The point is a simple, but important one. In Clause 19 there is provision for a tenant who wants to have improvements made to his house to make representations to the local authority and ask it to exercise its powers to make an improvement order. The word "tenant" is used there in its strict and legal sense. It means a tenant. It does not cover the occupant of a tied cottage. It was argued on Second Reading and in Committee that it should be extended so that a person occupying a tied cottage would have the right to go to the local authority to get his house improved.
The new Clause suggests, first, thatA person occupying a dwelling under a contract of employment within the meaning of"—the 1957 Act, which covers agricultural tied cottages—may make representations…as if he were a tenant…The second part of the Clause deals with how to get back the cost of the improvements if no rent is being paid for the house. This is a subject about which I know absolutely nothing, but I understand from those of my hon. Friends who know something about agricultural tenancies that this can be effected by the second sentence of the new Clause, which provides as follows:The cost of any works required to be carried out…which in the case of a tenant could be recovered by an increase of rent may be recovered in accordance with the provisions of section 7(3) of the Agricultural Wages Act, 1948.I gather that is fully understood by people who know something about this.
This proposal has the active support of the National Union of Agricultural Workers. Indeed, the union suggested it. Between the tabling of the Clause in Committee and the tabling of the Clause here I received a letter from the National Farmers' Union saying that it thinks this is an excellent idea and supports it. Therefore, if the two most important organisations connected with this question want to see this done and tied cottages improved, short of abolishing tied cottages altogether, which would seem to me to be a workmanlike solution of the problem, what is the difficulty?
1246 I am very disappointed that the hon. Gentleman has not been able to get to grips with this. What does he propose? We do not want to have a tremendous clash on this, because it is not a matter on which there is much difference of opinion. It is only a certain amount of dilatoriness on the part of the Parliamentary Secretary. I move the Clause in the hope that he will draw my fire by saying that he is now in a position to give a specific undertaking on it.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. F. V. Corfield)
I apologise to the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) for having taken some time in these consultations, but he will realise, when he looks at the Notice Paper, that we have undertaken a fair number of promises to meet points which were raised in Committee. That is the only reason why we were not able to come to a decision to table an Amendment of our own before today's proceedings. However, I can assure him that it is our intention to table an Amendment to meet the point in another place.
I do not want to quibble with the hon. Gentleman, out I am advised that there are defects in the wording of the proposed new Clause. They are rather complex and it would be tedious if I went into the precise points. I can assure him that we will table an Amendment to meet the full intent of his new Clause in another place and I hope that, with that assurance, he will withdraw his proposal.
§ Mr. MacColl
The Parliamentary Secretary need not apologise for criticising my drafting. He criticised it often enough in Committee upstairs. It would indeed be the start of an epoch if he now said that it was perfect. I am flattered that he should describe it as complicated. Since he has made a specific pledge to do something in another place, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion and Clause, by leave, Withdrawn.