§ Mr. Skeffington
I beg to move Amendment No. 39 in, page 17, line 14, after first 'of', insert 'glebe land or'.
This Amendment allows an application for an improvement grant or a standard grant to be made in respect of a glebe 1744 house by a sequestrator when a benefice is vacant. It is being made at the request of the Church Commissioners.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Graham Page
I beg to move Amendment No. 166, in page 17, line 26, at end insert:(d) an application for such a grant made by a beneficiary who has a life interest in the dwelling-house to which the application relates 1745 or to the proceeds of sale thereof, the free simple absolute or the terms of years absolute being vested in trustees.To put the argument for the Amendment, I must, first, turn back to Clause 2(6), which provides that a local authorityshall not entertain an application for an improvement grant unless they are satisfied that the applicant has, in every parcel of land on which the works specified in the application are to be or have been carried out, an interest which is either an estate in fee simple".in possession—or a tenancy …for a term of years absolute.
We have said before that the provisions of the Bill which relate to who shall be entitled to apply for a grant are far too rigid. By an earlier Amendment, we have abolished the conditions which would apply to the owner of property who receives a grant, so there is no longer any need to be rigid about the person who applies for the grant. While it was still to be a condition that the person receiving the grant, if he sold the property, should repay the grant, and, if he retained the grant, must keep the property for letting, and so on, there was some point in saying that the person to whom the grant was paid must be a freeholder or a substantial leaseholder. But that is no longer necessary and we should go a little further in looking for the person who is to benefit from the improvement.
Clause 29 lists some exceptions to Clause 2(6) because of unusual forms of tenure. It excepts some church property, almshouses, the manse and custodian trustees of charities. But these are rather rare birds—the sequestrator of the profits of an ecclesiastical benefice, the trustee managing a trust estate of the residence of a minister, the custodian trustee of a charity and even the prospective purchaser from a local authority. They are all rather rare birds, but there is a type of owner who is not rare and who ought to be entitled to make an application for an improvement grant, and that is the beneficiary under a trust.
To take a simple example, a dwelling-house is left to the widow on trust for sale, the widow having the right to live in the house during her lifetime, with, perhaps, the provision that it shall not be sold without her consent. Why must she be put to the trouble of going to her trustees and persuading them to make an 1746 application for the grant? She will be the person benefiting.
I use the example of the widow as an easy one, but there are other types of trust where the beneficiary is in residence and will be the person who will benefit from the grant. In the example which I have given, the widow would be increasing the value of the property, so that there can be no damage to the remainder-man. She is improving the property for the benefit of those ultimately entitled to the trust.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Skeffington
It is true that the Amendment would allow the beneficiary to apply, but it would not allow the beneficiary of the trust to do the work.
§ Mr. Graham Page
Perhaps that could be put right in another place. I have not examined that, as I was dealing with the simple point of who can apply for the grant. Surely the beneficiary should have a right to carry out improvements to the property.
The Law of Property Bill is going through the House at the moment, and, if the law needs a little alteration this could perhaps be done in that Bill. We should not be so rigid in laying down who should be the applicant, but should give the person who will benefit from the improvements a right to go to the local authority and ask for a grant to improve his house.
§ Mr. Skeffington
Whether or not the Bill is too rigid is not relevant to the Amendment. We have looked at this carefully and, having taken advice, our view is that the Amendment is unnecessary. It would allow the beneficiary to apply for the grant but not to carry out the works.
One difficulty of dealing with the 1925 and 1926 Acts in connection with trusts is that what the trustees, the beneficiaries, and tenants for life can do is rigidly bound up in Section after Section, and a greater modification of the law would be needed than is suggested in the Amendment.
However, the hon. Gentleman has stated the principle, and I will deal with that. Where the trustees are perfectly willing to carry out improvements needed by the beneficiary for life, how this is to be done is carefully prescribed, but the 1747 requisite authority is in Section 28 of the Law of Property Act. The Section provides that the trustees are under an obligation to consult the beneficiary before they can so act, and there is no difficulty provided that there is nothing in the trust deed which specifically limits the trustees.
Where the beneficiary wants something done and the trustees will not do it, the beneficiary can make an application to the trustees, who are obliged to consider his request. If the trustees refuse, the ordinary law is that the beneficiary can apply to the court under Section 30, and the court will decide whether the refusal of the trustees is reasonable.
As the hon. Gentleman hinted, in the simple case of a widow who is a life beneficiary, this may be a complicated way of going about an improvement grant, and I am inclined to agree with him. In that case, it would be necessary to consider the wider alteration of the whole of the settled trust legislation, and it could not be done by a side-wind in this Bill.
To sum up, a beneficiary may make application to the trustees, who are entitled to carry out the work, and there is no difficulty where the trustees are prepared to act. If they are not prepared to act, the beneficiary may apply to the court. The grant can then be applied for and the work done. Under the terms of the Amendment, the beneficiary would have to approach the trustee, since only the trustees can carry out work in connection with the trust.
§ Although I understand the concern of the hon. Gentleman, this type of occupier would not be denied a grant and to that extent the Amendment is unnecessary. If the hon. Gentleman is concerned about greater freedom for tenants with life interests, this find an echo in my heart, but it cannot be done in the Bill.
§ Mr. Peter Walker
It may find an echo in the Minister's heart, but it does not find action from him. This matter was mentioned in Committee and the Minister promised to look at it. Had he looked at it with enthusiasm and diligence he would have found that, by good fortune, the Law of Property Bill was waiting for the carefully prepared Clause which he could have inserted. He could have accepted the Amendment and have faced all the beneficiaries under trusts in the knowledge that he had brought about an important, good, sensible reform.
Instead, the Minister has pointed out the difficulty of changing the Acts, in spite of the fact that the law of Property Bill is now before Parliament, and tells us, with some shame, the process which must be gone through if there is difficulty with the trustees. He says that he is in complete sympathy with the spirit of the Amendment. Therefore, to give him the opportunity of showing in the Lobby that he is with us in spirit, we intend to divide the House.
§ Question put, That the Amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 128, Noes 169.1749
|Division No. 293.]||AYES||[5.9 p.m.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Cooke, Robert||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Hawkins, Paul|
|Astor, John||Corfield, F. V.||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Crouch, David||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Awdry, Daniel||Dance, James||Heseltine, Michael|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Bell, Ronald||Doughty, Charles||Hill, J. E. B.|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Errington, Sir Eric||Holland, Philip|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Eyre, Reginald||Hunt, John|
|Body, Richard||Fortescue, Tim||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Foster, Sir John||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Gibson-Watt, David||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)|
|Brewis, John||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Jopling, Michael|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Goodhart, Philip||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Goodhew, Victor||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Bryan, Paul||Grant, Anthony||Kimball, Marcus|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Gresham Cooke, R.||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.)||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Knight, Mrs. Jill|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Clark, Henry||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Lane, David|
|Clegg, Walter||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Longden, Gilbert||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Lubbock, Eric||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Ridsdale, Julian||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|McNair-Wilson, Michael||Royle, Anthony||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)||Russell, Sir Ronald||Waddington, David|
|Maddan, Martin||St. John-Stevas, Norman||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Monro, Hector||Scott, Nicholas||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Montgomery, Fergus||Sharples, Richard||Walters, Dennis|
|More, Jasper||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Silvester, Frederick||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Sinclair, Sir George||Wiggin, A. W.|
|Murton, Oscar||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)||Williams, Donald (Dudley)|
|Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Smith, John (London & W'minster)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Page, Graham (Crosby)||Speed, Keith||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Stainton, Keith||Worsley, Marcus|
|Peel, John||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Pounder, Rafton||Tapsell, Peter||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Mr. R. W. Elliott and|
|Prior, J. M. L.||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)||Mr. Timothy Kitson.|
|Pym, Francis||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Ogden, Eric|
|Anderson, Donald||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Orbach, Maurice|
|Archer, Peter||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Orme, Stanley|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Harper, Joseph||Oswald, Thomas|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Hattersley, Roy||Paget, R. T.|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Palmer, Arthur|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Hilton, W. S.||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles|
|Beaney, Alan||Hooley, Frank||Park, Trevor|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Hoy, Rt. Hn. James||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)|
|Boston, Terence||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Hunter, Adam||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Brooks, Edwin||Hynd, John||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||Pentland, Norman|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Buchan, Norman||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Cant, R. B.||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Rees, Merlyn|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Richard, Ivor|
|Chapman, Donald||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy|
|Coleman, Donald||Judd, Frank||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Kelley, Richard||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Kenyon, Clifford||Roebuck, Roy|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Rowlands, E.|
|Dalyell, Tam||Lawson, George||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Leadbitter, Ted||Sheldon, Robert|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Lee, John (Reading)||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Lipton, Marcus||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||McCann, John||Slater, Joseph|
|MacColl, James||Small, William|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Macdonald, A. H.||Snow, Julian|
|Dobson, Ray||McGuire, Michael||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Doig, Peter||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Symonds, J. B.|
|Driberg, Tom||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Taverne, Dick|
|Dunn, James A.||Mackintosh, John P.||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Dunnett, Jack||Maclennan, Robert||Tinn, James|
|Eadie, Alex||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Urwin, T. W.|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||MacPherson, Malcolm||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Ellis, John||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Wallace, George|
|English, Michael||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Weitman, David|
|Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)||Marks, Kenneth||Wellbeloved, James|
|Faulds, Andrew||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Whitlock, William|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mendelson, John||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Moonman, Eric||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Forrester, John||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Gardner, Tony||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Ginsburg, David||Moyle, Roland|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Murray, Albert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gregory, Arnold||Newens, Stan||Mr. Ernest G. Perry and|
|Grey, Charles (Durham)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip||Mr. Neil McBride.|