HC Deb 15 October 1969 vol 788 cc484-6

Sections 24, 27, 30, 32, 34, 37, 38, 42 and 44 of the Act of 1954 and Schedule 6 to that Act, and section 43(3) of that Act as it applies to tenancies granted after the commencement of this Act, are set out as amended by this Part of this Act in Schedule (Certain provisions of Part II of Act of 1954 set out amended) to this Act.—[The Solicitor-General.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

The Solicitor-General (Sir Arthur Irvine)

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

This new Clause and the new Schedule are to implement my noble Friend's undertaking on Report in another place that the Bill would contain a Schedule reproducing Sections of the 1954 Act amended by the Bill which I repeated in the Second Reading Committee. The new Clause lists all amended provisions as set out in the new Schedule covered by the Sections of Part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1954, amended by Part I of the Bill, with two very minor exceptions where reproduction in the Schedule we think would be disproportionate.

Section 41 of the 1954 Act, which is amended by Clause 1(2) only to the extent of inserting a reference to a subparagraph, is not included in the Schedule because that amendment on analysis is trivial and purely consequential. Section 43, subsection (3) of which is amended, is not set out in the Schedule, only the subsection being reproduced.

I hope that this treatment of the matter will be acceptable to the House. It is I think an undoubted convenience and I hope that it will prove useful to practitioners and others who become involved in these matters.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

One of the most useful forms of legislation in practice is what we call a "Keeling Schedule" such as we have before us in a new Schedule to which the Solicitor-General has referred. This form has already been adopted in this Bill in connection with reform of the law relating to restrictive covenants and Section 84 of the law of Property Act, 1925. It is very convenient to have Part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1954, set out in a similar way.

Although we are grateful for the adoption of this form of legislation so far as it relates to leases of business premises, we are still left with a title to the Bill which does not deal with this subject at all. We are dealing now with the landlord and tenant relationship and the title to the Bill gives little clue as to that. The one criticism I have of the new Clause and the Schedule is that it would have been more helpful to reprint the whole of Part II of the 1954 Act.

As the Schedule stands at the moment it selects certain Sections and, indeed, not all of those which are amended in the Bill. It leaves out several Clauses. True some of them were not amended. But it leaves out some Clauses which are to be amended by the Bill. That necessitates the practitioner turning back to the 1954 Act itself to read the full story.

This impairs the practical use of a Schedule of this sort. Furthermore, it omits new Clauses which are to be introduced into this part of the 1954 Act by the Bill—that is, the several Clauses marked in the Bill with a capital A. There is new Clause 24A, new Clause 31A, new Clause 41A, and 43A. These are all omitted from the Keeling Schedule. The Schedule would have been of much more practical use if the Solicitor-General could have persuaded the Government to spend the money on a few more lines of print. It would not have been many more; we have a substantial enough Schedule as it is. It would not have doubled the length of the Schedule, but it would have doubled the value of the Schedule, to have the whole of Part II of the 1954 Act set out—in fact, the consolidation of that part of the Act—so that the practitioner did not have to refer from this Schedule to the Bill back to the Act itself in order to obtain the full story.

My other comment on the Schedule is a disappointment that it retains, without Amendment, the compensation provisions in Section 37 of the 1954 Act—that is, when the renewal of a lease is refused because the re-developer or the landlord takes over the property himself. In those cases the compensation seems to some people to be inadequate. Although the Bill contains many Amendments to the 1954 Act, as shown in the Schedule, the Government have apparently not considered this point, which is, to the general public and the practitioners who have to deal with the renewal of business leases, the most important issue of the whole subject It appears to many of them that the law as it stands provides inadequate compensation when a business is taken over by the landlord for his own purposes.

On the other hand, I appreciate that if a large amount of compensation is awarded in such cases it is a hindrance to development. But we should have been told by the Government why they shirked dealing with the biggest issue on the question of the renewal of business leases. The subject has not been touched upon in the Bill. I had hoped that the opportunity would have been taken to explain to the House the present position in respect of compensation in those cases and, if the Government are right in not dealing with it, the facts on which they have decided not to deal with the subject. However, we welcome the Schedule as far as it goes. It is useful for the practitioner. It could have been made a little more useful, but we must not look a gift horse in the mouth.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time and added to the Bill.