HC Deb 19 April 1971 vol 815 cc904-6

Order for Second Reading read.

7.53 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Education, Scottish Office (Mr. Edward Taylor)

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

This is purely a consolidation, Measure and applies only to Scotland. It has been examined and approved by the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills.

The Rent Acts have always applied to England, Wales and Scotland. A few Acts apply only to Scotland and others contain separate Scottish provisions, but, in the main, up to and including the Rent Act, 1965, the Acts were Great' Britain Measures, and this has generally required complicated Scottish application provisions.

The Rent Acts in their application to England and Wales were consolidated in the Rent Act, 1968. This Bill follows the same general lines as the 1968 Act but takes into account all the necessary differences in the application of the Acts to Scotland and includes certain additional provisions which apply only to Scotland or which were enacted subsequent to the passing of the 1968 Act.

The Bill will come into force three months after it is passed in order to allow all the interested professions to become familiar with its layout, and also allow time for the regulations under the old statutes to be revised and re-enacted under the powers of the Consolidated Act.

7.55 p.m.

Mr. Ronald King Murray (Edinburgh, Leith)

As the Minister has indicated, this is a Bill which does largely for Scotland what has already been done by the 1968 Act for England and Wales.

I would not, however, accept that this is purely a consolidation Measure. There are three points which go beyond that, on two of which I need not spend any time. One of them deals with the fact that in Scotland, as distinct from the rest of Great Britain, old and new control is preserved to some extent. This is a material difference. It is not consolidation exactly on the same basis as the rest of Great Britain. However, this is right and it is inevitable that we should have this distinction still.

Again there is a provision arising out of the Housing (Repairs and Rents) (Scotland) Act, 1954, which is a Scottish Act, defining tenancies. There is also a previous definition in the Act of 1920 defining tenancies. To preserve the common law position as it stands in the light of these two Acts—in other words, to preserve the existing provisions—there is a definition in Clause 3(1)(a) which is not strictly consolidating but is a creative provision to do the best that one can to consolidate these two and reconcile them with the existing case law. This is a wholly satisfactory way of proceeding.

May I mention one other matter which is welcome. Incidentally, I welcome these small departures from what is strictly consolidating. The last one that I mention is the anomaly which arose in the application of the Rent Acts to Scotland in that through an oversight a person who required payment of a premium in circumstances set out in Section 29 of the Housing (Repairs and Rents) (Scotland) Act, 1954, was deemed not to be guilty of committing an offence by so doing but the person receiving the payment was guilty. This anomaly arose out of an omission in the unamended Rent Act, 1965. The opportunity has been rightly taken in this case of removing that anomaly. Accordingly the Opposition welcome the Bill.

7.57 p.m.

Mr. Edward Taylor

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Member—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)

Order. It is courteous to request the leave of the House.

Mr. Taylor

I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

With the leave of the House, I thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for the welcome that he has given to the Bill. I emphasise that the Bill is purely a Consolidation Measure and that it has been examined and approved by the Joint Committee. However, on the point which the hon. and learned Gentleman made about old and new control, I would point out that this is preserved because in 1957 the laws of England and Wales were different. However, my colleagues and I will read with great interest what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Eyre.]

Committee tomorrow.