HL Deb 20 March 1919 vol 33 cc823-67

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee, read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL OF DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]

Clause 1:

Prolongation of duration of principal Act.

1. The Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (War Restrictions) Act, 1915 (hereinafter referred to as the "principal Act"), and the enactments amending that Act, shall continue in force until Lady Day nineteen hundred and twenty-one, but during the period (hereinafter referred to as "the extended period") between the time when but for this Act the principal Act would have expired and the said Lady Day the principal Act shall have effect subject to the modifications contained in the two next succeeding sections.

THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY moved to omit from Clause 1 the words "the time when but for this Act the principal Act would have expired," and to insert "Michaelmas Day, 1919." The noble Marquess said: I desire to consult the convenience of your Lordships' House in respect of the moving of this first Amendment. As a matter of fact, I put it down principally with a view to the Amendment which follows, and which stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Balfour as well as in my own name. But this Amendment also stands upon its own footing. The principal Act provides that it shall come to an end six months after the war, and as that is to be interpreted in the light of the Act which your Lordships and another place passed at the end of last session, that would be six months after the ratification, or as near as may be after the ratification, of peace. When the principal Act in 1915 was passed—I do not pretend to remember it myself, for I do not think I was present in your Lordships' House at the time—no doubt there was a sort of general feeling that after hostilities were concluded there ought to be an interval before the normal state of things was resumed, and the interval was, as the words are to be interpreted, fixed at six months.

It is very inconvenient in the first place that there should be a doubt as to when the date is. Property owners and occupiers—both parties to the bargain—are put in great difficulty owing to the ambiguity. It is not known up to what date the principal Act really would have lasted, nor is it known up to what date the succeeding legislation will last because it depends upon the same ambiguity. Therefore it is important, instead of having a vague date of six months after the peace, or whatever the words of the principal Act exactly are, that there should be a definite date when the first period shall come to an end. I propose, therefore, that your Lordships should consent to substitute for the time when the principal Act would expire—that is to say, six months after the peace whenever that may be—Michaelmas Day of this year.

The reason why Michaelmas Day in this year is selected is that we understand that peace is about to be signed. I understand through the usual channels that it is expected in a week or a fortnight's time. No doubt if we were rigidly to follow the Act which was passed at the end of last session it would be six months after the ratification, but, as I have said, I do not think that was in the mind of your Lordships' House or of the other House of Parliament when the principal Act was passed. What they thought was that there ought to be an interval of six months after hostilities were concluded. Therefore it is a very little allowance to say Michaelmas of this year, for hostilities have already been concluded four months, and it will give an additional two months from the con elusion of hostilities.

I desire to consult your Lordships, and perhaps it would be really more convenient for the House, if I also put the case for the second Amendment which really is largely dependent upon this. At the same time I an entirely in the hands of your Lordships. I do not know which the Government would prefer.


I have no view on the matter. I do not think it would be practically inconvenient. Your Lordships would probably not desire to have the discussion twice.


One of my reasons for having a fixed date for the period when the principal Act would have expired is that the other dates of the succeeding periods depend upon it, and these are dealt with in the second Amendment which stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Balfour and also in my own name. If I may, therefore, argue that Amendment upon this occasion I would, with your Lordships' permission, proceed to state the case for that second Amendment* which I think is the more important Amendment.

What is the object of the Bill? Its object is to prevent the effect of the shortage of houses giving the opportunity to owners who are not public-spirited of raising the rent unduly or of recovering possession of the premises. That being the object of the Bill, and it being found that; the period fixed by the principal Act is not long enough, it is proposed in the present Bill that it should be prolonged. To that we all agree; indeed, I think no one defended the main principle of the Bill more warmly than I ventured to do upon the Second Reading. But although we are determined so far as we can to prevent a misuse of this power which the shortage of houses would give to landlords who are ill-disposed, yet it is agreed on all hands that there must be some equitable treatment of the landlords.

Why should there be something given to the landlord on the other side? In the * The second Amendment standing in the name of the MARQUESS OF SALISBURY was as follows: Page 1, lines 18 and 19, leave out ("ten per centum of the standard rent") and insert ("for the period from Michaelmas Day nineteen hundred and nineteen until Lady Day nineteen hundred and twenty, ten per centum of the standard rent, and for the period from Lady Day nineteen hundred and twenty until the date of the expiration of this Act twenty-five per centum of the standard rent"). first place, because of the enormous rise of prices. Prices are double what they were. The second reason is that it is proposed in this very Bill, without any kind of objection from any quarter, to allow mortgagees to raise the rate of interest. That is a very important matter in connection with this subject, because I am informed that 80 per cent. of the small houses are mortgaged. A mortgage rate is to be allowed to be raised to the extent of ½ per cent. up to 5 per cent. Lastly, there is the cost of repairs. Repairs, like everything else, will cost double what they used to cost. And the fact that during the war they have been postponed does not make it better for the landlord but worse, because a postponed repair is a much more expensive one at all times. Therefore the fact that the well-disposed landlord, through no fault of his own, could not get any workmen to carry out his repairs upon reasonable terms, and had to postpone them, has placed him in a still worse position.

Thus, the landlord has these three difficulties in front of him—the fact of a possible raising of the mortgage interest, the postponement of repairs, and the rise in prices which has doubled the cost of everything. What is proposed in the Bill in order to meet these; difficulties of the landlord? First, an increase of 10 per cent in the rent. That can be demonstrably shown to be wholly insufficient. Of course, the mortgage interest and the increase of the rent are not entirely comparable, because the mortgage interest is usually upon two-thirds of the capital value, whereas the increase of the rent applies to the. whole amount of the rental. But it is not an over-statement to say that the mortgage interest will absorb at least 6 per cent out of the 10 per cent of the increase in rent which is provided for the owner. That leaves him only 4 per cent for repairs. But, so far from 4 per cent. being sufficient for the repairs, the whole 10 per cent would not be sufficient; as prices stand now much more like 20 per cent is needed. Therefore, all he has to meet these demands for repairs, which may be 10 per cent, or 20 per cent., is this 4 per cent. So that instead of being, as he ought equitably to be, in receipt of a higher rent, having regard to the change in the value of money, he is positively left in a worse position. That appears to be absolutely in acceptable. If we are to act equitably at all we must improve upon that.

I believe it is really common ground with everybody that in respect of repairs the owner ought to receive some increment of rent. I have no doubt your Lordships have all read the Report of Lord Hunter's Committee. The Minority Report, signed by two gentlemen who may be said to have represented the tenants' interests, cordially admitted that the 10 per cent. would be mostly absorbed by the mortgage interest, and it admitted also that the owner ought to receive some increased rent corresponding to the increase of the repairs. Therefore, I think the case is absolutely proved that, as the Bill stands, the owner does not receive anything like a sufficient increment of rent if he is barely to perform the duties of keeping his house in order.

This being the case, I have proposed to your Lordships a change in the Bill. I need not say that that change is founded upon a recommendation of the Majority Report of Lord Hunter's Committee. They dealt with the problem in this way. They said that, in consequence of the increase of the mortgage interest, the owner ought to be entitled to a 10 per cent. increment six months after the war is concluded; then, after a second period, he ought to be entitled to a further increment of 15 per cent. in order to meet the cost of repairs—or 25 per cent in all. The case, of course, is made worse for the landlord, as the Bill stands, because the repairs are exacted from him during the first period when he is only to get 10 per cent.—even under the Amendment which I propose. That, no doubt, does make my proposal not so good for the owner as the recommendation of Lord Hunter's Committee. But I do not propose to disturb the provision which has been put into the Bill in the House of Commons that effective repairs should be an essential condition of any increase of rent. I do not think we ought to disturb that; it seems a perfectly sound principle that an owner should not be entitled to an increase of rent until the house has been put into a proper state of repair. But it makes it all the more necessary that the owner should be allowed an extra 15 per cent. after a suitable interval. It might be difficult perhaps after the first six months to propose so large an increase as 25 per cent. all at once. Lord Hunter's Committee thought that it was wiser that whatever increase was proposed it should be in two instalments, and therefore I have adhered to that expedient. But that there should be at least an increment of 25 per cent. on the whole, till the end of the operation of the Bill, appears to be prescribed by any principle of equity.

I am going to make an appeal to the Government. Even if this Amendment—which follows (though not entirely) the recommendations of Lord Hunter's Committee—passes, the owners will not be placed in the same position, or in anything like the same position, as that in which they were before the war. They must suffer like other people have suffered from the adverse circumstances in which we find ourselves; but it is most important that they should not feel that they have been treated with undue injustice in a matter of this kind. After all, they did their best before Lord Hunter's Committee to meet the necessities of the case. They were not extreme in insisting upon their own point of view; and it is most important that they should not have a rankling sense of injustice hereafter. Let us remember that they are the people upon whom we are going to rely in the future to keep up the housing provision of this country. You may put it right—as I hope you will—by passing the Bill which is now before Parliament for the emergency housing of the moment; but that is not going to solve the housing question afterwards.

The housing question is a much bigger one even than that for which the emergency Bill provides; and the men upon whom you have to rely are those who build and own these houses, and who are, to some extent, necessarily hardly treated by the existing state of things even if the Bill passes as I would ask your Lordships to pass it. But if you add to that a rankling sense of injustice that they are worse treated than was proposed by Lord Hunter's Committee, and that no account whatever is taken of the very difficult position in which they are placed, then I say that instead of having them on your side hereafter you will have them against you; and you will find that you will not be able to rely upon them to make good the permanent provision of housing which will be necessary even after the present Housing Bill is passed. Therefore it is of great importance, from the point of view of the statesman, that we should treat these gentlemen with something like equity. For these reasons I have shown that the provision in the Government's Bill will leave them not better off but worse off than they were before the war; and it is because, as I have pointed out, my Amendment does not go so far as the recommendation of Lord Hunter's Committee that I venture to ask you to insert it in the Bill.

Amendment moved— Page 1, lines 10 and 11, leave out ("the time when bit for this Act the principal Act would have expired") and insert ("Michaelmas Day nineteen hundred and nineteen").—(The Marquess of Salisbury).


I do not know whether it will be convenient to the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, that I should have the advantage of hearing what he has to say upon the second Amendment, as your Lordships have taken the view that the two Amendments might be discussed together. If convenient to the noble Lord, I would rather hear what he has to say before I deal with it.


I have no objection to putting my case as shortly as I can, but I think it more convenient to hear what the noble and learned Lord in charge of the Bill has to say.


I quite agree. I do not think that the course recommended by the noble Marquess of considering his first Amendment and his second Amendment—which latter, as he truly told your Lordships, is in substance and in principle the same Amendment as Lord Balfour's—an inconvenient one. The noble Marquess said truly that his first Amendment could be considered on its own merits, though it also required explanation by reference to the second Amendment. If one takes the first Amendment upon its own merits, the effect of it is to enable the rent of a house, to which the Act of 1915 already applies, to be raised by 10 per cent, from next Michaelmas Day instead of from the date contemplated by the original Act—namely, six months after the termination of the war. I do not quarrel with the observation made by the noble Marquess that from almost every point of view it would have been more convenient if one could have had a definite day in the Bill instead of a period of which it cannot be predicated exactly on what day, or indeed what month, it will come. The difficulty arises from the circumstances of the case; and really on reflection I think your Lordships will come to the conclusion that the draftsman had very little choice as to the form in which he should express this. When the original Bill was passed nobody knew, of course, when the war was going to end; therefore the only possible term which could be adopted was one which stated a certain period after the end of the war. That has happened; and it has produced actual results.

One of the results is that the tenants under the Act of 1915 have undoubtedly and reasonably taken the view that they have a right not to have their lent raised until the date of the expiry of the Act. Any tenant who asked himself now, "What are my rights under the Act which Parliament has passed?" is bound at once to say, "At any rate I have this right, that my rent shall not be raised for six months after the war is over." The adoption of the Amendment of the noble Marquess would take away from a tenant a right which was defined by Parliament, and defined in such a manner as to entitle him to rely upon that definition as being the measure of his rights. As the noble Marquess has referred to that extremely useful and competent Committee which was presided over by Lord Hunter, I may say that this matter was carefully considered by that Committee (as the noble Marquess will remember), and the considerations put to this House to-day by the noble Marquess were before that Committee, and before them at much greater length than probably it would be possible for your Lordships to discuss them; and this matter was definitely and deliberately rejected by the Committee.

The noble Marquess explained the effect of his second Amendment. Putting it shortly, it is as follows. It would allow a minimum increase of 10 per cent, on the rent during the period between the passing of the Bill and Lady Day, 1920, and a further increase up to 25 percent, between Lady Day, 1920, and Lady Day, 1921. It is, by anticipation, the proposal of Lord Balfour of Burleigh in his Amendment, which is in principle the same as that of the noble Marquess—though not exactly the same in its details. For the same reason that led the noble Marquess to discuss his second Amendment together with his first Amendment, I may, perhaps, make a few observations upon the Amendment of Lord Balfour of Burleigh and that of the noble Marquess which course will probably in the end prove to be economical of your Lordships' time. It is perfectly true, as Lord Balfour of Burleigh will no doubt remind your Lordships, that Lord Huater's Committee recommended an initial increase of 10 per cent., and a subsequent further increase of 15 per cent; but it is very material to notice that the initial increase was not to take place until six months after the termination of the war, and the further increase not until a year after that date.

Your Lordships will remember that the Hunter proposal was that the Act should be continued until the expiration of three years from the termination of the war. Now, of course, if the Government had adopted the proposal that the Bill should at this moment be defined as continuing its operations for a period of three years after the war, it would be necessary to make some provision for the whole of that period of three years, and it might be very reasonable to make some such proposal as that which the noble Lord makes. But now that the Government have refused to accept the three years contemplated by Lord Hunter's Committee, and have substituted for that the proposal contained in the Bill, the proposal of the noble Lord is really, if I may say so, neither logical nor applicable. This also, I think, may be reasonably added, that if it is found necessary further to extend the duration of the Act—every one must hope that it will not be necessary, but every one must realise that it may become necessary—then the question of allowing a further increase will, of course, arise and must then be dealt with, and it can then be quite conveniently dealt with.

I should be sorry, I confess, if this Amendment were carried in the circumstances I have indicated. It was very carefully considered in the House of Commons. The House of Commons, as your Lordships know, is very fresh from contact with all kinds of persons in the constituencies who have been considering these problems from all points of view. Considerable discussion took place in the House of Commons, and the views expressed and insisted upon were by no means all on one side of this question. In fact your Lordships may remember that a substituted proposal, to allow an increase of 5 per cent, and not an increase of 10 per cent., received very considerable support from the House of Commons. I am far from seeking to attenuate the force of what was said by the noble Marquess as to the inadequacy of the allowance, as it is contained in the Bill, to meet the real loss which is sustained by the property owner. It is, I agree, not adequate. The property owner belongs to one of many classes that have suffered specially in consequence of the war. It is impossible to remove all these anomalies and injustices, just as it has proved impossible to prevent many persons from unduly profiting by the war; but I think, for the reasons that I have given, that it would not be convenient at least that this Amendment should be insisted upon. I hope that your Lordships will be inclined to wait, in order that, if it becomes necessary to extend this period in the light of the further experience we shall then have gained from the working of this Bill, we shall be in a position to make better arrangements.


We are, of course, discussing the two Amendments at the same time. I do not know whether it would be more convenient to take a Division upon the first of them, in which I am not concerned, before we go to the second one, or whether it would be better to continue the discussion and take a Division afterwards.


I think it would be quite convenient, if your Lordships have heard, as I imagine you may have done, enough discussion upon the first Amendment, to take a Division upon it. I have no doubt that the discussion on the second Amendment will thereby be abbreviated.


I think it fair to the noble Marquess who moved the first Amendment to call attention to the fact that, although it is true that his Amendment would bring into operation at an earlier date than the indeterminate date mentioned in the clause the limited power of increasing rents, at the same time it would bring into operation at an earlier date than the indeterminate date mentioned in the Bill those provisions of the Bill which bring larger houses within the benefits of the original Act. Therefore it is a very liberal Amendment, and one which is in favour of tenants.


I may, perhaps, be permitted to press upon the Lord Chancellor that he has not allowed sufficiently for the abnormal circumstances which have arisen. The original Act was pressed upon us as a very temporary measure, and was carried rapidly at a time when I suppose the impression of most people was that the war was a matter of only a few months. It has now continued in operation for over four years, and during that time there has been a complete change in all the circumstances of the payment of everything except rent. During that time, also; there has come practically a paralysis of the power of owners of houses to repair them without an enormous increase of expenditure, and the effect of the Lord Chancellor's view would be that all the advantages which we most desire to see, and which the Government most desire to see, with regard to the improvement of houses must be deferred for an indefinite period, because a rent which must be unremunerative at the present time is to be continued. I think it is too considerable a sacrifice to ask that we should continue to keep rents in a position which it was never imagined they would hold for an indefinite period, when an opportunity has come for really putting the matter in a more practical position. As Lord Stuart of Wortley said, if this is done we shall earlier bring within the scope of the Act houses which from every standpoint should be included.


I think I ought to say a word upon this matter. I confess that I recognise to a great extent the force of what has fallen from the noble and learned Lord opposite. It is not an easy matter for us here to amend a Bill of this kind in this particular sense. It obviously gives rise to the criticism that we are, many of us being property owners, prepared to act in the interests of the owners of property, even though it be true, as I think it is, that the owners of property specially affected by this provision are, generally speaking, a very different sort of people from those who occupy seats in this House. That, I think, cannot be disputed.

To my mind the main strength of the argument of the noble Marquess, and also of the noble Lord above the gangway, lies in this—that it cannot be disputed that if the provisions of the Bill are such as to I make the possession of this sort of property quite unremunerative during the period that the Bill is in operation, having regard to the fact that the execution of repairs is forced upon the landlord, the result will inevitably be that those repairs will be. executed in the cheapest, and it is not perhaps too much to add the nastiest, possible way compatible with their being executed at all; that the disposition that the landlord may reasonably be expected to hold, to execute repairs upon a tolerably generous scale so far as his means allow, cannot be indulged if the terms of the Bill are kept. At the same time I am bound to say that I, for one, am not prepared to enter into a conflict with the House of Commons upon a matter of this kind; and if the Government take the responsibility of saying that this clause must pass in its present form, I should not feel justified in opposing it.


The noble and learned Lord's objection to the Amendment which we are discussing took two main points. One was that the Amendment of the noble Marquess was not logical because the Hunter Committee has not been followed in its recommendation to extend it for three years, and therefore we should not seek to alter the time at the other end. I do not see what logic has got to do with it. The case for the rise in rent being due to landowners was admitted by the Hunter Committee and it has nothing to do with time at all. It is due to them now. The whole question of when it is going to be given is purely a question of expediency.

How soon do you think you can impose it without creating disturbance, and how quickly do you think you can go? Surely the questions of time and the right to have the rise which if fully admitted are quite different questions. The other objection to it was that tenants had been led to expect by the principal Act that they would have till six months after the conclusion of the war. Surely you could extend an argument on those lines to any length. Are you going to suggest when it comes to the clause dealing with retrospective legislation, Clause 4, that we shall be equally entitled to suggest that tenants of more expensive houses have got no right to expect that their houses were going to be brought into the Bill? I hope that the arguments which have been used by the noble and learned Lord will not prevent the noble Marquess from going to a Division.


I should like to ask the noble and learned Lord in charge of this measure one question. It is this. Are the proposals of the Government with regard to their housing scheme proposals for building houses of the class to which this Bill relates? If not, it is difficult to see what is the reason for the period of time they have already assigned. Conditions are not the least likely to become easier as time goes by. Indeed, they will become far more difficult, because the building activities of the country will undoubtedly be absorbed to carry into effect the scheme (extensive and beneficial as I trust it will be) which the Government have in hand. Therefore, houses will not be able to be built to accommodate tenants of the class of houses covered by this present Bill. It seems to me that this is very material, because, if it is intended that this Bill should have a far longer period of operation than that at present designed, so, as it seems to me, there are no conditions existing to-day that will not exist with equal cogency and force when the Bill comes to an end.

I must say that, though I feel very strongly what has been said by the noble Marquess by whose side I have the honour to sit, I do think we need some further explanation than we have hitherto received of why it is that this period of time has been assigned. I trust, too, that your Lordships will not overlook this fact that, for whatever period of time this Bill operates, during that period the Government are going to be deprived of a very considerable portion of revenue. If, in the normal course of things, the rent of these houses was increased, on all that increased rent, to the extent of 6s. in the £, the Government would receive Income Tax, and they would receive the Income Tax which is most certainly and surely exacted, because it is exacted at the source. Therefore, for whatever period this measure extends, you must remember that the Government are sacrificing the revenue of the country, as well as imposing conditions of considerable difficulty upon the landlords who own these houses. Unless there be some special reason assigned for the period that is fixed it is certainly not in the public interests that that period should be too long.


The observations which the noble and learned Lord has just made as to the loss of Income Tax are, of course, obvious. It is one of the disadvantages of legislation of this kind. When the noble and learned Lord asks me specifically in relation to the Housing Bill whether it is intended to apply to tenants of the class dealt with in this Bill, I can only reply to him that this Bill deals with a very different class of tenants. The new Bill, I anticipate—though I have not seen all its provisions as finally settled—will deal with some tenants of the kind dealt with in this Bill, but not, I imagine, with others that are dealt with in the present proposals. The noble and learned Lord asked me whether or not I was able to give him some explanation of the time that had been selected for the operation of this Bill, and he added this observation. He said that no one can possibly tell how long this state of things is going to last. "It is not going to get better," said the noble and learned Lord; "it is going to get worse." I do not know whether it is going to get better or worse. I hope very much that it is going to get better. Numbers of instructed people certainly take that view, and it is refreshing that at least some people should in these gloomy days be able to take an optimistic view.

I do not really see any reason why at any rate it should get worse. It is just I because of the uncertainty of saying with any confidence at all whether it is going to get better and when it is going to get better, that led the Government to adopt the cautious course not of making any arrangement that should extend for so long a period as three years but a reasonably short period, and I hope your Lordships will think that on the whole it is the most convenient course that could be adopted. I confess I was much struck by what was said by the noble Marquess as to the inadvisability, unless your Lordships take a very strong view, of provoking a difference of opinion which would certainly be a real one on a point of this kind, and also upon the impolicy of doing so unless your Lordships really thought it would be a means, in fact, of attaining the object which the mover and supporters of this Amendment have placed before themselves. Nothing would be more agreeable to me than if it were possible for me to accept the Amendment. I do not, in fact, believe that it will form part of the Bill in its ultimate shape.


I do not intend to weary your Lordships with further observations at any length. I just make two. As regards the actual Amendment, the small one before your Lordships at the moment, I have to say this—that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has admitted that there its a great advantage in having a fixed date over a movable date. I think everybody must see that. People make provision for what they intend to do according to dates which are fixed. The fact that they do not know what their position will be because of a vagueness about the date in the interpretation of the Act is a great inconvenience. If it is admitted that the date should be fixed then you ought to fix it at a quarter day, and Michaelmas is a quarter day, and, therefore, appears to be a very suitable day to fix. Six months after the signature of what probably will be the signature of Peace, although not six months after the ratification of Peace, is quite sufficiently within the intention of Parliament when the principal Act was passed. For these reasons I hope your Lordships will support that Amendment. May I say generally, in regard to the last

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

On Question, That Clause 1, as amended, stand part—


I do not know whether this would be a convenient

observation of the noble and learned Lord, that your Lordships' House is a House of revision. It has to revise that which is unfair or hard in the details of Bills sent us from another place. I think your Lordships' privileges go much further than that, but at any rate they go as far as that, by everybody's admission. The most violent reformer of the procedure of your Lordships' House admits that; and if it can be shown that there is hardship or injustice in this Bill and you refuse to remedy it, I do not see that there is any use for the House of Lords at all. I cannot say whether I have convinced your Lordships (that would be very conceited of me), but if I have convinced your Lordships as to the general justice of the proposal I ask you to support us in the Lobby.

On Question, whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the Clause?—

Their Lordships divided—Contents, 34; Not-Contents, 37.

Birkenhead, L. (L. Chancellor.) Haldane, V Finlay, L
Peel, V. Forteviot, L.
Bradford, E. Gisborough, L.
Chesterfield, E. Hylton, L.
Eldon, E Annesley, L. Newton, L.
Jersey, E. Ashbourne, L. Parmoor, L.
Lytton, E. Ashton of Hyde, L. Queenborough, L.
Russell, E. Blyth, L. Ranksborough, L.
Strafford, K. Carnock, L. Shandon, L.
Colebrooke, L. Somerleyton, L. [Teller.]
Farquhar, V. (L. Steward.) D'Abernon, L. Stanmore, L. [Teller.]
Sandhurst, V. (L. Chamberlain.) Dinevor, L. Wigan, L. (E. Crawford.)
Cave, V. Emmott, L.
Argyll, D. Churchill, V. Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)
Northumberland, D. Iveagh, V. Lambourne, L.
Somerset, D. Leith of Fyvie, L.
Avebury, L. Monckton, L. (V. Galway)
Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.) Balfour, L. Monk Bretton, L.
Lansdowne, M. Barrymore, L. Monson, L.
Salisbury, M. Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.) Monteagle, L. (M. Sligo)
Burnham, L. Phillimore, L.
Brassey, E. Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.) Sandys, L.
Chichester, E. Desborough, L. Stuart of Wortley, L.
Grey, E. Ebury, L. Willoughby de Broke, L. [Teller.]
Hardwicke, E. Erskine, L.
Lindsay, E. Greville, L. Wrenbury, L.
Stanhope, E. [Teller.] Harris, L.

moment for me to ask the noble and learned Lord in charge of the Bill whether he could offer any elucidation of the small point which I ventured to put to him on Second Reading.


I think there were two points. The first was the case of an agricultural cottage which was let at a nominal rent to an employee either of the owner or one of his tenant farmers. The noble Viscount asked me whether, if such an employee occupying the cottage were to leave his employment while remaining in that cottage, it would be permissible for the owner or the farmer to raise the rent to the normal rate of 3s. per week. The answer to that is that the landlord could not raise the rent as against the occupier who was not in his employ or in the employ of one of his tenant farmers, but he could eviet such an occupier if he wanted the cottage for occupation of his own or for one of his tenant farmers. The second case was that of a man who was occupying a cottage either at the nominal rent of 1s. per week or the normal rent of 3s. a week who has gone to the war, and whilst he has been away the landlord (in the case supposed by the noble Viscount) has allowed the wife to occupy the cottage rent free. On these facts Lord Harcourt asked me, Can the landlord, when the man returns to work and occupies the cottage, charge the normal rent for the cottage? The answer to this question is that on the man returning to the occupation of his cottage the landlord could charge him the rent he was charging him at the beginning of the war—1s. or 3s. a week, as the case might be—notwithstanding the fact that during his absence he had allowed his wife to stay at the cottage without paying anything.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 2:

Limited power of increasing rents during the extended period.

2.—(1) An increase in the rent of a dwelling-house to which the principal Act applies payable in respect of the extended period or any part thereof which would but for the principal Act be recoverable, shall be recoverable if or so far as the amount of the increase does not exceed ten per centum of the standard rent:

Provided that no such increase shall be due and recoverable if the sanitary authority of the district in which the house is situate on the application of the tenant certifies that the house is not reasonably fit for human habitation or is not kept in a reasonable state of repair, nor in any case until the expiry of four clear weeks after the landlord has served upon the tenant a notice in writing of his intention to increase the rent, and informing the tenant of his right to apply to the sanitary authority for such a certificate as aforesaid.

(2) On any such application to a sanitary authority a fee of one shilling shall be payable, but if the authority, as a result of the application, issues such a certificate as aforesaid the tenant shall be entitled to deduct the amount of the fee from any subsequent payment of rent.

(3) The increase of rent permitted by this section shall be in addition to any increase permitted by section one of the principal Act.

LORD BALFOUE OF BURLEIGH moved to omit from Clause 2 (1) the words "ten per centum of the standard rent, "and to insert "for the period from the passing of this Act until Lady Day nineteen hundred and twenty, ten per centum of the standard rent, and for the period from Lady Day nineteen hundred and twenty until the date of the expiration of this Act twenty-five per centum of the standard rent."

The noble Lord said: The Amendment which stands in my name is partly upon the subject spoken to by the noble Marquess, and I concur respectfully in all the arguments that he used in regard to it. I should not like to do the noble and learned Lord an injustice, because I do not suppose that he developed the whole of his argument in reply to this question, but in so far as he did touch upon it what he said wholly failed to convince me that 10 per cent was an adequate allowance under the circumstances in which we are placed. This Amendment has nothing to do with time or date; it turns entirely upon the question of the amount of allowance which the owner ought to have in respect of the circumstances in which we are placed.

There is no doubt, as has already been stated, that the majority of Lord Hunter's Committee—Lord Hunter himself—was strongly in favour of an increase in this direction. I need not quote the exact words. The striking thing is that the Bill comes to this House in an even more unfair, as I think, condition for the owners than the Government seemed to think right-when they introduced it in another place. As the Bill now stands the owner is to get only 10 per cent., and he is placed very largely at the mercy of the local government authorities. In so far as they can be trusted to deal fairly with the matter, I have nothing to say. I hold no brief for the landlord who does not do his duty or keep his house in repair. I have not the smallest sympathy with him. But I think that I can show your Lordships that the 10 per cent. allowed is not sufficient to enable the owner to do the necessary repairs owing to the increased cost.

I venture respectfully to give an example. I will take a house let at a standard rent of £60 before the war. Probably it would be fair to say that one-sixth of that rent would go in repairs; that is what is known as the statutory allowance and is what is allowed for Inland Revenue purposes. The insurance on £1,000, which would be the value probably of putting the house in repair if it were burned, would be, at 1s. 6d. per cent. 15s. The mortgage interest at 4½ per cent. would be £36. If these outgoings are added together they come to £46 17s. That shows that out of a rental of £60 the owner would in pre-war days have been able to put in his pocket a net sum of £13 3s. Contrast that with the circumstances as they will be on the present day conditions even if 10 per cent. is given. The rent would become £66 instead of £60. There would always be the 10 per cent. for repairs, but 10 per cent. will not now cover repairs owing to the depreciation in the value of money and the increased cost of wages and other things. It is not in the least unfair to say that the cost of repairs would be doubled, and be £20 instead of £10. The necessity of increasing the insurance is obvious. The insurance will be 30s. in the future instead of 15s. to cover the possible loss from damage. You are going to increase the mortgage interest. I do not object to that; I think it is reasonable; but it must be taken into account in making this alteration. The mortgage interest at 5 per cent. instead of 4½ per cent. will be £40 instead of £36. If you add together these items—the increased cost of repairs, which would be £20, the insurance 30s. and the mortgage interest—you will find that they come to £61 10s. as against a rent of £66, so that the net sum which the unfortunate owner will put into his pocket will be only, even under the conditions of the Government Bill, £4 10s. instead of £13 3s. I do not think it is unfair to calculate mortgage interest, because it is the fact that at least 80 per cent. of properties of this kind are mortgaged. Therefore, even if the Government allowed the 10 per cent. on each house, the net result would be that the owner will get only £4 10s. instead of the £13 3s. that he got in pre-war time. It seems to me obvious that the 10 per cent. is totally inadequate. I say that it ought to be increased to 25 per cent. after a reasonable interval. But if the Government will accept even less than 25 per cent. I will be glad, though as a result of my own experience and of the information that I have obtained I believe 25 per cent. to be a perfectly fair allowance.

Amendment moved— Page 1, lines 18 and 19, leave out ("ten per centum of the standard rent") and insert ("for the period from the passing of this Act until Lady Day nineteen hundred and twenty, ten per centum of the standard nut, and for the period from Lady day nineteen hundred and twenty until the date of the expiration of this Act twenty-five per centum of the standard rent").—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)


I think it is fitting to add to what the noble Lord has stated, that the Hunter Committee said that which ought to remind your Lordships that this is not a question of the owners of long lists of ground rents. It has nothing to do with ground rents. It is with what are called rack rents that we are dealing to-day, mostly receivable by and payable to intermediate landowners and lessees. The Hunter Committee said about them, in respect of this kind of property, weighty words which I cannot better— Most mortgages on property affected by the Act of 1915 belong to people who are not wealthy. Wealthy people find more remunerative investments. The property affected by the Act of 1915 in the main is simply small house property. There is no property which wealthy investors more sedulously avoid placing their money in. The like may be said with regard to insurance companies. Even the largest do not—probably you will not find even the Prudential Company do so—invest much money in property of this kind. What we find when we go amongst the people—and something has been said about the House of Commons being fresh from contact with its Mother Earth—is that investments in rack rents on small house property are the kind specially favoured by many leading supporters among the working classes. Why is that so? It is because it gives them a kind of influence amongst those with whom they dwell, and it gives them in respect of the management of their own savings at the time of their declining years a kind of occupation which they conceive to be not of an undignified kind; in fact, it gives them an interest in life and something to do. So that really the Amendment moved by my noble friend is one which tends to secure and preserve and conserve the investments and the incomes by no means of members of your Lordships' House but of a much humbler, though by no means less worthy, class of people who are really the backbone of the country.


I rise in order not to appear discourteous to noble Lords. I can say plainly that I have little to add to the observations that I have already made upon this subject. Lord Grey, I am sorry to say, found me illogical in the observations that I made in reference to the Hunter Committee. It did not appear to me that those observations were very illogical. What I said was this. Your Lordships are applying yourselves to a subject-matter which has already been very carefully investigated by a very capable Committee. It was necessary for me to notice the fact that this Committee had itself recommended an increase—first of all the 10 per cent. increase which we adopt in this Bill, and, secondly, a further increase of 15 per cent. Under the Hunter proposals the initial increase was not to take place, until six months after the termination of the war. Say that the war terminated formally in May, for the sake of illustration, then, six months after that date the initial increase was to take place, and the further increase was not to take place until a year after that date. This Bill will, in all human probability, have exhausted its whole life before the second increase of 15 per cent. recommended by the Hunter Committee ever comes into force. The inference which I was attempting to draw from that—and it seems to me with all respect to the noble Earl to be quite reasonable and logical—was that the right time to deal with the corresponding period (the 15 per cent. period) recommended by the Hunter Committee was when that time actually arose.

I hope no one will suppose that I am attempting to contend that this Bill gives the landlord all that he is entitled to to

put him in the position in which he would have been if he had received anything approaching an indemnity. I make no such claim. I know perfectly well that the Bill does not do so. I am not in a position to dispute the figures given by Lord Balfour of Burleigh, which i had not seen before. They refer to a class, of whom there are many conspicuous illustrations, who have suffered specially through the war, and this proposal, which has been most carefully considered and is the result of compromise and discussion between persons who understand these things very well, represents all that the Government can encourage your Lordships to think will be forthcoming as the result.


Nothing in the Amendment will interfere with the main object of the Bill, which is to prevent the undue raising of rent or the eviction of people owing to the shortage of houses. That is all secured. All that the noble Earl, Lord Grey, contends is that the 10 per cent. provided by the Bill, so far from putting the owner in a position which everybody else occupies, of having a slight nominal improvement in his income in consequence of the loss in the value of money—which is the position of all the wage-earning class—it leaves him worse off than he was before the war. The 10 per cent. will not meet the mortgage interest and the cost of repairs put together, or anything like it. Therefore the noble Earl has submitted to your Lordships that the principle of the Report of the Hunter Committee ought to be adopted, and that after a reasonable period an additional 15 per cent. ought to be added.

On Question, whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the clause?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 30; Not-Contents, 36.

Birkenhcad, L. (L. Chancellor.) Peel, V. Forteviot, L.
Gisborough, L.
Bradford, E. Annesley, L. Hylton, L.
Chesterfield, E. Armaghdale, L. Inverforth, L.
Chiehester, E. Ashton of Hyde, L. Newton, L.
Eldon, E. Buckmaster, L. Queenborough, L.
Jersey, E. Carnock, L. Ranksborough, L.
Lytton, E. Colebrooke, L. Shandon, L.
Denman, L. Somerleyton, L. [Teller.]
Sandhurst, V. (L. Chamberlain.) Dinevor, L. Stanmore, L. [Teller.]
Cave, V. Finlay, L. Wittenham, L.
Argyll, D. Stanhope, E. [Teller.] Greville, L.
Northumberland, D. Harris, L.
Somerset, D. Churchill, V. Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)
Iveagh, V. Lambourne, L.
Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn) Monckton, L. (V, Galway.)
Lansdowne, M. Avebury, L. Monteagle, L. (M. Sligo.)
Salisbury, M. Balfour, L. Phillimore, L.
Barrymore, L. Plunket, L.
Brassey, E. Brodrick, L. (V. Midlelon.) Sandys, L.
Grey, E. Burnham, L. Stuart of Wortley, L.
Hardwicke, E. Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.) Willoughby de Broke. L. [Teller]
Lindsay, E. Dosborough, L.
Malmesbury, B. Ebury, L. Wrenbury, L.
Russell, E. Erskine, L.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

Resolved in the negative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.


The next two Amendments are purely drafting.

Amendments moved—

Page 1, line 20, leave out ("and") and insert ("or").

Page 1, line 24, after ("until") insert ("or in respect of any period prior to").—(The Lord Chancellor.)

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4:

Extension of principal Act to higher-rented houses.

4. As from the passing of this Act the principal Act and the enactments unloading that Act shall extend to houses or parts of houses let as separate dwellings where such letting does not include any land other than the site of the dwelling-house and a garden or other premises, within the curtilage of the dwelling-house, and where—

  1. (a) in the case of a house situated in the Metropolitan Police district, including the City of London, both the annual amount of the standard rent and the rateable value of the house or part of the house exceed thirty-five pounds, and neither exceeds seventy pounds;
  2. (b) in the case of a house situated in Scotland both the annual amount of the standard rent and the rateable value of the house or part of the house exceed thirty pounds, and neither exceeds sixty pounds;
  3. (c) in the case of a house situated elsewhere, both the annual amount of the standard rent and the rateable value of the house or part of the house exceed twenty-six pounds, and neither exceeds fifty-two pounds;
and shall also extend to mortgages (not being mortgages to which the principal Act as originally enacted applies), where the mortgaged property consists of or comprises one or more of such dwelling-houses as aforesaid or any interest therein, subject, however, to the exceptions men- tioned in subsection (4) of section two of the principal Act, but in the application to those houses and mortgages the principal Act, and the enactments amending that Act shall have effect, subject to the following modifications:—

(i) for subsection (1) of section one of the principal Act. exclusive of the provisoes to that subsection, the following provisions shall be substituted:— Where the rent of a dwelling-house to which this Act applies or the rate of interest on a mortgage to which this Act applies has been since the twenty-fifth day of December nineteen hundred and eighteen, or is hereafter increased and such increase would apart from this Act have been recoverable, then, if the increased rent exceeds by more than ten per centum the standard rent, or the increased rate of interest exceeds by more than one half per centum per annum the standard rate, the amount of such excess above the said ten per centum or one half per centum, as the case may be, shall, not with-standing any agreement to the contrary, be irrecoverable from the tenant or the mortgagor, as the case may be, and if paid may be recovered by the tenant or mortgagor in the manner and subject to the provisions of subsection (1) of section five of the Courts (Emergency Powers) Act, 1917;

(ii) in proviso (i) to subsection (1) and subsections (2) and (4) of section one of the principal Act the fourth day of March nineteen hundred and nineteen shall be substituted for the twenty-fifth day of November nineteen hundred and fifteen;

(iii) in subsection (3) of section one of the principal Act references to the date of the passing of the principal Act shall be construed as references to the date of passing of this Act;

(iv) in subsection (4) of section one of the principal Act for the reference to the standard rate there shall be substituted a reference to the rate permitted by this section.

VISCOUNT MIDLETON moved, in the first paragraph of Clause 4, to omit the words "let as separate dwellings" and to substitute "or rooms subject to separate lettings." The noble Viscount said: I ask leave to move an Amendment with regard to sub-letting, which is not on the Paper. Your Lordships will, perhaps, accept my apology that the time given has been so short that we have not been able since the Second Reading to consider fully and to put down all the Amendments we desire to move. I have taken legal advice on this particular clause, and I gather that there is nothing whatever in the Bill which makes a sufficiently separate letting of a sub-let room to enable the principal Act or this Bill to apply. By far the greatest, evil which has arisen under the principal Act has been the profiteering—which I tried to explain to the House the other night—in regard to rooms which have been sub-let but which are not let as separate dwellings. Any number of these cases can be cited, it is a common thing to let an empty room in a house—the rent of which is 4s. or 5s. a week—for double and sometimes treble the rent of the whole house; and obviously, especially in these days when large populations have been brought to places where they did not live before, that has simply transferred the high rent which it is desired to keep from the landlord to the happy person who happened to be a tenant at the time at the outbreak of war.

I have had a number of these cases sent to me. Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to give you one as an instance; it is the case of a man at Plymouth. A seven-roomed house was let to a tenant at a very low rental on the ground that he had no children, and that only he and his wife would occupy the premises. Directly after the passing of the principal Act the tenant died, but in the meantime he had brought his daughter and her husband, together with six children, to live in the house; therefore by the terms on which the house was let he ought to have given it up; but under the Act he not merely kept the house but the tenancy was held to be good for his son-in-law and the six children, and the house is in their possession at the old rent to this very day. That is a really bad case of sub-letting, and one in which the landlord has been absolutely defrauded. I am advised that my Amendment will not disturb the Act in any respect, but will have the effect of extending to rooms which are sub-let exactly the provisions which Parliament desired to enforce on any tenant and for the protection of anybody who took or held a letting under the Act.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 23, after ("houses") omit ("let as separate dwellings") and insert ("or rooms subject to separate lettings").—(Viscount Midleton.)


I do not think that my noble friend's object can be conveniently attained at this stage of the Bill; and I was about to make a suggestion to him that, with the object of a discussion on the very important point he has raised, the more convenient place would be where he has down a later Amendment.


It is not the same point.


I have only glanced at my noble friend's later Amendment, but I was under the impression it was the same point. However, if I understand my noble friend correctly, he wants to amend the clause at this point. The difficulty of that is that if this Bill is amended here it would also become necessary to amend the Act of 1915 which deals with the same subject-matter. Section 2 (2) of the Act of 1915 is as follows— This Act shall apply to a house or a part of a house let as a separate dwelling where such letting does not include any land other than the site of the dwelling-house and a garden or other premises within the curtilage of the dwelling-house, and where either the annual amount of the standard rent or the rateable value of the house or part of the house does not exceed… and so forth. If the Amendment of my noble friend were inserted here it would become necessary by an amending Act to deal with this section of the earlier Act, which I think your Lordships would not find a very convenient course.


It seems important for us to consider what it is that we really desire to effect with regard to this question of sub-letting. I do not think I shall be misinterpreting the views of the House if I say that it is their intention that tenants of houses, who receive the benefits of these Statutes, shall not be able to reap for their own advantage the profit that would properly belong to the landlord by sub-letting the house cither in whole or in part to a number of sub- tenants. If I am right in that view, then all that is left is to see whether the words in the present Bill give full effect to that desire. I think it is extremely doubtful. First of all they make no reference to letting in rooms at all, and secondly they impose the condition that the letting must be as a separate dwelling, and it may be extremely difficult to know what that phrase implies. The altered words as proposed by the noble Viscount make the purpose, as it seems to me, plain. They extend the phrase to rooms and provide that instead of being let as separate dwellings they shall be "subject to separate let tings," which is a much more, easily understood phrase. If it follows from that that the former Act has got to be amended, well and good, it should be, but whether amended or not there can, as I conceive, be no reason why we should allow any further cover for the abuse of the existing Statute which has most undoubtedly existed, and will continue to exist unless we make the language plain.


I have not the principal Act before me, but the observations of the Lord Chancellor seem to me to be covered by the provisions of this section. I understand him to say that Section 2 (2) of the principal Act would require amendment. Now Clause 4, if amended as proposed, will run thus— As from the passing of this Act the principal Act… shall extend to houses or parts of houses or rooms subject to separate lettings. The amendment of the principal Act will be effected by the very words of the proposed clause.


I entertain some little doubt as to that. But the point I am making upon this is, as has been said, that it is a drafting matter. I am not out of sympathy with my noble friend's real object, as I hope to show when we come to discuss a later Amendment, but I shall not put your Lordships to the trouble of dividing against this Amendment, because between now and the Report stage I would ascertain quite clearly what is the position.


I am very doubtful whether the Amendment will achieve the desired object, but I suggest that it should be considered before the Report stage, with a view of getting words which will do what I think every one agrees is very desirable.

LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH moved, in Clause 4 (c) (i), to leave out "twenty-fifth day of December, nineteen hundred and eighteen," and to insert "fourth day of March, nineteen hundred and nineteen." The noble Lord said: The point of the Amendment which stands in my name is to ask the Government whether they will not go back to their own original intention. The Bill as drafted and presented in another place took as its date of commencement March 4. I understand that the reason for this was that it was on the 4th of March that the Leader of the House of Commons intimated that such a Bill would be produced, and that this may be taken as an intimation to people that if they do anything contrary to what is going to be legislated for, they take the responsibility and must incur the difficulties which they have to some extent brought upon themselves. Personally I dislike retrospective legislation altogether, and I think the Lord Chancellor would agree that as a general rule an Act should come into force upon the day it is passed and not earlier. That is a good sound rule.

But since the Bill was introduced it has been made retrospective to the previous Quarter Day—namely, December 25, and therefore innocent people who had in perfect good faith made bargains for a change of residence in the months of January and February are prejudiced by the course now taken, and unless the original date is restored I suggest that all sorts of hardships and anomalies will arise. I will give one instance. It is hypothetical, but not at all improbable. Suppose a man in occupation last December of a house rented at £80 per annum wanted to become the tenant of a cheaper house at Lady Day. He has given notice to give up his larger house, which is not affected by the Bill, and had expected all through the months of January and February that there would be no difficulty in getting into the house which he had taken, we will suppose, at £65 per annum. This poor man, who has given up his £80 house and taken a £65 house, will find himself homeless, because in all probability his £80 house has been let. Then there is a subsidiary point. Who is to pay the legal expenses which may have been incurred in this? The Bill as at present drafted, with a retrospective clause, places great hardship upon a man by nullifying contracts entered into in perfect good faith. I submit that in cases of houses which have been sold, and the contract for which was to be completed by March 25, the chaos and difficulties will be very great. I think it is fair that if emergency legislation is to be undertaken in haste it should not be retrospective beyond a certain point, when public notice was given that legislation was in contemplation.

Amendment moved— Page 3, Line 16 and 17, leave out ("twenty-fifth day of December, nineteen hundred and eighteen") and insert ("fourth day of March, nineteen hundred and nineteen").—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)


Your Lordships will have inferred, from the fact that the proposal contained in the Amendment was the original proposal of the Government, that they held no view against it at the time that the Bill was introduced in the House of Commons. The history of the matter was this. It became clear, as the discussions proceeded, that a great volume of opinion in the House of Commons took the view that December 25, 1918, was for a variety of reasons it more convenient day than March 1, and the course of the debates led the Government to form the same conclusion. I think I ought to inform your Lordships that it was not representation confined to one part of the House, but the representatives of property owners in Glasgow—influential representatives—all formally asked the Government to make this change, which was also demanded by the representatives of very different sections of the population.

I do not know how far the noble Lord has made careful inquiries into the views that are held by people in Scotland upon this point, but I rather suspect he will find that the change made in the House of Commons, as the result of pressure there, was one for which a great deal more is to be, said than he appears to imagine. Nearly all the changes in rent in Scotland, so the Glasgow owners pointed out, are effected at Quarter Days. A quarter day in Scotland is January 1, and it was stated that such a day as March 4 would only benefit a few landlords who made the changes between two quarter days.

I am not sure, either, whether this point was clearly in Lord Balfour of Burleigh's mind. The Bill does not, of course, affect the recoverability of any rent which accrues due before March 4, 1919. That is the effect of proviso (i) of Section 1, subsection (1), of the Act of 1915 applied, as this Bill applies it, to the higher-rented houses. It is not a point on which the Government hold a strong view, but I suspect that there is more public feeling in support of the change than the noble Lord imagines.


If I may say so with respect, it seems rather a pity that the noble and learned Lord does not meet the arguments addressed to him. The point of the argument which my noble friend addressed to him is this, that in many casts a man has given up his old house and taken another house in the full belief that he would be entitled to occupy it. This Bill says that he is not to have this other house and that the bargain entered into is to be broken; and, by the operation of this measure, the old tenant is allowed to remain. What is to happen to the man who has given up his house in the hops that he is going to have a new house? This has nothing to do with the landowner. There is no point about him. But what is the position of a man who has given up his house in the hope of occupying a new house, when Parliament pays that he is not to have it? We had hoped that the noble and learned Lord, with his great legal acumen, would have met this argument. But he has nothing to say to it. So far as he is concerned, the gentleman who has given up his house may live in the street. The noble and learned Lord does not address himself to the paint of what appears to be a substantial grievance.

The man cannot go back to his old house, you observe, because a new man will certainly have got it. The landlord would not leave it vacant. The man has nothing to do but live in the street, and that appears to satisfy the noble and learned Lord and the Government. That is all the argument they can find to address to the House. I really think that is not quite the way to treat us. I believe there is no assembly in the world which is more amenable to argument than your Lordships' House. It differs from many other assemblies in that respect. Your Lordships do not come down to the House determined which way they shall vote, but you come to listen to the arguments and to vote accordingly. I am very much afraid that the reason the noble and learned Lord does not address himself to the point is that he has not got an answer, He knows all these arguments, of course, with his extremely acute intellect, and he knows there is no answer. Let him say so and we shall know where we are.


May I add one word in answer to the noble and learned Lord? This is not a Scottish Amendment at all. I do not believe, it affects in Scotland one-tenth the number of people that it will affect in England and especially London. The arguments came to me from London. In Scotland they let for a year mid half a year, and in England at the quarter day.


The noble Marquess speaks a little contemptuously of my poor attempts—


I apologise.


Not at all. I assure the noble Marquess that I am extremely hard to affront in these matters. It is, of course, clear that December 25 has nothing to do with notice at all. If notice, for instance, had been given three years ago to quit at Lady Day this year, the tenant would be able to refuse to quit and could not, in any case, be turned out. I am not, however, prepared to dispute—your Lordships will find that I shall deal quite candidly with your Lordships—that there may be, in one or two cases (not, I am informed, a considerable number), inconvenience of the kind which the noble Marquess indicated. I do not believe that these cases will be numerous. This and other objections of the kind were considered before the changes were made, and it is a question of the balance of convenience in the matter. If your Lordships take a different view from that which was taken in the House of Commons, while I still retain my view that the feeling in favour of the change was so strong there that the Bill as it stands at present will probably be restored, at the same time I should not ask your Lordships to divide upon the point.

On Question, Amendment negatived.


The next Amendment in my name is the addition of the following proviso at the end of Clause 4— Provided always that, if the rateable value as on the third day of August, nineteen hundred and fourteen, exceeds the standard rent as defined by this Act, the said rateable value shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to be the standard rent. It is not an Amendment, I admit, of very great importance. It is of a rather highly technical nature, and I frankly say that if the Government do not see their way to accept it I will not trouble your Lordships, to divide upon it. Its object is to provide for a case such as this. Under the principal Act and under the present Bill the standard, rent is the rent at which the dwelling-house was let on August 3, 1914. The rent taken is actually below the sum at which, the dwelling-house is assessed for the purposes, of rates, and the object of the Amendment is to provide that in such a case the standard rate shall be taken to be the rateable value. I think it is unfair to maintain by Act of Parliament that a landlord, called upon to pay rates on one figure, should only be allowed to accept rent at a lower figure. If I may venture to give an example—supposing a house is let for £20 or £25 per annum, it may be rated at £35. It is probably being much underlet, and it may have been underlet because—


Will the noble Lord allow me? I may be able to save him and your Lordships some time by saying that, on principle, I should be prepared to accept the Amendment, but it is, I think, in the wrong form. It ought not to be brought in as a proviso to paragraph (iv), which deals solely with the calling in of mortgages. The proper form of the Amendment would be to Clause 4, page 4, line 2 at the end, and if the noble Lord will be so good between now and the Report stage as to consult with me, I will attempt to provide him with a form of words to carry out his purpose.


I accept that suggestion gratefully.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

VISCOUNT MIDLETON moved the insertion of the following new clause after Clause 4— 5. Where in the case of a dwelling-house let at a rent which includes payments for the use of furniture it is proved to the satisfaction of a judge of the county court that the lessor is making a larger profit than he would have been able to make in July, nineteen hundred and fourteen, in circumstances otherwise similar, such increased sum shall not be recoverable. The noble Viscount said: When the principal Act was under discussion the Minister in charge told the House that it was not desired to bring the furnished house into the scope of the Bill. I think it has been proved in operation not merely that furnished houses formed a particularly important section of the houses to which the Act applied, but also that the Act has been eluded in the most open manner by the very fact that anything which could be called a furnished house was exempt from it. I have no doubt that the noble and learned Lord is aware that it has been laid down as a legal axiom that any furniture in the house will be sufficient to take at out of the Act of 1915. In The Conveyancer, Volume 1, December, 1915, to May, 1916, the following form (No. 31) is supplied to take the case out of the 1915 Act— The rent hereinbefore agreed to be paid by the said (tenant) shall include the use by him during the tenancy of (the kitchen furniture) now in or upon the premises. And in a note the Editors of this legal periodical state— By Section 2 (2) (c) the Act does not apply to a dwelling-house let at a rent which includes payment in respect of board, attendance, or use of furniture. Hence, rent which includes the use of a kitchen chair would appear to be outside the Act. That has been done in any number of cases, and the Act has been made a sport by those who desire to sub-let by merely leaving some small article of furniture and including it in the letting.

I will not trouble your Lordships with any of the numerous cases which have come to me except just to mention the sort of cases which we hear of. There is one from Thames Ditton. The rateable value is £10. The tenant has a few sticks of furniture in it, and he has managed to screw £50 a year out of his sub-tenants. There is another case at Maidenhead of a furnished cottage, rented at 7s. per week. The tenant occupied it until his wife died last summer, when he went into lodgings and sub-let the house for two guineas a week. He has been given notice to quit, but the magistrates have decided that they have no power in the matter. I have similar cases from Croydon and other parts of the country.

The fact is that without some sub-letting clause the Act has become a dead letter in a number of cases which Parliament most desired to meet. Having regard to the difficulty of the subject I would have preferred to submit an Amendment which dealt actually with the amount which might be allowed for a furnished house, but seeing that the case of furnished houses differs so greatly (some are free of rates, while others are not) it would be almost impossible to adopt any definite standard. The Amendment therefore that I venture to submit contemplates, as I think was contemplated in the original draft of the Bill before it left another place, that the County Court Judge might be called in any case so excessive as to constitute a real departure from the intention of the Act. I do not imagine that a very great number of cases will come before the County Court Judges, because the mere fact of the possession of this authority will make the tenant who desires to profiteer more reasonable in his demands on those to whom he desires to sub-let. I hope the noble and learned Lord will be able to accept the Amendment.

Amendment moved—

Insert the following new clause: 5. Where in the case of a dwelling-house let at a rent which includes payments for the use of furniture it is proved to the satisfaction of a judge of the county court that the lessor is making a larger profit than he would have been able to make in July, nineteen hundred and fourteen, in circumstances otherwise similar, such increased sum shall not be recoverable."—(Viscount Midleton.)


I am inclined to think that the noble Viscount has devised a much more promising method of dealing with what everybody admits is a most troublesome problem than any I have up to the present seen. But there are objections, I think, to the wording of his particular Amendment. In two points of detail it seems open to criticism. In the first place, the period, July, 1914, would in many cases not afford a fair standard of comparison, because if you are letting a winter resort great deductions would have to be made. The words "in circumstances otherwise similar" are, I think, open to objection as a matter of drafting. They may have the effect of nullifying the whole clause, because they would pre-suppose the same competition as at present. I have asked the Government draftsman to draft a new clause which would give effect to the noble Viscount's purpose, and if he will be good enough to put himself into communication with me I will place it at his disposal in order that he may move it, if he so desires, upon the Report stage. I do not definitely bind myself to accept his particular Amendment, but I wish to give the noble Viscount all the help I can to put it in proper shape.


I venture to suggest that the Amendment is open to grave objections—I do not know what the future Government Amendment may be like. The object of the Amendment is very desirable, but, to begin with, the noble Viscount will deprive the tenant who lets furnished of the very moderate profit which a landlord is going to be given. Why should not the tenant who sub-lets be, for instance, entitled to 10 per cent. profit, or 25 per cent. as the case may be, particularly as ho has ventured something which is very easily destroyed—namely, furniture, which is not like a house, which will not run away.

Then, again, does the Amendment relate to letting for the year or for the season? Suppose it is a summer or a season let, a let in December may be very much in the nature of profiteering. On the other hand a let in May for the whole season ought to be a much bigger rent than a let in July or August. I venture to join issue with the recommendations of The Conveyancer. A colourable let of a furnished house ought to be construed, and would be construed by any Court, as the let of an unfurnished house. To put in a single stick of furniture or kitchen chair in a let would be construed by any Court as the let of an unfurnished and not a furnished house.

The truth of the matter is that the real grievances are grievances which we cannot touch. They are caused where there is a sudden shifting of population, and where people must have houses for the season. Officers' wives during the war would, of course, pay any sum for a room in order to be near their husbands, and having contracted to pay they would never think of using an Act of Parliament to say that they were not open to fulfil their contract. What I think the noble Viscount has not considered is that it is the letting of rooms and short lettings for portions of the year in which the real profiteering is shown; and while I have great sympathy with the object of the Amendment it would, in its present form, by no means meet the difficulty and I think would give rise to many others.


I am quite sure it would ill become me, or any laymen, to enter into a controversy with noble and learned Lords upon these very intricate matters of interpretation. This Amendment expresses exactly what we think. It may not express what the Courts may interpret it to mean. That, very often happens. The point is not that people are willing to give very high rents because, of particular circumstances which might accrue, but that the landlord is not allowed to take a high rent, and by reason of the lowness of his rent the sub-tenant by letting makes an enormous profit. The profit really comes out of the fact that Parliament has prevented the landlord from charging a reasonable rent. That is manifestly and obviously unfair. It is also obviously against the intention of the Bill, which intended these provisions to benefit the ultimate occupier and not the intermediate man, who is not entitled to any particular credit as he is merely a dealer in houses and is not in the least the object of our compassion. This point, therefore, requires to be met; indeed, the noble Lord, who is a great authority, says the words are open to every kind of objection, and I am sure he is right. We are grateful to the Lord Chancellor for having: expressed his sympathy with the object of the Amendment, though of course he has not pledged himself to accept it in the revised form. Nevertheless he has said that he will put the Government draftsman at the disposal of the noble Lord so that our object may be achieved without being open to the criticisms which have been made. I am sure my noble friend will accept that.


It was because I realised how great were the difficulties of the kind indicated by my noble and learned friend that I entered a caveat against its being supposed that I had undertaken to accept the Amendment when redrafted. I want to make it quite plain that there is a case which in the very nature of things it is difficult to deal with, that it is very important that a remedy should be found, and that we will attempt to find that remedy by the time the next stage is reached.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

EARL GREY had the following Amendment on the Paper—

Insert the following new clause: 5. Where at the date of the passing of this Act a tenant in occupation of premises to which this Act applies assigns or otherwise sublets such premises, the provisions of this Act shall not apply except in so far as fixing a standard rent for the premises in question. The noble Earl said: I think the case which is covered in this clause would really be more a subject for consideration in any discussion which takes place before the next stage under the promise so kindly given by the noble and learned Lord. I do not know whether it would be possible to include this case in those that are to be considered under the promise that has just been given.


The suggestion of the noble Earl might very conveniently be considered by the draftsman when he goes into the wording of the previous Amendment.


I thank the noble and learned Lord.

Clause 5:

Minor amendments of the principal Act.

5.—(1) A landlord of a house to which the principal Act, either as originally enacted or as extended by this Act, applies shall, on being so requested by the tenant of the house, furnish to him a statement as to what is the standard rent of the house, and if he fails within fourteen days to do so, or furnishes a statement which is fake in any material particular, he shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding ten pounds.

(2) Where a person who has, since the thirtieth day of September nineteen hundred and seventeen, purchased a house to which the principal Act, either as originally enacted or as extended by this Act, applies, requires the house for his own occupation or that of some person in his employ, or in the employ of some tenant from him, nothing in the Increase of Rent, &c. (Amendment) Act, 1918, shall be construed as preventing the court from making an order for the recovery of possession of the house, if, after considering all the circumstances of the case, including especially the alternative accommodation available for the tenant, the court considers it reasonable to make such an order.

LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH moved, at the end of subsection (1), to Insert: "Provided always that this clause shall not apply to any landlord who has acquired the house subsequently to the third day of August, nineteen hundred and fourteen."

The noble Lord said: I move this proviso to meet possible unfairness. Clause 5 as it stands lays a duty upon the landlord, and provides for his being prosecuted if he does not discharge it. It has been suggested to me that circumstances might arise in which it might be impossible for the landlord to comply with the request, and I suggest a proviso for the protection of the landlord if he does not know and cannot find out the information that he is required to give. There are cases where landlords have acquired property and are unable to inform the tenant of the standard rent of the particular house. It may be that the property has been taken over by the failure of a mortgagee to pay his mortgage, and unless the existing landlord who has taken over the mortgage of the property can find the original owner he cannot say at what figure the standard rent was fixed. I submit that in these circumstances it is not fair to expose him to prosecution. I need not go into the matter at length. If the noble and learned Lord says it is useless to make this proviso I shall not press it, but it seems to me a reasonable one.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 10, after ("pounds") insert ("Provided always that this clause shall not apply to any landlord who has acquired the house subsequently to the third day of August, nineteen hundred and fourteen").—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)


I hope that the noble Lord will not press this Amendment. He bases his argument for exemption upon the fact, as I understand him, that any person who purchased the house since August 3, 1914, would not or might not know at what rent the house was let before he purchased it. Is it very unreasonable to say that it is his duty to find out? It really ought not to be very difficult I to find out. I cannot conceive any great difficulty about the matter. If he does not find out, your Lordships know that he is liable to pay any rent in excess of the; standard rent which he may receive. I cannot think, in the experience of our daily lives in taking houses, that we should ever any one of us find the least difficulty in discovering what the rent was.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

EARL RUSSELL moved, in subsection (2), after the words "Act, 1918, shall," to insert "after the commencement of the extended period." The noble Earl said: My attention was called to this matter, which it was thought inflicted a hardship upon people who had the protection of the existing legislation before the present legislation was proposed. Your Lordships will notice that sub-clause (2) of Clause 5 provides that a person who, having purchased a house, requires it for his own occupation, shall be able to do certain things which apparently he might not have been able to do by the Increase of Kent Amendment Act, 1913. It has been suggested to me that this is rather hard upon those who were under the Act, and who thought that they were protected under that Act for a definite period, and that it would be only fair that that increase in the power of the landlord should be limited to a period beginning after the period which is covered by the existing legislation. For that period I would suggest inserting between the words "shall" and "be construed" words "after the commencement of the extended period." I admit that it is a little awkward to insert those words there, as it will be a matter of altering the construction in relation to the period, but I should be very glad to accept any suggestion for better words so as to prevent a person who has or thinks he has certain rights from having those rights interfered with until the period covered by the existing legislation expires. When that period expires then let him be brought under the new legislation, but for the period that he has those rights let him retain them. That is the object of the Amendment, and I hope that the noble and learned Lord will be able to accept it.

Amendment Moved— Page 4, line 17, after ("shall") insert ("after he commencement of the extended period").—(Earl Russell.)


There are two objections to this Amendment. One, as the noble Earl surmised, is an objection of drafting. The other is an objection of substance. He is right in thinking that it would be impossible as a matter of drafting to substitute the words—


It would at least be inelegant.


It would be very inelegant and unusual, but that, of course, could be dealt with. There is also a point of substance. The effect of the Amendment, would be to postpone the operation of Clause 5 (2) to six months after the conclusion of peace. This new pro- vision is, as I am informed, required particularly in the interests of demobilised soldiers, and if it is to be used in their interests it is quite clear that it must come into operation immediately. Lord Hunter's Committee reported that a number of cases had been brought before their notice in which the stringencies of the: Act of 1918 operated with great hardship upon the purchaser, and after carefully considering the matter Lord Hunter's Committee recommended that the relaxation contained in this section should be introduced. This, therefore, is a subject which has received considerable thought and examination both by Lord Hunter's Committee and in another place.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 5 agreed to.

EARL GREY moved the insertion of a new Clause after Clause 5. The noble Earl said: This Amendment is to insert, as a new clause, one of the specific recommendations of Lord Hunter's Committee. That Committee, in almost these identical words, recommended that there should be no increase in rates on houses brought within the Bill during the period covered by the Bill. It is obvious that if there were an increase of rates allowed you might take a house which had been within the compounding limit outside that limit. The 10 per cent, rise in rent might take a house outside the compounding limit and a rise of rates would follow; and that, again, would allow the landlord further to raise his rent to cover the increase of rates, as allowed by the principal Act. And so it is really like climbing up a ladder with alternate feet. One follows the other. Nothing was said at all by the Government in another place, while the Bill was going through, to suggest why this really very important provision had been omitted from the Bill; and as in itself it seems so essentially fair it would be very interesting to hear why it does not form part of the Bill.

Amendment moved—

Insert the following new clause: No increase of rates shall be levied on any house falling within the provisions of this Act unless it can be shown that apart from the provisions of this Act such increase could be demanded."—(Earl Grey.)


It is quite true, as the noble Earl has pointed out, that Lord Hunter's Committee made a recommendation in the sense of this Amendment. The object of the Amendment is, no doubt, clearly to prevent the rateable value of a house being raised in consequence of any increase in the rent permitted by the Bill. I did not know before, but I understand on inquiry that the view which was taken by official persons was this. As it was very inconvenient in a Bill of this kind which did not deal with rating that the matter should be treated, it was pointed out (which is a point of greater substance) that if the Act of 1915 had not been passed, and rents had been raised, corresponding increases in rateable value would have followed. This Bill only removes to a certain extent the restriction on raising rents imposed by the Act of 1915, and it is not perhaps very clear why this should be allowed to affect the law of rating. At any rate, I think it follows that an unfair burden would be thrown on the occupiers of premises not affected by the Bill. The noble Earl, I am sure, will have observed that this is a privileged Amendment, as it affects the incidence of rates.


I am sorry I do not quite follow the argument of the noble and learned Lord. As my noble friend has pointed out, the effect of allowing a 10 per cent, increase of rent might be to bring the dwelling outside the compounding limit. Is that intended? That would, of course, rest the obligation to pay rates on the occupier. The moment the rates are raised then under another clause in the Bill it is permissible to raise the rent again—namely, to the extent of the rates. That once more brings in question the position of the assessment. The rates go up again to meet the new increase of the rent, and so on alternately. It appears to be unworkable as it stands. We have no desire to inter into a controversy with another place on the privilege question, but this does seem to be a difficulty of drafting which the noble and learned Lord ought to consider with a view of altering it.


I think the noble Earl did undoubtedly do a service in calling attention to a possible effect of the Bill in its present condition. I confess that the point had not occurred to me—the point, that is, about the possible consequences where the rates have been compounded; and I think it would be convenient if I asked those who are responsible for the drafting of the Bill to look into the matter with me before the Report stage, and then I will communicate, if I may, with my noble friend.


Certainly; I quite agree.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD BUCKMASTER rose to move the insertion of the following new clause—

"At the end of paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of section two of the principal Act, the following words shall be inserted: Provided that in the case of any dwelling-house let at a rising rent payable under a tenancy agreement or lease the maximum rent payable under such tenancy agreement or lease shall be the standard rent. The noble and learned Lord said: This Amendment is designed to meet a small but a very real grievance. At present it is not uncommon in the development of an estate to have forms of agreement which provide that the first year's rent shall be on a lower scale than the succeeding years. I have myself seen several forms of such agreements, which provide for rents beginning, for example, at £60, going up the next year to £65, and the third year to £70—


If it would save my noble friend a little time and trouble I might tell him that, in the view of the Government, he has disclosed a case that ought to be dealt with, and I should have said that I was prepared to accept his Amendment except that I have a little doubt as to the phrase "a rising rent." Perhaps what he means could be expressed in some more usual method, but, subject to that, I should be prepared to accept the Amendment.


The phrase was one which, I admit, gave some offence to my own ears, but I find it difficult to know what phrase to substitute. I think if one substituted "progressive" for "rising" that might meet the difficulty, and if the noble Lord will accept the Amendment with the word "progressive" instead of "rising" I will move it in that form.


indicated assent.

Amendment moved—

Insert the following now clause: At the end of paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of section two of the principal Act, the following words shall be inserted: Provided that in the case of any dwelling house let at a. progressive rent payable under a tenancy agreement or lease the maximum rent payable under such tenancy agreement or lease shall be the standard rent."—(Lord Buckmaster.)

Clause 6:

Exception of new houses.

6. Neither the principal Act nor thin Act shall apply to houses erected after or in course of erection at the passing of this Act.


I indicated to the noble and learned Lord in charge of the Bill some time ago an addition to Clause 6 in these words: "Nor shall it apply to a house in Scotland assessed at over £30 per annum which has been prior to March 4, 1919, sold or purchased for occupancy at Whitsun, 1919." I was only able to give notice to-day, because the noble and learned Lord will understand that the difficulty of communicating with Scotland and the delays in the post and telegraph service, are great, and the Bill was only in our hands on Saturday; therefore it was only in subsequent stages by telegram that I could get this Amendment. I gave the noble and learned Lord intimation of it earlier in the day, and if he would rather take it on the Report stage I will give notice for that stage.


The only feeling I have on the matter is that I could obviously give more attention and more time to my noble friend's point if I could consider it with the draftsman, because I only took it in the Lobby a few minutes ago.


Then I will move it on the Report stage.

Clause 6 agreed to.


had the following Amendment on the Paper—

Insert the following new clause: 7. It shall not be lawful during the period of the operation of this Act for any local authority to raise the assessment for rating purposes of any house to which this Act applies, above that existing as on the third day of August nineteen hundred and fourteen. The noble Lord said: The noble and learned Lord will understand this question better than I do, although I have some familiarity with the rating system, of England in consequence of a Commission over which I presided. The object of this clause is to prevent a local authority from raising the annual assessment of houses to which this Act applies. I do not mean raising the annual rates, because the rates depend upon expenditure, and the rates per £ must be raised, whatever the result, if necessity arises. The object of this clause is to prevent the assessment being raised, with a consequent increase of rent against the tenants as allowed by Section 1 (4) of the principal Act. The danger that is suggested to me is that if these assessments are raised and houses come outside the compounding limit, then the rates and consequently the rents will be raised.


In substance that point was put, I think, by the noble Earl, and I have already promised him that between now and the Report stage it shall be examined. I believe it is the same point.


I am afraid I was out of the House at the moment, and did not, hear that. In the circumstances I shall ask permission not to move just now, and will leave it to the subsequent stage.

Clause 7 agreed to.

THE LORD CHANCELLOR moved to insert a new clause after Clause 7. The noble and learned Lord said: The first part of this Amendment is necessitated by the fact that there are a very large, number of Settings in Ireland from the first of May, which is the rent day. The second part of the Amendment is intended to meet the especial conditions of Ireland which have led those who are familiar with them to think it desirable that the local officer of health should be entrusted with the duty of giving certificates instead of the sanitary authority. I cannot tell your Lordships what volume of substance there is behind the representations, but it has been represented that it would not be desirable to give to local bodies the power to prevent a landlord from obtaining the relief afforded by the Act by the simple method of certifying that a house is not fit for human habitation. If the duty is entrusted to the medical officer of health it can be performed by him, and I feel sure that your Lordships will think, in the special circumstances of this case, that this is a more convenient way.

Amendment moved— Insert the following new clause:

"Application of Act to Ireland. In the application of this Act to Ireland:

  1. "(a) The first day of May shall be substituted for Lady Day in the case of tenancies where the former day is the gale day;
  2. "(b) The medical officer of health of a dispensary district shall be substituted for the sanitary authority in section two of this Act, and the issue of certificates and the payment of fees in connection with applications by tenants under the said section shall be subject to regulations to be made by the Local Government Board for Ireland."—(THE LORD CHANCELLOR.)

On Question, Amendment agreed, to.

Remaining clause agreed to.


I should like to ask the noble and learned Lord in charge of the Bill on what day he proposes to take the Report stage, so that we may know what to expect.


Having regard to the fact that there are two or three cases in which I have given undertakings to noble Lords, it would not, I think, be reasonable to ask your Lordships to take the Report stage until Monday. It was originally hoped that it might be possible to take it to-morrow, but I have abandoned that. I trust, however, that your Lordships will think it not unreasonable if I ask for all the remaining stages to be taken on Monday.


As far as I am concerned—if my opinion is of any value to your Lordships—I think that will be better. The Bill would then go back to the Commons. But when does the noble and learned Lord think we shall have it again?


It is, of course, obviously impossible for me to attempt to forecast it; I can only conjecture. I cannot know what view the other House will take of some of the Amendments winch your Lordships have placed in the Bill, but I do not think it will be a long interval before the Bill returns to this House.