HL Deb 17 May 1920 vol 40 cc343-4

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Crawford, in moving the suspension of Standing Order No. XXXIX, referred to the Committee on the Rent Restriction Acts, which was presided over by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. This Committee has recently reported in favour of a continuation of the protection afforded by these Acts to tenants of dwelling-houses, and also that the protection should be extended to cover houses of a higher value than those already within the Acts. The present limit of value in Scotland is £60 per annum, and, according to the recommendation of the Committee, this limit ought to be raised so as to cover dwelling-houses in Scotland the standard rent or yearly value of which does not exceed £90.

The Government have under consideration, and hope to introduce very soon, a Bill for the United Kingdom on the lines of the Committee's Report. It is, however, not now possible that such a Bill could become law before May 28, the principal Scottish removal term, and it is accordingly necessary, if full effect is to be given to the recommendation referred to, to suspend for the time being powers of ejection in the case of houses in Scotland between the annual values of £60 and £90. In these circumstances the present Bill has been introduced, and its main purpose is to apply temporarily to tenants of such houses the protection from ejection now enjoyed by tenants of houses under £60 annual value.

In the single clause of this Bill there is also a provision relating to workmen's houses which were requisitioned by Government Departments during the war, the possession of which will terminate on May 28. Though the rentals of such houses are in most cases within the limits of the existing Rent Restriction Acts, it is thought that the workmen still housed in them would not, on a strict interpretation of these Acts, be entitled to plead their protection. The ejection of these workmen would, in many cases, cause serious hardship, as there is no alternative accommodation available. The houses in question are, in most cases, houses which, before requisition, were only occupied during the summer months. To be of any avail this Bill must become law before May 28; hence the urgency of getting it through before the Parliamentary recess.

Moved (Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended), That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Stanmore.)

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

House adjourned at five o'clock