§ House again in Committee (according to Order): The EARL OF DONUGHMORE in the Chair.
§ Clause 1. as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 2:
§ Application of Act to pending proceedings.
§ 2.—(1) Where any order or judgment has been made or given before the passing of this Act, and in the opinion of the court the order or judgment, would not have been made or given if this Act had been in force at the time when such order or judgment was made or given, the court, on application by the tenant, shall, unless the order or judgment was executed before the fifteenth day of April, nineteen hundred and twenty-four, rescind or vary the order or judgment in such manner and subject to such conditions as the court shall think fit for the purpose of giving effect to this Act.
§ (2) Where the court has so rescinded any order or judgment, the court shall, if the order or judgment was executed on or after the fifteenth day of April, nineteen hundred and twenty-four, and notwithstanding that the landlord or any other person claiming under him is in possession, make such further order or give such further judgment as may be necessary to enable the tenant to resume possession of the dwelling-house upon such terms as appear to the court to be equitable.
§ (3) Where a landlord has, on or after the fifteenth day of April, nineteen hundred and twenty-four, taken possession of a dwelling-house under a judgment or order so rescinded as aforesaid, such possession shall not in any case exclude the dwelling-house from the operation of the Bent and Mortgage Interest (Restrictions) Acts, 1920 and 1953.
EARL STANHOPE moved, in subsection 1, after the first "Act," to insert "but not executed." The noble Earl said: The effect of this clause as it stands is that where an order has been made before the passing of this Act but has not been executed before April 15 last, then the Court shall rescind any order
which it has already made if in the opinion of the Court that order would not have been made if this Act had already been law. I think the noble and learned Viscount opposite did not really apprehend the point that was made by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Cave, on the Second Reading, because find in the OFFICIAL REPORT that the noble and learned Viscount opposite is reported to have said:—
Is there much difference, for the purposes of the particular question which is engaging us, between a judgment given and the execution following on it?
There is a very great difference, and it is this. Where the judgment has been given but not executed, the landlord and the tenant may have been put to a certain amount of expense in bringing the case before the Court and in getting a judgment, but when, in addition, that judgment has been executed, it means that the tenant has already left the house, that the landlord has come into possession of it, that both of them have had the expense of moving furniture, and so on, and the landlord has come into possession of his own house. As the Bill now stands, if this order is executed between April 15 and the passing of this Bill, the landlord is again to be turned out of his house. In other words, you really get a system of general post.
§ On the Second Reading of this Bill the noble and learned Viscount opposite talked a good deal about tranquillity. I do suggest, to him that it is necessary to insert these words if we are to have any tranquillity at all in regard to housing. It seems to me extraordinarily unfair that, where a landlord has gone to the expense of getting a judgment passed and actually executed and has come into possession, he should be turned out of his house in spite of everything that has passed. I hope, therefore, that the noble and learned Viscount opposite will agree to this Amendment, which provides that the Court should not be asked to repeal an order where a decision has already been executed.
Page 1, line 26, after ("Act") insert. ("but not executed").—(Earl Stanhope.)
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am so hopeless, in view of the attitude which your Lordships take to the question of hardships to tenants with which we are concerned here, of making any impression 769 that I will simply state the point and state it very shortly. The purpose of the Amendment is to enable a landlord who evicted a tenant between April 15 and the passing of the Act to retain the house, although the tenant may be evicted in circumstances of greater hardship than the landlord would have suffered if the order had not been made. That is the effect of the proposed Amendment. The Amendment thus encourages landlords who cannot prove the greater hardship which is the general condition of the Bill to press for orders and executions in view of the coming alteration in the law. That tends to turn the Bill, the purpose of which is to prevent eviction, into a Bill which encourages eviction. I think it is a very bad Amendment, and that it will make the situation substantially worse. I therefore resist it.
§ VISCOUNT CAVE
It is important that this Amendment should be clearly represented to your Lordships, and I do not think that the speech which my noble and learned friend has made quite does justice to its purpose. We are anxious—I certainly am anxious—that nothing should be inserted in this Bill which is unreasonable from the point of view of the tenant. The only purpose of this Amendment, as I understand it, is that, when the Court has thought it reasonable not only to make an order but to allow execution upon it, and has put the owner of a house into possession of his house, he shall not afterwards be turned out. I cannot see anything unreasonable in that. We all know that Courts do not make orders to-day unless there is a very strong case for them, and, even when they make an order, they are apt to suspend execution in order to give the tenant every chance of finding another place, or of making some application under this Bill when it passes, so that it is only in a very strong ease that execution is allowed to issue under the existing Act. Consequently, the purpose of this Amendment is that, when a strong case has been made, possession given and the landlord put into his own property under an order of one of our Courts, he shall not afterwards be turned out on account of subsequent legislation. I must say that I think the argument a reasonable one, and I hope that the House will give favourable consideration to this Amendment.
LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM moved, in subsection (1), to substitute "may" for "shall," where that word first occurs. The noble Lord said: The effect of this Amendment would be that subsection (1) of Clause 2 would run as follows—
(1) Where any order or judgment has, been made or given before the passing of this Act, but not executed, and in the opinion of the court the order or judgment would not have been made or given if this Act had been in force at the time when such order or judgment was made or given, the court, on application by the tenant, may, unless the order or judgment was executed before the fifteenth day of April, nineteen hundred and twenty-four, rescind or vary the order or judgment in such manner and subject to such conditions as the court shall think fit for the purpose of giving effect to this Act.
The effect of this Amendment would be to preserve to the Court the right to consider whether or not, in the interval which has elapsed since the order was originally granted, fresh circumstances, have arisen which may induce them to rescind the order which they have made. All that it does is to preserve to the Judge the power of deciding whether or not the order, which may not perhaps have been given if this Act had been in force, shall be rescinded. It is only reserving to the Court the right to record its own decision.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The purport of this Bill is to stop evictions and, above everything, it was desired that there should not be delay. I have consulted the learned County Court Judges upon this Amendment and what they say-is that the word "shall" which is in the Bill gives them a direction and the word "may" leaves a question open and may lead to delay. Therefore, they prefer the word "shall." It seems to me that their view is reasonable and that the word in the Bill is better than the word "may".
§ LORD DANESFORT
I hope we shall say what we mean in this case. What we really mean is to give a discretion to the learned Judge. If our object is to give a discretion let us say so and not give him what the noble and learned Viscount calls a "direction." I do not know what a "direction" is. All I know is that if the word "shall" is put in the Bill the learned Judge has to do it whether he thinks it unwise or not.
§ EARL STANHOPE moved to omit from subsection (1) the words "unless the 771 order or judgment was executed before the fifteenth day of April nineteen hundred and twenty-four." The noble Earl said: This is consequential upon the Amendment we have just passed.
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
This cuts out Lord Banbury's next Amendment to insert "passing of this Act" instead of the words of the date.
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
I was going to give way to Lord Stanhope. I think his is a better Amendment.
Page 2, line 3, leave out from the beginning of the line to ("rescind ") in line 5.—(Earl Stanhope.)
§ EARL STANHOPE moved to leave out subsection (2). The noble Earl said: This is also consequential.
Page 2, lines 8 to 16, leave out subsection (2).—(Earl Stanhope.)
§ Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I should like to ask the Lord Chancellor when he proposes to take the Report stage?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I do not know what Earl Beauchamp thinks about it, but, generally speaking, we are anxious to have about a week between the stages.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
That is between the Second Reading and Committee stage, but this is only between the Committee and the Report stages.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
That is true. I do not know whether there are any substantial points to be considered on Report. Personally, I think Tuesday next will be convenient.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
We are getting very near Whitsuntide, and as I believe we have not very much other business for Tuesday, I think there will be plenty of time to take this Bill on that day.