§ Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion, moved by Lord Harris on Tuesday, That the Bill be referred to a Select Committee.
§ LORD JESSEL
My Lords, the Lord Chancellor on the Second Reading of this Bill, by the clear manner in which he explained its principles, almost persuaded me to change my opinion of its merits, but when my noble friend Lord Harris moved his Motion to refer the Bill to a Select Committee I was still more deeply impressed by his arguments. I am not going to repeat those arguments at any length, but what is the gist of them? In the first place, the noble Lord brought forward an example of hasty legislation in what is popularly known as the People's Budget of 1909. Your Lordships are well aware that agriculture in this country is not in so flourishing a condition as it might be, and one of the reasons which Lord Harris adduced for this fact was that, by the operation of that Budget, many of the landlords of this country, and especially of the larger landlords, have now given up their holdings, with the result that the land is possessed by smaller people who have no capital.
414 I note in this connection that various remedies are proposed. In the first place there is the programme of the Leader of the Liberal Party, advocating the holding of land by the county councils, and there is the proposal of the Socialist Party that the whole of the land should be nationalised. I am not going to discuss agriculture this afternoon, but I think that the example of what has happened to agriculture as the result of hasty legislation in the Budget of 1909 may well be a warning against rushing too quickly into specious legislation. I come to another point which is also, I think, germane to the subject. By the operation of that Budget, as everybody knows, building by private builders was enormously restricted. The consequence was that houses were not erected, and at last, we reached such a position that we have been able to house the people of this country only by vast subsidies which have had to be granted by successive Administrations. This all points to the necessity of not deterring people by legislation from investing their money by lending their capital for the building of houses. If, by this Bill, you make conditions too stringent you will not get people to invest their money in buildings to be let for business purposes.
I have two main objections to this Bill as it stands at present. In the first place it has never been clearly explained what is meant by goodwill and what is meant by improvements. It seems to me that this question of goodwill is a sort of elusive will-o'-the-wisp which you cannot grasp. There seems to be immense confusion on this subject, and if I may for one moment refer to the Budget, I would say that it is equally difficult to impress that upon some of the people. A friend of mine who was electioneering heard two men in a public-house discussing the merits of the Budget and one who was listening said: "What is this Mr. Budget? Be he blue or be he yellow?" In this House when I heard the discussion between the Secretary of State for India and Lord Sumner as to goodwill, I myself felt not at all certain what this goodwill was, whether it was red or black. It is one of my main objections to this Bill that these matters have never been clearly defined. My second objection 415 is the tribunal. Lord Sumner spoke about private judges and Lord Phillimore, at the conclusion of the debate the other night, not only expressed his views about goodwill but said he did not like the idea of the tribunal, that is to say, a single arbitrator from whom there is to be no appeal except upon points of law.
The reason that has actuated the Government in not allowing these cases to go before the County Courts is one of expense. I have carefully looked into this matter of expense and the estimates prepared by the permanent secretary of the Lord Chancellor. The other evening the noble Viscount, who is First Commissioner of Works, when we had that little mishap with the electric lighting the other evening, said he was not in favour of ninepence for fourpence. When I tell you that from these estimates, so far as I can gather, with the appropriation-in-aid the cost of the County Courts is £10, I do not think that it is much to complain of and if it were necessary to have more County Court Judges I do not think that the country would grumble. I might remind your Lordships that the last Committee which sat on this question, the Select Committee on Business Premises, recommended that the tribunal should be the county court with an assessor.
Reference has been made in this House to one whose name is familiar to all of us in connection with this question, and that is the name of the late Lord Long. Lord Long took a tremendous interest in the matter, upon which he made a big speech in 1914, and one of the points which he laid down on this subject met with the full assent of the leaders of the Unionist Party at that date. He said this:—It will be necessary to establish a competent tribunal with legal power and training, and equipped with local professional knowledge and training, which are also required. Take as your model the Wreck Commissioner's Court, which is presided over by a great lawyer and who has beside him practical men as assessors drawn from the naval or mercantile marines. Have your great lawyer and assessors—men trained in the practical knowledge with which the cases are connected and drawn from the districts in which the cases arise. Make that tribunal wholly independent either of Government or of Parliament or of the public.This was the opinion of the leaders of the Unionist Party of the day. I am 416 not going to refer to the speech made by Sir Henry Slesser, Solicitor-General in the late Government, in the House of Commons, but he showed himself clearly in that speech against the proposed tribunal.
I want to go from those two points to the real reason why I am in favour of Lord Harris's Motion. I am not at all against this Bill. On the contrary, I am in favour of the principle of it if properly applied. I was asked, in conjunction with the late Lord Downham and Sir Philip Pilditch, then Mr. Pilditch, to go on a small committee to see what could be done to remedy the alleged and no doubt just grievances of town tenants, and therefore I cannot be accused of being in any way against this matter; and it was on the recommendation of that small committee that Mr. Long made that speech of his, with the full approval of the Unionist Party. It may be asked; Why then oppose this Bill? I should like to point out that this Committee sat as long ago as 1920. A great many things have happened since then. There was a tremendous scarcity of building at that time. I know very well it may be said: "You have plenty of time before the end of the Session to pass this measure in Committee of the Whole House." We are not at all sure that the Government are going to agree to any of these Amendments. And supposing they do, everybody knows that our time here will be fairly well occupied. There are three days allotted, I understand, to the great question of the revision of the Prayer Book, and the Secretary of State said the other night that we could well sit after dinner. I am sure we can if we are called upon, and I am only too ready to do so, as are many of my colleagues. But what will happen if these Amendments, even if they pass, are sent down to the House of Commons, tired and somewhat jaded, especially after the late nights that they have lately been enjoying? There will not be proper time at the end of the Session to discuss them. Then we shall be told: "You cannot have your Amendments; the Bill must be passed at any cost this Session."
Really, what is the danger about this Bill? Both Houses of Parliament have passed the Second Reading. It is perfectly true that nearly everybody on both 417 sides of the House is agreed that the Bid is not as well drafted as it might be. It requires a great deal of amendment. It really is a monumental measure. It is the thin end of the wedge. Noble Lords of the Opposition or their Party in the House of Commons made no secret that this Bill is only a stepping-stone. At the same time, if there is going to be a great change I think it ought to be made with some foundations. And what are the objects of those who are interested in the matter? From a personal point of view I should welcome this Bill. My lease is up, I shall have to pay dilapidations very shortly, and it would be to my interest to take advantage of Clause 17 of the Bill. Apart from that, the greatest grievances are those felt by the town tenants. This Bill does not come into operation until September, 1928, because September, 1927, is already past. If a Select Committtee is set up and goes into the whole matter with experts, it will be very easy to get the Bill through in both Houses of Parliament, as one House has already fully expressed its opinion upon if and this House has already given it a Second Reading. I see the noble Earl the Leader of the Liberal Opposition (Earl Beauehamp) sitting in his place. He has always been and rightly enjoys the reputation of a champion of the rights of this House. Does he think it right, when he comes to examine a Bill of this kind apart from any Party feeling, that it should be allowed to pass without proper revision? I have tried to make it clear that I do not think it is humanly possible this Session to give adequate attention to this important measure. For these reasons and with the hope that the Bill may eventually pass into law, I trust that your Lordships will agree to the Motion made by my noble friend Lord Harris.
§ LORD ERNLE
My Lords, this Bill seems to me so eminently a lawyers' Bill that if the lawyers were united upon its construction I think I should follow their opinion. But they are divided. At the present moment I think we have two Judges on each side and one noble Lord who not only has been a Judge but is a great landlord sifting on the fence, and I believe a third Judge, sitting near me, is coming down on the side of Lord 418 Harris's Motion. Therefore, not having any clear guidance from the lawyers, I venture to hope that an ounce of practical experience may be of some slight service to the House. On the whole I welcome this Bill. I am very glad that there is practical unanimity on the point that no tyrannical use of their powers has been made as a whole by landlords. But hard cases do occur and to my knowledge they occur with considerable frequency. And therefore I welcome this measure because, as it seems to me, it is going to apply a remedy. And though I think it can be greatly improved in Committee and though my support is given subject to one very strong objection, I hope the Bill may pass though your Lordships' House in the ordinary course. Of course, in the management of any property containing a multitude of inhabitants the larger, more permanent and more collective interests of the neighbourhood have again and again to override the more private, personal, piecemeal interests of the individual tenants. I hope that this inevitable clash of interests will be remembered when the House comes to consider the removal of restrictive covenants on which I have grave doubts; but for the present moment the clash of interests must sacrifice the weaker man, and that weaker man is the individual tenant. This measure gives him what I think he ought to have, the right to some form of compensation. I cannot believe that the concession of that right to compensation will impair the sanctity of property. On the contrary, I believe that it will fortify that sanctity.
I am not going to discuss the legal provisions of the Bill, partly because my knowledge of it is derived from its having been read to me by a young lady who did not make it altogether clear. Perhaps that is her fault and not that of the learned draftsman. However, it seems to me that cases of hardship occur whenever the occupation of a tenant is interfered with, if by his own improvements made on the business premises he has improved their letting value, or if by his skill and capacity he has worked up a business which gives what is called a goodwill value to the premises. Often he ought to receive compensation. Those are the two cases with which, as I understand, the Bill is mainly concerned. When you come to define 419 in an Act of Parliament the processes by which that compensation is assessed you naturally make them look extremely complicated and difficult. As a matter of fact those processes are acted upon every day in the year. They are fully understood and, as far as I understand the Bill, no novelty is introduced into the process. Of courts the question of goodwill is a thorny one. I think that the noble and learned Lord on the Opposition Bench made a very useful contribution to the subject; but the thorns remain.
May I suggest one point which I do not think is guarded in the Bill? Supposing a landlord wishes to restrict the number of public-houses in a street—had Lord Sumner boon here I should have said the number of fish shops, which would be equally appropriate—and determines that there shall be only one, he eliminates the element of competition and the man who holds that public-house has an opportunity of working up a business which he derives from the landlord's policy of not having more than one in the street. It is plain to me, and I think it must be plain to your Lordships' House, that the landlord is entitled to a very considerable share of the goodwill which he has himself created by his policy.
So far as those provisions are concerned I am in sympathy with them; but I come to what to my mind is a very grave objection and that is the tribunal. We know nothing of the members who are to compose the tribunal, nothing of their age, nothing of their experience, nothing of their qualifications, nothing of the rules by which their procedure is to be governed. We are told that they will be appointed by certain persons for whose judgment we have the greatest respect; but we are not told what their qualifications will be and, in the case of surveyors, who, I presume, will obtain some of the appointments, we are not told whether they are to be allowed to continue in practice or whether they must give up practice. That is a very important point. It is important in several ways. It is important because the surveyor who is not in practice rapidly loses touch with the conditions around him. If he is in practice he may be a judge to-day and a witness to-morrow—a condition which no one can say is altogether satisfactory.
I cannot help thinking that to impose a tribunal of this sort, so uncertain, so 420 unproved, and necessarily so inexperienced, upon one of the great industries of the country—that is, the building industry—is most unfortunate. It is peculiarly unfortunate at the present moment. The building industry is at last recovering. Recovering from what? From the state of uncertainty into which previous legislation had thrown it. Now you are going to introduce a new element of uncertainty. Think of what it means. It means that every investor of private money (and it is by private investment that most of the great buildings are raised in this country) will feel doubt as to his security. He will not put his money in except at higher rates of interest. You are turning out the private investor and introducing the speculator into building operations.
The analogy of the Agricultural Holdings Act seems to me wholly misleading and false. In farming, I am sorry to say, there is no inflow of capital from outside. You are dealing simply between one individual and his landlord. What passes before the agricultural assessor, or whatever he is called, does not interfere with the flow of capital. The effect of a man's improvements is obvious to any experienced eye, and to apply that analogy to a great industry which depends for its life-blood upon attracting capital into it seems to me wholly misleading. Therefore, I hope that we may hear from the Government, before this debate comes to an end, more information about this tribunal and some promise that they will carefully consider all the alternatives that can be suggested to a form of tribunal which, as I say, will introduce into the building trade of this country this element of uncertainty. If I get more details, if I get more information, and if I receive a promise that all reasonable Amendments that may be moved in Committee upon the subject will be carefully considered, I shall oppose the Resolution of Lord Harris.
§ LORD CARSON
My Lords, I received a Whip this morning asking me to vote against the Resolution, upon the ground that there was no time for, and that the Bill would be lost if it was examined by, a Select Committee. It is the old story. That is the ignominious position in which we find ourselves towards the end of the Session in this House. It is said: "Above all things we must get our Bill 421 this Session. We have done without it for nineteen hundred and twenty-six or twenty-seven years, but we must get it this Session." The Government, a Conservative Government, or a so-called Conservative Government (I suppose it is the best) kind of Conservatism we can have under the present system) tell us that this Bill is so important that no matter how it is to be examined or whatever its defects may be, it must not go to a Select Committee. I should have thought the speech of my noble friend who has just addressed your Lordships was a very strong one and gave very strong reasons for sending this Bill to a Select Committee. He said a good deal about the tribunal. He said a good deal about goodwill. He told us there was no analogy between this case and the case of the Agricultural Holdings Acts which have given compensation. He is perfectly right. We are setting out on an entirely new method in this country.
I claim to have some little right to speak upon the subject because I spent a number of years in trying to administer—and when I say "administer" I merely mean acting as counsel—in connection with the first of the Irish Land Acts, which related no doubt to agriculture and had in it a great many of the provisions of this Bill. It was the Bill which someone said put the landlord and tenant into one bed. There was a subsequent Bill which somebody described as giving the tenant liberty to keep the landlord out. No doubt we shall have a Bill subsequent to this one. The whole issue in this case is not on the principle of the Bill. The Bill has passed its Second Reading. It is not necessary, to be repeating, as everybody thinks they ought to do, that this is a good Bill and then proceed to show there is not a good clause in it, or that it is a bad Bill and condemn it with faint praise. The only thing before us is: Should the Bill be sent to a Select Committee? What I propose to do, without expressing any of my own views in regard to the Bill, is to show your Lordships that it is a Bill of great magnitude and the foundation of legislation which cannot stop here; that it is a Bill which ought not to be passed by your Lordships' House unless you feel perfectly certain that it can be moulded at the end of the Session, during the ordinary proceedings of this House, without 422 a Committee calling for evidence on behalf of both landlords and tenants so as to ascertain whether we have hit upon the best solution of the principle to be enforced.
What is the principle of this Bill? The first principle is that it breaks all leasehold contracts in relation to business buildings and premises and in some respects in relation to professional premises. Is it a light matter to break all contracts? It may be a good thing or a bad thing. Does that give confidence? Will that tend to people putting their money into the building of houses? What is a lease of premises? It has nothing to do with the letting of bare walls. What a lease means is this. A man who has no capital says: "I want to start a business." He goes to a man who has much capital and who is able to build premises and says: "What will you take as a rent and what conditions will you give?" That man is lending his capital and the tenant can pay him the interest upon it. That is what a lease of premises means. You are going to lay down by this Bill that every contract made in consideration of the loan of that capital is to be interfered with by an Act of Parliament. I daresay that is a very good thing to do—at all events I will assume that it is—but does it not require examination by a Select Committee? What will be the effect of it? Have your Lordships thought of what will be the effect of it? Not only does it break contracts, but it provides in Clause 8 that no one in future can contract out of this Bill, No man can make a contract without being subject to this Bill and without knowing that his contract will be broken.
That means this. Two persons, perfectly competent and perfectly qualified, come together. One of them, the owner of the building and the land, says: "I will be quite willing to let you these premises to start your business upon." The tenant, fully advised by solicitors and other experts, says: "That is exactly what I want to do." "Yes," the landlord says, "but I do not want to get implicated in all the provisions of this Bill. Are you willing to give them up under the advice of your solicitor and your surveyor and other experts?" "Well," you have to say, "I cannot." The Bill provides that two men on an 423 equality cannot enter into a contract in regard to the lease of buildings without involving themselves in the complexity of this Bill. Is that a matter worth thinking out in a Select Committee? I note from a pamphlet that was sent to me by the Auctioneers' and Agents' Council that they say they hope nothing will be done which will in any way put an end to the leasehold system. If this Bill once passes and if I have premises nothing on earth would induce me to lease them. I would keep them and sell them. But the man who wants them to start business in may not have capital and, therefore, he will have to go to somebody else to get the money if he has to buy. That matter, as you will see later on, is interfered with by the Bill. When you debar people from entering into contracts even in the future—people perfectly qualified and knowing what they are doing—I say you are raising one of the most serious problems with which Parliament will have to deal in the future.
If this Bill is allowed to pass as it is, you are going to put an end to all idea of people investing their money in such property as is dealt with by this Bill. With our present taxation and our present rate of assessment, is this a time to put additional burdens on property? Will that encourage building? Will that encourage transactions of this kind? What will be the state of mortgagees? Under this Bill the rent on improvements is to be capitalised as compensation and the charges for goodwill are assessed. You are putting them in front of the mortgagor who has lent his money as a first mortgage on the land. Will anybody ever again lend money on mortgage? Will people call in their mortgages? My own view, for what it is worth, and I believe it is backed by a great many of those who are accustomed to deal in this class of property, is that this Bill will more or less put an end to the leasehold system, and that it will be disastrous to the men who are willing to become tenants and have no capital to start business.
What has happened from the rent restriction legislation? I know something about it because I wanted to buy for a relative of mine the lease of a small house in one of the suburbs. I never was so astonished in my life as I was by what happened. I went to the Norwood 424 district, then to the Ealing district and also drove out to other districts. The first agent I went to was at Norwood. I said to him: "Will you please let me have a list of a few small houses at £60 or £70 a year or something of that kind?" He roared with laughter and said: "Lease a small house! Do you think anyone is fool enough to lease a house now with the Bent Restrictions Act in force?" I said: "Do you mean to tell me you have no houses to let" He said: "Not one. I will give you a list of plenty that are for sale." I suggested: "But that requires capital." He said: "Yes, but you won't get a house in any other way." I saw another agent and exactly the same thing occurred. In the end, instead of paying £70 or £80 a year, I had to put up with the freehold value of the house. That is exactly what is going to happen if this Bill is passed without qualification. We have accepted the principle of the Bill and we are not concerned with that at present, but what I have indicated to your Lordships is exactly what is going to happen when this Bill is passed.
The next matter on which I say it is worth consulting a Select Committee is this: this Bill sets up a system of fixing fair rents. Now, if there is one thing more than another which I know about it is the fixing of fair rents. I have been in at least 3,000 cases. I think that is a very moderate estimate. I have spent many of my days in helping rents to be fixed and I made some money out of it. A landlord and a tenant both have to pay. It all has to come out of the property. Do not forget that when you proceed to fix a fair rent which is not an easy thing, the money has to come out of the property. I find that in half a dozen different cases in this Bill as regards these leasehold premises you have to proceed under certain alternatives to fix fair rents.
I remember well when fair rent fixing was started in Ireland. The first day the tribunal sat—I will refer to the tribunal in a moment and contrast it with the tribunal set up under the Bill—a very eminent Judge of the High Court presided. All that the Act of Parliament, the Land Act, 1881, said was that the tribunal should fix a fair rent. It gave no other indication of any kind and he proceeded to do what Parliament had 425 found it impossible to do—to define what a fair rent was. He said that a fair rent could be defined as a rent which would enable a man and his family to live and thrive. Next day he was bombarded with this sort of question: If a man has three children is he to pay one rent, and if he has a dozen children is he to pay another rent, and if he has no children at all is he to pay a third rent? If the rent is only £2 a year is it to be reduced so that he may live and thrive? So it went on, and you will find dozens of reported cases involving points of law as to how to get at the fixing of a fair rent. But you will not find even that definition for leaseholds because how can you define a rent, say, for buildings and land and shops as a rent on which the tenant is to live and thrive? Nor do I think you will find any of the matters laid down in the Irish Courts of the least help.
All I say is that all these are points which require a most minute examination. Yes, and they require something more. They require the evidence of people who understand the question. It is all very well to fix a fair rent. I remember once when I was leaving the place in which I used to live, I had a cottage to sell, and I said to the best estate agent I could come across: "Will yon look over that cottage for me"—it was a small cottage—"and tell me what it ought to sell at?" He did and he said: "If you get £600 for it you will be doing well." I said I did not think I would like to let it go for that, and he said: "You will not get any more." I sold it next day for £800, and three months later the lady who bought it sold it again for £1,200. I do not know what the fair rent would be.
Now I come to the second branch of the matter that makes it so important that it should be sent to a Select Committee. It is what my noble friend has been talking so much about. I make the strongest protest, having been engaged in the law for many years, forty-five years until five or six years ago, when I am sorry to say I left it and became a miserable Judge—I do protest with all the power I can against this growing system of legislation which debars His Majesty's subjects from going' to His Majesty's Courts. That is an objection which is vital to the maintenance of confidence 426 in the administration of the law. I see in this country so often these mushroom courts growing up. They always strike me as being more or less political. When the Fair Rent Court was set up in Ireland everybody knew that whether you had let property at a high rent or a low rent, it was intended that something should be taken off because there was an agrarian agitation going on at the time. What was the result? The men who had let properties at a low rent got off worst. Going round the country the Commissioners simply reduced rents more or less by twenty-five per cent. It did not matter one bit whether the rent was high or low. They thought their mission was to reduce it by twenty-five per cent., and the next time they went round they took off another twenty-five per cent.
I knew one case of a man living on £5,000 a year, which in Ireland we used to think a very large fortune. You do not think much of it over here. That was the remnant he had out of a rental of £20,000 a year, because unfortunately Irishmen sometimes put mortgages upon their property—or they did at that time; I do not suppose anyone would lend them money now. What happened? The Commissioners came round and took off twenty-five per cent. He had not much left and he went to live in a stable. I only mention that in passing. But, I do impress upon the House that, of all the matters that ought to be examined in this Bill, this question of taking away from His Majesty's subjects, if they wish to go there, the right to have their cases heard and adjudicated upon by His Majesty's Courts, is most important.
My noble and learned friend Viscount Sumner asked to whom these referees are to be accountable? They are really a most remarkable body. They do not seem to me to be accountable to anybody. But what is more remarkable is that they only require one qualification. I had perhaps better read the clause so that there should be no mistake. Clause 20 says:—The tribunal for the purposes of this Act shall be such one of a panel of referees appointed for the purposes of this Act by the Reference Committee hereinafter mentioned as may be selected in manner provided by rules made by the Reference Committee.The clause goes on to say—The Reference Committee may make rules as to the manner of selection of the 427 referee to whom any application or matter under this Act is to be made or referred, regard being had to the knowledge of the locality possessed by such referee.That is the only qualification required of the referee who is to have these enormous powers entrusted to him; he has to know the locality. If he has only gone walking about the place and has had nothing to do with it, that is about the best qualification he could have. He must know something about the locality, but I cannot find anything else.
There may be something else. You are leaving it probably to the Reference Committee to lay down what is to be his qualification. Is he to be a lawyer? A lawyer at any rate has the habit of sifting evidence. Or is he to be an auctioneer, or is he to be an estate agent, or is he to be a doctor as a specialist in a case where a house has been taken in which a doctor has had a practice? Are you going to have a man appointed according to a particular case? It really is ludicrous. How on earth any Government could make such a proposal I do not know, except that the greatest calamity that ever happens in this country is when a Government have an overwhelming majority, because then they listen to nobody, and if they are only Conservative then all they have to do is to come down to the House of Lords and say: "We must have this Bill and we cannot have it examined by a Select Committee. We are the infallible Conservative Party and we are upholding the dignity of the House of Lords."
Then it is said that we shall have experts. I can find nothing about that in the Bill. But let us assume that there are experts. Has anybody ever heard a difference between experts? I see my noble friend Lord Reading preparing to speak. I gather this from his look, which I know of old. Did he ever hear a dispute between experts? I remember hearing a case, I think about the value of a site for a reservoir at Staines, where the difference between the valuations of either side was in the proportion of £1,000 to £100,000. Experts: Why, valuation is one of the most difficult things in the whole world. The Government think that it is as easy as possible, but I have had some experience of it in my own case. I once bought a little house in the country. 428 The man who was there before me was very nearly bankrupt, and that is why he sold. He was valued at a particular rate, but the moment I went in they doubled the valuation, though I had done nothing whatever. They were not valuing the house; they were valuing me.
That is what is going on all over the country, and all this is to be left under the Bill to somebody whose qualifications we do not know, who is to be selected on some principle that we do not know, but who is to have a local knowledge. The Bill does not say who is to pay. That does not appear, though it is an important matter. I entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Sumner that there can be nothing worse than the system under the Land Clauses Act. When I was Solicitor-General I contested those cases as well as I could, but what happened was that each side appointed a valuer—or a "valuator," as we used to call him in Ireland—and then an umpire was appointed. Next day we found the umpire, who was acting in a judicial capacity in a matter which perhaps concerned £30,000 or £40,000, acting as a witness for a tenant or a landlord. What I generally found was that these umpires who gave evidence from time to time laid themselves out to be "landlord's men" or "tenant's men" or "claimant's men," as the case might be, and they got a reputation for that purpose. Then they were put into a judicial position, and of course they cast all that aside and became absolutely fair arbitrators! Is not that point worth examining into before a Select Committee? Ought we not to hear something about that?
My noble friend the Lord Chancellor referred with considerable pride to the success in Ireland of the Town Tenants (Ireland) Act. 1906. No doubt he has information that I have not, but my information is entirely the other way. My information is that since the Bill passed you cannot get people to build these shops for others, and they have to get the money in other ways, by mortgages and so on. Be that Bill good or bad, I might remind my noble friend that he voted against it, if I may take him back to old times when we were both Conservatives in the House of Commons: whereas now we are both—I do not know what. Let me remind my 429 noble friend of that Bill. I had forgotten about it until he mentioned it, although I remember taking some part in the matter. Let me remind him of what that Bill did. After all, England is as important as Ireland. I make that frank admission as an Irishman. There are as great interests here as there are in Ireland.
What did that Bill do for Ireland? It says:—The court for the determination of all matters under this Act shall be the county court having jurisdiction where the holding is situate.Then it goes on:—Any person aggrieved by any determination of the county court under this Act may appeal either—At all events the county court is one of our substantial courts. I wish that it had more jurisdiction, but that is another question. There are most excellent Judges there.
Provided that, if in any proceedings appeals are taken both to the Judge of Assize or a Judge of the High Court and to the Court of Appeal, the appeal shall be heard together by such Judge, and a further appeal may be taken from his determination to the Court of Appeal in accordance with rules of the Supreme Court.
- (a) to the Judge of Assize or a Judge of the High Court, as the case may he, in accordance with the provisions of the County Courts (Ireland) Acts, 1851 to 1889, relating to appeals in the case of ordinary civil bills; or,
- (b) to the Court of Appeal in accordance with the rules of the Supreme Court;
Why should not these cases be heard by the county court? Why should not an appeal go to the Supreme Court? Are the interests hero less? I do not think that I have ever known, in relation to property, any more important questions than will have to be tried. My noble friend Lord Sumner gave one or two instances of questions that will have to be tried. But your Lordships will note that you are allowing this tribunal, or whatever it is called, to legislate. Take this one case—it is only one in a thousand. The Bill says:—Any contract …. made whether before or after the commencement of this Act, by virtue of which a tenant would be, directly or indirectly, deprived of his right to obtain compensation or the grant of a new lease under this Part of this Act, shall be void unless the tribunal, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, 430 is of opinion that the contract was reasonable.What are the matters that make a contract between two parties—two people perfectly able to contract with each other in relation to contracting out of the lease—reasonable or unreasonable? No indication whatever is given. All is left to the sweet will of the referee.
The referee may not like the appearance of one party or the other, he may not like his history, he may not like his politics, he may not like his nationality. I know what it is to suffer for your nationality and so I mention, that point. But there it is. Are you going seriously, without reference to a Committee and without a moment's consideration of what you are doing, to say to a referee: "You may smash a contract entered into by these parties with the help of their solicitors and their experts, each of them wanting to carry it out"? You are going to smash the contract on the mere statement of a referee that in his opinion the contract was unreasonable. I do not think you are acting fairly to the referee, or even to a court, to lay down this kind of matter. I know well what it was when the Acts were passed for Ireland. So expensive did the whole thing become as regards the administration of the Acts in Ireland, that I believe that a great deal of the misfortune of Ireland came out of those Acts; for this reason, that the tenants, who were expecting to get, and did get, reductions of rent on their holdings, never in fact, in many cases, received the benefit for ten years, because the whole thing was swallowed up in the costs. True the whole of the costs have to come out of the estates, which at the present time can so badly afford them.
I do not want to touch upon the merits of the Bill. For my own part I think there is a great deal of difference between a claim for improvements and a claim for goodwill. Lord Birkenhead, I see, said that everyone knows what goodwill is. He knows everything, and therefore I am sure he knows that, but goodwill requires examination of books, examination of customers, examination of the district, examination of the competition, and a dozen different things. It will be said that we must leave it to the referee—that he knows everything—although we do not know what his qualifications will be. I tried to look up a short definition 431 of goodwill and I came across one dictionary in which it was stated that Lord Eldon had defined it as "The chance of retaining customers." I found several other definitions, but they are all too long to read to your Lordships. I think these two things, goodwill and improvements, stand upon different footings, but I think it is worth while, as a precautionary matter and as an argument why this Bill should be referred to a Committee, to refer to what was said on an Irish Bill by the then Irish Chief Secretary, who was not a Tory like myself, but was the late Mr. Bryce, who afterwards became a distinguished member of this House.
I do not think that anyone would accuse him of over-sensitiveness with regard to landlords, but here is what he said about compensation for disturbance, measured by the loss of goodwill:—The second part of the Bill was Clause 5, which provided for compensation for disturbances, and tin's, he confessed, appeared to be entirely unworkable. He believed it was said by the Attorney-General that as proposed by the Bill, it would mean a system of fixing fair rents, and he thought the machinery would be very costly. He entirely dissociated himself from any approval on the part of the Government of the principle of fixing fair rents, or compensation for disturbance as proposed in the Bill. That principle as applied to agricultural holdings by the Act of 1881 was based on a different set of facts.How we are progressing! That was in 1906, and one of the most extreme Radicals in the House of Commons warned the Government, which then had a majority larger even than the. Conservative Government has at the present time—it was just after the election of 1906, when three or four of us tried to keep the flag flying in desperate, circumstances—that the principle of fixing fair rents or compensation for disturbance, as proposed in that Bill, would be entirely unworkable. As I said before, we all of us, who are now trying to support what used to be at that time the principles of the Conservative Party in relation to property, voted solemnly against the Bill, which had no chance of being passed.
All I am asking now is that the whole of that question should go to a Select Committee. Do your Lordships really think we shall be doing our duty to the country—to the tenants as well as the landlords—if we pass this Bill now. 432 All these things seem so plausible when you are talking of doing something for the tenant, but take care you are not taking away from the tenant the very matter which has often enabled him to extend his business. We hear it said that hard cases make bad law. It is just the same here, and I ask your Lordships to say that this matter shall go before a Select Committee. I remember when I brought forward in this House a Bill relating to moneylenders. To interfere with a contract, even of a moneylender, was considered so terrible by this House that your Lordships would not do anything until the Bill had been sent to a Select Committee, presided over by a Judge, where moneylenders could be given a hearing with regard to their contracts. It was only after that. Bill had been sifted on evidence, and after two Sessions had elapsed, that the measure was allowed to become law.
I submit that we have made out a case. The Lord Chancellor said in his opening speech that he was relying upon precedent. Yes, we always do rely upon precedent. Is that not another reason why this Bill should go to a Select Committee?—because your Lordships are now asked to create the greatest precedent of all, and that precedent will be cited, either by the present Lord Chancellor or by some other Lord Chancellor in the future, as a precedent for many other things of which your Lordships are not now thinking. Surely the time has come when we ought not always to be asked to shirk our duty, and to be dealing with these matters as if they were of no importance in this House, solely on the question of time. The Bill stood over the long vacation. Would it make any difference if it stood over till the next meetings of Parliament? You may say that there is no rule which enables you to do that. If not, why not? If this House is not able to throw out Bills, as apparently it is not; if this House is not able to amend Bills, as apparently it is not; if this House has not time to examine Bills, as apparently it cannot with proper evidence before it, I ask your Lordships, in all seriousness, what are we for?
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, I confess to a feeling of regret 433 that I am unable to follow my noble friend in his denunciation of the Government. It is a temptation when divided into political Parties to find some opportunity of agreeing with a member, or former member, of the Ministerial Party who is attacking the Government. For some little while I admit that the temptation was great, but then I had to revert to the real matter before the House. When my noble and learned friend began his speech I thought that he would' address himself merely to the question before us. He proceeded to tell us—and certainly he was expressing a thought in my mind for some time—that we had already passed the Second Reading of the Bill, that we were committed to the principle of the Pill. Everybody who has spoken, whether actually dealing with the particular clauses of the Bill or with the Motion now before the House, has blessed the Bill, although I confess sometimes perhaps rather indifferently. Baton all sides it is said that this Bill in principle is right and should pass the House of Lords on its Second Reading. No one has ever suggested that there should be any pledge by any member of your Lordships' House, or any Party, to accept the Bill as it stands without amendment, without, modification, without introduction of new clauses. That is not the point before your Lordships. The real question we are considering, and, I submit, the only question, is whether we shall take this Bill in Committee in your Lordships' House, or whether it shall be referred to a Select Committee.
But that is not all. There is much more behind it than that. My noble and learned friend Lord Carson, who has a very keen perception, as I well know, of the relevancies of argument, having stated in terms that we have agreed to the Bill in principle, proceeded, as I understood him, to formulate at least five points which were arguments in favour of its rejection, and he dealt with them just as if each of them was before your Lordships, and as if he were opposing it on Second Beading. I find exactly the same state of affairs in reading—as I had the misfortune not to hear—Lord Sumner. And indeed the noble Lord who moved the Motion now before the House began by saying that the Bill was right in the circumstances, that it 434 had to be introduced, that it had received much consideration and so forth, but he then gave reasons why it should be referred to a Select Committee. Your Lordships will forgive my saying it, and you know it as well as I know it myself, your object is not for one moment to refer the Bill to a Select Committee for the examination of expert witnesses or for argument then;. The object of your Lordships, as has been said in this House, is to stop the Bill passing, in other words to kill the Bill.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
I say that emphatically, and it has been said by the Secretary of State for India. He said most definitely that that would be its effect, and indeed it has been said by speaker after speaker that it is known that the effect of the Motion now before the House, if carried, will be to kill the Bill for this Session.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
Yes, but those who have passed years in the House of Commons, as I have, and as the noble Earl, Lord Midleton, did, know quite well what it is to postpone a Bill till another Session. It is an old device. I am perfectly certain it is not used by him with that intention, but nevertheless it is a well-known device, familiar to anybody who has passed any part of his life in the House of Commons, to try to postpone a Bill, to try in some way to get it away from what is called the floor of the House, to send it to some other place, where it may be buried or smothered quietly, where no one will really see all that is happening when it is being done to death. The point that I desire to make, and to emphasise, is that it will be regarded in the country as an act done by this House for the purpose of absolutely destroying the Bill.
Who can say what will happen next year? Who will attempt for a moment to tell us what will be the condition of things twelve months hence, when the Bill might again come before your Lordships? Can anyone be quite sure that the present Government will be in power? Do we not all know that, when you come to the last year of a Parliament before a General Election—which certainly must come after next year— 435 there are many legislative measures which must be introduced by Government, and which may cause this Bill to be postponed still further? And the Bill does not come before your Lordships' House simply as a bolt from the blue. It is introduced by a Conservative Government after consideration.
§ THE MARQUESS OF READING
I go further than my noble and learned friend, and I would go further than a Conservative Government with regard to a measure of this kind. But nevertheless I recognise that there is a real hardship, and that there must be a redress of grievances. Here again I would venture to remind your Lordships that there is no difference between us in the House. Speaker after speaker has said there is an admitted hardship. There are good landlords, of course, and nobody would attempt to legislate if all were good landlords. But there are exacting landlords, and there are great hardships. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Carson, gave perhaps as good an instance as could be given of the enhancement of values. Not by any means because of anything the landlord had done, but merely by the fact of his taking a house its value was doubled because the goodwill of the premises was enhanced, no doubt because it could be said that Lord Carson had inhabited it.
He went on to argue, to my great surprise, that the leasehold system really exists in this country because the lessee, or intending lessee, has not capital. Surely that is a mistake. Has my noble and learned friend ever heard of the cases in which the landlord is the holder of the freehold and refuses to grant leases for any lengthy period because he is well aware that, as time progresses, the property must increase in value, and consequently when the improvements have been made by those business tenants, who come in and build up in a thoroughfare a great shopping or business centre, the landlord can increase the rent when the lease falls in? He can make it what he pleases, he can drive the tenants out of the premises to which they really have attached the business. And is that because of want of capital? Why, for most of the owners of the businesses—leaving aside for the moment the small shopkeepers, who, again, are not in great 436 difficulty for want of capital—the difficulty is not to find the capital, the difficulty is in being unable to purchase the freehold and consequently get the benefit of improvements. I should have thought there could be little doubt of that.
Take, for instance, the classic case of Regent Street, to which reference was made, I think, by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Sumner, who said that that was the reason why there was so much agitation now. Take the firms that were in business there. Does any one doubt that any of them, certainly the vast majority of them, are able to find capital for premises of any extent, or that they would be ready to purchase them if they could? The difficulty is that they cannot purchase them. A leasehold system has been built up in this country by which the landlord, the reversioner, gets the benefit of all the improvements that are made while he does nothing and has not earned one penny of the money that forms the aecretion of value. It is in that respect that the Bill is intended to give relief. Is there any member of your Lordships' House, I would ask, who would say that in circumstances I have described the tenant who has built up the value of the premises by making them a good centre, indeed, by raising the value of the goodwill, as he necessarily does, should not have some relief when he finds an exacting landlord at the end who demands an increased rental—increased by the extent to which the tenant by his exertions and his energy has increased the value? I should be surprised if this contention was advanced.
It may be said, and truly said, that there are many landlords who do not do this sort of thing. It is not in respect of those landlords that this legislation is brought forward. The difficulty arises because of the exactions made, of which one could give instances. Anybody who is familiar with cases of this class is capable of repeating instances of the sort one after another. It is because it is admitted that there is a hardship that this attempt is made to remove that hardship. That is all this Bill proposes to do in that respect. It deals with the improvements that may be made and with the goodwill built up. I do not propose for one moment to argue about the meaning of goodwill. That 437 may be necessary before a tribunal but it is quite unnecessary here. I was rather amused to hear my noble friend Lord Carson making fun of the meaning of the word "goodwill," as if it was such an impossible thing to understand. Is there any member of your Lordships' House who does not know what is the meaning of goodwill? I agree that it is difficult to define with precision so as to cover every possible point. But that is a different matter, and I think it would apply to almost anything.
One might raise the same question with regard to depreciation and so on. All these questions are susceptible of argument. But nobody can doubt the meaning of "goodwill" in its general aspect, and I should be surprised if those who are familiar with business have any doubt about it. It is a well known expression in the City, you may get a certain number of years purchase of the goodwill of a business. There was a statement in the newspaper this morning regarding the amalgamation of certain banks or the purchase of one bank by another. The whole of the transaction is based upon the goodwill, upon ascertaining the value of the goodwill by reference, of course, to the profits and certain, matters of that description and by multiplying the figure so ascertained by so many years purchase. Then comes the question of how many years purchase shall be taken. I think it is idle to suggest that there is some magic in the word "goodwill" which we do not understand; though I must say, as I have already indicated, that there are cases in which it is difficult to define exactly what shall be, taken as goodwill and what shall not be taken; just as there are difficulties in almost every conceivable set of circumstance that might be brought before a Court of Justice.
My noble friend, again, made a great attack upon the clause which prevented contracting out. I should have thought that was most familiar to him. It is nothing new. I am not quite sure because I have not looked at the Act for a good many years, but I feel pretty certain that in the Moneylenders Act there is either an express clause prohibiting contracting out or that by words used in the Act itself there is a prohibition against it. If 438 such a provision as that were not made the Bill would be of no use. It is just as it would be with a moneylender. If a moneylender said: "You shall pay me thirty, forty or fifty per cent. interest and you shall agree with me never to go to the Court to have that interest reduced," the Court would say at once: "That is void." All that this Bill does is to provide that there shall be compensation for improvements or for goodwill, and when compensation is provided, there shall be no contracting out of it but that what Parliament said shall remain.
One's flesh almost crept when my noble friend talked of what would happen if the sanctity of contract was interfered with. As if we were not doing it every day. As if we had not done it in the year 1881 when questions of this character with regard to landlord and tenant were dealt with. As if we had not done it with regard to almost every conceivable thing. Sometimes, there is over-reaching. That means that there are a number of men who may be exacting and extortionate. The moment they come to the fore and are able to practise their wiles the result inevitably is that Parliament legislates to prevent the hardships which arise.
My noble friend who immediately preceded me referred to the tribunal. I am, perhaps, move in agreement with him in his arguments concerning the tribunal than with anything he addressed to your Lordships. But I do not propose to discuss it to-day. Indeed, I would very much prefer to have an opportunity of studying it and of coming to a conclusion as to a better tribunal if it can be found and as to the disadvantages of the one proposed. My observation is that this is the very question we ought to discuss in your Lordships' House when we come to the Committee stage. On the whole, I think, the stage, strongest arguments used in favour of the Resolution now before your Lordships' House were with regard to the tribunal. Is that a difficult subject for us to discuss in your Lordships' House? Would a Select Committee be a better tribunal? Have we not in this House a number of distinguished, learned and talented lawyers who are capable of bringing their minds to bear upon this question? Have we not, further, a number of your Lordships who are experienced 439 in matters of this character, not as lawyers but as practical men of affairs? Why, then, should we send the Bill to a Select Committee?
Is it for the purpose of hearing expert witnesses? I was rather amused at hearing my noble friend upon the expert witness. One could tell stories indefinitely in connection with expert witnesses. My noble friend pointed out how ridiculous it was to make judges of experts of this character. He told us that sometimes a man was a landlord's man, that sometimes he was a tenant's man—as a witness, of course. We have some experience of men of this character sitting as tribunals to determine different matters. When they sit as a tribunal they exercise their judicial functions with fairness; it may not be with a complete knowledge of the law, but nevertheless with fairmindedness and with a desire to come to a proper conclusion. All my learned friend's observations about the expert witnesses seem only to prove how ridiculous it would be to have expert witnesses, because if his argument meant anything it meant that you could not rely upon them. He suggested a case in which an expert on one side put the value at £1,000 and an expert on the other side put it at £100,000.
Those are not the questions I should have thought we desired to discuss on this Bill. The Bill undoubtedly is an important measure and we ought, I think, to proceed to deal with it by means of the wealth of knowledge that there is in your Lordships' House. There is no House better qualified to deal with it than this House. Here we have an abundance of knowledge and can make suggestions. As I understand it the Government would be ready to listen to and consider any Amendments that may be proposed. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor told us so when he addressed your Lordships in explanation of the Bill. If that is so, what is it that has to go to the Committee upstairs? I defy any member of this House to suggest a better tribunal than this House to deal with a subject of this character. Your Lordships' House is in truth the supreme tribunal of the land. I therefore urge your Lordships to reject the Motion, for the reason that we can deal with the questions in 440 this Bill much better in the House than if they were sent to a Committee.
May I remind your Lordships of all that has happened in connection with this Bill? Committees have sat upon the grievances. There have been deputations and representations from various associations and—I would lay stress upon this—those representations have been from bodies of a non-political character. Men of all shades of politics have joined in the representations for the purpose of bringing about this Bill. Now the Bill, limited as it is in its scope and operation, comes before us. However wrong it may be to suggest it, however unfounded may be the suspicion, it will be suggested again and again outside this House that some of your Lordships have joined together for the purpose of delaying the Bill in the hope that it can never be brought forward again, and in the hope that in consequence you will have done something to prevent a remedy being applied to the hardships which admittedly exist. I do not for a moment myself make any such suggestion; on the contrary, I am sure it is not true. I am certain that those of your Lordships who may take a different view from me do so because you have convinced yourselves that it is right. That does not alter the fact that people outside will say what I have already suggested.
Something that fell from my noble friend Lord Carson I quite agree with—namely, the protest that he made against the practice of bringing Bills to your Lordships' House almost at the last moment when there is not sufficient time to consider them adequately. I would point out to your Lordships that it is a Conservative Government which has considered all the questions that are raised in this Bill and that a Conservative Government has accepted the Bill introduced in the House of Commons, where it was altered and amended. After so long a time has passed and after all the difficulties have been confronted and surmounted, will your Lordships, when it comes before you, allow a dilatory Motion to be passed not, as will be said, upon its merits but in truth because it will help to kill a Bill which is disliked?
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
My Lords, I desire to enter a protest on behalf 441 of those responsible for this Motion against the innuendoes and suggestions made by the noble Marquess who, in the course of his last few sentences, gave two totally divergent views of the action we have taken. He was good enough to say that he did not himself believe that this Motion was being moved from any malice or from any ulterior motive, but a moment later he proceeded to say that it was desired to send the Bill to a Select Committee not really on its merits. I repudiate that from every possible standpoint. I will endeavour in the very few moments which I shall occupy of your Lordships' time to show the noble Marquess and the House that there is no other course open to us than that which we are taking.
The noble Marquess went into the question of the tribunal. I would like to challenge him upon that. There are two points of view from which I think he underestimated our difficulties. The first one was mentioned by Lord Carson when he impressed upon your Lordships the magnitude of this Bill. The noble Lord opposite, Lord Parmoor, made an observation which was most helpful from this standpoint. He mentioned that one surveyor had settled a matter involving, I think, £13,000,000 worth of property. That is exactly the argument which was used on the Irish Land Bill for three or four months. Nobody knows that better than my noble friend the Earl of Balfour. We were told that three individuals were going to deal with the cases, that they would settle test cases, and that then there would be general agreement. Instead of that courts had to be established all over the country. I submit, notwithstanding what the noble Marquess and the noble Lord, Lord Parmoor, has said, that this will not be a case of one man being competent to settle many million pounds' worth of property, but it will mean appointing two or three hundred surveyors to deal with the vast number of cases which will arise, and they will not have the knowledge and possibly not the impartiality which were suggested as desirable by the noble Marquess. How are we to deal with that question here?
The noble Lord, Lord Carson, made out a good case for legal consideration. How can we put in a legal clause here? We should at once be debarred by the House of Commons on the ground that we had 442 provided for the expenditure of a large sum of public money and our Amendment could not even be considered in that House. We are absolutely powerless to put in any tribunal, as I understand it, except one paid by the parties; and, if I read the Bill aright, the payment to be made is to be assessed by the very man to whom it is to be paid. Did anybody ever hear of such a suggestion as that in a matter of this kind? I will take another point with which we have not the requisite information to deal. The noble Marquess, speaking from the other side, was very careful to leave out of consideration and, indeed, the Government speakers have refrained from mentioning, one of the most important points in the Bill. The original proposal was that leaseholders should come under the Bill. In the last few days in the House of Commons it was further provided that all tenants from year to year, or even for less periods, were to be brought under the Bill. I challenge any member of the Government to give me any idea of the numbers of persons who will be included by that Amendment. You can only estimate that it will swell the work of the courts as compared with the work which would have been entailed on the first decision of the House of Commons. That is one thing.
But look at the inequity which will be brought about by this Bill as it stands, inequity as between classes of persons who are equally deserving, and its want of finality. I firmly believe that this Bill must be supplemented before it is five years old by one of a much more far-reaching character if there is to be equity done in this country at all. I will take two cases if I may. I will take first the case of a man who is a tenant from year to year. The general view always held is that a landlord who lets upon a lease does so because he wishes the tenant to expend what is necessary. The man who lets from year to year may desire the property to continue to be occupied but never expects the tenant to lay out large sums. But five years from now any number of tenants from year to year or from month to month may go to the Courts and say: "If I may not make these improvements I cannot occupy the house to my advantage." If the case goes against the landlord he must either pay compensation or give a lease. In 443 other words, it is plain that a great number of persons who have temporary possession will acquire permanent possession of property if the surveyor decides to give it to them.
A man who has expended sums running into tens of thousands of pounds in making improvements which are unexhausted at the end of a lease, if those improvements were not made after the passing of this Bill will be debarred from any compensation whatever. The inequity between these two classes of individuals, I submit, cannot possibly continue. There will be a further Bill which will extend compensation from improvements made after the passing of the Bill to improvements made before its passing. There is another inequity which has not been referred to yet in the debate. A professional man is to be allowed to claim for any improvement which he has made. But if the professional man, why not the private individual? Houses want modernising. At this moment there are probably four or five times as many motor cars in this country as there were four or five years ago. A man requires a garage. Is it not a hard thing to say to a man: "You must not have a garage, or if you do, at the end of your lease you will have no compensation"? It is not merely the professional man, but every tenant, in my opinion, if one has a right, should have a right to compensation. There are many other things which are required in private houses. Servants nowadays will not live in the quarters that they used to live in. I went into a house the other day, not a very large house, and found that the sole apartment for seven or eight servants to have their meals in had no access to the outer air. Such things cannot continue. But is it fair to tell a tenant that because he has not got a profession the structural alterations for which he pays very large sums are to be taken from him?
I feel that this Bill cannot stand as it is. There is no finality about it. It must be developed and will be developed. Though from the very bottom of my heart I agree with the Lord Chancellor's dictum that it is the business of the Conservative Party to take responsibility for social improvement and to be in the forefront of such responsibility, I think we have a right to ask at least that a measure which we are called upon to pass 444 in a great hurry should not only have some measure of finality but should be equitable as between classes. This measure certainly is not. I do not see how it is possible on the floor of this House either to settle the tribunal or to get the information which will enable us to say whether this is a question of 5,000 cases a year or 100,000 cases a year. We have no evidence, and the Government cannot give it.
We are told that delay will be fatal to the Bill this year. But if your Lordships are unable to take the responsibility of checking a Bill which you have neither time to debate nor power to amend, the sooner this House is closed the better. I wish the Earl of Oxford was present. He said—if I do not quote his exact words it is the sense of them—that when a Liberal Government was in power their measures were carefully overhauled and revised in this House. When a Conservative Government is in power, my Lords, we are asked to turn ourselves into a register office. We are not given time and we are told that we should be misconceived outside if we do anything to thwart the progress of a Bill. Time is short and I will not advance other arguments which I should have liked to bring forward in answer to the speech just delivered, but I make this suggestion to the Lord Chancellor. We have no desire that a Select Committee should be appointed for such protracted sittings as the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, has done us the honour to suggest we should like to see in order that the work might be competently done upstairs. The principle of this Bill has been accepted, rightly or wrongly. Some people think it has been rightly accepted and some people on these Benches think it has been wrongly accepted. I suggest that the instructions to the Select Committee, which no doubt would be drawn up by the Government if it is appointed, should not include any inquiry into the principle of the measure but should be limited to the definite questions to which reference has been made, specially in the speeches of the two noble Lords who have just spoken—the question of the tribunal and the question of the class of tenants who should be included and in what numbers they are likely to come before the tribunal. It is useless to refer questions to county courts, which are already overburdened, 445 if there are to be tens of thousands of cases.
I hope you Lordships will understand that the observations I have made were not made for debating purposes. If the principle is accepted, I think the Bill ought to cover all the cases which are really serious cases. I believe that a Select Committee, appointed early next year and applying itself to all these cases, could produce a Bill which would be almost in the nature of an agreed Bill and which might be passed with celerity through this House and, if the Government were so disposed, with certainty through the House of Commons. I ask that the measure should be a well-weighed measure, which this is not; an equitable measure, which I submit this is not; and a comprehensive measure, containing some kind of finality, such as, I submit to your Lordships, is not to be found in the measure before the House.
§ VISCOUNT BURNHAM
My Lords, this debate has been largely in the hands of noble Lords who are not only learned in the law but most learned in the law, and I should be the last to wish to contend with them in the interpretation of clauses which surely might better be left for the Committee stage. The principal reason why I venture to take part in this debate is that forty-one years ago in another place I moved for the appointment of the first Select Committee which examined the question of town holdings. There are only three members of that Committee now surviving. One is my noble friend Lord Selborne, and the third is a gentleman who does not at present sit in either House. The Town Holdings Committee sat for six years in succession and produced six volumes of evidence which are, I believe, the longest record of any Select Committee in the whole history of Parliament. Your Lordships will thus have some idea of what the inquiries of a Select Committee into this question might mean. There was associated with this Inquiry what was then the moving matter of leasehold enfranchisement, and for four years I introduced in another place a Bill to carry it out. I am afraid that the Bill was far more drastic than that which your Lordships are now considering. The credit of defeating that Bill and that movement belong, I think, more than to anybody else to my noble friend Lord 446 Haldane, who then wielded great authority in another place and who was set upon what was called municipalisation of town values in order that the unearned increment might be taken by the community at large.
Considering the amount of inquiry that has taken place into this question, I think it requires some hardihood on the part of those who have supported this Motion to suggest that there should be yet another. I shudder to think when the Bill would come finally back to your Lordships for consideration. I think it is fairly evident from the very able speeches to which we have listened that, whatever the intention of those who are opposing the Government, the effect of their action would undoubtedly be to destroy the measure, not only for this Session but for this Parliament. Everybody knows that obstruction in another place has been carried to so perfect a pitch that it would be absolutely certain, considering the complexity of the Bill and, in addition, the other measures that the Government have in view, that there would be no chance of its coming up again for the consideration of your Lordships' House. I admit that the Bill seems to me, if I may say so with all respect, a triumph of bad drafting. On the other hand, it is drafting which could be dealt with by a Committee of the Whole House, and ought to be so dealt with. A Select Committee is appointed, not to redraft a measure, but to consider it on its merits.
My noble friend who has just spoken said that he and those with whom he was acting were willing to accept instructions that the Committee should not interfere with the principle of the Bill. I do not know whether any of your Lordships with longer experience of the proceedings of the House know of such a case, but I cannot conceive of a Select Committee which did not inquire into the principle of a Bill. Nobody is more anxious than I am to preserve the rights and privileges of this House as a revising Chamber, but I submit that the arguments do not ring true which suggest that your Lordships have not ample opportunity of revising this Bill in Committee. It is impossible, no doubt—
§ VISCOUNT BURNHAM
My noble and learned friend behind me [Lord Merrivale] has told me that he has already drafted a clause, which he can suggest to your Lordships, which he thinks would meet all the objections that have been urged in this respect. What is the difficulty, in those circumstances, in asking him to submit it to us in Committee? I wish to say a word later on the subject of the tribunal, but I wanted to deal specially with the manner in which it is proposed that the Bill should be treated. If there were any reality in this argument, then I think your Lordships ought to compare the suggested procedure in the case of this Bill with that of which we have had to complain in so many other instances. Nobody feels move strongly that I do about the rights and privileges of this House as a revising Chamber. Three weeks of the Parliamentary Session are yet unexhausted and there would be no difficulty, especially considering the number of great lawyers who sit among us, in satisfactorily re-drafting the Bill in such a way that it could be made a practical measure of reform.
My noble and learned friend Lord Carson, who always delights the House, spoke a great deal about Irish land. He pronounced a striking eulogy of the leasehold system. With all his great experience, I do not think he has come much in contact with local government in our great towns, and especially in the County of London. I am bound to say that, if you examine the housing question, you will find that the worst scandals in connection with the housing of the people have arisen because of the leasehold system. It is the want of security at the fag-ends of leases and the state of disrepair into which small tenements are allowed to fall because of the impending loss that account for a good deal that we are now trying to set right in regard to the housing of the people, especially in London. The leasehold system is everywhere known as the London system, and it is a great mistake for your Lordships to think that the grievances which it is sought to meet in this Bill are fictitious or imaginary. There is hardly a street of traders in London in which hard cases are not occurring every month and every year, and although it is true, as Lord Carson has said, and as we often 448 hear, that hard cases make bad law, hard cases also make bad feeling.
I should not support this Bill unless I believed that it strengthened and justified the rights of property and that it would bring up the practice of the bad landlord—and it is said that the Crown is the worst landlord; I do not say so, but it is said here freely—to the standard of the good landlord. I do not want to trouble your Lordships with hard cases, but I heard only the other day of a wretched dressmaker who during five years had had her rent raised from £200 to £600 in one of the West-end streets, simply because of the goodwill that she had created and that attached to the premises in which she was carrying on her trade. It does not, as the noble Marquess, Lord Beading, said, admit of doubt that there are such cases, and it has not in any way been controverted in the course of the debate.
When we come to details, what is the Committee stage for except to examine the Bill in detail? It has been said, I think with great reason, that the tribunal which it is proposed to set up does not meet the necessities of the case and might produce some unfortunate conclusions. I still think that the county courts of the country, assisted by expert assessors and valuers, might even now be substituted for the special tribunal of experts, the establishment of which is contemplated by the clauses of the Bill. At any rate that is a matter which ought to be argued on the floor of this House. It is emphatically not a matter for inquiry by a Select Committee, and because I believe that I urge your Lordships, with all this time at your disposal, when no doubt you can consider the Bill adequately, to reject this Motion to refer the Bill to a Select Committee. Your Lordships will all recollect the words of Coleridge in his "Table Talk," that the three ends which a statesman ought to propose to himself were security to the possessors, facilities to inquirers, and hope to all. Because I believe, although imperfectly and with many faults in point of form, this Bill goes to establish those principles of legislation, I support it this evening.
§ LORD MERRIVALE
My Lords, I have no intention of making a speech this evening on the details of the Bill, but because of the interest which many eminent 449 members of my own profession have declared in this Bill, and because for now a very great part of my lifetime I have been familiar with these questions, I do not feel at liberty to allow the House to pass to a Division, which might perhaps upon a narrow majority be fatal to the Bill, without declaring my views. I am going to state in half a dozen words a few facts. I remember well the agitation about the Agricultural Holdings Act which led to its being passed by a Conservative Government, and I remember various discussions which have occurred since. I practised at the Bar during a very great part of the intervening time, and became intimately familiar with these questions. I sat in the House of Commons, off and on, for the best part of twenty years, and I knew the hardship which was experienced by many, who regretted that no one grappled with it.
In view therefore of my own acquaintance with the matter, and considering the view I formed that it ought to be dealt with in the interests of social order and fair play, I did not feel at liberty to be silent when eminent members of the legal profession, and the heads of the Judiciary were expressing strong views. With regard to this Bill, I refreshed my mind by reading the very short speech with which the Lord Chancellor introduced it. I can only say, with great diffidence, that if I made a speech on the subject I should be glad to be able to make that speech. If it comes back to your Lordships you will know what he said about it. He identified certain glaring evils, such as the unjust deprivation of increment due to unexhausted improvements, the deprivation of the benefits of goodwill, the harsh and mischievous abuse of covenants of right contrary to their intention, the scandalous instances in which discredit is brought upon our system of property, and the mode in which we carry on our social life. They are matters of common knowledge, and matters so well known that hardly anybody who has proposed a course with regard to this Bill which may be fatal to it at present, and may be fatal to it in the future, has denied the existence of these hardships.
That is the way in which the matter stands, and so, not minimising the force of the criticism there is about the drafting of the Bill—the draftsman seems to 450 have been an enthusiast, and perhaps a little exuberant—I ask your Lordships not to push aside a Bill to which the House of Commons has given a unanimous Third Reading for causes of that kind. As to the evils, and as to the proposals, there is very little real criticism. The real criticism has been addressed to the tribunal. I do not believe anybody who admires our system of law, under which it is the boast of our countrymen that all of us can go to His Majesty's Courts and insist upon our rights or get redress for our wrongs—I do not believe anyone who takes that view is contented with this tribunal. It is described as, at best, a bureaucratic tribunal. I do not believe it deserves that credit. It is a tribunal composed of irresponsible persons. I do not know if the men who are delegated to select these judges know of persons qualified to be the final judges on these questions of fact, as well as capable of deciding matters of law, but the real question here is not whether any noble Lord likes the tribunal, but whether, with a tribunal capable of amendment, you are going to throw all the labour of the House of Commons in this matter to the winds, and are going to take a Bill upon which infinite labour has been spent and refer if to a Select Committee in the face of His Majesty's Government. One noble Lord spoke of a small Bill of his which had been before a Select Committee for two years, and another noble Lord referred to a question which occupied five or six years. There is no limit to this inquiry.
In order to have a definite view about it I read the Bill and particularly the clauses about the tribunal. The clauses as to the tribunal now contain one proviso which can bring many subjects to the High Court, and I am satisfied that a competent draftsman could introduce other provisos which would restore to the Courts that authority in grave matters between subject and subject which all of us think the Courts ought to hold. If that is so, really to send the Bill to a Select Committee would, I venture to suggest to your Lordships, be a disappointment to many people who look forward to this Bill, something in the nature of a grave injury to His Majesty's Government, and an affront to the House of Commons, and one which is quite needless. A noble friend in 451 front of me said that I had had the temerity to draft a proviso. I have read the clauses and jotted down something on the lines of which I thought you could secure the authority of His Majesty's Courts. For my part I would secure their authority, even if it involved some sacrifice, which I am glad to think it does not.
I will read the proviso which I have jotted down, not because I expect the Government to adopt it but because I think it shows a line of advance which can be taken advantage of by the whole House, and on consideration of which I think it will be clear to any lawyer that this Bill can be dealt with not in an unfriendly spirit but in a public spirit in Committee of the whole House. It is as follows:—Provided further that a proceeding before the tribunal shall be deemed to be a proceeding in the High Court of Justice, and that upon application made by the claimant or any other person affected by the claim the High Court of Justice or a Judge thereof may give directions as to the conduct of such proceedings, review any finding or findings of fact, with power to direct a rehearing in respect of the same, or to rehear the same and to make such final order in the proceeding as the Court or Judge shall deem proper to be made, subject always to such provision as to costs as the Court or Judge may see fit to require before or during the proceeding or in such order as aforesaid.It has been suggested that tenants ought to be terrified at the prospect of being ruined by costs. I see that prospect. That is why I put in the concluding words there, which should enable His Majesty's Courts to take precautions as to costs and to visit them upon the right people.
Then I drafted in the same spirit a further proviso:—Provided further that on the application of a party the High Court of Justice or a Judge thereof may direct that a Judge of a county court to be therein named shall exercise in respect of the proceeding in question like powers in all respects to those conferred by the preceding proviso upon the High Court of Justice or a Judge thereof.I may be wrong as to that, but to suggest that with goodwill this House cannot in the course of the next two or three weeks put this Bill into a reasonably satisfactory form is to my mind to suggest something which is wholly unfounded.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT CAVE)
My Lords, I think you are nearly ready to come to a decision on this Motion, and I will not keep you for very long, but I think it would be worth while for us to consider for a few moments exactly where we stand, and with that view I will lay down four propositions. The first is that this House has accepted the principle of this Bill, the principle, namely, that a tenant who leaves behind him unexhausted improvements or goodwill which he has attached to the premises shall receive compensation. I think there is no speaker among those who supported this Motion who denied that principle. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, who moved the Motion, said in terms that there were considerable merits about the Bill, and that something of the kind was necessary to be done. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Sumner, said that there were considerable hardships, and even considerable extortion to be dealt with. My noble and learned friend Lord Jessel was in favour of the principle of the Bill. I think that even Lord Carson allowed it some merit. And what is conclusive is this, that your Lordships without a Division, and without a dissentient voice, have passed the Second Reading of this Bill.
Secondly, I do not think I shall be contradicted in this, that if you pass this Motion you will kill the Bill. That is plain to every one of us. We are within three weeks of the end of the Session. In that time no Select Committee can meet or do any work, so that at the end of the Session, about Christmas, the Bill will fall to the ground and the whole process, which has occupied months in another place, must be begun over again. Some noble Lords have spoken as if that meant only a delay for six months or a year. I assure you that is not so. The time of next Session is already very fully mortgaged, and no one can promise that, if your Lordships destroy this Bill now, it will see the light again, either next Session or in the present Parliament. And so if you accept the Motion, the effect will be—I say nothing about the motive of noble Lords, which I fully understand—but the effect will be that, with words of approval of the principle in your mouths, you will in fact have destroyed this Bill. 453 I am rather surprised that my noble friend Lord Harris, who has the reputation of wielding a straight bat, has consented to take a part in such a manœuvre.
Thirdly, I will add this, that if you do so destroy the Bill you will not only defeat the deliberate policy of His Majesty's Government, which was announced to the country a year ago by the Prime Minister, and which found a conspicuous place in the gracious Speech at the beginning of the Session, but you will deal a blow at the credit and influence of this House. I do not believe that any noble Lord is going to give a vote for any selfish motive, but, for all that, it will be said, and very widely said, that this House, while unwilling to meet with a direct negative a Bill which is earnestly desired by tenants throughout the country, and which has the unanimous approval of the other House, has yet been willing under cover of this Motion to destroy it. I think that if you take that course you will inflict a grave, perhaps an irretrievable, injury upon this House itself.
My fourth proposition is this, that there is another course open to you, not perhaps that which some noble Lords would prefer, for they would like a Select Committee, but still preferable to the course which I have just described. It is open to you—for there is ample time, more time than we shall require, even for a Bill of great importance—to examine this Bill in a Committee of the Whole House. And, having quite lately had the experience of conducting two Bills through that Committee, I mean the Companies Bill and the Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Bill of the present Session, I know how effective that examination is likely to be. I said in proposing the Second Reading of the Bill, and my noble friend the Secretary of State for India has repeated, that we are ready in that Committee to consider with an open mind any reasonable Amendment which may be proposed by any member of this House. I hope that I may be allowed to say that your Lordships will know from experience that, when I make that promise, it is no idle promise, and that I shall consider such Amendments with an earnest desire to give effect to every reasonable proposal that may be made. Surely, with those four propositions 454 before you, the course which should be taken by everyone who desires that justice should be done, both to tenants and landlords, is clear, and you cannot, if you have that wish, accept to-day the Motion proposed by the noble Lord.
I might almost stop there, but it is desirable, as some points of importance have been raised, that I should go a little further. Now, in my opinion, setting aside arguments against the principle of the Bill, which have somehow crept into the debate, one big point has been made. That is the question of the tribunal. It has been made by noble Lords sitting in every quarter of the House. I want to say a few words about that point. When we were considering the frame of this Bill we had, or thought we had, three courses open to us. One was to remit these questions to the Courts. I am not pronouncing a final opinion upon that course, but we thought it would overload the Courts with a great deal of business which could be better done elsewhere. Our second possible course was to follow the precedent of the Acquisition of Lands Act, 1919, under which permanent whole-time referees are appointed to decide between the Government and the subject when land belonging to the subject is taken. There are to-day three such referees; but we thought it undesirable to add to their number because it was impossible to know how much business would arise for decision under this Bill.
Then there was the third course which we have embodied in the Bill. That is to say, we set up a very powerful Committee called the Reference Committee, consisting of the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls, the President of the Law Society and the President of the Surveyors' Institution. We ask that Committee to make rules governing these references and the procedure in regard to them and we ask them to set up a panel of referees. Those referees may be surveyors, they may even be lawyers, but they would always be men whom the Reference Committee think to be the best and most experienced in their several districts. They would appoint these men not only from London but from all over the country so that they may be near the places where they will have work to do. It is not proposed that these 455 should be whole-time appointments. It is proposed that they should be men in active practice and therefore having daily experience. But our view was that an Englishman who is put in the position of a judge always succeeds in being fair. Once these men are asked to adjudicate between landlord and tenant they will do what is fair. They will have to deal with questions of value, structure and so on, matters which they are far more able to deal with than any court that could be named; because they have knowledge and the court, of course, would need to be instructed. When you are dealing with questions of amount it is the daily practice to refer such matters to an official referee or a special referee. So it appeared to us, rightly or wrongly, that this was the kind of tribunal which was required under this Bill.
Further, we do not leave that tribunal without a check. The Bill provides three ways in which their decisions may be brought before the Courts. The first is to be found in subsection (1) of Clause 20. If it appears to the High Court on the application of either party that on account of the magnitude of the claim and the questions of law involved the case is one which it is desirable shall be tried in the High Court, the matter may be transferred to the High Court for trial. In a later subsection of the same clause there is power to the referee to state his award in the form of a special case to the Courts. That is to say, he will state the facts and ask the Court to determine the law in cases where he has any doubt or where the parties apply to him to take that course. Thirdly, if he should decline to take that course, and referees do not often decline to do so, power is given to the High Court to direct the referee to state his award in the form of a special case and so send it to the Courts. Those are the three alternative checks upon the referee, and any of your Lordships who has experience in these matters will know them to be not without great value.
We are not without experience in this matter. The same procedure has been followed under earlier Acts, not only under the Agricultural Holdings Act, but under the Acquisition of Land Act, 1916, and the Law of Property Act. Rules have been made under those Acts which have given us valuable experience. Those are our proposals and I am not yet convinced 456 that we are not right. But I have been impressed, of course, as your Lordships must have been impressed, by the criticisms of these proposals which have come not only from those who are actively opposed to the Bill but from those who are supporters of the principle of the Bill, such as my noble friends Lord Ernle, Lord Phillimore, Lord Reading, and Lord Burnham. We are all impressed by what we have heard from those noble Lords and I am quite prepared to say that the Government are ready to listen in Committee to any proposals which may be made with regard to the procedure or to the tribunal to be appointed. I would say more than that. After what has happened in this debate I will make it my business to consider with my colleagues whether we can ourselves make a proposal which would meet so far as possible the objections taken and which may be consistent with the rules of order. I do not think I can say more than that we are willing to consider it and to do our best in the matter.
As to the other criticisms, putting aside those which attack the whole principle of the Bill. I hope I shall not be wrong in saying that they seem to me to be minor criticisms and not of any great importance. Many of them were founded on a misunderstanding of the provisions of the Bill. The misunderstandings were so many that I despair at this hour of dealing with them all and will only mention one or two instances. One noble Lord (Lord Harris) said that a tenant for a few months could get compensation. Of course that is not true. He must have been there for at least three years before he gets compensation for improvements and he must have been there for at least five years before he gets compensation for goodwill. Again, the same noble Lord suggested that the compensation charge would take priority over a mortgage. There, too, I think he was mistaken. There is no suggestion that any charge for compensation shall come before an existing charge.
The noble Viscount, Lord Sumner, who dealt very faithfully with the details of the Bill, fell into certain errors of which I will mention only two. He thought, apparently, that the referees would be selected in rotation and, therefore, that you might not get the best men. That is not so. The referees will be chosen according to rules to be made by the 457 Reference Committee, and the rules made by that Committee under earlier Acts have provided that the referee shall be chosen by the Reference Committee itself, who will see that the best man that can be had is chosen for the purpose. The noble Viscount also thought that the referee would direct how the costs were to be taxed. That again is not so. The costs are to be taxed in such manner as may be prescribed; that is, prescribed by rules made by the Committee. Then the noble Earl, Lord Midleton, thought that we had provided that the refered might fix his own fees. Of course that is not so either. Those fees, too, will be fixed by an independent authority—namely, the Reference Committee.
I do not want to go now into all these details. I think I have said enough to show that a few minutes in Committee, when such points as these may be raised,
§ will suffice to clear the air and disabuse noble Lords of the misapprehensions under which they lie. As to the other matters they are, I think, all proposals to amend the Bill in detail and they can be easily dealt with by your Lordships in Committee on the Bill. I can see nothing, I have heard nothing, except the point relating to the tribunal, and even that can be dealt with in Committee—I have heard nothing which would justify a virtual rejection of this Bill, and I hope, indeed, that your Lordships will think twice and three times before you take the very serious step of accepting this Motion and so postponing indefinitely all chance of legislation on the lines of this Bill.
§ On Question, Whether the Bill shall be referred to a Select Committee?
§ Their Lordship? divided: Contents, 37; Not-Contents, 109.459
|Bedford, D.||FitzAlan of Derwent, V.||Hindlip, L.|
|Northumberland, D.||Novar, V.||Hunsdon of Hunsdon, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Sumner, V.||Hylton, L.|
|Younger of Leckie, V.||Jessel, L.|
|Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Lindsey, E.||Aldenham, L.||Lamington, L.|
|Lovelace, E.||Ampthill, L.||Lawrence of Kingsgate, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Carson, L.||Leigh, L.|
|Midleton, E.||Deramore, L.||Mowbray, L.|
|Morton, E.||Erskine, L. [Teller.]||Redesdale, L.|
|Northbrook, E.||Fairfax of Cameron, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Selborne, E.||Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)||Sydenham of Combe, L.|
|Faringdon, L.||Wittenham, L.|
|Bertie of Thame, V.||Harris, L. [Teller.]|
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||De La Warr, E.||Dunedin, V.|
|Denbigh, E.||Falmouth, V.|
|Cave, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Fortescue, E.||Haldane, V.|
|Grey, E.||Peel, V.|
|Balfour, E. (L. President.)||Harrowby, E.|
|Salisbury, M. (L. Privy Seal.)||Howe, E.||Durham, L. Bp.|
|Sutherland, D.||Iddesleigh, E.||Manchester, L. Bp.|
|Wellington, D.||Iveagh, E.||Southwark, L. Bp.|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Atkinson, L.|
|Bath, M.||Lichfield, E.||Avebury, L.|
|Camden, M.||Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Bethell, L.|
|Lincolnshire, M. (L. Great Chamberlain.)||Mayo, E.||Bledisloe, L.|
|Mount Edgcumbe, E.||Boston, L.|
|Queensberry, M.||Onslow, E.||Buckmaster, L.|
|Reading, M.||Plymouth, E. [Teller.]||Charnwood, L.|
|Russell, E.||Clwyd, L.|
|Airlie, E.||Scarbrough, E.||Cottesloe, L.|
|Ancaster, E.||Spencer, E.||Danesfort, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Stanhope, E.||Darling, L.|
|Birkenhead, E.||Strafford, E.||Daryngton, L.|
|Buxton, E.||Ernle, L.|
|Cavan, E.||Burnham, V.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)|
|Clarendon, E.||Chelmsford, V.||Glenarthur, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Churchill, V.||Hampton, L.|
|Dartmouth, E.||De Vesci, V.||Hardinge of Penshurst, L.|
|Hayter, L.||O'Hagan, L.||Southwark, L.|
|Hemphill, L.||Olivier, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L. (L. Sheffield.)|
|Howard of Glossop, L.||Parmoor, L.|
|Islington, L.||Phillimore, L.||Stanmore, L.|
|Kilmaine, L.||Rathereedan, L.||Strachie, L.|
|Knaresborough, L.||Revelstoke, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Kylsant, L.||Riddell, L.||Sudley, L. (E. Arran.)|
|Lovat, L.||Roundway, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Marshall of Chipstead, L.||St. John of Bletso, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)||St. Levan, L.||Thomson, L.|
|Mereworth, L. (L. Oranmore and Browne.)||Sandhurst, L.||Tweeddale, L. (M. Tweeddale.)|
|Merrivale, L.||Somerleyton, L.||Wargrave, L.|
|Mildmay of Flete, L.||Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)||Warrington of Clyffe, L.|
|Muir Mackenzie, L.||Southborough, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative and Motion disagreed to accordingly.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
My Lords, we propose to take this Bill in Committee on Thursday next, but I cannot hope with any great confidence that we shall get the Committee in one night and in that case I shall ask your Lordships to sit on the Friday following.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
I have no objection, but I hope the noble Marquess will allow us to sit after dinner on Thursday.