§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Viscount Gage.)
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
My Lords, on the Motion to go into Committee on this Bill, I am afraid I must trouble your Lordships with a point which I should have liked to have had an opportunity of raising on the Second Reading. Unfortunately I was prevented from attending on that occasion. I do not blame the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill because I am sure the circumstances were beyond his control, but the notice given was certainly very short, and some of us had other engagements. The point which I wish to raise concerns the effect which this Bill will have on the housing associations, which used to be called public utility societies. I do not think I am over-stating the case when I say it was the intention of Parliament, in its 414 housing legislation, to put housing associations in the matter of subsidy on the same plane as the local authorities. Your Lordships have shown yourselves to be very favourable to the work of the housing associations in the past and would, I am sure, be sorry if anything should be clone to interfere with the continuance of the very successful work which they have been doing. Such, however, may be the effect of this Bill, and I wish to direct the attention of your Lordships and of the Government to the matter for that reason.
As your Lordships are aware, once this Bill becomes law it will be the measure under which local authorities will do their housing work. The subsidies under the 1930 Act come to an end at the end of this year and will be replaced by subsidies under the Act which we are now considering. The way in which this is going to affect the housing associations is that this Bill, firstly, alters the subsidy from a subsidy per person under the Act of 1930 to a subsidy per house, and secondly, alters the proportions of the subsidy to be borne by the Exchequer and the local authorities respectively. Under the 1930 Act—I am talking about the provision of flats on expensive sites—the Exchequer subsidy might amount to £3 10s. per person rehoused. The contribution of the local authority would be £ 15s. per house. In the case of a fairly large-sized family, the contribution from the rates would be therefore only about one-sixth of the contribution from the Exchequer. One of the cardinal provisions of this Bill is that the rate contribution shall be 50 per cent. of that of the Exchequer and therefore one-third of the total subsidy. There has grown up a practice on the part of the local authorities, following the example set by the London County Council, of passing to the housing associations only one-half of the rate subsidy. Now, where that rate subsidy was only one-sixth of the total subsidy that was not necessarily an insuperable burden for the housing association, but where the rate subsidy is going to be one-third of the total subsidy, and the total subsidy is going to be greater on these expensive sites, to have to provide half the rate subsidy would be an intolerable burden to the housing associations.
I have an actual example in my hand which I would like to quote as illustrating the difficulties. This is an actual case which has occurred and the incidence in 415 this case is so severe that it has resulted in the abandonment of the housing scheme by the association concerned. Under the 1930 Act, under which it was anticipated the scheme would be carried out, the total Exchequer subsidy in respect of forty flats would have been £735, and the rate contribution £150, making a total of £885. Under the new measure the Exchequer subsidy would be £840, and the rate contribution £420, a total of £1,260. Now the result of these figures, so far as the housing association is concerned, if they are to bear half of the rate contribution, would have been a burden of £75 per annum for forty years under the 1930 Act, but of £210 per annum under this Bill. That prospect has had the result of the abandonment of this particular scheme by that particular housing association. That I regard as a misfortune.
Now I mentioned that the London County Council have set the example of only passing on half the rate subsidy. The responsibility for housing in London generally, as your Lordships are aware, is on the London County Council and the Metropolitan borough councils jointly. The London County Council do, in fact, pass on half the rate subsidy to the Metropolitan borough councils where the latter do the housing within their own boroughs, but the London County Council do not pass on half the rate subsidy to the borough council where housing is provided by a housing association. The result is that it is cheaper for the borough council to do the housing themselves rather than to leave it to the housing association. That is going to put the housing associations in London out of business under the new proposals. If I may venture to say so, I think we were all sorry to see that Lord Snell had given up his honourable position as Chairman of the London County Council, where he has earned the admiration of all of us. I am therefore not able to make the same appeal to him to use his influence with the County Council as I might have done had that event not taken place. But at the same time I might perhaps ask the noble Lord to give the matter his attention, because I do believe it only requires an administrative decision on the part of the London County Council to alter this matter in such a way as to secure that the full rate subsidy will still be passed on to the housing association, perhaps 416 half by the London County Council and half by the Metropolitan borough council. That, I believe, would give effect to the intention of Parliament.
I am quite certain that the London County Council is no less anxious to see houses provided by every possible machinery than any member of your Lordships' House. I can quite conceive that it might be more convenient to the London County Council if all the housing were done by the local authorities, but the fact that the housing associations are put out of business will definitely mean a reduction in the amount of housing provided, and that is a result which no one, neither the London County Council nor the Metropolitan borough councils, nor anybody else, desires to see. My desire in raising the matter at this stage is to focus the attention of the Government and of the local authorities on this question, in the hope that, with the good will of all concerned, some means will be found of avoiding what I believe to be a very unfortunate result of this Bill.
§ LORD SNELL
My Lords, I will at any rate see that the views of the noble Lord are put before the London County Council.
My Lords, I do not think I really have very much to say on this point, because I do not think anybody will dispute that the principle is merely being continued from the last Act to this whereby certain work can be handed over to the housing associations. I should like in passing to pay a tribute to the work of those associations and to say that we should regret if their activities were curtailed. But it seems to me that there is nothing in this Bill to prevent some new arrangement being come to between the housing associations and the local authorities, and really it is not a matter which directly concerns the Ministry which I represent.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly:
§ [The EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2:
§ Contributions in respect of agricultural housing accommodation provided by local authorities.
§ (2) The council of a county district shall secure that a number of houses equal to the 417 number of houses (if any) in respect of which contributions are payable under this section to the council are reserved for members of the agricultural population, except in so far as the demand for housing accommodation in the county district on the part of members of the agricultural population can be satisfied without such reservation.
§ LORD PHILLIMORE moved, in subsection (2), after "population," where that word first occurs, to insert:
- "(a) at the weekly rent which, by any order of the appropriate agricultural wages committee in force at the time of the letting, is determined as the value at which the benefit or advantage of a cottage is to be reckoned as payment of wages in lieu of payment in cash for the purpose of any minimum rate of wages fixed by the said committee under the Agricultural Wages (Regulation) Act, 1924, or
- (b) if no such rent is so determined, such weekly rent as may be determined by the council of the county district."
§ The noble Lord said: I would like to reinforce what fell from the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, as to the many disadvantages that arise from the very short time that your Lordships are given to consider these Bills. I happen to know that a good deal of further consideration could have been profitably applied to this particular Bill. I received a very valuable suggestion only yesterday on a point somewhat analogous to the housing associations' plea put forward by Lord Balfour of Burleigh, and the attendance here to-day probably also to some extent reflects the want of time for various bodies concerned to stir up some members on certain points in the Bill. We on this side have very much welcomed this Bill, and the fact that I have a few Amendments down does not in any way detract from our welcome. I only hope that as we sympathetically received the Bill the Government may sympathetically regard these Amendments.
§ The first Amendment draws attention to the fact that in this clause, which deals with the subsidy to local authorities for building rural cottages, there is no provision by which the rent of those cottages has any maximum fixed to it, or any figure at all; whereas if you pass to Clause 3, which deals with cottages which can be erected by private persons under certain circumstances, there is a very distinct limit, which may be summarily stated as the limit of rent allowed by the 418 agricultural wages board which may function in the particular district. It seems curious on the face of it that the local authority should be free to charge any rent it likes, whilst the poor landlord is strictly narrowed down to the wages board limit, and it almost seems as if it might well defeat to some extent the purpose of the Bill. What may happen is this. Those who advise the Government have probably worked out a figure at which these cottages could be built, and I rather guess that figure would be in the neighbourhood of £360. They will have reflected that 5 per cent., if you can borrow at 3¼ per cent., will have to be set aside to pay interest, sinking fund and maintenance, which gives you a figure of £18 a year. They have then said, "Give the local authority £10 a year and you leave it with only £8 to find, which is equivalent, or very nearly equivalent, to a 3s. agricultural rent." But the local authority may find that it cannot build for £360, or the figure calculated, whatever it may be. It may therefore desire not to lose money and to recoup itself out of the rents, and we might quite reasonably find local authorities asking 5s., shall we say? for a cottage which is supposed to be tied to the agricultural population.
§ What will be the result of that? Instead of the full benefit of this Bill accruing to the farming community, the farmer will probably be faced by his prospective workman with a demand that he, the farmer, should increase the workman's rate by the 2s. difference between the rent charged under the agricultural wages board valuation and that charged by the local authority. This may well result to some considerable extent in these cottages not being made use of by the agricultural population for whom they are intended. For that reason my Amendment provides that what applies to the private landlord by way of restriction of rent should also apply to any local authority. I beg to move.
Page 4, line 35, after ("population") insert the said paragraphs.—(Lord Phillimore.)
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (EARL STANHOPE)
Before my noble friend Lord Gage replies to my noble friend I should like to say a word or two as regards the shortage of time which has been allowed to your 419 Lordships for the consideration of this Bill. If my noble friend will refer to what I said on Thursday of last week when I tried to give a forecast of the business of the House, he will see that I myself regretted extremely the very short time which has been allowed to your Lordships for the consideration of these Bills. No one regrets it more than I do. But as my noble friend is well aware, there have been factors which have upset the whole of the programme in another place, and that was my excuse to your Lordships. I can only say that I will do my very best to give ample time for the consideration of Bills which come before your Lordships' House. No one is more sorry than I to have to confess that the time for this particular Bill is so short.
I can assure my noble friend that we sympathise with a great deal of what he wants to do, but in regard to this Amendment I must point out that the method he proposes cuts across the principle that was established in the Act of 1936 whereby a local authority is given wide discretion in the matter of rent. It is given definite responsibilities to be carried out, but it is given this discretion as to methods, subject to the condition that in fixing rents it should have regard to the general level of rents in the locality. The object of giving that discretion was for greater administrative convenience and efficiency, and I can give two examples which will bring out that point in connection with this clause. Take a man living in a house built under this Bill. If that man leaves agriculture for some other employment such as road-making, in which he might get very much higher wages, it would be right for the authority in that case to put his rent up. Having done so, the authority would be at liberty to take another house in their possession, possibly a Wheatley house under the 1924 Act, and use that house for some agricultural labourer. They would put that house into the agricultural pool. That is, in my opinion, a right principle and, although it would not be absolutely impossible under the noble Lord's Amendment, considerable difficulties would be put in the way, and the Amendment would not make for administrative convenience. Again, in exceptional circumstances, although these rents are low, a 420 local authority might wish to make a rent rebate to an agricultural tenant. That would be impossible under the Amendment, which, after all, establishes a minimum as well as a maximum rent.
While sympathising with the noble Lord's intention, we believe it is secured in the Bill. Your Lordships will see that this Government subsidy is given on condition that the local authority pays a contribution of £1 per annum for each house in respect of which it has received a subsidy. What is a contribution? If the authority takes out of the agricultural rent pool more than, or as much as, it puts in, that would not be paying a contribution and would not satisfy the district auditor or the Government. The noble Lord talked about the private owner, and asked why the local authority should not be under the same restriction. I have shown that in the first place a private individual has not got the same pool complication to face. He may have only one house which is intended to go with a particular job, and the local authority does not have to pay any contribution towards his house. The Exchequer contribution is handed out to him direct.
In regard to the question the noble Lord asked about rural districts finding it impossible to build houses at the figure on which these calculations are based, I do not think the noble Lord has noticed the proviso in subsection (1) of Clause 2 where, in the event of local authorities having particular difficulty, the Minister can raise the subsidy. I hope I have satisfied the noble Lord. Although we sympathise with what he has in mind, we believe this safeguard would be much better provided in the way we suggest than in the more direct but much more complicated method he has proposed.
I thank the noble Viscount for his reply, and I sympathise with him in finding it rather difficult to defend fully the proposals in the Bill. It would seem to me that the two cases he quoted are not quite analogous. Under the former Bills, pooling was quite justified and, indeed, presented no particular difficulty because you were dealing with one class of tenant. You are now dealing with two classes of tenants—first, the favoured agricultural tenant, and the other the general rural population. From the noble Viscount's explanation it 421 emerges that the tendency which has already shown itself in rural districts for council cottages to be absorbed by the non-agricultural population will be accentuated rather than lessened. So far as I can make out, there is nothing to prevent a rural authority from making a profit on the deal. I cannot see anything in the Bill to prevent a rural authority from paying its £1 and making more than £1 by charging higher rent. As it is quite unrestricted as to the rents it can charge, I cannot follow the noble Viscount's justification of the hope he expresses. Will the noble Viscount consider, between now and Report, whether it would not be possible to modify my suggestion and make it apply only in this way, that, however many cottages a local authority erects under this new Bill for the agricultural population, so many cottages shall be maintained for the agricultural population out of the total pool?
That is exactly what is done in this Bill. A certificate has to be rendered every year by the local authorities, and if they do not render that certificate they will not get the subsidy. The whole object of the Bill is to create a new agricultural pool, and what we want to avoid doing is to confine that pool to certain particular houses. The pool is established, and the authority has to render the certificate every year that it is going to keep that number of houses in the pool. If it does not, or cannot, do that it will not get the subsidy. That, in my opinion, is eminently logical and clear.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 2 agreed to.
§ Clause 3:
§ Contributions in respect of agricultural housing accommodation provided by persons other than local authorities.
§ 3.—(1) Where the council of a county district are satisfied that in any particular case housing accommodation required for members 422 of the agricultural population of the district could more conveniently be provided by some person other than the council, they may, subject to any conditions imposed by the Minister, make arrangements for the provision of such accommodation by that person; and if the Minister is satisfied that the arrangements are such as to secure that any house provided in pursuance thereof—
§ LORD PHILLIMORE moved, in subsection (1), to leave out the first "may" and insert "shall if that person is willing." The noble Lord said: The Amendment here suggests that where the council of a county district are satisfied that in any particular case housing accommodation required for members of the agricultural population could be more conveniently provided by a private person, the Council "shall"—instead of "may"—make provision for that private person to get the subsidy. Considering that the county districts have first of all to be satisfied that in this case it is suitable that a private landowner should build a cottage and that the Minister is already authorised to impose conditions, it is difficult to see why there should be any further doubt as to the private landowner receiving permission to build and to receive a subsidy. I cannot think of any reason why he should not be allowed to go straight ahead. If, on the other hand, the Bill stands as it is, it does seem to me to open up certain possibilities of local tyranny and local jealousies and so on influencing a council not to allow individual persons to build houses when they have submitted to all the conditions necessary. I hope the noble Viscount will be able to explain why the word "may" exists in this instance, or possibly to accept my Amendment.
Page 5, line 13, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall if that person is willing").—(Lord Phillimore.)
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
I should like to support the noble Lord in this respect, that I can confirm that there are cases where private landowners have not had fair play in the matter of subsidy. I am talking now of the Rural Housing Act. Certain county councils have an idea that that Act was not passed for the benefit of wealthy landowners and they have not been willing to give quite fair play. The counties in question are well known to the Ministry of Health, and there is substance in the suggestion that 423 some county councils may not be willing in certain instances to do all for one landowner that they might do in other circumstances. I do not know whether that is sufficient reason for enshrining a clause of this kind in an Act of Parliament, but there is substance in the suggestion made by the noble Lord.
In the first place, the effect of this Amendment is not altogether clear. I understand what the noble Lord has said that it means, but I am not sure that it would actually read like that if introduced into the Bill. Apparently it is intended to impose an obligation on the local authority to enter into an arrangement with any person who is ready to build houses for members of the agricultural population. We should object to that if that were so, because it would conflict with the view expressed by the Central Housing Advisory Committee, with which the Government are in agreement, that the houses required for the agricultural population should normally be built by the local authorities, and that a subsidy should be paid to a private individual only when it would not be convenient for the local authority to build houses required in isolated positions or at some particular out-of-the-way farm.
I do not think the words proposed by the noble Lord would have that effect, because the prior condition still remains in the opening words of the subsection that the council should be satisfied in the particular case that the provision could more conveniently be made by someone other than themselves. So long as that condition is retained (and I must say that its retention goes to the root of our conception of this part of the Bill) it seems to me undesirable to make an Amendment in wording the effect of which would be doubtful. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, mentioned what he alleges to be injustice arising out of the refusal of certain councils to apply the Housing (Rural Workers) Act. I think if such an attitude was taken up it was taken up on the ground that they refused to transfer ratepayers' money to people whom they considered rich. In this case they are not transferring any of the ratepayers' money; they are merely handing on the Government subsidy.
The last argument produced by the noble Viscount cer- 424 tainly does convince me of the partiality of these rural district councils. I would like to point out, in answer to the opening words, that I do not propose to change the first two lines of this clause, and I quite admit that the council of a county district are left masters of the question of whether a particular house should be built by a private person or not. The council could come to its conclusion that a house is best built by a private person in such and such a place, but, having settled that question, why should the council again consider the persons concerned? because there is nothing else left to consider. They have settled already that it is best that a private person should be allowed to build a house, and there is nothing more to consider except persons themselves. Why should they be given that additional inducement to pick and choose between various people. I cannot think really that that can be wise, and I must press the noble Viscount, if he can see his way, to accept this Amendment.
The noble Lord proposes to make the discretion compulsory and yet leave it as a discretion. I must say that I do not agree with the distinction he drew between the different motives which might lead a rural district council to say: "We agree that it is more convenient that such and such a person should build, but we do not propose to give this grant." I really cannot believe that is how a question of this kind would be presented by the rural district council to the landowner. They would say yes or no. They would say either "We think we could build this house ourselves more conveniently," or "We do not think we are called upon to do anything in this case." They would not divide their duties into two, and accept one and refuse the other. This Amendment has been the subject of a great deal of dispute in another place, and it has been debated at great length. I do not think this Amendment would have any real effect, and I am afraid the Government cannot accept it.
I do not know that after the statement made by the Leader of the House as to the lack of time for this purpose I should be justified in going to a Division but I remain wholly unsatisfied by the explanation that I have received, and I would again point out that there can be no reason why this 425 particular word can apply to anything else except a choice of personalities.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 3 agreed to.
LORD PHILLIMORE moved, after Clause 3, to insert the following new clause:
.For the purposes of Sections two and three of this Act, the definition of 'agricultural population' in subsection (2) of Section one hundred and fifteen of the principal Act shall have effect as if, after the words 'industry mainly dependent upon agriculture.' there were inserted the words 'or on the maintenance of farmhouses and buildings, cottages, fences, and other agricultural works.'
The noble Lord said: This is more a "fishing" Amendment than anything else. I should be glad to know whether the words "agricultural population" do include those engaged in the maintenance of farmhouses and buildings, cottages, fences and other agricultural works. I anticipate that the answer will be "Yes," but it might be better, if we got that plainly stated. I beg to move.
After Clause 3 insert the said new clause.—(Lord Phillimore.)
If that is all the noble Lord wants I can tell him that estate workers, we believe, would be included. The noble Lord's Amendment, however, goes further and would include people who are not merely estate workers but are special builders. We do not think they ought to be included. So far as the noble Lord wants to include estate workers that, I believe, will be done.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clauses 4 to 9 agreed to.
LORD PHILLIMORE moved, after Clause 9, to insert the following new clause:
. Where a local authority has under Section nine (Power of local authority to require repair of insanitary house) of the principal Act served upon the person having the control of any house a notice requiring him to execute the works specified in the notice and such notice has been complied with either by the execution of the works specified in the notice or by compliance with any order made by the Judge of a County Court upon any appeal by the person aggrieved by the notice the local authority shall issue to such person a
certificate to that effect under the hand of the clerk to the local authority and such certificate shall he conclusive evidence that at the date of the issue thereof the house to which it relates was fit for human habitation.
§ The noble Lord said: This Amendment deals with a rather important point. There is a very curious situation at present under the Act of 1936. Two sections of that Act deal with the repair of unsatisfactory cottages. One is Section 9 and the other is Section 51. Section 9 deals with cases where a local authority insist upon repairs to a cottage being made to a schedule which they lay down. This section is very widely used. It is a very important power and it has been the subject of a good deal of discussion with regard to amenities, and so on, on various occasions. But it has this curious lack, that if the owner complies with the schedule of repairs to his cottage which the local authority insist upon, he has no guarantee whatever that they will continue to be satisfied with those repairs during, say, the next year or two. In other words, he gets no certificate that he has carried out, to the satisfaction of the local authority, the works they contemplated and that he can therefore reasonably presume that he has a satisfactory cottage. On the other hand, under Clause 51, if he comes forward and says "I am not satisfied with the condition of my cottage. I propose to make alterations as follows. Do you agree that these alterations are satisfactory? Yes, you do. Very well, then, I am entitled to ask you for a certificate," he gets it. All that this Amendment proposes is that he shall be entitled to get that certificate when the local authority has been the prime mover in the matter. For that purpose this new clause is required. I am sure the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill will take the point and will agree with me that there is no reason why such a certificate should not be granted.
After Clause 9 insert the said new clause.—(Lord Phillimore.)
THE MARQUESS OF ABERDEEN AND TEMAIR
I should like to take the opportunity of supporting the underlying principle of this proposed new clause. Although my own case applies to Scotland the same thing might happen in England. I did up two cottages according to the requirements of the local authority, and twenty-one months after the work had 427 been completed to their satisfaction they said it was not satisfactory and they wanted me to do more work. Experience in rural areas is that you have not got too much labour to do this sort of work, and when the local authority comes along and tells you to do something else after you have just finished a job it is very often impossible to do it for some time because there is such a shortage of workers. If you could get a certificate to show that you have done the work, then you would be protected from unnecessary demands—unnecessary because if the local authority want more done they ought to have put it in the first demand. It is impossible to keep on pulling a place about when you have already done something a short time before. It is essential for the protection of those responsible for keeping cottages in order that they should have a certificate in every case, no matter under what provision or under what Act they have done the work. I think it is very important that everybody who does the work of reconditioning or putting right things which are wrong should have a certificate.
I should like to point out in the first place that this is a Bill dealing with subsidies. It is straining it rather a long way, I think, to ask that we should consider matters that do not come under that heading but are really amendments of the 1936 Act. Whatever may be done in that way in your Lordships' House, it seems to me, would almost certainly be ruled out of order in another place. Obviously many matters which may be very controversial arise out of the 1936 Act, and it would open up a formidable vista if we were to reconsider the whole matter. I would, however, like to deal with this question on its merits and I would say that the information I have is that the point which the noble Lord, Lord Phillimore, makes is covered by Section 51 of the 1936 Act. Under that section an owner contemplating improvements or alterations to his property may submit a list of the works he proposes to carry out and, if the list is approved by the authority and the works are executed to their satisfaction, he may apply for a certificate that the house is fit for human habitation and will remain so for a period specified in the certificate, which is to be not less than five years. My information is that 428 the proposed new clause is unnecessary in all cases where the works are sufficient to make the house fit for habitation. It is objectionable in that it would require a local authority to issue a certificate of fitness where the only works required to be carried out were minor or of a patching-up order intended only to prolong the utility of the house for a short period but not to make it fully fit. I think the noble Lord had in mind cases where he did not think a certificate would be demanded, but I am informed that in every case where works are carried out to the satisfaction of the local authority the owner is entitled to receive his certificate.
I should like to be quite clear on this point. Does the noble Viscount say that in the case of houses that have been declared unfit for human habitation under Section 9 and subsequently rendered fit, the owner is entitled to receive a certificate that they have been rendered fit? As I understood him just now he does say so, but that is not what I am advised is the present interpretation of the law.
I am quite definitely advised that if work is carried out to the satisfaction of the local authority the owner may apply for a certificate that the house is fit for human habitation.
I am sorry, the noble Viscount does not really take my point. Section 51, to which he has just referred, deals with repairs and alterations where the owner is the prime mover—I cannot put it more shortly.
Section 9 deals with cases where the local authority is the prime mover. If he can tell me that the certificate obtainable when a house has been made fit under Section 51 is 429 also obtainable when a house has been made fit under Section 9, I shall be perfectly satisfied.
Well, my Lords, Section 9 was passed to deal with two cases under the Housing (Financial Provisions) Act, 1924, and is only directed to very unlikely cases. In fact, my information is that very few cases are likely to arise.
There is obviously a difference of opinion as to interpretation between the noble Lord and myself. Nevertheless, I can only say that this is the information which I have from the Ministry. Therefore I think that my answer is that we do not think that the peculiar circumstances in which Clause 9 is designed to operate will occur, but that, if there was any question of an owner wishing to get a certificate from a local authority, we believe that in all cases he would be covered by Section 51. I can only promise the noble Lord this, that if there is some very intricate legal question which has not occurred to me—and I do not think it has occurred to any 430 of my noble friends—we will go into the question with the noble Lord and see if there is really some unsuspected point in the Bill which nobody has yet seen. I hope the noble Lord will accept that assurance.
Possibly the noble Lord will consider this question seriously before the Housing (Rural Workers) Act comes up for consideration, which I understand it does this summer; and if he objects to the clause which I suggest should be included in this Bill, does he think that, if he is satisfied on this point, he might be able to include a clause of a similar nature in that Bill?
I will consider the question before the Third Reading of this Bill. I cannot say anything about what may happen on another Bill, but of course we shall give every consideration to what the noble Lord says.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Remaining clauses agreed to.
§ Schedule agreed to.
§ Bill reported without amendment.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past six o'clock.