HL Deb 19 February 1970 vol 307 cc1303-6

4.13 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Report be now received. Some of your Lordships who were here on the Committee stage of this Bill may remember that my noble friend Lord Belstead was, quite rightly, rather worried about an Amendment that I moved to subsection (3) of Clause 1 of the Bill. I would ask your Lordships to cast your minds back to the principal Act of 1964, which I introduced into this House. Section 1(8) of that Act says that when the holder of a licence under that Act dies his personal representatives shall be deemed to have been granted a licence valid for a further year from date of death. Also under the Act the local authorities have the power to grant to the personal representatives of a deceased licensee an extension for the purpose perhaps of winding up a deceased's estate or some similar matter.

One of the provisions of the present Bill that I introduced to your Lordships is the granting by the local authorities of provisional three-monthly licences. As I pointed out, the object of having these provisional licences was to deal with a situation in which a riding establishment was not perhaps up to standard. On the Committee stage of the Bill I moved an Amendment to Clause 1(3) of this Bill, my object being to restrict this period to three months when the deceased had been the holder of a provisional licence. As my noble friend pointed out, these words which I had inserted by this Amendment might have been construed as referring to the deceased holder of an annual licence. They could have meant that his personal representatives also would have been restricted to a three-monthly extension period. As my noble friend Lord Belstead pointed out—in fact he rather put the cat among the pigeons, because I must say that I had not realised the fact—if a riding establishment is held on a tenancy, it appears that the tenancy is protected as an agricultural holding. So the landlord, when the tenant dies, has three months in which to give notice, and the tenant has the right to a full tenancy year. If my Amendment had been construed to mean that the personal representatives of the holder of an annual licence could get an extension of only three months, it would have been awkward.

My noble friend also pointed out (though I think this point was rather hypothetical) that under the Agriculture Bill now going through another place the occupier of a tied cottage will be allowed six months in which to vacate his cottage. This might have been awkward for an employee of a riding establishment, provided that my Amendment had been construed as the noble Lord suggested—and I am not saying that the noble Lord was 100 per cent. right, but that he was perhaps 95 per cent. right. My intention, as I said, was to allow these personal representatives of the deceased holder of an annual licence to continue to hold a licence for one year, as laid down in the principal Act. But I also intended, where the deceased was the holder of only a provisional licence —that is to say, a three-monthly licence —to limit the statutory extension to three months, assumirg of course that his personal representatives wished to continue to run the establishment.

Under Amendment No. 1 which I am moving to-day I seek to make it absolutely foolproof that the personal representatives of the deceased holder of an annual licence will be able to run the establishment for a further year. With regard to the holders of provisional licences, of course if such a holder happens to be a tenant (and I think that my noble friend Lord Belstead is probably right when he says that riding establishments are agricultural holdings) the local authority has the right to extend the period of three months to the personal representatives of the deceased. But this must depend on the riding establishment: if it is disgracefully run then of course the local authority will not extend the time to the deceased's representatives.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Viscount? I am anxious to help, but I would point out that the Report has not yet been received. The Question has not been put, although I am sure we shall take into account what the noble Viscount has said.

On Question, Report received.

Clause 1 [Provisional licences for riding establishments]:


My Lords, I am afraid that I rather "jumped the gun" in moving Amendment No. 1 before the Report was received, but I hope that I shall not have to repeat what I have said. I think I have explained all that I need to explain on this Amendment. My original intention at Committee stage was exactly the same as it is now, but apparently the wording was not quite right. I beg to move Amendment No. 1.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 4, after ("Act") insert ("to the personal representatives of the holder of a provisional licence").—(Viscount Massereene and Ferrard.)


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, for his explanation of Amendment No. 1 which your Lordships may consider makes it unnecessary for Amendment No. 2, which stands in my name, to be moved. At the Committee stage it seemed that the Amend- ment which the noble Viscount then moved, substituting the words "three months" for the words "one year" in Section 1(8) of the principal Act meant that the personal representatives of a deceased annual licence holder would have only a three-monthly extension of the licence, and it was because of consequent difficulties that could be envisaged with tenancy agreements on tied cottages that I ventured to draw the attention of your Lordships to that Amendment.

The present Amendment leaves Section 1(8) unchanged for annual licences, and so entirely meets my fears in that respect. But despite the onus on provisional licensees to comply fully with all the requirements of this Act, the Amendment leaves only three months' grace to the personal representatives of a deceased provisional licence holder. But the noble Viscount has pointed out two things to the House: first, that the final six lines of Section 1(8) of the principal Act do apply to a provisional licence terminated by death, so that a local authority can extend the three months period if the personal representatives need more time to wind up an estate, provided, as the noble Viscount has pointed out to us, that the riding establishment is up to standard.

Secondly, the noble Viscount pointed out that a well-run establishment provisionally licensed can simply be relicensed for someone else following the death of the original provisional licence holder. Therefore it seems that for an annual licence the situation will remain unchanged in this matter, while in the case of a competent provisionally licensed establishment there is little to fear. So, my Lords, with thanks to the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, and to the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, for the help which I believe the Home Office have given with the drafting of this Amendment, I should like to support it.


My Lords, I should only like to say that I am very pleased that agreement has been reached between the noble Viscount and the noble Lord. I am glad to have been able to facilitate this and I hope that the Amendment will be accepted.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.