HL Deb 28 October 1976 vol 376 cc725-7


Clause 17, page 21, line 12, leave out paragraph (d).

The Commons disagreed to this Amendment for the following Reason:

Because it would unduly restrict the class of persons eligible to apply for a direction giving entitlement to a tenancy of the holding.


My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth not insist on its Amendment No. 5, to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reason numbered 6.

Amendment No. 5 would have left out Clause 17(1)(d), dealing with the "treated child". The question of how far the limits of eligibility under the family succession provisions should be drawn has rightly exercised both Houses for a considerable time. The Opposition have been mainly concerned to restrict the number of close relatives who could apply for the vacant tenancy. The Government, on the other hand, recognising that the scheme is concerned with an inheritable right—and I would draw your Lordships' attention to Clause 19(4)—have felt bound to follow precedent and to adopt the formula laid down by the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act which was passed only 12 months ago. The Opposition in both Houses have also felt that the meaning of "treated child" was obscure. I would, however, draw your Lordships' attention to the undertaking given by the Parliamentary Secretary in another place to prepare a note of guidance on the meaning of "treated child" for the tribunal secretaries to issue to anyone who inquires. I am sure that that will go a long way to meet some of the difficulties that have been raised.

I should like to make one final point. It was eventually agreed by most noble Lords that if sons or daughters, including adopted sons or adopted daughters, were to be considered as eligible persons, it was only fair that stepchildren and forte children should be considered eligible to apply as well. That is a very valid point. I have to advise noble Lords that, under their Amendment, stepchildren and foster children would not be eligible after all. I am sure that noble Lords would agree that this would be unjust.

Moved, That the House doth not insist on its Amendment No. 5, to which the Commons have disagreed for their Reason numbered 6.—(Lord Strabolgi.)


My Lords, I am bound to say that we had hoped that another place would have agreed with this Amendment because it was put in to restrict the numbers of people who would be eligible for a hereditary tenancy. It was meant to do just that. However, the Fact that this Amendment is not accepted means that a stepchild, a foster child and, indeed, a child who has been taken in without any formal adoption can, provided he has been treated by the deceased telant for any length of time as a child of the family in relation to any marriage of the deceased, lay claim to the tenancy. In our view, this is a very sweeping provision and it gives a person who is not a blood relative of the deceased tenant the right to lay claim to a tenancy of a holding which may go on for the next 60 to 90 years. That is a considerable right to give to a person who is not a blood relation, and we thought that it went too far. However, another place, having reconsidered this, thinks that it is suitable and we would certainly accept it, though with a degree of disappointment.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

8.8 p.m.