Orders of the Day — Fifth Schedule. — (Ultimate inndence of liability to contributions.)

– in the House of Commons on 12th February 1941.

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Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

I beg to move, in page 57, line 6, after "property," to insert: under a tenancy which has less than a hundred years to run. This and the next two Amendments in the name of my right hon. Friend have effect so that the landlord or tenant, who has a term of 100 years or more to run, shall bear no part of the contribution under Part I of the Bill. I think that that is a most reasonable proposition in the eyes of hon. Members opposite.

Photo of Sir George Benson Sir George Benson , Chesterfield

Unquestionably this Amendment very radically improves the table in Part II of the Schedule, but I do not think it goes far enough to cover both the reversionary interest of the ground landlord and the immediate interest that he has in the value for the rent he receives. Broadly speaking, the table is, I suppose, a reasonable approximation to that end, but there is the limiting case of the tenancy with 50 years or more to run, that is the 10 per cent., which can produce some very odd anomalies. There is a very large number of leasehold lands which are more or less nominal. It might have been found necessary, for various reasons, to lease land, although, in effect, the land had been sold. At 100 years the reversionary interest is very small. I find that at 4 per cent., which is a reasonable interest to take, the reversionary interest on £1 is .019, roughly a fiftieth. The reversionary interest is only one-fifth of the present value, and you may get a comparatively nominal rent with a large number of years to run—perhaps between 50 and 100—on a big building with a high rental, and you may find that the landlord, under this table in the Schedule, is paying three, four or five times as much as his total interest both on capital value and the rent he receives. I see that there is a proposal to extend the table. The table in the Schedule goes up by either five or 10 year jumps, and when it gets to the fiftieth year it goes up by 50 year jumps, and there ought to be a modification in order to prevent a man paying multiples of interest.

Photo of Mr Edmund Radford Mr Edmund Radford , Manchester Rusholme

I am sorry that I cannot voice approval of my right hon. Friend's proposal. Where property stands on ground subject to ground rent the ground rent owner secures some security from the payment of contribution. If the property is destroyed there is some money forthcoming from general funds, and I do not see why, because a ground rent is for a period of over 100 years, the ground rent owner should not have to pay part of the contribution.

Photo of Colonel Sir Joseph Nall Colonel Sir Joseph Nall , Manchester Hulme

It does seem altogether unreasonable that a ground landFord whose rent is secured by property liable to damage should make no contribution. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor will be aware that in parts of the country leasehold is resorted to very widely. Many properties are subject to sub-rents and it may be as many as 15 times over before you get back to the original owner. If none of them is to make any contribution, it is altogether unfair to the cheaper sub-rents, many of which are duplicated.

Photo of Mr Francis Douglas Mr Francis Douglas , Battersea North

I would like to support the arguments put forward by the last two speakers. If there were some assistance by which rents payable to a ground landlord should cease the position would be different, but at present he will remain entitled to his rent. In the particular case we are considering at the moment, it is obvious that the lessee cannot possibly disclaim his lease and so relieve himself of his obligation to pay rent, because the cases now under contemplation are those under which the lessee has, in all probability, a very substantial interest in the property, which he cannot disclaim. If the rent is to continue to be paid it seems only equitable that the receiver of that rent should make some contribution towards the cost of the scheme.

Photo of Mr Arthur Woodburn Mr Arthur Woodburn , Clackmannan and Eastern

I am not familiar with the English terms concerning land, but there is considerable feeling in Scotland that the superior of the land is not being asked to make any contribution. It is said, of course, that he has no security over the property, but the fact is that agricultural land around towns, which was once being let at £2 10s. an acre, has now jumped to £45 an acre simply because the towns have built houses for the people, or, for instance, because the State, by providing a £5,000,000 road between Edinburgh and Glasgow, have raised the value of the land for letting purposes. These people receive a free gift from the State of about £42 10s. an acre, and yet, when a national crisis comes, they are asked to make no contribution. I do not know whether it is possible in a Bill of this sort to deal with such a matter, but I hope the Chancellor will take this point into serious consideration when he brings in the Budget and see that something is done to recover some of the public money that is given gratuitously to these people.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In page 57, line 17, after "tenant," insert: under a tenancy which has less than a hundred years to run.

In line 33, leave out "the," and insert "that."

In line 36, leave out "thereof," and insert "of that fraction."

In page 58, line 12, leave out "first mentioned."—[Sir K. Wood.]

Photo of Mr Lewis Silkin Mr Lewis Silkin , Camberwell Peckham

I beg to move, in page 58, to leave out line 24, and to insert:

"Less than 5 years.97½ per cent.95 per cent.90 per cent.85 per cent.
Less than 10 years.95 per cent.87½ per cent.80 per cent.70 percent."
In my view, the table included in the Amendment would be an improvement on the Bill. As it is rather difficult to argue this matter in detail, I think it better to leave the Amendment to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

As this is the last Amendment on the Order Paper in the name of a Private Member, may I, on my own behalf and on behalf of many other hon. Members who have had a good deal to do with the work in the Committee, express my appreciation of the friendly, reasonable, and receptive manner in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General have met the various Amendments that have been moved? Such a statement is one which in times of peace it might have been impolitic to make, even if it represented what one thought, but in these days we are able to express appreciation where appreciation is due. I feel that I must express sympathy with the Chancellor with regard to the many undertakings he has given to look into different matters, but I know he will honour those undertakings and really give consideration to those matters. It gives one great pleasure in these days to see democracy at work as it has been on this Measure, and I believe we have reason in general to be satisfied.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

I am indebted to the hon. Member for Peckham (Mr. Silkin) and the Committee for the way in which they have helped me with this I have given a number of undertakings and I shall endeavour, to the best of my ability, to carry them out. We shall have a very considerable amount of work to do on the Report stage, in view of the various Amendments and alterations which I shall suggest as a result of proposals that have been made from all parts of the Committee. We cannot wholly congratulate ourselves until we have achieved the end of the Report stage, but we are able to say now that a great deal of concentrated and expert attention has been given to the Bill, and I am very much obliged to hon. Members for their assistance. There has been no question of any other motive than to obtain the best Bill we can. In the circumstances it has been a most difficult undertaking, and could not have been done but for the help and assistance of my hon. Friends from all quarters of the Committee. I thank them very much indeed for the progress which has been made. I shall be glad to accept the Amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 58, line 37, first column, leave out, "years or more," and insert "or more, but less than 100, years."—[Sir K. Wood.]

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.