(1) Notwithstanding anything in the preceding provisions of this Part of this Act, the Commission shall not be required to entertain a claim by any person for a payment in respect of war damage to a hereditament, being damage in respect of which a payment of cost of works is the appropriate payment, if the total cost of executing works on the hereditament in relation to such war damage which was incurred by him and which would apart from this provision be the subject either of a payment of cost of works or of a temporary works payment, is less than five pounds;
Provided that, in the case of a person who has incurred such cost as aforesaid in relation to war damage sustained by the same hereditament on two or more occasions, or in executing works on two or more developed hereditaments in the same area, the whole of such cost shall be taken into account together for the purposes of this Sub-section.
(2) Notwithstanding anything in the pre ceding provisions of this Part of this Act, the Commission shall not be required to entertain a claim for a payment in respect of war damage to a hereditament not being a developed hereditament, being damage in respect of which the appropriate payment is a value payment, if the total amount of the depreciation in the value of the hereditament caused by the war damage, and of the cost of executing works on the hereditament in relation to such war damage which apart from this provision would be the subject of a temporary works payment, is less than five pounds.
Provided that, in the case of such a hereditament which sustains war damage on two or more occasions, the said depreciation and cost attributable to the war damage occurring on those occasions respectively shall be taken into account together for the purposes of this Sub-section, and, if the hereditament also sustains war damage in respect of which a payment of cost of works is the appropriate payment, the amount of that payment shall be included in the said total for those purposes.—[Sir K. Wood.]
I would like to say a word on behalf of a certain percentage of people who will be affected by this proposal. I think nearly all hon. Members will have had communications on this subject from people who have been paying to building societies for five or ten years and who are now in very difficult circumstances as a result of the war. In many cases it is as much as they can do to meet the interest charges. On top of that, they have to meet the premiums. It may Happen that blast will remove the whole of the windows on one side of the house; the actual owner may not be living in it—he may be evacuated —and may not be in a position to carry out repairs. Where such cases arise, it seems to me that the parties should at least get some compensation. I appreciate the general desirability of cutting out frivolous claims, but what would otherwise seem a frivolous claim might, in these circumstances, be a very serious proposition, and the man may have to go further into debt to meet the cost of making good the damage. I should like to have some assurance on this human side of the question, for while the Committee is in general agreement with the Clause as a whole, it still seems possible that there will be cases of positive hardship, and that the whole intention of the Bill as far as these people are concerned will be frustrated.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
This new Clause brings together all the Regulations which may be made by the Treasury and which will therefore come before Parliament. Such Regulations may be made as to the notification of the occurrence of damage and as to the making of claims for payments. The hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) raised the point that the first notification should be quite simple as compared with the second and obviously more detailed document in regard to claims. It is provided by paragraphs (a) and (b) of Sub-section (1) of this Clause that there will first be a notification and afterwards the claim. Then Regulations may be made under Sub-section (2) specifying limits of time, and under Sub-section (3) rendering the right to receive the payment under this part of the Act conditional on the requirements of the Regulations having been observed, provided of course that there is a right of waiver in special cases. Under Subsection (4) there is power to make Regulations as to any matter in relation to war damage sustained before the coming into force of the Regulations, so as to cover cases in which claims have already been made or in which claims will be made hereafter, before the Regulations are finally approved. I have here a whole catalogue of the different points made by hon. Members on the Regulations, and I think we have really met the probability of all of the things that they have in mind arising. Anyhow, Parliament keeps its control over the form of the Regulations.
The Clause provides that the report of the Commission shall be published after the Treasury have made an order in pursuance thereof or have decided to make no order. I think it very desirable that the report should be published before the Treasury make their order or determine not to make an order, so that the general public may make representations upon the report. It is always difficult to obtain a reversal or a modification of an order after it has been made. The right hon. Gentleman has been very good m meeting all the objections which have been raised, and I ask him to consider whether the report might not be published before the Treasury come to a decision. The matter is clearly most important, as the right hon. Gentleman recognises.
How is the claimant to know whether he is entitled to a value payment or not? As I understand it, the scheme of the Bill is that the cost-of-works payment is the normal payment, but it is not to be made unless and until the work has been done.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
This Clause gives power to decrease the payment for damage or otherwise, to any person who has failed to take reasonable steps to prevent damage, and has, therefore, increased the extent of the damage to the property. That principle was suggested earlier, and will, I think, commend itself to the Committee. The Clause works in this way. It does not damage or prejudice in any way the claims of those persons who have not been negligent. The amount by which the damage is increased is deducted from the sum that would otherwise go to the negligent party, or if the amount of the aggravation of the damage by negligence exceeds the sum that he would receive, then it can be recovered from him as a civil debt due from him, and the amount will go to meet the just claims of the parties. I think it is a Clause which will meet with general acceptance. I might, I hope, without infringing the Rules of Order, suggest to those who were interested in the discussion just now, that the direct result of considering this Clause and its implications has some bearing perhaps on the construction of the words, giving them the wide construction it is desired.
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed new Cause, in line 1, after the word "is," to insert "caused or."
On the general question of this Clause the Committee ought to feel a great debt of gratitude that such a Clause has been moved by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because the Bill contains extremely few safeguards, and there is a likelihood of very large sums of the taxpayers' money being paid away unless some such safeguard as this is included in the Bill. I do not want to labour the wording of my manuscript Amendment nor to make the Clause unduly complicated, but it seems to me that if war damage to a hereditament is increased by failure, one has to realise that the war damage might equally well be caused by failure. For example, an incendiary bomb falls and does no damage at all if it is dealt with in the course of two or three minutes, or at all events certainly less than £5 worth of damage will be done, but if the bomb is allowed to get a good hold on a wooden floor or something of that kind, enormous damage may be done. I suggest that, if the words "caused or" are put in front of the word "increased," we shall have an additional safeguard, and it will make people still more careful. It is well known all over the country that a great deal of damage has been done because reasonable precautions have not been taken to prevent damage; therefore I suggest that the words "caused or" should be put in front of the word "increased" in order to make owners of property who are mentioned quite clearly in the Clause even more careful than they are at the present time.
I have only seen this Amendment for about two minutes, but I would ask my hon. and gallant Friend not to press it, because I think it may open up a question which we discussed before, namely, whether a person should be ruled out of the Bill altogether because he is not a fire watcher. I agree that we must have proper and adequate penalties for people who do not have fire watchers according to law, and if those penalties are not big enough, they must be increased. But if you say, "If you have no fire watcher you may lose your right to damage under this Bill," you will make it extremely difficult for the courts to deal with cases which come before them. It would be an impossible task to put it upon the Commission to inquire into all the aspects antecedent to the damage. They can inquire after the damage because at that stage the local authority is on the scene. Therefore, there are these two objections—one in principle, and one practical, to this Amendment. Another is that the Commission would have no evidence of what was happening in the building at the time a bomb descended, and while I appreciate my hon. and gallant Friend's anxiety that there should be appropriate and unpleasant consequences for those who do not fulfil their duty in this matter, I think the proper way is to strengthen, if required, the penalties which can be imposed if it is proved against them that they have not taken proper precautions.
I only want to say that the Attorney-General has to a great extent convinced me, and if the effect of what he has said, and of what I rather haltingly put before the Committee, is to make people realise that they have to protect the public purse and the property of the State, so much the better. Quite recently a Minister of the Crown said, of individuals who had taken insufficient care and were guilty of contributory negligence in regard to their property, that they were "guilty of passive arson." I agree with that view, so I beg to ask leave to withdraw my Amendment, feeling confident that the law as it exists to-day will be sufficient to frighten property owners into taking proper precautions for the safeguarding of their property.
This Clause endeavours to meet a number of points which occurred during previous Debates, but I think it contains a rather serious danger. Is it the Commission who have to decide what steps a man ought reasonably to have been expected to take in order to protect his property? Supposing my home is damaged by a bomb and the roof destroyed, is it to be considered unreasonable if I do not obtain and put on the roof a tarpaulin or a steel or wooden cover? If I happen to be unable, because of lack of means, to find the money necessary to take these steps, shall I be penalised as a result? If a person is reasonably expected to take certain steps for the protection of his property, is he to be relieved if he is unable to obtain the necessary labour or materials? Who is to be the judge in these matters? What court of appeal is there to be? There is no doubt that some provision of this nature is required, but it must be subject to every possible safeguard, for otherwise those who are perhaps not as careful as they might be about these things may be subject to serious deductions from the sum which they would otherwise receive. I suggest to the Chancellor that these questions ought to be answered, and that the public ought to know where they stand. It may be right to deduct sums because of a failure to minimise the damage, but I suggest that all leniency should be extended to those offenders and that all the relevant circumstances, including the financial circumstances of the claimant, should be taken into account. If we could receive some assurance on these lines, it might help us in coming to a decision.
Enlarging the point that has been made by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South-East Leeds (Major Milner), I want to say that one can reasonably assume that owners of property will take whatever steps they can to protect their property as much as possible, for the simple reason that they are the owners of the property. This applies more especially if they have a mortgage on the property. As the Chancellor knows, however, many of these properties have sustained slight damage and the tenants have evacuated them. There is no further income to be obtained from such properties, and the owner has to pay ground rent, mortgage interest and so forth. In such a case, probably he has no money to take even reasonable steps to protect his property. Another point which occurs to me—and perhaps the Attorney-General can give an answer on this—is more in the nature of a legal point. The provision not only throws the onus on the owner of the equity but also on any person interested in a proprietary manner in the property or in part of it—it may be a ground landlord, another lessor, or a chain of lessors. What right in law have any of these superior owners or landlords to enter on the property and do the repairs? At the present time the physical owner of the property, the equity owner, is in complete possession, and I do not know that anybody above him has a right under the common law to enter on the property and do repairs without his permission. A further point arises from this. One assumes that one of these people who is the owner of a proprietary interest is aware that the property has been damaged. He may be living near the property, or he may be living along way from it. How is it to be proved that he was aware that the property had been damaged, and therefore, could have taken the necessary steps? These points may or may not be substantial ones, but they will arise, and it would be as well to clear them up at this stage and not allow them to cause confusion later on.
I am in complete agreement with the principle involved in this new Clause, but I am a little anxious about the drafting. It. occurs to me that there may be some difficulty because people do not always know exactly, in the conditions under which we are existing to-day, who is the responsible owner. The Attorney-General referred back to the discussion we had on the word "direct," but as a matter of fact the omission or exclusion of a word in some of these Clauses makes a great deal of difference. I ask the Government to consider the question of including in this new Clause the word "wilful," to make it quite clear that the penalties involved are to be imposed only for what might be termed "wilful negligence."
There is another aspect of this question which I do not think has been considered. In many cases local authorities have bought damaged property purely for demolition purposes. We are being compelled to pay on that property, but the last thing in the world we wish to do is to waste time or further money in protecting it. The only ques-which arises in the case of this property is the dousing of any fires which may be started. The property is bought for demolition, and it cannot be expected that we shall expend further money in safeguarding or protecting it. I do not know what claims we shall eventually have, but I should like an assurance that after paying the premiums we shall, at least, have some contribution to the new property. It seems to me that unless there is some proviso in this new Clause, any claim we might have would be invalidated, because, quite properly, we should not be wasting time in protecting this class of property. I should like to have some assurance that we shall not be penalised in such cases.
I should like hon. Members to consider Sub-section (2) of this new Clause, which applies its provisions to cases in which a value payment is made. It seems impossible that a value payment could be increased by any neglect on the part of the owner of property, because the amount of the value payment is determined under Clause 4 as,
the amount by which the value of the hereditament in the state in which it was immediately after the occurrence of the damage is less than its value in the state in which it was immediately before the occurrence of the damage.
Therefore there is no time limit in this computation by which the damage can be aggravated by the owner's neglect.
My reply to the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Woods) is that if the property was valueless and had been bought for demolition purposes, it was unlikely that any claim could be made for failure to keep the weather out —no doubt proper steps would be taken to see that the property did not catch fire. So far as the question put by the hon. Member for North Battersea (Mr. Douglas) is concerned, I think the answer is that the value immediately after the damage would reflect the possibility of consequential damage. I will look into that, but I think that is probably the answer. Of course, there might certainly be cases in which a valuer discovered that a claimant had caused the damage to increase to such an extent as to alter the basis of payment.
1 am not an expert on damage to property, but take the familiar case of a house with a skylight. The skylight could very well be covered by a tarpaulin. The local authority provides the tarpaulin, but the householder does not put it on, and, as the result, rain pours in. That goes on for week after week, and you might easily get a case in which, if the tarpaulin had been promptly put on, there would be a small amount of damage, but, through its being left open to the weather, it is almost irreparable.
It is not in all cases the duty of the local authority. I have done it myself. Local authorities have plenty of work to do in looking after the houses of people for whom it was not so easy as it was for me to get a tarpaulin and do the temporary repairs myself. Some people suggest that the Clause is a little too severe and that it ought to be "wilful" failure. I am not quite sure about that. This is a failure to take reasonable steps, but that question is not to be decided by the Commission. The Clause does not give the Commission a discretion to decide it finally, and it could go to the courts. If it was sough to be recovered as a debt, that may be provided for already. But I will undertake to look into the question. It may be that there is not a clear provision at present for taking a question of this kind to the courts in doubtful cases. I do not think the court, or indeed the Commission, are likely to set too severe a standard of what is reasonable, but I think it is a salutory principle that people should realise that their compensation may be cut down if they do not take reasonable steps. There may be cases where the owner of a house, but for a provision of this kind, might think it to his interest to let the rain come in because he was going to get a cost-of-works payment.
This Clause is the risk that he will run, and that is why I think the principle is a sound one. It is not quite a case where the interests of the owner of property will necessarily force him to take reasonable care. It is like any other case where a risk is insured where it may be that, short of a provision of this kind, a man will say, "If I can get the money for extra damage, it does not much matter." Therefore, on the whole, I think it is better to leave it at "increased by failure." One must trust both the Commissioners and the courts, in this as in other matters, to apply a reason able standard in all circumstances. I hope I have now dealt with the various questions —
I think there is a misconception there. A person interested may be a tenant for life: he is not the owner, but he is a person interested. He would normally be the person in occupation and therefore the person on whom the duty would fall. As regards those who are not on the spot— a mortgagee or a landlord who is living away—I think it is difficult to imagine circumstances in which they will be concerned with this Clause at all, because no duty is placed on them to deal with the premises. That must be the duty of the occupier. Normally they would not be on the spot at all.
Supposing that he is on the spot, then he goes round and takes charge and is the person who is dealing with the matter, and it may well be found that he has failed to take reasonable steps. It is to some extent, as it must be, a question of fact as to which of the persons interested is the person on whom the duty falls, and therefore he may be guilty of a failure to take reasonable steps.
With all respect to the Attorney-General, his reply is not, I feel, satisfactory. Obviously when he speaks of the various interests involved he is looking only at the interests of the individual on the spot, and he appears to cast some duty upon the occupier. Unless the occupier is either the owner or the mortgagee or has some other similar interest, he is under no obligation to do anything at all. I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman agrees with that.
There may be a misunderstanding, I fear. The question will be whether the person making a claim has failed to take reasonable steps which might otherwise have been taken to limit the damage. That person may be the owner or may be the occupier—if he is a weekly tenant probably he has no interest at all—or may be, though I think it is unlikely, a mortgagee in possession. The courts will have to be satisfied about the relationship of the person making the claim to the property and that he failed to take reasonable steps.
The Committee are obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman who, I feel, has somewhat clarified the situation, but this is a most important matter. The Clause is, in effect, a penal one. It also, I think, operates retrospectively and may therefore cover many cases which have already taken place. Having regard to the way in which we have, in the main, agreed upon everything which has come before the Committee hitherto, I would suggest that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should look into this again, because I am sure he desires to be fair and reasonable in the matter. I do not think it should go forth that claimants are to be penalised for every small piece of neglect which may have occurred, for one reason or another. In only the most extreme cases should the provisions of the Clause be brought into force. I hope that the Attorney-General will look into the matter again from that point of view, because, as it is at present, the Clause might have very serious consequences, and if put into operation might cost a great deal more than would be gained by it.
I support the remarks just made by my hon. and gallant Friend. I cannot even now, after listening to the Attorney-General, understand why the Clause has been put forward. His explanation seemed to show that there would not be a great possibility of cases being brought before the court to decide whether claimants had been negligent or not. As for his example of the claimant who, in order to get on a cost of works basis instead of a valuation basis, allowed deterioration to occur, I cannot see that point at all. I thought the Attorney-General said that a claimant might leave his skylight open, for the rain would pour in so that more damage would be done, and that then the claimant might get a cost of works payment. If he is to get a valuation payment it will obviously be less than the cost-of-works payment, and therefore I cannot see that the illustration was substantial and offered any reason for including the Clause.
It all depends upon the interpretation given by the courts to the word "reasonable." I am not conversant with court practice in such a matter, but the Committee ought to have a proper explanation from the Government of why the Clause is being put in at all. In my previous remarks I think I said, and I hope I proved, that every owner who has hopes of getting benefit out of his property at some time, during or after the war, will take whatever steps he can to preserve that interest. I cannot see, therefore, that he is likely to penalise himself by what the Attorney-General called negligence. At any rate, I have not heard from the Attorney-General an illustration of what that negligence might be. He talked about his own house being supplied by the local authority with a tarpaulin to put over his skylight. I do not know whether that actually happened to him, but if so, he was taking steps to protect his own interest, probably his furniture as well as the property, for his own personal convenience. He put a tarpaulin or a piece of linoleum over the skylight for his own convenience, and that is what most occupiers would do.
The Government should look at this Clause again and make sure that, by putting it in, they are not merely hoping to catch a body of people who will not take steps to protect their own property, but that they may not be penalising many honest folk who, for reasons that any ordinary man can understand and over which they have no control, have allowed some slight, or increasing, deterioration to take place. I do not know what the interpretation of the courts may be, but such deterioration would be no real fault of the person concerned, or that they could remedy. I have already explained that many owners have not the means to take steps to stop deterioration of this kind. I hope that the proposed new Clause will not lay open the way to lots of court actions or lots of arguments before the Commission, in which case the value payment, or a considerable part of it, may be dissipated in costs. I hope also that this is not the intention of the Government, and that they will therefore take steps to look at the matter again
1 have seen this sort of thing actually in practice already, and I would ask the Minister to follow what happens. When a house is damaged by enemy action, the first thing an owner finds is that he cannot get anybody in the building trade to come to his aid and to put the house into such a condition that it will not deteriorate. I want the Government to understand this, because this is a very serious matter, especially to the man who owns the house in which he lives. Where a person owns a large number of cottages he has always got a contract with the builder, and the builder is in contact with him all the time and will repair his property, but I know of a little district outside Manchester where persons living in their own cottages have been completely unable to find people to repair their property and prevent its being damaged by snow and rain and wind. Can the right hon. Gentleman say that if such a person puts that argument before the Board, he will be regarded as coming within this Clause? In such a case the owner of the house simply goes to the builder, and the builder replies, "I cannot spare a slater or a plasterer or a joiner," and so the house deteriorates, but the owner will not be able to produce a single document to prove that he has done his best to prevent the house deteriorating. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider that point.
I will take into consideration what has been said, but I must say that I do not think there has been expressed here this afternoon the views held by a very large number of people in this country, if I am to judge from communications sent to me. My hon. Friend said that all owners were taking precautions. I think he had better make some inquiries in the City concerning that. He would have a very different story told him, as many of us know. Already we have had experience of a certain amount of damage that has been caused through people failing to take precautions which they ought to take, not only in their own interests, but in the interests of other people. A lot of people have written to me in most indignant terms and pressed me very strongly indeed. I want my hon. Friend to realise that this deals only with cases of negligence. In the case that he has cited it would not be held that a person was negligent. I will, however, see whether any further improvement can be made. That has been my attitude in regard to this Bill all the time. We will study the points that have been mentioned and, if necessary, make further suggestions.
While I sympathise with a good deal that has been said by my hon. Friend on this side of the Committee and think there is a great deal in what he said, there is also a good deal in what the Chancellor said. I would like to go further than the Chancellor could go and argue against those who may be described as my own class—the property owners. I am sorry to say there is some evidence to show that certain owners of property, great or small, are only too anxious to see their property destroyed in order to get compensation. We have to remember that, because that to some extent nullifies the disadvantages that my hon. Friend sees in this particular proposal.
I should like to say that if such is the case, particularly in the City of London, and if, because of neglect of owners which they themselves could remedy, damage is being caused not only to their own property but to others, I have not the slightest sympathy with them. All I am concerned with is the case of people like myself, if I may say so, who are only too willing to do what they can but whose means are limited.
Where the normal use or occupation of any land is such that it would fail within paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) of the proviso to Sub-section (3) of Section sixteen of this Act, then if and so long as it is temporarily diverted from such use or occupation by reason of circumstances arising from war, the land shall be deemed for the purposes of Sections fifteen and sixteen of this Act to be used or occupied as it is normally used or occupied.—[Sir K. Wood.]
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
This Clause enables the temporary use or occupation of land owing to the war to be disregarded for purposes of contribution. By Clause 16, Sub-section (3) agricultural land pays a contribution at the 6d. rate. The question has been raised of agricultural land being temporarily used for non-agricultural purposes owing to the war; for example, a barn being used for refugees. Despite the diversion of the land from its normal use it would still be liable to the ordinary agricultural rate of 6d., and this new Clause makes that point plain.
I assume that this Clause applies to cases where land is requisitioned by authority, and not to cases where the owner, for his own profit and benefit, diverts it to some other purpose? I do not know whether the wording makes that fact clear, but I think a distinction ought to be drawn.
I am not sure about that, but I will look into it. If an owner of land did divert his property in that way I do not think that he should be able to use his right under the scheme. Of course, it does not make a person any more beneficent to the nation if he, compulsorily, uses his property in a certain way, but on the other hand if it is being used as the hon. Member has suggested, the point should be taken note of.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
The object of this Clause is to remove from the scope of the Bill for contribution of compensation, air-raid shelters provided by local authorities at the expense of the Exchequer. I think that this is a commonsense proposition, like so many others in the Bill.
I am obliged for that explanation, because the municipal authorities are very dissatisfied with regard to financial grants in respect of air-raid shelters. As the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows, up to 19th October only a proportion of the expenditure was paid to the active municipal authorities who erected the air-raid shelters, and the laggards who had not troubled to erect shelters in the early days but who erected them since 19th October last year are receiving 100 per cent, from the Treasury. As I understand it, where the Treasury have contributed, whether it be in part or in whole, they would presumably contribute in the future in whole to the cost of reinstatement or re-erection of the air-raid shelters. I would like it to be made clear, if it is the case, that the whole cost of any reinstatement or re-erection will be borne by the State under the ordinary provisions with regard to air-raid shelters and not in any way in connection with this Bill.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
This Clause covers cases in which the sporting or shooting rights are assessed separately under the Act of 1874 because they are in hands other than those of the occupier of the soil. The Clause provides that the contribution in respect of those rights shall be paid by the contributor in respect of the soil, which I think is ob- viously right as the Committee will see in considering the two following parallel cases. In the case of a property of which the annual value is £200, including the sporting rights, the contribution is levied on that figure and covers the sporting rights as well. If the sporting rights are separate and are worth £20, £180 will be left on the occupier of the soil. As the compensation in respect of damage will go to the owner of the soil, it seems right that he should make the contribution in respect of the two interests when they are separate as well as when they are in the same hands. A proviso is added to cover cases in which sporting rights are in the hands of a third party when the land is comprised in more than one contributory property.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General has explained this and the following Amendments on the Paper to the proposed new Clause, so I need not bother the House with any details. In fact, he has recommended the Chancellor's Clause with my Amendments inserted.
In line 26, at the end, insert:
( ) Where a direct contributor in respect of a contributory property who would be under a liability under the last preceding subsection to pay an instalment, or an apportioned part of an instalment, on any such rights as are mentioned in that subsection proves that the contributory value of the property took into account the value of all or any of the rights, the Commissioners of Inland Revenue shall give to the contributor such relief, by way of reducing or discharging the said liability, as appears to them just having regard to the extent to which the rights were taken into account as aforesaid.
The provisions of this Part of this Act and of the Fourth Schedule thereto relating to the payment and recovery of indemnities in respect of the liability of a director indirect contributor in respect of an instalment of contribution shall have effect notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary, whether made before or after the instalment became due— [Sir K. Wood.]
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
This Clause is introduced to meet an objection raised by my hon. Friend opposite to the effect that the power to "contract out" under Clause 23 might be abused by a mortgagee. It was suggested that a mortgagee might force a mortgagor to accept an unfavourable agreement, and this new Clause, covers not only Clause 19 and the Fourth Schedule, but also covers Clause 22.
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."
The Committee are probably aware that under certain Statutes there are provisions by which cases which come to court under those Statutes are heard by certain nominated judges. That is a very convenient procedure, because the judges become familiar with the terms of the Statute. This Clause enables the Lord Chancellor to nominate for the hearing of cases under this Act such judges of the High Court as appear to him expedient. We do not move this Clause in anticipation of a flood of litigation: we hope that it will be possible to work this Measure without undue resort by parties to the courts; but this is a useful power for the Lord Chancellor to have.
I beg to move, in page 69, line 27, at the end, to insert
including the manner in which, and the officers of the Commission by whom, questions subject to determination by the Commission under this Act are to be determined and the manner in which determinations made by officers acting in any locality are to be subject to review by a deputy commissioner or other superior officer or by members of the Commission.
I stated that I contemplated that the Commission would have to delegate to officers at centres in the provinces powers to settle small claims, and that it might be necessary for me to move an Amendment to enable the Commission to do that, and for officers to be appointed if necessary. That is the object of this Amendment.