Clause 1. — (Rent Limit of Controlled Houses.)

Part of Orders of the Day — Rent Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th March 1957.

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Photo of Mr John Hay Mr John Hay , Henley 12:00 am, 26th March 1957

I have listened with great care to what my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary has said. It is perfectly true that subsection (3) contains a tremendous ambiguity and that even at this late stage something has to be done to try to put it right. My difficulty is that I cannot altogether see that the two Amendments in his name do that. As I read it, the first one would only alter the statement that the rent limit is to be subjected to adjustment from time to time under Clauses 3 and 5 of the Bill. The ambiguity arises in subsection (3), where it says that where under a controlled tenancy which is current at the commencement of the Act the present rent recoverable is greater than what would be the rent limit if one ascertained it under the new provisions of subsection (1), …the rent limit shall be the rent recoverable as aforesaid, … It has been pointed out in a number of quarters, that "as aforesaid" might refer back either to the words in line 10— …the rent recoverable for the basic rental period…. or to line 11— …the rent limit for that period if ascertained under subsection (1) …. I see the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) shaking his head, but I put this forward because I think there is that ambiguity and that it should be cleared up. I do not think there could be any more simple way of clearing it up than by accepting this Amendment to leave out the words "as aforesaid", and to insert for the basic rental period. It would then read: Where under a controlled tenancy current at the commencement of this Act the rent recoverable for the basic rental period exceeds what would be the rent limit for that period if ascertained under subsection (1) of this section, the rent limit shall be the rent recoverable for the basic rental period, but subject to adjustment and reduction… and so on.

I think that that would clear it up beyond a peradventure, but I am a tyro in these matters, and my right hon. Friend is advised by those who know all about drafting, as we have often learned to our cost here in the past. Therefore, although I do not press my Amendment, I ask my right hon. Friend to look at the matter very closely in order to make sure that no one will be misled or, more particularly, forced to go to court and incur the expense of litigation. I hope that, unless he is quite satisfied on that point, he will take steps to clear it up.