|5||(1) Where a person who has occupied a dwelling-house as his residence (in this section referred to as the owner-occupier) has let the dwelling-house on a regulated tenancy and the conditions mentioned in subsection (2) of this section are satisfied, then if—|
|(a) apart from the Rent Acts the landlord would be entitled to recover possession of the dwelling-house; and|
|(b) the court is satisfied that the dwelling-house is required as a residence for the owner-occupier or any member of his family who resided with the owner-occupier when he last occupied the dwelling-house as a residence;|
|10||the court shall make an order for the possession of the dwelling-house, whether or not it would have power to do so under section 3 of the Act of 1933, and section 5(2) of the Act of 1920 shall not apply in relation to the order.|
|(2) The said conditions are—|
|15||(a) that not later than the commencement of the tenancy (or if the tenancy was created before the commencement of this Act, not later than six months after the commencement of this Act) the landlord has given notice in writing to the tenant that possession may be recovered under this section; and|
|20||(b) that the dwelling-house has not since the commencement of this Act been let by the owner-occupier on a regulated tenancy with respect to which the condition mentioned in paragraph (a) of this subsection has not satisfied.|
I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.
The House will forgive me if I rearrange my thoughts. I had not anticipated that the debate would cover new Clause No. 11 as well as the Amendments, and it may be possible that I shall ask the House for permission to speak again, if that is necessary, because I have not covered all the subject. However, I am sure that it is wise to discuss the subject in this form, because, as we have found from the Committee stage, all these Clauses cover one general problem, which was one of our major preoccupations in Committee and on which a number of proposals were made.
The preoccupation centred around the problem of whether the owner-occupier who made his intentions clear to a tenant on letting should have any special right to reoccupation of his dwelling, a better and stronger right than that of others. The more we reflected on this subject, the more the Committee as a whole came to the view that there was a special problem of the owner-occupier. Some hon. Members held the view that it was only when the owner-occupier had made
We took the view that there was justification for the demand that people who let their homes and went away and who then wanted to get back should have at least special priority on return over ordinary lettings. That seemed to be the general principle and we discussed it at some length and various proposals were made.
I want to make clear what we have put forward in new Clauses No. 1 and No. 2 and I will try to describe why we have made these suggestions and why I reject the Amendments. In a sense, acceptable or not, my arguments for rejecting the Amendments to new Clause No. 1 are the same as for rejecting the Amendments to new Clause No. 2. Thirdly, I will comment on new Clause No. 11.
By the way, I should add that there is one other thought which has been in my mind. In addition to the problem of retirement, in which the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Evelyn King) is keenly interested, the problem of those who own a house and who do not merely go overseas and then return to it, but who want to retire to it, a circumstance which may require special treatment, I am also keenly interested in the problem of the farmer who wants to be able to let an agricultural tied cottage not as an agricultural tied cottage, but vacant, and whether it is possible to have a Clause covering him as well. I have to say that I have failed to find a way of getting a Clause conveniently to cover that situation and I have therefore had to disappoint myself.
I return to new Clause No. 1, the first basic proposition which we put forward. Our main purpose in this Clause is to help the owner-occupier who is away from home. The Clause will help him not only if he is a Service person who is overseas and not only if it is a fixed-term letting, for it will affect periodic letting as well.
The first condition under which such a person will be helped is that he must have told the tenant beforehand. That is very important. He must have made it clear to the tenant that the condition on which the tenant is allowed to go into the house is that he gets out when the owner-occupier comes back. I am trying to express the general view of the Committee, which was that when the tenant is breaking a clear contract, his security should be substantially reduced. Therefore, the owner-occupier would have had to have told the tenant.
That means that notice must be given beforehand, if it is a regulated tenancy after the Bill comes into operation, or for a house let before the Bill, within six months of the Bill becoming law. That is how we cover existing tenancies. It is either in advance of the commencement of the tenancy or within six months of the Bill coming into operation. If the owner-occupier has given the tenant that notice, then the court must grant the owner-occupier the return of his house unconditionally and without delay, although the court will still have the inherent right to give a delay of up to six weeks.
I know that there are two objections to the Clause as it stands which are felt very strongly by hon. Members opposite. They ask, first, why it does not cover furnished lettings. The Clause deals with the letting of houses unfurnished and not furnished. It does not cover furnished lettings because, as we all know, they are covered by different legislation and the position of the landlord of furnished lettings has always been far stronger than that of the landlord of unfurnished lettings. The tenant of furnished accommodation has always been in a weaker position. If it is a fixed term letting, the tenant has no security of interest under the existing law, which we are not changing. The changes in the existing law which we are making do not affect the superior position of the landlord in that case. On the other hand, if it is a periodic letting, the tenant's rights are severely limited and the rent tribunal is not permitted to give more than a limited advance.
I think I am right in saying that the Amendments would destroy the rights of the tenant altogether. He would not be within the field of rent regulation. Indeed, the Opposition would like the tenant not to be under basic protection at all, so that he would not be entitled even to due notice and to attend at the county court. He would have no rights under the law.
As I said before, we cannot accept that. We must, in all these matters, try to strike a balance between the evil suffered by a tenant and the evil suffered by a landlord, for what is security for one is insecurity for the other. We have to find a fair balance, and we believe that a fair balance is to provide basic security to both sides. A tenant must have the right to say to a landlord, "You have to give me due notice that you intend to take me to court", but, equally, we cannot, in the case of unfurnished dwellings, say that the rent should not be regulated in the normal way by access to rent tribunals.
I have every sympathy with diplomats or civil servants who go abroad and let their houses, but it is possible to conceive of a person being of a grasping nature and wanting to charge the tenant an extra high rent. I think that the tenant should have the right of rent regulation, and that is what we are giving him. He has the basic security of tenure, but really nothing else, whereas the Opposition would like him to have virtually no rights whatever. The Opposition take the view that if he is a tenant of this kind, and he is breaking his contract, he should not have any rights. That is the position as I see it in arguing the case for the new Clause. I have no doubt that the Opposition would like it to go further, and that that is the case that will be argued in this part of the debate.
I turn now to new Clause No. 2 and new Clause No. 11. To save time, I am discussing new Clause No. 2, but I must point out that the credit goes to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary who united with the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) in defence of the manse. They both have a greater understanding of laws divine than I have, but as I understand it, the position is that whereas because of their special and privileged position—and I shall not discuss that this afternoon—clerics of the Church of England are protected in that under the existing law they can let their parsonages and get them back, this right does not exist for anyone outside the Church of England.
It was, therefore, reasonably asked whether we could give to all genuine divine spirituals the same right in regard to their manses or places of residence as was given to Church of England parsons, and the purpose of new Clause No. 2 is to give the same right to those who, broadly speaking, can be classed as the equivalent in other Churches of clerics of the Church of England. I am sure that there are a number of interesting questions that might be asked about travelling missionaries in Scotland, which I am not capable of answering. Broadly speaking, the new Clause carries out the pledge that we made to the hon. Member for Orpington, and I thank him for raising this matter. I hope that the Clause will be acceptable to the House.
I do not think that there is anything more to be said about this new Clause. The same procedures must be gone through in the case of manses as in the case of a tenant who wants to return to his house or to let his children return there. The tenant must be given notice in advance. He must be given notice if the intention is to take him to court. All those things apply in both instances, and, therefore, we find that the Opposition's Amendment deals with the same point, and, again, one wants to take this out of regulation and not make it necessary to apply to the court or to get a court order.
Lastly, I come to the problem that was raised by the hon. Member for Dorset, South, about retired people. This is in reference to new Clause No. 11. I have a great deal of sympathy with the aims of this Clause, and if I could find a formula for dealing with this problem I would be almost as tempted to deal with it as I would be to deal with the problem of the agricultural cottage and say that the farmer should be allowed the right to get entry to his house if he is letting it rather than leaving it empty between agricultural tenancies. We tried to draft a Clause to cover the point raised by the hon. Member for Dorset, South, but we failed to do so.
The more we studied the new Clause, the more difficult we found the problem. I accept the hon. Gentleman's view that it would be nice to deal with the matter as he has done in the new Clause, but I think that his proposal is impossible to defend. It is very easy to say that one is buying a house for the purpose of retirement, but somebody might do that time and again and behave rather like those famous lawyers who retire from the law at regular intervals to get the tax advantages which thereby accrue to them.
This might happen only too easily in the case of those who suddenly decide that they will buy a house for the purpose of retirement, and then change their minds. Without going into detail, I am convinced that there are difficulties in the hon. Gentleman's proposition. One of his noble Friends in another place may be able to draft a Clause which makes sense, but we cannot recommend the House to accept new Clause No. 11, even though the intention behind the Clause is a useful one.
I must give this word of warning. We have extended our principle with regard to the unfurnished dwelling of the owner-occupier to the manse. I think that it would be very dangerous to extend it further, and my advice to the House is that, having made that extension beyond the owner-occupier and his relatives, we should leave it there, and not try to extend it either to agriculture or to retirement, because I believe that if we did that we would destroy the effectiveness of rent regulation in this group of dwellings.
I think that it might be convenient if, at this stage, I mention the meaning of the Amendments, as we are discussing them with the new Clauses, and deal also with the points raised by the right hon. Gentleman. I know that my hon. Friends will have more to say both on the new Clauses and on the Amendments.
The right hon. Gentleman has introduced the new Clause and rather patted himself on the back for doing so. The Clause is, of course, the result of an Amendment which was eloquently and persuasively moved in Committee by my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers), and a similar Amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Evelyn King).
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his generosity. This matter was pressed from time to time in Committee. It was raised at our sixth sitting, and at the twentieth sitting the right hon. Gentleman produced the draft of the Clause which now appears on the Notice Paper. The new Clause is particularly valuable for protecting the owner-occupier who, by reason of his employment, or, if he is a Service man, by reason of his Service posting, moves from his house.
If one or two matters which have been omitted had been included in the Clause, it would have been a very much better one. Perhaps I can point those out in that describing what I understand the new Clause will do. One has to have an owner who has resided in the house for some time before he lets it, or has let it before the Bill has become an Act. He will be protected only if the letting is unfurnished.
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman has drawn the Clause in that way. In many cases it is the furnished letting to which we would wish to give protection. The right hon. Gentleman said that the landlord of a furnished letting has his protection under the other Act, but then he is subject to the tenant's going to the rent tribunal and obtaining an extension of his tenancy of up to 12 months. This is just the sort of thing that we wish to avoid in the case of the owner-occupier who has had his house as his residence and has then let it for a period while he has had to move away.
It is then provided that he must have informed the tenant in writing that he will want the house back—which is a very proper provision—and eventually he has to prove that he genuinely wants it back for himself and his family, who have resided with him for the period before the letting. That is rather unnecessarily restrictive. It may be that members of his family had left the house and had married and that, under different circumstances, he now wishes to find a residence for them. I would have thought that that phrase was a little too restrictive.
Then, when at the end of his letting the owner-occupier is entitled to regain possession and finds the tenant still there, his only course is to take out a possession summons and apply to the court for an order for possession. It is true that he will not have to prove that he has offered suitable alternative accommodation, or that it will be a great hardship if he is kept out—as he otherwise would have to prove under existing rent control legislation—but he will have to apply to the court for an order for possession, and I think I am right in saying that the court will still have the inherent power to postpone the order for possession.
It is true that the new Clause refers to Section 5(2) of the 1920 Act, which gave the county court power to suspend a possession order, or to adjourn the hearing and, in general, to delay giving its final decision that the tenant should give up possession. If that Section is not to apply in future it seems to me that the court will still be left with the inherent jurisdiction of delaying the granting of a possession order for six weeks or so.
That still leaves the landlord with a possible delay of several weeks before his case is heard. In Committee, we discussed the question of the speed with which a case could be brought up to the county court, and it is clear it could be four or even six weeks before the landlord could issue a warrant and obtain possession.
It is to that point that the Amendments in the names of my hon. and right hon. Friends and myself are directed. We feel that the Clause does not give all the protection it could give to the owner-occupier who wishes to return to his residence. He will still be obliged to go to the court to get his order for possession, and because he is obliged to do that there may be encouragement to bad tenants to remain as long as they can and to stall over the matter and drag it out until the very moment when the landlord is entitled to issue his warrant for possession.
That is the point to which the first Amendment is directed, and the second Amendment employs a device or legal fiction which, by putting this type of tenancy into the category of protected tenancies in Clause 28, would give the tenant who holds over after his tenancy has expired no basic protection under Clause 26.
The right hon. Gentleman said that he wished such a tenant to have basic protection, but until the procedure for obtaining an order for possession is very much better this may defeat the objects of the Clause. If we could be sure that this procedure of obtaining an order for possession was satisfactory, and that it really was possible to obtain it speedily, the Clause would be all right as it stands, but at the moment we are not satisfied that this procedure is speedy enough.
I now turn to the proposed new Clause No. 2, which is certainly supported by hon. Members on this side of the House. This principle was well-argued in Committee, and I do not need to delay the House by referring to it again except in connection with the Amendments, which would have the same effect as the previous Amendments would have upon new Clause No. 1.
New Clause No. 11 would apply in the case of persons who purchased residences in anticipation of living there upon retirement. This is a form of thrift or saving which we should do everything to encourage. If it really is a genuine case of a man's buying his residence ahead of the time when he will retire and letting it until he is ready to take it over on retirement, we ought to give him the right to possession and not to protect the tenant, who, if the new Clause were accepted, would have full information as to the time of the owner's retirement and the time when he would require possession of the property.
The right hon. Gentleman said that he thoroughly agreed with the principle, but could not recommend the Clause. He will have noticed that in this case my hon. Friends and I have not incorporated the terms of the Amendments to new Clauses Nos. 1 and 2. In this case it would be necessary to insist upon the owner who found that he was prevented from obtaining possession of his dwelling going to court and proving there that he genuinely purchased the house for use on his retirement. Under those circumstances I should have thought that we could leave the matter to the good sense of the county court judge.
We have used the phrase,
acquired a dwelling house for his residence in anticipation of his retirement
and the last subsection describes what is meant by "retirement". I am sure that we could rely upon a county court judge to see whether the case was a genuine one. In my opinion, a genuine case is exactly the sort of case which we should remove from the restrictive provisions of the Bill.
If the Minister is not willing to accept the new Clause as it stands, will it not be possible to provide that it should apply to those people who, by the nature of their occupation, cannot live in a house of their own while they are still working? In Committee, we discussed the position of people such as policemen and nurses, who, as part of their terms of employment, have to live in premises which are provided for them. Would it not be reasonable to allow the new Clause to apply to them, if not to everybody?
I am obliged to the hon. Member for suggesting that qualification to the Clause. The right hon. Gentleman has not explained why he cannot recommend the wording of the Clause; he has merely said that he could not recommend it. The Clause explains exactly what is intended. As I have tried to show, it is a Clause which can be applied by the courts in a common sense way.
I was saying that the exemptions contained in all three new Clauses came about because the right hon. Gentleman has insisted on pitching the rateable value so high in the first Clause and sweeping so many dwellings within the regulation system and has so insisted on the regulation system applying throughout the country that it is necessary to make exemptions to prevent hardship. We are pleased that he has accepted two of the necessary exemptions. I hope that he will just stretch his generosity a little further and say that our wording in new Clause No. 11 is reasonable and adequate and that he can accept the Clause because he accepts its principle.
I join with my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) in thanking the Minister for his introduction of new Clause No. 2, which is the honouring of an undertaking which we all appreciate. I have a few criticisms of new Clause No. 1 and the Minister's objections to new Clause No. 11. He may have expected that some of us would have objections to his remarks in that regard. I notice that subsection (1) of new Clause No. 1 would not apply and would, therefore, cause hardship in the case of a man who lived in a house as a tenant if afterwards, when it became vacant, he bought it—he was not living there any more—and let it for the time being. He would not get the benefit of new Clause No. 1. Although it does not define it, it says, in brackets:
(in this section referred to as the owner-occupier)",
whereas before that, the words are.
a person who has occupied a dwelling house.
I am not a lawyer, but I try to think these things out. Does it mean what I have said, or did it slip through? What is the intention? The Minister omitted to refer to anybody who lived in a house and afterwards wanted to regain possession of the premises under the terms of new Clause 1.
I have been reading this with some puzzlement. I wondered why a tenant was called an owner-occupier, particularly when he was not in occupation, but had been in occupation. Then I turned to the new Clause and found that someone who has acquired a residential interest in property, which may mean something very far short of purchase in leaseholds and subleaseholds—it could mean some form of tenant—is called an owner. We might be getting into some confusion about the exact meaning of the proposals.
I am grateful to the hon. Member. He has elaborated my point. I think that the point is now clear to the Minister and perhaps I can move on.
I turn to what my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby mentioned, the restrictions of subsection (1) about the future occupation of the house. Here again, I hope unwittingly, hardship may be caused. What would happen if a man leaves a house under a regulated tenancy for 20 years, during which time he was blessed with a son or daughter, who afterwards wished to take over? Of course, that son or daughter had not—except embryonically—lived in the house before. As I read paragraph (b) of subsection (1), it would eliminate such a child from a proper right to re-possess the house on behalf of his father, possibly deceased. This would also apply to a child who had, in the meantime, been adopted and reached mature years. We all know that the hard cases are the ones which cause the trouble afterwards, and not those which fit tidily into a new Clause.
I cannot understand why paragraph (b) of subsection (2) is there at all. If the intention is to underline paragraph (a) of that subsection, I do not understand why it is necessary to repeat it. On the other hand, the intention may be that if someone inadvertently, after the commencement of the Bill as an Act, let the house under these conditions but did not comply with the conditions of paragraph (a) though everything went quite amicably—the tenant lived there for five years and, like a gentleman, moved out when the time was up—his failure to comply with (a) would inhibit the owner from subsequent benefit, because, technically, he had not complied in the earlier instance with (b).
In other words, a past technical misdeed about which there was no argument, and during which tenant and owner went on quite happily together, would stop him having the benefit of this new Clause altogether. This is the way I read it and this is the way in which it may happen in future. I hope that the Minister will address his mind to this.
I will now deal with new Clause No. 11. With great respect, my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby did not mention something which, to be fair, the Minister said as a reason why he did not like this Clause. He said that he did not like it because he was frightened that some people might retire frequently and, therefore, get the benefit of the Clause in obtaining possession. I see his point, but is this very likely? Does he envisage someone going to all the trouble to getting the house and putting a tenant in and then, by a sort of arriére pensée, deciding that he wants possession and applying to the court on five or six different occasions and five or six different county courts—so that he will not be identified, one with the other—and eventually getting possession of each house under this Clause? This is cloud-cuckoo-land. This will not happen. I think that we can rely, in the cases where this might happen, on the good sense of the courts.
There have been cases of people who wanted to regain possession of premises which were in a poor condition, during the war, for example, and the courts showed themselves fully qualified to exercise discretion in these matters they will still show themselves so qualified.
In connection with this type of case, surely the difficulty is with the word "retirement". While there could be genuine retirements, there are many cases of retired people starting work again. Many jobs are available to them. Would the hon. Member consider this a "breaking of the pledge" of retirement to get possession?
The answer to that is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby said, that there is a reference in the Clause to the National Insurance Act. A man under 25 who applied for possession of his house on these Grounds would find it very difficult to prove that he intended to retire. If a man genuinely emerged from retirement, I would be on his side. We are all entitled to do that at some time. If, however, he were engaged in some skulduggery, I should not be on his side. These cases are so rare as not to militate against good law. New Clause No. 11, in its intention, is good law.
Something will have to be done on the lines of New Clause No. 11, whether in these words or in another place. New Clause No. 11 fills the gaps which are left by new Clause No. 1, not to mention other parts of the Bill. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will apply his not inconsiderable ingenuity again to finding some way round this. I ask him to turn his mind for one moment to the case of someone doing this three or four years beforehand, who had the strongest possible protestations from the tenant that he would leave that house and that it would be available to the owner when the time came.
There ought to be some fairness between the respective hardships of a man aged 65 or 70 and a tenant, who, at least, is living in the house, though he has his difficulties, too. There ought to be an arbiter, a court, to decide on the respective degrees of hardship between the two. That is what new Clause No. 11 would do, taking into account the rights of the owner of the premises, as owner, to regain possession of his own property.
I hope that, in connection with the intervention of the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel), my hon. Friend will agree that one must have in mind the case of a person who is perhaps working today in London and who wants to provide a house by the sea for his retirement. Such a person might not envisage occupying those premises for perhaps 20 years, but wants, while he can afford the mortgage, to provide for his retirement at present. It is important that we should be clear of the relevance of this provision to such a case, particularly if the man I have described decides to do some work when he is eventually in semi-retirement in his home by the sea.
I am obliged to my hon. Friend for that intervention and, of course, I had in mind retirement from the ordinary career which one followed in earlier life. I would not attempt to define "retirement". I understand that we have gone as far as possible in defining it in the National Insurance Acts. As my hon. Friend said, a younger man might wish, while he can afford the mortgage or while the rent of the property will pay the mortgage, to provide for his retirement a house at the seaside.
I hope that I have commented on the new Clauses sufficiently to enable the Minister to make an analysis of them, particularly of new Clause No. 11. I fear that there is a gap in the Bill as drafted which that new Clause, or the principle underlying it, would help to fill.
I do not wish to delay the House on this matter. I have only two points to raise. The first concerns the phrase "owner-occupier". What will be the position of a man who is the tenant of the premises—who has perhaps bought the lease of the premises—in which he lives and who then sub-lets those premises? Could he be described as an owner-occupier? New Clause No. 1 begins with the words:
Where a person who has occupied a dwelling-house"—
That would seem to be a tenant;—and it goes on:
as his residence (in this section referred to as the owner-occupier) …".
That seems to exclude a tenant.
Perhaps this difficulty will be overcome later in the Bill, in the definition Clause, when we come to define "owner-occupier". We do not appear to have a definition of that phrase and we do not know whether it would include a tenant-occupier.
My second point concerns a constituent of mine who, a year ago, purchased a house in Northampton because in his job, he would be transferred to that part of the country in a year's time. He let the house for the interval of a year on a fixed basis and explained to the tenant that it was just a question of preventing the house from being empty for that year. Can anything be done in the Bill to assist that sort of case?
I did not have the pleasure of being a member of the Standing Committee, but those who did have greatly improved the Bill as a result of their deliberations. I hope that that spirit of improvement will continue. I also noted with pleasure the spirit of sweet reasonableness with which the Minister began our proceedings this afternoon. In that spirit, I wish to make a suggestion which, I hope, will commend itself to both the right hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friends.
It is clear that the Minister has indicated a desire in new Clause No. 1 to deal with the case of a person who has occupied a dwelling-house and who reasonably requires the premises for his personal occupation in future. I do not wish to become controversial on this matter, but I suppose that the greatest general criticism of the Bill is that a large number of people may be discouraged from letting unfurnished premises. I am sure that the intention and desire of the Minister is that, so far as possible, no discouragement should be given to people to let premises unfurnished more than is commensurate with the principles underlying the Bill. That being so, how can that desire be achieved?
New Clause No. 1 is concerned with the person who is the owner, who has occupied the residence and who wants to get possession of it once more. But what about the other half of what is a logical argument? The Government have not dealt with the case of the person who is not at present the owner, who is to become the owner and who equally wants to be able to occupy the premises in future. With their ingenuity, my hon. Friends, within a very short time, tabled new Clause No. 11, to which I did not feel able to add my name because of the word "retirement". I suppose that no hon. Member has more retired people in his or her constituency than I have. I have the greatest possible desire, therefore, to do everything I can for those who are living on small fixed incomes and for those who come to retire and spend the balance of their days in the heavenly climate of Thanet. Therefore, I strongly favour the principles of new Clause No. 11.
As a lawyer, I could not accept the word "retirement" as being sufficiently definable for the purposes of this matter. On the other hand, I observed that the Minister indicated a desire to try to meet the case adduced by my hon. Friends in the nature of the new Clause they have suggested. I suggest that new Clause No. 1 could easily cover both essentials—not only those who have occupied the residence but also those who desire to do so in future; that is, if new Clause No. 11 were to read:
Where a person who has acquired a dwelling-house for his residence in anticipation of his future personal occupation … and has thereafter let the dwelling-house on a regulated tenancy …
It would then go on to mention the conditions having to be satisfied.
If one is the owner of premises and one is proposing to let them, knowing that one will require to take over the premises at a later date, one is in no different a position from the purchaser of premises now who desires—the premises being free and vacant and not subject to a regulated or statutorily controlled tenancy—to let them. Is it not identical in principle to letting one's premises to somebody but expecting to resume personal occupation at a later date?
As I say, the matter could be settled by amendment of new Clause No. 1 or amendment of new Clause No. 11. It could be done by amending new Clause No. 1, which would be the simplest way of doing it, so that it would read:
Where a person who has occupied a dwelling-house as his residence … or who has acquired a dwelling-house for his residence in anticipation of his future personal occupation, has thereafter let the dwelling-house on a regulated tenancy …
I apologise for not having conceived this earlier, for not having put it down in the form of an Amendment and for not having found time to go to my hon. Friends and put this suggestion to them. But I seriously commend it to the House as a constructive suggestion. We all think in terms of retirement. However, it may be that someone will not retire, but may be taken very ill. In my constituency, I have quite a number of people who do not really retire, but who, by virtue of serious illness or some other cause, find themselves having to acquire a house. What I want to ensure is that in the future any hon. Gentleman in this House who should be in a position to purchase a house will be quite free to let it to someone in the knowledge that, provided he and his family wish to occupy that house themselves in the future, they will be able to do so, and only in those circumstances.
Why should we not make sure not only in respect of those who are the fortunate owners of property, but also others? In the Manchester and Birmingham area there are a large number of people who make up their minds that later, perhaps when they are older though not necessarily when they retire, they would like to buy a house in, for example, Broad-stairs. They have no intention when putting up the money for a mortgage to occupy it. We would like to have those houses available for letting, but how can we expect the citizens of Birmingham and Manchester to purchase houses in Broad-stairs which they may want to occupy eight or 10 years' hence and on which they are willing to make a reasonable income meanwhile, unless they know they will be able to occupy them in the future? If they do know that, they will go ahead now and create a new body of unfurnished lettings.
These are not the professional letters; these are not cases of blocks of flats or houses of that kind. The intention is to encourage the bringing forward of a new class of landlord. It is what I call the personal landlord, who intends in the future personally to occupy his property but who would like to buy it now and put it on the market to be let, feeling quite sure in his own mind that he and his family will in the future, having given due notice under the Bill, be able to occupy it.
I think that I am right in saying that the argument I have adduced is strictly in line with the principle the Minister has put forward and, I hope, in accordance with the sympathy of my hon. Friends.
I am very much in sympathy with what my hon. Friend has put forward, but does he say that that would be a once-for-all right, or has he in mind that one should be able to go on doing this again and again? I would certainly have a great deal more sympathy if there were written into the Clause a provision to make sure that no one can make use of this right more than once.
It might be possible to take it further and pass it on to one's heirs and assigns and deal with it in that way. Therefore, the language which has been advocated by the Minister in his new Clause No. 1, and adopted by the right hon. Gentleman in his new Clause No. 11, does, in fact, deal with the person himself who has been the occupier. Had my right hon. Friend meant to include heirs and assigns and members of the family he would not have shrunk from so doing.
Taking the person in Manchester or Birmingham who is buying a property now with the intention of occupying it in five or ten years, it would be very difficult to argue that if he then dies and the property passes to his widow and then perhaps on to someone else, we can trace this right down. I do not say that it is beyond the wit of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to work it out, but I would be content if we could take those words and give them the meaning they are intended to have, that not only present owners but future owners should have the right to recover their properties. For that reason, I would be prepared to limit it in the way that the hon. Gentleman has indicated.
To answer a point that has been raised by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) with regard to an application to a court, the hon. Member apparently wants the possibility of occupation to be taken over by bailiffs, or someone of that sort, without any recourse to the court at all. I think that he is wrong.
In view of the circumstances outlined in the Clause, a person would apply to the court only where he really was suffering a very extreme hardship, because the court would not be in a position to grant relief except in such circumstances. If it were done in a frivolous way, or in the knowledge that some kind of relief was not likely to be granted—and such relief as it would be in the power of a county court judge to grant would be very little in those circumstances—a person would be placing himself in a position where, if at a later stage, he wanted a tenancy of some other premises, this could militate against him as a tenant.
For the sake of a few weeks' respite, I do not think that anyone would be foolish enough to risk taking an action to court. I think that that can be eliminated from anyone's mind in relation to the Clause as it stands at present not being an appropriate one.
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is satisfied with that. It is perfectly obvious that the court could grant relief for only a matter of weeks, and, consequently, it would not pay a tenant to risk going to court unless he had a strong reason for doing so, because of any subsequent reaction there might be on him when it came to getting references in respect of a new tenancy.
Certainly, in the case of a county court it would take two months to reach the judge at all. The judge would then have the power to suspend the possession order for something like four to six weeks, and, therefore, a tenant could hold out for as long as three months. I take it that the hon. Member is not suggesting that a tenant or a landlrd has to prove hardship under the Clause, because that is not so.
That is precisely what I was saying, but I disagree with the hon. Member that it would take anything like two or three months. He and I have had a fair amount of experience and practice in these matters. I think that it would be brought before the court very much more rapidly than that.
I wanted to deal with the question of retirement. As the House knows very well, I have always thought it important that tenants should be protected. I am not at all happy about the words "in anticipation of retirement" because, frankly, I do not know what is meant by the phrase. Does it mean immediate retirement, or, as the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) was saying, does it mean that a person could buy a property at any time in the expectation of retirement? I do not understand how you can possibly grant protection to any tenant. If a person is to be entitled to purchase a house saying, "I propose to occupy this house on my retirement", he buys it in anticipation of retirement.
We can all anticipate retirement at some time or another. Anybody who buys a house can claim that he is doing so in anticipation of retirement. The suggestion, apparently, is that not only the person who buys the house, but also his heirs and successors, should be able to recover possession of it. That would destroy the intention of the Bill, which is to protect tenants.
I always listen to my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner) with attention, because of his great experience. I am at the disadvantage that I have been out of practice for a long time. But I do not understand why we refer to the landlord as a different person from the owner-occupier unless that is the intention. I suggest that the words "has occupied" are important in this connection and that a person qualifies under New Clause No. 1 only if he has actually entered into possession of the premises. I suggest to my right hon. Friend that the words should mean bona fide occupation. That is a limitation on the provision which is important.
If I purchase a house today in anticipation of retirement, it may be 10 or 15 years before I retire. Indeed, I shall be happy to carry on for another 20 or 30 years. Let us assume that the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) purchases a house in anticipation of retirement. When he retires he has an advantage over the person who did not say that his purchase was in anticipation of retirement. As a consequence, the protection of the tenant, no matter what may be the measure of hardship, is diminished on the retirement of an individual who purchased a house 20 years earlier. The tenant loses possession irrespective of the comparative hardship.
In my opinion, the measure of hardship should be one of the elements taken into consideration. If a person purchases a house with the object of retirement and considers letting it for six months, for example, that is a different matter, but it is not the point made by the Clause.
That is not the point. If he buys a house, will he let it? Surely he will not let it at all unless he can be sure of getting it back into his occupation on his retirement. This is the point to which the hon. Gentleman should address his mind. If he knows that he can get it back, he may let the house. The fact that one requires it for one's future personal occupation should be the ground on which it can be done.
We are coming to what has been at the back of the Rent Acts from 1915 onwards. The Rent Acts existed to protect the tenant against being put out of the house unreasonably. They gave him a certain amount of protection during his occupation so that the landlord could not turn him out unless the hardship of the landlord was greater than that of the tenant. This new Clause operates contrary to the protective measures which have existed up till now. I hope that the House will not accept it.
I intended, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to speak not to my Amendment, but to new Clause No. 11. I am not sure that the intervention by the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner) has either clarified the issue or sweetened the atmosphere.
May I get back to the Clause on which the discussion began? I have a deal of great sympathy with the views expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) in that new Clause No. 11, although my name is put to it, does not meet the requirements of many of us on this side of the House, I am, therefore, not absolutely heartbroken that the Minister has declined to accept the Clause in the form in which it is drafted, particularly as I thought that I detected an assurance that he may later be prepared to give further consideration to the issues involved.
I am bothered by confining the effect of the Clause to retirement or anticipation of retirement, regardless of the definition of retirement. There are large categories of people, whom hon. Members on both sides of the House want to help, who would not benefit from any Clause requiring a definition of retirement. For example, there are people who live in tied houses and who buy another house for future occupation which they may want to occupy before they retire. A local government officer may buy a house at the seaside and towards the end of his career he may manage to have himself posted to a place near the house which he has bought. He will want to live in the house well before his retirement.
Does not the hon. Member realise that such a situation is protected under the Rent Acts at present? There is a provision which enables a case of that sort to be dealt with by a court on the question of hardship. The question is, who has the greater hardship—the landlord or the tenant?
If the hon. Member will allow me, I will come to the point about hardship later. I want to draw attention to one or two of the types of case involved here before turning to the kind of decision that the court is likely to come to.
One of the inducements to people in the Foreign Service or in the Armed Forces to serve their country abroad for long periods is that they are enabled to save some money which can be used to purchase a home to which they can return. One may very well come back home before—even long before—the time of retirement.
I know of no more pathetic spectacle than that of ambassadors, who served their country abroad very nobly, coming back here at the age of 52 or 53 having failed to make any provision for accommodation. Others, more provident, have seen to it that they have somewhere to live when they come back. Those people will come back at the age of say, 52, with another eight or nine years to serve, probably all that time in London, and are faced with the problem of recovering possession of the house they had acquired over the years.
The hon. Member for Leicester, North-West spoke of the court granting possession in such cases. One can apply to the court for possession, but unless some such provisions as those contained in new Clause No. 11 are applied, the court, by the Bill, has no directions as to what criteria it should apply in deciding who should have possession. In the absence of anything set out in the Bill, the courts will use the criteria of greater hardship referred to by the hon. Member, but in a great many cases of the sort I am trying to describe, the court will decide that the greater hardship would be caused to the tenant than to the landlord, notwithstanding very solemn commitments entered into by the tenant to vacate the premises on a certain date or after a certain period of notice.
By the nature of things, people coming back from abroad in, say, their fifties are unlikely to have young children. The people to whom they have let their house are, again by the nature of things, somewhat more likely to have young children. We discussed in Committee the case of the family of six tuberculous children, but we could very well have a childless couple coming back from abroad faced with refusal to move by tenants with a young family. Any humane person would say that the far greater hardship would be caused to the tenants by the granting of possession than to the landlord by refusing it. Yet there was this solemn undertaking by the tenant to vacate the premises on a certain date. I therefore think that we must give the court some kind of direction in such cases.
My Amendment has been ruled out of order, so I cannot refer to it, but I should like to refer to a suggestion made in Committee by the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin). He suggested that there should be
… some kind of restrictive covenant which would cover the legitimate case of the owner who wanted to let his house for a certain limited period because he wanted it later for his own use. If it is possible to draw up such a covenant which would be accepted by the courts as not violating the basic rights in the Bill … such a device could be thought out"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F, 11th May, 1965; c. 278.]
The hon. Member suggested that something like that could be used as a kind of machinery for enabling that owner to recover possession.
The Joint Parliamentary Secretary made some very sympathetic noises when the hon. Member for Paddington, North made that suggestion, but I cannot trace that any subsequent action followed—
But new Clause No. 1 is deliberately restricted to people who have already occupied the house to which they wish to return. I am dealing with the case of people who have bought a house they have never occupied. They may have bought it while abroad and wish to return to it, but they are expressly excluded from the provisions of new Clause No. 1.
I therefore hope that the Minister will find some kind of machinery, either on the lines suggested by the hon. Member for Paddington, North or—if I can mention it before I am ruled out of order—on the lines of my Amendment. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will, somehow or other, be able to give some reasonable chance to an owner to recover his own solitary domicile at the appointed time, combined with the prevention of abuses.
Frankly, I am not entirely convinced by all the stories we hear of attempts to drive a coach and horses through the Measure, and generations of Rachmans growing up with thousands of illegitimate offspring, each claiming a house for himself. That aspect has been grossly exaggerated. Against that, we have to balance the discouragement we are offering to people who are some of the most useful members of our community.
I have a letter from a borough engineer in my constituency. He writes:
There are four or five N.A.L.G.O. members of my staff, including myself, who live in tied houses and who may wish to buy a house for retirement and let it until then so guarding against the continual rise in the cost of houses. The proposed Rent Act makes this too risky therefore they have to contemplate crippling mortgage repayments by buying at retirement instead of in advance.
It would be a great pity if, by failure just to bridge the gap, we were to discourage people who perform a very useful rôle in our society.
I hope that the Minister will find some way of giving effect to the sympathy he has already expressed for new Clause No. 11. One has been struck in this debate by the difficulties of his doing so, because it has become evident that if we open the door a very little way we are in danger of opening it very wide. Nevertheless, I am not without hope that some method will be found before the Bill finally passes into law.
What strikes me particularly about the situation is that under new Clause No. 11, all one has to do is to occupy the dwelling house for, possibly, a quite short period of time if one is in the fortunate position of being able to do that and take advantage of new Clause No. 1, but if, for some reason one cannot do that, though one has precisely the same intention as the man who can do so, one is not covered by new Clause No. 1. Unless effect is given to something of the nature of new Clause No. 11 or the suggestion of the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies), we shall be very much more in a hole. The result is likely to be that people who are contemplating retirement within a comparatively short period of time will probably buy their houses as a guard against inflation and, having done so, will leave them empty. In the long run, that will not benefit the housing situation.
As I say, I fully appreciate the difficulties—and I appreciate them a great deal more fully than I did when I first looked at new Clause No. 11. There are considerable difficulties, but I hope that the Minister will give a great deal of thought to this problem, and come up with some solution in another place.
I am perfectly satisfied that new Clause No. 1 meets the case put in Committee, and I appeal to those who spread alarm and despondency about the effects of the Bill to go back to their constituencies and make it quite clear that if people let their houses after being in occupation, the new Clause will make it comparatively easy for them to recover possession. We have a responsibility to say this publicly, outside this Chamber, so as to relieve the fears of those who may otherwise be prevented from letting their houses when going on short or medium tours of duty abroad.
While on this Clause I make one comment about the second Amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter). It seems that it would achieve the opposite effect from that which I assume he intends. It says:
the letting shall not create a regulated tenancy but shall create a tenancy which shall be a protected tenancy within the meaning of Section 28 of this Act".
In Section 28 "protected tenancy" means a tenancy to which the Rent Acts apply. Not being a lawyer, I should have thought that meant that the Amendment would apply the protection of the Rent Act, 1933, to those covered by this new Clause, which I am sure is not what the right hon. Gentleman intended.
New Clause No. 2 follows the principle of an Amendment I moved in Committee. I express thanks to the Minister for considering that point. I also express the thanks of the Churches Main Committee whose members were very much concerned about this subject. They, I believe, are satisfied with the wording of the new Clause. But there is still—I am expressing my own view—an important difference of principle between the treatment of the Church of England and the treatment of the Free Churches. Section 59 of the Pluralities Act, 1838, is still in operation and therefore it is not necessary to go to the courts to recover possession of a parsonage house, whereas it is necessary to go to the courts to recover possession of a manse. Ultimately, we shall have to see if this difference of treatment can be ironed out, even though we are quite happy with the terms of the new Clause as it stands and though it meets the anxieties expressed by the Free Churches when they saw the Bill in draft form.
New Clause No. 11 has been the main subject of our discussion. There are a number of difficulties here. There is the point as to whether the acquisition of the house is genuinely for retirement or not. Again, not being a lawyer I cannot see the difficulties which have been expressed. I should have thought that the definition of "retirement" contained in New Clause No. 11(3) was perfectly adequate. I can understand it a great deal better than I understand some of the Clauses already in the Bill. I should have thought that definition perfectly satisfactory.
The next question is whether it would be possible to abuse the new Clause. I agree with the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Sir A. Meyer) about Rachmans with 15 illegitimate children having 15 properties which they purport to require for retirement. I had not heard that objection voiced until he made it, but it makes the suggestion sound completely ludicrous when one considers it in that light. Perhaps we could get the Minister to accept the Clause with some additions made to it. I remember that when the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers) put forward an Amendment something like this in Committee she said that it should be a condition that the landlord should own only one property. That criterion is not repeated in the new Clause. It would stop the professional landlord from using it as a part of his enterprise.
Surely on reconsideration the hon. Member would agree that the main difficulty is the word "retirement" and its definition. Although he may be satisfied with the subsection (3), I certainly am not. Many of my constituents retire and get other employment in which they work until they are 70, when they get a pension. That would not cover my idea of retirement.
The new Clause allows the courts to interpret this. The courts have to be satisfied, in subsection (1,b):
that the dwelling-house is required as a residence for the owner and that the owner has retired,
I should have thought that we could leave this to the courts and that it would not be a matter of great difficulty.
Perhaps we could restrict the application of the Clause to certain categories of people who, by the nature of their occupation, are unable to live in a house of their own while they are in full-time employment. I need not run through all the categories of the people we are concerned about. An hon. Member has spoken about local government employees. There are also firemen who occupy tied houses as part of their conditions of service. There are also policemen. There are nurses, sisters, matrons, and other categories of people who work in hospitals under the National Health Service. I need not enumerate them all. One could design a qualifying subsection to new Clause No. 11 which said that if a person is occupying a house under the terms of his employment and acquires another house in contemplation of retirement that would qualify him for the benefit of the Clause, but would not qualify the ordinary citizen who is perfectly capable of living in a house which he owns while he is in his employment. He does not need to let a house because he is prevented from living in it himself.
Perhaps a maximum term could be placed on the time which could elapse between a person acquiring such a property and taking up possession. I believe the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner) mentioned 20 years. It would be quite unreasonable to let a house to a person for 20 years and then expect to recover possession virtually without going through any formalities. I should not go so far as that. Perhaps this is the big distinction between new Clause No. 11 and new Clause No. 1. In new Clause No. 1 we are considering the person who serves two or three years at most. In Committee we did not speak about people who were serving for 10 years.
I ask the hon. Member to put himself in the position of a tenant who is in possession for 20 years. Would he not be vastly more resentful at having provisions of this kind applied to him than he would be if he had been in possession for only six months or a year? This is a subjective matter. I should feel that way about it myself.
There is a second argument for having a term put on these arrangements. No one will acquire a house 20 years before his contemplated date of retirement and leave it empty for all that time. One of the matters with which we are concerned is the possibility that a person might leave a property empty because of his fear that he could not recover possession at the end of a fixed term of lease. No one in his right senses, aged 45, would acquire a house in contemplation of retirement 20 years later and leave it empty all that time. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] He would be locking up a fairly large sum of money. Also, if a property is left empty for a long time the windows are broken, there are drawings all over the walls, and other types of damage are done to the property.
I am not talking about retirement date. I am visualising a person who, on retirement, would be enabled under new Clause No. 11 to recover possession of a house more easily than other types of landlords. A limit should be placed on the period which may elapse between his letting the house and his attempt to recover possession. This might be 20 years or 15 years. It is a matter for consideration. The Minister might like to consider this further restriction on the application of the Clause.
I agree with what the hon. and learned Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin) said about the illogicality of the distinction between new Clauses 1 and 11. It appears possible that a person can take up residence in a house for six months and thereby have the benefit of new Clause No. 1. Except for those who happen to be serving abroad at the time they acquire the property, this is probably the means by which most people will get round this matter, if the Minister does not agree to accept new Clause No. 11. I hope that on reflection the Minister will agree that the Government should do something about this in another place and not leave it to the Opposition. The Minister has heard the feeling expressed by both sides of the House that something should be done to help people in this position. I hope that the Minister will take the responsibility of saying that he accepts the principle and that something will be done in another place.
Although I heard the whole of the debate on Second Reading, I had the opportunity of making only a three-minute speech. I did not have the privilege of serving on the Standing Committee, but I used my weekends to some good effect by reading the OFFICIAL REPORT of the proceedings in Committee. I congratulate my right hon. and hon. Friends on the way in which they flushed out from the Minister's mind some of his Socialist doctrinaire principles.
It was clear from the speech made by the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner) that he did not serve on the Standing Committee, nor has he suffered such a purging of the mind. He is still working on the same principles as he has clung to over the years. In my constituency there are a large number of retired people. Many of them have come from Leicester. The hon. Gentleman does not seem to appericate that when they come to Folkestone from Leicester they release houses in Leicester. It is a very good thing for Leicester that they should move to Folkestone on retirement. The purpose of new Clause No. 11 is to enable this process to take place more easily. The hon. Gentleman is so imbibed with the idea that, once a tenant is in a house, any measure taken to get him out of it is wrong that he cannot get his thoughts straight.
I suggest that the hon. Gentleman does not tell me what I want. I would like there to be complete mobility of housing eventually. When there are enough houses to go round, the problem will be solved. My complaint against the Socialists is that they are going the wrong way about it. However, if I were to attempt to develop that argument you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, would rule me out of order.
There is a great need for people to have the peace of mind of knowing that they have a house to which to retire. The advance of medical science has allowed people a longer life. Whereas people once had to train for trades, they are now training for retirement. Unilever has a whole department designed to help people to enjoy their retirement. Arrangements are made that during the last five years of their working life senior staff are granted progressively more time off. This is a very good scheme. It means that people do not have to work full-time up to the date of their retirement on a Friday and then be unwanted on the following Monday. Senior staff are allowed slowly to drift out and be replaced. People such as these need somewhere to go and spend the one day a week for the first year, the two days a week for the second year, and the three days a week for the third year. Unless some arrangement as is proposed in new Clause No. 11 is arrived at, this retirement scheme and other similar ones cannot properly work.
I repeat that my constituency is doing Leicester a favour by providing houses for people to retire to, thus releasing houses in Leicester, where there is a shortage. It is right that it should be made possible for people to move into houses where there is not the same pressure. One of the problems in housing at present is to get them in the right position. This problem is to some extent overcome if people are enabled to retire to the right places.
Therefore, I hope that the Minister will give further consideration to the Clause and bear in mind what I have said about people being partially retired. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will pay special attention to the valid point made by the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) about those in jobs which necessitate them living in a house which goes with the job. I had uncles who were schoolmasters. I have seen how a headmaster is one day living in a furnished house which goes with the school and the next day has to find a house to retire to.
In the past people bought houses to which to retire over the rateable value laid down by the Rent Act. The Socialist Government are so determined to draw the net tight that they make it certain that nobody should have even the slight advantage of being able to buy a bigger house for that purpose. By solving the problem for the elderly and retired we would help to solve the problem facing those in overcrowded areas.
Although I welcome new Clause No. 1 as the first indication of the flushing out of the Minister's mind, I want to ask some questions. I am sure that subsection (1,b) is drawn with the greatest care by the Parliamentary draftsmen. It says:
the owner-occupier or any member of his family who resided with the owner-occupier when he last occupied the dwelling house as a residence".
What does that mean? Does it mean that such a person slept in the house the last night on which the owner-occupier slept in the house? Does it mean that such a person slept in the house the week before the owner-occupier moved out of the house? The Minister nods approval. Would he settle for a fortnight before the owner-occupier moved out? Many people transferring houses send a member or members of their family as an advance party to make preparations. The Clause needs a good deal of clarification. It is for the House rather than for the courts to clarify it.
I am worried about sub-letting. Owner-occupiers may let their properties while they go overseas, say, for anything from five to ten years. They may quite properly give their tenants the right to sub-let the house. The Clause does not deal with sub-letting. Would the fact that the first tenant sub-let to a second tenant, if he did not want to remain in the house, nullify the agreement arrived at by the owner-occupier originally?
I am sorry to see that the hon. Member for Orpington has left his place. He seemed to be quite alarmed by the fact that a person who had lived in a house for 20 years should then be required to move, but I remind the House that for the country as a whole the average time spent in one house by an occupier is seven years. Will the Minister indicate clearly when to qualify under the Clause a family must sleep in the house and when subletting nullifies the situation?
I mentioned earlier that I had uncles who were Methodist ministers and who lived in manses. I am delighted that persons of that kind are covered by new Clause No. 2, but I should like to have seen a better definition of ministers of religion. There is quite a revival of religion at present in different sects. There is no definition of ministers of religion in Clause 28. Can we take it from the Minister that if the Clause is passed he will introduce an Amendment to define precisely what is meant by a minister of religion?
Since we are taking these new Clauses together most of the debate has tended of necessity to turn on new Clause No. 11. Before addressing myself to that Clause, I should like to make one or two observations on new Clause No. 1 and the Amendment to it in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page). Obviously, we welcome that new Clause as an attempt by the Minister to meet great criticisms levelled at that part of the Bill in Committee, but in one respect the Minister is being quite unreasonable in criticising the Amendment by saying that it will take houses out of the basic protection of Part III. Is the right hon. Gentleman right?
Merely to say that they shall not be regulated tenancies would not take them outside that basic protection in the Bill in requiring the matter to go to the court. Part III states in terms that.
it shall not be lawful for the owner to enforce against the occupier, otherwise than by proceedings in the court, his right to recover possession of the premises.
If, by taking these people out of the regulated tenancies, we are taking them out of the protection of the Rent Act, then under Clause 26(1) they still have basic protection from eviction without court proceedings.
If I am right, it seems to me that it is quite wrong for the Minister to base his objection to the Amendment on the fact that it would not be necessary any longer to go to court to get an order for possession. If an owner-occupier lets a house in the situation which is envisaged in new Clause No. 1, is it unreasonable that he should arrange with the incoming tenant a rent which that person is willing to pay?
Why is it necessary for houses let in this situation to involve the need to bring in the rent officer and if necessary to go before the assessment committee? The purpose of my hon. Friend's Amendment is to enable the tenant and the landlord in the situation set out in the Clause to fix the rent by agreement without the requirement of going to the rent officer and having the rents registered. I should have thought that the Minister has put up no argument against accepting that Amendment.
I am not quite clear what the hon. Member is proposing. Is the proposition that any house which is let after the owner has occupied it as his residence should be a house that should not be subject to regulation? The hon. Member will appreciate that the question of requiring it as a residence for the owner-occupier or a member of the family comes only at a later stage when the owner needs the house for his own occupation. What comes at the stage of regulation or no regulation is the sole test of whether it has been already occupied by the owner as his residence. Would not the hon. Member agree that that would take out of regulation a substantial majority of houses?
I agree that that is so. I appreciate the strength of the hon. Member's observation. Where a house has been let for a period of time and the previous owner-occupier wishes to repossess at a later stage it would not be unreasonable that in those circumstances rents should be fixed by agreement rather than by regulation under the Bill. I do not see that by removing the words "regulated tenancy" we would take the tenancy out of the basic protection which it would otherwise have when proceedings for possession were taken against the tenant.
On new Clause No. 11, I do not think that it is adequate for the Minister to say, "I sympathise with the proposal behind the new Clause, but I cannot find suitable words to cover the situation". The Minister must appreciate, as the hon. and learned Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin) said, that one has this ridiculous distinction that if one occupies the house for residence for a few days one is covered by new Clause No. 1. If one has not occupied the house at all, but one has bought it for the purposes of occupying it at a later date, one is not covered and it will be still necessary to satisfy the court that the house is required and that the tenant would not be subject to greater hardship than the applicant if an order for possession were granted.
It has been said that one of the arguments for enabling a house required for retirement or for residence at a later stage to have this ground under new Clause No. 11 for repossession is that this would enable the owner to let the house rather than to leave it vacant. There is also a further advantage. I do not see why under a Measure the object of which is to prevent scarcity and tenants being evicted without good reason and excessive rents being charged one should so draft the wording that one covers every house let by an individual who owns merely the one house and has bought it for the purpose of living in it at a later stage.
Surely there is nothing unreasonable in letting people who have bought a house for residence later say to the tenant, "You have gone in with the full knowledge of the fact that the house will be wanted later and that your right to occupation depends on a contract entered into and that I have made it clear to you that at a later stage I shall be wanting this house because I have bought it to live in myself."
I believe that when that time comes the owner has a perfect right to resume, or take up for the first time, occupation of that house as his residence without a tenant being able to turn round and say, "No I have rights under the Act and I will prove to the court that greater hardship does not apply in this case." I very much hope that the Minister will reconsider this and either accept new Clause No. 11 or give an undertaking to bring in a new Clause.
Nobody disputes that new Clauses Nos. 1 and 2 are a great improvement on the Bill as it went into Committee. Perhaps I might express some regret that it was not possible for the Minister to reach the position he has taken up in new Clause No. 1 in time for us to have had that under consideration in Committee, because it is clearly something which needs time and thought. It would perhaps have been to the advantage of all concerned if we had had the 21st sitting of the Standing Committee and taken it then.
It seems that the Minister has landed us in some unnecessary confusion by extending new Clause No. 1 to cover not only periodic tenancies, but also fixed tenancies. Our reason for tabling our original Amendments to the Bill was to exclude fixed tenancies and it was the Minister who decided that, in his opinion, periodic tenancies should be included. If we had gone about this the other way, and the Clause had merely covered periodic tenancies, then I feel that the position would have been much more satisfactory, because I cannot see the justice or the need for bringing in legislation and involving the courts and the rent officers in a situation where the rights of the tenant under the contract into which he has entered are known to him as well as to his landlord, or for giving the tenant rights to which he is not really entitled, because he only retains possession by flagrantly disregarding a contract into which he entered freely.
Does the hon. Gentleman not realise that the whole of the protective measures contained in all the Rent Acts from 1915 onwards, until the destructive Measure of 1957, were based upon the principle that the State would protect a person from being evicted? It is not a new principle at all. It has existed for 50 years.
I would be out of order if I covered all the ground which the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner) has invited me to cover. The point at issue deals with owner-occupiers of houses who are away from their residences because they are employed overseas or elsewhere in this country and who have entered into a contract freely to let their house for a fixed period and who wish to recover it when the fixed period is terminated. I cannot see any reason whatever for the injection of an extra element which will be, in some circumstances, quite clearly to the disadvantage of the owner-occupier and to the benefit only of those tenants who insist upon arrogating to themselves rights which are not theirs.
I would like the Minister to give a particular assurance on another point. In his new Clause he has laid it down that notice has to be given not later than six months after the commencement of the Act in the case of tenancies already in existence. I would ask him for a categorical assurance that he will make quite certain that the Service Departments and the Departments concerned with the employment of civil servants overseas draw this condition to the attention of their staff who are about to be posted overseas, or are currently serving overseas. There would then be no possible misunderstanding and no case arising where civil servants overseas or soldiers overseas, not having access to the English papers, may not be able to read of this provision, perhaps because they are on the high seas or in the Borneo jungle. It is important that they should know and have time, either by themselves or through their agents, to see that this condition about service of notice can be fulfilled.
May I now turn to new Clause No. 11? If only the Minister had the additional stamina and resolution required to find a means of drafting an acceptable Clause embodying a principle which has already found favour on both sides of the House, it would be a most valuable addition to the Bill. It might well be an improvement upon new Clause No. 11 which, I supppose, is not presented to the House as being perfect in its present, form. This is a serious problem and it has been brought out well in debate that unless some provision is made to cover the sort of cases which have been most persuasively argued by Members from both sides the Bill will contain within it a flagrant injustice. The Minister may hold himself out as being a great resister of temptation, or he may want to maintain his reputation for having a jaundiced view of landlords. I do not think that this should be a reason to resist the temptation which new Clause No. 11 offers him to do something which needs doing.
There is an opportunity here to protect the position of people who need, and ought to be encouraged, to provide houses for themselves against the time when they come to retire. Some of the objections which have been raised to new Clause No. 11 may be valid, but others, clearly, are not and I hope that before we leave this point, the Minister will give the House a firm assurance that his mind is not closed on this subject and that he is prepared to see that the point is reconsidered and to say that a much needed further improvement will be made in the Bill before it becomes law.
The House has given, on the whole, an approving response to new Clause No. 1. There are one or two matters arising from the Amendments which have been put down by the Opposition that I think I should deal with. It is the view of my right hon. Friends and those of us on this side of the House that the tenants who come into the category of the lettings that we are now dealing with should be entitled to basic protection and that the tenancies should become regulated tenancies.
I quite agree that an important aspect of this matter is that the procedure for recovery of possession should be quick and effective. We had a great deal of discussion in Committee about this and the evidence then available from the experience of the first quarter of the year was, I think, most reassuring. Out of a total of 7,151 cases entered during the first quarter of 1965, landlords asked for expedited hearings in only 90 cases and examples were given in Committee of the interval between the issue of the summons and the hearing in cases where expedition was sought and application was made, as is possible under the rules of court, to bridge the time limit for filing a defence and other means of that kind which can be used in the case of urgency.
The average interval between the issuing of the summons and the hearing of the application in, for instance, the west London court was 10 days; in Shoreditch, six days; and in Boston, in Lincolnshire, there were two cases involving 11 days.
To avoid misunderstanding, may I point out that the Attorney-General is giving figures with which some of us are familiar and which relate solely to the small number of cases in which an expedited hearing was sought and not the general run of cases. Perhaps he will make that clear.
I have made the point. What is being said is that hardship could be caused by the granting of basic protection. But where there is real hardship the person desiring to recover possession can use the expedition procedure. If he does so, he can get possession very quickly indeed. The case given by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) of an applicant having to wait 11 weeks or more before the case is heard is quite unrelated to the facts where there is an element of hardship and an element of urgency. When in due course the matter comes before the court the inherent discretion in the court to grant a pause for the tenant to make other arrangements will obviously be cut down, again strictly where the judge thinks that the hardship to the owner seeking possession is substantial.
Therefore, we are satisfied that the procedures which the Lord Chancellor has introduced for quickening the procedure of the court and reducing the delay justify us in saying that the recovery of possession can be done effectively and speedily.
The Attorney-General will remember that when he gave these figures in Committee some anxiety was expressed because most of them appeared to relate to London or the major conurbations and he had very few examples such as the one he has just given from Boston. Has he any further information about the time taken for these expedition hearings in rural areas?
I have no statistical information, but inquiries have been made and we are satisfied that in the rural areas arrangements can be made. For instance, under the Bill the registrar is entitled to hear claims for possession, and there can be transfers to courts in other districts. I am satisfied from the evidence that we have from the country districts as well that the recovery of possession can be done very quickly indeed. I have referred to two cases in Lincolnshire. This is the kind of performance which the court can accomplish if the person seeking possession gets cracking and makes an application for expedition to the court.
I have no knowledge whether in those cases any application was made for expedition. I do not know anything of the circumstances of them. I am giving the House the information which we have about cases in which expedition was sought; and where it is sought there is expedition. If anyone can give information to the contrary of anything other than a highly exceptional character, I shall be extremely surprised. I have been into this matter most carefully with the Lord Chancellor's Department, and I am satisfied that this procedure is effective.
I was asked whether new Clause No. 1 covered a person who was merely a tenant in the first instance and then sublet. That person is covered by the Clause. "Owner-occupier" is used for the purposes of the Clause, and it covers the case of the tenant who sublets.
The Attorney-General will remember that I asked a question on this point. What is the position of a so-called owner-occupier who has never been resident in the house—not when he has partly let the house, but when he has let the whole house? Subsection (1,b) of the proposed new Clause refers to the time
when he last occupied the dwelling-house as a resident".
May I raise a point which is very relevant to those serving overseas whose wives are the owner-occupiers but where the house either belongs to, or the lease is granted to, the man overseas? I can understand that under the new Clause the wife would be residing there, but it is doubtful whether she comes under the second half of the new Clause and has power to let. It would be helpful if we could be told whether the new Clause covers the wife of a man serving overseas.
I will certainly look into that point. I should have thought that it clearly did. It covers a member of the family who resided with the owner-occupier when he last occupied the dwelling-house as a residence. "Resided" means resided. It therefore covers a bona fide resident and not merely an overnight taking up of temporary occupation before the benefits of the Clause come into operation. I do not think that any court would have difficulty about that.
We had an interesting suggestion from the hon. Member for Carlisle—I should say, Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle). No doubt that is a mistake which will often be made in the House. He put forward the rather surprising proposition that the Opposition's Amendments would not exclude basic protection. I say "surprising" because at any rate part of the burden of the speeches of the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Thames (Mr. Boyd-Carpenter) in Committee was the express desire that basic protection should be excluded. The effect of the Opposition's Amendment to leave out lines 10 and 11 of the new Clause and to insert:
the letting shall not create a regulated tenancy but shall create a tenancy which shall be a protected tenancy within the meaning of section 28 of this Act".
would be to take the letting out of basic protection because it deems it to be a protected tenancy. As hon. Members will have noticed, protected tenancies are outside basic protection by reason of Clause 26(1) because they are protected under other legislation and therefore do not need basic protection under the Bill.
Perhaps I will come to a matter which will give some comfort even to the hon. Gentleman, who has been a little vehement in his criticisms of the Bill.
As my right hon. Friend said at the beginning of this debate, we on this side are in full sympathy with the principle which is emboded in new Clause 11. It is perhaps right, however, that I should emphasise at the outset that a man who buys a house for retirement and lets it on a regulated tenancy may apply to the court for a possession order by virtue of the provisions of paragraph (h) of Schedule 1 of the 1933 Act, with which, I know, the House is fully familiar. All that he has to establish is that it is reasonable to make the order and that greater hardship would be caused to him by refusal of the order than to the tenant in possession. Therefore, in the kind of case to which right hon. and hon. Members opposite have properly referred, which is deserving of sympathy, I should have thought that, broadly speaking, the provisions of the 1933 Act would be a satisfactory remedy.
However, the situation that is referred to of someone who makes specific arrangements for retirement, particularly the kind of case referred to by the hon. Member for Lubbock—I am sorry, for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock)—[Laughter.]; That is the second time. That this should happen so early in the history of the Report stage augers badly for the future when I am at this Box. The point that I was making with regard to those such as policemen who do not have homes of their own and who purchase a dwelling-house for the purposes in due course of living there on retirement is that that kind of situation is clearly one that my right hon. Friend is anxious to look at most sympathetically.
What troubles us about the new Clause as drafted is that it is far too nebulous and wide. It would provide abundant opportunity for abuse and exploitation by those who purported to be acquiring dwellinghouses for the purpose of residence in anticipation of retirement but who acquired a number of residences—there is no limitation as to number in the Clause—exploited them commercially and then sought the protection of the Clause in due course. However, having used those words of criticism of the Clause, we are impressed with what has been said on both sides as regards this matter. Indeed, before anything was said in the House, my right hon. Friend and I and others gave anxious thought to it to see whether we could meet the reasonable wishes of the House in the matter.
I must confess that so far we have not been able to find a formula sufficiently watertight to prevent abuse and to establish certainty, but when the matter is looked at in another place, if it is found to be practicable to establish a watertight formula which will prevent abuse and will meet the point that is embodied in the new Clause, we will certainly be glad to consider it with the greatest possible sympathy.
I cannot say more than that at this stage, but I hope that I have said enough to indicate that we have open minds upon this matter and we hope that deliberations in another place will provide a solution which will be acceptable to the House.
Will the Attorney-General be good enough to deal with the point which I made? The right hon. and learned Gentleman made his masterly statement that "residence" meant residence. I am certain that that means something to hon. and learned Members, but I am sorry to say that it does not mean much to me. I may have the mentality only of a tenant. My point concerns residence by a member of the family. It is likely that an advance party might go down to open up the new house. Are these members of the family prohibited under the Clause?
The test is that the owner-occupier must himself have had residence. New Clause No. 1 uses the wording:
Where a person who has occupied a dwelling-house as his residence … has let the dwelling-house on a regulated tenancy".
The person occupying the house must himself have resided in the premises. That is the absolute condition for the operation of the new Clause. The person must himself at some time have resided in the premises.
I am sure that we are all grateful for what the Attorney-General has said, but I do not think that he has gone quite far enough. I should like him to answer two points. I am concerned principally with new Clause No. 11, which seeks to deal with persons who purchase a house in anticipation of retirement. I rather thought that the hon. Member for Leicester. North-West (Sir B. Janner) gave away the whole argument. He sought to argue that this new provision was no change because fox many years a landlord had not been able to get possession of a house in which there was a tenant.
The whole point is that that is not the case. It is true that under the law as it used to be a tenant who had a house valued at less than £30 in the country or £40 in London could be in that position and hardship could be caused, although I agree that it was on a minor scale. The new point here is that the Bill raises those limits to the point at which it now affects property with a rateable value of £400 in London and £200 in the country. In other words, we are bringing into the net, which used to affect only houses of poorer quality, almost every house in the country.
The hon. Member is mistaken. At one time the rateable value limit was £100. That was many years ago. If the hon. Member compares today's rateable values with the rateable value of those days in respect of the same houses, he will find that there is not so much difference, if any.
I concede that at various times the value has changed. I quoted the most recent instances. The new factor in the Bill is that it will affect the vast majority of houses and it will affect, above all, the type of house which it is frequent for the owner to let for short periods or which is obtained in anticipation of retirement.
The Attorney-General—I will resist calling him the right hon. and learned Member for Jones—sought to argue, as has been argued before, that this was not a real problem because, under the 1933 Act, if a person who takes a house in anticipation of retirement can show that he has greater hardship than the tenant who is living in the house, the court would probably give him possession. That is true. The whole point, however, is that the owner would rarely be able to show that he had greater hardship. He would be on the point of retirement and almost certainly would have no children living with him, whereas the tenant to whom he has let the house, being younger, might be able to plead hardship, with the result that the owner would be unlikely to succeed. That is why I do not think that the reference to the 1933 Act which the Attorney-General has sought in aid is any reasonable protection for a person who has invested perhaps his life savings in a house to which he seeks to retire.
I know that this is a real problem, and I do not think that it is a party issue. The right hon. Gentleman has shown his sympathy with it, and I should like to indicate the size of it. It stretches over every class. I cannot forget the number of persons who live in tied houses. I am thinking not of agricultural workers, but of policemen, prison officers, schoolmasters, and of farmers who, although they do not live in tied cottages, when they sell their farms must inevitably sell with them the houses they used to occupy. I am thinking of Army and Navy officers, civil servants and people living abroad. I am thinking of the people whose job brings with it a roof over their heads. So soon as they lose that job they lose that roof.
For many years prudent persons in that position have sought to make themselves safe by buying a house to which they intend to retire in due course. A prudent person in such a position seeks to secure safety not only for himself on retirement, but perhaps even more so for his wife, to whom he says, "Whatever may happen to me, you have no cause to fear because I have bought a house for you into which you can go". That is a natural, human, thing to do, and I cannot think that anyone would want to interfere with it.
This stretch of case which I have sought to describe is of all classes and of all income groups. There are 900,000 people who live in tied cottages. Add to that the ordinary person, working perhaps in London, who, through the years as he approaches retiring age considers buying a house so that when the time comes for him to retire or should anything happen to him, there is somewhere for his wife to live. We must make provision for that vast and important type of person.
The right hon. Gentleman and the Attorney-General said that they would like to accept our proposal, but that there were difficulties in the way of doing so. We would not insist on the words in the new Clause, and I find it hard to believe that it is not possible to put the Clause into such a shape that it can be accepted. The Minister referred particularly to barristers, and said that there might be bogus retirements, which I find hard to believe, in order to take advantage of the new Clause. I do not know whether he realises that subsection (3) provides that the new Clause shall not have effect unless a person is already entitled to a retirement pension, that is to say, a person must be over 65. That should meet the point which the right hon. Gentleman has in mind. The person concerned has to prove to the court that he has retired. I find it hard to believe that a court would be so unwise as not to be able to detect whether such a person was a genuine, retired person, or likely to become one. The fact that a man has to be over 65 is, I think, a sufficient safeguard in itself. The court will cross-examine him about his occupation, why he retired, and so on.
I should have thought that the chance of a bluff being established and of a man moving from house to house several times was very remote, and that compared with the risk of doing an injustice to 900,000 people was one which the House ought to find a way of circumventing. It can find a way if the will is there, and I believe that it is, not only on this side of the House, but among many hon. Gentlemen opposite.
The hon. Gentleman talked about a person retiring from the police force. Does not this show that one must bear in mind the fact that policemen and others retire a good deal before the age of 65?
I accept the point. I am pleading for the minimum that I can get. If the hon. and learned Gentleman is suggesting that we should have more, I should be delighted to accept that. I am asking for the minimum provision for the person who has reached 65, and I suggest that both on the ground of humanity, and at law, the case has been as nearly made as any case can be, and I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to do his best to meet it.
The Bill has caused anxiety to many people. In new Clause No. 1 the Minister has found a way of relieving the anxieties on one particular point, and I am grateful to him for that. The anxiety with which the Minister deals in the Clause relates to the owner-occupier who goes away, possibly overseas, and then wants to return to his house. While he is away, he wants to let it, but he fears that he may not be able to get back into his house if he does so. This normally applies in the case of a furnished tenancy, because the owner-occupier has been living in the house. He has his furniture in it, and if he intends to be away for two or three years he lets it furnished. A furnished letting is expressly excluded from the new Clause, and I think that this takes away an enormous amount of its value.
We have tabled an Amendment to delete the words, "on a regulated tenancy". The Attorney-General seems to be under the impression that this stops such a letting becoming a regulated tenancy, because he said that "these lettings should become regulated tenancies". But if they are unfurnished, they will come under Clause 1, and they will be regulated tenancies. Our intention is to bring furnished tenancies within the scope of the scope of the Clause. This will assist a great deal in removing many of the anxieties which exist at present.
The Minister has admitted that there is a need to do this in the case of unfurnished tenancies. I do not think that he has made much of a case for saying that furnished tenancies are different under the law as it will be, and that they should not be included. I hope, therefore, that he will accept our Amendment to leave out the words, "on a regulated tenancy", on the understanding that it does not save it from being a regulated tenancy, but merely brings furnished tenancies within the scope of the Clause.
I think that new Clause No. 11 has had a very good reception. It has been described as being much too wide and giving away too much. It has also been described as being much too narrow and not covering nearly a sufficient number of points. That means that it must be a very well drafted Clause. It is reasonably watertight. The Attorney-General said that it was not, but perhaps he had not noticed the word "thereafter" in line 2.
The hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner) rather tended to suggest that it was possible for a new owner to buy a house with a sitting tenant and then try to apply the procedure set out here. Under this procedure the owner has to acquire the house. It must never be subject to a regulated tenancy, and the first letting of the house is on the understanding that the owner will wish to move into it on his retirement. It would tend to be a newly-built house. Certainly, it would be one that has not been in the letting market before. I should have thought that the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West would be attracted to this, because it would get his old people from Leicester to Folkestone and would create more houses in Leicester.
It seems to me that the principal objection to the proposed Clause No. 11 is that this operation might be carried out on a number of occasions. As my hon. Friend has pointed out, the man concerned will have to be 65 years of age. Is it suggested that wicked old gentlemen of 65 or over will go trotting round the country obtaining vacant possession of houses which have never been let on a regulated tenancy, letting them and saying, "I am coming back in a year or two's time", turning the tenants out and obtaining vacant possession again, when they would be back to the position in which they were two years ago? There is no point in wicked old gentlemen carrying out these machinations. It is a pure figment of the imagination of the Government Front Bench to suggest that this operation would be attractive.
I want to say one thing about retirement. As I have said, the man concerned must be at least 65 years of age to qualify under the Clause. This fact disappoints many of my hon. Friends, who feel that the Clause ought to apply to Army officers, people serving overseas who retire at the age of 55, bank managers who retire at the age of 60, and so on, whereas the definition in the Clause refers to persons of 65 years of age. We have to draw the line somewhere, and this helps to make the Clause watertight. I suggest that it is watertight.
It has been suggested that an heir is included, but we cannot find anywhere in the Clause the suggestion that even a widow—certainly not the children of the man who has acquired a house as a residence—is entitled to benefit under the new Clause. I might be disposed to agree with those who say that the Clause is not wide enough; I certainly cannot agree with those who say that it goes too wide. They miss the point of the Clause. This is a necessary Clause and I hope that it will be accepted.
When I read the names of the hon. Members who had put their names to new Clause No. 1, I hoped that at long last the Secretary of State for Scotland would appear to give us some enlightenment on the Scottish aspects of the Clause. Alas, he has not appeared. It is beyond our expectations that any Scottish Law Officers will provide explanations of the very difficult legal problems involved, but I did expect the Secretary of State to be here. The Under-Secretary of State is here, on one of his intermittent visits. I am sorry that he was not present when the Attorney-General spoke, because he dealt with the legal position as it affects England and Wales. All that he did for me in the event, however, was to confuse the issue. I therefore hope that the Under-Secretary will be able to give us some explanation.
I am very concerned about the meaning of the first two lines in the proposed new Clause No. 1. It speaks of
a person who has occupied a dwelling-house
in line 1 and, in line 2, of an owner-occupier. I do not know what an owner-occupier is. No such person is known
to the law of Scotland. The question of the ownership of heritable property in Scotland is a very difficult one. It may refer to the heritable proprietor or the person having a personal right. I should like an explanation from the Under-Secretary on this point.
It is easy to define a heritable proprietor. He is the person who has a registered title to the house. But many people in Scotland occupy houses without any such title. In fact, the majority of people have no heritable right; they merely have a personal right. Will the Joint Under-Secretary tell the House whether the Clause will apply to a person who has the normal type of building society loan, where the title to the house is in the name either of the building society or another creditor by what is known as an ex facie absolute disposition, on assignation without any qualification? This is an important matter because the building society, as the heritable proprietor, is the owner of that house and the occupier is the owner in the sense, that he has a personal right—depending on the good will of the creditor—to the reversionary ownership of the house when the loan is paid off. I am sorry that the Attorney-General did not deal with that point, and I hope that the Under-Secretary will obtain proper legal advice and make it quite clear before the Bill receives the Royal Assent.
I am further in great difficulty in regard to the position, which is very common in Scotland, in which the occupier of a house is a life-renter under a will. It is common practice for the owner of a house in Scotland to leave his house in life-rent to his widow. The widow is not the proprietor but a life-renter. Let us suppose that she leaves the house with the intention of coming back, or that some member of the family wants to come back. What is the position of the life-renter? This point ought to be made quite clear. It may be clear in English law, but it is not clear to me, at any rate, what the position is in Scotland.
The Attorney-General said that the position of the tenant in England was protected in circumstances like these. It may be that under the Scottish interpretation the tenant is also protected, but here again we are up against a difficulty, because we find it provided that the landlord, and so not necessarily the occupier, must have given notice in writing to the tenant. Let us suppose that the person who had occupied the house was a tenant. What happens if he requests the landlord to give notice that possession may be recovered under the Clause and the landlord refuses? What happens to the tenant and his family if they subsequently want to recover possession, whether as owners or tenants, or in whatever way may apply at the time?
There is another real difficulty about the situation. Let us suppose that the occupier has left the house and that the house is subsequently required for a member of his family who was unborn at the time when the original occupier occupied the house. This is of vital importance. The Clause is well drafted to cover the case of a member of a family who had actually lived in the house when the original occupier was there, but 20 years or more may elapse before the house is required for occupation again and the original occupier may have died by then. The house might be required for the occupation of a younger member of the family. Does the Clause apply in that case? If so, how?
This brings us up against another vital problem. At the end of the day, who is entitled to recover possession of the house? Must it be the original occupier who applies for possession of the house? Let us suppose that the original occupier is dead. Is a member of the family entitled to ask for possession in his place? If so, which member of the family is so entitled? The Clause is quite indefinite. It might be that several members of a family will make competing applications for the same house. In that case what rule will govern the discretion of the court? All these matters are of great practical importance.
Most of the discussion this afternoon about new Clause No. 11 has been about civil servants and Army officers and people of that sort. I suggest that this Clause would be of immense value to a great many people in much humbler circumstances than that. It may be that a schoolmaster employed by a local authority in the course of his professional life moves about from one post to another. He may get a post for which there is a schoolhouse. In that case, he is happily situated, but he may feel that he is getting on and that he could get promotion. He is then in the quandary of taking promotion by means of a post with which there is no schoolhouse. He may with forethought have furnished himself with a house, either by inheritance or by purchase. Is he, in those circumstances, to be denied the right to occupy his own house, if that is necessary for the purpose of taking the last appointment before his retirement? This is a matter of great importance.
I suggest that there are a number of important points in the Clause which have not been thought out. I hope that a considerable amount of thought will be given to this at later stages, and that, so far as these important Scottish issues are concerned, the Under-Secretary of State will take proper legal advice and bring in the necessary Amendments in another place.
I should like to underline what my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry) said about the unborn child. This is one of the cases in which it is necessary to widen the definition of those people who can recover possession. It is very much wider than my hon. Friend thought.
Suppose a person had established his residential qualification in the first place by living in the house with his parents or with one parent. He then goes abroad and, during his service there, he marries. If, on his way home, he is killed or dies as a result of an accident, his wife is not able to recover, under this Clause, even though she may have three children and nowhere else to go. Surely the whole object is to protect the immediate family, the wives and children. There are obviously other cases which could occur in which the children may be born and of a relatively advanced age, but, for one reason or another, are not living with the householder during the relevant period.
They might be permanently abroad at school or suffering from a long illness and in a hospital. One can envisage cases in which the people for whom I imagine the right hon. Gentleman is most concerned—the wives and children—would be excluded. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider at any rate writing in specifically that this Clause will apply to children of the owner-occupier, as defined in this Clause, and to his wife. This is important. There are, obviously, cases in which both the wife and the children or some of their children may be ruled out and one of those ruled out may be a child in greatest need. In the case which I mentioned in passing, that of the child suffering from a long illness, grown up that child may well be entirely dependent and in greater need of a house than the other members of the family. I hope that the Minister will look at this sympathetically.
The Minister said that he had been unable to find any words which would enable the farmer to be covered who had let a farm cottage during a period when he did not require it for the working of his farm, but expected that he would require it at a later date. I would ask the Minister to look at this again. I would suggest a way by which he could meet us half way. In my experience, these cases arise broadly in two forms. There is the case in which, as I have just mentioned, the man does not want the house for the time being simply because he is not expecting to increase the farm and does not want such a large staff or is carrying out a system of management of a temporary nature and he contemplates changes which would bring about an increase in his staff.
I imagine that that is the case which the right hon. Gentleman has in mind and with which he is concerned, but there is also the case of a man knowing that he will want the house for a specified member of his existing staff. Very often, there is the case of an existing farm worker who has a son who works on the farm and lives in the cottage, generally a service cottage, with his parents. The farmer knows perfectly well that as soon as that young man gets married he will wish to keep him on the staff and give him a cottage. I suggest that the Minister would be helping to some extent if he drafted a Clause which would enable the cottage to be available for a named employee or a certain category of employee.
This is an important case to be considered. In my own case, where I had cottages before the 1957 Rent Act, I kept them vacant. I had to, for precisely this reason. I employed an unmarried man who was about to be married and I did not wish to sack him when he got married. I kept the house. It deteriorated and there were other people who could well have made use of it. This is a wasteful use of the natural resources.
I would stress again, as my hon. Friend has stressed, that new Clause 11 requires vacant possession of the house to have been attained at some stage. It applies only if the man has created a new tenancy after having acquired the ownership. Therefore, it applies only to a tenancy in which the tenant may be fully aware of the situation. I think that this is also relevant to cases in which the purchaser has almost certainly purchased on vacant possession value or had the opportunity to sell at that value. With this overall rent control proposed by the Government, there is no doubt that the "premium" for vacant possession will rise substantially.
Unless we have a Clause of this sort, it will be virtually impossible for any one to buy in contemplation of retirement. Not only will there be no certainty of their getting that house, but there will be the certainty that if they do not get vacant possession, they will not be able to sell at a price which vacant possession would command. This is a matter of some importance. So far as I know, there is no case in the law books where this factor has been taken into account under the 1933 Act. I would press upon the right hon. Gentleman to look again, as he has promised he will do, and to bear these points in mind in regard to catering for the man buying in contemplation of retirement.
I am certain that the definition in Clause 1 is much too narrow even for the Minister's purposes.
As you put it at the beginning, Mr. Speaker, this has been a kind of Second Reading debate. It has thrown up a number of very difficult issues but two things emerge clearly from it. The first is that hon. Members on both sides of the House are not happy about the present state of the Bill so far as it deals with the general question of the owner occupier seeking to resume possession of a house.
Secondly, I think that it is clear, though I do not know whether I carry hon. Members opposite with me—[Laughter.] I think that I do on the first point. It is clear that this whole series of problems flows from the right hon. Gentleman's decision to impose rent regulation and security of tenure over the whole country and up to very high rateable values. This creates many kinds of problem which I accept that the Minister himself wants to solve. But they are the direct consequence of that decision. Therefore, it is the Government's responsibility—though we are doing our best to assist them—to get this right.
I agree with the remark which the right hon. Gentleman made in his opening speech. He said that in all these landlord-tenant questions there was a delicate question of balance, that one had to calculate carefully where the balance of fairness lay between the landlord and the tenant. I accept that, but I urge the Government to realise that on this subject we are dealing with a category of cases in which the balance is not the ordinary one between the commercial landlord and his tenant.
We are dealing with a class of case where ex hypothesi the tenant came in on the strict understanding that he would go out on a certain date—in circumstances in which he would not have been allowed in at all had he not solemnly pledged himself to go out on that date. We are dealing only in this series of proposals with the case of a tenant who, having come in on that basis, pledge and understanding, none the less seeks to remain after the date on which he pledged himself to go.
We are, at the same time, dealing with a landlord who is not seeking possession of the house for commercial profit, for commercial operations or even to obtain an income, but with a landlord who wants his house for the basic and respectable purpose of living in it. I therefore suggest that the balance to which the right hon. Gentleman rightly referred should be placed at a quite different point from where it might be placed under the other provisions of the Bill in respect of ordinary commercial tenancies.
There is no disguising the fact that there is very wide concern about this aspect of the Bill. I have received more letters on this subject than on any other part of the Measure—and I have received a great many letters from various parts of the Country, and significantly, from our fellow citizens serving overseas. The kind of situation which so far has not been remedied, despite the proposed new Clause, is of the man with a wife and family, probably with a lot of baggage, coming back after a tour of duty abroad, whether in the service of the Crown or a company trading overseas, to find that the house which he was intending to go into is, despite the pledged word of the tenant, still being occupied by that tenant.
The typical case is that of a man, his wife and children arriving with all the baggage that such a family would have, the canary in the cage, children crying after a long air journey—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—Hon. Gentlemen opposite should be aware of the general misery of those who travel long distances with their families. They arrive to find that they cannot move into the house into which they expected to move. It is no use saying to a chap in that position, "All right, we have a new Clause under which you can go to the county court and, after a certain procedure has been gone through, you can obtain your house". What that person needs immediately is his house. I suggest that he is entitled to it and immediately. That is why, as the debate has made clear, we have received the Clause with somewhat modified rapture.
Naturally, the new Clauses improve the Bill as presented, but it would be an illusion to think that they will relieve the apprehensions which were originally raised by the Bill, because they will not. There will still be the problem of someone returning from abroad finding that if his tenant desires to stay on he will have not a house but a lawsuit. One cannot get away from the fact that the tenant who is likely to stay on in default of his pledged word—and they will be the minority of tenants—will be encouraged so to do if it is convenient for him to do so—that is, by the knowledge that his landlord can do nothing but take him to the county court.
The Attorney-General tried to suggest that the procedure of going to the county court would not take a long time. He referred to what he described—using a word I thought in an unusual sense for a law officer of the Crown—as the evidence given in Standing Committee. He referred to a speech of his hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary and—
Before the right hon. Gentleman proceeds, I was referring to a document which had been supplied to me in somewhat dramatic circumstances, as he will remember, in the course of the debates in Committee.
I recall the document supplied to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. It was evidence only to him. It was not, as would be the practice, an official document laid before the House. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman now wishes to treat it as a real document, he should lay it as such. Whether it was laid or addled, it does not take the matter very far, even on its face value. After all, what does it amount to? It is that of about 7,000 actions for possession, the expedited procedure was, in the first quarter of this year, asked for in 90 cases.
I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman admitted in Committee that the vast majority of people, even practising solicitors, were at that time quite unaware of it. No doubt that is why only 90 applications were made. I do not know whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman has grasped the significance of the small scale of cases, but if one has only 90-odd cases with which to deal, they should indeed be dealt with with expedition. Had the Government done their duty in publicising the matter plainly, there should have been far more cases seeking the priority rights of the expedited procedure. In the nature of things, the more priority passengers one has the greater the congestion. Not only are those 90 cases not an adequate statistical sample of the total cases but we can assume that there will be a loss in value and speed as the procedure becomes more known, as it should become more widely known.
Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the lesson of those figures is, broadly speaking, the fact that the normal procedures in the courts are proving adequate in dealing with the needs of those who want possession of premises and that where there are abnormal circumstances calling for these emergency procedures to be used those are proving highly effective? I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman keeps running down the processes of the court in this way.
I am not running down the processes of the court but criticising the Government's implementation of their undertaking. Those figures do not indicate any satisfaction with the procedures of the courts. They indicate—and this was admitted in Committee—a lack of knowledge that this procedure even existed, even among professional men, and we are talking of figures relating to the first quarter of the year.
We have also had virtually no evidence—if it be evidence—of the position in the country. The Government have persistently refused to do what we suggested and make rules of court under which it would be possible to bring the proceedings before the county court judge at any court at which he operated on his circuit to get him at the first point on his circuit at which it was possible to get the proceedings in order. We asked the Government to deal with the problem in the country. I understand that the Lord Chancellor has done nothing of the sort. I believe that he has done nothing except send round a circular. Therefore, I do not find the right hon. and learned Gentleman's intervention on this point at all encouraging.
I hope that the Government will do better, that they will be able to give proper publicity to the possibilities of the expedited procedure and that they will be able to give firm instructions about the priority of these cases. Equally, I hope that they will tackle the question of the county court judge on his circuit. None of those things have been done, although they are the least the Government should have done.
I come to new Clause No. 2. The right hon. Gentleman was generous enough to attribute to us the parentage of the new Clause, but I am not sure that many of my hon. Friends will be quite as anxious as he seemed to think to admit paternity.
The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that in Committee attention was drawn to the fact that whereas clergy of the Church of England could be removed from their parsonages by their superior authorities at once—and, as was pointed out to him, by continuing the Pluralities Act, 1838, the Government were continuing that in this Bill—all the procedures and so on would apply to ministers of other denominations. I think the right hon. Gentleman accepts that a distinction of that sort is quite indefensible, but as new Clause No. 2 stands, unless our Amendments are accepted, there is still a very considerable distinction and differentiation made between clergy of the Established Church, on the one hand, and clergy of the Roman Catholic, Nonconformist and other Churches on the other.
As I say, the position is preserved by Clause 29(4) of the Bill. In the case of clergy of the Church of England, all that is needed is an order from the bishop. In the case of all other clergy, it is necessary for them to be taken to the county court, and again the county court will have the right to give a discretionary period of four to six weeks. Therefore, whatever else the right hon. Gentleman has done, he has not closed the difference between the treatment of clergy of the different denominations. I suggest that it is quite indefensible. I think the provision in respect of the Church of England is right. I speak as a member of that Church and, naturally, from that point of view, I am not criticising the right hon. Gentleman for giving the right treatment to the Church to which I belong. But I find it difficult to defend different treatments of other Churches, whose problems in obtaining houses, manses and presbyteries are no different from those of the Church of England in obtaining parsonages. Therefore, in this new Clause No. 2, the right hon. Gentleman has not really dealt with the point raised in Committee.
Then I come, in respect of both new Clause No. 1 and new Clause No. 2, to what seems to me to be a very unfortunate aspect of this provision. The returning traveller under new Clause No. 1 and the church authorities other than the Church of England under new Clause No. 2 have not only to take whoever is in the property to the county court. The county court still has preserved to it the right to exercise its discretion and make the order effective only in four to six weeks' time. Even if the right hon. Gentleman were wedded to his concept that everyone had to go through the county court, why was it necessary in these cases to preserve that discretionary power, and why was it not possible to provide that the order should be made immediately? That would do something to meet the difficulty in both these cases. The failure to do it makes us look at these new Clauses with approval that any improvement should have been made, but with regret that the opportunity has not been taken to make a proper job of it.
I come now to new Clause No. 11, and there the House is left in a very unsatisfactory and unhappy position. The hon. and learned Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silk in) introduced a damning criticism of the present position when pointing out that a person who had bought a house for his retirement and who managed to get into it first for a period could get the advantages, such as they are, of new Clause No. 1, whereas a person similarly placed who did not get in at an early stage was left in the position of any other landlord under the Bill. That is a very serious criticism, and I note that both the right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. and learned Attorney-General said they did accept that the position was far from satisfactory, but that they found difficulty in providing anything better. Indeed, the right hon. and learned Attorney-General expressed the hope that another place might be able to find a more satisfactory solution.
I share that hope, but I am not sure if it is entirely satisfactory after we have been debating this for the best part of three months since Second Reading, when the Government had presumably made preparations for some months before that, that we should be asked to part with the Bill with the bland admission of the Government that there is here a problem which they are not prepared or are not able to remedy now, but part with the Bill in the pious hope that another place may be able to do better than this House has done. I note with interest this newfound enthusiasm of the Government for another place. It is an enthusiasm which I certainly wish to encourage, but, in all seriousness, it is not a satisfactory way for the House to leave the Bill.
I would make this suggestion to the House. The right hon. and learned Attorney-General was quite critical of the drafting of the Clause. He described it as nebulous, too wide and offering chances for abuses. That may be so. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has had some experience of drafting Clauses in Opposition—an experience which I have no doubt he will be shortly resuming. But at least it attempts to tackle the problem and puts forward something which is an improvement on the Bill. If the right hon. and learned Attorney-General is right in his criticisms, is it not right for us to put the Clause in the Bill and leave to another place, not the task of initiating the improvement, but of making the necessary polishings and improvements which the new Clause itself may require? Is it not only a better and more sensible way, but also the proper way to use another place?
As the Government have failed to produce anything to deal with a problem which they admit exists, about which hon. Members on both sides of the House have expressed anxiety and which is causing anxiety outside, let us make one step forward and, when the time comes, put new Clause No. 11 into the Bill and leave it to those noble Lords in another place, for whom the Government have such admiration, to take out any blemishes they may see in it. I suggest that in that way we shall have done a more workmanlike job in this House in improving the legislation, so that when it becomes law at least the damage which the right hon. Gentleman's soaring conceptions involve will be diminished and curtailed.
|Division No. 215.]||AYES||[7.18 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Atkinson, Norman||Baxter, William|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Bacon, Miss Alice||Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Binns, John|
|Bishop, E. S.||Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||Probert, Arthur|
|Blackburn, F.||Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)||Randall, Harry|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Rankin, John|
|Boardman, H.||Jackson, Colin||Rees, Merlyn|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S. W.)||Janner, Sir Barnett||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Robinson, Rt. Hn. K. (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Rose, Paul B.|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Rowland, Christopher|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Sheldon, Robert|
|Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)||Kenyon, Clifford||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Buchanan, Richard||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Ledger, Ron||Silkin, John (Deptford)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)|
|Coleman, Donald||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Lomas, Kenneth||Sllverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.||Lubbock, Eric||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Small, William|
|Dalyell, Tam||McBride, Neil||Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||McCann, J.||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||MacColl, James||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||McGuire, Michael||Stonehouse, John|
|Dell, Edmund||McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Stones, William|
|Doig, Peter||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Swain, Thomas|
|Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Symonds, J. B.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Taverne, Dick|
|Ensor, David||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Evans, Ioan (Birmingham, Yardley)||Manuel, Archie||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mapp, Charles||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Finch, Harold (Bedwellty)||Mason, Roy||Tinn, James|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Mayhew, Christopher||Tomney, Frank|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Mellish, Robert||Tuck, Raphael|
|Freeson, Reginald||Mendelson, J. J.||Varley, Eric G.|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mikardo, Ian||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Garrow, A.||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Ginsburg, David||Molloy, William||Wallace, George|
|Gourlay, Harry||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)||Warbey, William|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Grey, Charles||Murray, Albert||Weitzman, David|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Neal, Harold||Whitlock, William|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Hale, Leslie||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Norwood, Christopher||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Hamilton, William (West Fife)||O'Malley, Brian||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Hannan, William||Orbach, Maurice||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Harper, Joseph||Orme, Stanley||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Oswald, Thomas||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Hazell, Bert||Padley, Walter||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Palmer, Arthur||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Holman, Percy||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Hooson, H. E.||Parker, John||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Horner, John||Parkin, B. T.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Howie, W.||Pentland, Norman||Mr. George Lawson and|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Mr. Alan Fitch.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Dean, Paul|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Buck, Antony||Dodds-Parker, Douglas|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Bullus, Sir Eric||Doughty, Charles|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Drayson, G. B.|
|Astor, John||Campbell, Gordon||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)|
|Balniel, Lord||Carlisle, Mark||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Barlow, Sir John||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Eyre, Reginald|
|Batsford, Brian||Chataway, Christopher||Farr, John|
|Bell, Ronald||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)|
|Biffen, John||Cole, Norman||Glover, Sir Douglas|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Cooke, Robert||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.|
|Bingham, R. M.||Corfield, F. V.||Gower, Raymond|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Costain, A. P.||Grant-Ferris, R.|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)|
|Blaker, Peter||Crawley, Aidan||Gurden, Harold|
|Box, Donald||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Hamilton, M. (Salisbury)|
|Braine, Bernard||Curran, Charles||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)|
|Brewis, John||Dalkeith, Earl of||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Dance, James||Harvey, Sir. Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Hay, John||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Hendry, Forbes||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Talbot, John E.|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Monro, Hector||Teeling, Sir William|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||More, Jasper||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Hordern, Peter||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Murton, Oscar||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Jennings, J. C.||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)||Walder, David (High Peak)|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Peel, John||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)||Percival, Ian||Walters, Dennis|
|Kilfedder, James A.||Peyton, John||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Kirk, Peter||Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Kitson, Timothy||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Whitelaw, William|
|Lambton, Viscount||Pitt, Dame Edith||Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Pym, Francis||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin||Wise, A. R.|
|Loveys, Walter H.||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|MacArthur, Ian||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|McMaster, Stanley||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Wylie, N. R.|
|McNair-Wilson, Patrick||Robson Brown, Sir William||Younger, Hn, George|
|Maginnis, John E.||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Marten, Neil||Scott-Hopkins, James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mathew, Robert||Spearman, Sir Alexander||Mr. Dudley Smith and|
|Maude, Angus||Stainton, Keith||Mr. G. Johnson Smith.|
|Mawby, Ray||Stanley, Hn. Richard|
|Division No. 216.]||AYES||[7.29 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Ensor, David||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Evans, Ioan (Birmingham, Yardley)||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Fernyhough, E.||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Finch, Harold (Bedwellty)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Baxter, William||Freeson, Reginald||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Cenfral)|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Galpern, Sir Myer||Ledger, Ron|
|Binns, John||Garrow, A.||Lee, Mrs. Jennie (Cannock)|
|Bishop, E. S.||George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Blackburn, F.||Ginsburg, David||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Gourlay, Harry||Lubbock, Eric|
|Boardman, H.||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Bowmen, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics S. W.)||Grey, Charles||McBride, Neil|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||McCann, J.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||MacCall, James|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Hale, Leslie||McGuire, Michael|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mclnnes, James|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||McKay, Mrs. Margaret|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)||Hannan, William||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch Fbury)||Harper, Joseph||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)|
|Buchanan, Richard||Hazell, Bert||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Heffer, Eric S.||Manuel, Archie|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Mapp, Charles|
|Coleman, Donald||Holman, Percy||Mason, Roy|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Hooson, H. E.||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.||Horner, John||Mellish, Robert|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Dalyell, Tam||Howie, W.||Mikardo, Ian|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||Milne, Edward (Blyth)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)||Molloy, William|
|Dell, Edmund||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)|
|Doig, Peter||Jackson, Colin||Morris, John (Aberavon)|
|Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.||Janner, Sir Barnett||Murray, Albert|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & P'cras, S.)||Neal, Harold|
|Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Rose, Paul B.||Varley, Eric G.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Rowland, Christopher||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Norwood, Christopher||Sheldon, Robert||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|O'Malley, Brian||Shore, Peter (Stepney)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Orbach, Maurice||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)||Wallace, George|
|Orme, Stanley||Silkin, John (Deptford)||Warbey, William|
|Oswald, Thomas||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Padley, Walter||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Weitzman, David|
|Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Whitlock, William|
|Palmer, Arthur||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Pannell, Rt. Hon. Charles||Small, William||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Parker, John||Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Parkin, B. T.||Steel, David (Roxburgh)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Pavitt, Laurence||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Storehouse, John||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Pentland, Norman||Stones, William||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Swain, Thomas||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Probert, Arthur||Symonds, J. B.||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Randall, Harry||Taverne, Dick||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Rankin, John||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Rees, Merlyn||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Rhodes, Geoffrey||Thorpe, Jeremy||Zilliacus, K.|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Tinn, James|
|Robertson, John (Paisley)||Tomney, Frank||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Robinson, Rt. Hn. K. (St. Pancras, N)||Tuck, Raphael||Mr. Lawson and Mr. Fitch.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Gower, Raymond||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Grant-Ferris, R.||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Griffths, Peter (Smethwick)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Gurden, Harold||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)|
|Astor, John||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Balniel, Lord||Hamilton, M. (Salisbury)||Peel, John|
|Barlow, Sir John||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Percival, Ian|
|Batsford, Brian||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Peyton, John|
|Bell, Ronald||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Biffen, John||Hay, John||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Bingham, R. M.||Hendry, Forbes||Pym, Francis|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Higgins, Terence L.||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin|
|Blaker, Peter||Hirst, Geoffrey||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Box, Donald||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Hordern, Peter||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Braine, Bernard||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Brewis, John||Iremonger, T. L.||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Jennings, J. C.||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Buck, Antony||Johnson Smith, G. (East Grinstead)||Stainton, Keith|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Stanley, Hn. Richard|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Campbell, Gordon||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Carlisle, Mark||Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)||Talbot, John E.|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Kilfedder, James A.||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Chataway, Christopher||Kirk, Peter||Teeling, Sir William|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Kitson, Timothy||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Lambton, Viscount||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Cole, Norman||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Cooke, Robert||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Corfield, F. V.||Longden, Gilbert||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Costain, A. P.||Loveys, Walter H.||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Walder, David (High Peak)|
|Crawley, Aidan||MacArthur, Ian||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||McMaster, Stanley||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||McNair-Wilson, Patrick||Walters, Dennis|
|Curran, Charles||Maginnis, John E.||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Marten, Neil||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Dance, James||Mathew, Robert||Whitelaw, William|
|Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)||Maude, Angus||Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Dean, Paul||Mawby, Ray||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Dodds Parker, Douglas||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Doughty, Charles||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Wise, A. R.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Eyre, Reginald||Monro, Hector||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Farr, John||More, Jasper||Wylie, N. R.|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Younger, Hn. George|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Murton, Oscar||Mr. R. W. Elliott and|
|Mr. Dudley Smith.|