|(1) The following provisions of this section shall apply on the death of the tenant under a statutory tenancy (in this section referred to as the first successor) whose right to retain possession by virtue of the Rent Acts arose on the death of the person who had been the tenant under a tenancy to which those Acts applied.|
|(2) If either—|
|(a) the first successor leaves a widow who was residing with him at his death; or|
|(b) the first successor is a woman or leaves no such widow but a member of his family was residing with him for not less than six months immediately before his death,|
|the widow or member of the first successor's family (or, if more than one, such of them as may in default of agreement be decided by the county court) shall be the second successor for the purposes of this section and, except in the case mentioned in subsection (5) of this section, the right to retain possession by virtue of the Rent Acts shall pass to him.|
|(3) The second successor (except in the case mentioned in subsection (5) of this section) shall be the tenant under a regulated tenancy, whether or not the tenancy mentioned in subsection (1) of this section was one to which the Rent Acts applied by|
the number of units of accommodation exceeding the number of families. I would warn him that these were figures which were the undoing of the Conservative Government in 1957. What is relevant is whether the number of units of accommodation, for instance, at low rents, exceeds the number of families needing houses to rent.
This was the major miscalculation of decontrol, of thinking that you could calculate in total figures and thereby say there is no shortage. In 1957, people argued that because, nationally, the number of units of accommodation nearly exceeded the number of families there was no shortage. Shortages inevitably occur in terms of specific kinds of accommodation, particularly in rented accommodation.
It is no good producing, a large number of houses for owner-occupiers unless you can also calculate that there are a number of people who cannot afford to be owner-occupiers and you have separate accommodation for them. The argument of infiltration does not work perfectly and fast enough. It would not be true that one would be able to conclude simply from those statistical figures that there was no need in particular areas. There might be a need for rent control because rented accommodation was in short supply, although there was a surplus of other kinds of accommodation.
|virtue of section 1 of this Act; but where the Rent Acts applied to that tenancy apart from that section—|
|a) this Act shall apply in relation to the regulated tenancy as if the last rental period beginning before the death of the first successor had been a contractual period; and|
|(b) the regulated tenancy shall be disregarded for the purposes of secton 3 (3) (a) of this Act.|
|(4) In the Rent Acts and this Act the expression "tenant" shall include any person who retains possession by virtue of the preceding provisions of this section.|
|(5) If the statutory tenancy mentioned in subsection (1) of this section was one to which, had it been a tenancy within the meaning of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, Part II of that Act would have applied but for paragraph (c) of section 43 (1) of that Act, the second successor shall be deemed for the purposes of that Act to be the tenant under a tenancy continuing by virtue of section 24 thereof after the expiry of a term of years certain.—[Mr. MacColl.]|
I think that it would be convenient to discuss with this new Clause the three Amendments to it in the name of the hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle), in line 6, after "widow", insert "or widower"; to leave out lines 7 to 10; and in line 11, leave out from "widow" to "shall" in line 12 and insert "or widower".
This new Clause deals with the second transmission of a tenancy on the death of a statutory tenant. Under Section 12 of that 1920 Rent Act, where a tenant in a tenancy to which that Rent Act applied dies, that controlled tenancy passes to his widow, or to a member of his family living with him for not less than six months. But, when this provision was interpreted by the courts over the years, it was established that this could happen only once. This meant that when a daughter had given up her life to care for her parents, and the father, who had been the original controlled tenant, died, and the widow lived on, and the daughter lived with her and looked after her for many years, when the mother died the daughter had no legal protection whatsoever. She was, therefore, liable to be evicted, and frequently was evicted as a result.
This is not merely an old anomaly. It is still something which is going on. There was a recent case before the Court of Appeal this year. This was a case where a father had been living with his son and daughter. On the father's death, the son and daughter continued to live in the accommodation and the son's name was put on the rent book. On the death of the son, the daughter, then 68 years of age, found herself with no rights whatsoever in the house where she had lived since birth and in which she had faithfully cared for her father and brother. This is the kind of situation with which this Clause is designed to deal.
I will give a brief description of how the Clause works. It says that where a tenant has died, if either
the first successor leaves a widow who was residing with him at his death; or
the first successor is a woman or leaves no such widow but a member of his family was residing with him for not less than six months immediately before his death,
then the second successor can succeed to the regulated, and not to the old controlled, tenancy. If there is any dispute about a series of people who might claim to be the second successors, a county court arbitrates between them and decides who should succeed.
The effect of this as I see it, is that the second successor would be a regulated tenant having the full security of tenure of the old controlled tenant. However, he would pay the fair rent as fixed by the rent officer or the rent assessment committee. In some cases, he might be paying a larger rent, but, nevertheless, he would have the protection and security of tenure of the Rent Acts.
This is the removal of an anomaly and a piece of common humanity which I think, will present itself to the House as being a very desirable improvement to make.
My first reaction on reading this new Clause before the Report stage was one of surprise, and I asked myself why the Government had decided to bring the Clause in at this stage. Certainly, the matter was never raised at any time during the Committee stage of the Bill, nor does it fit in with the other provisions of the Rent Bill we are now discussing.
As the Parliamentary Secretary has himself admitted, the Clause is a wholly new provision. In previous Rent Acts—and, as he says, in the 1920 Rent Act—the succession of a statutory tenant has always been limited to the one step on the death of the tenant. Never has it been suggested that there could be further successions to a statutory tenancy. Yet, on Report, we have the Government bringing in a Clause which proposes to give protection under the Rent Acts for two successions to a controlled tenancy or a regulated tenancy.
I can see that the Clause as it stands would give security to grandchildren living in the house of a tenant who was either a statutory tenant or a regulated tenant. Assuming I understand the Clause aright, if that existing tenancy is a controlled tenancy, then although there may have been two successions on a death, both of which may mean a further generation on each occasion, still the rent would remain a controlled rent by 1957 standards.
The Clause states that on a second transmission the tenancy shall become a regulated tenancy, but subsection (3,a) says:
(3) The second successor (except in the case mentioned in subsection (5) of this section) shall be the tenant under a regulated tenancy, whether or not the tenancy mentioned in subsection (1) of this section was one to which the Rent Acts applied by virtue of section 1 of this Act; but where the Rent Acts applied to that tenancy apart from that section—
As I understand that provision, it means that, at the time of the second succession and unless any increase is given, a controlled rent would be the 1957 controlled rent.
(a) this Act shall apply in relation to the regulated tenancy as if the last rental period beginning before the death of the first successor had been a contractual period; and
As I say, my first reaction on seeing the Clause was one of surprise and inquiry as to why the Government should bring it in at this stage. The Parliamentary Secretary has given one reason for that in his speech, has referred to the case of a daughter living with her father and mother, the father being the tenant, and the parents dying rapidly one after the other, leaving an elderly daughter alone in the house. I concede at once that under the 1920 Act she would not be protected.
A fair comment that might be made on the hon. Gentleman's observation is that it is often said that hard cases do not make good law. Here it seems that the Government propose to change the law and as an explanation and justification for doing so give an extreme example of a hard case. If we consider the new Clause carefully, however, we find that far graver injustices are likely to be caused in normal circumstances to the landlord or owner of the premises than would be the case in the extreme hard case mentioned by the Parliamentary Secretary.
The hon. Gentleman perhaps paid me an unjustified compliment in believing that I was keeping up with the law reports. I cannot pretend to be aware of the case that he says has been dealt with this year by the courts, and reported, but he will have noticed that I was not unmindful of his second example—the father who died, the son becoming the statutory tenant and shortly afterwards dying, and the widow being left unprotected. He will note that, for the type of reason to which he has referred, my Amendment proposes to allow a second succession to a widow or widower.
Where I believe the Clause goes too far is in allowing the succession to go to the second generation. Let us take what is not an unextreme example. The wife of a man who is the tenant of the house predeceases him, but living in the house at the time of her death is the man's son, perhaps in his thirties. Under the 1920 Act, when the man dies the son becomes the first statutory tenant—that is the first succession. There, one has an immediate move of one generation.
That son marries and continues in the house until he dies, about 40 years later, leaving, in his turn, a son of 20. Under the new Clause, that grandchild of the first tenant would become a controlled tenant with the security of the Bill. That is an example of the succession going through two generations and covering about 60 years of control from the date of the death of the first tenant—
Will the hon. Gentleman explain why this is an evil? It is not sufficient merely to state that it happens for it to become an evil. If the tenant is to pay a fair rent, what is the harm in enabling the house to remain in the family, nor merely for as long as that but, indeed, indefinitely?
I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman would wish to be fair to me, and to quote me accurately. I have never suggested that the new Clause is evil. I was saying that while I appreciated that the Parliamentary Secretary's argument was based on a hard case, greater hardships were likely to be caused to the landlord or the owner if this new Clause were added to the Bill. I should like to develop my argument, having just given a possible example of control going through two full generations as a result of the operation of the new Clause.
What is the position of the person who has bought the premises with the intent himself of sometime living there? The hon. and learned Gentleman, when speaking to new Clause No. 11, himself gave the example of the person who owns the property and wants it for himself, for a member of the family, or for someone outside the immediate family circle—perhaps someone whom he employs. Under the present Rent Act he has to wait until the tenant dies. He has to wait for the death of the tenant's widow or member of the tenant's family who wishes to stay on before the benefit of control under the Rent Act ceases.
The hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but, with respect, that is so. I know that he can go to the court and offer alternative accommodation and things of that nature, but I am assuming that this person is under the Rent Act, that the owner wants the house for his own occupation, for some other person or even for redevelopment which is not covered under the 1933 Act. He has now got to wait before he can get possession, unless he proves one of the necessary grounds under the 1933 Act which do not cover redevelopment, for two generations to pass. I think that that may cause great hardship to the owner of those premises.
I will give another example. As I understand, the Bill at present would cover a service tenancy, although it would not cover a service occupancy. What is the position if, in fact, one has let a building on a service tenancy and the service tenant dies? That house, occupied as a service tenancy under this Clause, could continue to be controlled to a person no longer in the employment of the owner for a further two generations.
Surely the 1933 Act would apply to a service tenancy? It would be possible for the owner, provided that he needed the premises for another service tenant doing the same kind of job, to give notice under the 1933 Act.
I have never suggested that the grounds available under the 1933 Act are in any way affected by this Clause. What I am saying is that it is still retained in control for two generations without justification having been put up for it.
I would now ask the Parliamentary Secretary a question about agricultural tenancies. I accept that this Clause would not cover the agricultural tied cottage because that would be an occupancy rather than a tenancy, but what of the case which the Minister himself said he had some sympathy for earlier this afternoon, that of the farmhouse let to someone who is not an agricultural tenant? Maybe a farmer has this house or cottage on his farm and it becomes vacant and he decides to let it to someone who is not in agriculture rather than leave it vacant until he gets a new employee.
Under the Bill there is no means by which that farmer has a right to recover possession, and under this Clause it means that that farmhouse could remain for two generations protected by the Rent Acts when the farmer himself wants it for other reasons.
The final example I would put to the Parliamentary Secretary is more a question. Am I to understand that this Clause would cover mixed properties? We were told by the learned Attorney-General during the Committee stage that mixed properties had been specifically excluded from the Bill. But the new Clause talks about statutory tenancies "by virtue of the Rent Acts." Presumably that would, therefore, include mixed properties as being properties which have been under previous Rent Acts. Am I right in assuming that this Clause would refer to mixed properties and allow a second transmission on death in these cases?
I am grateful for that answer. I hope that it will not be thought by the Parliamentary Secretary that in proposing the Amendment and expressing my opposition to the new Clause in general I am in any way to be accused of being hard-hearted towards the difficult case. The purpose of my Amendment is specifically to cover the case where the widow or widower is left, as in this case, with a second transmission on death. The Clause seems to be purely based on the unfortunate type of circumstances which the Parliamentary Secretary foresees of the daughter living with her parents. To draft a new Clause which, in itself, would raise many hardships and difficulties for owners is completely wrong and to import at this stage into the Bill as a completely new principle is something which should be resisted.
I want to say a word of welcome, qualified welcome, to this new Clause. It is qualified because I think that it should go further. I have always taken the view that the decision of the court on the interpretation Section of the 1920 Act which led to the anomaly which this Clause seeks to put right was a bad decision. It was one with which I did not agree as a matter of construction, but that doubtless was my fault. I certainly did not agree with it as a matter of policy.
In so far as the new Clause removes part of the anomaly, I welcome it, but I see no reason whatever why it should not go all the way. Now that we are introducing a system of regulation and fair rents which remain fair for years and are capable of alteration, I see no reason why the Clause should not go the whole way and enable the family to remain in the house which it regards as its home so long as the family exists and so long as the landlord has not got grounds for claiming possession provided in the Rent Acts.
The hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) ignored the very strong grounds under which a landlord can obtain possession, grounds of greater hardship where he requires the house for his own occupation or to a member of his family and so on.
My experience, which arises from the burden of proof under the Rent Acts, is that it is necessary for the landlord to prove, first, that he requires possession of the house for himself or a member of his family. It is then for the tenant to show that he would suffer greater hardship if an order were made than if it were not made. The burden is at that stage shifted to the tenant. In my experience, if there is a fair balance between the hardship on the landlord and on the tenant it must follow that the landlord's hardship will prevail. That certainly frequently happens.
That is only one of the grounds upon which an order for possession can be made and that order will continue to be available to the landlord however many times the succession passes in favour of a member of the tenant's family as a successor to the tenant.
Accepting that these grounds under the 1933 Act can still exist, would the hon. and learned Member apply his mind to the other matter I raised, the question of the landlord requiring the house for development of an area in which other tenancies have fallen in? Surely he would agree that at the moment the landlord would have no power under the 1933 Act to gain possession? Is it right that possible redevelopment should be held up for 50 or 60 years as in the example I gave?
That is the position which applies under the existing legislation. It applies in the course of a contractual tenancy and in the course of a statutory tenancy which follows and it applies in the course of a succession statutory tenancy which follows. Under this Clause it will apply in relation to a further succession if there is one. I would like to see it applied throughout the life of the house.
The acquisition of a house for the purposes of redevelopment of part of an area which requires redevelopment is something which should come under quite separate legislation, such as town planning legislation of housing legislation. Legislation for the benefit of the developer may well be introduced in due course. I cannot speak about it, because I have no idea what the legislation will contain.
As the law stands today there are powers which enable authorities to obtain a house in these circumstances if an area is required to be redeveloped. Apart from the case which the hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) has put forward—and I recognise the force of that—there is no difficulty whatever in adapting the provision of the Rent Acts and the rights that landlords have under the Acts to succession of statutory tenancies to prevent families being driven out of their homes and what, as the years go by, they regard more and more as their homes. In the past, this has happened at a purely arbitrary time and under this Clause will continue to happen at a purely arbitrary time although it will be deferred a little longer.
I hope that when the Minister further considers the Clause with the Attorney General he will see whether it is possible to make a further Amendment of the type which I have suggested. No doubt it could be made in another place, so that there would be no arbitrary stop after this second succession.
I want to draw the attention of the House to the fact that that is what we are not doing. The ordinary landlord or the investment company is only too happy to have continuity of tenants and one family generation after another. Good landlords welcome that; indeed, some of our noble estates have been built up in that way and we welcome it.
What has been the trouble in the past is that the privilege of living in a house has carried with it the special privilege of rent. The Minister, in an earlier debate, having quietened down his Left wing, made them appreciate that one of the major points of the Bill is to adjust rents to fair rent and then, as far as the landlord is concerned, there is not the same objection to having a sitting tenant.
It is necessary to draw the House's attention to another class—the class of people who want a house. Hon. Members opposite have an obsession that once a person is in a house everything should be done to keep him there. They overlook the fact that there is another generation which wants houses and that it may be better to release houses for them and not pass them on to the second or third generation.
This is what I find the greatest difficulty in pressing on the hon. Gentlemen opposite. They believe, quite honestly, because they do not understand otherwise, that once a person is in a house he has the right, for all time, to live in that house. That may be so. But so long as we have Socialist ideas which are holding up house building, so long will we have under-privileged classes who have not got possession of houses.
In considering the Clause, we should pay special attention not to the sitting tenant, but to the one who may have a greater need. If the House is satisfied that that situation can be dealt with I would have no objection to the Clause.
I am rather interested, by this Clause, to see the conversion of the Socialist Party to the hereditary principle. When one recollects the animosity that it displayed towards hereditary peerages, and the matter of the discontinuance of the hereditary baronetcy, it is most amusing, if it were not so tragic in other respects, to see its great advocacy of the hereditary tenancy. I want to support my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain), with a short example, which could well be a possible result if this Clause is accepted.
I postulate, for the purpose of my example. An affected house is let in 1915, which is the first year of control, to a man of 25. In 1970, he, having continued as tenant, dies at the age of 80. His wife having predeceased him, the tenancy will pass, under existing law, to an unmarried son living with him, aged 40. If we go a stage further and say that this man of 40 gets married, and, as middle-aged men often do, he selects a wife considerably younger than himself, aged 25, he may remain in occupation for a further 10 years. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not for long."] I suppose that my constitution is better than that of the hon. Gentleman who interrupted.
This is a matter of simple arithmetic. There are 50 years in the first tenancy and 40 in the second. That makes a total of 90 and a possible 20 or 25 years further in the third tenancy. This means that the house, let in 1915, will not become vacant, under the terms of this Clause potentially, until the year 2030. [An HON. MEMBER: "The house will then be knocked down."] That might very well be the end of it. But on letting to a tenant a landlord is prevented from having arty benefit from his property for over 100 years until a Socialist council knocks it down. What a marvellous sort of future in which landlords might contemplate the possibility of getting anything out of their property! It must be remembered they will not get anything out of it in the way of rent. The whole basis of the Bill is that the landlord will always have less rent than the true market price. This will be exactly what the Bill seeks to set up. Never be a landlord again. Any time a person in the country lets property on a tenancy he wants his head examined. As a right hon. and learned Friend of mine said in another capacity, he is plainly "bonkers."
I am surprised at my hon. Friend. The landlord would be worn out long before that. That is a factor to which the Rent Act legislation will contribute considerably.
This really is a piece of Socialist folly. There is no real hardship, despite the Court of Appeal case which has been quoted, in the ordinary way in saying that when a statutory tenancy has passed once, it is not unreasonable for the landlord, whether he be the original landlord or, as is quite often the case, a successor two or three times removed, to have the right to get something out of his property.
We have this obsession against eviction. The Minister seems to picture landlords and bailiffs rushing round the country throwing people out of houses. I have been a country solicitor for 35 years. I have only once evicted anybody without a court order, and on that occasion my client was a local co-operative society. A lot of what I call the preparatory background to the Bill is entirely fiction. These things just do not happen, except in a few cases where, possibly, coloured landlords exploit their own people.
Of course I have. Everybody has heard of him. Had the Government adopted his Report in the true sense in which it was written, we should have had a much better Bill than this.
The difficulty about the Clause is the effect that it will have on people who might let houses or who might be approached by tenants for a concession. If they know the law—and landlords do know the law; in most cases they are properly advised—they will know that if they do something to let a house, in the terms of the Clause they will never in their lifetime, or their grandsons in theirs, see that house again.
Therefore, I ask the Minister to have second thoughts. Does he think that he is doing any good to the people whose interests he wants to protect by making the law so absurdly harsh that nobody will comply with it? Anybody who lets a house after the Bill is law and finds himself in trouble will have only himself to blame.
When dealing with social questions of this type, is it not better for the Government not to be so biased that everything they do is directed to helping those social classes who, they think, vote for them and entirely to abandon any justice to those who provide housing accommodation? That is what the Bill will do, and that is the worst thing about it. It is biased in conception, as it will be in execution. It will institute a system of people's courts staffed by Socialists and retired trade unionists who will take their prejudices with them into the courtroom and in that way create, not the good will that should exist, and in many cases does exist, between landlords and tenants, but a festering sore which will remain on the Statute Book until the party on this side of the House corrects it.
I did not intend to intervene in this debate, but I have been goaded to do so by some of the speeches from this side of the House. Hon. Members who have spoken in this debate must have been reading too much Galsworthy. They have presented to the House a picture of tenants who marry at a late age, and whose children subsequently do the same, so that the span between generations is fantastic.
The hon. Lady the Member for Tyne-mouth (Dame Irene Ward) who popped into the Chamber and asked a question while we were in the middle of our arithmetic, reminded me of the old riddle, "What was the name of the engine driver?". The remarkable think about this whole discussion is how tenants manage to retain their potency until such an advanced age, whereas landlords are exhausted before their time. I think that an hon. Member of this side of the House put his finger on it when he asked, "Why should the landlords mind, as long as they are getting a fair rent?", and that is what the Bill is about.
We are not talking about controlled tenancies where the rent is artificially depressed and the landlord is deprived of a proper income from his property. Long before we get to that stage these properties will have passed from the old control into regulation, or at least I hope so. I am not contemplating a situation where old control lasts for 40 years. I imagine that within five or 10 years the whole of the United Kingdom will have passed from old control into regulation, and this is what some hon. Gentlemen opposite were objecting to when we were talking about the last new Clause. We cannot have it both ways. Either this will happen and these landlords will receive a fair rent and they will have nothing to grumble about when the tenants continue in occupation, or we got the whole thing wrong on the last new Clause, so I do not think that we should quarrel with this new Clause.
As for saying that these tenants should make way for somebody else who is in greater need, I do not think that the people who say that have any concept of the housing situation in this country. Where do they think that the people who are displaced will go? Do they think that because a young couple are to move into property which has been occupied by the same family for 50 years that that family will find it easy to find alternative accommodation? Or will they be made homeless? How does this help us to solve the housing situation? I would be grateful if they would explain this, because we heard this attitude expressed by the hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) when we were discussing this in Committee. He did not deign to enlighten we as to where the displaced tenants would go.
There is no such thing as greater need. We should put that out of our minds, and decide that until the housing shortage is solved one does not help by seeking to displace one class of tenants by making way for somebody else. Local authorities do not do this. Good landlords do not do it. It is a matter of waiting one's turn, and I am afraid—
Is not the hon. Gentleman arguing wholly contrary to what he said on the first group of Amendments when he was arguing the case of the person who bought a property with the intention of using it as a residence for himself? It is not only a question of a fair rent. It may be that the person has bought the house and wishes to move into it. With the second succession being allowed, he might not get the chance to live there.
It is not possible to get true mobility in conditions of a shortage of housing. The hon. Gentleman will remember that the landlord must have lived in the house to qualify for the benefit provided by new Clause 1. I think that when the hon. Gentleman reflects on the matter he will realise that that new Clause is not relevant to the issues that we are discussing now.
I am sorry that I have spoken for so long, but I felt that I could not allow the ridiculous remarks that we have heard from this side of the House to pass without some comment.
With the leave of the House, perhaps I might reply to some of the points which have been raised.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin) rebuked me for not having gone further to extend the protection to other successions. As the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) said earlier, if one tries to steer a middle way, one gets kicked from both sides. I agree that there is a good case for saying that one might have extended this to other successions, but at least the other side has been put in this debate.
At least we are trying to do something. We recognise the extent of the problem and we are tackling it, which has not been done for 14 years. We claim some credit for having done that. At least this gives time for a family to take some steps to look around. If the two parents die, at least for the lifetime of the daughter or the eldest son—whoever has lived in the house—the rest of the family will have time to look for somewhere else to go.
The hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) said that this matter had not been mentioned in Committee. That is not quite correct.
That is a pity. I had a good quotation about it; the hon. Member has just saved himself.
The main point is that there are various grounds for obtaining possession. Many have been discussed in Committee, and were laid down in the 1933 Act. There are grounds concerning a service tenancy which is wanted for another servant. There is the case of the person who wants the accommodation for his own family, and there is the factor of greater hardship. I would have thought it reasonable to say that some cases of this sort were tremendously pathetic—as was the case of the old lady of 68, to which I have referred—and others not so difficult, where there was less excuse for the existing tenant staying.
Surely the right thing to do is to let the county court arbitrate. If one believes in the rule of law surely one takes the view that these matters should go to the county courts, where the judges can arbitrate on the question where the greater hardship lies.
The Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Runcorn would extend the provisions to a widower who married a widow who, in the circumstances that we have been describing, did not survive for six months after the marriage, so that the widower could not claim protection as a member of the family. The hon. Member would include that sort of person but would exclude the case where the elder daughter succeeded her brother. That would not be covered by the Amendment.
From time to time we all apply our minds to the problem of how to solve our grievous housing problem. I pride myself on having had 10 years' experience on a local authority. From time to time we ask ourselves how this situation, that we find so difficult to solve, came about. I have found the answer to that question tonight, in the contributions we have had from the hon. Member for Folkestone (Mr. Costain) and the hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Talbot). They have expressed precisely the attitude of mind of those who look upon a person's home as some sort of privilege for him. They regard the average person with a roof over his head as being privileged. That is the attitude of mind which created this problem.
If we can get rid of this sort of feeling we may be able to make a reasonable contribution towards the solution of the problem. Many a person believes that the house in which his father lived, and his father before that lived in, is his home. He looks upon it in those simple terms and calls it "our house". Such people have made a great contribution, through different generations, in paying for the original cost of the house—by way of rent and repairs—over and over again. This House should acknowledge that. That is why I hope that all sensible Members of the House will not oppose the Clause. It guarantees a sense of decency in a Bill which we urgently require.
The hon. and learned Member for Dulwich (Mr. S. C. Silkin) was quite right. Why have this hereditary principle for tenants which is now being proclaimed by the Labour Party only for the second succession? Why not recognise successions indefinitely, "even unto the third and fourth generation"—I do not know whether I ought to complete that quotation—"of them that hate me"? Why not, in the new principle proclaimed by the Liberal Party, disregard altogether the owner's right to property?
The Joint Parliamentary Secretary was about to quote something from the report of the Committee proceedings, which, I imagine, was a quotation from a statement of mine—
But that was an entirely different point. I should not like to think that, by raising that point, I had put the present Clause into the mind of the Government. The existing law as to the first succession has stood for 45 years, since the 1920 Act. As my hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) said, one hard case does not make good law. He put forward a very clear argument to show how this would cause grave injustice to owners after a period in which the house had passed from one member of the tenant's family to another.
|Division No. 219.]||AYES||[11.57 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Ford, Ben||Lubbock, Eric|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Freeson, Reginald||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Galpern, Sir Myer||McBride, Neil|
|Atkinson, Norman||Garrett, W. E.||McCann, J.|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Garrow, A.||MacColl, James|
|Baxter, William||George, Lady Megan Lloyd||McGuire, Michael|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Ginsburg, David||Mackenzie, George (Rutherglen)|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Binns, John||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Marion, Simon (Bootle)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Manuel, Archie|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mapp, Charles|
|Boardman, H.||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||May hew, Christopher|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Hannan, William||Mellish, Robert|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Harper, Joseph||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Millan, Bruce|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)||Hazell, Bert||Milne, Edward (Blyth)|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)||Heffer, Eric S.||Molloy, William|
|Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)||Holman, Percy||Morris, Charles (Openshaw)|
|Buchanan, Richard||Hooson, H. E.||Morris, John (Aberavon)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Horner, John||Murray, Albert|
|Coleman, Donald||Howie, W.||Neal, Harold|
|Conlan, Bernard||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Norwood, Christopher|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.||Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||O'Malley, Brian|
|Dalyell, Tam||Jackson, Colin||Orme, Stanley|
|Davies, C. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.)||Oswald Thomas|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Padley, Walter|
|Dell, Edmund||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)|
|Doig, Peter||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Edelman, Maurice||Jones, T. w. (Merioneth)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Kelley, Richard||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Ennals, David||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Pentland, Norman|
|Ensor, David||Ledger, Ron||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Evans, Ioan (Birmingham, Yardley)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Fernyhough, E.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Probert, Arthur|
|Finch, Harold (Bedwellty)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Rankin, John|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lomas, Kenneth||Rees, Merlyn|
|Reynolds, G. W.||Steel, David (Roxburgh)||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Rhodes, Geoffrey||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Swain, Thomas||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Swingler, Stephen||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Robertson, John (Paisley)||Symonds, J. B.||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Robinson, Rt. Hn. K. (St. Pancras, N.)||Taverne, Dick||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Rose, Paul B.||Thorpe, Jeremy||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Rowland, Christopher||Tinn, James||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Sheldon, Robert||Tomney, Frank||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Shore, Peter (Stepney)||Varley, Eric G.||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)||Wainwright, Edwin||Zilliacus, K.|
|Silkin, John (Deptford)||Walden, Brian (Ail Saints)|
|Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Watkins, Tudor||Mr. Lawson and Mr. Grey.|
|Small, William||Weitzman, David|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Glover, Sir Douglas||Murton, Oscar|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Neave, Airey|
|Astor, John||Goodhart, Philip||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Awdry, Daniel||Coodhew, Victor||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)|
|Balniel, Lord||Gower, Raymond||Peel, John|
|Batsford, Brian||Grant-Ferris, R.||Percival, Ian|
|Bell, Ronald||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)||Peyton, John|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Gurden, Harold||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Biffen, John||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Pym, Francis|
|Bingham, R. M.||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Blaker, Peter||Hay, John||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Hendry, Forbes||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Braine, Bernard||Higgins, Terence L.||Stainton, Keith|
|Brooke, Rt. Hn. Henry||Hirst, Geoffrey||Stanley, Hn. Richard|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Iremonger, T. L.||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Buck, Antony||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Talbot, John E.|
|Campbell, Gordon||Johnson Smith, G. (East Grinstead)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Carlisle, Mark||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Cole, Norman||Kirk, Peter||Walder, David (High Peak)|
|Cooke, Robert||Kitson, Timothy||Walker, Peter (Worcester)|
|Corfield, F. V.||Lambton, Viscount||Wall, Patrick|
|Costain, A. P.||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Walters, Dennis|
|Crawley, Aidan||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Webster, David|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Longden, Gilbert||Whitelaw, William|
|Curran, Charles||Loveys, Walter H.||Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Dance, James||McNair-Wilson, Patrick||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)||Maginnis, John E.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Wise, A. R.|
|Doughty, Charles||Mathew, Robert||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Drayson, G. B.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. c.||Wylie, N. R.|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Eyre, Reginald||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Farr, John||Mitchell, David||Mr. MacArthur and|
|Foster, Sir John||More, Jasper||Mr. Dudley Smith.|
I beg to move,
That further consideration of the Bill be now adjourned.
I make this Motion for the conventional purpose of eliciting from the Government what their intentions are. We have already done a substantial day's work, which has, of course, been devoted to the Government's business: we have been
dealing with a number of the new Clauses and Amendments which the Government have put down. It would be for the convenience of the House to know what the right hon. Gentleman's intentions are, whether, following a fairly protracted sitting last night, it is his intention to repeat it, or whether he considers that this would be a convenient point at which to break off, to resume our deliberations tomorrow.
The progress seems to me to have been quite satisfactory. These have all been important discussions. Three at least of the main issues are now behind us. What we have got through is greater in quality than in quantity. As the right hon. Gentleman said, they have been Government proposals, improved, I do not deny, by the House. Now we have got these behind us, and I have every hope that when we have got the rest of the new Clauses behind us and get to the Bill itself the excellent work on the new Clauses will have effect on the speed with which we proceed with the Clauses of the Bill itself.
What we have agreed we need to do is to get the Bill completed by seven or eight o'clock on Wednesday afternoon—this afternoon. It is for the convenience of the House, really, whether we run right through or have a break. What we do will depend, of course, on the speed with which we get on. I have every hope, therefore, that as we proceed we shall be able to go a little faster—in terms of quantity—without destroying quality. I intend to proceed till we get a substantial way through the Bill so that we keep to the timetable and complete the Report stage as agreed.
I think that it is necessary for me to make something quite clear. No doubt by a slip of the tongue, the right hon. Gentleman suggested we had agreed to get the Bill by a certain hour this afternoon, Wednesday—or, indeed, at any time today. That, of course, is not the case. It is our intention, and the right hon. Gentleman has indicated that we have carried it out, not unduly to prolong the discussion of the Bill. He himself has acknowledged that we have had very good discussions so far. But there is a great deal of work still before us.
The Government have put down no fewer than 60 new Clauses and Amendments, many of which undoubtedly improve the Bill. But the mere labour of putting them, apart from any discussion on them, does mean that, inevitably, they will consume a certain amount of time. There are then the Amendments which my hon. Friends have tabled. This is an inevitable consequence of having a measure like this in Standing Committee, a proposal which was against our wishes. Hon. Members who, otherwise, would have had a chance of putting their constituents' point of view in Committee, have taken the only opportunity open to them and put their Amendments on Report.
If the right hon. Gentleman insists, and his majority persists, of course he can take the proceedings of the Bill right through the night. If he does that it will certainly not deter us from doing our duty in giving the Bill the proper examination which it needs. Not only does it affect intimately the lives of a great mass of our fellow countrymen, but it was, when it was originally brought in, probably the worst drafted Bill seen in this Parliament.
We have improved the Bill in some small measure, and there are a great many further improvements to be made either in darkness or in daylight, as the right hon. Gentleman wishes. The matter lies with him and I therefore beg leave to withdraw the Motion.