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Clause 15—(Application To Scotland)

Volume 462: debated on Monday 7 March 1949

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I beg to move, in page 13, line 8, to leave out "Section eight," and to insert, "Sections four, eight and nine."

This Amendment is consequential upon the first of the Government's new Clauses.

We now come to what we may call the "tartan and heather" part of the Bill. Could the right hon. Gentleman indicate in what way the new Clause to which he referred will alter the position in Scotland? As he knows, the position in Scotland is not at all the same as it is in England. I think he himself has said that it is very doubtful whether this Bill will have any real application to Scotland at all.

I do not think that really arises out of this Amendment, because the Amendment is purely a drafting Amendment to bring in various Clauses in place of the ones originally there. With respect, I doubt very much whether on this drafting Amendment it would be in Order to go into the whole merits of the application of the Bill to Scotland.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 13, line 11, leave out "Section six," and insert, "Sections three, six and seven."

This may not be quite the appropriate place, but at some point in this series of Amendments I think it would be only reasonable if the Lord Advocate or the Secretary of State were to indicate how the Amendments which have been made, and which we are now applying to Scotland, bear upon the problem in Scotland. I think it is only reasonable that those who read our proceedings later should not have to dodge backwards and forwards through the report of our discussions to find the application of these Amendments. It should be possible to have a succinct explanation of the way in which these Amendments made in the Bill, now being made to apply to Scotland, will effect the position there.

Would it not be more convenient, if the Lord Advocate proposes to explain, for him to do so on the next Amendment which seems to have more substance in it?

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in line 37, at the end, to insert:

"(4) Section (Special provisions as to premiums paid to a predecessor of the landlord) of this Act shall have effect as if for subsection (3) there were substituted the following subsection—
'(3) In this Section the expression "reversion," in relation to the grant, continuance or renewal of a tenancy of a dwelling-house means the estate or interest in the dwelling-house, which immediately after the grant, continuance or renewal of the tenancy belonged to the immediate landlord of the tenant under the tenancy.' "
This is also consequential. It brings the machinery Clause into being with a view to defining the term "reversion" so far as it applies to Scotland.

I was only too ready to defer to your suggestion, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that on some Amendment—it may be this or the next—some words of explanation should be given by the Secretary of State, but I do really think that in a matter so intricate, where the law differs so much in the two Kingdoms, such words of explanation should be given as to how these Amendments affect the position in Scotland. I do not think it is an unreasonable request to make, and I do trust that before we pass the Amendments relating to Scotland it will be possible for the Secretary of State or the Lord Advocate to give us some short survey of the matter.

I am not quite clear how it would be in Order on the Amendments I have been moving so far. They are purely machinery Amendments which adapt to Scotland what the House has already decided. This Amendment puts into Scottish terms what the House decided to do on the first Government Amendment tonight. I do not know whether the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would like us to describe the whole difference between the Scottish and English administration in this matter on these Amendments?

No. I do not think it is necessary to go into all those details. However, I did imagine that on one of these two Amendments, which appear to be of some substance, the right hon. Gentleman or the Lord Advocate might—it is a matter entirely for them—explain the application to Scotland of what the House has done in the previous Amendments in relation to England.

I wonder if the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would make a little clearer what he wants in more precise terms. Is he asking for a rather general, over-all description of the two systems of law?

I speak again by leave of the House. I do so for the purpose of clarification. I do not wish to have a description of the state of the law as it differs between the two countries. However, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health will bear me out when I say that we have been discussing tonight some Amendments of substance. We did not then ask for an explanation of their bearing on and application to the northern Kingdom, believing and hoping that when we came to the Clause applying them to Scotland it would be convenient to the House to have that explained then, when all these things could be brought together, and all the various Amendments which have been made by the Minister could be explained at once in their relation to Scotland. We are entitled to ask the Secretary of State or the Lord Advocate to give the House some short survey of how these matters will affect the position in Scotland.

I hesitate, not through any lack of willingness to comply with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's wishes, but because I feel that I should be entirely out of Order in trying to give an explanation of the effect of three new Clauses in this Bill on an Amendment which deals with one new Clause. The only effect of this particular Amendment, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will appreciate, is to apply in Scottish equivalent terms the English terms contained in the new Clause with regard to the special provisions as to a premium paid to the predecessor of the landlord. The effect is merely to translate into Scottish terminology, the terminology of subsection (3) of that new Clause. I do not think that there is any particular difficulty in that respect. We have merely used in this Amendment the translation of the word "reversion" contained in the new Clause as meaning:

"estate or interest in the dwelling-house, which immediately after the grant, continuance or renewal of the tenancy belonged to the immediate landlord of the tenant under the tenancy."
That is the only effect of the Amendment. It makes it perfectly clear how this new Clause will apply to Scotland. If I may repeat the expression used by the Minister of Health, I feel that despite the seduction put forward by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, I should be out of Order if I went beyond the confines of this Clause.

Amendment agreed to.

I beg to move, in page 13, line 41, leave out from "(3)," to end of line, and insert:

"(4), (5) and (6) were omitted; and
(iii) there were inserted after subsection (2) the following subsection—
'(3) Section eight of the Rent of Furnished Houses (Control) (Scotland) Act, 1943 (which relates to certificates as to premises entered in the register kept under subsection (4) of Section two of that Act), shall have effect as if the reference to that register included a reference to the register kept under this Section '."

It occurs to me that it might be simpler, and it would get us out of the difficulty, if, these Amendments having been made to the Clause, the Clause as amended were put to the House.

That puts us in some slight difficulty because we allowed the two earlier Amendments to pass, where references to this Clause were actually inserted, and the Lord Advocate now claims that it would be out of Order for him to attempt to give the House any general indication of the bearing of those Amendments on the two more limited Amendments which followed. I cannot say that I consider the procedure is satisfactory, or that we have had an explanation which this House is entitled to have when a Clause of great importance to Scotland, applying a Bill which has been moved in terms of English legislation, is sought to be written into the statute. I trust that the Lord Advocate, even on the last Amendment, will find it possible to make some sort of survey of the position as it is now left by the statute which we have before us; otherwise we are left in a very unsatisfactory position.

I cannot understand the complaints of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman about the procedure being unsatisfactory. I make no comment as to whether or not that reflects on you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.

With the utmost respect it cannot reflect on Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Any reflection on the Chair would be totally out of place, and I am sure, Sir, that you would be the first to draw attention to it.

6.45 p.m.

I always understood, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you were the master of procedure in these Debates. If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had wished to get an explanation of the application of these new Clauses to Scotland, then when we were examining these new Clauses he might then have asked in what respect they applied to Scotland, and what differences, if any, there were. He did not do so. We should have been quite willing at the appropriate time to make the explanation. I say that in all sincerity to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman.

With regard to this particular Amendment, the explanation is perfectly simple. Under Clause 6, the new subsection (4) has been introduced applying Section 11 of the English Act of 1946, to the Register to be kept under that Clause. The effect of Section 11 of the 1946 Act provides that a certified copy of an entry in the register kept under that Act shall be receivable in evidence in all courts and in any proceedings. We, in Scotland, in the 1943 Act have a similar provision under Section 8 which provides:
"A document purporting to be a certificate signed by the clerk or other authorised officer of a Tribunal relating to any premises entered in the Register shall, until the contrary is shown, be deemed to have been signed by such clerk or other officer, and shall be sufficient evidence of the matter therein contained."
The only effect of this Amendment is to apply the rule of Section 8 of the 1943 Act to the register which we have now incorporated under Clause 6 of this Bill.

Amendment agreed to.