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New Clause—(Limitation Of Liability Of Trustees, Etc, For Expenses Of Local Authorities In Certain Cases)

Volume 527: debated on Monday 17 May 1954

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  • (1) Where in pursuance of any enactment (whether contained in a public general Act or in a local Act) a local authority seek to recover from any person as being the person for the time being entitled to receive, or Who would if the same were let be entitled to receive, the rents of any premises, being a house or a building which contains a house or a part of such a building, the expenses incurred by the authority in the execution of works in relation to the premises, then, if that person proves—
  • (a) that he is receiving the rents merely as trustee, factor, tutor, curator or agent for some other person, or as liquidator of a company; and
  • (b) that he has not, and since the date of the service on him of a demand for payment of the expenses aforesaid has not had, in his hands on behalf of that other person or, in the case of a liquidator of a company, on behalf of the creditors of the company sufficient funds, rents and other assets to discharge the whole demand of the authority;
  • his liability shall, notwithstanding anything in the said enactment, be limited to the total amount of the funds, rents and other assets which he has, or has had, in his hands as aforesaid.
  • (2) Nothing in the foregoing subsection shall prejudice or affect any right of a local authority to recover from any person other than such a trustee, factor, tutor, curator or agent or liquidator as aforesaid the whole or any part of any expenses recoverable by them in pursuance of any such enactment as afore said or otherwise.
  • (3) The proviso to subsection (3) of section eight of the principal Act shall cease to have effect.—[The Lord Advocate.]
  • Brought up, and read the First time.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    The purpose of this Clause is to make clear the position of persons holding property including houses, in a fiduciary capacity, that is to say, holding them on behalf of some other persons. There was a recent decision in the Sheriff Court in Glasgow as a result of which, it is anticipated, were that decision to be left standing, that persons in a fiduciary capacity such as are covered by this Clause might be reluctant to act in that capacity in view of their possibly being made personally liable for expenses of works on the property.

    The effect of this Clause is to limit the liability of trustees and persons acting in a fiduciary capacity of that kind where a local authority, under statutory powers, carries out necessary works on house property and seeks to make trustees or persons in a fiduciary capacity personally liable for these expenses. The Clause would limit the liability of these persons to the total amount of the funds, rent or other assets in their hands as trustees, which appears to be a perfectly fair and reasonable limitation upon their liability. Certainly, it should remove the reluctance which the recent decision in the Sheriff Court might otherwise have upon people acting in a fiduciary capacity. The last thing we want to do is to prevent people from undertaking that task.

    The limitation in question has already been accepted in other Acts; for instance, the Water (Scotland) Act, 1946, has a similar limitation, the Housing Act, 1950, has a limitation of this kind, and there is a modified limitation in Section 58 of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1903. I feel that the justice of the limitation proposed in this new Clause will appeal to the Committee.

    We have all listened to the explanation of the Lord Advocate with great interest, and I feel sure that the Committee will have no difficulty in agreeing that the principle on this new Clause is generally acceptable.

    I would not have said anything about it had it not been that there is one point which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has not noticed, which may make the Clause less acceptable to the Committee. It is the provision that this Clause of limitation of liability shall apply to the liquidator of a company. That does not appear in the 1950 Act, to which the Lord Advocate referred. The Clause should not apply to a liquidator of a company, because there has recently occurred to several clever persons in the West of Scotland a method of getting rid of obligations which they would have as owners of dilapidated property.

    That method is to transfer the property for a nominal sum to a company. It is possible to float a company with a few pounds, or purely nominal capital. The property is transferred and the company then goes into liquidation, having no assets and indeed no purpose other than to receive this property. The result is that the liquidator simply says to the corporation, the superior or other person who, otherwise, would be entitled to come against the owners of the property, "I have no assets other than this bankrupt concern. You cannot proceed against me."

    It is possible under certain Acts, both public and private, to make such a liquidator liable not only for the property which has come into his hands but personally. I am sure that it is not the intention of the Government to permit this and I am informed that it has happened within the last year or two. I suggest to the Government that either they do not press the new Clause at the moment or, if they feel that that is asking too much, that they give an undertaking to delete all reference to a liquidator in paragraphs (a) and (b.) Then the Clause would apply, as Section 8 of the 1950 Act applies, to persons who are properly described as
    "… trustee, factor, tutor, curator or agent for some other person,…"
    and their liability would be limited to the funds which come into their hands. I feel that that would be agreeable to the Committee and if the Lord Advocate could give that undertaking I do not think that it would be necessary to spend any further time on the Clause.

    I believe that to exclude liquidators would be to create a very anomalous situation. A trustee in bankruptcy will have this limitation of liability and I see no justification in reason or logic for excluding a similar limitation in the case of a liquidator.

    Let us take the case, which the hon. and learned Member for Paisley (Mr. D. Johnston) figured, of a transfer of property for some nominal sum to a limited company which then goes into liquidation. Why, in those circumstances, should the liquidator be made personally liable? As the law stands, the very fact of his appointment as a liquidator would be enough to make him personally liable. The inevitable conclusion is that we shall not get reputable people undertaking the task of being a liquidator. It is far better to limit the liability of the liquidator, particularly in the case to which the hon. and learned Member referred, to the amount of the sums with which he intermits. We shall then have a case of this kind properly wound up by a reputable liquidator who will disclose and administer the situation.

    There will be methods available, and there are methods under the Companies Act, for bringing the real pirates to book in a case of that kind. We shall secure that if we have limited liability for the liquidator, because then we shall have a proper kind of liquidating, which we shall not have if we exclude this liability. Therefore, it seems to me that the Committee would be far better advised to put the liquidator in the same position as the trustee or some other person in a fiduciary capacity and give him the benefit of confining his liability to the amount of the funds.

    8.15 p.m.

    Under what Section of the Companies Act would it be possible to proceed against a director of a company of the kind that I have envisaged, or the liquidator? So far as I am aware, it would be quite impossible to proceed against these fraudulent companies, or the directors thereof.

    I am surprised that the hon. and learned Gentleman thinks that the law of Scotland is so deficient that it cannot supply a remedy where there is a case of fraud. What happens in that case is that a reputable liquidator who undertakes the liquidation reports to the Crown Office in cases of fraud and those cases are then considered properly. If we do not have reputable liquidators undertaking the task the whole matter may not come to the light of day. If fraudulent activities of that kind are going on, it is far better that they should be disclosed and reported to the Crown Office where criminal proceedings, if necessary, are taken.

    The right hon. and learned Gentleman has mentioned fraud and I see how fraud can be dealt with, but under what Section of the Companies Act is it possible to proceed? I have a fair knowledge of the Act and have spent as long, if not a great deal longer, at the Crown Office than has the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and I know of no case that can be dealt with under that Act where there is a transfer to a company and, to avoid liability, the company has gone into liquidation.

    I oppose the new Clause and I hope that the Government will take it back for reconsideration. I respectfully agree with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. D. Johnston) on the soundness of the principle which it is sought to enshrine in the new Clause. I do not propose to enter into discussion about liquidators, beyond saying that I think that the Lord Advocate will find that liquidators are adequately protected without the Clause.

    I oppose the Clause on other grounds. I am against it, because I think that it will put local authorities into an intolerable position. It will place upon them a burden which will increase their expense and trouble. It will necessitate further law costs and increases of staff. Local authorities have quite enough to do without the added burdens which the Clause would place upon them. The new Clause is bad because it treats local authorities in an invidious way. It would be too difficult to administer and too expensive. Let us consider some of the burdens which the new Clause would place upon them.

    Would the hon. and learned Gentleman give way a moment? I am trying to follow him and I am having some difficulty. To which new Clause is he speaking?

    And that is what I am dealing with. I am sorry that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's mind is not sufficiently alert to realise what the Committee is discussing and what the arguments pro and con are. It is really not a matter for people like the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. It is more a matter for the learned Lord Advocate, who has been dealing with it up to the moment. I am at a loss to understand why the right hon. and gallant Gentleman intervenes to try to grapple with something which is beyond his comprehension.

    I was pointing to some of the difficulties that will confront local authorities if this new Clause passes. Take the first three lines:
    "Where in pursuance of any enactment (whether contained in a public general Act or in a local Act) a local authority seek to recover from any person as being the person for the time being entitled to receive."
    How is the local authority to find out what entitlement means? What is entitlement within the meaning of the third line of the Clause? How is that title to be established? Is it to be established by documents, or oral evidence and what tribunal is to establish it? This Clause should be rejected because it places too great a burden on the local authorities, it would increase their legal expenses, necessitate an increase in their staffs and their administration generally.

    I turn to line 3:
    "or who would if the same were let be entitled to receive, the rents of any premises, being a house or a building which contains a house or a part of such a building, the expenses incurred by the authority in the execution of works in relation to the premises, then, if that person proves—
    (a) that he is receiving the rents merely as trustee, factor, tutor, curator or agent for some other person, or as liquidator of a company;"
    How is he to prove that? That, again, would necessitate a great deal of proof and a great deal of evidence. Is it to be written evidence, or oral evidence and to the satisfaction of what tribunal? What tribunal is to hear and determine this and, when a tribunal has heard and determined it, will it be final and conclusive, or is there to be an appeal to some other tribunal? All this is opaque. It will place undue burdens and costs on the local authority. The Clause also states, under (b):
    "that he has not, and since the date of the service on him of a demand for payment of the expenses aforesaid has not had. in his hands on behalf of that other person or, in the case of a liquidator of a company, on behalf of the creditors of the company sufficient funds, rents and other assets to discharge the whole demand of the authority:"
    Who is to determine that? What evidence is to be adduced with regard to that? It does not even say who is to prove it, let alone who is to be satisfied with the proof. This is completely opaque.

    The Clause is quite unsatisfactory. It places an undue burden—[Laughter.]. It is all very well for right hon. Gentlemen opposite to laugh as if this were a comedy. It is no laughing matter for the tenants, the unfortunate people who will be victimised by this bad legislation. It is up to the Lord Advocate, or the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Joint Under-Secretary, if he feels equal to it, now to explain to the satisfaction of the Committee what this Clause means and to satisfy the Committee that this is a just and proper Clause. I oppose it and shall vote against it if there is not a satisfactory explanation forthcoming.

    In layman's language I wish to support the contention of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. D. Johnston). My hon. Friend drew the attention of the Committee to a practice which has been going on, not only for two or three years, but for four or five years. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Joint Under-Secretary of State knows of this matter.

    The deputy town clerk of Glasgow, Mr. Gordon, is an expert on these housing matters. He has produced a paper dealing with this point. In that paper Mr. Gardon says:
    "The term ' abandon' is used as a popular term. In law the owner cannot abandon a property, but the term is now freely used, and it is of interest to examine the different circumstances in which property is regarded as abandoned."
    He goes on to the specific point which is very relevant to what has been said:
    "The owner forms a private limited liability company with nominal capital, and conveys the property to the company. As the liability of a company is limited to its funds, when these funds are finished the property can be abandoned and there is no remedy of any avail against the company. This is the modern equivalent of the old idea of conveying to a man of straw."
    I am not a legal man, but, in trying to understand this with a layman's understanding, I suggest to the Lord Advocate that there is here something which has been going on for some years past, and it is an abuse of public responsibility. If the suggestion of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Paisley would help to rectify this matter and to place responsibility where it lies, I feel that the Committee would be obliged if further consideration were given to it.

    The Lord Advocate has heard what my hon. Friend the Member for Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) has said and the Lord Advocate, I am certain, is aware of properties in the City of Edinburgh about which there has already been some dispute and even court cases over the liability of the owner to meet repair charges.

    The owners attempt to get rid of them, and we have heard of the notorious case of one owner who wanted to sell a large tenement property to my hon. Friend the Member for Camlachie (Mr. W. Reid) for Id. One wonders what would be the position of the tenants in those circumstances if the capital involved in that propery were 1d.; who would pay for the repairs which had to be carried out and who would be held responsible for them? That is what perturbs me.

    8.30 p.m.

    The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Joint Under-Secretary was just a little too hasty with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) because my hon. and learned Friend was asking a reasonable question. The Government have inserted into the Bill the provision that these repairs are to be undertaken on the considered opinion of the corporation. My hon. and learned Friend was asking a reasonable question. It was this.

    If the corporation decides that considerable repairs have to be made to property, and it then finds that after the people who were presumed to be owners or trustees, or whoever is mentioned in the new Clause have been charged up to their full responsibility, there still remains a large part of the account to be met, who then has to pay that sum? Is it the corporation, and if so, will that charge have to be met by the ratepayers? It would appear that that is the case. If it is not to be paid by the trustees, will it have to be met by the corporation, and in that case do the Government propose to make some added contribution to cover the corporation's liability?

    It may be that these things were not intended, or might not even happen, but these are questions which arise in one's mind as one discusses the new Clause. The Lord Advocate will wish to reply to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. D. Johnston) about the questions he raised regarding responsibility or as to what action can be taken under the Companies Act. I should be grateful if, when doing so, the Lord Advocate would reply to the questions which I have just raised.

    It seems to me that in the world today, and more particularly in this country, the word "company" is coming into disrepute. I remember the long discussions we had on the Finance Bill about companies. It was quite clear then from the evidence brought forward that many companies were changing their names for the sole purpose of avoiding their Income Tax responsibilities.

    We on this side of the Committee agree with the principle embodied in the new Clause, but it widens the principle by bringing in "a company." I refer to the words:
    "or as liquidator of a company …"
    What is happening, by making an alteration in this way, is that, as has been clearly outlined by my hon. Friends the Members for Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) and Leith (Mr. Hoy), it will be quite easy to form a company for the avoidance of this responsibility.

    The Government should be wary about the use of companies in that way. It is not so long ago that we read in the news- papers of a very prominent individual who had died and had only left, we were all amazed to learn, a sum of £600, entailing death duties of £18. I am sure the Committee remember that. It concerned a prominent Scotsman, a very noble Gentleman.

    My hon. Friend, who is an authority on the subject, says that he left two castles. That is perfectly true. When we examined what had happened, we realised that it was because he had formed a company.

    In this new Clause, we see the Governmentment not only condoning this avoidance of responsibility but encouraging it by the extension of that position in the new Clause. I am sure that all of us on this side of the Committee cannot agree to that being done. I hope that the Government will recognise their responsibility in this matter and will, in the proper place, make the alteration which is necessary.

    The offer of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. D. Johnston) still stands. We would have been most anxious to assist the Government if they had based themselves on the provisions of Sections 7 and 8 of the principal Act. I will revert to that point in a few moments. In what I am saying I am not quoting my hon. and learned Friend. As I frequently explain to the Lord Advocate, I am no lawyer. I am puzzled by a point which no doubt the Lord Advocate will be able to answer.

    If the contention of the Lord Advocate were to pick up Section 8 (3) of the principal Act and add "liquidator," we could understand it; but the last words of this new Clause seek to repeal the provisions of Section 8 (3) of the principal Act. That subsection, on examination, proves to relate to a person having control of a house, and then follow the limitations. It will occur to the Committee that there is a tremendous jump not only in relation to the liquidator, but to the subjects treated, between the proviso as laid down in the principal Act, for which the Labour Government were responsible, and this new Clause, which does not deal exclusively with houses or with a certain class of people having responsibility exclusively for houses. It goes much wider; it states:
    "… the rents of any premises, being a … building which contains a house or a part of such a building, the expenses incurred by the authority in the execution of works in relation to the premises …"
    If we turn to the long Title of the Bill. which, I submit, quite clearly limits not only our deliberations, but the subject matter, there is no mention whatever of any type of property other than a house.

    As one who has always been very cautious about procedure, this seems to me to be an extraordinary jump. I should have thought that if the Long Title refers specifically to houses, then they must be exclusively the subject of the Bill. I am puzzled by what device the Lord Advocate has suddenly introduced another subject when the Long Title seems to me to exclude it. I do not expect the right hon. and learned Gentleman to answer on the spur of the moment, but I hope that he will tell us, because, unless I have misunderstood the subject, this is an interesting constitutional point.

    Even if the Lord Advocate could justify it, he would have great difficulty in persuading my hon. Friends that we shall deal with liquidators of any type of property by this curious back-door procedure. It would seem, from the intention of the Government, from the side heading of the Clause and from the preceding Sections in the principal Act, that we are dealing only with house property and with certain classes of people for whom the Committee will have every sympathy, and to whom my hon. and learned Friend drew attention.

    The right hon. and learned Gentleman seemed a little impatient. He explained to us that if a good liquidator took control, all would be well. But a good liquidator takes control of the situation meantime, without any help from this Clause. It is true that he will usually recommend a course which is in the interest of the community, but the good liquidator will not be made better by this Clause. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that where the good liquidator comes in, we may be certain that he responds to the needs of the community. We all know that. But my hon. Friends, who gave most alarming examples, are concerned about the bad liquidator.

    The right hon. and learned Gentleman has not told us how the new Clause protects the local authorities at the expense of the bad liquidator. The right hon. and learned Gentleman may tell us that he has discovered powers by which he can prosecute the people. I hope that those powers always existed. I cannot see that any alteration here makes any difference to the right to prosecute. That has nothing to do with the question addressed to the Lord Advocate, which is, "Does he not agree that by this back door method of amendment—not to this Bill because this question goes much wider than that"—

    It would save time if the right hon. Gentleman finished his speech first.

    The right hon. and learned Gentleman shows me great courtesy. I hope that it will be justified.

    It would seem to us that, far from seeking power to deal with a dilemma existing from trusteeship being exerted over the premises, the Lord Advocate has opened the door wide for the swindling liquidator of any type of property. He has failed to tell the Committee what advantage to the community or the local authority is given by the new Clause in the handling of a very slippery customer.

    It would seem from the argument of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Paisley and the arguments of my other hon. Friends that, though it is not intended by the Government, the new Clause is a wide open invitation to the bad liquidator to come in and unload, easily and apparently legally, his clients' disabilities. Obviously, no one wants that to happen. I repeat that I do not think that the Government want it.

    The other types of people provided for in the new Clause are people with whom we are all familiar from the previous Act. They are reasonably well known, although I do not pretend to know exactly what they all are. We have met them before as custodians of one kind or another—probably honourable and certainly legal custodians. If the Lord Advocate had intended to repeat the safeguards for them which appear in the principal Act, that would have been understandable, but he has gone much wider. I hope that he will agree that he owes the Committee a lengthier explanation than he has yet offered. I hope that he will explain how, despite the long Title, this apparent extension of the subject matter of the Bill is permissible.

    8.45 p.m.

    The main worry in the minds of several hon. Members opposite has been about the practice, which I know is alleged in certain quarters, of what has been described as the fraudulent use of a company by forming it and then putting it into liquidation in order to get rid of property. As far as I have followed the speeches which have been made, the argument seems to be that if we omit the liquidator from the Clause we shall in some way or other improve the situation with respect to fraudulent bankruptcies and make them less likely. Unfortunately, the omission of the liquidator from the Clause will in no way affect the number of fraudulent company liquidations; the Clause was not designed to remedy that evil, and could not possibly do so.

    The object of the Clause, so far as the liquidators are concerned, is not to discourage the good type of liquidator from undertaking the responsibility of winding up such companies, but to make sure that the standard of our liquidators remains high, and that if fraudulent practices take place, they will be reported to the proper quarters so that the proper punishment shall thereby ensue.

    The presence or absence of reference to the liquidator in the Clause will not affect the evil which is complained about, namely, the formation of these companies. The object of including liquidators in the Clause was to secure that, as far as possible, the standard of the liquidator that we got was as high as possible. Most liquidators are appointed by the court. So far as the recent decision in the Sheriff Court in Glasgow stands, these liquidators—this was the apprehension which was represented to us—might well not be prepared to undertake the responsibility if they were going to be landed with personal liability as the result merely of their being appointed liquidators. That is the reason and justification for their inclusion along with the other people in a fiduciary capacity.

    What I have said answers the criticism uttered by the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) and one of the points put by the right hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil).

    The hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Hoy) asked me where the money was to be found to meet the expenses of the local authority if the liquidators were to be limited merely to the amount of the funds in their hands. In the case of a trust or a company which is in the hands of a liquidator, any funds in the hands of the trustees or the liquidator would be available under the Clause. If there were no such funds, then funds belonging either to the beneficiary under the trust or to the company under liquidation would still be available to meet the claims of the local authority for expenses. Consequently, the local authorities are not being put in a worse position under the Clause than they are in at present.

    Suppose the funds are exhausted and there is no more money to meet the cost of the repairs which have been carried out, and the cost has to be met somewhere. Will the outstanding debt then fall on the local authority which ordered the repairs to be carried out?

    If funds are available in the hands of the liquidator, the company, one of the beneficiaries or the trustee, under the Clause they will undoubtedly still be available to the local authority to meet its liabilities. If, of course, there are no funds and the property is not worth anything, there would be no source from which the local authority could recover the money, with the possible exception of the beneficial owner of the property.

    So that, as, I think, the right hon. and learned Gentleman will agree, the burden would then fall on the local authority or the ratepayers. If that is so, I ask a further question. If it is agreed that the local authority would have to meet that debt, will the local authority receive any compensation from the Government, or must the whole burden be carried by the ratepayers through the local rates?

    The situation under the Bill is this. If the local authority chooses to spend money on the property when there is no means of their recovering the money, because the property is worthless or the people interested in it have no assets, the local authority and the ratepayers will have to meet that liability.

    In the last resort, then, as I argued, this Clause will place a further financial burden upon the local authority, and therefore, on the ratepayers.

    I think I understand the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument clearly. He says that that would be a charge on the local rates. Is any part of that charge acceptable to the Government? I would think so.

    This is getting rather far away from the Clause. If the local authority takes over the property, part of it would become a Government liability.

    Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman direct my attention to any provision in the Financial Resolution for this?

    It is the 50–50 liability between the local authority and the Government and the £7 10s. I draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the two Clauses upon which we are spending hours and hours quite needlessly.

    If I may turn from that to what 1 think was the only other point raised with regard to this matter—

    I am sorry to interrupt again, but if this relates only to unfit property, I have no difficulty in understanding where it is covered in the Financial Resolution, but when the right hon. and learned Gentleman directs his argument to premises, which is a much wider term, and as the right hon. and learned Gentleman told us there will be an obligation on the Government, I still do not know where, in the Financial Resolution, there is any reference to it. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is quite wrong in directing my attention to these two Clauses.

    I have sat down time after time in favour of the right hon. Gentleman.

    It is not that I have not got an answer to the point put to me. [Interruption.] There is no need to get so heated.

    If I may turn to the other point—

    If I were permitted, despite all the interjections, to say a few words, I would endeavour to deal with the point. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will criticise it afterwards, but he might at least give me the opportunity of stating it.

    The point is this. We are dealing with unfit houses in cases where the local authority gives directions to do repairs. It is in that connection that the liability for expense may arise. Clauses 4 and 5 could apply in regard to these houses, and consequently the 50–50 allocation would apply. Consequently, the Government contribution would come in.

    Perhaps I may turn to the other point about the ambit of the proposed new Clause and whether it goes outside the terms of the Bill. I would draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to Clauses 2 and 4, both of which deal with buildings in which there is a house, and it is with this that we are concerned in the limited liability of trustees for the expenses of local authorities. I am advised that the proposed new Clause is not outside the long Title of the Bill, and does not cover a field already covered by one or other of the existing Clauses.

    Now can I try to interpret the right hon. and learned Gentleman in non-technical language? He is telling the Committee that the relaxations in the proposed new Clause cover only unfit houses in relation to various classes of custodian, and that the relaxations do not cover any other property owned by those named—trustees, factors, curators, and so forth. Unfit houses are the proper concern of the Bill. In that case I would have thought it easier not to repeal the proviso to Section 8 (3) of the principal Act, but merely to confine the Amendment to the point about a liquidator.

    I will show how the difficulty arises. The right hon. Gentleman will see, in the fourth line of the proposed new Clause, the words:

    "The rents of any premises, being a house or a building which contains a house."
    That is the ambit of the proposed new Clause.

    Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman say again whether the proposed new Clause applies only to Clauses 2 and 4? In point of fact, the proposed new Clause starts by saying:

    "Where in pursuance of any enactment (whether contained in a public general Act or in a local Act)."
    It is rather unusual that the Lord Advocate should try to make this Committee believe that those words apply to Clauses 2 and 4. Can he say something about that?

    On a point of order. The Committee is in some difficulty about the proposed new Clause. I would refer to the Financial Resolution, which talks about

    "areas of unfit housing accommodation, and for securing or promoting the reconditioning and maintenance of houses."
    The long Title of the Bill says that the Bill is
    "for securing or promoting the reconditioning and maintenance of houses—"
    which, again, is quite specific.

    9.0 p.m.

    The new Clause refers to
    "the rents of any premises, being a house or a building which contains a house or a part of such a building, …"
    That seems to go extremely wide indeed. I cannot help feeling that this new Clause considerably widens the scope of the Bill.

    If we are to discuss this we are entitled to find out whether the Financial Resolution makes provision for the type of cases in which these premises can be included. The whole of the Committee seems very doubtful about the matter. Before we proceed further, Sir Charles, perhaps you might care to rule whether this new Clause comes within the provisions of the Financial Resolution laid down in connection with the Bill, or extends it so widely that the financial provisions do not cover the cases which the Secretary of State seeks to include within the new Clause.

    I am in some difficulty. When I was having my conference about the Bill this did not strike me at all. Of course, I must take responsibility. I can only say that the Public Bill Office checks these things very carefully and, apparently, no such question at all came to mind. All I can do is, offhand, to give a layman's ruling. I should imagine that if the premises spoken of in the new Clause come under rent control—

    Then we must get the Lord Advocate to explain. I tell you, quite frankly, that I do not know.

    With the greatest respect, Sir Charles, I can very well understand the difficulty which this must present to the Chair. Within the ambit of this Clause there would be certain extensive property, such as shops and other types of industrial building which do not come within the ambit of the Rent Restrictions Acts. It was because of the suggestion that this particular Clause goes well outside the financial provisions that I thought it well to raise it now. It may be that you require to have some advice. We can well understand that and make no complaint about it, but in order to get a clear explanation we wish to press this.

    It was because I realised the delicacy of your position, Sir Charles, that I put precisely this point to the Lord Advocate earlier. I had hoped that he might have answered with his usual quietness—everyone is capable of making a mistake and I only asked for interpretation—but instead, the response to my being so kind and tolerant was a bucketful of abuse.

    I had no intention of giving the right hon. Gentleman abuse—far less a bucketful of it. I certainly was not aware that I had done so.

    In the first place, no question of Exchequer grant arises, and, therefore, no question of the Financial Resolution arises. I think that the conclusive answer to the whole matter is that in at least two places—and in several others I am sure, although I have not had time to look—the language of the Bill amply covers the type of premises referred to in the new Clause. Indeed, the new Clause merely echoes the words of certain other Clauses. Clause 2 (1) refers to
    "… any building on land purchased by or belonging to the authority within that area, being a building which is or which contains a house which in the opinion of the authority, having regard to its existing condition … must be continued in use…"
    We have there in that Clause the very words used in the new Clause—[Interruption.] Please let me finish. As I was about to say, we have the very words used, with the exception of the use of the word "premises" in the new Clause, in place of "building on land" in Clause 2.

    Therefore, the ambit of Clause 2 is precisely the same as the ambit of the new Clause. If Clause 2, as it undoubtedly is, is within the terms of the long Title, equally the new Clause falls within them. The same type of house is described in Clause 4. Accordingly, as far as I can see, there is no substance in the suggestion that this new Clause goes beyond the type of houses covered by the Bill and the long Title.

    I think the Lord Advocate will require to take some further legal advice upon this new Clause. May I have the Lord Advocate's attention and the attention of the Joint Undersecretary of State? If their conference is finished I should like very much to have their attention. The Lord Advocate said a short time ago that in as much as a local authority would incur certain expenses under this new Clause the matter was provided for in the Financial Resolution, and then he made an offhand reference to the 50–50 contribution of the Exchequer and the local authority, and £7 5s. per year for 15 years—in respect of what? In respect of each unfit house taken over by the local authority and patched up and continued in occupation.

    Nobody believes that this new Clause is limited to that type of property. This new Clause, if it is anything at all, is surely an extension of Section 8 of the Act of 1950. I have yet to hear in what respect the Act of 1950 falls short in protecting those trustees, curators, agents and other persons who have temporary custody of property owned by somebody else. Let me quote the proviso that the new Clause takes out, the proviso to Section 8 of the Act of 1950:
    "Provided that if the person having control of the house proves—
  • (i) that he is receiving the rent merely as trustee, tutor, curator, factor or agent for some other person; and
  • (ii) that he has not, and since the date of the service on him of the demand has not had, in his hands on behalf of that other person sufficient money to discharge the whole demand of the authority,
  • his liability shall be limited to the total amount of the money which he has, or has had, in his hands as aforesaid."
    As we understand it, those factors or agents acting on behalf of someone else are protected already in Section 8 of the 1950 Act. We ask ourselves why there is this new Clause at all.

    When we look at the new Clause, we discover first that it is extended to property other than houses. It would not be amiss to have regard to the long Title of the Bill, to which the Clause is proposed to be added, and I propose to read the long Title. It says that the Bill is to
    "Make further provision as respects Scotland for the clearance and redevelopment of areas of unfit housing accommodation, and for securing or promoting the reconditioning and maintenance of houses, and otherwise to amend the enactments relating to housing and rent control; to provide for disregarding for the purposes of valuation and rating increases in the rent of certain houses in respect of expenditure incurred in reconditioning and maintaining those houses; to limit the rates payable by owners of rent-controlled houses; and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid."
    That is the long Title of the Bill which we are seeking to amend, and to which the Government propose to add the Clause.

    The Clause, therefore, must have to deal with houses such as are mentioned in the long Title, with matters connected with valuation and rating, the limitation of rates payable by owners of rent con trolled houses, or matters connected with these' things. I cannot, of course, put myself up as an authority against the Public Bill Office in deciding whether a Clause is competent—

    I am sorry, Sir Charles. Perhaps I am at fault, and I apologise. But the Lord Advocate is the competent authority, who has the duty of advising not only the Government in these matters, but has the duty in relation to a Scottish Bill of advising this Committee of the whole House of Commons.

    The new Clause begins:
    "Where in pursuance of any enactment"—
    not "this Act," not even "this Act and the principal Act of 1950," but "any enactment"—
    "(whether contained in a public general Act or in a local Act) a local authority seek to recover from any person as being the person for the time being entitled to receive, or who would if the same were let be entitled to receive, the rents of any premises, being a house or a building which contains a house or a part of such a building, the expenses incurred by the authority in the execution of works in relation to the premises, then, if that person proves—"
    Subsection (1) goes on broadly to pick up the words contained in the proviso to Section 8 (3) of the principal Act, which subsection (3) of the Clause proposes to strike out.

    As I understand it—I have not only consulted local authorities, but I have looked at the parent Act of 1950—this is the position. A local authority incurs those expenses, upon which the Clause seeks to impose a limitation in respect of certain persons, by carrying out certain works and buildings. Hitherto, those works have been carried out upon unfit houses as provided for in Sections 7 and 8 of the 1950 Act. The local authority finds that a house is unfit. It serves a notice upon the owner of the property, and he does not respond so that the local authority goes to the sheriff. Ultimately, the local authority, having got an order from the sheriff and the owner of the property having failed within 21 days to give effect to the order, may carry out the works itself and recover the expense from the owner of the property.

    9.15 p.m.

    We are not dealing with houses under this Bill which are going to be taken over by the local authority. We are dealing with houses which are to remain in private hands even though an order has been given by the sheriff and the owner has not given effect to that order. The Lord Advocate will admitt that in this Clause in addition the local authority can carry out works not only upon unfit houses but upon whole blocks of property which happen to contain unfit houses but which also contain shops and offices.

    So far as I know under the existing law there is no provision for a local authority under a court order to incur expenses on repairing shops and offices. But under this new Clause the Government seems to envisage that a local authority, having unfit property within its area, will serve a notice upon the owner or owners—because there may be many of them as the selling of slum property that has gone on in Scotland in recent years would suggest—to carry out certain works. If the works are not carried out the local authority will go to the sheriff court. The sheriff will make an order. The owner or the various owners acting collectively will fail to give effect to the court order. The Government seem to envisage under this Clause that the local authority will carry out the work itself, not only the work on unfit houses but upon the repair of unfit shops and offices which form part of the building.

    That can only be the reason for extending the definition in subsection (1) of the new Clause. There is also to be a limitation upon the right of recovery by the factor or agent in like manner as there is in the case of unfit houses as is provided in the proviso to Section 8 (3) of the 1950 Act. If I am right in that assumption, I cannot see why it was necessary to have this new Clause. Those or us who are offering criticism of it must not be accused of seeking to take away protection which the Government are seeking to give to the trustee or the curator, the factor or the agent. All those people have protection under Section 8 of the 1950 Act.

    We cannot think why the Government need to introduce this new Clause to repeal the present protection and to pretend at the same time that they are offering a protection to those people who are acting as trustees or agents for people who happen to own old and derelict slum property. They are protected already inasmuch as they are merely collecting the rents of unfit houses.

    I feel annoyed that the Government have not been able to offer a satisfactory explanation. The learned Lord Advocate is the only Law Officer we have for Scotland in this House and it is shocking that he should justify this new Clause by saying that the local authorities were protected and the ratepayers were protected by the Money Resolution which provided for the 50–50 contribution by the Exchequer.

    This has nothing to do with the properties getting the contribution provided under the Financial Resolution. If the Lord Advocate did not know that, and was so ill-informed as to suppose that the Financial Resolution to this Bill had no relation to this new Clause, I submit that he is not a competent person to offer it to the Committee. The case for it has not been made out.

    I am not trained in the law, but I have been long enough in this House, and long enough looking at statutes in the making, to know that this new Clause does two things. It adds other premises to unfit houses as properties in respect of which the liability of the factor and the trustee shall be limited, and it adds liquidator to the other categories set out in Section 8 (3) of the 1950 Act. In my view it is incompetent to do that in terms of the Long Title of this Bill.

    It is monstrous that the Government should offer this new Clause with these two changes in the law without explaining carefully to the Committee that those were the only two changes they were seeking to make in the law, and that the factors and the trustees, the agents and the curators were already protected under Section 8 of the 1950 Act which this new Clause seeks to repeal.

    I hope that the Government spokesman will not merely get up and try further to explain this Bill to the Committee, but will say that the Government appreciate that they have made a mistake in bringing forward this new Clause and that they undertake to take it back and not seek to thrust it upon the Committee.

    I do not want to delay the Committee unnecessarily by a further elaboration of what I thought, obviously wrongly, was clear enough. The main criticism that seems to be made still is that the category of subject that is covered by the Clause is very much wider than the category covered by the Bill. That criticism is completely unfounded. The category of subjects covered by the Clause is precisely the category that is included, for example, in Clauses 2 and 4. Consequently, to suggest that the Clause, which is designed to limit the liability of those persons who are in a fiduciary capacity, including liquidators, is going outside the ambit of the Bill, is an argument not based on sound premises.

    The last point of order was raised when my predecessor was in the Chair. If the right hon. Gentleman rises to that point of order, I hope that he will make it short, so that we can understand it.

    With great respect, we tried to make it short earlier but my point of order, further to that which was raised earlier, is to ask whether you, Sir Charles, will explain the competence of this new Clause in relation to the Title of the Bill, and particularly in relation to a phrase of which the Lord Advocate has taken no note at all. The Lord Advocate perhaps is tired and over-worked.

    Not a bit. I was merely laying papers on the Table. If I did it more noisily than otherwise, surely the right hon. Gentleman is not so touchy as to be affected by that.

    I thought that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was trying to make up for the lightness of his opinion by the heaviness of his papers.

    The phrase to which the Lord Advocate has never addressed himself is:
    "Where in pursuance of any enactment (whether contained in a public general Act or in a local Act) …"
    I submit that if this Clause were to deal with any other type of housing than that referred to in Clauses 2 and 4 and in the long Title, then the allusion to any enactment must refer to other types of property.

    The scope of the Bill is not confined to the Long Title and I rule that there is no question that the new Clause is within the Bill.

    I am not discussing the Money Resolution. I am talking about the scope of the Bill and my Ruling is that the new Clause is covered by the Long Title plus the contents of the Bill. As to the word "premises," I am not a lawyer and perhaps the Lord Advocate will correct me if I am wrong. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Hon. Members should wait until I have finished. I should have thought as a layman that "premises" is not any wider than "any building on land." If that is correct, then everything is all right.

    I am very willing to be advised by you, Sir Charles, and in order that we might put the discussion easily in order—and it is a very important point—I beg to move that, "The Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again."

    I do so not because I am anxious about the Government's intentions at this stage but because I think that it would be fair to them in view of this curious digression. To revert to your definition, which was admirable, Sir Charles, I understood you to say that you thought that "any premises" was not wider than "any building on land" and there could be no further doubt about this new Clause which the Government are seeking to introduce. As I understand the intention of the Government, it is not to deal with buildings on land, but, according to the Lord Advocate, it is to deal with certain types of premises.

    9.30 p.m.

    The right hon. Member must not question my Ruling, which I have stated quite clearly.

    I am not questioning your Ruling, but it will be obvious to you, Sir Charles, that this Clause deals with a wider subject than the one which previously we have been discussing. Quite plainly "any premises" on your Ruling does not refer only to those premises which you think are competent and covered by the Housing Act, but to any premises covered by the phrase:

    "Where in pursuance of any enactment (whether contained in a public general Act or in a local Act)."
    This is the first opportunity we have had of discussing this Clause and it would be highly useful if the Government told us at this stage what local enactment—

    The Motion I am being asked to consider is to report Progress. That is all that can be discussed at the moment. We cannot go back and discuss this new Clause.

    Again subject to your Ruling, Sir Charles, I should have thought that a very good subject on which to report Progress was to discuss the consequences of this new Clause which the Government have introduced and which, previous to these statements. I at any rate have not understood. I should like to know what the intention of the Government is in relation, for example, to the time-table, in view of this much wider scope given to the Bill. I should have thought that in explaining my difficulty I was explaining quite competently why we should have some guidance from the Government at this stage, and that that was in order. I am not questioning your Ruling, Sir Charles, but am assuming that your Ruling applies, as it should do. Therefore, we are going to have an entirely new situation from that contemplated at any stage in the proceedings on this Bill. If that is so, I think the Government owe an explanation to the Committee why they were driven to this extension. They owe an explanation to the Committee, for example, as to what local enactment they are worried about—

    You have been very kind, Sir Charles, but I am having considerable difficulty. It put it to you that there must be some method available to the Opposition by which it can ask the Government to explain how their intentions are affected by this dramatic extension of the Bill which has never been mentioned at any stage.

    The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that it does not exist. He declined an invitation which I offered him before to say that his intention was only to concern himself with unfit property. If he had done so, we would not be in this position. I am not grumbling, as perhaps he was not able to do so, but I am asking your guidance, Sir Charles, to find a way in which the Opposition can deal with this novel and, from our point of view, disturbing situation. If within the framework of explaining broadly what their intentions are towards further work on this Bill the Government could take up what they mean to do about the Clause which we will have to go on considering, I am sure my hon. Friends and I would be indebted to them.

    To begin with, I have ruled, and I stand very firmly by my Ruling, that the Clause is within the scope of the Bill; and, therefore, there is nothing in the nature of what the right hon. Gentleman described as a "dramatic extension" of the Bill.

    With respect, Sir Charles, I said that the Government, up to this moment in the Committee proceedings, have never talked about any "local Act." I am trying to get them to tell us what are the local Acts and the general Acts other than the Housing Act which they have in mind. I am not intending to say that any new situation arises. To do so would be discourteous and stupid of me as being a challenge to your Ruling, which I am not attempting.

    To the best of my knowledge the new Clause comes, as I say, within the scope of the Bill. I am not a lawyer, and the best I can do with the English language is to say that "premises" is not wider than "any building on land." That being so, I cannot accept a Motion to report Progress. The matter is perfectly straightforward to my mind. I was perhaps rather slow in not fully appreciating the position at the start of the discussion, but my view is that there is no need for the Motion, and I shall not accept it.

    Before you decide finally whether you can accept the Motion or not, Sir Charles, may I put to you a point which has troubled me for a considerable time as I have listened to the discussion? My right hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil) feels that the whole Committee, including yourself, is in a great difficulty, first, because of the doubt, which you have realised, not only as to whether the new Clause comes within the scope of the Bill, but whether it comes within the scope of the Financial Resolution.

    With great respect, I desire to submit that there is considerable doubt about it. You were frank enough to say, Sir Charles, that you had not had an opportunity of considering the point before it was first put to you by my hon. Friend the Member for Leith (Mr. Hoy). Having since then looked at the new Clause I am bound to say that there is, to say the least, the greatest possible doubt whether it comes within the scope of the Financial Resolution.

    I appreciate that you have given that Ruling, Sir Charles, but in doing so, I think you also expressed a view that it was a matter of some doubt.

    What I said was that I was shot at suddenly, but discussion on this point having gone on for a long time, I have had an opportunity to make inquiries; and, while I was in doubt when the discussion began, I am in no doubt now. I have given my Ruling. It may be wrong, but I am not going to change it.

    The whole Committee, of course, accept your Ruling, Sir Charles, that the new Clause, is within the scope of the Financial Resolution. May I, how ever, put it to you, that the Committee is now faced with the problem of considering whether that new Clause should be added to the Bill, or not? A number of my hon. Friends—

    As a matter of fact, we are considering whether the new Clause should be read a Second time, or not.

    Before the Committee can decide whether the new Clause should be read a Second time, they will have to consider not only the merits of the new Clause itself but also its financial effects. If it comes within the terms of the Financial Resolution we shall have to consider what is its financial effect. We have to consider it not only on its merits, but in relation to the Financial Resolution on which the whole Bill is based, and my right hon. Friend is seeking your permission to move to report Progress—

    Well, then, I am driven to talk about the Clause itself. But before coming to the Clause I should have liked to make this observation—

    I shall be quite happy if the hon. Gentleman talks about the Clause. May I take it that he has now concluded his remarks on the point of order?

    Yes, Sir Charles, I think it is now quite clear that you have ruled that this proposed new Clause is within the terms both of the long Title to the Bill and the Financial Resolution. Therefore, we must now consider the proposal on that basis, but I wanted, first of all, to say a few words about the financial effect of this proposed new Clause.

    As I read it, one of the results of this new Clause being added to the Bill will be to increase the liability of local authorities; not only that, but it will also increase the liability of the Exchequer, and that is a serious matter. No estimate has been given of what is likely to be the burden so imposed and I had hoped that the Lord Advocate, or one of the representatives of the Scottish Office would tell us something about the financial effect of this new Clause before we proceed much further.

    How much will it add to the burden of local authorities in Scotland if these various persons are relieved from the liability to contribute to the expenses incurred by local authorities in the repair not only of unfit houses but, I gather, of houses of all kinds and descriptions and of buildings as well?

    We are also entitled to know, I think, not only what will be the burden on local authorities in Scotland, but how much of that burden will be met by the Exchequer. As a Member for an English constituency I make no apology for raising this matter. It is no fault of mine that we are now considering it in Committee of the whole House. As I said earlier, it would have been much better had this matter been considered by the Scottish Grand Committee. Had it been carefully considered by that Committee we should not have been sitting now. The Scottish Grand Committee would have adjourned after two or three hours—

    I agree. I was merely saying that it is through no fault of mine, but because of the decision imposed on the House by the Government that I am being driven to apply my mind to these difficult matters of Scottish law. I should have preferred not to do so, but it has become my duty because the Government insist on this matter being considered in Committee of the whole House.

    If I am asked to express a view and to vote on this matter I think I am entitled, before doing so, to know what it means, to be able to understand k and to receive a coherent explanation about it from the Lord Advocate or the Secretary of State for Scotland. I do not know what goes on in the Scottish Grand Committee, but now we are in Committee of the whole House it does not seem to be good enough that we should have these very feeble, unintelligible explanations of the new Clause that we have so far heard.

    I am more than puzzled, not only for the reasons given to my right hon. and hon. Friends, but also because not a word has yet been said to explain the financial implications of this new Clause. I hope that the Lord Advocate will tell us what it means. Obviously, it imposes a burden on the local authorities. The whole object of the new Clause is to relieve certain named persons from the liability which would otherwise fall upon them of contributing to the expenses of local authorities.

    When other Clauses of the Bill were considered, some estimates of expenses were given. We then knew that we were dealing with certain specified properties, notably areas of unfit housing accommodation. The new Clause, although within the terms of the Financial Resolution and the scope of the Bill, proceeds to a whole new category of property about which we have not yet heard what are the limits of expenditure.

    9.45 p.m.

    It would not be reasonable to ask the Committee to entertain a consideration of the new Clause, which goes far beyond the scope of any other Clause in the Bill, unless we know what are the financial implications. There must be some. What are the intentions of the Government about those Scottish houses outside the areas of unfit housing accommodation? To what extent is it intended that local authorities should incur expenses in the execution of works in relation to premises which are not in areas of unfit housing accommodation? To what extent is it intended that they should be remiss in collecting the contribution that would otherwise be due?

    We are entitled to know what sort of amount is inolved and how much of the cost that will fall upon Scottish local authorities will, under the Exchequer contribution arrangement, ultimately come back on the Exchequer. These are the



    [9.47 p.m.

    Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Fisher, NigelLucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
    Alport, C. J. M.Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.
    Anstruther-Gray, Major W. JFletcher-Cooke, C.Macdonald, Sir Peter
    Arbuthnot, JohnFoster, JohnMcKibbin, A. J.
    Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)
    Astor, Hon. J. J.Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
    Baldook, Lt.-Cmdr. J. MGalbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)Maclean, Fitzroy
    Baldwin, A. E.Galbraith, T. G. D. (HilIhead)Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
    Banks, Col. C.George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. LloydMaitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horneastle)
    Barlow, Sir JohnGlover, D.Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)
    Baxter, A. B.Godber. J. B.Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.
    Beach, Maj. HicksGomme-Duncan, Col AMarlowe, A. A. H.
    Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Gough, C. F. H.Maude, Angus
    Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)Graham, Sir FergusMellor, Sir John
    Bennett, William (Woodside)Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)Molson, A. H. E.
    Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Hall, John (Wycombe)Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter
    Bishop, F. P.Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Moore, Sir Thomas
    Black, C W.Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Maoolesfield)Nabarro, G. D. N.
    Boothby, Sir R. J. GHarvie-Watt, Sir GeorgeNeave, Airey
    Bossom, Sir A. C.Hay, JohnNicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)
    Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. AHeald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelNicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)
    Boyle, Sir EdwardHeath, EdwardNield, Basil (Chester)
    Brooke. Henry (Hampstead)Henderson, John (Cathoart)Nugent, G. R. H.
    Brooman-White, R. C.Higgs, J. M. C.Oakshott, H. D.
    Browne Jack (Govan)Hlnchingbrooke, ViscountO'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
    Buchan-Hepburn, Rt Hon P G. THirst, GeoffreyOrmsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
    Bullard, D. G.Holland-Martin, C. J.Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
    Burden, F. F. A.Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. HenryOrr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
    Butcher, Sir HerberHornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)
    Carr, RobertHorsbrugh, Rt. Hon. FlorencePage, R. G.
    Cary, Sir RobertHoward, Gerald (Cambrldgeshire)Peake, Rt. Hon. 0.
    Channon, H.Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)Perkins, Sir Robert
    Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
    Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)Pickthorn, K. W. M.
    Clyda, Rt Hon J LHurt, A. R.Pilkington, Capt. R. A
    Cole, NormanHutohison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)Pitt, Miss E. M.
    Conant, Maj. R J EHyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.Powell, J. Enoch
    Cooper-Key, E. MHylton-Foster, H. B H.Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
    Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorm)Iremonger, T. L.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
    Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon H. F CJenkins, Robert (Dulwich)Profumo, J. D.
    Crouoh, R. FJohnson, Erio (Bkokley)Raikes, Sir Victor
    Crowder, Sir Johr, (Finehley)Kerby, Capt. H. B.Ramsden, J. E.
    Crowder, Petre (Ruisle Northwood)Kerr, H. W.Rayner, Brig. R.
    Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)Lambert, Hon. G.Redmayne, M.
    Davidson, ViscountesiLambton, ViscountRees-Davies, W. R.
    Deedes, W. F.Lanoaster, Col. C. G.Renton, D. L. M.
    Digby, S. WingfieldLangford-Holt, J. A.Ridsdale, J. E.
    Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)Roberts, Peter (Heeley)
    Douglas-Hamiton, Lord MalcolmLennox-Boyd, Rl. Hon. A. T.Robertson, Sir David
    Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.Linstead, Sir H. N.Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
    Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)Roper, Sir Harold
    Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. ELockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
    Finlay, GraemeLucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)Russell, R. S

    questions which are worrying me, apart from all the other points which are, naturally, of close and intimate concern to all my Scottish friends.

    It was for these reasons that I was hoping that we should have far more intimation about what the Clauses means, why it is promoted and what is involved in it I should like to hear more before I, for one, feel able to vote on the matter.

    rose in his place, and claimed to move. "That the Question be now put."

    Question put, "That the Question be now put."

    The Committee divided: Ayes, 206; Noes. 191.

    Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
    Savory, Prof. Sir DouglasStuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
    Scott, R. DonaldStudholme, H. G.Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)
    Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.Summers, G. S.Wall, P. H. B.
    Shepherd, WilliamSutcliffe, Sir HaroldWard, Miss I. (Tynmouth)
    Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C
    Smithers, Peter (Winohester)Teeling, W.Watkinson, H. A:
    Snadden, W. McN.Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)Well wood, W.
    Spearman, A. C. M.Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
    Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W)Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
    Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
    Stanley, Capt. Hon. RichardThorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmnouth)Wills, G.
    Stevens, G. P.Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
    Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)Touche, Sir Gordon
    Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)Turner, H. F. L.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
    Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.Turton, R. H.Mr. Vosper and Mr. Kaberry.
    Storey, S.Tweedsmuir, Lady


    Acland, Sir RichardHayman, F. H.Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
    Adams, RichardHealey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
    Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)Proctor, W. T.
    Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Herbison, Miss M.Pryde, D. J.
    Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)Hobson, C. R.Pursey, Cmdr. H
    Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Holman, P.Rankin, John
    Awbery, S. S.Holmes, HoraceReeves, J.
    Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Holt, A. F.Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
    Bence, C. R.Houghton, DouglasReid, William (Camlachie)
    Benn, Hon. WedgwoodHoy, J. H.Rhodes, H.
    Benson, G.Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
    Bing, G. H. C.Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
    Blackburn, F.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Robinson, Kenneth (St. Paneras, N.)
    Blenkinsop, A.Hynd, H. (Accrington)Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
    Blyton, W. R.Hynd, J B. (Attertliffe)Ross, William
    Boardman, H.Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Shacklelon, E. A. A.
    Bowden, H. W.Janner, B.Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
    Bowen, E R.Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.Short, E. W.
    Brockway, A. F.Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)Shurmer, P. L. E.
    Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Johnson, James (Rugby)Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
    Broughton, Dr A. D. D.Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
    Brown, Thomas (Ince)Jones, David (Hartlepool)Skeffington, A. M.
    Burke, W. A.Janes, Jack (Rotherham)Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)
    Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)
    Callaghan, L. J.Keenan, W.Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
    Carmichael, J.Kenyon, C.Sorensen, R. W.
    Champion, A. J.King, Dr. H. MSoskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
    Chapman, W GKinley, J.Sparks, J. A.
    Clunie, J.Lawson, G. M.Steele, T.
    Coldrick, W.Lee, Frederick (Newton)Stewart, Michael (Futham, E.)
    Collick, P. HLewis, ArthurStrachey, Rt. Hon. J.
    Corbet, Mrs FredaLindgren, G. S.Summerskili, Rt. Hon. E.
    Craddock, George (Bradford, S)Logan, D. G.Sylvester, G. 0.
    Crosland, C. A. R.MacColl, J. E.Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
    Crossman, R. H. SMcGovem, J.Thomas, George (Cardiff)
    Cullen, Mrs A.Mclnnes, J.Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
    Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.McKay, John (Wallsend)Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
    Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)McLeavy, F.Thornton, E.
    Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.Timmons, J.
    de Freitas, GeoffreyMacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
    Deer, G.Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Viant, S. P.
    Delargy, H. J.Mann, Mrs. JeanWarbey, W. N.
    Dodds, N. N.Manuel, A. C.Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)
    Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Marquand, Rt. Hon. H AWeitzman, D
    Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)Mason, RoyWells, Percy (Faversham)
    Fernyhough, E.Mellish, R. J.West, D. G.
    Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)Mitchison, G. RWhite, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
    Foot, M. M.Moody, A. S.White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
    Forman, J. C.Morley, R.Whiteley, Rt. Hon W
    Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Moyle, A.Wigg, George
    Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.Mulley, F. W.Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B
    Gibson, C. W.Murray, J. D.Wilkins, W. A.
    Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Neal, Harold (Bolsover)WilIey, F. T.
    Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)Oliver, G. H.Williams, David (Neath)
    Grey, C. F.Oswald, T.Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
    Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Padley, W. E.Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y>
    Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)Willis, E G.
    Grimond, J.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
    Hale, LesliePalmer, A. M. F.Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
    Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)Pargiter, G. A.Woodbum, Rt. Hon. A.
    Hamilton, W. W.Parker, J.Yarts, V. F.
    Hannan, W.Peart, T. F.
    Hargreaves, A.Plummer, Sir LestieTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
    Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)Popplewell, E.Mr. Pearson and Mr. John Taylor.
    Hastings, S.Porter, G.

    Question put accordingly.

    Division No. 99.]


    [9.58 p.m.

    Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Hall, John (Wycombe)Peto, Brig. C. H. M.
    Alport, C. J. M.Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Pickthorn, K. W. M.
    Anstruther-Gray, Major W JHarvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)Pilkington, Capt. R A
    Arbuthnot, JohnHarvie-Watt, Sir GeorgePitt, Miss E. M.
    Assheton, Rt. Hon. B. (Blackburn, W)Hay, JohnPowell, J. Enoch
    Astor, Hon. J. J.Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelPrice, Henry (Lewisham, W)
    Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. MHeath, EdwardPrior-Palmer, Brig. O L
    Baldwin, A. E.Henderson, John (Cathcart)Profumo, J. D.
    Banks, Col. C.Higgs, J. M. C.Raikes, Sir Victor
    Barlow, Sir JohnHinchingbrooke, ViscountRamsden, J. E.
    Baxter, A. B.Hirst, GeoffreyRayner, Brig. R
    Beach, Mai. HicksHolland-Martin, C. J.Redmayne, M.
    Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Holt, A. F.Rees-Davies, W R
    Bonnett, F. M. (Reading, N.)Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. HenryRenton, D. L. M
    Bennett, Wlliam (Woodtide)Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.Ridsdale, J. E.
    Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)Roberts, Peter (Heeley)
    Bishop, F. P.Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)Robertson, Sir David
    Black, C. W.Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)
    Boothby, Sir R. J. GHudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)Roper, Sir Harold
    Bossom, Sir A. C.Hurd, A. R.Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
    Bowen, E. R.Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)Russell, R. S.
    Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. AHyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.
    Boyle, Sir EdwardHylton-Foster, H. B HSavory, Prof. Sir Douglas
    Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)lremonger, T. L.Scott, R. Donald
    Brooman-Wtiite, R. C.Jenkins, Robert (Dulwieh)Scott-Miller, Comdr. R
    Browne, Jack (Govan)Johnson, Eric (Blackley)Shepherd, William
    Buchan-Hepbum, Rt. Hon. P. G TKaberry, D.Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
    Bullard, D. G.Kerby, Capt. H. BSmithers, Peter (Winchester)
    Burden, F. F. A.Kerr, H. W.Snadden, W. McN.
    Butcher, Sir HerbertLambert, Hon. G.Spearman, A. C. M
    Carr, RobertLambton, ViscountSpence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
    Cary, Sir RobertLancaster, Col. C. G.Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S)
    Channon, H.Langford-Holt, J. A.Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
    Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. TStevens, G. P.
    Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)Linstead, sir H. N.Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
    Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. LLloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
    Cole, NormanLockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.Stoddart-Scort, Col. M.
    Conant, Maj. R. J. ELucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)Storey, S.
    Cooper-Key, E. M.Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughStrauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
    Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)MaCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. SStuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
    Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Macdonald, Sir PeterSummers, G S.
    Crouch, R. F.McKibbin, A. J.Sutcliffe, Sir Harold
    Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
    Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)Maclay, Rt. Hon JohnTeeling, W.
    Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)Maclean, FitzroyThomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
    Davidson. ViscountessMacpherson, Niall (Dumfries)Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
    Deedes, W. F.Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
    Digby, S. WingfieldMaitland, Patrick (Lanark)Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
    Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.Manningham-Buller, Sir R. EThorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
    Douglas-Hamilton, Lord MalcolmMarlowe, A. A. H.Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N
    Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.Maude, AngusTouche, Sir Gordon
    Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)Mellor, Sir JohnTurner, H. F. L
    Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.Molson, A. H. E.Turton, R. H.
    Finlay, GraemeMonckton, Rt. Hon. Sir WalterTweedsmuir, Lady
    Fisher, NigelMoore, Sir ThomasVaughan-Morgan, J. K
    Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.Nabarro, G. D. N.Vosper, D. F.
    Fletcher-Cooke, C.Neave, AireyWakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
    Foster, JohnNicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)
    Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)Wall, P. H. B.
    Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)Nield, Basil (Chester)Ward, Miss I. (Tynemoutn)
    Galbraitn, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)Nugent, G. R. H.Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon C
    Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Oakshott, H. D.Watkinson, H. A.
    George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. LloydO'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)Wellwood, W.
    Glover, D.Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. DWilliams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
    Godber, J. B.Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
    Gomme-Duncan, Col. AOrr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Williams, R Dudley (Exeter)
    Gough, C. F. H.Orr-Ewing, Sir tan (Weston-super-Mare)Wills, G.
    Graham, Sir FergusPage, R. G.Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
    Grimond, J.Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
    Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)Perkins, Sir RobertTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
    Mr. Studholme and Mr. Legh.


    Acland, Sir RichardAttleen, Rt. Hon. C. R.Benson, G.
    Adams, RichardAwbery, S. S.Bing, G. H. C.
    Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.Blackburn, F.
    Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Bence, C. R.Blenkinsop, A.
    Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)Benn, Hon. WedgwoodBlyton, W. R.

    The Committee divided: Ayes, 208; Noes, 187.

    Boardman, H.Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Rankin, John
    Bowden, H. W.Hynd, H. (Accrington)Reeves, J.
    Brockway, A. F.Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Reid, Thomas (Swindon)
    Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Reid, William (Camlachie)
    Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Janner, B.Rhodes, H.
    Brown, Thomas (Ince)Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
    Burke, W. A.Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
    Butter, Herbert (Hackney, S.)Johnson, James (Rugby)Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
    Calfaghan, L. J.Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
    Carmichael, J.Jones, David (Hartlepool)Ross, William
    Champion, A. J.Jones, Jack (Rotherham)Shackleton, E. A. A.
    Chapman, W. D.Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
    Clunie, J.Keenan, w.Short, E. W.
    Coldrick, W.Kenyon, C.Shurmer, P. L. E.
    Collick, P. H.King, Dr. H. M.Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
    Corbel, Mrs. FredaKinley, J.Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
    Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Lawson, G. M.Skeffington, A. M.
    Crosland, C. A. R.Lee, Frederick (Newton)Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)
    Crossman, R. H. S.Lewis, ArthurSlater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)
    Cullen, Mrs. A.Lindgren, G. S.Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
    Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Logan, D. G.Sorensen, R. W.
    Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)MacColl, J. E.Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
    Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)McGovern, J.Sparks, J. A.
    de Freitas, GeoffreyMclnnes, J.Steele, T.
    Deer, G.McKay, John (Wallsend)Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
    Delargy, H. J.McLeavy, F.Strachey, Rt. Hen. J.
    Dodds, N. N.McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
    Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Sylvester, G. O.
    Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
    Fernyhough, E.Mann, Mrs. JeanThomas, George (Cardiff)
    Fletcher, Erie (Islington, E).Manuel, A. C.Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
    Foot, M. M.Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
    Forman, J. C.Mason, RoyThornton, E.
    Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Mellish, R. J.Timmons, J.
    Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.Mitchrson, G. R.Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
    Gibson, C. W.Moody, A. S.Viant, S. P.
    Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Morley, R.Warbey, W. N.
    Grey, C. F.Moyle, A.Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)
    Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Mulley, F. W.Weitzman, D.
    Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Murray, J. D.Wells, Peroy (Faversham)
    Hale, LeslieNeal, Harold (Bolsover)West, D. G.
    Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)Oliver, G. H.White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flintt)
    Hamilton, W. W.Oswald, T.White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
    Hannan, W.Padley, W. E.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
    Hargreaves, A.Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)Wigg, George
    Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)Paling, WHI T. (Dewsbury)Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
    Hastings, S.Palmer, A. M. F.Wilkins, W. A.
    Hayman, F. H.Pargiter, G. A.Willey, F. T.
    Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)Parker, J.Williams, David (Neath)
    Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)Peart, T. F.Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
    Herbison, Miss M.Plummer, Sir LeslieWilliams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)
    Hobson, C. R-Popplewell, E.Wiliis, E. G.
    Holman, P.Porter, G.Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
    Holmes, HoracePrice, J. T. (Westhoughton)Winterbottom, Riohard (Brightside)
    Houghton, DouglasPrice, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
    Hoy, J. H.Proctor, W. T.Yates, V. F.
    Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)Pryde, D. J.
    Hughes, EmrysPursey, Cmdr. H.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
    Mr. Pearson and Mr. John Taylor.

    Clause read a Second time.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be added to the Bill."

    There are four groups of associated questions to which we thought we could reasonably expect an answer, but to which we have had no answer from the Lord Advocate.

    There is first this interesting point that the Government decided to take this new Clause not on Report stage but on Recommittal. The reason for that decision was presumably that they recognised that it involved a financial burden. No doubt they foresaw that financial burden and estimated its dimensions. It is plain that they foresaw the financial burden and it is equally plain that, as you clearly explained to us, Sir Charles, the Money Resolution covered the Clause. Perhaps the Government will therefore tell us what is the burden which necessitated this procedure, the dimensions of the burden, how they came to make the calculation, and how they came to have such wonderful vision in making provision in the Money Resolution for a possibility of this kind.

    The second group of points, which I had already put to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, is very important to an understanding of why we should add this Clause to the Bill. They arise from the first line of the new Clause which we are about to add—or not to add—to the Bill. I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that it is necessary to explain to the Committee what general Acts, and more particularly what local Acts, he had in mind when he wrote the Clause in this form. Plainly, had he been thinking only of these unfit houses which are covered by the Housing Acts, there was no need to write these words at all. He must, therefore, be thinking of another category of unfit houses which fall to be considered in this Bill, but which arise only under some general Act, or, more strangely, some local Act. I, in common with many of my hon. Friends, have had a fair experience of local government, but I admit, apologetically, that I cannot think of a Scottish local Act under which unfit houses are treated with the type of treatment laid down in Clauses 2 and 4. I have no doubt, however, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will tell the Committee candidly and in full to what Acts he is referring.

    Third, did the new Clause arise from the definition of ownership in the Public Health Act, 1887? The Government seem to have had second and third and fourth thoughts. This new Clause seems to be the fourth thought. There was a Money Resolution that was not proceeded with, and then a second which represented second thoughts. We had more thoughts in Standing Committee, and some Amendments of which the Government gave us notice. This new Clause is a completely new one, and probably is a fourth thought.

    It has been suggested to me—I am not sure whether it is right—that this fourth thought arose from representations from the Law Society. There is nothing improper in that, but I understand that the Law Society was concerned about the definition arising from the Public Health Act, 1887. If I am completely mistaken about that, no doubt the right hon. and learned Gentleman will put us right, because it is very important to understand that. It would be interesting historically if the right hon. and learned Gentleman were able to tell us whether or not the fourth thought of the Government arose from representations made by the Law Society and arising out of the definition of ownership in the Public Health Act, 1887.

    Finally, there are some phrases in the new Clause that it would be better that we understood. I can understand "trustee." "Factor" is in common usage in Scotland, but for the benefit of English Members it would be better if the Lord Advocate explained and defined it. Then we come to "tutor," into which my right hon. Friend has been conducting some interesting researches. It would be well if the right hon. and learned Gentleman could give us a definition of that. "Curator" I think I can understand, but some of my hon. Friends have told me that they are very puzzled by the use of this word.

    Much as I should like and as, I am sure, many of my hon. Friends would like definitions of these four words, those are not to us the most important questions. I have given the questions in what seems to me the order of their importance. The first and not unreasonable request is that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should tell us precisely what general Acts and what local Acts he is considering as governing the treatment of unfit houses and which led him, therefore, to seek the extension of the form provided in the Act of 1950. That seems to us to be the most important question, but secondly, it would be interesting if the right hon. and learned Gentleman were to tell us also how he came to visualise the financial commitments. Normally, as I am sure he will agree, the new Clause would have been brought up on Report. Thirdly, perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman will answer my inquiry about the representations from the Law Society and their relationship to the Public Health Act, 1887. We shall all be delighted to have the definitions.

    10.15 p.m.

    As regards the first question, the amount of the burden on the rates is unknown. Provision, of course, has been made for that As regards the second question—

    That is half of my first question. Since the Government foresaw that, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman also explain why they did not mention it in Standing Committee? The Government must have foreseen it or, as I have explained, they would have taken it on Report. The Bill must have been recommitted because the Government understood that there was an additional financial obligation.

    The whole point of the new Clause arose as a result of a decision in the Sheriff Court in Glasgow. Several hours ago I stated that as the basis on which we were introducing the new Clause.

    The second question asked what were the public general Acts and the local Acts that we had in mind when referring to them in the Clause. These Acts are referred to merely as supplying the machinery by which a local authority would seek to recover expenses. The Public General Acts under which local authorities in Scotland can recover such expenses are the Public Health Acts and the Burgh Police Act, to mention two of them. As regards local Acts, probably the right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that Edinburgh and Glasgow and several other of the larger cities in Scotland, instead of relying on the general provisions of the Public Health Act, the Burgh Police Act—the latter in particular—have their own local code for machinery of recovery. That is why local Acts are also included.

    In reply to the third point, the origin of the new Clause was the decision in the Sheriff Court in Glasgow. Following upon that decision, representations were made not only by the Law Society of Scotland but the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland. They based their requests on the consequences of that recent decision in the Sheriff Court. It is to try to remedy that primarily that the Clause was introduced.

    The final question asked for legal definitions. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman wants a definition of "trustee." "Factor" is what in Scotland we call a judicial factor appointed by the court. A "tutor" is the representative of a pupil child and a "curator" is the representative of the minor child. By the use of these words—
    "trustee factor, tutor, curator … agent … or … liquidator"—
    we are covering all the various people in a fiduciary capacity.

    During an interval in the proceedings this afternoon, I looked up in Chambers' Dictionary, which seemed to me to be likely to be one that would appeal to Scotland, the definition of a tutor. It said there:

    "In Scots law, a guardian of a person as well as the estate of a boy under 14 or girl under 12."

    The right hon. Gentleman is giving an accurate description, but instead of

    "a boy under 14 or girl under 12"
    I said "a pupil," because a pupil in Scotland is precisely that. I do not think we are in disagreement.

    I thought the school-leaving age was the same in Scotland as it was England, but this seems to be another example of the difficulties we get into when we have to discuss Scots law in a Committee into which some Englishmen venture.

    What I should like to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman is this. I gather that what I have read out is an accurate description of the word, although perhaps not in precise legal terms, but why is there inequality of the sexes in this matter? I am sure that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Joint Under-Secretary, to whom the right hon. and learned Gentleman is appealing, knowing that every nice girl loves a sailor, will be able to give him some advice on that point. Who will look after the pupil when he passes beyond the stage when a tutor is responsible? Who takes on the responsibility? Is any liability that has been incurred by the tutor to be discharged by the person who takes over?

    It seems to me that we have again got into one of those intricacies of Scottish law that does not worry us in England. Here a person is appointed a guardian or trustee of a minor, and the trust that is imposed lasts until the person reaches 21 years of age or occasionally some later age. I hope that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman or the right hon. and learned Gentleman will be able to give me some information on this point.

    We have had a remarkable admission from the Lord Advocate. He said that the Government's reason for introducing this new Clause was because of a decision arrived at in the Glasgow Sheriff Court, which made it necessary to have provision made for that contingency in the Money Resolution. But the money Resolution was passed some weeks before the case was heard in the Sheriff Court, so we really cannot accept that statement as being the reason. That is a cheap way to treat the Committee. It is intolerable that statements such as that should be thrown across the Committee by the Lord Advocate as a justification for this new Clause.

    I am further concerned about this new Clause for another reason. Was any analysis made of the sum involved and an approximate figure arrived at? Surely it would have been possible to arrive at a figure for which the local authority was to be responsible. The Lord Advocate said he had no assessment of the amount which might fall on the local rates through this new Clause. But was there no explanation at all? Have the Government not asked the City of Edinburgh or the City of Glasgow how much property of this type was on the valuation roll? The information could easily have been obtained from the valuation returns. The rents are on the valuation roll, and if it were an assessment of a house within a building, we could have had a figure given to us.

    I see the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. J. N. Browne), the Minister's Parliamentary Private Secretary, who is so good at running backwards and forwards and collating data in order to help his right hon. and gallant Friend through these troublesome times. He seems to have his mind quite made up that this could not have been assessed. I do not know the period in which the hon. Gentleman sat on local government, and how much of this material he has been in the habit of dealing with during his long years of local government service, but some of us have had a great deal to do with rating appeals arising from the subjects to which this new Clause is applied. It was not an easy job. We came across sad cases in the courts in connection with our work, so I ask him to be a little chary of doubting the sincerity of those of us who are trying to put forward this case tonight.

    I do not want to appear to be rude, but I must again ask the Lord Advocate to reconsider what he said about the decision of the Glasgow Sheriff Court and the Money Resolution covering the eventualities arising under this Clause. It will not hold water. We cannot have explanations of that kind, made so loosely. Could I have an answer?

    Perhaps the Lord Advocate will give an answer to my hon. Friend later. Earlier today there was discussion as to whether this matter should come before the Scottish Grand Committee or before a Committee of the whole House. In view of the events that have taken place, it is just as well that it came before a Committee of the whole House.

    The hon. and learned Member must devote himself now to the question of whether this Clause should be added to the Bill.

    I bow to your Ruling, Sir Rhys. What I was saying was just as relevant to this question as to the other one. As it turns out, this Clause is imposing an additional burden upon the British Exchequer. Therefore, it is right that English Members should have an opportunity of hearing a discussion and perhaps taking part in it.

    One of the points I want to make follows the line taken by my hon. Friends about the definitions of the words "factor," "tutor," "curator," and "agent." It is clear that in Scotland they are terms apart and have a special meaning. Therefore, as this Bill will affect not only Scottish people but also will place a burden upon the poor English, it is right that they should know what these words mean.

    I am at a loss to know, therefore, why they have not been included in the interpretation Clause. I know that we have not reached that Clause yet but I hope that in time, this day or some day, we may come to it and I suggest to the Government that it would be appropriate to put these terms of art into that Clause.

    I asked a Government spokesman some questions about other phrases in the Clause but I received no answer. What does "entitled to receive" mean? Who is to receive and who is to deter mine the question of title? What evidence is to be adduced as to that title? There is another phrase in line 6 of the Clause—

    10.30 p.m.

    These questions seem to be directed to the Question "That the Clause be read a Second time "and not to the Question. "That the Clause be added to the Bill."

    I am speaking to that latter Question, Sir Rhys, and I am submitting that it would be inappropriate to add the Clause to the Bill without its being fully defined. I am indicating that there are phrases in the Clause which have not been denned and which should be defined before the Clause is added. There is the phrase,

    "… has not had, in his hands …"
    Who is to prove what he has in his hands? What tribunal is to prove it? When that tribunal so decides is there to be an appeal from the tribunal? Before the Clause is added to the Bill all these questions should be answered so that the Committee may know what it is adding to the Bill.

    In arguing why the Clause should be added to the Bill the Lord Advocate suggested that the Government were taking note of an interpretation of the law in the Glasgow Sheriff Court and that whatever expense was involved to the local authority or to the Government was covered by the original estimate of the Money Resolution to the Bill. Will the Lord Advocate tell us when this case arose in the Glasgow court? The House passed the Money Resolution towards the end of January. It was held over during the Christmas Recess. Therefore, if the case of which we have heard today took place after January this year we must congratulate the Government on their amazing powers of pre-vision.

    An apt word if we take its connotation. The Government were able to perceive a case that was going to arise—

    It may help the hon. Member if I say that the date of the case was June, 1953.

    That is rather strange. The right hon. and learned Gentleman would have saved a great deal of thought on the part of the Committee if he had been a little more specific earlier. When the right hon. and learned Gentleman was addressing himself to a legal argument, why could not he have told the Committee that that was the date? And if that was the case, why was not this Clause introduced when the Bill was originally presented? Of course, it is an afterthought, and I am inclined to think that the Lord Advocate himself is an afterthought.

    The Committee cannot possibly accept the casual manner in which the Lord Advocate dealt with the provisions of this new Clause. He told the Committee that the total amount of money required was an unknown quantity, and then he said that there was ample provision for the cost of the outlay in connection with the Clause.

    Can the Lord Advocate tell the Committee how much that will mean to certain large burghs and counties in Scotland? How much will it mean to Alloa, which at present has a consolidated rate of 29s. in the £? How much will it mean to the landward area of Peebles which at present is paying 25s. l0d. in the £? How much will it mean to Innerleithen, where the present figure is 26s. l0d. in the £?

    In the figures recently returned by the Secretary of State for Scotland in answer to a Question it was shown clearly that 20 large burghs in Scotland had consolidated rates of over 20s. and that at least 30 counties were in a similar position. Does the Government realise that this will shake the economy of Scottish local government to its foundations? Do they realise that there are small burghs in Scotland whose income is so low that they could not possibly tackle the reconstruction of one slum building?

    I do not find any connection between the argument of the hon. Gentleman and the Question before the Committee.

    I am confining myself to the words of the Lord Advocate and if I am out of order I suggest that the Lord Advocate was certainly out of order.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause added to the Bill.

    Bill reported, with Amendments, as amended (in the Standing Committee and on recommittal), considered.

    I beg to move, "That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned."

    In moving this Motion, may I ask that the Secretary of State tell the House what is the intention of the Government regarding further progress?

    The original intention of the Government was to get the Report stage and Third Reading of the Bill, although I admit that we have not progressed as rapidly as could have wished. But that intention was announced by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. I am not the Leader of the House and I can only say, at this stage, that I have had no contrary instructions. We have suspended the Rule, it is now only twenty minutes to eleven and I hope the House will agree to proceed and make as much progress as we can.

    I do not know whether or not the right hon. Gentleman is speaking by leave of the House.

    I was about to propose that the Motion should be withdrawn if we got a satisfactory answer.

    Before the Motion is withdrawn, I should like to say that I hope that the House will not think that Scottish Members are being unreasonable. [Interruption.] I heard one hon. Gentleman opposite say, "Of course, they are," and the Joint Under-Secretary laughed derisively at the remark I made. I want to tell the House just how Scottish Members have been behaving.

    Scottish Members spent 24 sittings in Committee on the Bill. We did not complain about that. The Closure was moved on six occasions during the Committee stage, four times by the Opposition and twice by the Government. Since then we have dealt with one or two other Measures. We had the Long Leases (Scotland) Bill, the Committee stage of which we completed at one sitting of the Standing Committee.

    Only last week we disposed of the Second Reading of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Bill, a Bill of 74 Clauses and 10 Schedules, in the space of three hours. We took three hours on the Second Reading of a Bill which the Government described as the most complicated they had introduced. Then we proceeded at the same sitting of the House to complete the consideration in Committee of the Electricity Reorganisation (Scotland) Bill.

    From that it will be seen that Scottish Members have not been guilty of delaying proceedings upon Scottish legislation. In fact, there are some people who now accuse Scottish Members on the Opposition benches of spending insufficient time upon some legislation. We on this side of the Committee attach considerable importance to the Bill we are now considering. We had a long Committee stage. We said that we were willing to sit at any hour of the day or night to give adequate consideration to the Measure.

    The Government suggested that we should complete the Third Reading at today's Sitting. We took the recommittal stage first. We have just arrived at the Report stage, at nearly 10.45 p.m., and the Secretary of State says that he hopes to complete the Third Reading at this Sitting. There are three new Clauses, a new Schedule and about 30 Amendments in the name of the Secretary of State, and he suggests that we should complete—

    Most of them were put down to meet points raised by hon. Members opposite.

    10.45 p.m.

    We cannot discuss their merits now; otherwise I should be delighted to do so and to show that the right hon. Gentleman is wrong in suggesting that they were put down in response to appeals made by Members of the Opposition. Some of them certainly are, but a great many are unacceptable to hon. Members of the Opposition. We suggest that it is unreasonable of the Government, particularly in view of the behaviour of the Opposition recently, to suggest at this time that we should proceed to the Report stage of the Bill with the intention of completing that stage and the Third Reading at this day's Sitting, when we only move on to the Report stage at a quarter to eleven o'clock at night.

    I ask the Secretary of State for an assurance that there will not be unreasonable demands upon ton. Members. This is not the Scottish Grand Committee. We said we were prepared to sit at any hour of the day or night. On many occasions during the passage of this Bill the Government have only won Divisions with the assistance of non-Scottish hon. Members, but it is improper to ask the whole House of Commons to begin the Report stage of a Scottish Bill with all these pages of Amendments with the intention of completing the Report stage and Third Reading at this day's Sitting.

    The Secretary of State has said, in reply to a request to indicate what progress he hoped to make, that he was not the Leader of the House, and had no instruction from the Leader of the House, apart from the instruction to continue with the Report stage and proceed to the Third Reading. Since he made that statement the Leader of the House has arrived. The Leader of the House has not been here very much today, but I hope he will now say something about the Government's intentions regarding business.

    I have to ask leave of the House to speak again. I did ask the Secretary of State whether the Government might feel inclined to take the House into its confidence over its intentions, and I want to make clear that hon. Members on this side of the House are not trying to be obstructive. Just before the Leader of the House came in, one of my hon. Friends gave examples of Bills being passed through in very short periods. This is rather a difficult Bill on which people feel strongly. I think the Secretary of State said that at first it had been intended to finish the Report stage and Third Reading. By that I gather that he meant that the Government did not intend to be unreasonable, and that if the Report stage were not finished by the time expected he would be prepared to propose some other arrangement.

    I would repeat the assurance that there is no intention by a section of the House to be unreasonable, although we feel it our duty to discuss some of these important Amendments, some of which have been put down in response to Amendments moved by us, and some of which are considerable alterations of the Bill which it would be wrong to pass over.

    I am glad to respond to the request of the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn). I am sorry that I was not here when the Motion was moved, but I did not realise that it was to be moved.

    The fact is that the House earlier suspended the Rule. I would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that the purpose of suspending the Rule is, of course, to make progress after the normal Sitting time. I accept from the right hon. Gentleman that there is no desire to be obstructive or anything of that sort, but I really think it is too soon yet to make any pronouncement about how far we can go. As the right hon. Gentleman has said that he does not want to be obstructive, I think that the best thing would be to withdraw the Motion now and make progress.

    The right hon. Gentleman said that there were a great number of Government Amendments. I understand from my right hon. Friend that a great number of them are designed to meet specific points raised by the Opposition, and, while they may be numerous, many of them do not entail a great deal of discussion. We must see how we progress with them.

    On the basis that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman implies reasonableness on the part of the Government at a later stage tonight, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

    Motion, by leave, withdrawn.