§ 3.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Dalton (Bishop Auckland)
I beg to move,That this House deplores the proposal of His Majesty's Government to increase the proportion of new houses to be sold, thus reducing the number available to be let in accordance with need, and so prolonging the time which those on local authority housing lists with greatest need must wait before being rehoused; and also deplores the proposal to sell houses now owned by local authorities, since this also must reduce the pool available for letting to families of limited means.The object of this Motion is to follow up statements made last week in this House and at a Press conference held by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Housing and Local Government, and, in the light of that statement, to expose another broken Tory Election promise in the field of housing. During the Election 300,000 was a figure sometimes mentioned, not perhaps by the Minister of Works, to whom I listened attentively at Question time, but by other speakers in support of the present Government.
The figure of 300,000 houses a year was the greatest of all the promises dangled before the more credulous electors; that figure has now gone down the wind of polling day, and now we are told that they are not tied to any one figure more than another. I hope that perhaps the right hon. Gentleman, when he moves his Amendment later, will tell us, if he can, in which year he now thinks the target of 300,000 will be hit. He told us when he last spoke that it would not be next year and that it would not be the year after. Beyond that he could not say. If he has got the date any more precisely determined now, we should like to know.
There was another promise which I will quote from the Tory Election Manifesto:There should be no reduction in the number of houses and flats built to let.If the policy announced last week becomes effective, which depends entirely on the reactions of local authorities, that promise will certainly be broken, too, because the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman fall into two main propositions, first, that there should be a large increase in the proportion of new houses which are to be sold and not let, and second, that local authorities are to be encouraged to sell many exiting council houses which are 2228 now let. It is on those two points that this Motion concentrates.
The right hon. Gentleman must move his own Amendment and state his case in his own way, and I shall only make two comments on the Amendment as it appears on the Order Paper. In the first place, I should like to make it clear—and I think this is a matter which lies outside immediate inter-party debate—that my right hon. and hon. Friends have no objection, in principle, to people owning their own houses. It has, of course, been frequently subject to misrepresentation by hon. Members opposite, who have said that if we got a secure majority not only would nobody else be allowed to own a house but that those who did own houses would have them taken away. That is typical Tory propaganda.
But I can say, from my own knowledge, that in the Labour Party there is no objection whatever in principle to people owning their own houses. On the other hand, it is important to consider whether an extension of house ownership at this time is going to be the same thing as giving additional houses to those who most need them, and to this point I shall devote a few moments.
If there are two people—or two families—after one house, and one of them has a housing need greater than the other owing to family circumstances or the conditions under which he is at present living, but can only afford to rent a house and cannot afford to buy it, and if the other whose housing need is less can afford to buy it, I maintain that this is not a good case for extending house ownership, but that that particular house should be let to the person or family with the greater housing need.
It is that proposition which leads us to disagree with some of the approaches of the right hon. Gentleman. The effect of the Government's policy, we think, will often be to let a new house pass into the hands of persons whose housing need is not the greatest, but who can buy, or borrow money in order to buy, the house. That is the first comment I wish to make about house ownership.
My second comment is on a phrase in the Amendment. "The Times" calls it a spirited Amendment; I will quote "The Times" in another connection a moment. The Amendment speaks ofa determined and overdue attack upon the housing problem.2229 I thought there would have been cheers at that from the benches opposite. Now let me give some figures. Since the end of the war more than five million people in this island have been rehoused—the great majority of them in very good houses indeed, in good council houses far better, on the average, than either the pre-war council house or the pre-war private building. On the average, they are certainly better.
I want to make clear, first of all, that these five million people who have been rehoused since the end of the war—are now much better housed than the great majority of those who have not had the benefit of moving into the new council houses. The whole standard of housing in this country has been definitely raised as a result of the actions of the Government which held office from 1945 until recently. That is one of the greatest of the social advances made since the Labour Government were returned to power at the end of the war.
Figures have been asked for, and I can refer hon. Members to the figures published only yesterday, up to the end of October, from which it will be seen that since the end of the war, taking Great Britain as a whole, the number of new permanent houses and flats that have been built is just on a million—979,000. In addition to which, 166,000 temporary houses, many of them quite good, have been built; and the total number of dwellings, including adaptations and conversions and so forth, was 1,475,000 by the end of October, which is a very substantial figure.
If any hon. Member opposite challenges me and says it is not a very substantial figure, then I reply that it is a great deal more substantial, both in actual numbers and as an achievement, than the figure of 750,000 which was furnished to his astonished colleagues by the Conservative Minister of Health at the end of the Coalition Government as the estimate made by him, with all his Departmental knowledge and after close study, of how many houses were required completely to solve the housing problem in Britain, at any rate, for the time being.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Billericay) rose—2230
§ Mr. Dalton
I cannot give way; I want to develop my argument. I shall not speak about Basildon yet.
§ Mr. Braine rose—
§ Mr. Dalton
I am trying to draw a simple conclusion, and I do not want it blurred by the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Braine rose—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. It is quite out of order for an hon. Member to remain standing unless the right hon. Gentleman gives way.
§ Mr. Dalton
All I want to emphasise at the moment is that the figure of new houses actually built, almost all built during the period of Labour rule, is not only substantial in itself but is very much greater than the figure put forward by the Minister of Health, who was the guide in these matters to the Coalition Government in its later days.
§ Mr. Dalton
These figures—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer"]—were frequently quoted during the Election by me and many others.
The other point I wish to make about this period—and I am still speaking of the phrase "a determined and overdue attack"—is that for more than five years out of the post-war period my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) was the responsible Minister. I take my part of the credit for the last period, which was much shorter than his. He had a little less than five years and I had a little more than five months. The credit is due to be distributed between us, perhaps, roughly in that proportion.
During the period in which he held that office, my right hon. Friend showed great qualities which were no surprise to those of us who knew him—great qualities of drive, of encouragement of local authorities—[An HON. MEMBER: "And rudeness"]—and of imagination, which is a quality not at all amiss in a politician setting out to do a big job which has long been neglected by his political opponents.
I say this of my right hon. Friend: the work he did during those five years will 2231 endure and his name will be remembered by many of those people who, as a result of the activities guided by him, have found new hope and happiness in new homes, better than ever they knew in the days of Tory rule. So much for the past.
I turn now to the somewhat doubtful future towards which the right hon. Gentleman is seeking to lead us. The new policy consists, first, of the proposal to increase the proportion of houses built for sale. I have here the relevant circulars. I do not know whether all right hon. and hon. Gentlemen have noticed—I did not notice it myself until I read it a second time—that the arrangement whereby licences may now be issued for the private builder, operating independently of the local authority, up to a maximum of one-half of the 1952 allocation, is in regard only to the 1952 building period. The circular goes on to say—and these words may carry a very sinister meaning:Arrangements for the following year will be reviewed in the light of experience of the first year's working.That may well mean that in 1953 more than a half may be put out to private builders for sale. Indeed, it may be that this opens the way—a wide open road—towards the complete supersession of local authority building altogether in many areas and the handing over—[Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman, when pondering what to do next, will observe that many of his hon. Friends would welcome just what I have described, namely, the handing over of the whole cow to the private builder and the disappearance of the local authority from the scene altogether. That is a very interesting admission. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who made it?"] Some hon. Member applauded.
§ Mr. Nicholson
It is most unfair for the right hon. Gentleman to assume, when hon. Members laugh at his statements, that that means that they agree with what he says.
§ Mr. Nicholson
The right hon. Gentleman may think that is a joke. In fact, I did not open my mouth. If the right hon. Gentleman attempts to mix serious political arguments with facetiousness this treatment is what he must expect.
§ Mr. Dalton
Then the hon. Gentleman is a bad witness in this case.
What I am asking the right hon. Gentleman to tell us is this: in the case of local authorities who are disinclined to take advantage of this new permission to raise the percentage from one-fifth to one-half, will any pressure be put upon them by him to get them to raise the percentage? Many local authorities will strongly resist doing anything of this kind—strongly, and in many cases rightly in the interests of their own people, whom they represent.
This is a perfectly fair question: Is it in the right hon. Gentleman's mind to bring pressure to bear upon local authorities, who are reluctant to issue licences up to one-half, in order to persuade them to do so—possibly financial pressure in connection with the re-arrangement of the subsidy? We should like to know what is in the right hon. Gentleman's mind.
When I was in charge of the Department the approach which I made to the problem was this: when a local authority asked for an increase above one-fifth—and I would add that not very many did and that hardly any large authorities did; although a fair number of relatively small authorities, some rural and some semi-rural did—in each case I tried to judge how far there was a special reason for raising the percentage. I compared the number of people on their waiting lists who wanted to buy a house with the number who wanted only to rent a house and I also looked at their building performance in relation to their allocation.
My practice was to make a concession only in the case of an authority which had a good building record and where it was clear that, for some exceptional reasons there was a special demand for more houses to buy rather than to rent. Generally speaking, however, when I made a concession in these terms I did not raise the percentage above one in four. I put a certain number up from one in five to one in four. If my memory is correct here—and I have not the exact record—there was only one case in which I put the percentage above that; there was a case where I made it two in five, but that seemed to me a very exceptional case.
That was my approach to the matter, and then when the question was of one in five or a little above we could accept 2233 the fact—and we did accept it—that apart from the local byelaws the minimum standards which applied to the council houses did not apply to the houses built by private builders for sale or for letting. We accepted this because it was a relatively small proportion of the new building programme that was involved, but this will become a much more serious matter—this lack of any control over the standards of private building—if the general rule of one in two is to become accepted, because then the number of houses built without the safeguard of the Dudley formula or anything of that kind, will greatly increase.
I fear—and here I should like the right hon. Gentleman to elucidate his mind in the matter—that, if we get a large number of houses built without proper minimum standards as laid down by the Dudley Committee, the next stage may be to say to the local authorities, "Well, you see, you are getting rather exceptional now. Most houses are now being built without the Dudley formula, and, therefore, perhaps, you can do away with it, or modify it substantially"
The right hon. Gentleman was reported—I do not know whether correctly or not—in one paper to have said:I do not want to he accused of falling below the Dudley standard prematurelyIf he did not say that, then the point does not arise; but if he did, then I should like to know what he had in mind—whether he had the thought that the Dudley standard would continue for a year or two and then be set aside.
"The Times" had a leading article the day after the right hon. Gentleman spoke, which I am sure he read. They were very much concerned at the prospect of a great proportion of houses being built by private builders without any such control as operated in the case of council houses. "The Times" used these words:If it is right for the Government to prescribe minimum standards of size and design for council dwellings it is surely right that the same standards should apply to all newly built houses. Present stringencies do not justify the building of houses by anyone of a quality which the nation will come to regret 20 years henceI put this point to the right hon. Gentleman, that, if the development of this policy is to lead to a substantial increase in the proportion of houses built outside 2234 the present range of the Dudley formula, then it is well worth considering whether some additional control should not be applied to new houses built for sale or for letting by private owners.
Let me pass for a moment to the word "comparable" in the circular—in the phrase "comparable housing needs" It is said in the circular:When houses are to he built for sale—and so on—houses built under licence must go, and be seen to go, to persons with a housing need comparable to that served by houses built by the authorityI do not know what "comparable" means. Does it mean "equal" or does it not mean "equal"? If it means equal, and if there is a points system operating, as most local authorities have, then it will mean we cannot get nearly as many as half of the total number of houses disposed of for sale, because as we move down the waiting list, upon the points system, the great majority of the people appearing on the waiting list of almost every local authority I have come across will be unable to buy the houses.
Therefore, if we stick to strict equality it will mean that we shall not get up to one half for sale; and, in order to get up to one half we must use "comparable need" in some different sense. If it does not mean exact equality, I should very much like to know just what it does mean. Does it mean, in particular, that we shall have two classes of citizens, arranged in order of need within each of the classes, the first with the power to buy, the second without?
Is that what it means? If that is what it means, then, of course, cases of lesser need in the first class will certainly be met before the cases of greater need in the second. We are already aware from the Press that many local authorities are very much concerned at the possibility of people who can afford to buy houses jumping the queue—jumping over people who are not able to buy. That, of course, would arouse great anger locally, and should, if at all possible, be avoided.
Now we come to the policy of the sale of existing houses by local authorities. Although my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale, and I made certain concessions in regard to the first matter—that is to say, the proportion of houses that might be built for sale by private enterprise—neither he nor 2235 I ever authorised any such sale as is now being proposed. We did not do so because we thought that it was open to very great objection on many counts. This is such an important matter that the House should be told what are to be the conditions.
I think that the right hon. Gentleman has promised a further circular. Perhaps he could tell us something of its contents. What conditions does he propose to attach to such sales? In particular, will there be a full right of resale by the person who is buying the house to some other person who wishes to buy it—a right of resale from one private person to another—without any effective control by the local authority?
Piecemeal sales of houses on a council estate will make serious difficulties in the administration of the estate, as regards repair and maintenance, and in the general appearance of the houses, and so on. All this will pass out of the control of the local authority responsible for the estate as an entity, and great difficulties may arise. But the most important argument in all this, in my view, is that the proposal will operate to reduce the pool of houses available for letting to the poorer families unable to buy and with the greatest housing needs.
This is illustrated by a Scottish case, but I mention it here because I believe that hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies are to speak in this debate, and the Secretary of State himself may be able, perhaps, to deal with this. Glasgow Corporation have apparently rushed forward with a proposal to sell 600 municipal houses recently completed or on the point of completion, the only condition being that those houses are to be dwelt in for a period of three years by the purchasers. After that, all is at large. This seems to me to be open to very great objection.
It came to my notice in this way: in the "News Chronicle" last Thursday there were two paragraphs about Glasgow. On page 5 there was a paragraph saying that Glasgow University Survey had found that juvenile delinquency in Glasgow was largely due to bad housing. On page 2 there was this statement about the Glasgow Corporation's intention to sell 600 new council houses. I cannot believe that many of the tenement dwellers and other people with the greatest housing need in Glasgow will be able to buy any of those 2236 600 houses. That exactly illustrates the great objection to this procedure.
I fear that this Government's housing policy may, under certain pressures exercised upon the right hon. Gentleman, go from bad to worse. He will be subject to two pressures. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, of course, will be on the look out for any savings anywhere—in subsidies, at any rate, economies at all costs—except on interest charges: he is very extravagant over interest charges. Interest charges to local authorities will no doubt rise still higher as part of the great plan for dearer money, and, as they rise, no doubt the building societies, as already rumoured, will put up their interest charges, thereby making it more difficult still for people of moderate means, struggling on a narrow margin, to decide whether they can undertake the purchase of a house.
I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman will be hard-pressed along a reactionary road by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He will also be hard-pressed by the private builders, who will wish him to set them quite free. They think that they are hardly beginning to be free yet. They will want to be quite free to build what they like, how they like and where they like, regardless of the Dudley formula, or of planning controls, or of troublesome restrictions of any kind. I do not know how far the right hon. Gentleman will stand up to them. I hope he will at an early stage but he will be subject to their pressure. The master builders, I notice, only welcome the first instalment of the new policy which he has announced, as being, what they call, "a step in the right direction" They want much more of the same medicine, the same stimulus.
My final submission is that, even in this first instalment, this policy will do a great injustice to many of those who are in the greatest need of houses, and it is for that reason that I have moved this Motion.
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Harold Macmillan)
I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from "House," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:welcomes the decision of His Majesty's Government, as part of a determined and overdue attack upon the housing problem, to encourage improvements in the design of council 2237 houses, without reducing standards, thereby enabling a larger number to be built from the materials available; to give a greater discretion to local authorities to decide their housing policy in accordance with local needs; and to encourage, with proper safeguards, the ownership of houses by an ever-increasing number of His Majesty's subjectsThe Motion to which this Amendment refers, covers, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) has said, an important and, indeed, a vital section of the housing field. Nevertheless, as he has also said, it is limited in scope. It does not raise the whole complex of problems which are involved in building houses under modern conditions—labour, materials, sites, water supply, sewerage and all the rest. Therefore, I think that he will excuse me if I do not follow his opening sentences when he a little enlarged the field, but thank him for the way in which he has confined himself to the Motion, and do my best to answer the questions which he has posed.
I shall resist the temptation of his opening phrase to refer to the housing record of his Government and that of Lord Addison 25 years ago and also the 4 million or 5 million houses which were to be built in very quick time, promised us in 1945. Nor shall I interfere with the olive branch which he appeared to hold out to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). I should be very sorry if anything I said interfered with any negotiations in that direction.
This Motion arises, as the right hon. Gentleman said, directly from the statement I made in answer to Questions in the House of Commons just a week ago. Indeed, it is even more limited than that, for it deals with only two out of the three decisions which I then announced. Members may recall that my statement was divided into three separate parts. The first was related to the change in the so-called ratio governing the issue of licences, either for sale or for rent, to private persons by local authorities. The second dealt with the Minister's attitude towards local authorities which may apply for permission to sell some of their houses to individual applicants. The third dealt with the question of design of council houses. The Motion omits altogether any reference to the third, and I suppose that this can only be because it commends itself to the right hon. Gentleman and his friends.
§ Mr. Dalton
The reason is that most of these designs were drawn up when I was at the Ministry, before the right hon. Gentleman succeeded me. I think that they were good designs, and they were widely publicised in my time.
§ Mr. Macmillan
I am glad to have that assurance.
It may be useful for me to say more about these new designs for the information of the House and of the country. Following the initiative which the right hon. Gentleman took, the Department has been working for some time on the preparation of suitable designs which would be within the well-known Dudley formula for living accommodation and for size of rooms, and yet allow houses to be built with a smaller superficial area. I have already sent out descriptions of these designs to the local authorities. They will be set out in full in the supplement to the Housing Manual which will be published shortly.
Some of them were shown to the public at the recent building exhibition at Olympia, and I have arranged for them to be available to Members in a room at the House. I hope to have on view at the Ideal Homes Exhibition next February actual houses built to two of these designs. I must remind hon. Members that these are only two selected out of some 20 possibilities. One of the houses at the Exhibition will be a three-bedroom house and the other a two-bedroom house. In that way, I hope that the public will be able to judge for themselves. I repeat, therefore, that these are within the Dudley formula and there is no intention of departing from that formula.
While on the subject of the Dudley formula—and this relates to the question which the right hon. Gentleman asked me—I want to correct a false impression which has been widely current. It has been said that since the Dudley formula is only obligatory for houses built by the local authorities, there is a danger that new houses under the licences given to private builders, whether for sale or for rent, may be what is commonly called "jerry-built" houses.
There might be some force in this suggestion if the only restriction upon private licences were the actual housing laws or byelaws. But the right hon. Gentleman cannot take that line because he knows 2239 quite well that I have followed the example of my predecessors and asked the local authorities, in giving private licences, to see that the standard is equivalent to that laid down by the National House-builders' Registration Council. That Institution must be respectable, even in Socialist eyes, because it was approved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale in 1946. It is one of the better legacies that I have inherited.
Nor can there be any question, to use a phrase, which I read in one of the newspapers, contributed, I think, by one of the hon. Members for Coventry, of the repetition of "the mean streets and dreary suburbs" which some hon. Members fear, because, of course, the right hon. Gentleman knows that the general lay-out must now be approved by the planning authority whether it is a local authority or a private enterprise project. Therefore, although these privately licensed houses may be, and, in some cases, ought to be, of simpler types, and although they may not be in precise conformity to the Dudley standards—for instance, the Ipswich house and the Northampton house which have received publicity in the Press fall short by only a few square feet—it is false to suggest that they will structurally fall into the category of what are commonly called "ferry built."
It may perhaps be said that the danger is that private enterprise houses will be not of too low but of too high a standard. This is not so. We are proposing to control them by laying down a maximum superficial area of 1,500 square feet, the same as before. This follows the practice of the last six years. We shall, in addition, ask local authorities to see that prices are reasonable.
As I explained to the House, I think in answer to a supplementary question the other day, the only divergence into more expensive methods of building will be where we want to encourage, rather than discourage, the use of certain materials which, although expensive, are less difficult to obtain and, therefore, less in conflict with the great body of housing programme. One example in our minds, which the right hon. Gentleman will at once recognise, is the use of hardwood to replace softwood. Finally, the present control on resale will be maintained.
Before I leave this part of the subject, there is one misunderstanding which I 2240 would like to remove. I think that there is a good deal of confusion in the public mind about the phrase "smaller" or "simpler" houses. I have hitherto been speaking, as the right hon. Gentleman has been speaking, of standard accommodation within a smaller superficial area, whatever be the number of rooms in the house. There is another and quite separate question, as to what should be the proportion between the three-bedroom house, the two-bedroom house and the bungalow. Many people think that in the years immediately following the war perhaps too ambitious an effort was made in the building of three-bedroom houses.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
Has the right hon. Gentleman armed himself with the advice of the Central Advisory Committee on this matter?
§ Mr. Macmillan
I was not criticising; I was just explaining what had happened.
I feel that we ought to be careful at the Ministry not to try to lay down the exact proportion for each particular locality, because this surely must depend upon the habits, the age distribution and the needs of the people concerned, and some regard must also be had to the character of the existing houses to which the new houses are to supplement. I am therefore disposed in this, as in other matters, to give guidance rather than orders to local authorities. They have the knowledge and, in my view, they should have the responsibility. But, it may be of interest to the House to know what the development has been in recent years.
In the third quarter of 1948, of the total houses in tenders approved, 75 per cent. were three-bedroom, 16 per cent. were two bedroom and 5 per cent. were bungalows. In the corresponding quarter of this year—which is the latest for which figures are available—the percentage has radically changed. It has gone from 75 per cent. three-bedroom houses to 50 per cent., from 16 per cent. two-bedroom houses to 40 per cent. and from 5 per cent. bungalows to 8½ per cent. I am making careful inquiries to see whether any further guidance should be given to local authorities by the Ministry.
I am particularly anxious to secure the building of sufficient of bungalow type to supply the needs of elderly people. This 2241 serves a double purpose. It gives the kind of house that many old folk require. How often have we heard someone say, "Dad cannot manage the stairs nowadays". I have heard it many times. It may also, by encouraging the old people to move, make room for younger families who are able and willing to take on a larger house. I thought that the House would like this review of standards and types. I pass now from that part of my proposals, which appeared to command some measure of support, to those which are in dispute.
The first deals with the so-called ratio between municipal and private housing. It is argued that there is something wicked, sinister and even diabolic in the increased freedom which I have given to local authorities. I could have understood this argument had it been the declared policy of the Socialist Party that private ownership of houses was an intolerable relic of the past to be tolerated perhaps in the transition era, but eventually to be swept away in the final triumph of Socialism. I should not have agreed with that doctrine, but at least it would have been one that was logically tenable.
But my predecessors cannot maintain this position. For it is they who during the past six years have allowed, or connived at, some proportion of private building. Sometimes the ratio has been one in 10, sometimes one in five. It is true that, following one of the periodical economic crises there was a short period when private licensing was stopped altogether. But this was a matter of expediency and not of policy.
Moreover, I am informed that even when the ratio was one in five—and the right hon. Gentleman made some reference to it today—Ministers accepted the responsibility and exercised the right of giving additional permission in special cases, on the advice, no doubt, of the local authority concerned. How, then, can there be any serious theoretical objection to a decision to increase the permitted ratio? For if private building is a sin, then it is a sin no more respectable for the rarer indulgence in its pleasures.
At the same time there has been a widespread misunderstanding of what is meant by the maximum permitted ratio. Many people have thought that it was our intention to give instructions to the 2242 local authorities that they must hand over to private building a proportion of their allocation—formerly one in five now one in two. Of course, that is not the case and never has been. These ratios have never been mandatory; they have always been permissive. The only mandatory instruction given to local authorities is that they must use at least half of their allocation for building council houses to rent to tenants on their approved lists. With the other half they will in future have just the same discretion as they have had with the one in five previously allowed to them.
All that I have done is to increase the area of their discretion and I say at once, in answer to the question put to me, that no pressure of any kind will be brought upon local authorities, because our whole policy is that they should be the arbiters and not we. I have left the discretion to the local authorities because on this side of the House we think that the local authorities, who, after all, are democratically elected and have to submit themselves for re-election at intervals normally more frequent than we in this House do, are the best judges of local conditions.
It may be that in some areas no private licences will be asked for; it may be in some cases none will be granted. It may be that in others the ratio will work out at one in 10, one in five or one in three. I should be very surprised if in any area it worked out at one in two, but that will be for the local authorities to decide. Judging from what has happened in the past—and it is interesting to see what has happened in the past—I should expect the average number of licences for the whole country to amount to not more than one in four.
When the maximum ratio was one in five the average private licences over the whole country given by the local authorities has been running at the rate of about one in eight. Therefore, I think my estimate is probably the correct one. In exercising their judgment with a maximum of one in two I think it will work out at something of the order of one in three or one in four.
§ Mr. Macmillan
I am not a very good mathematician, but if we take the maximum permitted and the number built, I would say that it will work out at something in the order of one in four for the whole country. In some cases there may be more and in others less, but we all understand how an average is reached.
§ Mr. Macmillan
I come now to the next point. It has been commonly stated that the man with the long purse will jump the queue. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"] All right, but let us examine that: this argument may be excellent for the platform orator or for the cartoonist, but it is not founded on fact. It is a grave distortion of the facts. Whether that will deter some hon. Members opposite and their friends from repeating it I cannot tell. I am not very hopeful. It seems to be right up the street of the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition. It may be the successor to warmongering. What are the facts? The conditions governing private houses for sale or tenancy will be exactly the same under the new plan as they have been in the last six years under the old.
§ Mr. Macmillan
I admit that if there had been no private licences at all for the past six years then I would be more anxious about the conditions I am asking the local authorities to impose. It is in view of the experience of those six years that I am not asking them to do anything new. I am merely asking them to retain the conditions that have operated to the satisfaction of my predecessors.
What are those conditions? First, the size will be controlled; second, the price will have to be approved by the local authority; third, there will be the same conditions on resale as there are now; and, finally—this is the most important condition of all—it would be the duty of the local authority, as it is now, to see that those who apply to become tenants or purchasers of houses built on private account, can prove a housing need similar to those applicants upon the council's lists.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me what I meant by the phrase in the circular: 2244Houses built under licence must go and be seen to go to persons with a housing need comparable to that served by houses built by the local authorityWhat is the meaning of this strange word "comparable"? It means what was meant by the circular issued by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) on the 25th June, 1948. I apologise for the plagiarism. I have taken the phrase the right hon. Gentleman used, and the same words. After all the heavy weather made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland on the matter and his keen cross-examination of me, my simple answer is these are the words which have served him and his predecessor for the last six years.
§ Mr. Macmillan
It will rather delay me. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] All right I will read it. I have read the paragraph.
§ Mr. Macmillan
This is what it says:Licences should not he issued by local authorities in respect of houses built for sale to unknown purchasers. Houses for sale built under licence must go and be seen to go to persons in need of homesIt is the same phrase.It is, therefore, essential that where a house is intended for an owner-occupier the identity of the owner-occupier should be known to the local authority before the licence is issued. It is only in this way that the local authority can satisfy themselves that the issue of a licence will serve a housing need"—and now I come to the wicked word—comparable to that served by the erection of a house built by them.
§ Mr. Bevan
My memory does not enable me to compare that language with the language of the previous circular, but I ask the right hon. Gentleman how he construes the meaning of paragraph 5 of his recent circular, with regard to the size and composition of the family, for whom it is intended, with that of my circular?
§ Mr. Macmillan
That is an entirely different question. I will leave it to the judgment of the House. The two circulars are available. I have quoted from them. Paragraph 5 deals with the size of houses and not with the need.
§ Mr. Macmillan
There is no need for the right hon. Gentleman to try to bully me over this. This is what he said in paragraph 7 (iii) of his circular:The Minister is prepared to leave to them for the same purpose a similar discretion in regard to houses to be erected under licence up to a maximum superficial area of 1,500 square feet. In determining the type and size of houses to be licensed in a particular case the local authority should have regard to the size and composition of the family for whom it is intended.That does not seam different to me.
§ Mr. Macmillan
Of course, not only the number of children but the sexes of the children and things of that kind. I know quite well what I mean when I speak of the size and the composition of my own family.
§ Mr. Bevan
We ought to be clear about this. [HON. MEMBERS: "We are."] Hon. Members are not very clear, and that is why they are vigorous in their interruptions. What I should like to know is this—we know what is the size of the family, but do we understand in this case that when application is made for a licence the number of superficial feet and the size of the houses stated in the licence is to be determined by the local authority in relation to the size of the family and the composition of it? Is that what he means?
§ Mr. Macmillan
What it says in paragraph 5 is that the maximum superficial area shall be 1,500 feet. We are dealing with the question of the size of the house not the need. In determining the size and the type, up to 1,500 feet is a maximum not a minimum, and regard has to be had to the people in the family, the sexes of the children and whether an old grandmother is with them or not. This is not new, and the words which I have put into the circular are taken from the existing circular. Why should I do otherwise than fortify myself with the words which proved to be successful in settling the need and the size in the previous granting of private licences.
§ Mr. Ernest Popplewell (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West) rose—2246
§ Mr. Macmillan
I must get on. I say once more—I am sorry to reiterate it, but it is necessary to repeat it—the ratio is permissive. It is not a new idea; it is an extension of the existing practice. It gives a wider discretion to the local authorities, and it maintains precisely the same safeguards. If hon. Members can suggest any safeguards which are not contained in this circular but which they would like to see, I will certainly consider them, but we have exactly the same safeguards now as we had in the past.
§ Mr. A Blenkinsop (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)
On that point about safeguards, will the Minister undertake, in that case, not to issue licences in bulk to builders?
§ Mr. Macmillan
Of course, builders will do, as they have done up till now, obtain a set of tenants for whom they are building—or purchasers it may be—and will get the approval of the local authority. Having got their 10 people, they will build their 10 houses on the basis of these Regulations. It has been working now for six years, and they know how to work it. It gives a wider discretion within the same field. It may he that hon. Gentlemen opposite do not trust the local authorities and have no confidence in the locally-elected representatives of the people; and that they prefer bureaucracy to democracy. It may be that, like the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay)—whom I am glad to be able to congratulate on his well-deserved promotion to Privy Councillor—they really think that the gentleman in Whitehall knows best.
The next objection is much more serious and I want to deal with it, if I may have the attention of the House. It is said that the result of this increase in ratio will be to reduce the number of houses to let available from year to year. That really is the whole gravamen of the charge against us. If it were true, it would be a very serious criticism. It is certainly our intention, as announced at the Election, to maintain the number of houses to be built for letting. I am not running away from that at all. Let us just see, so far as it is possible to forecast the figures, how it will work out.
In this matter it may be wise to base ourselves on how the figures have worked out in the past. I am giving figures for 2247 England and Wales. In the last three years, out of a total of 170,000 houses completed, something less than 150,000 have been to let. We have never regarded this total number as adequate. It is vital to our policy to secure an increase, but that is another question from what we are discussing today. The number of houses under construction in England and Wales today is about 190,000. I cannot believe that it will not be possible to speed up the rate at which they will be completed. Let us suppose that we are able to complete 200,000 houses in 1952. Some hon. Members may think that we will do more. I hope we shall, but I am trying to put the argument at its lowest.
Suppose the figure is 200,000. If 200,000 houses are completed, and if the ratio of houses for sale actually works out at one in four, as I think it will work out, basing ourselves on our experience of how the one-in-five ratio worked out, then there will be precisely the same number of houses completed to let in 1952 as there have been in the last three years. There will be 150,000 houses to let and 50,000 to sell. In this calculation I have taken no credit at all for the figure of houses built under licence to rent. Even in these three years they have been running at about 10 per cent. It must not be supposed that all houses built to private licence will be built for sale.
I was very much encouraged, on taking office, at the accounts given to me of the ingenious and enterprising work done in this direction. Some of the houses have recently been given prominence in the newspapers. There is the "Delapré House" built by Messrs. Wilson in Northampton. These are houses built by a private builder for approved tenants from the council list. I hope that as ingenuity and resource are let loose again we shall get back into the market a reasonable amount of private building to let, as we used to have in the old days.
The only condition in which the Opposition can say that we are building fewer houses to let is if two things happen; first, that the average ratio of private licences for purchase rises above one-in-four, which is very unlikely; and secondly, if the total completions fall below 200,000. I say that that is the flimsiest foundation on which a Motion 2248 of virtual censure has ever been presented to the House.
There is one further advantage which we may expect from an increased number of private licences. There is a number of small plots in private ownership. Some people have been saving for years and have bought their own plot in the hope some day of being able to build a house on it. Those plots are not large enough for development by local authorities, but they can be used to great advantage. They do not require elaborate water and sewerage schemes because they only have to be connected with the existing systems. At the same time, there are many private builders ready to start on just such houses.
These builders used to build houses, and they are prepared to do so again. Many of them have drifted off into repair work, sometimes, I must confess, into the wrong kind of repair work. Give them a dozen houses or so to build a year, and they will vet cracking. They will use the housebuilding as what they call "a hospital job," and will do the repairs in their spare time when the weather is had or they are held up for materials. I am very hopeful that in this way we shall be able to attract back into housebuilding valuable resources of both labour and materials.
Let me recapitulate once more these arguments, as simply as I can. The new ratio places responsibility where, in my view, it ought to lie, with the local authority and not with the Minister. It allows greater flexibility of decision to suit the different conditions of each locality. It encourages enterprise and it may bring new housebuilding resources into the housebuilding field. Finally—and this is not to be neglected in our present emergency—every house built to private account, whether to sell or to rent, saves the Exchequer £16 10s. a year—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ah!"]—at the present rate of subsidy, and the local authority £5 10s. a year. I see no grave objection to this result so long as the safeguards to which I have referred are scrupulously observed.
I now come to the last point. I am sorry to have kept the House so long, but there have been a number of interventions. It is the proposal to allow the sale of existing council houses in certain circumstances. It is solemnly asserted 2249 that any such proposal by any authority, whatever may be the conditions in the locality, is either revolutionary or reactionary. I forget which. Hon. Members may recall the famous phrase by Doctor Johnson in which he described foxhunting as "a term of abuse for country gentlemen" I have found during my experience in the House of Commons that the epithets "revolutionary" and "reactionary" are freely applied by us to proposals with which we disagree.
I am not asking Parliament to do anything new, to pass some new law, or enter some untried and novel field. Under the Housing Act, local authorities have always had the right to sell their council houses in certain circumstances. The condition was rightly laid down that they could not do so without the consent of the Minister. Surely the purpose of Parliament in that legislation was that the consent of the Minister should be used to secure that the conditions in the locality made such a proposal reasonable, and that the conditions of the particular purchase were fair and proper, and it was not intended that the consent should be withheld in every case as a matter of policy. That is what my predecessors have done. I think, wrongly. It was surely intended that it should be refused only if the Minister thought there was good reason in the particular case to refuse it.
I know that it is commonly said that the sale of council houses is a retrograde step because it interferes with the proper management of properties as a whole. It is alleged that it tends to create slums. No doubt there would be a certain truth in this, if the policy were wantonly embarked upon and foolishly carried out. There is much evidence to the contrary. The Bourneville Village Trust, in giving evidence to the Faringdon sub-committee—a very respectable authority—of the Central Housing Advisory Committee, said the exact opposite. They said that the scattering of a certain number of privately-owned houses in their large estates of houses let for rent had a most beneficial effect. [HON. MEMBERS: "No"] I am only saying that there is a conflict of evidence which I am entitled to take into account. I would not expect to receive foolish applications from local authorities, and if I did they would not have my approval.
2250 There is the question of the terms. What might have been quite proper before the war might be very unsuitable today. There was then, if not a buyers' market, a reasonably free market. Now there is a sellers' market. It is therefore necessary to make sure that in any such proposals from a local authority there should be proper safeguards to prevent the quick or speculative profit that might be made by a purchaser immediately reselling to another buyer. Just the same safeguards as we propose to make have been made successfully for six years with regard to houses built to private account tinder the ratio.
Before the war, the important thing was to see that a local authority did not ask too low a price. Now we have to make sure that a local authority does not become a profiteer on the shortage any more than anybody else. All these matters are being carefully considered, and I have no doubt that we shall be able to give the necessary guidance to authorities who may wish to take advantage of the permission that I am prepared to give in the proper cases.
There is one final argument used against this proposal. It is that, however carefully and scrupulously it might be applied, the sale of any house which is now occupied by a tenant automatically reduces the total of houses to rent. I would find that argument much more convincing if it were consistent. I have had many questions from hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House who are interested in the working of the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act. It seems to me that they are in something of a dilemma.
On the one hand they are anxious to promote, and they take pride in, expenditure by local authorities to help the private purchase by a tenant from a private landlord of a house normally let to rent. I think the figure for that is something like £40 million in the last few years. On the other hand, they deplore any extension of this practice to municipal houses. Can they seriously maintain that the sale of a privately-owned house to a tenant does not take the house out of the field of tenancy and that only the sale of a municipally-owned house does so? That proposition would not stand a moment's test. Like so many other 2251 arguments, it proves at once too little and too much.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
Surely the hon. Gentleman must see that sale from a local authority to a private owner takes a house out of the field of allocation to let according to need, and thereby reduces the pool.
§ Mr. Macmillan
"Such sale reduces the total pool of tenancy"; that was the argument. I say that the pool of tenancy is as much reduced under the one system as it is under the other.
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew)
Order. If the right hon. Gentleman does not give way, hon. Members must resume their seats.
§ Mr. Macmillan
I cannot help thinking that, in spite of the right hon. Gentleman's disclaimer, the real objection to the Government's proposals rests upon a confused but none-the-less genuine dislike of the whole principle of freedom and the whole conception of private ownership. If that be the challenge, we are quite ready to accept it.
Devout practising Socialists really believe they can manage everybody else's affairs better than the people themselves can. They believe that sincerely, and they believe that it is necessary for their purpose to concentrate property. Curiously enough, this view has been held by many sections and institutions in our country during our long history. At one time it was the Church; at another the King; then the feudal barons; at another, the great Whig landlords; and then the great industrial magnates. Like so many of their predecessors, Socialists only approve of property if they can control it. They only support landlordism if they can be the universal landlord. In the same way, they disapprove of tied cottages—unless, of course, they belong to the nationalised industries—and they have a tied newspaper of their own.
Our purpose is very different. We wish to see the widest possible distribution of property. We think that, of all forms of property suitable for such distribution, house property is one of the best. Of course, we recognise that perhaps for many years the majority of families will 2252 want houses to rent, but, whenever it suits them better or satisfies some deep desire in their hearts, we mean to see that as many as possible get a chance to own their own house.
A few years ago there was the strange incident—I am sorry that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has left the Chamber—of a poster issued by the National Savings Committee to support the National Savings Campaign. It depicted a man leaning over a gate and looking longingly at a cottage in a garden, and the caption was "A bit of land of his own" But that was too dangerous. It might be held by the thoughtless or the ill-instructed to imply that the Government of the day was urging people to save in order to own property. This was rank heresy and might lead to schism. So Lord Silkin went quickly to work, the inquisitors were put upon the job, the poster was withdrawn, and the artist was no doubt duly reprimanded and perhaps liquidated.
Yet, through all these centuries a little property, a home of one's own, has been the people's dream, and if we can do anything to make that dream come true for some, without injuring the rest, we shall be content. I believe that our proposals are practical and will be fruitful. I am sincerely grateful for the good will and sympathy with which they have been received in many quarters and, I am bound to add, in many unexpected quarters, and I commend them sincerely and confidently to the House and to the nation.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
I confess that I looked forward to listening to the right hon. Gentleman making his first important speech in his new office, and I was not surprised by the nature of the speech. He was most at ease where he was least relevant. I also expected that before he sat down he would say a word or two in explanation of the proposal to take in a dollar a year man to help in the housing drive. Great publicity was given in the newspapers a week or so ago to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman was to enlist the services of a business man to help in the housing drive. Do I understand that the proposal was never made?
§ Mr. Derek Walker-Smith (Hertford) rose—
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
I just happen to have the old fashioned view that one ought to be relevant to the Motion before the House.
§ Mr. Macmillan
I began by saying that I thought that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) agreed with me, and had indeed said, that it was of a very limited order, limited to the two topics mentioned in the Motion and that this was not a suitable occasion, although I have no doubt there will be many other occasions, for a general debate upon the whole field of housing.
§ Mr. Dalton
I said that the Motion concentrated upon two points and that I had observed that the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman was about to move went very wide indeed.
§ Mr. Bevan
It will be in the recollection of hon. Members who have been in the House that hardly an aspect of the housing programme has not been touched by the right hon. Gentleman. He has mentioned the selection of tenants, the allocation of houses as between sale and renting, the composition of the houses, the design of the houses, the materials in the houses, the composition of the families, and also the sites.
Every single need has been discussed by the right hon. Gentleman in the course of his speech, and if the employment of this business man is not relevant to any of these, what is the man going to do? The House is entitled to know, because the country has been given the impression that a great new housing drive is about to begin. It is true that it will not start, if it ever does, until 1953, because we have been informed—and quite rightly—that the housing programmes of the local authorities, in so far as they have already been contracted for, will not be disturbed, and, therefore, the great housing drive will not descend upon us until 1953.
2254 What we want to know is whether this gentleman is to be taken into the Department at once and, if so, what he is going to do? Is it that the right hon. Gentleman has discovered that he was engaged not so much for making housing plans as for a housing political charade? Is it that the right hon. Gentleman was trying to give the country the impression that something new about the quantity of housing was about to happen and, therefore, associated the name of a great business man with it, and that when he consulted the officials he discovered that they could not find any work for the business man to do?
In 1945, when we started off without any building force at all worth speaking about, and when we had to call into existence building materials which had obviously not been produced during the war, and when we had shortages of all kinds, it was necessary to have a building executive at the Ministry of Health, and we had one, but since 1948–49 the size of the housing programme in Great Britain has not been an expression of anything but a function of the capital investment programme. It has always been possible in this country since 1948 to increase the size of the housing programme—always—but it has always been necessary to discuss and to decide what building should be displaced in order to increase the size of the housing programme.
It never has been a question of having some great business executive who could drive the housing programme through the industries of the country. It has always been a problem which has been carefully concealed from the people of this country by Tory newspapers and has never been understood by the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends. Year after year they were complaining that the administrative delays of the Ministry of Health were responsible for the fact that more houses were not being built. Was that not so?
Yet at the same time they were complaining—the right hon. Gentleman said it a week ago—that the administrative machine had worked so expeditiously as to put more houses under construction than the physical machine could carry. Is that not so? So they are riding both horses at once—one, that it was administration which was holding up the housing, and the other that too many houses had been put into contract and therefore they were built too slowly
2255. When we have an answer to the debate, we should like to knew which horse hon. Members opposite are riding this time, because the right hon. Gentleman has dodged the whole thing. He has not told the House of Commons and the country, if he proposes to expand the house building programme—which he does not—what he is going to stop building. Schools? Factories? Hospitals? Power stations? If it is a fact that the house building programme for the last two or three years has been merely a facet of the national investment programme as a whole, the Government if they propose to increase the number of houses to be built, ought to be honest and tell the country what they propose not to build. But we have had no word of that at all this afternoon.
I have always been of the opinion that it was possible for the Conservative administration to build more houses than we built—always. We have never been in any doubt at all about that. If we reduce the size of the houses to rabbit hutches, of course we can build more. There has never been any doubt about that.
Is it a recent discovery on the part of the right hon. Gentleman that by reducing the accommodation, by taking out certain amenities and by reducing the superficial area of the house we can build more houses? Of course we can. Any fool knows that. [An HON. MEMBER: "Even the Government."] The question always has been, how far should we sacrifice permanent values to short-term needs? The right hon. Gentleman and the Conservative Government have decided that, having to have bigger bombers, they must now have smaller houses. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"] Certainly—that is it.
The right hon. Gentleman has been defending almost everything that he has done or proposes to do because we ourselves have done a little bit of it, and he has produced a curious modern version of sin. He said, "The party opposite sinned a bit. Why should not we sin all the time?" This will be an excellent text for sermons next Sunday. I am sure that the Archbishop of Canterbury will wag a pontifical finger at the right hon. Gentleman for preaching the virtue of the universality of sin.
We have always known that there was a danger in allowing a certain amount of 2256 building for private ownership immediately after the war. Inside the Labour Party, there has always been argument as to whether we ought to have allowed any private building for sale at all. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"] Yes, there has been. Indeed, there has been argument in many local authorities since the war, and many of them granted no licences at all because they contended in the national emergency that it was undesirable that anyone should have a house except upon the basis of need.
Nevertheless, we held the view that the full resources of the building industry might never be mobilised if we had only that principle alone and that there were instances where it was possible to give licences for houses to own, which, at the same time, would meet the needs of people anxious to get those houses. But we always felt that it was necessary to keep a tight control on that figure.
I will give the House some of the reasons which led us to that conclusion. The housing programme must not only obey the desires and the urgent yearnings of people to have a home of their own over their heads, but must also obey the needs of the industrial situation of the country. The right hon. Gentleman is about to deliver a harsh blow at the prospects of British industrial recovery. I will tell him why.
It has always been a great administrative problem to try to make the demands for local government fit in with national industrial requirements. One of the chief administrative headaches of the Ministry of Health for five or six years was to try to get the plans of the local authority to fit into the national schemes of industrial recovery. We had that whenever we wanted to get houses for key workers in industrial areas, whenever we wanted to divert building from places like Bournemouth into the rural hinterland—we always had that.
What does the right hon. Gentleman propose to do? As he said in his speech, there will be some local authorities who will still give only one licence in five, or no licences at all. And where will they be? They will be in the industrial north, in the industrial west, in London, and in all those parts of the country where industrial activity forms the very basis of British revival.
2257 What is it that the right hon. Gentleman now proposes? He proposes that comparatively well-to-do people in the south and south-east of England should be able to use scarce building resources and build large houses for themselves. [An HON. MEMBER: "Rubbish"] The hon. Member opposite who made that remark ought not to use such childish interjections unless he knows the facts. Let me give the House an illustration, because remember that this argument will go on for some years and will be shifted into the local authority elections. There was a notable absence of enthusiasm on the benches opposite to the Minister's speech this afternoon, and I make a guarantee that it will be a diminuendo, and not a crescendo.
One of the difficulties we had in facing the rural housing drive was that there are not many building workers and contractors in the deep rural areas. Yet if the right hon. Gentleman looks at the housing map, he will discover that the big housing speculative programmes of which he boasted, of the kind that occurred between the wars, occurred in those parts of the country which are fringes of the deep rural areas. The House knows them very well.
Just in those areas the speculative builders are most politically powerful. Just in those areas the local authorities are dominated by Tory majorities. Just in those areas 50 per cent. of the houses built will once more go to the fringe urban occupation, and less houses will be built for the agricultural worker deep in the countryside, because the only way in which I could get building workers and contractors to go into the deep rural areas was to deny them houses on the urban fringes.
The right hon. Gentleman is reversing that. Whereas in "The Times" day after day, from all over the country, letters are written, whereas speeches are made and pleas are uttered, for more labour in the countryside, the Conservative Party now adopt the housing policy that would starve the countryside of house building resources. The right hon. Gentleman admitted it by implication in his speech. He said that he was concerned about the national average. The national average is all right as a political category, but what we are concerned about is that the houses should find their 2258 way ultimately where they are most needed in the interests of the community as a whole.
Can the right hon. Gentleman or any hon. Member opposite deny that? Whenever my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) and I had an application from a local authority to build more houses than one in five, it was invariably in those areas dominated by speculative building, and, therefore dominated by that type of citizen who, estimable though they are, are too many for Great Britain to afford at the present time.
I have with me a copy of last Sunday's "Sunday Times," in which the editor writes an article on the right hon. Gentleman's housing programme. The editor admires him for it, of course, and he says that the housing programme of the late Labour Government wasfrustrating to the best citizens among us. …What does that mean? A rich spiv in the south of England will be able to get a house, and a miner in the north and Midlands and west will not be able to do so, and yet at the moment the overwhelming need of Great Britain is not only to get more agricultural workers into the countryside, but more miners into the pits.
I ask hon. Members opposite, how does this housing plan fit in with that need? Is it not clear to any student of British economic history that a great distortion of the population occurred between the wars, with the diversion of population from the west and from the north, of which we are still suffering the consequences, and the growth of population in the south and south-east of England, feeding very largely people who had made their fortunes in the north and west and who had gone there to live? This housing programme will exaggerate that distortion by making housing facilities available to people when we are still grievously short of building workers.
I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question or two about his circular, which he obviously did not understand. I come back to paragraph 5:In determining the size and type of house to he built under licence the local authority should have regard to the size and composition of the family for whom it is intended.2259 What does that mean? Does it mean that if a person applies for a private licence and has no children, he will be given only a two-bedroom house? [An HON. MEMBER: "Not on your life."] I should like to know. I am only a humble seeker of knowledge. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us? [An HON. MEMBER: "He wants time to consider it"] Do we understand that when any person applies for a private licence, the size of the house to be built is to be attached to the licence in accordance with the size and composition of the family?
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
I do not want to interrupt, the right hon. Gentleman. All I can try to do is to recall his memory. That phrase in paragraph 5 to which he called, my attention is another piece of plagiarism. If he refers to paragraph 7 (iii) of his circular of 1948, he will see these words:In determining the type and size of houses"—this is in regard to private licences—… in a particular case, the local authority, should have regard to the size and composition of the family for whom it is intended.
§ Mr. Bevan
Now we understand. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, says that he means what I meant. Will he tell the House what I meant? If he does not know what I meant how does he know what he means now? I quite understand the right hon. Gentleman saying, "I have investigated the behaviour of my predecessors and I have discovered that it was admirable, and therefore I am going to imitate it"; but he should have pursued his inquiries a little further and found out what it was. I do not like this credulous imitation. I should like to have had more informed support.
The reason why I am asking this is because the building world is a bit confused as to what it is to do. The "Municipal Journal" for 30th November says:The Government are, through the local authorities, giving builders the opportunity they have been asking for. Earlier this week, they did not appear to realise this. But the implication of the statements by Mr. Macmillan and Mr. James Stuart are clear. Authorities are empowered to grant block licences to builders.That is strictly irrelevant to what the right hon. Gentleman said at the conclusion of his speech, in which he said there were 2260 many housing sites already serviced that could be hospitalised by builders—the speculative builders—who could then sell the houses to individual applicants. Would the builders choose the occupiers, or would the local authority do so?
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
It is exactly the same procedure as is happening now. There will have to be collected—it has been working perfectly well, and it will work in future—a number of either prospective tenants, in the case of houses to rent, or prospective purchasers in the case of houses to purchase, who are approved by the local authorities as coming within the formula laid down first by the right hon. Gentleman and now repeated by me.
§ Mr. Bevan
That is very valuable to have, because it means that the Ministry of Materials have formed the wrong conclusions from what the right hon. Gentleman has been reported to have said, and it is desirable that they should be right in this matter and that the right hon. Gentleman should be clear. What he is saying to the local authorities, as I understand, is that the method of granting licences should be as it has been in the past, only that they should grant more. That is the situation as I see it.
I have always taken the view—and I hope this will also be taken by local authorities in the country—that if there is one condition which has supported comparative political harmony and comparative industrial peace in this country, it has been that the industrial workers have had fair play. We shall not be able to get industrial peace in this country if we have long queues of people waiting for houses in the north and west, and well-to-do people able to buy houses in the south and south-east.
I therefore most earnestly urge the Government to think again, because this is merely a piece of sheer class prejudice. On the Government's own showing, the people nearest to the problems have shown what proportion they think licences should bear. What the right hon. Gentleman proposes to do is to release just those local authorities whose freedom of action is least consistent with the national well being.
I should like to say a word or two about the proposal to sell houses. I have never taken a doctrinaire point of view about this. [Laughter.] Well, the right hon. 2261 Gentleman has just been proving it. I made it possible for far larger numbers of people to buy their own houses. I have never felt that there was anything wrong or unsocialistic in a person owning a house. I never thought it was wrong to own your own home. I thought it was wrong to own somebody else's. The right hon. Gentleman always co-relates the public authority with the local landlord. Everybody knows there is all the difference in the world between the two. The selling of houses by local authorities also does not fit in with the national economic needs, if the right hon. Gentleman would listen for a moment and not subconsciously grin.
One of the reasons why we have always adopted a policy of letting houses is because we have always known the difficulty that faces workers of all grades when they have suddenly to take a job in another part of the country. In fact Mr. John Wheatley, who was the best authority on working class housing that this country has ever known, defended his 1924 programme purely on this ground, that if we were to have workers able to take up jobs easily, it was necessary that they should not tie themselves down by having to dispose of property of which they might not be able to dispose in difficult economic circumstances.
I have known, especially between the war years, working class people buy houses for £700 or £800 and sell them for £160 when they emigrated or when they had to move to London for a job. One of the reasons why we wanted to have more houses to rent was because the worker would have security of tenure and he could move to other jobs without having to be mulcted by forced sales of his property. [Interruption.] He can now get a good price for his house, but can he get a house in the place where he wants to go? Until we have a much more balanced situation it is necessary to allow the worker to be able to move around without any of the disabilities which he might otherwise have.
There is another thing, too, and I confess this is a purely personal point of view. I have always thought that it was not a good thing to encourage people when they start bringing up families to tie huge mortgages around their necks which very often, and usually, between the wars they could not meet. Houses were sold 2262 over and over again, and as a general rule the desire to have a secure house was always the enemy of the proper feeding and clothing of the children. Therefore, it never seemed to us to be good social policy. Every doctrine must be judged by its social, economic and moral consequences and not by any predilections which individuals may have.
If large numbers of houses leave the pool for letting to those in greatest need, it means that when we come to consolidate local government rents we have not got the same area always to consolidate. It has always been found to be a practicable policy since the war that whenever houses have been built by local authorities under different loan conditions and under different schemes, equalisation of rents could take place quite easily. Some of the pre-war housing rents have been lifted up and some of the post-war housing rents have been lowered as a direct result of that; but if large numbers of those houses had left local government ownership and had gone into private ownership those readjustments would have been far more difficult to make. Therefore, it has always seemed to us that it is not desirable to encourage local authorities to sell their houses, nor do we believe, on the whole, that it is conducive to good estate management for them to do so.
I listened to the Minister with a great deal of disappointment today. I was disappointed because he imitated us in some respects very closely. I wanted to have this great housing crusade from the Conservative Party started. I do not believe that politicians should halt between two opinions. I know the right hon. Gentleman is of that type. He wrote a book called "The Middle Way" He is in a very unfortunate position. He satisfies neither his own followers nor us. He is equidistant between the two. If he had the courage of the Conservative convictions he would have thrown the whole field open to private enterprise and let them have a go. The Minister of Works has been asking them, and they do not want to go.
The right hon. Gentleman taunted us this afternoon by saying that the lack of bricks was due to our bad planning. What do they want? Labour; why do not they get it? Nobody is stopping them. It is private enterprise, is it not? Why do they not go and get it? What is 2263 the next thing they want? Houses; why do not they build them? They have had permission. In the big areas there have been no limitations at all. Third, they want public finance to finance brick stock building. In other words, the brick-building industry under private enterprise has not been able to flourish even with guaranteed building programmes, It has been a part of the difficulty all the time—public planning through private enterprise instruments, and always thwarted all along the line.
I suggest to hon. Gentlemen opposite: do not think so much about the prejudices from which you have emerged in the Election, but think of the economic necessities of Great Britain and try to fit the housing programme into Britain's economic needs and not into the four corners of your own political prejudices.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson (Southport)
In listening to the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) paying high tributes to the energy and other qualities of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), I could not help wondering why, if he had all those qualities, he was removed by the present Leader of the Opposition from his job.
§ Mr. R. S. Hudson
I was not moved I was dropped.
The Motion which we are debating makes certain assumptions and pre-supposes several different things. It presupposes, in the first place, that conditions today are satisfactory. It presupposes that houses today are let in accordance with the need of the applicant, and it presupposes that all the applicants in real need of housing lists today will, in fact, get houses. It also presupposes that if my right hon. Friend's suggestions are carried out the pool of houses to let will be reduced. I will deal with those in order.
First, I would make this observation. I am sure I shall be voicing the feelings of everyone on this side of the House when I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government on the very lucid and convincing speech which he delivered. I should like to go further and say that the 2264 building of homes for our people is not a matter which should form the subject of debating points between Members of different parties. I believe, on the contrary, that it is a very great social necessity and imposes on everyone in all parts of the House and in all walks of life a moral obligation to try to help solve this problem.
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale has just made one of his typical speeches. Any new Member in this House who has not heard him before will realise what many of us who have had to listen to his speeches over the years realise, namely, the reasons why he was such a complete failure. Present conditions for housing in this country leave a great deal to be desired, and if proof were needed one has only to listen, as we did this afternoon, to Questions by hon. Members opposite addressed to the Secretary of State for Scotland deploring the present conditions of housing in Scotland. In their eagerness to score party points against us they seemed to forget that the responsibility for the condition of affairs both in Scotland and in England rests on the Labour Government.
§ Mr. Manuel rose—
§ Mr. Hudson
The fact of the matter is that since the Labour Government have been in power, since the end of the war, the number of houses built in this country was wholly insufficient for our needs and, moreover, they were built at a steadily increasing and excessive cost. Whether hon. Members opposite like it or not, it is only in periods of Conservative rule that any progress has been made in building houses. If we take the number of houses built by the Labour Government since the war, the average is very little better than the average of the number of houses built by Conservative Governments in 1900 to 1905.
§ Mr. Hector McNeil (Greenock) indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Hudson
The ex-Secretary of State for Scotland shakes his head. I will give him the figures. The average for the five years 50 years ago was 130,000 a year and the average for the last six years is 150,000.
Is the right hon. Gentleman seriously asking the House to believe that the houses built in 1900 to 1905 are comparable in superficial area with the houses built in the last six years—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Well, the figures are being offered to the House; they are meant to be comparable.
§ Mr. Hudson
They were the type of house which was appropriate, or regarded as appropriate at the time. I have not the least doubt that in another 50 years many of the permanent and temporary houses built by the right hon. Gentleman will be regarded as equally unsatisfactory.—[Interruption.] The fact is that accommodation units, if he does not like the word "houses," were built to the tune of 130,000 in those days and only 150,000 now.
What has actually happened, of course, is that the machine of house building which was carefully prepared, and the plans which were laid during the last days of the Coalition Government have, in fact, been mishandled by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and he will go down in history as having done, I would almost say without exaggeration, irreparable harm to the industry—
§ Mr. Hudson
They were the plans to complete 200,000 houses in the first two years and at the end of that time to have 80,000 houses under construction, whereas what the right hon. Gentleman succeeded in doing was to build 80,000 houses and have 200,000 houses in various stages of building.
Not only that, but as a result of the high cost and the inefficient building produced by what I might call "Bevanism" the housing programme proved to be most vulnerable when it came to making cuts. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that when there was a financial crisis a short time ago one of the first things that was done was to cut housing. It was only as a result of protests made by the Parliament elected in 1950 that those cuts were restored to the figure of 200,000. The Conservative Government, after the Socialist crisis in 1931, instead of cutting steadily increased the 2266 number of houses being built year by year.
The situation in Scotland is even worse than in England. The actual number of permanent houses built in Scotland has reached only 97,000 whereas under the Goschen formula it ought to be at least 112,000 if the operation had been completed.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
I think that is an unwarranted attack on the Scottish building trade. That trade was much depleted during the war and tried, with all the difficulties confronting it, to do its very best. The industry complained to me personally that one of the reasons it failed to provide as many houses as it might was because the Government asked it to build too many.
§ Mr. Hudson
I have been in this House for a very long time, but it remains for me today to hear such a give-away of the case. That, of course, is the gravamen of our charge. It is the incompetence of the late Government which upset the building industry and, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman, prevented the building of the houses.
The obsolescence of houses in Scotland is going ahead faster then ever. The hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), in a speech in the House a short while ago, was talking of Glasgow. He said it was all very well to say that 380 houses were finished in a month, but in the same month 440 houses ceased to be habitable. The same thing is true of Greenock. In Greenock the houses declared uninhabitable but still inhabited, as a result of the incompetence of the right hon. Gentleman, were 2,000 in 1945; 2,500 in 1946 and 3,948 in 1948. That is the record of Greenock. The total number of new houses built was 2,000. Not only did the number of new houses not meet the original need, but it did not even keep up with the houses becoming steadily obsolescent. I think I have shown that the first assumption in the Motion, namely, that the present condition is satisfactory, is untrue.
I now turn to the second assumption in the Motion, that houses are being let in accordance with need. Nothing is further from the truth. What is the need? When the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale first took office he and his party 2267 were talking of a subsidised net rent of 10s. He anticipated that under his régime the cost of housing would go down. I remember the right hon. Member who was the Minister of Works bringing in a Bill in 1946 authorising subsidies. There was authority to reduce subsidies but no provision was made for the subsidies being increased. The Labour Government obviously thought that the cost of building houses would go down.
What has happened is that prices of houses have risen from just over £1,000 in 1945 to nearly £1,500 today. That has meant that the 10s. net subsidised rent has "gone west" He himself said in the debate the other day, in answer to an interruption, that the average rent today was 14s. That is the average rent. Many of them are, of course, very much higher. While I am on the subject I would comment that right hon. Gentlemen are talking about the serious effects of the rise in the Public Works Loan rates. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"] Hon. Members are saying, "Hear, hear" They are talking about a resulting increase in present rents and saying that they will go up by 3s. 6d. a week.
But this is not the first time the rate has been put up. Early in 1948 the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Stafford Cripps, put the rate up from 2½ per cent. to 3 per cent. I do not remember that at that time Labour M.P.s stumped the country protesting against the action of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in putting an additional charge of 3s. 6d. a week either on rents or on the local authorities rates, via the subsidies.
§ Mr. Bevan
The right hon. Gentleman always carefully selects his facts. The rate of interest which was subsequently reached was the same rate of interest which prevailed when the subsidies were decided on. When the right hon. Gentleman suggests that the rate of interest went up and upset the subsidies local authorities had enjoyed an exceedingly low rate. Those are the facts.
§ Mr. Hudson
—it still remains open to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government, in the 2268 negotiations he is to have with the local authorities about the rate of subsidy, to make necessary adjustments as he thinks fit.
With the increase in rents, poor families with the greatest need are, in only too many cases, incapable of taking the houses offered to them by local authorities. The higher rents and the higher price of housing at the present time is actually pricing poor families out of the possibility of taking a local authority house, That is particularly true in Scotland. Indeed, the Scottish Housing Advisory Council, in a report the other day, said that a number of families in some areas were prevented by their financial position from accepting the offer of local authority houses.
And now the right hon. Gentleman is supporting proposals under which they will have to buy houses and pay twice the rent.
§ Mr. Hudson
I am only pointing out—I will come to that later—that the assumption underlying the Motion, that people in the greatest need today get the houses, is not true, either in this country or in Scotland.
The best way to ensure that the people in need do get accommodation is to bring down the cost of houses by the more efficient use of existing material and labour; and that is the answer to the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, who, I see, is not now present in the Chamber. When he asks what horse this Government is riding the answer is that the course which my right hon. Friend intends to take is to make more efficient use of the existing labour and materials—and that will be found in a sentence in the first paragraph of the circular issue to local authorities.
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale talked about the sale of houses. He used what I have always thought was, in present circumstances, a fallacious argument about mobility. I do not think that any hon. Member in the House, and certainly nobody on these benches, would deny that we require a large number of houses to let. On the other hand, I have always thought that the man who bought his own house rather than got one to rent was a public benefactor. Certainly, before the war, when building societies were able to perform their func- 2269 tions, the man who went to a building society and arranged for the building of a house, and who paid an annual contribution not very much more than he would normally have paid in rent, was, in fact, doing a good service to the country. He was providing himself with the elementary need of shelter, and doing it at no cost of subsidy either on the rates or the taxes imposed on his fellow people. He went further; he was actually conferring a service on the local authority in whose area he built his house, because he was increasing its rateable value.
§ Miss Alice Bacon (Leeds, North-East)
Would the right hon. Gentleman also add that in those days he was doing a public service in helping to keep in employment some of the unemployed building workers? The position was different in those days.
§ Mr. Hudson
I am obliged to the hon. Lady. Part of the argument of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale was that the main need today is to maintain mobility of labour.
No one would disagree, but today we are not getting mobility of labour because of the shortage of houses. The right hon. Member says, quite rightly, that men are reluctant to move, because they do not want to sell the house which they have and go somewhere else where they may not get one at all, but exactly the same thing happens as far as rented accommodation is concerned today. When men are living in a council house, they are very doubtful about moving somewhere else, where they may not get a house at all.
I know of cases in one of the nationalised industries in which responsible salaried officials have refused promotion, because that would have meant moving somewhere else, and, whereas they had a house where they were, they were unlikely to get one in the other place. It just is not true today, therefore, that there is the necessary mobility of labour which we require, and that is the result of a failure to build an adequate number of houses.
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale went on to say that what was wanted today was the provision of houses to let in the industrial north, and that local authorities would be very unlikely indeed to grant any licences for private building. 2270 What is his complaint? It is exactly what my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government said; if the local authorities think they ought not to grant these private licences for houses for sale, they will not do it.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
The right hon. Gentleman has been very gracious in giving way on many occasions. I hope he will realise that licences which are issued for houses to be built for sale relate, on the average, to very much larger houses than those which the local authorities are building, and, particularly, those being built today. Therefore, very much more of the scarce materials are going into the building of houses for sale, and being taken away from areas where they are needed for the housing of industrial workers.
§ Mr. Hudson
It is a little unfortunate that the former Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health did not hear the speech of the mover of the Motion, because his right hon. Friend said that one result of allowing private builders to build houses for sale would be that the houses would be too small.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
There are both dangers, because private builders are to be encouraged to speculate in that form of building which is only protected by the byelaws and some other doubtful means, whereas, the other way round, instead of building small and unsatisfactory houses, those materials will be used in other houses.
§ Mr. Hudson
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale complained that there was not an adequate supply of housing for agricultural workers, but the former Parliamentary Secretary knows perfectly well that that was the result of the deliberate policy pursued by the late Government and by the former Minister, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton).
Scattered over the rural parts of Great Britain, there are masses of small builders capable of building one or two houses, but who are quite incapable of tendering for local authority schemes. I am quite convinced—and I hope the Minister will see that this is done—that we ought to encourage the local authorities throughout these rural areas to allow one or two houses to be built a year by these small men, who, otherwise, are wasting their time, to a great extent, on repairs.
2271 I know that, in my own area in Wiltshire, that it is perfectly certain that a great number of houses—not huge houses, but houses designed very largely as copies of existing types of local authority houses—could be built if adequate numbers of private licences were issued, with the added advantage that they would be built by private persons for farm workers without asking for a subsidy either from the country or from the local rates.
It seems to me that one of the compelling reasons for the right hon. Gentleman's scheme is the size of the subsidies which the people will be asked to carry. Local authorities in England, I am told, in addition to the subsidy from rates of about £2 million a year, are already finding it necessary to supplement that by a further amount of just under £1 million, and, in the case of Scotland, the amount of the subsidy even today is over £10 million a year paid, be it noted, very largely, by the poorer people, whose needs are great but who cannot afford to go into one of these new houses.
The result, in Scotland and also in England, is that many of these council houses are today, in fact, occupied necessarily by people who can afford to pay the higher rents, and not by the people whose need is the greatest. Therefore, I believe, and I am sure everyone on this side believes, that there is no basis of fact for the Motion before us.
I have tried, despite the interventions of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, to be reasonably uncontroversial. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite may be right; our scheme may go wrong and may not achieve the results for which we hope. They will then be entitled to chortle and say, "I told you so," but there is at least an equal chance that we are right, and that the results will be an increase in the total number of houses built for the people. We have had many debates in this House on housing, with many divisions and three-line Whips, and we are to have another Division tonight.
The plea that I would make is that, after this debate is over and after we have got the poison out of our systems, hon. Members should bury their feud and try to co-operate. The hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dodds) is, I think, a 2272 case in point. He voted on 6th November last, when we had a debate in this House, against a proposal put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Wallesey (Mr. Marples) urging that the Government ought to build more than 200,000 houses. I well remember the debate, because I was horrified to hear Lady Megan Lloyd George, then the hon. Member for Anglesey, speak in the debate and devote her time towards proving to her satisfaction, and the satisfaction of hon. Members who then sat on this side of the House, that our proposals for building 300,000 houses were impossible; and the more she proved it to her satisfaction the louder were the cheers from hon. Members opposite.
The hon. Member for Dartford quite rightly voted in favour of his own party on that occasion, and I have no doubt that tonight he will go into the Lobby in favour of the Motion, but I read in last night's "Evening News" a rather interesting paragraph. It said that his local urban district council have been allotted a small number of houses this year, because it had not managed to build up to its allocation last year.
On inquiry this morning, I found it was an urban district council which had a majority of Socialist members, and was, therefore. Socialist governed. This council had decided, in view of the new announcement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government the other day, that this year, instead of building only 75 houses, they would be able to build 250. The hon. Gentleman will next week be heading a deputation to my right hon. Friend to ask for these 250 houses.
§ Mr. Norman Dodds (Dartford)
I am extremely grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way, and also for informing me, at about three o'clock this afternoon, that he intended to mention my name in this debate, although he did not tell me in what connection. I am, however, much more grateful to an official at the Post Office who told me that the right hon. Gentleman had told him that he intended to attack me in this debate. I can well appreciate, after what the right hon. Gentleman has said, since he has made a terrible blunder, why he has been dropped. I must say this: the right hon. Gentleman will probably get his chance 2273 again, because we know that he is going to the House of Lords, and that that is the way they get promotion.
§ Mr. Dodds
As the right hon. Gentleman introduced the question concerning Dartford Urban District Council and volunteered the information that it happens to be Socialist controlled, I think it is open to me to say that, under the Labour Party in 1947, the council constructed 209 houses, and in 1948, 163 houses. When it lost control to the Opposition in 1949, the figure came down to 76, and the council is now being penalised because of having a Tory majority. I am hoping that, after hearing all this airy stuff this afternoon, I shall have an opportunity to catch your eye for about eight minutes, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, so that I can answer the questions introduced by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Hudson
The hon. Member does not deny that he is going to lead a deputation to ask for the 250 houses.
§ Mr. Hudson
I think that the hon. Member's action is creditable, and I wish that some hon. Members opposite would do the same, because it involves a realisation that conditions are not very good and could be improved.
After all, if any hon. Member opposite wants to find out what the conditions really are today, let him go or send his wife to the maternity ward of a hospital and ask how many of the young married women expecting their first child have got their own homes to which to return. It will be found that it is a very small proportion indeed. The reason is that whereas, before the war, the total number of houses built every year roughly corresponded—within 10,000 per year—to the number of marriages, since the war there have been 2½ million marriages and only 1 million houses have been built. There are many women in these maternity wards who have no home of their own to go back to. Many more have refused to have children because they had no home of their own. Let hon. Members realise the harm this state of affairs is doing to family He in this country.
2274 If hon. Members will do that, I appeal to them to try to help my right hon. Friend in what I believe everyone, in all parts of the House, must regard as one of our primary duties; that is, making homes for the people. I appeal to them in the name of our common humanity.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Holt (Bolton, West)
I crave the indulgence of hon. Members as I rise to speak in this House for the first time. I feel rather more than the customary concern, owing to the potentially controversial nature of the subject under discussion.
Some hon. Members and their party believe that the ownership of private property by private citizens in ever-increasing numbers is a good thing for the community, and, possibly, their judgment on this matter may be coloured slightly accordingly. I am also under the impression, from what has been going on this afternoon, that some other hon. Members rather take the opposite view and consider that the ownership of private property is a bad thing for the whole of the community. However, whatever the rights and merits of the case, I shall endeavour to steer clear of that controversy, although I think it is difficult completely to avoid controversy in this matter. I would have preferred to have made my maiden speech in a less controversial atmosphere.
The point, surely, is simply that there is a very great and urgent demand for homes which it is the duty of the Government one way or the other to met. In general, different people want different kinds and sizes of homes. Again, some want to buy them and others to rent them. Some can afford a great deal more than others, and the need of some is, of course, a great deal more than that of others. I think that when we view this complicated subject in that light it at once becomes quite apparent how impossible it is to meet this demand by detailed control from Whitehall.
I welcome the moves that have so far been made by the Minister of Housing and Local Government in making control more flexible and in giving much more freedom to local authorities to meet the particular needs of their areas. It is now up to the local authorities who, as has already been pointed out, are elected bodies, to meet this need, and, further, 2275 it is up to the people in the areas to see that the authorities meet it correctly.
I do not think it should be too readily assumed that all the people whose names are on housing lists at the present time necessarily want to rent houses. Many of them put their names down because they considered it the only way today of getting a house. We should also be careful not to consider this matter of need in isolation. Different people have different needs and can afford different types of houses, even though their primary need of a house may be very much the same. For instance, there are people on the housing lists who could not afford without great hardship to pay, say, 25s. a week for a modern corporation house, but who could afford to pay 12s. a week for another type of house, which I will mention later.
I had an instance of this in my own constituency during the past week. It was the case of a labourer earning £5 plus a week, who has an ailing wife and one child and who is running into debt because he is quite unable to pay the rather high rent for his corporation house. From the money point of view there is another side to this need at the other end of the scale. There seems to be an idea in some people's minds that if a man who has money has his name on a housing list he is in some way a less worthy citizen than one who has no money.
With the greatest respect, I would point out to people who think that way that such a man may not necessarily be a "spiv" but may have got his money through hard work and through listening to the many exhortations given in recent years on the question of saving. I suggest that such people should be allowed to buy their homes if they wish, because, as was pointed out by the right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson), by so doing they are relieving the local authorities and the central government of a burden
I now wish to pass to my second point, and I hope that I shall be in order in discussing it in relation to that part of the Motion which says:and so prolonging the time which those on local authority housing lists with greatest need must wait before being rehousedIt strikes me that in this debate, which, after all, is really on the housing need of 2276 the country, however much it may appear to be limited by the Motion, we shall be ignoring a very important side of the matter if we do not consider the question of maintaining in a habitable state the millions of houses which do not belong to local authorities.
I shall be glad if the Minister will tell us what is his policy in regard to houses which are slowly but relentlessly falling into dilapidation, and what arrangements he is going to make to enable them to be kept in good condition. As yet we have had no statement of policy on the matter. I would have thought that this was a subject very dear to Tory gentlemen opposite, and I hope that the many professions made to the effect that the Conservative Party have now become true Liberals does not mean, in fact, that they have abandoned one of the virtues of old Toryism. Therefore, I hope that we shall have a clear statement of policy in the near future.
I think it is rightly recognised that the Rent Restrictions Act, owing to the way it works, is merely resulting, at the moment, in the selling of cheap cottage property as soon as a house becomes vacant. The effect of this is that the pool of such property to let is becoming smaller, and unless something is done to stop it more houses in this category will cease to be available for letting than will result from the policy of the Government of allowing corporation houses to be sold.
If rents were allowed to go up by, say, 2s. or 3s. a week, then the type of person I have just mentioned would possibly be able to find a house the rent of which he could afford to pay more easily than that of his present corporation house. I suggest to the Minister that something on these lines might be considered, that an increase of 25 per cent. in the controlled rent be allowed where the landlord is responsible for all repairs and pro rata where his liability is less, with the following proviso: that the landlord obtains a certificate from the local authority that he has discharged his obligations as to repairs and that the various alterations up or down in rent are taken into consideration when adding on the 25 per cent, whether it be for houses restricted under the 1920, 1939 Acts or since June, 1945. Although, on the face of it, this may not seem a very popular 2277 move, I know there are many people on both sides of the House who understand the problem very thoroughly and who feel that something should be done.
I hope that I shall be excused for raising this matter in a maiden speech, if only because I consider that this should be a non-controversial subject. It is a very important subject, and I do not think it should be bandied about as a political issue, but should be dealt with on its merits. I feel that if the Minister can deal with the problem of housing with fairness and justice, and can really tackle restrictive practices and price rings on the employers' side and encourage the labour force to get back to its pre-war productivity, he will have earned the gratitude of the country and the esteem of this House.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Mr. George Porter (Leeds, Central)
I am very glad to have this opportunity of expressing on behalf of all of us our pleasure at having heard the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Holt), deliver his maiden speech. He probably felt like we all felt when addressing this House for the first time. I know that when I made my maiden speech I felt like the provincial artist when he appeared in the West End for the first time. I wondered whether I was going to get through my speech without having stage fright.
I can only express my regret to the hon. Gentleman that in making his maiden speech he was not supported by a bigger Liberal Party. However, he made a very good speech despite the fact that he was not controversial. I am sure we look forward to the time when he will make a speech which will be controversial because it is always interesting to see on which side a Liberal speaker comes down on a controversial subject.
I wish to say a few words in this debate as one who for the major part of his working life worked in the building industry. Because of my relation to that industry I want to emphasise that portion of the Motion which says:That this House deplores the proposal of His Majesty's Government to increase the proportion of new houses to he sold, thus reducing the number available to he let in accordance with needI have in the back of my mind what I learned when I went to school. I learned 2278 that when equals were added to equals, the sum total was equal; and in the reverse, when equals were taken away from equals, the result was the same on both sides.
The number of personnel available in the building industry is fixed. If their labours are used for an alternative purpose, then they cannot be used for the purpose for which they are being used at present. It is all very well for hon. Members to talk about housing from the point of view of how many houses we ought always to have. There is nobody here, I suppose, who does not hope that by some means, even in the near future and under the present Government, we shall increase the number of houses built for the people who need them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"] I am glad to hear those cheers, because it is possible that one of the hon. Gentlemen opposite who have agreed with me will, given the opportunity, tell us how we are to get more houses—because nobody has done so up to now.
The only people who can produce houses are the trained operatives who build them. Nobody else can produce houses in this country, and it can be done by no other way except the application of labour to building materials. The total amount of accommodation, whether it is great or small, can only be produced in that way.
In our desire to build more houses for the people, we shall not help by seeking to make the artisans in the industry the scapegoat, as some people are endeavouring to make them at present. We must realise that the majority of the workers in the industry are members of the working class and are members of that class most in need of houses; and bearing that in mind, it is ridiculous for anybody to suggest that those people who are building the houses and are recognising their social responsibilities—responsibilities even to their own brothers and sisters—would do anything to prevent a reasonable rate of production.
Of course, in the building industry, as in every other industry, there are some who are not pulling their weight, and those who take up responsible positions in the industry know the type. That type is so small in proportion that it stands out on any job. One or two can be picked out from the others, but the 2279 fact remains—and it cannot be disputed—that there has been a gradual and certain improvement in the rate of output in house building since the end of the war. The second Girdwood Report said they estimated that between 1947 and 1948 there had been an average reduction of man-hours for a given type of house of about 13 per cent. In two years, the artisans in the industry have reduced man-hours by 13 per cent. It is obvious, therefore, that the workers in the industry do not deserve much criticism.
§ Mr. W. J. Taylor (Bradford, North)
I do not want to interrupt the hon. Gentleman's argument, but surely he appreciates that the introduction of mechanisation in an ever-increasing degree into the building industry has contributed to that improvement as well as have the operatives to whom he referred.
§ Mr. Porter
I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman found it necessary to intervene at that moment, because I was about to follow up that very point. In a previous debate in the House, I quoted from a leading article in "The Times," published towards the end of 1945, which referred to the industry as the most back ward and undeveloped of any in the country and which pointed to the unwillingness of the employers to take advantage of the many mechanical aids and equipments that were available.
On the last occasion on which I took part in a housing debate, I pointed that fact out. Now the hon. Member for Bradford, North (Mr. W. J. Taylor) wants to know whether there has not been an extraordinary development in the mechanisation of the industry. It is not a month ago that the Chairman of the Research Committee of the building industry called attention to exactly the same fact—that the employers in the industry are not taking advantage of all the mechanical equipment and aids which are available and at their disposal. I make the point simply to emphasise that compliments should be paid to men who, by development in the industry over the last six years, have brought about that increase in their productivity simply by their contribution to the work in hand.
If we are to make criticisms, however, whether of the artisan in the trade or of those responsible for organising the Industry, 2280 we should nevertheless give credit where credit is due. I am proud to belong to this industry, and the figures given by my right hon. Friend today are something on which those in the industry should pride themselves—both the workers and the masters in the industry, who have been responsible since the end of the war for providing 979,208 permanent houses for the people of this country. With conversions and adaptations they have provided homes for 1,474,759 families.
To increase the yearly output of houses must, therefore, require more labour and more materials being transferred for the purpose. But we can only provide more men and materials by transferring labour from other building work. What other building work is to suffer? What is the Minister's intention? It cannot be factories; it cannot be workshops; because they are necessary to the armament drive, which is considered essential by both sides of the House. In view of what we have seen in the newspapers during the last two or three days, it may be that this transfer will be done at the expense of schools and the educational system. Do not let us forget what was said by the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton), speaking in the House on 2nd November, 1950:We may have to do with fewer technical colleges; we may have to postpone the educational programme."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd November, 1950; Vol. 480, c. 331.]If the transfer of labour to housing is to be done by cutting down the educational facilities and opportunities open to the people of this country, I can assure the Government that the Opposition will not agree to that policy.
I am told that at present we are generating twice as much electricity as we did before the war, yet everybody knows that, in view of the demands made upon the current at our disposal, we could do with twice as much again. It does not seem, therefore, that there is any possibility of cutting down the programme for building power stations.
I have worked on house building sites and I can say this: unless some system can be evolved whereby we can transfer labour from some other section of the building industry to housing, by cutting down the programme on other things, there is only one alternative whereby we can provide the extra labour for house 2281 building. I spent some time building houses, and I believe that if we want the labour in the industry voluntarily to change their work from ordinary commercial building to housing sites, we must considerably change the conditions under which men are asked to build houses on those sites. We must have entirely different amenities for the sites. Only if we are prepared to do that shall we persuade the building labourers to leave their present jobs and to go to housing.
My conclusion, from the point of view of a past artisan in the industry, is that in view of the undeniable demands for our labour on other building programmes, there is very little possibility of transferring much more labour to housing. One point which must be borne in mind on transfers is this: when we consider the number of building trade workers enumerated as "in the trade," we must bear in mind, if we are to transfer workers from ordinary commercial work to house building, that the house building craftsman does not require the considerable number of skilled and unskilled assistants necessary in commercial work. If there is a possibility of increasing the house building labour force, it cannot be done, therefore, to anything like the extent suggested by some people who are misled when they hear the number scheduled as workers in the industry.
On behalf of the men working in the industry I say this: as far as I have seen the developments over the last six years, there has been a considerable change both to the advantage of the artisans in the industry and to the advantage of the people who need the results of their labour. If we want to develop that further and to create conditions whereby we have contented workers in the building industry, then we must make the conditions under which they build the houses, something on a par with the amenities of the job they are now doing and also allow for the type of work demanded from them as craftsmen in commercial building.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Doughty (Surrey, East)
I rise with due humility to address the House for the first occasion. The subject of our debate is, of course, one which affects every hon. Member no matter what constituency he may represent. In the constituency of Surrey, East, which I have the honour to represent the problem 2282 is a very real one because it is one of the parts of the country where, fortunately, there is still land upon which building can take place. Therefore, the people in that area will welcome very much the news that they will be able to build for themselves at a greater rate and that council tenants will be able to buy the houses in which they are living, if they so wish.
There has been a lot of talk in the House, and out of it, as if the people who are to be given this increased quota of building licences were a kind of privileged or fortunate class. In fact, they are people who are carrying out a great public service. They are building one more house; they are reducing the deficit by one and at no cost to the State or to the local council. Instead of criticising them we ought to give them every encouragement that lies in our power to give as a House of Commons.
May I suggest one or two lines upon which that might be done? My right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Local Government very rightly said that the price or rental value is fixed upon houses when the building licence is granted. No one would criticise that for a moment. It is very necessary to stop any form of profiteering or undesirably high rents, though I would point out that, between the wars, when new houses were built they were not subject to the Rent Restrictions Acts or any other restriction so that people might be encouraged to build them. I am not suggesting that that should be the case now.
I am suggesting that a time limit should be put on that restriction on maximum price and rent. There comes a time when people wish to move somewhere else or when they wish to retire. The restriction is now placed upon these houses in perpetuity. I am certain it would be sufficient if a time limit were imposed on that restriction which, I believe, was issued under a Defence Regulation.
No application at any time should be allowed in respect of those houses to the rents tribunal which is set up under the Landlord and Tenant (Rent Control) Act, 1949. It is no encouragement to anybody who is going to build a house, whether to let immediately or at some future date, that the tenant can take him before a tribunal which has no legal 2283 qualifications, which sits in a place one hardly knows, from which there is no appeal and which is not subject to the rules of evidence or procedure, and which can reduce the rent. I submit that the sooner the relevant section of that Act is abolished and the sooner these tribunals are abolished the more encouragement there will be to people who build houses and thereby reduce the housing deficit. I say that apart from the general dislike one has of these extra-judicial tribunals.
Again, to make up for the building licences which are granted to private persons we must make a larger allocation of houses to the local council. To encourage and enable people to build or to buy their houses a power which at present exists under Section 5 of the Housing Act, 1949, to allow councils, with the approval of the Minister to guarantee building society advances, should be used in proper cases to the full. It should be used so that it cannot be said that people are unable to obtain advances to enable them to build. I need hardly say that up to the present that power has not been allowed to be exercised. I hope it will be in the future.
Again, so far as councils are concerned—and I am fortunate to be able to say that in East Surrey we have two very progressive and go-ahead councils in this respect—the licences, where possible, should be issued in economic units. That is to say, the council should wait until it has 10 or 12 plots neighbouring each other so that 10 or 12 houses can be built with economy in materials, labour and time as economical units.
Do not let us forget that if there should be building licences available for which there has not been a sufficient number of individual applications there is no reason why those licences should not be issued in blocks to what are sometimes called speculative builders, though I think we should leave out the word "speculative" and call them builders. The licences should be issued to these builders so that people who want to see their houses before they buy can have them built. It was done with great success between the wars and, speaking entirely for myself, I see no reason why that should not be the case today.
By doing so we should accelerate the rate of building and encourage house 2284 ownership among the people of this country so that they could take a pride in the homes they occupy and could at least say that a portion of England—and that includes Scotland and Wales as well—however small it might be, belongs to them. By increasing the allocation of houses we shall see that there is a sufficient number of houses to let for those who wish to rent rather than to buy a house.
If, as I feel quite certain, a very large number of houses will be built throughout the country, particularly on the outskirts of towns, let us remember that we must have open spaces and parks. A mere succession of mile after mile of streets and houses is not going to make very attractive towns. If our forefathers had built in that way there would have been no Hyde Park, no Clapham Common, none of the open spaces we know so well. When planning streets and houses let us remember to leave playing fields, parks and other open spaces for the health and amenity of the people who live in the neighbourhood.
The hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Holt), touched upon the effect of the Rent Restrictions Acts. That is very important because they are largely the cause of the rapid deterioration of the houses already built. If we only build new houses and ignore what is, in fact, a very much larger number of houses, namely those already built, we may find that while we have a very large item on the credit side we have also an excessively large item on the debit side.
These Acts, which affect so many millions of our people, are, to say the least of it, far from simple. There are 13 such Acts with seven Schedules, and nine statutory Orders. They are difficult for anybody to comprehend. They are almost impossible for those whom they most affect to begin to understand. May I suggest, as a beginning, that we sweep away every one of these Acts and Orders and put in their place one single Act which would be less incomprehensible at least and more up-to-date than this conglomeration of Acts extending as they do over the best part of 40 years? Perhaps by so doing we might relieve the difficulties and hardships placed upon both landlords and tenants and improve the quality of the houses in which both are so vitally interested.
2285 Perhaps, as a beginning, I might be able to persuade my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be a little more generous in Schedule A allowances in respect of repairs to those houses and to see that maintenance claims are repaid a little more quickly than they are under the present system. We are now only at the beginning of a great housing drive which will be going on right through the country. As time goes on I hope we shall see more and more families living in good houses, whether they own them or whether they rent them from somebody else, and that owners will be able to maintain houses already built in a good and decent condition.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. C. W. Key (Poplar)
On behalf of myself and of all hon. Members I should like to congratulate the hon. Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty) on a very clear and calmly delivered speech. I am sure we shall all look forward to hearing him again on other subjects.
Try as they will, hon. and right hon. Members opposite will not be able to disguise the fact that the policy which they have announced and support will have the very gravest consequences on the housing prospects of the poorest of our people. Whether or not it results in an increase in the sum total of houses built, it inevitably will result not only in a decrease in the proportion but also a decrease in the sum total of the houses available for letting to those who are poor and who are in the greatest need.
I want to say a few words on each of three reasons for this. There is first the question of rents to be charged for the houses that are available. The decision to raise the rate of interest on Public Works Loans to local authorities for housing purposes must lead to an increase in the rents to be charged. Whatever may be said about the discussions that have taken place with the representatives of the local authorities on the housing subsidy, no one can imagine for a moment that they will result in an increase in the subsidy to meet in full the additional cost to the local authorities. In fact, there is no real hope that the subsidy will be increased at all. No promise, no hint that that is likely to take place, has been made.
§ Mr. Julian Snow (Lichfield and Tamworth)
I listened, as I think my right 2286 hon. Friend did, to the right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson). As I understood that speech, the right hon. Gentleman said that his right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government was going to increase the subsidy.
§ Squadron Leader A. E. Cooper (Ilford, South)
How does the right hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Key) know?
§ Mr. Key
There is the danger that the amount will be actually reduced, particularly if, as I have heard suggested, the existing annual contribution is to be replaced by a fixed capital sum at the time when the job is done so that the annual income of the local authority will be very considerably affected in relation to its housing costs.
But, in addition, there is also the certainty that in areas that were most seriously devastated during the war the increased charges on money borrowed for the purposes of rebuilding schools, libraries, public baths and providing other essential social services must lead to an increase in the local rates and, thereby, to an increase in the rent of all the tenants, including tenants of the new houses. The effect of this may well be—as a matter of fact, speaking from long experience in the poorest parts of East London, I feel certain that it is almost inevitable—that many of our people who are in greatest need will be unable to face the cost of renting new houses and will be forced to continue to live in, or to take up occupation of, one or two rooms in already overcrowded areas.
§ Mr. Key
I had experience of this between the wars.
A goodly number of our people in East London moved out to occupy houses provided by London County Council in the Greater London area but, later, when their incomes fell because of short work-time and unemployment, although enduring very serious and cruel cuts in their food and clothing standards—particularly on the part of the very worried and val- 2287 liant mothers—they did everything they could and struggled hard to continue in the occupation of their houses, in the end they had to surrender. We had a consistent and steady return of people from those areas to take up part tenancies in the overcrowded parts of East London until, in 1938, 32 per cent. of all families were living three families or more in one house.
That, no doubt, is a typical Tory way of what they call solving a social problem, not the satisfaction of a legitimate demand by the provision of what is needed, but the reduction of the demand by depriving people of adequate means to express it. That was clearly indicated in "The Economist" of 7th January, 1950, in the following terms:When at last it is decided that the British people should again pay prices for their food that correspond to the real cost of producing or importing it, a large part of the present apparent demand for houses will disappear overnight.Be that as it may, the need will still remain and, alas, will still continue to grow as long as this typical Tory policy is applied to that great social problem.
Next I turn to the question of quantity. Circular 73, which was issued last week to the local authorities, deals with the increase in the number of houses to be built under licence by private individuals, whether for owner-occupation, or for letting, or sale. First there is the increase, which has been discussed today, to one half of the proportion of local housing allocations to be diverted to private ownership.
This means that to the extent to which local authorities adopt it—and the more reactionary the local authority the more certain it is to do it—a great many of those whose names have been on the local authorities' housing lists for a long time will have the satisfaction of their claim postponed for a year, two years, or even more—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]. I will tell hon. Members in a moment, if they will wait. This will be true, not of those at the bottom of the list whose needs have been assessed as lowest because in the main in my experience those are people who can afford to pay higher rates and will therefore have the chance of getting new houses, but those at the top of the list. They are the 2288 people who will suffer, those whom the local authorities have assessed as having needs which make them the people who should receive the earliest possible treatment.
§ Mr. Key
No. It will be said that those who are at the top of the list will have the right, also, to apply for private houses, but I ask what hope those in greatest need in areas such as that which I represent will have of doing that? We are told in the Circular which has been issued that:When it is proposed to build houses for letting it will often not he possible to identify in advance the actual persons who are to occupy the houses although it will usually be possible to ascertain for what kind of worker the house is intended.I like that typical piece of class snobbery which seems to imply that different kinds of workers should have different kinds of houses provided for them. For the local authority to be able to say, "Oh, in licensing the house we intended it for class 4, grade 3, manual workers" does not guarantee that any manual worker will be able to get a house, whether he is class 3, class 2, or class 1.
When we have diverted rentable houses from public provision to private provision there is no subsidy to help to reduce the rents and, moreover, the owner has merely to get the agreement of his colleagues and friends on the local authority in that area to a guarantee that the rent which is to be charged will ensure that it is too much for the poorest of the people to be able to afford. Again, it means that those who are in greatest need—and I want to emphasise that it is these people I represent and on whose behalf I am speaking—who should be at the top of the lists of the local authorities will suffer most.
The last question with which I wish to deal is that of quality—the quality of the new houses which are to be built. There are no conditions laid down for houses to be built by private owners. I know the Circular says that certain things should be taken into consideration, but there is no guarantee that they will be taken into consideration by local authorities concerned. Speculative builders are completely free to build sub-standard 2289 houses. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense"] If hon. Members will read the Circular they will see that it gives no guarantee. It merely says that consideration should be given by the local authorities; it does not determine that any such consideration shall be given. All that is essential is that the local builder should obey the local building byelaws.
§ Mr. Key
I have quoted the Circular as the Circular is, and I stick by that. What is said is this:The general specification and the amount of supervision exercised should he equivalent to those laid down in the scheme operated by the National Housebuilders Registration CouncilBut it only says that they "should" This is very important in its application. It is not something which local authorities must do, but only something which it is said they should do. We are always told that they are free to do as they like and, therefore, they can disobey this, as they disobey so many other things. I know a very large number of local authorities who will take no notice of this so long as the houses that are to be built conform with local housing byelaws.
§ Mr. Key
Equally distressing so far as I am concerned is the pressure that is being brought upon local authorities to reduce their standards. When I was at the Ministry of Health one of the things I admired most in the work of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) was the consistency and persistency with which he maintained the improved housing standards he had introduced.
I spent the greater part of my life in the education service in the East End of London and the greatest difficulties with which I had to contend were the psychological consequences of the cramped and cabined conditions in which the pupils spent the greater part of their lives. Not only lack of adequate space in their homes, or in the areas surrounding their homes because too many were built to 2290 the acre, but lack of adequate space, also, in their school classrooms, school playgrounds and, in fact, throughout the whole of their waking and sleeping life, made impossible real social, cultural, development for a very large number of the pupils for whom I was responsible. In these surroundings one could rear wage slaves, subservient skivvies and tame lackeys, but the rearing and training of citizens to a standard commensurate with a real democracy was impossible under the conditions in which they lived.
Gradually improvements were being made, new houses, new layouts, new schools were helping considerably, but now we are to witness a recession. It is no use to say, "Oh, but the size of the living room that these people are to inhabit is to be guaranteed to be 150 square feet," when possibly there will be six, seven, or eight living in it. The point is that there must be space for all sorts of things in working-class homes—for the storage of the perambulator, the children's trucks and trolleys and all sorts of things. If, as is being done in these schemes, outhouses and other accommodation for the storage of these things is not provided such things will have to be brought into the living room and they reduce the living space of the family concerned.
The other thing we have to remember is that these houses that we are building now will be the homes of our British people for 50, 60 and more years to come. What we do now will be either a help or a hindrance to the social and cultural development of the people who, I hope, will be enjoying a better type of society at the end of this century than many of them are enjoying at the present moment. The people's house—I like the idea of calling this diminished thing "the people's house," as was done by the Minister—must be not the cramped, Tory, inadequate shelter that is now being proposed, but a real home for the happier, healthier and democratic days that are to come.
The enemies of the future are those responsible for the hideous housing policy that is here being put forward. The local authorities can do much, by refraining from bringing it into operation, to prevent the worst evils from coming, and I hope that the local authorities will continue to do it and to guarantee. Therefore, that there will be an opportunity in a 2291 year or two to reverse entirely the hideous policy that is here proposed.
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Mr. J. B. Godber (Grantham)
I apologise for having to inflict yet another maiden speech on the House today, because I realise that even in such things as maidens there can be a surfeit. Let me refer briefly to the speech of the right hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Key), who has just spoken. The houses which he has been so loudly condemning in the last few moments are surely, as his right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) himself stated in the debate today, the very ones that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland put forward when he was at the Ministry.
Moreover, they are the very houses of which the plans and models are to be seen in Westminster Hall. I hope that the right hon. Member for Poplar has been to see them. They are the very ones sponsored by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland in the period when he was at the Ministry, and the policy which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Poplar has enunciated, is, I say, quite false. I apologise. I know that on such an occasion as this—a maiden speech—I ought to be non-controversial. But the right hon. Gentleman aroused my blood a little.
Having dealt with that matter as non-controversially as I could, let me continue by referring to the policy enunciated by the Minister last week. I give a very warm welcome to that policy, which is showing some signs of realism at last in the tackling of the housing problem. There is, I believe, a very real value to the individual and to the community in this policy of promoting greater private house ownership. It is, I think, probably one of the most important steps that has been put forward by the Minister at this time, and I believe that its benefits can be very far-reaching indeed.
With regard to the building of new houses by private individuals, however, I do suggest that there is possibly a little caution to be exercised, in that there is a possibility that some builders may be drawn off from council house building for the building of this type of house. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I 2292 thank hon. Members opposite for their support. It will enable me to continue the point I was going to make.
What I should like my right hon. Friend to do in this case is to encourage, as, I believe, he intends to do, the small builder to build those houses—the man not in a position to contract for council houses on a large scale. That is the type of man who should be building those private houses. I say that if a man who is in a position to build large quantities of houses wants also to build private houses, he should be asked, if he wants to build more than, say, two private houses for private selling in one allocation, to build a corresponding number of council houses. I ask my right hon. Friend very seriously to consider that point, because I think that that would provide a safeguard.
I am a little worried by a passage in the appendix to Circular 73 dealing with that particular case. I hope that my right hon. Friend will do something in this way. I think that it will be welcomed in the building trade generally, particularly among builders building council houses. I say that the bulk of these private houses should be built by the smaller man who has not the facilities for building on a large scale.
The question of the smaller size has been dealt with, and I would preface my remarks on this problem by a mention of it. I think that if this is looked at realistically there is real value to everyone concerned if the use of the smaller size is accepted and pursued to the utmost extent possible, because it is surely a folly that we should at this time, when there are such tremendously long waiting lists, to insist on over-lavish standards of building.
I say "over-lavish" not by reference to the needs of the community but by contrast with the enormity of the problem that confronts us. It is surely elementary that we should cut our coat according to our cloth in this as in so many other things. That is what the Minister is seeking to do. If we can reduce slightly the size of the house but yet have an adequate house, and by so doing can build 10 houses where we built only nine before, then I say that this Government will have done something very worth while.
A word on the allocation of licences. I do hope that there will be a greater facility in the allocation of additional 2293 licences to local authorities who really intend and want to go ahead in overcoming this problem, so that they shall not be held back in the granting of additional licences, particularly to private builders. They may be deterred by a feeling that they are not going to get sufficient licences to cover additional requirements. I would rather take a risk, and issue more licences than they are likely to be able to deal with, than limit building that is possible.
There is a man in my constituency who has already got a plot of land, who has purchased the materials—non-traditional materials—for building his house. He has the plot and the materials. All he wants is a licence; he wants to build the house himself. For 12 months he has been in that position. I say that it is wrong that the withholding of licences should prevent people like that from going ahead.
I would ask my right hon. Friend to give further consideration to the question of the number of houses per acre that are to be put up on new housing estates. This is a matter which, I do seriously suggest to him, has got somewhat out of hand. In the years just prior to the war the average number of houses per acre being put up was, I think, in the region of from 12 to 14. On housing estates I have visited recently I have been told that the average number is in some cases less than six. At a time when there is a real shortage of land, quite apart from the value of the land for agriculture—I would not seek to develop that point now: I am sure, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, you would not allow me to do so—there is a folly in absorbing land to too great an extent in this way, and so making it more difficult to find land for houses.
I do not think that the majority of the tenants really desire the size and extent of gardens given to them in many cases. I know of cases—I have seen them quite near to where I live—where, obviously, the gardens are not wanted. I am thinking of one particular case where there are eight houses that have been occupied now for something like 18 months. There are two of the gardens that have not yet been dug. The tenants do not want them. They are an unnecessary burden, and I say that it would be a very good thing if this whole question were looked into again.
2294 Another question that is very important here is that of the increased road and drainage costs which accrue from spreading the houses too widely. I have been told that it amounts to as much as an extra £100 per house if the houses are so spread and so sited, and have a large frontage—an over large frontage—on to the road. A great deal more attention should be given to this. I should say that a reasonable density at the present time is 10 houses to the acre. That would certainly not be unreasonable, and with that density we could get a substantial saving, quite apart from the question of the burden of too large gardens in many cases; and incidentally, these savings would be reflected in lower rents.
I should like very briefly to draw attention to the conditions respecting many country cottages—existing country cottages. There are conditions existing there that are not realised by many hon. Members, I believe. Conditions in many country cottages today are appalling. They are slum conditions, although there are not the worst conditions of town slums because, there is not proximity; but, nevertheless, there are conditions in which many of our workers are being asked to live that are far worse than they should be.
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan)—I wish he were here now—talked about rich "spivs" getting houses, as against farm workers and miners. I am a farmer, and I work among my farm workers, and I know the conditions in which they live, and I also know for a fact that during the period when the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for housing at the Ministry of Health the actions that he took prevented many rural houses and cottages from being reconditioned and improved. [HON. MEMBERS: "Subsidies."] Yes, he took away the subsidies—exactly. I really am sorry for being so controversial. I had no intention of being so. I realise I am overstepping the mark in this way, and I apologise.
What I do want to emphasise, however, is that all possible forces for building new houses should be concentrated. Let us avoid dissipation of the building force in unnecessary repair work. We have got to get the workers back, we have got to entice them back, and concentrate on building. We have had a lot said—and I feel strongly about this—on the question of the overcrowding in which many 2295 people are living. I do not want to take up too much time of the House, but I came up against this problem very much during the Election campaign. I was appalled with the conditions in which many of our poor people have to live. They deserve better of their country than that. I fervently hope that the measures now being taken will produce the results we all desire.
For that reason I deplore the action by hon. Members opposite in seeking to bring the local authorities, as it were, up in arms against the policy we are now pursuing. We must work together on this, and I most strongly deplore the efforts of hon. Members opposite to incense some of the local authorities against the proposals now being made. Let us give them a fair trial. With effective control from above, and with the co-operation of all the local authorities and the whole nation, I am convinced that this national problem can be overcome for the betterment not only of the living conditions but of the moral and spiritual welfare of the whole of our people.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Miss Alice Bacon (Leeds, North-East)
I am very happy to congratulate the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber) on an excellent maiden speech. He has shown an assurance which will be envied by many older Members of the House. He has not been exactly non-controversial, and it is probably a compliment to his manner that some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House forgot that it was a maiden speech that was being made. I am sure that we shall look forward to hearing his next speech, when he can be more controversial than he has been on this occasion.
Before I entered this House, I was a teacher of mathematics. Having listened to the speech which was made by the Minister this afternoon—he is not here at the moment—I think that I must take him aside one day and give him some elementary lessons in arithmetic, in order that he may not be so muddled in future as he was in his speech today.
I want to come back to the terms of the Motion and to the new proposals which were put before us by the Government last week. Having listened very carefully to all the arguments today from 2296 the other side of the House, I have come to the conclusion that there is only one reason why these new proposals have been put before us. I think that it is quite evident, after listening to the speeches, particularly to the speech of 'the Minister, that the real reason for these proposals is that they are part of an economic drive at the expense of those who are most desperately needing houses. Rather than tackle it in a straightforward way by cutting subsidies, they are going a roundabout way of achieving their objective.
It is also evident that the Government have not looked at this problem as a human problem but have looked at it on paper and have juggled with the finances. I wish to look at these new proposals of the Government through the eyes of thousands of people who are on the council housing waiting lists of my constituency in Leeds and throughout the whole country, particularly in our great cities, because I believe that our most urgent housing problems are in our great industrial cities where the competition of other building has been so great in the last few years.
I represent a part of the great city of Leeds which has been left—the result of many years—a terrible legacy of bad housing. Before the war this was beginning to be tackled on a very great scale, and we have many housing projects in Leeds of which we are justly proud, but we have also a great many slums. There is a great deal of slum clearance which has still to be tackled, and because of six years of war and the shortages at the end of the war, this problem cannot be tackled at the present time.
In my constituency, there are thousands of back-to-back houses, what we call one up and one down. Perhaps hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite do not understand what I mean by back-to-back, one up and one down. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I will try to explain. In my constituency thousands of houses consist of a small kitchen over the top of which is one small bedroom, and there is no separate lavatory accommodation for each house.
In Leeds today there are 16,000 houses—the worst type of back-to-back houses—that were built over 100 years ago—before 1844—and 28,000 more, only slightly better, which were built between 2297 1844 and 1874. The right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) today attributed our housing problems to what the Labour Government have done over the last six years. May I remind him—I see that he is not present at the moment—that it is a pity we did not have a Labour Government over a century ago, when this kind of house was built in the days of unrestricted freedom for the private builder.
Mr..J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
Does the hon. Lady realise the significance of the date she used—1874?
§ Miss Bacon
I use the dates 1844 to 1874, and I previously used the date 1844. Not only are these houses in great disrepair, not only are they dark, not only are many of them falling down, not only are many of them insanitary, but the tragedy of houses such as these is that they were not built as family houses, but whole families are now having to live in them. We know some of the human problems that are involved, and we know that it is in these small houses that there is a great deal of overcrowding.
We have examples every week in our constituencies of a man and wife with three or four children, some of them grown up, having to sleep in one bedroom, and it is through the eyes of these people that I want to look at the proposals which the Government have put forward this afternoon. In Leeds we have 29,000 people on our housing waiting list, only 5,000 of which are classed as adequately housed. Fourteen thousand of them are living in rooms or with their in-laws, and I would remind the House that some of those who have separate houses are probably in a more desperate plight than some of those who are living in rooms.
Thus we have two problems to tackle, and these are the same kind of problems as the people of Birmingham, Glasgow, Newcastle and Manchester have to face. We have, first, to provide homes for those without a separate home of their own, and, second, to get rid of the thousands of houses which are unfit for people to live in. We have these two problems to tackle.
What I want to know is how the Government's proposals will affect these thousands of people living in these con- 2298 ditions. We know that in many of the big cities the number of houses which have been completed, and which can be completed, in the coming year, is only a small proportion of the number on the councils' waiting lists. In Leeds, there is a waiting list of 29,000 and the number of houses completed is in the region of 1,000 each year because of the shortage of builders coming forward to build the houses.
I know that the party opposite have a slogan, "Let the builders build." We in Leeds have been wishing for a considerable time that the builders would come forward to build. We have been waiting for them to do so. There has to be a considerable increase in the number of buildings if there is to be any increase in the number of houses to let. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Gentlemen opposite say, "Hear, hear," as if they are quite certain that these extra houses are to be built. [HON. MEMBERS: "They are."]
Taking the figures as a whole, the Minister has already stated that not next year nor, he thinks, the year after are we going to be able to build 300,000 houses, and if we cannot do that, and if we are to have a great increase in the numbers of houses for sale, then inevitably there must be fewer houses to let. First, I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman; who is to get these houses?
§ Brigadier Prior-Palmer
Surely in a place like Leeds, the council will not for a moment consider reducing the ratio. Are they not much more likely, because they are made to do so, to increase it or allow no houses to be built for sale?
§ Miss Bacon
I wish I could think that. Unfortunately, Leeds has a Tory council. One of the first things which the Tory council in Leeds did was to throw aside a very valuable housing project that had been started by the Labour council. I wish that I had as much faith in that Tory council as hon. Gentlemen opposite have.
Who are to have the houses built for letting? We talk about people jumping the queue. Last week, in an explanation, the Minister said that the ability to purchase a house would not enable an applicant to jump the queue ahead of anybody with greater need. He also said that the local authority would be able to 2299 grant a certificate for a house to be built for sale, only if the prospective purchaser was on the waiting list, and in need.
"Need" is a relative term. The need of some people is greater than the need of others. Need can be interpreted in many ways, and I am sure that in many areas of the country it will be interpreted in such a way that there will be a great deal of wire-pulling to get licences to build houses for sale. All the people on the waiting list can be said to be in some degree of need, but it is only those who are at the top of the waiting list who should be regarded as having the greatest need. I would like to know whether only those on the top of council waiting lists will be given certificates or whether anybody will be given them so long as they are on the waiting list. That is a very material factor.
Throughout this discussion, the question of the subsidy has loomed large. Many people have asked, "Why pay the subsidy to those not in need?" I have sympathy with the point of view of those living in poor and overcrowded conditions who say, "Why should we help to subsidise those who are better off and who are living in better conditions?" I know that view is held by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I have heard it in many quarters, but the present proposals are not the way to remedy that position.
If we wish to give a subsidy to those who are most in need of it we should do it by a system of differential rents. Under the present proposals, many people will buy houses even though they cannot really afford them, and they will saddle themselves with a burden which will be round their necks for the rest of their lives.
There is also to be the sale of council houses. We believe that that is a shocking policy. It means that there will be fewer houses in the pool for re-letting. What are the safeguards to which the Minister referred last week? He said that there were to be certain safeguards when council houses were sold, but we have not heard what those safeguards are to be. There is great danger of the harmony of our estates being spoiled, and that some of the council houses which have been sold will fall into disrepair. I repeat that we have not heard exactly what the safeguards are to be. I hope we shall have 2300 an answer to this question before the debate ends.
In conclusion, I would ask the Government three specific questions. The first is: how will they guarantee that the houses built for sale will go to people who are most in need? I do not think the Government can guarantee that.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North)
Does the hon. Lady believe that no council houses should ever be sold to people in need of them?
§ Miss Bacon
I am not in favour of selling council houses at all. It is a very corrupt policy to sell houses from council estates. It is very bad indeed to decrease the number of houses which are available in the pool which the council has for re-letting.
The next question is: can the Minister really guarantee that the increase in the number of houses built will make up for the licences given for building houses for sale? I do not think that we have had that guarantee from the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon. If that is not so, it means that some people at the head of the waiting list for council houses will not get houses for some considerable time longer.
The other thing I should like to know is whether there is to be a limit to the cost of new houses for sale. The right hon. Gentleman has given a limit in respect of the size of the houses, but he has not given any limit in respect of their cost. He merely said that it can be settled by the council. Are we to allow people to spend an enormous amount of money on houses built for sale?
It may be that this scheme will produce a few more houses and that a few builders who, as the Minister said, have been spending their time on repairs, will come forward and build individual houses for sale. The test is not only how many houses are built, but who gets them. I believe the present proposals undermine what we initiated under the Labour Government, and undermines the whole principle of fair shares. Therefore, these proposals ought to be condemned.
§ 7.33 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Partridge (Battersea, South)
I am grateful to you, Sir, for allowing me to catch your eye and to join in this debate. This is the first occasion on which I have addressed you and I therefore ask the 2301 indulgence of the House should I, inadvertently, be guilty of any shortcomings.
The housing question concerns us all in greater or less degree. We owe a debt to our constituents, whether we come from Leeds or from one of the London divisions, which seem to have been entirely overlooked by the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon). We have our difficulties in London just as have any of the great cities, but the hon. Lady left them entirely out of account, probably inadvertently.
When we face this problem, despite the fact that on most matters strong differences of opinion divide the two sides of the House, we should put aside our differences and try to work together to find a solution to this dread problem. When we consider the utter misery and great distress which lies all around us we must come to the determination that, over the next few years by one means or another, we must provide such a number of houses as will secure that every family shall have a home of their own.
If we rest content with 200,000 a year, even although that number has not been attained over the last few years, it will stamp us as a nation which has lost the characteristics which made us great throughout the ages. It will do more: it will stamp us as a nation which has lost faith in itself. To build 200,000 houses will not bring about the alteration which is required. This was emphasised by the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, North-East. If the trouble is as great in Leeds as it appears to be from the hon. Lady's speech, and I am sure it is, the requirements of the capital investment programme must not dictate that we must never raise our eyes above the target of 200,000 houses. I am not at all impressed by that argument.
Apart from the difficulties that we have to face now, conditions get worse and worse as the years go by. The latest returns available from the Registrar-General show that there were 357,218 marriages in 1950. During the same period only 198,171 houses were built. At first sight it would appear that each year some 150,000 newly married couples have no homes in which to start their new life. The picture is not quite as bad as that because a considerable number through various circumstances, are able to find a 2302 home of their own without having to put their names on a housing list.
The fact remains that a considerable number are still dependent upon new building for their new homes. The position is that a problem faces us now, and it seems that each year that passes the problem will be accentuated by the addition of at least 100,000 newly married couples who must rely upon new building for their homes.
I come to this Parliament as the representative of the citizens of South Battersea. While I do not for a moment suggest—I dare not do so in view of what has been said by the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, North-East—that conditions there are worse than in many other parts of the country, they are so bad that they must be altered, and they must be altered quickly.
I have experienced the unhappiness, misery and distress in a part of London which was not considered very good in the days when I was there, the neighbourhood of the Old Kent Road. Unhappiness and distress existed there to a most marked degree before the First World War and also between the two wars, but bad as conditions were then—and they were bad indeed—improvements took shape year by year before our very eyes. With all humility, I hope I might say that I have been instrumental in bringing about some of those improvements.
My father was a medical practitioner in the Old Kent Road for nearly 60 years, and I was brought up in that neighbourhood, and I am not ashamed of it. I have benefited by the experience gained there. In the course of the social work that I was privileged to be able to do in that area, I came to know exactly what the conditions were in that part of South London. But these conditions are being duplicated in the Borough of Battersea today, and certainly in South Battersea, which is by comparison what one could call a "good" neighbourhood.
The distress and anxiety, the insanitary conditions, the hopelessness and frustration of so many people and the danger of broken marriages are such that when I compare this state of affairs with what I remember when I lived in the neighbourhood of the Old Kent Road I am led to believe that conditions are as had in many parts of South Battersea today 2303 as they were in South London in the so-called bad old days.
The trouble is that so far from our being able to see any improvement at all, conditions get worse and worse as the days go by. In these circumstances, something must be done. We on this side of the House are determined that something shall be done, and we have been encouraged by the pronouncements of my right hon. Friend today, for they have brought a great deal of hope to us all.
An attempt has been made to make some capital out of something which was said by my right hon. Friend this afternoon, but it should be known what my hon. Friends and I know, that 300,000 houses is our aim. We shall achieve it and we shall surpass it. My right hon. Friend's pronouncements this afternoon give us great hope, and those engaged in the building industry will be pleased to know that they will at last have freedom to do that which they have longed to do through six long weary years.
To provide homes for all who want them is a great ideal. We shall strive to attain it, and we shall attain it. To build 300,000 houses and more in a year in present circumstances is a gigantic task and a challenge to us all. With full knowledge of the difficulties, we accept that challenge. Any and every obstacle in the path of progress can be overcome provided that we bring to the task good will, determination and great faith.
My right hon. Friend has demonstrated quite clearly this afternoon that he has those virtues in plenty, and so have we all. Let us exercise those virtues to the full, having great faith in our ability to overcome all the difficulties and great determination that this social evil shall be banished from our midst, and then we can look forward to the future with a certain amount of justified confidence. Further than that, if we keep our aim high we shall at least be able to face our constituents and say that we are doing the best that is in us.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Dodds (Dartford)
I have very severe limitations and a tremendous responsibility in attempting to find suitable words with which to congratulate the hon. Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Partridge), upon his excellent maiden 2304 speech. If the truth were told, it is possible that I, who have been here for six years, am the more nervous of the two. I believe that in future the hon. Member will get a good deal of fun in the House besides bringing some practical knowledge from the neighbourhood of the Old Kent Road. I am sure that most hon. Members will be pleased to hear him again. I must warn him that in a year or two's time they may be bringing HANSARD out to recall some of the words that he has used, but I am sure that his quiet composure will enable him to hold his own in most of those exchanges, and I wish him well.
I rise largely because of remarks which were made by the right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson). In the last few sentences of his speech, with a catch in his voice, he pleaded that housing should not be regarded as a party matter, that, instead, we should bear in mind the human tragedy and misery and co-operate in housing for the common good At the end of his speech he introduced my name together with the name of one of the councils in my constituency. Probably he did not think it was controversial but thought he had a good point, and he accompanied it with the information that it was a Socialist council. I cannot believe that that was in the best interests of nonpartisan co-operation, but it gives me an opporunity to deal with the matter.
Half way through his speech the right hon. Gentleman referred to housing in 1905, and my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon), went back as far as the early 19th century, but what most people are wondering about is what houses they will get in 1952, not what happened in 1905 or 150 years ago. If half of the energy which has been used in saying what a wonderful time there will be had been devoted to producing housing I am sure we should be well on the way towards getting some of the additional houses.
We have heard the announcement that there will be more licences for private building. Many people have been trying to find out what this actually means. Some people in my constituency have already begun to realise the truth, because on 24th November the Ministry of Housing and Local Government allowed one of my councils to know just what they have in mind. The Crayford Urban 2305 District Council is to have an allocation of 75 houses for 1952. The allocation for 1951 was 125. The Clerk to that Council writes:At a time when the Government has pledged itself to produce more houses it seems paradoxical that the allocation to a district should be reduced particularly when that district is willing and able to accept a much larger allocation than before.
§ Squadron Leader Cooper
Will the hon. Gentleman agree that the allocations are based on performance in 1951, and that, if the Crayford Urban District Council has failed to build more than 75 houses this year, that is all it will get next year?
§ Mr. Dodds
If the hon. and gallant Member will listen, I will answer that point. The hon. and gallant Member raised the question of the performance for 1951. It must come as a shock to him and to others to know that the chief reason for the poor performance in 1951 is that the private enterprise builder—Messrs. E. and M. Heath, Limited—went bankrupt and completely paralysed the building of houses. Because private enterprise has let us down, are we to be judged on that performance for 1952?
§ Mr. Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
I intervene only because these proceedings are read by local councils outside, and I know that the hon. Member would not like to create a wrong impression. If he reads the letter from the Minister, I think he will find that it states that the "provisional" allocation is 75 houses. The Minister has made it quite clear that he is not now giving final annual allocations only once a year, but provisional allocations, which will be added to once the first group is in course of erection and likely to be completed. He has made clear that he is doing it this way to make sure that houses are finished as well as started.
§ Mr. Nicholls
I did not know that it was the custom to repeat private conversations, but if they are to be repeated let us have the right story. What I said to the hon. Member was that I thought he had a good case for taking a deputation 2306 to the Minister for getting more than 75 houses.
§ Mr. Dodds
If we are to have the true record, it is a fact that the hon. Member mentioned that at the beginning—until, of course, he knew the facts that I wished to give to the House.
The right hon. Member for Southport has stated that this was a Socialist council. If it is a question of performance, the House will probably be interested to have a few figures. In 1947, under a Labour Administration, the council's performance was to build 209 houses. In 1948, under a Labour Administration, it was 163 houses. But when that Administration was turned out and an anti-Socialist council came in, the figure fell to 76. Now that Labour is back again, and following a report and an inquiry by the Ministry of Health, it was reported to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, on 23rd August, that in 1952, the land and everything else that was necessary having been obtained, it would be possible to build 282 houses.
The Ministry of Housing and Local Government are fully conversant that in the Crayford area—I must make this clear to dispel any partisan or political point—the council that came in were unfortunate enough not to have the land on which to build the houses. But having cleared away all those obstacles, the way is now open to them, with the land which is available, next year to build 282 houses.
The hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Nicholls) mentioned that the allocation is merely provisional, to see what progress is made. The council, however, can properly reply that it is very much better to have a bigger allocation, in order to get the largest builders to come into the district. A number of hon. Members have spoken today about additional licences for private buildings. As can well be appreciated, the council of whom I am speaking, having had a previous allocation of 125 houses, knowing that they can build 282 houses in 12 months, must be forced to decide that with an allocation of only 75, and no undertakings as to additional allocations, they will not this time grant a single private licence.
§ Mr. J. A. Sparks (Acton)
Is my hon. Friend aware that the case he is now stating is not an isolated one? This applies to most local authorities. The 2307 Ministry are cutting down the provisional figures which are submitted to them and are trying to compel local authorities to build a lesser number of houses than they are able to build in accordance with their needs.
§ Mr. Dodds
I thank my hon. Friend.
My main purpose in bringing forward what might appear to be a local affair is that it indicates what might be happening, and, probably, will happen—[HON. MEMBERS: "It is happening."]—throughout the British Isles. For that reason, I felt that the right hon. Member for Southport, who, with his long Parliamentary experience, raised this matter at the end of what was believed to be an important speech, should know that this is a matter of great importance. I make no apology, therefore, for introducing into the debate a matter which, although local, seems to be typical of the treatment being applied throughout the country. I can only say to the Minister that if this is the best he can give us, once again his party will have made a pledge that cannot be kept, and this may be the biggest betrayal of all.
§ 7.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Derek Walker-Smith (Hertford)
The House may well consider that the speech to which we have just listened is not the least remarkable feature of a remarkable debate, but I shall not follow the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Dodds) into his private war with my right hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson), which was extended by an engagement with my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr. H. Nicholls). I want to refer to some of the other remarkable things that have happened in the debate.
The debate has been remarkable, not only for the number of maiden speeches, but because already—and it is not yet 8 o'clock—we have had contributions from three right hon. Gentlemen opposite. But there has been this significant difference; whereas all the maiden speeches were characterised by felicity of utterance and constructive wisdom, the speeches of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite competed for emptiness of content and irrelevant violence of expression.
There was, of course, this significant difference. The right hon. Member for 2308 Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) and the right hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Key) had so little to say that they spent some time in lavishing praise upon the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan); but of course, though the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale was equally barren of argument, he did not spend any of his time in passing any compliments to his right hon. Friends.
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale has made many unfortunate and harmful—[Interruption.] It is no good hon. Members looking round to see if the right hon. Member is present. He is seldom here unless he is addressing the House.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
The hon. Member has a very short memory. He was in the last two Parliaments, and should know that anything which I say of the right hon. Member in his absence I would say equally in his presence.
The right hon. Member has made many unfortunate and prejudicial utterances in the House, but today he extended his waging of the class war to the waging of a geographical war. I would have the right hon. Member know that there are many worthy people in the south and east and Midlands who will feel very indignant indeed at what fell from him this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman characterised what my right hon. Friend the Minister said was a "political charade." Of course, the right hon. Member has never risen above the politics of pantomime, with the role of demon king reserved for himself.
The Motion refers to "need," and hon. Members opposite are seeking to defend themselves upon that basis. After six years of Socialism, it is pertinent to inquire whether, under their policy, need is being met, and, in so far as it is not being met, whether it is likely to be met. Under the policy of right hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, the maximum potential of house building is anchored down to 200,000 houses a year and the actual result is less. That figure means that post-war needs cannot be met, because post-war needs in housing consist 2309 of two main elements, that is the provision of new housing and the replacement of obsolete housing by way of slum clearance. It is demonstrable that those two things cannot be achieved together on a basis of only 200,000 houses a year.
My second observation is that it would, obviously, be very foolish if anybody suggested that housing need was in exact proportion to a man's means or earning capacity; and nobody has said so foolish a thing. But it is only one degree less foolish to say, as so many hon. Members opposite suggest, that housing need is in inverse ratio to a man's means or earning capacity. I believe that after experience of the last six years, and with need not being satisfied and not being on the way to be satisfied, some new deployment is necessary in housing policy. I congratulate my right hon. Friend in substituting a policy of practicality for a policy of prejudice.
I believe the truth to be this. Means must be found of expanding house production while retaining the basis of provision according to need. There are those two aspects of housing policy: house production, which is the technical aspect, and the allocation of houses according to need, which is the social aspect. But it surely is true that without an expanded housing production, need cannot be satisfied, and, therefore, the social aspect will also lag behind. The provision of more housing is bound to ease the pressure of demand, by whatever means it is achieved, and thereby contribute to the social aspect of the housing problem.
In regard to the technical problem of expanding house production, I believe that we have reached the stage where there can be no substantial advance unless there is a significant contribution from private building. I have for the last six years argued for a parallel advance by both these agencies in house production. Private building has always been the pacemaker in house building, and one of the reasons why we have had such slow house production in the last six years is that the pacemaker has been shackled so as to be unable to fulfil that function.
§ Mr. Manuel
Is the hon. Member aware that it is the exception, right throughout the country, to have other 2310 than private building as the medium of the local authorities?
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
I am much obliged to the hon. Member. I have made several speeches in the last six years trying to deal with this point, and so have many of my hon. Friends, notably my hon. Friend who is now Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing. There are, as I am sure the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) well knows, two types of private building: there is contract building, and there is building on private account.
Local authority building is necessarily contract building. The trouble about local authority house building is simply that it combines both the delays and complexities of building by committee, which is inherent in the local authority system—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—with the delays and complexities of contract building applied to housing.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
Perhaps hon. Members from north of the Tweed would contain themselves for a moment. I have, perhaps, more right to speak on Scottish matters than has the hon. Member to speak on English matters. I was, at least, born in Edinburgh. It is as well, perhaps, to mention that my father was a civil engineer in Edinburgh, although an Englishman. He went there to help them with these very problems.
It is the fact—and the hon. Member will learn this if he listens quietly—that contract building in regard to housing has the difficulties of an over-rigidity of specification and an over-diversity of forms of contract. On the second of these two questions we have made progress. I will be quite fair and say that we began to make progress under the administration of the party opposite, under pressure from us on these benches, of course. In regard to over-rigidity of specification we still have a long way to go.
§ Mr. James MacColl (Widnes)
An over-rigidity of specification may be due to the desire to maintain standards. But what possible case can there be for allowing people not to have the advantage of speculative building but to have to build for particular licensees on particular specifi- 2311 cations laid down by the licensing authority? How can that liberate the builder?
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
The hon. Member is confusing two points. It is possible and it is necessary, in my submission, to simplify specification in any event and make it more flexible—not to reduce it but to introduce an element of flexibility into contract building which already exists in private building.
What the hon. Gentleman should realise is that contract building, since this matter has been introduced, is not of its nature very appropriate to house building. Contract building is appropriate to what in the trade is known as lump sum contracts. In other words, the difference is very much like the difference between what goes on, for example, in Vickers' shipyards and what goes on in the Ford Motor Works. Vickers' shipyards translated into building terms would be suitable for contract building, but in the erection of numerous small units the cumbrous procedure of contract building is not really very well suited.
§ Mr. MacColl rose—
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
I promised that I would try not to be too long. I am sure the hon. Gentleman has known me long enough to appreciate that I hate not giving way to him a second time. I was diverted, and I think helpfully diverted, from my theme by hon. Members opposite, because what they have said brings out the contribution that private building has got to make, since of its essence it is a speedier and more effective instrument for house building than contract building can hope to be, whether in contract with a local authority or otherwise.
§ Mr. Sparks
Surely materials and labour supplies have something to do with this. We cannot build more houses speedily unless we have more labour and more materials to do the job. Can the hon. Gentleman relate his argument to that?
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
The short answer is, as the hon. Gentleman ought to know, that this matter was dealt with in the Report of the Girdwood Committee. I would refer him to what they said on that point, because I cannot elaborate what 2312 they said without considerably over-running my time.
I want to get back, if I may, to the point which I was about to make with regard to the contribution of private building. I am grateful to hon. Members opposite because I think their interjections have enabled me to illustrate the practical contribution that can be made on the technical aspect of expanding house production. I think hon. Members must ask themselves how far it is going to be possible for private building to make a really effective contribution in existing conditions.
My right hon. Friend explained—the arithmetic was a little difficult for some hon. Members opposite who do not share the advantage of the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon), in having been a teacher of mathematics—how the ratio would in practice only mean a one in four ratio, and he explained how the number of houses to let would be safeguarded.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
I do not know whether I would be in order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, in interrupting for a moment the sedentary cross-fire which is going on across the House; but if I may, I understood that it was based on the mathematics of experience. That is how the ratio of one in four, in fact, came about. I think hon. Members in all quarters of the House who want to see maintained the figures of houses for rent will take comfort from that; but it is necessary that the House should ask this question, whether private building is going to be able in the technical field to deploy its technique and make its best contribution in the limited field of licencing as it is now envisaged.
I want to come on to the point that has already been made, about the possibility of the grant of block licences to builders provided that the people who occupy the houses come from an approved local authority list. What is really wanted is that the builder should be able to develop an estate or, at any rate, a large site and then take in occupants from the local authority list.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
It is referred to in the appendix to the circular, in paragraph 2, in these terms:In suitable cases a number of licences can be issued to a single builder building a number of houses for approved occupiers.There are parts of the country in which some effort is made to deal with this problem. For example, I understand that in Leicester the procedure goes in this way. When the quota is known, the local authority then advises the local branch of the National Federation of Registered House Builders who immediately submit proposals to the local authority for several types of houses on several sites, to be built by any builder willing to do the work, the claims of the smaller builders being taken into account first and any balance going to the larger firms. The local authority after approving plans and layout, issues the individual licences to people on their waiting lists, subject to their taking up one of the houses which the local authority has thus approved.
That seems to me a good scheme so far as it goes, because the purchasers have the assurance that the plans, site and layout are approved by the local authority and that the price is considered fair. It may be possible to evolve from that a bulk or block licence system, still keeping the occupiers restricted to people from an approved local authority list, and I believe that will help to combine the technical advantage with the social aspect of the allocation of houses according to need.
I was going to say a word or two about land, but as time is getting on I will come straight to the question of standards on which I wish to say a few words. Standards, of course, embrace both size and quality, and, if I had not known him so well, I would have been astonished to hear the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale talking about rabbit hutches when he must know that some of these economies figured in the second Girdwood Report.
Everybody knows that there is no point in working ourselves into a tantrum when facing the question whether it is better to have rather smaller houses for more people or rather larger houses for fewer people. It is nothing to get into a tantrum about. It is a social and practical question which hon. Members opposite ought to be able to approach in a quiet, constructive and realistic way.
§ Mr. Ross rose—
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
We really must have some regard to the fact that other hon. Members wish to speak. I have given way several times. I have been diverted from my theme, and I am sure the hon. Member will acquit me of any discourtesy if I do not give way again. Size is being diminished. Quality, which is the other aspect of the standards, as I understand it, is not being diminished. I would refer again to the passage from the Report which was quoted under great pressure by the right hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Key):The plans and outline specifications should be approved by the local authority. The general specification and the amount of supervision exercised should be equivalent to those laid down in the scheme operated by the National Housebuilders Registration Council.That Council, as hon. Members may know, has been in existence since 1936. It lays down minimum standard specifications and a guarantee is given in regard to defects. Statutory recognition was given to it by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, which disposes of the argument that he did nothing good in the whole period of his office.
Of course, what happened in the postwar years as hon. Members will appreciate, is that when licences were allocated on an individual basis, a single house at a time, those licences have been hawked round to get the cheapest construction. That is why, of the houses built in postwar years far too few have come within the ambit of the scheme of the House-builders Registration Council. If building could be carried on in rather larger units, as I have suggested, they will be built by builders who accept the standards of the Housebuilders Registration Council, and that will be a great advance in standards.
There are two other points I wish to, make very briefly. First, I hope that my right hon. Friend will have regard in these times of difficulty of labour and material to the possibilities of an expanded use of those permanent pre-fabricated houses which have already proved themselves. They are pleasing in appearance, and of very good standard of construction. They economise in scarce materials, in particular timber and bricks. They economise in particular in brick- 2315 layers, which are short at the present time, and they can be speedily built.
The other short point I wish to make is that there is still in existence a scheme originated, I think, under Circular 96 of 1940, whereby private builders can build houses on local authority land for local authority tenants. Some progress has been made under that scheme, but not as much as would be made if it were more sympathetically handled by some local authorities. I hope my right hon. Friend will be able to bring to the attention of local authorities the desirability of expanding the usefulness of that scheme.
I would leave those suggestions with my right hon. Friend, and at the same time congratulate him on this very important first step which he has taken in regard to house production. I am sure he will appreciate that it is a first step, albeit an important one, and that difficult decisions and much thinking lies ahead. But it is a good start, and I am sure my right hon. Friend will know that the country will welcome his constructive approach and wish him God-speed and good service in the solution of this great human problem.
§ Mr. John Wheatley (Edinburgh, East)
On a point of order. For my guidance, and for the guidance of my hon. Friends may I ask you, Sir, whether this debate is confined to English housing, or whether it also extends to Scottish housing? It is now 20 minutes past eight and no Scottish Member has as yet been called. I am wondering whether this debate is circumscribed and is confined only to English housing. Could you give me a ruling on that, Sir?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It is not so circumscribed and I hope, if speeches are short and time permits, to call Scottish Members.
§ Mr. J. Snow
Further to that point of order, Sir. You will have noticed that at least a dozen hon. Members got up to speak just now. This is a matter of vital importance to every hon. Member of this House. Is there no way of your suggesting to the Government that they might, even at this late juncture, find a way of extending the existing order, or have we to ask hon. Members opposite 2316 to make rude remarks to us so that we can claim the right to reply?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That is not within my power. I am in the hands of the House. If hon. Members will make their speeches a little shorter we can get most of the speeches in.
§ Mr. Manuel
Further to the point of order raised by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Wheatley). We did understand that this housing debate was also to cover Scottish housing. As things have gone, no Scottish Member has been called and now there will be only one when the debate terminates for back bench Members at Nine o'Clock.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Mr. M. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)
I am sure that everyone will wish to use such time as there is left to the best advantage. I always listen with great admiration to the speeches made by the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith), because he has a capacity to make himself believe things that no one else will accept. He started his contribution to the debate in an atmosphere of pantomime. I would point out to him that this matter is no joke. There are literally millions of people in this country who are waiting, not for houses to buy, because their circumstances will not permit it, but for houses which they can rent.
It is no use the hon. Member or any one else on the opposite side of the House saying rude things about the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). They would be occupying their time much better if they could answer any of the arguments he put forward. So far, they have made no attempt to do so. The truth is—and I would put this to the Minister, if I may have his attention—that the Minister and hon. Members opposite are running away from the real issue in this debate. The fact is they will not face it and what they have done, it is quite a common and skilful Parliamentary practice, is to talk about anything else but the point that matters.
The thing which is of real importance in this debate is why the present ratio 2317 between houses for sale and houses to let is being changed. That is a matter of vital concern to this House and to the country. The shortage of houses to let—and I am sure the Minister must be aware of it, although I must say that he paid scant attention to the fact—is shown by the need of so many people waiting in the housing queue. It is not a question of people who have money and are able to satisfy their particular need, however small it may be, to acquire a house to buy. Those in need who are waiting in the queue, and whose need it is the duty of the Government to satisfy, are those people on the housing lists of local authorities who are unable to get a house.
If the plan of the Minister is carried out they will find that their chance of getting a house is more remote than ever. It seems to me—and I say this to the Minister because the responsibility rests upon him in this matter, and he has to advise the Cabinet about it—that, if this rule is to be changed—I think the Minister ought to attend very carefully to this—the onus is upon him to prove four things at least.
First, that there is a national demand for the change; second, that he has adequate evidence to support that; third, that the change will not create greater hardship; and, fourth, and most important, that the change will not give advantage of cash over need.
Those are the four matters which, if I may have the Minister's attention, I would ask him to consider, and to which whoever is to reply to the debate should give an answer. It is the duty of that Front Bench to satisfy the House and the country that these four pre-requisities can be satisfied.
With all respect to the Minister, and I listened very carefully to his speech, in my opinion he gave no proof whatever of any one of these pre-requisities existing. If he looks, as he certainly ought to have done, at the Housing Returns since May, 1950—which is a crucial date, for a reason which I will give in a moment—this is what he will find. He will find that the ratio, between the two types of houses, instead of being one in five, as it is existing at the moment, is one in 10 at the best, and, on the average, one in 20.
The Minister this afternoon said a very remarkable thing. He himself said 2318 —and this is his own case—that, when the ratio was one in five, it was running at one in eight, and I intervened then specially because of that statement by him to ask him why he should make the change. He gave some explanation which certainly did not sound very intelligent to me, and I think that, when he reads it in HANSARD tomorrow, he will find that it is nothing more or less than the language of excuse. Let the right hon. Gentleman ponder whether what I am now telling him is not worthy of consideration.
Later, the Minister put his case on this basis, and these are the only two grounds upon which, as far as I can see, he puts any case at all. He said that, under the change to a 50 per cent. ratio, it will be shown in practice that the applications for licences will be one in four. May I ask the Minister this question? If it is true that experience has shown that the position previously had been running at one in eight, and that, under the change, and on his own careful consideration of the matter, what is to happen as a result of what he has done is that it will run at one in four, why, then, has he made such a drastic change?
I think he ought to give an explanation, because, in present conditions of scarcity and difficulty, to build even a single house for sale more than is absolutely necessary must be wrong and must create difficulty. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] I will show why. I think that the House is entitled to have an answer to the question I have put from someone who will reply from the Treasury Bench.
Someone asked me why just now, and I will tell him why. In order to do so. I take the position in Gloucester. I would like the Minister to register these facts, because of what he said about greater flexibility. He said something about giving local authorities discretion, because they knew what the local situation was and what was the right thing to do. Let us examine that, and let us see what the councils, in fact, do.
In Gloucester, there are 3,187 people on the housing register, and that is very small, for instance, by comparison with Birmingham, which has 60,000. Some facts have been given to me so that I may show what the position is. There 2319 are 200 private building licences, and, in Gloucester, the one in five ratio is regularly issued. That goes on all the time. How are they issued? I want the Minister to note this, because of the confidence which he has expressed in the local authorities, and because, unless that confidence can be confirmed and held, everything the Minister has said about this matter makes nonsense.
In Gloucester, private licences are issued, amongst others, to people who are not married. No details are asked from the applicants at all. There is no investigation and the statements which they make are not even verified. I have here—and the Minister can see them if he so desires—particulars in connection with 40 different cases of applications for private licences, and I can tell the Minister that there is not a single instance amongst the whole lot where real need could be proved.
In the last four months, among the licences granted, 14 have been returned because the cost of building was too high, and, out of 280 that have been dealt with, 50 people had the sites for the building, and the rest, if you like, wanted to use the corporation's sites, which were there for corporation houses to be built for letting. I want the Minister to ponder these things in connection with this doctrine of his about "flexibility."
Actually, I have a letter from a well-informed source in the City of Gloucester with regard to the practice of the Planning Committee on these matters. This literal extract from that letter says:The spirit of the Planning Committee is this: We have 50 licences to issue; let us dish them out.If that is what the Minister calls flexibility, he had better think about it again, and find out whether this is not, in fact, merely an example of what is happening in practically every other local authority in the country, outside the Labour majority councils.
The fact is that these councils—it is all very well the Minister smiling, but the people who are waiting for houses are not smilling about it—grant all the licences that they get, and this 50 per cent. ratio will be observed in all those areas outside Labour majority councils, which are the areas where the speculative builder dominates and where there is a 2320 Conservative majority on the council. In the case of every one of these councils, the licences will be distributed, and I say that without any fear of contradiction on the facts. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale said, these are the areas where the speculative builder dominates, and they are the areas where most licences are asked for.
The former rule the ratio of one in five—the one now being replaced—was made in May, 1950. The Minister will know that at that time the proportion was one in nine which was reduced to one in five, but that there were two vital conditions attaching to it. The first was that although the ratio was one in five, each council was permitted to take into account the circumstance in its own district. The second was that the then Minister gave the pledge that he would consider applications in excess of the one in five if they were proved necessary by evidence and if the need as between applications for council houses and those for licences justified it.
I should have thought that was a very prudent and fair rule, which secured that no one could get an advantage merely because he had the money with which to buy a house. It also meant that no one would be able to jump the queue without satisfying the Minister that the need justified the licence being granted. This rule and the two qualifications attached to it must be well in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. I want to ask the Minister four questions on that of which I should like him to take note.
Why is it necessary to end that wise and equitable procedure? This is a serious alteration to make, and we have not been told why it has been made. I want the Minister to tell the House and the country what evidence he has to justify his present action, and whether the local authorities have submitted any evidence to him to justify applications for council houses and those for licences being put on an equal footing. I can tell him that no such evidence exists in Gloucester, and that the Housing Returns since June, 1950, to which I have alluded refute the conclusion that any such evidence exists.
Of course, it is very simple if the Minister is now going to open the door wide and make it easy for more licences to be issued. There will, of course, be 2321 many more applications, but that is not evidence of need. That is merely evidence of opportunity. I want to know whether any local authority has suggested this ratio of 50–50 to the Minister, and, if so, what local authority. The highest claim I ever heard made in this House was made by the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine) on 4th May, 1950, when he said that in many districts the ratio was nearer to one private house to two council houses. On that occasion not a jot of evidence was submitted to justify that contention, any more than there has been today to justify the new ratio.
In my submission, no good reason has been adduced for altering the previous rule. It was a salutary rule which laid down the principle that houses must go and must be seen to go to persons in need of them. Under the new rule, it simply means that applicants need not be on the waiting lists at all. I received an answer from the Minister today which is really very revealing. I asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he would take powers to restrict the granting of licences for houses for sale to those people whose names were on the housing authority registers. His answer was a plain, "No, Sir."
In the House the other day the Minister said that local authorities were to be given special permission to build houses by private enterprise up to a maximum of one-half instead of one-fifth. He then went on to indicate that people who wanted houses for sale would have to show the same need as people on the housing lists. But today he has given an answer which makes it quite clear that they do not need to be on the waiting lists at all.
The point here is that the degree of need is not material at all and that neither is the size of the family. It does not matter if the person's name is far down the list. What counts under the Minister's new scheme is the person's means to buy this unfair privilege. That means that in the case of Gloucester such a person can be the last of 3,000 on the list and, in the case of Birmingham, the last of 60,000. In these circumstances, does the Minister really think that the new rule can be justified? Is not the true and right test in this matter the most need and not the most cash?
2322 There is a good deal of restiveness among hon. Members, and not unnaturally, because many of them wish to take part in this debate.
§ Mr. Percy Shurmer (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)
On a point of order. With the greatest respect to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I want to protest at the inadequate time given to this debate. It means that my hon. Friends and myself who represent the City of Birmingham, which has 60,000 constituents on its housing register, are unable to take part in this debate.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
I am not responsible for the allocation of time, and interventions about the lack of adequate time merely use up time.
I was just going to say that I realise that there are others who want to speak in this debate. There are many more things that I would have liked to say to the Minister on this subject, but in view of the little time that is left I will conclude by saying to the Minister that second thoughts are sometimes best, and that I think this is a typical and striking example when that might be applied with advantage.
§ 8.44 p.m.
§ Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)
I do not want to intervene in this quarrel between the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) and the hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Shurmer).
§ Sir W. Darling
I find myself in complete agreement with my right hon. Friend the Minister. I am glad to learn that a breath of fresh air has been brought to our debates and that we are now concerned with people who want houses and who are prepared to make sacrifices in order to get them. They want to be done with this hireling world in which they have to take or steal or acquire under some subterfuge things they can gain by honest toil.
I represent a community which believes in independence and there are many people in Scotland who have the simple desire to own their own houses. This is the first Government in the last seven 2323 years that has given them that opportunity, even though it is to a limited extent. I beg the House in proper sympathy for these swollen bloated housing lists—an advertisement of six years of incompetent Socialist administration—to look at the advantages the community will enjoy if men and women are allowed to own something.
Too long have we been encouraged to beg, borrow and steal, to acquire in some way without title, and to shed our responsibilities. All these things, under certain circumstances, have been encouraged. I am glad to learn that H.M. Government in the field of housing are now prepared to say that men and women who are ready to make sacrifices for the dearest, sweetest possession, a home of their own, are no longer going to be denied that right. I say that without disparagement of those who in certain circumstances prefer to spend money on other things than the acquiring of a house.
In recent years, if we had had a relatively free enonomy the machinery which enabled tens of thousands of people to own their own houses in the past would have enabled tens of thousands of people to own them today. The heavy burden on the taxpayer and on the ratepayer would have been ameliorated to some extent if an extension of the right of the individual to own his own house had been permitted. There is the grave and serious problem for those who want to acquire a house through the public funds. But there is still an important side of our economy which should be encouraged and developed. [Interruption.] I am anxious to say, and hon. Members opposite will not prevent me from saying it, that it is not wrong for an Englishman, Welshman or Scotsman to want to own a little bit of his own country. There is nothing vile or detestable about that.
I am glad of the opportunity of saying discordant things, in this world which wants to hire, to borrow and not to own, to encourage His Majesty's Government to restore that spirit. This is what we want from the citizens of this country. It is not a Socialist doctrine. I want everyone to save—Heaven knows it is difficult—£100 in the Savings Bank. That is not beyond the means of those who spend millions of pounds on tobacco, pools and other extravagances. 2324 Having saved that £100 I suggest they save £500 in National Savings Certificates and then insure their lives for a modest sum of money and, having done that, buy a house. Having done these four things—and they are within the compass of the humblest wage-earner in this country—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."]—they will have done more to establish the strength and character and stability of our country than any device, no matter how ingenious, for the building of houses at low rentals for those who are alleged to be in sore need.
§ 8.48 p.m.
§ Mr. James Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I am extremely sorry that at this late hour we had not had one Scotsman participating in this debate until the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling) rose.
§ Sir W. Darling
May I correct the hon. Member? I have represented Edinburgh, South, for a longer time than he has represented Kilmarnock.
§ Mr. Carmichael
My deep regret is that the only contribution so far made by a Scotsman should have descended to the depths to which the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South, descended. He has made no attempt to analyse the case as submitted by his own Government.
§ Mr. Carmichael
It would have been far better for his own peace of mind and that of his constituents if the hon. Member had not taken part in the debate at all. The issue today is quite clearly the question of need. There was some argument earlier about the organisation of the building industry. I want to ask whoever replies for the Government to tell us whether there is sufficient material and labour that is not being directed to housing that should be so directed.
I happen to be a member of a progress committee appointed by a former Secretary of State for Scotland. Every authority in the building industry, the local authorities, the employers and the operators tell us that today we lack the necessary materials. We are short of materials. If hon. Members opposite are satisfied that they can add to the total of the houses 2325 built in this country, surely the Minister can tell us tonight how he is going to do it? He cannot do it by the process of building for sale.
In what must be a short and hurried speech let me instance Glasgow to illustrate my point. Glasgow is the worst-housed city in this country. It is probably one of the worst-housed cities in the whole of Europe, I am not trying to make a cheap debating point. Some evidence for what I say was given in the "News Chronicle." We have an industrial community of whom many are living six, eight and sometimes ten persons in a single apartment. They are on the waiting list for houses. How do their circumstances compare with those of the people who are prepared to buy houses?
I had a case brought to my notice before coming down to Westminster from Scotland this week, of a person who applied for a house for sale. He has to put down £200. That may be a trivial sum to a lot of hon. Members of this House, but it is a very considerable sum for the ordinary working artisan—not only in Glasgow, but in any part of Britain. He has to put down £200 and he has to make an average payment of 50s, weekly to pay for the house. Those payments do not take account of any change that may take place in the rate of interest. They do not take into account the fact that he has not only to pay occupier's rates but owner's rates. I say that by approaching the problem in this way the Government are denying the building industry the opportunity to build for those who are in need.
In the South there may be any number of opportunities for building for sale to people who can afford to buy houses, but I have heard regularly in this House, and from the platforms of every party, about the need for increased production. What right have the Government to go to the people in the East End of Glasgow, who are living in hovels, and demand that in the shipyards and in the engineering industry they should face their social responsibilities and produce more—when they have to go home at night and live in dens unfit for human habitation? What right have the Government to do this when they are putting those people at the bottom of the list of those who want houses?
2326 What is happening in Glasgow? We are supposed to be building at the rate of a little over 4,000 houses a year, but it is reckoned on a very conservative estimate that the wastage rate is 3,000 a year. As every hon. Member from the West of Scotland knows, because of deterioration of property, we could estimate that the rate should be reckoned at 5,000 a year. Therefore we are not even meeting the needs of the people on the spot and we have 100,000 on the waiting list.
I have no desire at this stage to try to make party capital. I will be the happiest man in the House if any Government can build more houses than are being built now, but I say frankly to every hon. Member that we cannot do it by dividing the labour force and sending it to parts of the country where it can build houses for sale and leave denuded of housing labour areas where people are badly in need of houses to rent. That is precisely what will happen.
What about sick persons? Every Government has made an allocation for people suffering from tuberculosis, and usually the people suffering from that deadly disease are the very poorest in the community. They have to be put to the bottom of the list because they have not the economic resources to buy houses. Then there are the newly married couples, a section of whom could buy houses. But the great percentage of the working population cannot buy houses. We have great overcrowding, and I say to all my English colleagues here that, with the very best will in the world, they do not understand the terrible plight of the people living in "single ends."
In England it would be regarded as a great social crime to live in the place where one cooks and eats food. It would be regarded as a crime to sleep there, but that happens in thousands of houses in Scotland.
§ Brigadier Terence Clarke (Portsmouth, West)
Surely the hon. Member does not think that Scotland has a monopoly of that kind of thing? It operates in England.
§ Mr. Carmichael
If it happens in England, the more the tragedy, but I do not know of any part in Britain where overcrowding is anything like it is in the 2327 west of Scotland. I should like to obliterate it from my mind, but it is there and has to be described in this House.
I know that Glasgow Corporation will be brought to book for their desire to build houses for sale. My great fear is that building labour may move out of Glasgow. It is a Government responsibility, not merely to examine the need nationally, but to examine it in certain areas where they can go ahead with their housing programme to a greater extent than in other parts of the country. I would like the Minister to consider, in order to organise the building trade in a more co-operative way than it is at the moment organised, the possibility of even excluding building in certain parts of the country so that we could drive the labour force in to do a big job in the more overcrowded areas.
I regret that I have had to participate in the debate at the last minute and that I am unable to develop my case more fully. I also regret very much that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South, did not make a contribution which would have been a credit, not only to the country, but to the Scotsmen he represents in this House.
§ 8.59 p.m.
Mr. Hector McNeil (Greenock)
My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) will forgive me if I do not follow him for the moment, but I will come back to two points he made with his customary forthrightness and passion. In that sense he ought to have been grateful for the most extraordinary outburst of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling). If a dramatist had tried to provide an entrance for my hon. Friend, he could scarcely have provided it better than did the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South.
§ Sir W. Darling
The right hon. Gentleman will agree that it is even appropriate for a dramatist to present the facts, and I was presenting the fact that it is desirable to buy houses, whereas the hon. Member opposite says that it is desirable to rent them.
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South, frequently suffers from his ability to over-simplify. His political blindness derives from the fact that he always sees situations in black and white. 2328 As a fellow journalist, I can sympathise with that when it comes to journalism, but this is not the issue we are discussing. The Minister made it plain that we are not discussing this issue of whether we shall afford to people the quite proper, quite understandable, quite legal, quite moral right to own a house. What we are discussing is, shall we afford them that right at the expense of other people in more urgent need? That is what we are discussing, as I shall try to show.
I want to join with hon. Members in congratulating the maiden speakers we have had today. Housing always attracts maiden speakers and this House should be grateful that it is so. Hon. Members coming fresh from their constituencies almost anywhere will be impelled towards talking about housing, and today we had four excellent examples—the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Holt), the hon. Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty), the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber), and the hon. Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Partridge). They all had one feature in common in their excellent and vigorous speeches—they appeared to go outside the normal counsel that new Members should avoid controversial issues.
It was rather surprising to find the hon. Member who spoke for the Liberal Party, if I followed him correctly, urging a revision of the Rent Restriction Acts to afford an increase in rents of 25 per cent. It was equally surprising to find the hon. Member for Surrey, East, urging the disbanding and dissolution of the rent tribunals. I hope I observe the customary niceties, but if I do not argue with them I would make this comment: I do not ask them not to repeat the arguments, but I warn them that next time they come back, as I hope they will, they will find hon. Members on this side very anxious to join the discussions.
It has been a quite remarkable debate—remarkable for two strange features. The Minister of Housing and Local Government made no allusion in any part of his speech to this Election pledge of a target of 300,000 houses for Great Britain—a most extraordinary omission. In the first detailed debate we have had upon this subject, the fact that there should be no reference, not even when the right hon. Gentleman makes a hypothetical calculation, to this 300,000 2329 houses, is surprising; he prefers to choose 200,000—this despised figure which was kicked around every husting.
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
I did not refer, to the 300,000 houses or to the whole complex problem surrounding housing because, as the right hon. Gentleman very properly observed, the Motion was limited to the statement which I made last week. My speech was quite long enough as it was, and I kept it within those words.
With regard to the 200,000, may I correct the right hon. Gentleman? I am sure he would not wish to misrepresent me. I was giving some figures for England and Wales, and I was trying to show that even if the total of completed houses for England and Wales were as low as 200,000 next year, then if the proportion worked out in the way past experience shows, there would be exactly as many houses to rent built next year as in the past—there would be 150,000 houses to rent. But I said, of course, that we hoped to do better; I was putting the argument at its lowest. Even if there were only 200,000 built in England and Wales there would still be the same number of houses to let.
If we add Scotland in the same ratio, we shall get a figure of 237,000—not bad, but not the figure upon which the Members opposite snatched seat after seat. Does the right hon. Gentleman want to interrupt again?
§ Mr. Macmillan
The right hon. Gentleman has entirely misrepresented my argument. I said that even if the worst should come and the figure were as low as 200,000—surely the right hon. Gentleman can understand an argument of this kind—the effect on the ratio between houses to let and houses to purchase would be exactly the one we guarantee to maintain.
Well, it is an Amendment. I now understand the right hon. Gentleman—[HoN. MEMBERS: "No."] The right hon. Gentleman must believe me that the people behind them in their constituencies in this country will be made to understand in exactly the same way 2330 that the Government are running away as fast as they can from 300,000. [HoN. MEMBERS: "No."]
The second extraordinary feature of the debate was that the right hon. Gentleman made no attempt to display to us the mechanism by which they hope to overtake this extraordinary position of offering one for one in England and Wales and still being able to make available to let as many houses as were made available last year. He has made no attempt at all to do that, as I shall try to show. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland will give us the honour of explaining the simple questions which must be put and understood, even if we accept the plea that the Government are proceeding in good faith.
I should like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland in getting away with a much less offence than his right hon. Friend. At least, it augurs well for the resolution and conscientiousness which we in Scotland hope to find in him. I greatly regret that he found it necessary to concede twice the number of houses for building for ownership and found it necessary to throw away the restrictive and deserving categories under which we previously operated. Scotland will not thank him for that. The people of Scotland who need houses will not get more houses in that way. At any rate, his offence was less gross than that of his right hon. Friend in offering one house for ownership for every house that is to be let.
It will be quite plain that no matter for whom nor by whom these houses are built, they will depend upon the availability of labour and of materials provided, of course, that the Government do not intend to reduce standards nor materially to reduce the size of the houses, and intend, at the same time, to honour their building obligations in relation to defence, industry and the social services. My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) drew attention to a newspaper cutting, which I mean to offer to the House, from the "Scottish Bulletin." I know the man who wrote it, and I believe that I know the man he interviewed. I know him as a most responsible and careful journalist, and I think that the man he interviewed is a competent private builder. He says, quite bluntly: 2331I welcome the decision, but what we need is more materials. The whole industry is starved of bricks, cement, timber, steel and plasterboard. Until we get these, it does not matter if the ratio of private building is ten to one, five to one, or even two to one; we simply will not be able to build any more houses than we are doing at present.That is common sense. We discussed this matter some time ago when we reviewed the materials position. Since then, thanks to the efforts of the late Government, the timber position is, I imagine, quite satisfactory. At any rate, tone of my right hon. Friends offered figures last Friday which were not refuted, and which seem to indicate a very healthy position in relation to timber. It made it a little extraordinary that the right hon. Gentleman opposite should twice refer to the desirability of using hard woods instead of soft woods in these houses that we are to build for sale—but I will let that go.
The position in regard to bricks, cement. plasterboard and iron castings cannot be described as easy. It is true that the last time we discussed this subject the Prime Minister waved all those aside and explained that it was quite within the capacity of the Government to overtake this deficiency and to build 300,000 houses. We were not told anything about how these shortages are to be met. I felt obliged to tell the Scottish Grand Committee in mid-summer that I thought we should fall below the target because, among many other things, of these shortages, and that it would come down from 25,000 to 23,000. I expected that it would go up to 27,500 next year.
These facts make nonsense of the Prime Minister's complacency in relation to materials, and they make a little nonsense of the airy attitude which the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Housing and Local Government adopted today in discussing the complex and ambitious programme that he has set himself. Replying to my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham. South (Mr. H. Morrison), he said, quite categorically, and he again repeated it today, that the purpose of this scheme and of this policy is to increase the number of houses for letting.
Arguing, as I am bound to do—leaving labour aside for a second—that there will not be enough materials to permit a programme 2332 of 300,000—I think it will be much less than that—I ask the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply to tell us flatly and categorically, without any evasion this: Will there be made available to authorities materials to have built in Scotland not less than 27,500 houses, and in Britain as a whole, on the right hon. Gentleman's calculation, something like 235.000 houses, all of which should be available for letting, except for the proportions which the previous Government had made available for sale? Will he supply materials to match that figure for next year? Is that the undertaking that he can give? Of course, if he does so, other questions will follow such as the simple, mechanical question: What machinery do the Government propose to employ to make certain that even if that material is available it is given a priority for houses that are to be let?
All of us who have been dealing with this kind of work know that in many cases, indeed in most cases, the contractor who will build privately will also be the contractor who will be building for the local authority. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell us what machinery he will use, and what power he is going to seek or thinks he has at this moment, to ensure that he can safely undertake that the bricks, cement, and plasterboard will be available in the first instance for houses built for letting?
Moreover, there is a further complication of a comparable kind. We all know the situation in which we consider a bad local authority, that is a local authority which has not built up to the capacity of a letting allocation. There is a good authority or a bad authority, but what machinery will be used to be certain that when a bad authority is competing against a good authority priority in materials and labour will go to the good authority?
There is a further mechanical point of this kind to which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give a straight answer. Supposing an authority has an allocation of 1,000 houses, of which 500 are for letting. The authority goes ahead with its private building instead of houses for letting. What steps or power will the right hon. Gentleman take to make sure that that work is stopped until the letting work goes on?
These are mechanical questions. I do not imagine that they will be pleasant 2333 questions to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, because one of their election pledges was that the people were to be set free. It is quite plain to anyone who has given this subject even the most superficial examination that if the promise of the new Government about maintaining this level is to be honoured, the right hon. Gentleman must have powers to deal with those contractors to arrange priority through the issuing of supplies.
These questions are put on the assumption that the Government are proceeding in good faith with the scheme. Of course, there is very little evidence in the statement and speeches we have had of the good faith of the Government on this subject. One of my hon. Friends asked plainly and bluntly, what evidence is there in the possession of the Government that the people of the country wanted a scheme of this kind at all? My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), gave figures to the House once before for various local authorities who had advertised houses for sale. Birmingham was a very good example. The right hon. Gentleman offered figures today in reply to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes), and most extraordinary figures they were.
Here are the figures relating to Glasgow, and I give them because it is a fair cross-section town. It is a university and industrial town, and the people living there range from those who have the best paid positions to the lower paid jobs. Glasgow had a private building allocation, and in three years they built for letting 10,395 houses. In the same time, despite the powers that they were given, they built only 48 houses for private disposal. Were they tampered with in any way? Was there a Labour majority on the council? What can be the explanation of this? Why does the right hon. Gentleman lack any evidence to refute this as a general proposition? Why do the Government have to proceed with the scheme which they have outlined to us?
If they have had any evidence to the contrary, they might make some kind of case. In our view it would still be a socially unjust case, but it might be a case for placating some broad sections in the community. However, the House is not in possession of any figures 2334 pointing to that conclusion. If the right hon. Gentleman has any, I hope he will bring them to the attention of the House.
There is another point which I want to make most strongly. The right hon. Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) drew to our attention an increase in rent figures. I was very grateful for them. But the increase in rent figures is pettifogging compared with the charges which right hon. Gentlemen opposite are pretending—they are only pretending—that the ordinary humble people of this country can afford for these houses. It is a mockery, a cynical, callous, deceitful mockery. [HoN. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]
Do hon. Gentlemen opposite think that "mockery" is not a good word to use? I will give them a quotation. The Prime Minister said:I am told that in some cases they"—that is, rents—have gone up to 25s. and 27s. a week, and that is clearly a level which ordinary working people cannot pay out of their wages … It is no service to the lower income group to offer them prizes which are beyond their reach; indeed it is a mockery."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th November, 1950; Vol. 480, c. 697.]Have right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who are supporting this case attempted to satisfy themselves as to what kind of weekly payments will be asked from these people whom they pretend can afford the houses which they are offering for sale? The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South, in his exhortation about the people who were to be permitted to buy houses, was obviously not talking on behalf of the ordinary people in Edinburgh. I will offer him some figures to show why.
No, I will not. I have already given way. If any point of fact is in doubt I will, of course, give way, but the hon. Member does not deal in fact and never has done.
It is not unfair to consider that a four-apartment house will cost £1,500 to build in the oncoming year. If a local authority is to use its powers to lend money, it will fund that over 30 years. It is permitted to charge one-quarter per cent. more than the borrowing rate. By my calculations, making an allowance of 10s. a week for owner's and occupier's rates, 2335 the would-be buyer will be asked to pay the startling sum of £3 15s. from an ordinary wage.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Commander T. D. Galbraith) indicated dissent.
Certainly. The hon. and gallant Gentleman shakes his head. Arithmetic is his strong point—
—and he can work till Domesday, but if he takes £1,500 distributes it over 30 years, the normal period for a local authority, and calculates payment at 4 per cent. and also makes the allowance for rates, he will find that the sum which is necessary is £3 15s. per week. No one will argue that on the normal wages of the great mass of our people that figure can be met. That is why I say that it is a mockery to pretend for a second that it can.
§ Mr. F. Harris rose—
The real reason is quite plain to everyone on this side of the House, and I dare say it is to hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Minister of State for Economic Affairs gave us the answer a fortnight ago. We had another hint today. The real explanation for this disgraceful and shameless piece of dishonesty is that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are seeking to economise at the expense of the people who can least afford to carry such a burden.
The party opposite throw aside their moral responsibility. They throw aside any consideration of the public health consequences of such a step, so that they can economise in line with the other economies they have already made. The banker gets his rake-off, but the taxpayer will pay it. The housewife pays. The children, perhaps, are next in line for the axe, and this is all part of the same process. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite know that this is so. They know that the figure I have quoted means that for ordinary people the buying of a house is out of the question.
We, of course, shall divide, and I imagine that there are more cold feet than valiant hearts on the opposite side, because this question will pursue each one of the Members opposite into their constituencies. I can see hon. Gentlemen against whom it will afford me great pleasure to speak on this subject when I come to their constituencies. [HON. MEMBERS: "Come on."] I do not now know how Members below the Gangway will vote tonight. I hope that they will take their courage in their hands. I hope that we will see some Liberals behaving as Liberals—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Where are they?"]—because when we last discussed this subject the Liberals made their position quite plain. They said that their primary anxiety was to see that houses were provided for letting. There are hon. Members on the other side of the House who have said that from time to time, but, of course, they will have to forget that, at any rate, for tonight. I hope, however, that the Liberal Party as it is, will at any rate be so ashamed tonight that they will not find themselves in the same Lobby as the Government.
This is a shameless, dishonest procedure. [HON. MEMBERS: "Mockery."] There is no doubt that the people have had their hopes and anxieties trifled with, and there is no doubt that the consequences of this act will be long and many, socially and, I believe, eventually, politically. If the right hon. Gentleman is going to try to persuade us of his good faith and of the good faith of his Government and of his right hon. Friends, then at any rate I hope he will attempt to answer in detail the five simple mechanical questions which I have put to him on this subject.
§ 9.30 prin.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. James Stuart)
I do not suppose, Mr. Speaker, it will surprise you any more than it surprises me to know that I am suffering gravely from the cares of office at this moment, but I cannot as a fairly senior Member seek the indulgence of the House, and of course I do not intend to ask for sympathy. It is my duty to do my best to reply to the debate which has taken place. We have had a very interesting debate, and I wish to reply to as many of the questions as I can in the time available, so I will not waste time with preliminaries. I will endeavour to get on with the job.
2337 The right hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil) told us that this was an act of economy, that it was a shameless act and so on, and that we would suffer for it in our constituencies. He asked for straight answers to questions, and my straight answer, given with all sincerity, is that our object in doing what we have suggested doing in the recent statement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government and myself is to try to increase the number of houses built in this country for people to occupy.
The Government's sole object is to try to help that tragic waiting list of those in need of houses. I must say to the right hon. Gentleman that listening to him, one was almost given the impression that we were doing something very wicked. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government dealt with that point this afternoon, I thought very effectively. At any rate, I will deal in detail with the questions which have been put to me.
I need hardly say that I have no complaint to make on any score in connection with this debate. All I want to do, in the first place, is to give a brief analysis of the statement issued a week ago today on the subject in so far as it affects housing in Scotland.
§ Mr. Stuart
Well, we have got to catch up with the last six years. On 27th November, replying to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Woodside (Mr. W. G. Bennett), I announced the proposals for encouraging private house building in Scotland. I will not bother the House with a repetition of that statement, which is in HANSARD, but I feel I ought to say that the main points of our policy are, first, the increase in the licensing of private building from a maximum of one-tenth to a maximum of one-fifth in the total allocations to local authorities; second, the recommendation to local authorities to give first consideration to people on their waiting lists and others with an urgent need for housing; third, the abolition of the special priority categories, thus throwing open the possibility of giving a licence to all in need of a house.
I noted that the right hon. Gentleman regretted the abolition of these categories, 2338 but I hope nevertheless that that will not cause any grave dislocation or hardship, because provided the additional houses can be produced, I hope we can overcome that difficulty without undue trouble. Fourthly, there is the recommendation to issue block licences to contractors in order to secure the economies of large-scale building. Wherever this can be achieved, I think it will be definitely helpful towards speeding up housing and getting it done as cheaply as possible.
Licences for private enterprise building have been issued in Scotland recently at the rate of 2,000 a year. We hope to double that figure. I must say at this point that the right hon. Gentleman spoke as if we were doing something shameless in this policy which we have announced. In fact, so far as Scotland is concerned, it is doubling the ratio from one in ten to one in five and in England bringing it up to one in two. I admit that two wrongs are supposed not to make a right. What we are doing is to increase the ratio which has been operating in past years since the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) was at the Ministry of Health.
We do not necessarily think that we will get the total maximum achieved by any means all over the country. In certain places they will make more use of it than in others. But this is the maximum and in Scotland it is only up to one in five in respect of which it will be possible to carry out this provision. The ratio of private enterprise building in Scotland will still be lower than in England.
This has always been the case, as hon. Members who represent Scottish constituencies will know. Private building has played a greater part in England and Wales than in Scotland, where owners' rates are a deterrent. Between the wars private enterprise built three-quarters of the total of English houses and about one-third of the Scottish houses; and as the House will know, a great many more houses were built just before the war under Conservative Governments than are being built at the present time throughout the country.
I wish to emphasise again that this rate is permissive. I do not wish to take up a lot of time, but I think I ought to state the case in regard to Scotland. I will do so as briefly as possible and go straight on to the questions. I am pre- 2339 pared to consider applications by local authorities who wish to sell houses, and a circular giving them guidance will be issued shortly.
Such a scheme must contain safeguards to ensure first, that the local authorities ask a responsible price which will wipe out the outstanding debt; second, that they do not sell too many of these houses, because the number of houses to let must always be maintained at an adequate figure to deal with the waiting lists; third, that people do not buy local authority houses as a speculation in order to sell at a profit. I think that we would agree that from the other point of view, from the financial point of view, it is a good thing, where people can afford to buy, that the Treasury, so far as possible, should be relieved of Exchequer grants and subsidies.
Where people can afford to buy, provided they show need for a house, it is a help to the local authority by extinguishing assistance which is a burden upon the rates. That is a help, not only to the general body of taxpayers in the country as a whole, but also to the ratepayers in the area concerned. I do not see that there is anything very wrong in suggesting such a scheme. Indeed, I think that from the financial point of view, it is a good thing and will be helpful.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) asked what conditions would be attached to the sale of local authority houses. I am afraid that, at this moment, all I can say to him is that, as we have stated, we are issuing guidance, and discussions are taking place as to the conditions under which this should be permitted. We have stated that the local authorities must retain sufficient houses to let to avoid upsetting the lists of those who are so anxiously awaiting houses to rent.
The right hon. Gentleman also asked me about Glasgow Corporation, and a report that they are contemplating—[HoN. MEMBERS: "Speak up."] Can hon. Members not hear me? I am very sorry; I did not know I was inaudible. I was making rather loud noises.
With regard to Glasgow Corporation, the matter has only been reported in the Press, and I have no official knowledge of this subject. All I can say to the 2340 right hon. Gentleman at this moment, I am afraid, is that no request has reached me as yet, although I have seen the report to which he referred. I agree, of course, that it is a matter which will require very careful handling in order to see that there are adequate safeguards.
§ Mrs. Alice Cullen (Glasgow, Gorbals)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he has given his blessing to the selling of 600 houses in Glasgow at the moment?
§ Mr. Stuart
I was just trying to explain to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland that I have not as yet received any request from the Glasgow Corporation. I do not know whether the hearing apparatus in the House is at fault.
I think I ought to inform the House that we are considering organising the importing of further timber houses from Sweden or Finland, because those which were built in Scotland a few years ago were popular, and we want to continue to obtain them. We have drawn up our own plans and a more economical design in order to save timber, and, therefore, to reduce the cost, and we hope to be able to negotiate this in order to help to increase the output of finished houses in 1952 and 1953.
We have also given guidance to the local authorities about the possibilities of economical designs to reduce the total area of a house without bringing down living standards. [Laughter.] Well, we can save is respect of halls, passages and so forth, and certain savings can be made without reducing the standard of the rooms. At any rate, this is not an entirely new conception. It has been considered before this, and I think that it may be helpful.
Demonstration terraces are being built in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and I hope they will be ready for inspection by local authorities and others about Christmas. We will continue to investigate any further possibilities of assisting in this direction, because we know, of course, that materials represent one of the main problems confronting the housing drive. But I will return to that subject later.
I would like to congratulate the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Holt) on his maiden speech. I agree that the main subject of his speech, a matter with 2341 which he dealt at considerable length, does deserve careful attention, and I am sure that my right hon. Friend will be glad to give it. [interruption.] I was not talking about rating. Although it is a subject very applicable to Scotland, I am not handling the matter' in England. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am passing the buck.
I also wish to congratulate the hon. Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty) on his very able maiden speech. I and the Government agree that those who can build for themselves should be encouraged to do so. It is, of course, mainly a question of materials, which we have to watch very carefully.
I must also refer to the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Godber), and I am sure that his future interventions in our debates will be listened to with the interest and respect which his maiden speech deserved. I can tell him that my right hon. Friend and I wish to encourage the small builder. I appreciate his point that builders who build under private licence should be encouraged to build an equal number of houses for local authorities, and I am sure my right hon. Friend will consider that also. The point he raised with regard to density is a very important one, particularly in view of the necessity for food production and making proper use of all agricultural land in the country.
The hon. Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Partridge), in a maiden speech, spoke very seriously of his own personal experience in London. I am very sorry that I was not present to listen to it myself, but it has been reported to me. The right hon. Member for Greenock asked me whether the chance to buy houses is being given at the expense of those who want houses to let. The answer to the right hon. Gentleman is "No," because the question of need is our real test. Some of those who buy may well be on the waiting lists at the present time. Therefore, it is not—
§ Mr. Carmichael
Will the right hon. Gentleman define more clearly than has so far been done today the meaning of "need" in regard to houses?
§ Mr. Stuart
Yes, Sir. The need is the same as it has been all the time. We have made no change whatsoever.
§ Mr. Manuel
This is an important point. We should like to know how the Minister measures need. If there are two applicants, one at the top of the list, with no money with which to purchase a house, and the other 200 places down on the list, with money to purchase a house, who will get the first chance?
§ Mr. Stuart
The hon. Member knows very well that in many cases local authorities have points schemes which are based on need. It is not the financial need, but the need for a house which counts. The local authorities deal with that matter.
With regard to the disputed figure of 200,000 to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenock referred, that was given as an example of what would happen in England and Wales if the figures were as bad and no better than the 200,000. That was the reason why my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing used that figure. We, of course, hope to do better. That is the whole object. I should like to thank the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenock for stating that our sins in Scotland were in his opinion not as great as those of my right hon. Friend in England.
§ Mr. Stuart
The right hon. Gentleman asked what was the machinery for getting these extra houses. I admit, and we know, that materials are short, but, as my right hon. Friend said, we have to encourage the use of all possible alternatives. To some extent we have to switch priorities in the use of these materials in order to guide them on to the building of houses.
§ Mr. Stuart
I will give the hon. Member an example. I am informed by the Ministry of Works that the Scottish Office in Whitehall cannot be done up at the present time.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
The right hon. Gentleman has made a very important statement—that to get more houses priorities would be changed. Can he give us tonight his full assurance that none of the building 2343 material will be taken from school building in Scotland?
§ Mr. Stuart
I stated that in order to build more houses there may be some slight difference in the allocation of the scarce raw materials. But, as I said, we must also use to the utmost the alternatives; and that is why my right hon. Friend referred to hardwoods, for example. That may cost more, but for those who are prepared to buy there is no reason why they should not be encouraged to use hardwood for floors.
I believe another example was mentioned—some difficulty about the new Colonial Office. We have stated that housing takes priority second only to defence and we intend to pursue this policy and to do our utmost to provide houses for those who are in need.
The right hon. Member for Greenock asked whether there would be made available to building enough materials to build 150,000 houses in England and approximately 22,800 in Scotland, all for renting. This is the case and we trust that it can be done. He then asked what power I had to say to a contractor that materials are for houses to let and for no other use. Surely that is precisely the same thing as has been taking place up to date while a certain percentage of houses have been allowed to be built for sale. I really do not see why, when we have altered the ratio, or raised it, that great and apparently insuperable difficulties should arise. I hope I am correct in that. At any rate, they should not occur.
We know the amount of material available for the purpose, and we have to see that houses to let are built in sufficient quantities before we allow any encroachment or interference in terms of houses built for sale. If we can step up the total number of houses built, which is the intention, I think it will be agreed that the difficulty will be overcome.
§ Mr. Shurmer
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the question of materials being taken from municipal building to the private builders. Can he tell me what protection there will be against private builders poaching the workmen from the municipal estates?
§ Mr. Stuart
It is the same position as that which has existed in the past. All we have done is to alter the ratio. The right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland and his predecessor issued this famous Circular, which I think was number 73, and we have not altered that Circular, in which the conditions are laid down.
§ Mr. Shurmer rose—
§ Mr. Stuart
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale referred to the allocations. These will not be affected by the greater discretion in connection with licences. The right hon. Gentleman knows that the allocations are worked out after reviewing the local needs. He referred to the "spiv" in London. London gets its allocation and distributes it as it thinks right and best. So does any local authority in Wales. It is the duty of the local authority to handle this matter.
As my right hon. Friend said, the local authorities are properly elected bodies. I see no reason why they should not be trusted. They have their duties to their constituents. They will no doubt carry them out to the best of their ability. At any rate, until local authorities fail to carry them out correctly and to the best of their ability—and we have no evidence of that—it is best that we should trust them to carry on the work with which they have been entrusted in the past.
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale also told us not to be prejudiced. I can assure him that the opposite is true. We want to get all local authorities and private builders on with the work in order to overtake the shortage and, as far as we can, to solve this grievous trouble. I assure him that there will be no prejudice on our part. Our aim is solely and simply to see more houses built and to make more housing progress. It is well to remember that Parliament does not build the houses. Neither do local authorities. It is done by the builders, and we want to encourage the builders.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 274 Noes. 296.2349
|Division No. 25.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Freeman, John (Watford)||Morley, R|
|Adams, Richard||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Albu, A. H.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Morrison,,R1. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Gibson, C. W.||Mort, D. L.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Glanville, James||Moyle, A.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Gooch, E. G.||Mulley, F. W.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Murray, J. D|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield)||Nally, W.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Grey, C. F.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||O'Brien, T.|
|Baird, J.||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Balfour, A.||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Oliver, G. H|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Orbach, M.|
|Bartley, P.||Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)||Oswald, T.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F, J||Hamilton, W. W.||Padley, W. E|
|Bence, C. R.||Hannan, W.||Paget, R. T.|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Hardy, E. A.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Benson, G.||Hargreaves, A.||Paling, Will T, (Dewsbury)|
|Beswick, F.||Hastings, S.||Pannell, Charles|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Hayman, F. H.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Parker, J.|
|Blackburn, F.||Herbison, Miss M.||Paton, J.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hobson, C. R.||Peart, T. F.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Holman, P.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Boardman, H.||Houghton, Douglas||Poole, C. C|
|Bottomley, A. G,||Hubbard, T. F.||Popplewell, E|
|Bowden, H. W.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Porter, G.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pryde, D. J.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Rankin, John|
|Burke, W. A.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Reeves, J.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Reid, William (Camlachie)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Jay, D. P. T.||Rhodes, H.|
|Carmichael, J.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Richards, R.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Champion, A. J.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Clunie, J.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Cocks, F. S.||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Ross, William|
|Coldrick, W.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Royle, C.|
|Collick, P. H.||Keenan, W.||Schofield, S. (Barnsley)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Kenyon, C.||Shackleton, E. A. A|
|Cove, W. G.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Shawcross, Rt. Won Sir Hartley|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||King, Dr. H. M.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Kinley, J.||Short, E. W.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Daines, P.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Lewis, Arthur||Slater, J.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Lindgren, G. S.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Logan, D. G.||Snow, J. W.|
|Deer, G.||Longden, Fred (Small Heath)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Delargy, H. J.||MacColl, J. E.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Dodds, N. N.||McGhee, H. G.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||McGovern, J.||Steele, T.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||McInnes, J.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Edelman, M.||McLeavy, F.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Edwards, John (Brighouse)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. K.||Stress, Dr. Barnett|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Taylor Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Ewart, R.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Manuel, A. C.||Taylor, Robert (Morpeth)|
|Field, Capt. W. J.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Fienburgh, W.||Mayhew, C. P.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Finch, H. J.||Messer, F.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Mikardo, Ian||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Follick, M.||Mitchison, G. R.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Foot, M. M.||Monslow, W.||Timmons, J.|
|Forman, J. C.||Moody, A. S.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W||Tomney, F.|
|Turner-Samuels, M.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Usborne, H. C.||Wigg, G. E. C.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Viant, S. P.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon A.|
|Wallace, H. W.||Wilkins, W. A.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Watkins, T. E.||Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)||Yates, V. F.|
|Weitzman, D.||Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)||Younger, Rt. Hon K.|
|Wells, William (Walsall)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|West, D. G.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Holmes.|
|White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Aitken, W. T||Dodds-Parker, A. D,||Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Donaldson, Comdr. C. E. McA||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Donner, P. W.||Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Doughty, C. J. A.||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.|
|Ansthruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Drayson, G. B.||Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich)|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Drewe, C.||Jennings, R.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Dugdale, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton)||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe)||Duthie, W. S.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)|
|Baker, P. A. D.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Kaberry, D.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Keeling, E. H.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Erroll, F. J.||Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)|
|Barber, A. P. L.||Fell, A.||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Finlay, G. B.||Lambton, Viscount|
|Baxter, A. B.||Fisher, Nigel||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Fletcher, Walter (Bury)||Langford-Holt, J. A.|
|Bell, R. M. (Bucks, S.)||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Leather, E. H. C.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)|
|Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)||Fort, R.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Foster, John||Legn, P. R. (Petersfield)|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Lindsay, Martin|
|Birch, Nigel||Gage, C. H.||Linstead, H. N.|
|Bishop, F. P||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)|
|Black, C. W.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Gammans, L. D.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col J. C.|
|Bowen, E. R.||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S. W.)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Low, A. R. W.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Glyn, Sir Ralph||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Braine, B. R.||Godber, J. B.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N. W.)||Gough, C. F. H.||McAdden, S. J.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col W. H.||Gower, H. R.||McCallum, Major D.|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Graham, Sir Fegus||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Gridley, Sir Arnold||Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||McKibbin, A. J.|
|Buchan Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Grimston, Robert (Westbury)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Bullard, D. G.||Hare, Hon. J. H.||Maclay, Hon. John|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Harrison, Lt.-Col J. H. (Eye)||Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.|
|Cary, Sir R.||Hay, John||Markham, Major S. F.|
|Channon, H.||Head, Rt. Hon A. H.||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Heald, Sir Lionel||Marples, A. E.|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Heath, Edward||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)|
|Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Maude, Angus|
|Cole, N. J.||Higgs, J. M. C.||Maudling, R|
|Colegate W. A.||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr S. L. C.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Hill, Mrs E. (Wythenshawe)||Medlicott, Brig, F|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Mellor, Sir John|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Holt, A. F.||Nabarro, G. D. N|
|Crouch, R. F.||Hope, Lord John||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Crowder, John E. (Finchley)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Nicholson, G.|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Horobin, I. M.||Nield, Basil (Chester)|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Howard, Greville (St. Ives)||Nutting, Anthony|
|Davies, Rt. Hn Clement (Montgomery)||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Oakshott, H. D.|
|De la Bère, R.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. Robert (Southport)||Odey, G. W.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Antrim, N.)|
|Digby, S Wingfield||Hulbert, Whig Cmdr. N. J.||Ormsby-Gore. Hon. W. D.|
|Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Thorneycroft, R. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Shepherd, William||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Tilney, John|
|Partridge, E.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Touche, G. C.|
|Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Perkins, W. R. D.||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)||Turton, R. H.|
|Peto, Brig. C. M. M.||Smyth, Brig. J. C. (Norwood)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Peyton, J. W. W.||Snadden, W. McN.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Soames, Capt. C.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Spearman, A. C. M.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)|
|Pitman, I. J.||Speir, R. M.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Powell, J. Enoch||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Profumo, J. D.||Stevens, G. P.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Raikes, H. V.||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Rayner, Brig. R.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)||Wellwood, W.|
|Redmayne, M.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||White, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Remnant, Hon. P.||Storey, S.||Williams, Charles (Torquay)|
|Roberts, Maj. Peter (Heeley)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)||Williams, Sir Herbet (Croydon, E.)|
|Robson-Brown, W.||Studholme, H. G.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Summers, G. S.||Wills, G.|
|Roper, Sir Harold||Sutcliffe, H.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Ropner, Col. L.||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Russell, R. S.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)||York, C.|
|Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Teeling, W.|
|Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Savory, Prof. D. L.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Brigadier Mackeson and Mr. Butcher.|
|Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)||Thompson, Kenneth Pugh (Walton)|
|Scott, R. Donald||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
§ Question put, "That the proposed words be there added."2350
§ The House divided: Ayes, 296; Noes, 274.2353
|Division No. 26.]||AYES||[10.11 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Cary, Sir R.||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Channon, H.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Gage, C. H.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Gammans, L. D.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Cole, N. J.||Garner Evans, E. H.|
|Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton)||Colegate, W. A.||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Bucks, Wycombe)||Conant, Maj. Rt. J. E.||Glyn, Sir Ralph|
|Baker, P. A. D.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Godber, J. B.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Gomme Duncan, Col. A.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Gough, C. F. H.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Cranborne, Viscount||Gower, H. R.|
|Barber, A. P. L.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Barlow, Sir John||Crouch, R. F.||Gridley, Sir Arnold|
|Baxter, A. B.||Crowder, John E. (Finchley)||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Crowder, Petre (Rulslip—Northwood)||Grimston, Robert (Westbury)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Cuthbert, W. N.||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)|
|Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)||Davidson, Viscountess||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Harrison, Lt.-Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||De la Bère, R.||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Deedes, W. F.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Birch, Nigel||Digby, S. Wingfield||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Bishop, F. P.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Hay, John|
|Black, C. W.||Donaldson, Comdr. C. E. McA.||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Donner, P. W.||Heald, Sir Lionel|
|Bowen, E. R.||Doughty, C. J. A.||Heath, Edward|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Drayson, G. B.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.|
|Braine, B. R.||Drewe, C.||Higgs, J. M. C.|
|Brathwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Dugdale, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N. W.)||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Duthie, W. S.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Eccles, fit. Hon. D. M.||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Eden, Rt Hon. A.||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T||Erroll, F. J.||Holt, A. F.|
|Bullard, D. G.||Fell, A.||Hope, Lord John|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Finlay, G. B.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Fisher, Nigel||Horobin, I. M.|
|Burden, P. F. A.||Fletcher, Walter (Bury)||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Fort, R.||Howard, Greville (St. Ives)|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Foster, John||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)|
|Hudson, Rt. Hon. Robert (Southport)||Maydon, Lt. -Comdr. S. L. C.||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.||Mellor, Sir John||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Molson, A. H. E.||Speir, R. M.|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Nicholls, Harmar||Stevens, G. P.|
|Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich)||Nicholson, G.||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Jennings, R.||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Nugent, G R. H.||Storey, S.|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Nutting, Anthony||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Oakshott, H. D.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Kaberry, D.||Odey, G. W.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Keeling, E. H.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Antrim, N.)||Summers, G. S.|
|Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)||Teeling, W.|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Partridge, E.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Leather. E. H. C.||Peake, Rt. Hon O.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H||Perkins, W. R D.||Thompson, Kenneth Pugh (Walton)|
|Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Lindsay, Martin||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Linstead, H. N.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Tilney, John|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. G. (King's Norton)||Pitman, I. J.||Touche, G. C.|
|Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Powell, J. Enoch||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Turton, R. H.|
|Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S. W.)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Low, A. R. W.||Profumo, J. D.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Raikes, H. V.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Rayner, Brig. R.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Redmayne, M.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)|
|McAdden, S. J||Remnant, Hon. P.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|McCallum, Major D.||Roberts, Maj. Peter (Heeley)||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)||Robson-Brown, W.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Watkinson, H. A.|
|McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Roper, Sir Harold||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Maclay Hon. John||Ropner, Col. L.||Wellwood, W.|
|MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Russell, R. S.||White, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hon Harold (Bromley)||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Williams, Charles (Torquay)|
|Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Savory, Prof. D. L.||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Schofield, Lt.-Col W. (Rochdale)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Scott, R. Donald||Wills, G.|
|Markham, Major S. F.||Scott-Miller, Comdr. R.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Shepherd, William||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Marples, A. E.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||York, C.|
|Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter|
|Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Maude, Angus||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)||Brigadier Mackeson and|
|Maudling, R.||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Mr. Butcher.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Bottomley, A G.||Cullen, Mrs. A.|
|Adams, Richard||Bowden, H. W.||Daines, P.|
|Albu, A. H.||Bowles, F. G.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Braddock Mrs. Elizabeth||Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crowe)||Brockway, A. F.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Davies, Harold (Leek)|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Deer, G|
|Awbery, S. S.||Burke, W. A.||Delargy, H. J.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Burton, Miss F. E.||Dodds, N. N.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Donnelly, D. L|
|Baird, J.||Callaghan, L. J.||Driberg, T. E. N.|
|Balfour, A.||Carmichael, J.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Edelman, M.|
|Bartley, P.||Champion, A. J.||Edwards, John (Brighouse)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Chapman, W. D.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)|
|Bence, C. R.||Chetwynd, G. R||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Clunie, J.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)|
|Benson, G.||Cocks, F. S.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)|
|Beswick, F||Coldrick, W.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Collick, P. H.||Ewart, R.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Fernyhough, E.|
|Blackburn, F.||Cove, W. G.||Field, Capt. W. J.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Fienburgh, W.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Crosland, C. A. R.||Finch, H. J.|
|Boardman, H.||Grossman, R. H. S.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)|
|Follick, M.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley|
|Foot, M. M.||McLeavy, F.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Forman, J. C.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Short, E. W.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Silverman Sydney (Nelson)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Slater, J.|
|Glanville, James||Mann, Mrs. Joan||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Gooch, E. G.||Manuel, A. C.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Snow, J. W.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield)||Mayhew, C. P.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Grey, C. F.||Messer, F.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mikardo, Ian||Sparks, J. A.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mitchison G. R.||Steel, T.|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Monslow, W.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Moody, A. S.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)||Morley, R.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Stress, Dr. Barnett|
|Hannan, W.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Hardy, E. A.||Mort, D. L.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Hargreaves, A.||Moyle, A.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Hastings, S.||Mulley, F. W.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Murray, J. D.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Nally, W.||Taylor, Robert (Morpeth)|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Holman, P.||O'Brien, T.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Oldfield, W. H.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Hubbard, T. F.||Oliver, G. H.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Orbach, M.||Timmons, J.|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Oswald, T.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Padley, W. E.||Tomney, F.|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Paget, R. T.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Usborne, H. C.|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Pannell, Charles||Viant, S. P.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Pargiter, G. A.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Jay, D. P. T.||Parker, J.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Paton, J.||Weitzman, D.|
|Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)||Peart, T. F.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Jenkins, R. H. (Stetchford)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||West, D. G.|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Poole, C. C.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Popplewell, E.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Porter, G.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Janes, T. W. (Merioneth)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Wigg, G. E. C.|
|Keenan, W.||Proctor, W. T.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Kenyon, C.||Pryde, D. J.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W||Pursey, Comdr. H||Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Rankin, John||Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)|
|Kinley, J.||Reeves, J.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Reid, William (Camlachie)||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Rhodes, H.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Richards, R.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Lewis, Arthur||Robens, Rt. Hon A.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Logan, D. G.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Longden, Fred (Small Heath)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Yates, V. F.|
|MacColl, J. E.||Ross, William||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|McGhee, H. G.||Royle, C.|
|McGovern, J.||Schofield, S. (Barnsley)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|McInnes, J||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Holmes.|
Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.
That this House welcomes the decision of His Majesty's Government, as part of a determined and overdue attack upon the housing problem, to encourage improvements in the
design of council houses, without reducing standards, thereby enabling a larger number to be built from the materials available; to give a greater discretion to local authorities to decide their housing policy in accordance with local needs; and to encourage, with proper safeguards, the ownership of houses by an ever-increasing number of His Majesty's subjects.