§ Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [30th November], "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ Question again proposed.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ The Minister of Works (Sir David Eccles)
Yesterday the House listened to many valuable speeches from hon. Members on both sides. This is the kind of debate which shows the very wide experience that hon. Gentlemen have of the conditions in which the people of this country live. On this side of the House we noticed that hon. Members opposite could not make up their minds whether the Bill is a mouldy turnip or a piece of cake for the landlords. We liked that divergency of opinion because it shows my right hon. Friend's skill and fairness in drafting the Measure.
Everybody agreed on one consideration and that was the staggering size of the problems with which we have to deal. There are 7 million rent-restricted houses, and in a great many of our cities the decayed fungus of the slums which must be dealt with. The big issues before the House are who should do this job; where is the money to come from; and are there enough builders and materials to make a good start? The Government's answer to the question about who should do the job is, "Everybody capable of lending a hand." We have no likes or dislikes in the rehousing of the people.
One has only to look at my right hon. Friend to see that he is not exclusive, that he is not a class-monger. He is the very reverse of a snob. In his housing drive he has demonstrated to the whole country the advantage of pulling in all agencies, public and private. Had he snubbed private enterprise, had he relied exclusively upon local authorities, I do not think there is anyone who would say that the present rate of new house building would have reached 300,000 a year.
He intends to follow the same principle in this next stage of his housing policy. He will mobilise local authorities, housing associations, development corporations, building societies, industry both private and nationalised—and industry is 964 doing a great deal in the housing field—private owners and big and small builders. The more agencies and persons that are brought in the less money the taxpayer and the ratepayer will have to find.
As it is a fact that private persons use their money better than the State, we are convinced that the work under our proposals will be done more quickly and more efficiently. The Opposition—and we are very glad about this—have made quite clear what is their alternative policy. They are the exclusive people and they are the snobs, because they want to hand over the whole business to the local authorities, using that one agency only. All the rent-restricted houses, and there are 6 million or 7 million of them should go to the local authorities, according to the Opposition.
Some hon. Gentlemen went even further. They said that they wanted the local authorities to take over shops, garages and industrial premises if they were in the areas where there were a large number of rent-restricted properties. They wanted to do that to make a profit. I must say that it gives us pleasure to hear how lovingly hon. Gentlemen opposite use the word "profit" when it suits them. If they are to make a profit out of this property they must either buy it below the fair price—that is to say, they will have to introduce a measure of confiscation—or they will have to put the rents up afterwards, and we should like to know which. This is the official policy of the Labour Party, and it was attacked last night in a remarkable speech by the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade).
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to tell us, because this is of very great importance, whether he is arguing that the local authorities should touch only things upon which there is a loss to public funds, and that if there are other elements which would ease the burden on public funds, they are to be excluded and to be held by private interests?
§ Sir D. Eccles
I was merely saying it was interesting to notice that, as part of their housing policy, the right hon. Gentleman's party desire to take over all these shops, business premises and garages.
§ Sir D. Eccles
The question was whether I think it right or wrong. I think that it is wrong.
The hon. Member for Huddersfield, West, in a speech which was a remarkable attack upon the policy of the Opposition, showed from his experience as a poor man's lawyer that this exclusive reliance upon the local authorities would bring less comfort and help to the people whom he knows so well than the more practical measures contained in the Bill. I must ask the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply for the Opposition—I hope that it is the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) who will wind up—
§ Mr. Morrison indicated assent.
§ Mr. Percy Shurmer (Birmingham, Sparkbrook)
The right hon. Gentleman says that it is the policy of the Labour Party to take over, not only houses, but shops, garages, factories and the like. If that is wrong, how is it that his right hon. Friend is greatly in love with the huge Birmingham scheme that is doing that with 981 acres in the centre of the city, a scheme that is working very well?
§ Sir D. Eccles
The hon. Member always wants to have the same for the whole country or not at all. We say that to make it part of the policy for local government to take over all these business premises is wrong.
§ Sir D. Eccles
What I am saying is how fast—[Interruption.] I will answer the hon. Member. It all depends, I dare 966 say, on how much is paid. If these 6 or 7 million houses cost £500 a house—some would cost more and some less—that would mean £3,000 million. Where is all that money to come from, and who would pay the interest? Over and above the money for all these houses, hon. Members opposite would want another thousand or two million pounds for the other property that is round about. It is simply not practicable. Of course, they may say that they would take over these houses piecemeal, and from what they said yesterday it is clear that they would like to take the best ones first. That is clear also from the interjections we have had today. Then, what happens to the worst houses? Under the Bill, we provide that the worst houses should be taken over by the local authorities.
§ Sir D. Eccles
The local authorities are the trustees of the people; they ought to be proud to do it. We are also helping the landlords of the houses that are not taken over immediately to repair their houses. Under the Socialist proposals, no help would be given to the owners of the houses not immediately taken over. They would simply wait until the local authorities could get round to nationalising them, and in the meantime, of course, those houses would fall further and further into disrepair.
I must also ask the right hon. Gentleman where the money would come from to repair the 7 million houses which are to be taken over by the local authorities. Would the Chancellor of the Exchequer pay out a large sum from taxation as subsidies, would the local authorities put up their rates, or, what is more likely, would they raise their rents? We want to know what is the financial scheme behind this wholesale nationalisation of property that is now the policy of the Opposition. My right hon. Friend is quite confident that our way is better and that by calling in everybody to help—private and public agencies—we shall get the work done quicker and more economically.
§ Mr. M. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)
If it is right that the local authority should take over the dilapidated houses, why should it not be equally right, and with even greater force, that the local authority should take over the valuable houses?
§ Sir D. Eccles
There is a simple answer to that. We are faced with a lot of houses that need repair for the sake of the people who live in them. Therefore, we must look round and see who will do which part of the business. If we can get landlords, by giving them some justice in rent, to look after 4 or 5 million of those houses, we are doing the right thing by the people; but since the other houses require sums to be spent on them beyond the amount by which it is reasonable to raise the rents, we must look for some other agency. Being the Conservative Party, we are not the least afraid to bring in the State when it is the State that should do the duty.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
If it is right that the State or the local authority should take over these houses because they have to be repaired or reconstructed, why should it not be right for the local authorities to take the good houses to offset the burden?
Sir D. Eceles
The answer is that each of us does only so much at a time. It is far better to use all our resources to help the people than it is to follow out some political prejudice.
I turn now to the third question: the problem of the building resources that are needed to make a good start on the Bill. Supposing that to make any impression on slum property a decision were forced on the Government to cut back the building of factories, defence works or schools, or to give up building a satisfactory number of new houses, the usefulness of this Measure might then well be challenged.
In the last two years the building industry has acquired a forward momentum which, if it is continued, we are sure will make possible good progress on repairs, conversion and slums. That expansion has been achieved because my right hon. Friend and I have discarded Socialist methods of planning. We have found by experience that the builders and makers of building matrials expand their output most when they are not working to a Whitehall target.
We have found that the way to increase output is to allow some part of the building programme to increase as fast as it can. When that happens it is possible for everyone in the industry to have confidence that he will not work himself out of a job. There is no better incentive 968 to a brick maker, for instance, than to tell him that all the bricks he makes he can sell. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the last 30 years?"] That was not so under the Labour Government. They fixed a target a year ahead for traditional houses, and therefore the brickyards took good care not to produce more bricks than were needed for that target. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."]
There is no better incentive for a builder, for his foreman or for his operatives, than continuity of work. That kind of incentive exists only when work is waiting to be done for which the preparations, such as permits, drawings, and bills of quantities, are in an advanced stage, so that the work can be started as and when the industry is capable of doing it. As the House will have noticed, the proposals of my right hon. Friend are not tied to any time-table of work, but are designed to furnish a waiting list of prepared work which will enable us to maintain the expansion which has been a feature of the last two years.
The House would like to have a more detailed account of the building resources which are available. Taking repairs and new construction together, the total output of building and civil engineering work is advancing at a rising rate. It is the direction and pace of that advance which is so important for this Bill. At constant prices, the annual figures are £1,400 million in 1951, £1,440 million in 1952. and a conservative estimate for 1953 is £1,560 million. Last year, there were small additions of about 15,000 to the labour force and a greater increase in productivity, as can be seen by the very large advance in the use of building materials.
I should like to say a few words about building materials. Ever since the war, the supply of materials has limited output and productivity per man in building. I must say that our predecessors did not manage this job very well. In 1947, and again early in 1951, the amount of work started outran the supply of materials with very damaging consequences, and the whole programme twice had to be put into reverse. Since 1951, whether by good luck or by good management the House can decide, the amount of work started and the supply of materials have been roughly in balance. Here and there, 969 we have run into local shortages of bricks and cement, but never serious enough to put a brake on the rising expansion and never serious enough to cause us to hold up our step-by-step increase of freedom in building.
§ Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman two questions before he leaves the matter of building labour? The first is this. Is it not a fact that, since 1948, the total number of men available for building in the country has been almost exactly constant, and has never been more than 1 per cent. by way of variation? The second is this. The only figure in the building trade which has gone up in the last two years is the unemployment figure, which has risen considerably. Is not that the case?
§ Sir D. Eccles
The fact that the building force has remained the same, while it has been able to use a steadily rising supply of materials since we have been in office, only shows that productivity goes up when we have more freedom. On the second point made by the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) regarding unemployment, the published figures show that it is now very low. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is it?"] I cannot give the exact figure, but it is extremely low; less than 1 per cent.
While output has been growing in size, there have been big changes in its composition, and these changes have a direct bearing on the prospects of carrying out this Bill. For instance, work on repairs has rapidly diminished. It is not yet true, as it is in the United States, that the building industry here is organised like the boot and shoe industry; that is to say, with one set of firms making the new articles and another set repairing them. As more machines are introduced, however, and as prefabrication is more generally adopted, we can look forward to the same division of labour becoming more common in this country.
Today, there is still an interchange of resources between repairs and new building, and that fact was referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale(Mr. Bevan), who reminded us of the compelling need to make good war damage when the bombing ceased. I regret to say that much of that repair work—and I have studied how it was 970 done—was done very expensively and inefficiently, but the bulk of it was completed by 1951. [HON. MEMBERS: "Private enterprise."] There were many reasons, but the fact is that, organised by Ministries, it was not well done.
§ Sir D. Eccles
It therefore became inevitable that, at the time we took office, a sharp decline in repairs should set in. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale spoke yesterday as though we deliberately encouraged the decline in repairs, but, of course, the reverse is true. We took considerable steps to check the movement away from repairs. Far from putting any pressure on builders and their men to leave repairs and go on the housing sites, we twice raised the free limit for work on houses, first from £100 to £200 and then from £200 to £500, and, as I announced yesterday, next year's limit will be £1,000 for houses and £25,000 for industry and agriculture.
I must mention a minor but useful result of these changes. It is that all painting jobs, except the very largest in industry—and a contract for £25,000 for painting is rare—will now be completely free from control, and this will help the painting trade, which often suffers from lack of work, especially in the winter. I am not sure that it is generally realised how much we have done to stimulate repairs. When the free limits were raised, on both occasions, we did not reduce the quarterly ceilings allowed to local authorities for granting licences above the free limit. Clearly, as the applicants were greatly reduced by the extension of the area of freedom, the local authorities have been able to be much more generous with licences for other jobs.
These measures were taken while the war-damage work was diminishing, and. as the right hon. Gentleman opposite said yesterday, many men who had been doing this work transferred to new construction, but—and this is important for this Bill—the jobbing builder, the small man who likes to be his own master, has seldom transferred, and in some cities has been short of work for over a year or so now. He is going to get more work under this Bill, and he will be able to do it without affecting the rate of new construction.
971 We had work ready for those who had been employed on war-damage repairs and wished to change their jobs. New houses, as everyone knows, are foremost in our plan. I should like to say to the right hon. Gentleman opposite that, whatever had been the situation in the building industry when we came into office, we should have launched our campaign for more houses, because my right hon. and hon. Friends believe that a good house is an essential background to a good family life, and that it is their duty to make a greater effort than their predecessors to meet this need.
As it happened—and there is a stroke of fortune in every campaign—the Socialist Administration left behind them some critical shortages which squeeezed the building programme in one direction while helping it to expand in another. We inherited a steel famine and we were particularly embarrassed by a shortage of steel rod, a component of reinforced concrete. Supplies of this vital material were running at about 100,000 tons a year below current requirements when we came into office. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply put that right within a year; but, of course, in the meantime we had to hold back buildings using steel. On the other hand, houses call for little or no steel, and so it came about that the shortage which we inherited, and which had nothing to do with our policy, made it possible to carry out that policy a little more quickly than would otherwise have been the case. The slowing down in factory building is the result of this situation which we—
§ Mr. A. Hargreaves (Carlisle)
Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the point of the balance between new houses and repairs, will he deal with the allied point of the balance in the respective labour forces? In Carlisle, nine new housing contracts are held up for lack of cable jointers, because this labour drained away for other jobs. Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with this point?
§ Sir D. Eccles
I agree that here and there are difficulties of that kind. I am going to refer in detail later to the fact that the housing programme has expanded even faster than our greatest hopes, and that has produced one or two small shortages, but they will be overcome, as I hope to show shortly. I was talking about the slowing down in 972 other forms of building, and taking particularly factory building in order to show that the interruption is nothing like as severe as hon. Gentlemen opposite have been saying in the country.
I must rebut the charge that houses are even now being built at the expense of factories or that, as the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale put it in a good phrase, that my right hon. Friend looks as though he is going forward but only because everybody else is falling back. That was a good phrase, I thought, but it is not true. If it were true there would be a strong argument against slum clearance, because that operation uses much the same materials as industrial building. As an example of what is being said, I take some remarks which the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) was reported as making a week or two ago. The report which I saw said that in the last year of the Labour Government £100 million had been spent—I hope the House will note those words—on building factories. He added:The Tories reduced this to £25 million.I believe that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale is rather loose and wild in dealing with statistics, but I had thought that an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer would be rather more careful.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South) rose—
§ Sir D. Eccles
Let me first complete this point, and I will give way to the right hon. Gentleman in a minute. On this occasion, the right hon. Gentleman was not even comparing like with like. The figures are to be found—I see that he has the Monthly Digest in his hand—in Table 88. He took the whole of 1951 and compared it with the first seven months of 1953. That is the worst sin an economist can commit.
Probably even worse than that, the right hon. Gentleman was not quoting the figures of money spent but of the value of contracts completed in the period. That is notoriously unreliable because the figures for any particular period can be abnormal when there is not a single big job completed in that period. For example, a job like the steel works at Margam runs into £20 million or £30 million and the whole of that is shown in one quarter, which makes the figures an unreliable guide.
973 I should like to make a fair comparison between our two Governments, between the last four quarters of the Labour Government, September to September, 1950–51, and the last four quarters for which we have figures, September to September, 1952–53. I will use not the figures of contracts completed but the actual money spent on industrial building. It works out as follows: £109 million for the Socialists; £112 million for the Conservatives; so there is proof that we have now completely recovered from the steel shortage. As the value of the industrial licences which we have given this year is 50 per cent. greater than last year, next year's figures will clearly show a rate of money spent on industrial building far higher than anything under the Socialists.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for now giving way. He was good enough to give me notice that he would be referring to some speech of mine. I gathered that he was reading from some report, but he did not mention the newspaper. I suspect that it was a report in the "Manchester Guardian." It was not reported in "The Times." If the right hon. Gentleman had taken the trouble to read the "Manchester Guardian" on the following day, he would have seen a letter from me correcting what was quite obviously a completely misleading report of what I said.
I wrote to the "Manchester Guardian" and made plain that what I had said was that the value of completions in 1951 was £97 million, in 1952 it was £70 million, and in the first eight, not seven, months of 1953 it was £25 million. Those figures are taken from the Digest of Statistics and cannot be denied by the right hon. Gentleman. They give a very good picture of the way in which industrial building has been allowed to run down under the present Government. Nor can it be denied—this was also in my speech, so I shall make reference to it—that the present value of building, new factory building, under construction is still about £30 million below the peak under the Labour Government.
§ Sir D. Eccles
The distortion remains, because this figure of completions is not a reliable guide. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] What matters is the amount of money spent. I have tried to put the matter frankly to the House to show that there was a trough due entirely to the mismanagement of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. They know perfectly well that when we got into office we had to put a ban on new starts of steel-using building. We had not got enough steel to keep in progress the building which they had started.
The key to my right hon. Friend's success, as I think he has often said, has been the expansion in the output of home-produced building material. Behind all the good work of the local authorities and the builders lies a magnificent effort in the brickyards, and in the foundries making cast-iron goods. I wish the ex-Minister of Supply were here. He left us a terrible shortage of cast-iron goods. We had to take the most drastic steps to get enough to keep the housing programme going that we found when we got into office.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
Could the Minister expand what he has said, and say what those steps were? The only result, so far as I can make out, has been a good deal of unemployment in our district.
§ Sir D. Eccles
The castings industry, because I suppose of the nationalised steel industry—I do not know—was not getting the raw materials it needed. The shortage of pipes, rain-water goods and that kind of thing was very severe. We had to take steps to see that it was bettered. In the yards producing roofing tiles there had to be a very great expansion. They have done wonderfully to be able to roof 300,000 houses a year. Then there are the cement works. Cement is the bread and butter of the industry. I am not going to weary the House with details of the expansion in materials. The important fact before us this afternoon is that this rise in output is gaining in pace, which enables us to count confidentially on still greater supplies in the months and years ahead.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale, comparing his own achievements with those of my right hon. Friend, claimed that any fool could build 300,000 houses. We understood by that 975 that he meant that any of his Ministerial colleagues could, when they were in office, have chosen between war-damage repairs and 300,000 houses. I think that is what he meant.
§ Mr. Bevan
If the right hon. Gentleman wants to quote me correctly, he should remember that I said that if there is a limited amount of resources at one's disposal and one wants to build 300,000 houses, then a decision has to be taken as to what is going to be done without. What actually was done, as I proved in the figures I gave yesterday—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Certainly; they were confirmed today by the right hon. Gentleman, who admitted that his right hon. Friend got the benefit of new house building and of large quantities of labour released from war-damage repairs.
§ Sir D. Eccles
But the whole point is that in the right hon. Gentleman's day there were not enough materials and the men on repair work use far less materials than the men on new construction. Everybody knows they do, but the materials for new house building were not there, and therefore they had no choice in the right hon. Gentleman's time between repairs and building 300,000 houses. The real answer was given by the right hon. Gentleman yesterday when he said:The building industry…is a headache to anyone who has anything to do with it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th November, 1953; Vol. 521, c. 820.]He was speaking from his own experience, but my right hon. Friend and I have found that the building industry has responded very well to better management.
Although the industry is more or less fully employed today, there are two reasons why we say it can take on this extra work. First of all, there is the increase of materials and we feel confident that these materials will be used next year and the year after. Techniques are improving. We must go forward with the new traditional methods. It is most important that the men should not only lay 400 to 500 million more bricks next year than this year, which is what was done this year compared with last 976 year, but it is important that the new traditional techniques should also go forward.
§ Mr. Mitchison rose—
§ Sir D. Eccles
I should like to get through this part of my speech if I may.
Organisation of the site is most important, and that is steadily improving. More machines are coming into use and prefabrication is becoming more generally adopted. It is very interesting that, although there is more work in the building industry than a year ago, competitive tendering is keener and also that the price of building materials is coming down. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, and anyone can see that in the figures.
§ Sir D. Eccles
The hon. Gentleman can quite easily get the book and look them up. Building output will be about 8 per cent. above last year, and I see no reason why that should not be repeated next year.
There is another reason for hope, and that is that not very much work can be undertaken until the Bill is law. After that plans will have to be prepared and passed, and in the interval of nine months or more some of the civil engineering and building programmes will be beginning to tail off. For instance, that part of the defence programme which eats up so much cement will begin to level off next year. Nor will we have to provide the additional cement for the emergency coastal defences, which will be more or less completed.
Thirdly, new housing is now running at about 330,000 houses a year. My right hon. Friend, wizard and magician though he is, could not exactly forecast how the 1,500 housing authorities in England and Wales would respond to his business-like administration, so very different from what they had known. All honour to them. Together with the private builders they have reached and shot past the rate of 300,000 a year.
§ Sir D. Eccles
The hon. Gentleman must contain himself. Hon. Members will know that the number of council houses approved but not started is coming down. That is deliberate policy. My right hon. Friend is taking steps to stabilise the rate of completions at round about 300,000 a year. That is 50 per cent. above the best that our predecessors did—not a bad record.
§ Mr. Lindgren
Will the right hon. Gentleman give us the difference between three-bedroom houses and two-bedroom houses? No less than 60 per cent. of the present houses under construction are two-bedroom houses.
§ Sir D. Eccles
My right hon. Friend has just told me that 50 per cent. more bedrooms are completed every month. These are the reasons we expect—
§ Mr. Lindgren
The right hon. Gentleman does not live in a two-bedroom house, nor do any of his pals.
§ Sir D. Eccles
I have given the House reasons why we can expect an increase in the output of building and a year hence some levelling off in programmes as we know them today. Here is the margin of resources for which we are looking. I have had an estimate made of this uncommitted capacity. It is of the order of £150 million to £200 million. How are we going to use this additional capacity in the building industry?
The Government consider that industrial building should have the first call, and anyone in the private sector who wishes to build or extend a factory now will be encouraged to do so without let or hindrance. Building for the nationalised industries, which is very important, and for departmental programmes, such as schools, also very important, will be controlled by the money available, and will be maintained at a high level. Then we are licensing a number of large buildings in London and the other blitzed cities. In areas where there are sufficient resources I hope also to license rather more churches, shops, clubs and places of entertainment.
Finally, we come to the proposals under the Bill. As I have said, there is at present a fairly strong movement away from repairs. At the worst the increase 978 in rent provided for in the Bill and the higher free limits announced yesterday should arrest this decline. They may do more. In fact, I myself am confident it will be so, because twice the statutory deduction is a powerful incentive to a great many landlords. I have got more faith than hon. Gentlemen opposite in the landlords' sense of duty to their property.
§ Sir D. Eccles
It is remarkable the number of landlords who keep their property in good repair. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"] Hon. Gentlemen can come with me and I will show them
§ Mr. Lewis
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that in and around London there are thousands of homes in a dilapidated condition because during the interwar years, when there were thousands of building workers unemployed, with materials in abundance and very cheap, these very landlords refused to have the necessary repairs done and as a result these properties are today deteriorating into slums?
§ Sir D. Eccles
There are, of course, some bad landlords, just as there are some bad Socialists.
The Parliamentary Secretary dealt with the proposals to encourage modernisation and conversion. This is a commonsense and desirable operation and we must do everything we can to make it a success. But, looking at it from the point of view of the building industry, I do not think that a large volume of conversions will come on to the industry in the immediate future. This is obviously a programme which will be difficult to expand, though we intend to do it.
I do not think, therefore, that we need be apprehensive of the capacity of the building industry next year to deal with the extra repairs and conversions. Supposing that, by the middle of next year, this extra work, over and above the present rate, were running at about £3 million a month, I should say that we were doing very well. Of course, in 1955 we hope there will be a different 979 story—one of great expansion, and we shall be ready for it.
As Minister of Works, I can see that slum clearance comes closest to my Department, because it will make the greatest impact on the industry. It is an almost limitless programme. One has only to think of the cities mentioned yesterday—Liverpool, Leeds, Stoke-on-Trent, London, and above all Glasgow. This work is going to cost hundreds of millions of pounds, and for that reason it can be so managed that it will underpin employment in the building industry for years to come.
§ Miss Alice Bacon (Leeds, North-East)
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what there is in this Bill to help slum clearance rather than to help to patch up the slums?
§ Sir D. Eccles
Well, there are financial provisions in Clause 1. [Interruption.] They are going to be brought into work again, and we are going to get the local authorities' plans. When we have the plans they will be put into action as soon as they can be, with the help of the Chancellor. An important point in slum clearance is the state of readiness of local authority plans, because everyone is familiar with the fact that one cannot turn on the tap of public works in a hurry. The detailed plans must first be prepared, and what we need here is a healthy queue of detailed plans if we are to manage slum clearance to the best advantage.
Supposing plans come forward, how fast shall we be able to put them into execution? The answer, so far as the physical resources are concerned, rests with the building industry. The component elements of that great industry, the architects, engineers, surveyors, contractors and operatives, will see in the Bill an immense volume of work stretching out into the distant future. Here for them is the promise of full employment for years to come.
How are they going to respond to that promise? They may sit back and say, "With all this work to do there is no need for us to bother much about our costs, or about new methods, or about getting rid of out-of-date restrictive practices. We are well enough as we are." If that kind of complacency infected the 980 industry, they would have succumbed to the occupational disease of full employment. On the other hand, they may say, "This is the kind of security which we never had before the war. We accept this challenge and this opportunity to look to our organisation, to introduce new techniques, and to hold nothing back in our effort to rehouse our fellow-citizens." The success of the Bill depends very largely on which of the two answers the building industry gives.
That brings me to my last point, and I apologise for keeping the House so long.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)
Can the Minister give an assurance now, on behalf of all the Government Departments, that, as local authorities put plans before the various Ministries, nothing will be allowed to stand in the way of the local authorities proceeding with slum clearance as fast as the local conditions allow?
§ Sir D. Eccles
Yes, as fast as the local conditions allow. That is exactly the way in which we intend to manage the business of slum clearance. That is why there is no time-table. We wish to feed in the work at all times when there are resources available. If there were a very big slum clearance programme in Stoke-on-Trent, it would affect the area around Stoke-on-Trent. Therefore, not only the city but the surrounding area has to be considered.
I do not deny that this Bill makes a very great demand on the building industry. In the last two years the builders and operatives have done far better than anyone expected, but, of course, there are still some old-fashioned employers and many memories of unemployment; but our hope is that, with patience and with proposals for continuing work such as are contained in the Bill, and as time goes on with proof that men are not working themselves out of a job if they work fast, the builder and the building operative will achieve an increased output that will greatly astonish the pessimistic planners on the other side of the House.
It is a great pity that the Bill is not going to have a Second Reading without a Division, for the particular reason that, if all parties passed this Bill, it would strengthen the industry's assurance that this great volume of work is going to 981 continue uninterrupted by any political changes there may be. I hope that, when the Opposition vote against the Bill, they will reflect that they are voting not only against ways and means of raising rents, but also against a practical method of improving the housing of the people as fast as our resources allow, and against a Measure which holds out the promise of employment for a very large number of our fellow citizens. When the time comes, the Government will be very ready to take their case to the country.
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas (Lincoln)
I think the whole House is interested in the fact that the right hon. Gentleman was so anxious—in his last or second last point—that the building industry should look to new methods and should seek to abandon traditional practices. Why, therefore, has the Building Research Station, which plays an important part in this sort of work, had its staff so ruthlessly cut? Why, too, has the Minister of Works, if he is so keen on seeking new methods in order that the building industry should be more efficient, taken one look at his own payment-by-results incentive bonus section in the Ministry and sacked the lot? Those are the questions which immediately arise when a Minister gets up and says, "We must look for new methods," and does not say what he has done about it.
The Minister claimed that there would be no difficulty with regard to materials. As to bricks, he under-estimated and said there are only local shortages, but the facts are, of course, that the stocks of bricks are very low indeed, and very low as compared with last year.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Harold Macmillan)
Three days instead of five.
§ Sir D. Eccles
There have never been any stocks of bricks. There used to be five or six days' consumption; there are now two or three days'. The fact is that bricks are like buns. They are baked and delivered straight to the consumer. There never have been any stocks.
§ Mr. de Freitas
When the Minister says bricks are like buns I realise why when 982 I read the "Builder" this week, this curious phrase was used:The demand for bricks in the North-West is still as big as the makers can deal with, and, in some cases, the contractors are building…hand-to-mouth….It seems to me to be a fact which should be taken into consideration and not be brushed aside lightly that stocks are bad and that there is definitely this complaint in the publications devoted to the industry.
The Minister did not challenge the figures given by my right hon. Friend yesterday about manpower and the allocation between new houses and repairs. I regard that as an important admission. Repairs need skilled men, as the Minister knows well. The Parliamentary Secretary told us to look at what had been done in Birmingham and to visit Birmingham. It is exactly the shortage of skilled men—not the ordinary workers—which has affected the Birmingham scheme, and if we are to look to Birmingham as a guide we must find the skilled men to do the increased repairs in this national scheme.
The Minister used a strange argument when he upbraided us for talking about Birmingham taking over shops and good as well as bad property, for the Parliamentary Secretary stressed that the scheme was based on that. If we look at Birmingham, we see that that is exactly what Birmingham did. We heard a great deal about Birmingham's experience yesterday, and it was most interesting, for one of the facts which came out was that Birmingham took over good as well as bad properties.
We all welcomed the announcement yesterday that the limit in respect of agricultural and factory buildings was to be raised to £25,000. In view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's alarming statement on our economic position, we welcome that the Government have at last realised that our economic future depends on new factories, new industries and new agricultural plant.
At Margate the Minister spoke in a debate in which it was stated that the wicked Socialists were saying that the Government had slowed down school and factory building in order to build small new houses. How did the Minister answer that? I was interested in the report of his speech in the "Manchester Guardian." If he could say, "It is not true that we have slowed down the building of fac- 983 tories," he would have scored a great debating point. According to the "Manchester Guardian" he said:In 1953 new factories to the value of £16 million a month were started….
§ Mr. de Freitas
This is a quotation from the "Manchester Guardian." Did the Minister write to the "Manchester Guardian" the next day to point out the error? He was quoted as saying that this was 10 per cent, better than what was done in the best days of the Socialist Government. He got an ovation for that. Where did he get his figures? Unlike the right hon. Gentleman, if I am on a false point I will withdraw. The right hon. Gentleman did not do that with my right hon. Friend, and yet my right hon. Friend had written to the "Manchester Guardian" the next day and drawn attention to the error in his case. However, in this case the figures have been perpetuated and have been trotted out up and down the country as the conclusive answer from the Minister. If the right hon. Gentleman says that he did not say "started" and that the "Manchester Guardian" misreported him, I will withdraw.
§ Sir D. Eccles
I said "licensed." I did not do anything about it because the start of any building is really the licence. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Of course it is. The start of a factory is a licence. The fact is that we have licensed £16 million a month this year, which is 50 per cent. more than last year. Therefore, we shall produce far more factories than hon. Gentlemen opposite did.
§ Mr. de Freitas
A lot of the discussion is on the difference between licensing and starting dates. Yesterday a big point was made by the Minister on the starting dates. No wonder the officials of his Department have been reluctant to give any information to back up the Margate statement. However, we all welcome the £25,000 limit, which is a most important development and shows the conversion of the Government to sound economics when it comes to matters of industrial and factory buildings.
This is the middle of a Second Reading debate on the most complicated Bill of 984 the Session, but one would hardly realise that, because after a debate yesterday which went on until 11 o'clock we have not had a Minister dealing with the constructive criticism which has been made. A most interesting speech was made on behalf of the Government, but the right hon. Gentleman will be the first to admit that it was in no way related to the debate which we had yesterday. In fact, the speech hardly touched a twentieth of the subjects discussed yesterday. In particular, no reference was made to the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Clapham (Mr. Gibson) who preceded the Minister in the debate and spoke from long and distinguished experience in municipal housing.
The main theme of opposition to the Bill has been that, if the Government are right in saying that the Bill will be worked, then it will work unfairly towards two groups: first, towards the occupants of some of the poorest houses and the National Assistance Board; secondly, toward the housing authorities and the ratepayers. But the Government have not proved that this much advertised Bill will in fact work and thus make any contribution towards solving the problem.
As I said, the first contention is that if the Bill is worked it will work unfairly to some of the poorest tenants and to the National Assistance Board. Immediately after the debate on the Address, the "News Chronicle" pointed out that a great many rents would rise by one-third if the Government's plans were accepted, and it said:It will drive many families to the public assistance officer.That would be bad enough in itself, but it is a trend which has already been apparent. In the first year of office of the Government, 150,000 more people received rent allowance from the National Assistance Board. As the "News Chronicle" pointed out, this inevitably happens as rents go up among the poorest tenants.
§ Mr. de Freitas
Not at all, although it will be so in some cases. Food prices have also risen, but we cannot go as wide as that. Does the Minister of Housing and Local Government dispute what I have said?
§ Mr. de Freitas
I said that the numbers receiving rent allowance had risen. Surely, if there is an increase in the rent allowances the National Assistance Board has taken into account the way in which other expenses have gone up. If I have made a false point, the Minister can debate it later.
The Secretary of the General Council of Sanitary Inspectors urges the Minister to insist that the landlord shall obtain the certificate of repair before he can claim a rent allowance, and claims that the present onus is wrong. Why has the advice of an experienced body like that been ignored? All this will inevitably lead to what the "Economist" in another context calls:the danger of…bickering and litigation…between landlord and tenant. That is as certain as anything.
I also put it to the right hon. Gentleman—if I misunderstand the position I shall be delighted to be corrected—that the owner can get the county court to annul the certificate of disrepair, but if a reactionary Conservative local authority refuses a certificate, the tenant has no appeal.
The second contention which has been advanced is that, if the Bill is worked, it will bear heavily on the housing authorities and on the ratepayers. Hon. Members have referred to the figure of £2 5s., which, as far as I can understand, comes from a calculation based on an average cost of rehabilitation of £155. Yesterday, the Parliamentary Secretary told us to visit Birmingham to get the best available evidence on this point. I have not visited Birmingham, but I have had some pretty good evidence from councillors. It was mentioned in the debate yesterday. Surely the figure of £155 is ridiculously low? The Birmingham average is given as between £180 and £190. That was the figure mentioned yesterday, and it has not been challenged. If that is so, surely on pure calculation the figure which is derived from it is nearer £4 than £2 5s.?
We are told that the Bill was based on Birmingham's experience, but it completely ignores the fact, which I mentioned in another connection, that Birmingham took in the good as well as the 986 bad. It also ignores the fact that Birmingham, unlike most of the other 1,500 housing authorities, has a population of one million and is able to afford a large staff to deal with these matters. Most of the other housing authorities are much nearer the size of a few thousand, and cannot possibly afford the staff to deal with them. No wonder it will bear extremely heavily on housing authorities and, therefore, on the ratepayers.
The third contention is that the Government have yet to prove that the scheme will work. This leads to speculation as to why it was introduced. Either the Government, with their usual lack of understanding of municipal affairs, did not realise the nature of the problem, or the Minister tried to persuade his colleagues and the country into thinking that the scheme really would work when it would not. In the first place, the Minister and Government are innocent but foolish; in the second, the Minister is guilty and very nearly very clever.
If the Government did not realise the nature of the problem and thought that the scheme would work, it is surely incredible to write, in a serious document like a White Paper, that repair work "has been neglected…since 1939,"without going into any qualifications. Everybody who had anything to do with housing before the war knows that millions of pounds of the 40 per cent. went into the pockets of the landlords and not into repairs. The incentive point has been dealt with. It must have been rather galling to notice that the day after the scheme was announced the "Financial Times" headlined its attitude "property owners dissatisfied."
As for the administrative problem, not a word was said in any speech or in the White Paper, about an emergency training scheme for sanitary inspectors. Yet there is already a shortage, not so much in the south but in the northern industrial revolution towns. [Interruption.] I think I overheard the Minister say that it would be much worse if our policy were followed. But we would not try to implement our policy unless we faced the practical problem of having an emergency training scheme for sanitary inspectors. In the north an army of sanitary inspectors will be needed to begin to work this scheme. The Minister should deal with that point and study the 987 implications of this shortage of sanitary inspectors.
I cannot understand anyone with the smallest knowledge of pre-war housing conditions subscribing to the White Paper's statement that in 1939only 6 per cent. of the people were living in unfit or overcrowded houses.I did not have a long or wide experience of this matter, but I lived for two years in the East End of London, in an area which is very bad from the point of view of slums and overcrowding. In that area the figure would have been much higher. I am not seeking to make a point about that, but I am saying that over the country as a whole the figure was much nearer 20 per cent. That was the kind of figure which was used by social workers and, as far as I can remember, by the then Minister of Health when speaking in the House during the war in 1943. Surely there would have been some qualifications if the situation had been appreciated? Under the 1936 Act a man, his wife, a child and a baby could live in one room and still not be overcrowded. Surely it is necessary to make some qualification in that respect?
Again, the 1936 Act did not define "unfit for human habitation," and there were differing opinions about it in the courts. This Bill makes an effort to define it, but why has not the Minister put into the Bill the definition suggested in 1946 by the Central Advisory Building Sub-Committee on Fitness? Why does not the Bill define "reasonable expense"? A Tory rural district council needs a lot of guidance as to what is reasonable expense.
Now I come to the next contention, that of humbug—to borrow a word from my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). This contention is that the Minister tried to persuade his colleagues and the country into thinking that this scheme really would work when it would not. The Minister talked about grasping the nettle boldly. I was a little suspicious when he used the phrase in that way. If he had said, "I do not think there is much in this, but at least it is an effort. It is worth a few days of Parliamentary time, and we shall see if we can work out something."—if he had said that I should have understood him, but he talked about "national 988 crusades," "grasping the nettle," and "Operation Rescue."
I must congratulate him on his public relations. The Press gave him plenty of publicity for this rent scheme. My right hon. Friend's scheme for improvement grants under the 1949 Act did not get it. Historians of the future will be interested to see the difference in the publicity. If publicity had been given to the fact that a Labour Government were introducing improvement grants it would have knocked into a cocked hat the Conservative line that the Labour Party were against private owners. That was the line that the Conservatives were running all over the country. They forget that after six years of Labour Government there were more people owning their own homes than ever before in our history. It is charming to find, in the White Paper on which the Bill is based, the statement that landlords and tenants must be made aware of the provisions of the 1949 Act.
My right hon. Friend has spoken of tugging at the fig leaf of the Minister to expose him. I have neither the verbal felicity nor the manual dexterity to match that in any way. I shall put it rather more straightforwardly, and say that the Minister should be prosecuted for obtaining credit for this by false pretences. He would not be treated so badly after conviction, because the judge would look kindly at a man of his presence, who was so obviously trying to better himself politically. Whether the Minister is innocent but foolish, or guilty and very nearly very clever, the result is the same.
Like my right hon. Friend, I am going to ask the House to reject this Bill because I regard it as our duty to expose the pretensions of the scheme. If, against our advice, the House passes this Bill, then in Committee we shall work to put some good in it on the assumption that the scheme can be made to work. The problem of repairs exists, and we must not forget that the wretched tenants are not to blame for this Bill, and we must not be put off the subject merely because of the Bill itself. I am sorry to find that the Government are planning to take the Bill upstairs, as it may well be that they themselves on second thoughts, as my right hon. Friend suggested, want to bury it.
989 The Parliamentary Secretary ended with some comments on the building industry. It is indeed a classic example of the inefficiency of private enterprise. I wish, too, that it would try new and unconventional methods and become efficient like the aircraft industry and other industries. I mentioned at the beginning the abolition of the Ministry of Works Section on incentive bonus and payment by results, and the reduction by 10 per cent. in the staff of the Building Research Station. Why were these things done when both of the Ministerial speeches we have had on this Bill have said that Ministers want new methods and to break new ground? Why?
It is just 100 years ago that William Morris set the path, as he thought, for a new social era, and, as Mumford pointed out, he made the design of the dwelling-house the point of departure. Today, when we have an increasing technical revolution, with radio, refrigerators, television, and so on, we must realise that the means of communication, especially TV, are turning the dwelling-house into the market place of the old classical urban civilisation. The social revolution is not far behind the technical revolution.
So every day the house becomes more and more the centre of the life of the people. From that flow two facts that we in our life-time will never be able to ignore: First, that an increasing proportion of our national wealth will have to go to the dwelling-house, its provision and its maintenance and its equipment, because it will become the centre of our whole lives, for whether we like it or not, that is the trend; and second, that private enterprise find it less and less attractive to provide these houses, these homes, for the mass of the people. What is true of provision is, of course, even truer of maintenance.
Even in the United States the late Senator Taft went on record as saying that the capitalist system could not house the people as a whole. This summer in the United States I talked to a number of business men interested in housing. Most of them realised that, in spite of the slogans of the chambers of commerce, capitalism had failed in this test, and the discussion there was chiefly on 990 the part to be played by public money and by philanthropy.
Those hon. Members behind me who have given many years to studying the problem of housing and of maintaining the houses of the mass of the people want to give the Minister this credit. His Bill has aroused interest in this repair problem. However, we do not want the Minister to feel he is justified in claiming too much. His Bill gives us an opportunity to debate the problem, but it does not begin to solve it, and his victory is over the Leader of the House and not over the slums. But I wish he would not talk about grasping the nettle. What he seized is a fancy sort of posy from the Primrose League.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Horobin (Oldham, East)
Those of us who disagree with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) must agree that we have listened to a very good-tempered speech, and though I am afraid that very little of what I have to say will be agreeable to most hon. and right hon. Members opposite I shall endeavour to preserve the same approach, because this is a problem far too serious to be much helped by merely slinging verbal felicities or fig leaves or nettles at one another. Most of what I want to say will be concerned with Part II of the Bill, because I think that is the most important.
I do not think that the speech we have just heard was quite fair to my right hon. Friend in saying—if I understood the hon. Gentleman aright—that his speech was almost irrelevant to the debate, because a major point was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) of the importance of considering the physical resources, and what we have heard today has certainly, even if it has not carried complete conviction, shown that there is reasonable cause for hoping that there is, putting at its mildest, a certain amount of play in the industry that we may hope to take up on the lines suggested. I admit that there is a good deal that we heard yesterday—and I heard almost the whole of the debate—that still remains to be answered from the point of view of whether this Bill, especially Part II of it, will work.
Before I come to what I have to submit to the House on that I would say one 991 word on Part I, slum clearance. Almost as a variation of the suggestion that this Bill is giving undue money to landlords we have heard today already a good deal of argument that it is unreasonable that local authorities should take over only the slum houses, leaving landlords the rest. One would imagine that hon. and right hon. Members who make that suggestion have forgotten that any houses which are dealt with in this way are taken away from the landlords completely. The landlord loses everything.
§ Mr. Horobin
The houses are taken at site value. They always have been. Quite rightly, too; but he loses every penny. [Interruption.] I want to proceed because there are other hon. Members who want to speak in this debate, which has been characterised throughout by the fact that almost as many people have sought to make speeches by interruptions as have been called by the Chair.
Whether we like it or not, unfortunately, and whoever, for the sake of argument, is responsible for that state of affairs, there will be for a number of years to come some slum landlords, and the point at issue is whether, that being so, it is not better that the slum landlord should be a local authority doing something for the unfortunate people who are continuing to live in slum conditions, or whether they should be left to deteriorate still further and nothing be done for the tenant at all.
That is all I wish to say on the slum clearance part of the Bill. I want to address myself with some care and particularity, if the House will bear with me, to the all important point of the workability of Part II, and I would say at once that it would be very foolish to claim, and I do not think my right hon. Friend would himself claim, that this is as it stands, or even when it is amended in Committee, a complete solution to the overwhelming problem of the millions of houses in private ownership that are not all that we should like. But it is going equally much too far in the other direction to suggest that none of these repairs will or can be done.
It is true—I am glad that most hon. Members opposite seem to agree, although 992 with some hesitation—that any suggestion that vast profits are going into the hands of anyone benefiting under Part II is quite beside the mark. I will quote a case from London to illustrate the sort of house which alone, as I shall try to show, will benefit under Part II. This is a six-room house in South-East London where the net rent is £29 10s. per annum. The statutory deduction is £9. The most that could happen would be that £18 a year could be added to the rent. The qualifying amount over three years would be £54. That particular case does qualify, but why? I ask hon. Members who have given vent to many wild and general charges about what landlords have been doing to note these figures. This is not a hypothetical case, but the case of an actual house, of which I have the address. It qualifies because the landlords have not spent £54 in the last three years, but have spent £138 on it.
What will happen under the Bill is simply that for the next three years, claiming the allowance, they will get back no more than what has already been spent in the last three years. Any suggestion that profits are going to a house which can claim the rent allowance is beside the point. [Interruption.] I shall give a number of other cases, if I do not weary the House. These figures lead me to remind the House of a point which, I think, is of great importance. We have heard unsubstantiated and very general statements suggesting that no landlords had ever spent money on their houses.
§ Mr. Horobin
I find it very easy to understand why so many hon. Members opposite suggest that—[HON. MEMBERS: "Who?"] Over and over again it has been said. It was said by the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Lewis).
§ Mr. Lewis
If the hon. Member had been here and listened attentively to what I said—and will repeat—he would know that I said that there are in London and other big cities thousands upon thousands of slum dwellings which have been neglected year after year, particularly in the inter-war period when there were many unemployed building workers, when labour and materials were very cheap, but these landlords drew the money and did nothing about repairs to their property.
§ Mr. Horobin
All that long interjection is irrelevant because the hon. Member was talking about slum houses and I am not talking about slum houses.
§ Mr. Horobin
I do not need to spend a great deal of time on this. I find it easy to understand why so many hon. Members opposite are so anxious to prevent landlords or anyone else going before a county court judge. It is because the county court judge would soon be able to satisfy himself. I am not a lawyer, but I have had a great deal of experience of this matter in an area next to the constituency of the hon. Member for West Ham, North. I do not think that the hon. Member will disagree, on consideration, that county courts have a very good reputation for dealing with the social problems of small people—very much better than some of the higher courts.
§ Mr. Lewis indicated assent—
§ Mr. Horobin
I am glad to have the agreement of the hon. Member. I think it a strong point of this Bill that on questions of fact, such as whether landlords have, in fact, spent money on their houses, if there is a dispute they can go before the court and substantial justice will be done.
§ Mr. Horobin
That is a Committee point. I think the period should be increased, but that can be considered in Committee.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I sympathise verymuch with what the hon. Member said about county court judges. Would the hon. Member agree that it would be an improvement in the Bill if the refusal of a certificate of disrepair were also to be appealable to a county court judge?
§ Mr. Horobin
I should not like to commit myself on that matter, but it is a Committee point which might well be gone into. It is a strong point in this Bill that the landlord has to prove that he has spent some money and has the right of going to court to make his case.
994 We have heard from the benches opposite the alternative policy of the Opposition. I am not arguing whether they could or not, but they did nothing about slum clearance and we at least are trying to make a start on that. They did nothing, apart from war damage repairs which, in part, were localised—[Interruption.] Will hon. Members allow me to finish the sentence? They did nothing to deal with the problem of ordinary repairs in private houses, which was made impossible, as we all know, by reason of the cost and the restriction of rents. I think it essential to get this point clear. They suggest that all these houses should now become the property of local authorities, which, in practice, means that they are proposing the complete abolition of the Rent Acts. All these houses would go into the hands of local authorities and cease to have protection of the Rent Restriction Acts.
§ Mr. Shurmer rose—
§ Mr. Horobin
I know that the hon. Member has helped every hon. Member who has hitherto spoken to make his speech, but I shall not give way now. It it true that houses not built by local authorities have not hitherto ceased to have that protection. But, when the Bill goes to Committee upstairs, are hon. Members opposite to vote against the provisions in the Bill which give local authorities the right they all need—and which we all know they need—in the case of any kind of house in their ownership, to increase the rent and bring it to what is necessary to do repairs? Everyone knows that local authorities must have that right. Will hon. Members opposite vote against it? They know they will not.
If they do not vote against that it re mains true that their policy is to remove the protection of the Rent Restrictions Acts from all rented houses as soon as they can be got within the ownership of local authorities. They cannot escape it; their policy is to bring all these houses to the ownership of local authorities. I challenge them to vote against the provisions which ensure that houses which local authorities have bought, acquired, or built are withdrawn from the Rent Acts. The distinction between us is that hon. Members opposite say there should be a general increase in rents without any restriction and no guarantee that any 995 particular house has any repairs done in it at all. [Laughter.] It is no use hon. Members laughing. I have had experience of this matter.
There is no obligation upon a local authority to do repairs on a particular house before putting up the rent of that house. The rents of council houses all over the country have to be put up so that the local authorities who own them may keep their rent funds more or less in balance, in spite of the big subsidy. If hon. Members opposite deny that a great many people are unwillingly paying increased rents, although no repairs are done, I should be very surprised because it is well known.
§ Mr. Lindgren
The alternative is simple. A council house tenant can sack his council, but an ordinary tenant cannot sack his landlord.
§ Mr. Horobin
I have been interrupted a number of times, so I will not give the figures which I intended to give. But we are not dependent on any theories as to what may happen. I have made it my business to obtain particulars from a number of local authorities. I have particulars in my hand from one in the North-West of England where already the rents of council houses have been raised more than twice the amount of the statutory deduction and, therefore, more than the tenant would have been liable to have had his rent raised under this Bill, if his house had been a private house instead of a local authority house. We are not seeing things under the bed. This is actually happening already.
§ Mr. Horobin
In the North-West of England. The further point which I am making is to show why we are hopeful that a substantial and reasonable number of repairs will be done. I say at once—and I do not think there will be any dispute on this point—that if the landlord was a completely free agent I do not believe that a great many repairs would be done in response to this very small increase in rent. Some would carry out repairs for various reasons, but not others. But, of course, the landlord is not a free agent. Whether we like it or not he is already clamped within the Rent Acts and what he will consider is this. Is it better to 996 allow these houses to fall down until he eventually gets a clearance order, or, if he can qualify for the increase, will he do better by doing so? I think that is a major point.
Secondly—I want to put this very briefly—I think it is common knowledge that a good many of these repairs are, in fact, done more cheaply, contrary to common opinion, in connection with the larger houses. Some of the larger houses are a better repairing proposition than some of the semi-jerry built post-war houses. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad to have some support from hon. Members opposite. Obviously, a number of old houses are thoroughly bad, but there are many in our industrial cities, and especially in the North, where the actual structure of the houses is often better from the point of view of repairability than some of the modern ones. Therefore, in many of these cases I do not think that it is as hopeless, as has been suggested by some hon. Members, to think that some repairs will be done.
Now I want to come to closer grips for a few minutes with the condition which has to be fulfilled before a notice of increase of rent can be served. I want to consider, first, the condition and the amount of money which has to be spent—either three times the statutory deduction in one year or six times in the last three years. Here again, I would begin by saying that if we were to consider nothing but the chances of getting the Bill to work, I think that this condition would be a mistake. I think it would cause a great deal of trouble on both sides and a lot of complications, and, if we are not careful, some damage to the working of the Bill.
I can see why the condition was put in, and I think that it was right to put it in. But, psychologically, the difference is enormous between persuading a tenant to pay a higher rent when he can at least see that the rain is not coming through on to his bed than to persuade him to do so, in respect of a vast estate or whatever it may be, upon which money has been spent on repairs but not on his particular house, and when the tenant of that house is likely to have a wet bed for another year. Psychologically, it is difficult to increase the rent in that case. Therefore, it is 997 much easier and, I think, fairer to link the second condition with the first overriding condition that the house must be put in repair.
I put it to the Minister that he is running a risk here. As this is only a secondary condition he should make it elastic, and be very careful that he does not, by trying to make the condition too right, stop people from starting. One must bear in mind that throughout the whole of Part II of the Bill, unless the landlord serves notice of an increase of rent nothing happens at all. The tenant cannot do anything about it. The local authorities cannot do anything about it. No one can say, "I should like repairs done. Will you put up my rent?" Unless the landlord or his agent serves an increase of rent notice nothing happens and my fear is that if we are not very careful we may stop the thing beginning at all as a result of this second condition.
I shall leave all the Committee points to the end. First, we have the very common case of the small owner. I am not making any point about the small owner being hard up and that sort of thing. I am simply dealing with the case of the owner of one or two houses. We know about this so well in the North. The joke used to be that everyone in his town owned his own house and the house on each side. It is a very common case for a small owner to own two or three houses and some of these have extremely small statutory deductions and extremely small rents.
I want to give one actual example which is very typical of a great many cases of this kind. Here is a house—I have no objection to saying that it is in my constituency—the gross value of which is £13 and the statutory deduction £5. The repairs increase would, therefore, be 3s. 10d. a week. In the North, unlike London, we have the complication that rates are usually included in the rent, and we have, therefore, to subtract the rates because we are not concerned in this Bill with the rates. The present net rent after deduction of rates is 5s. 4d. Out of that, as is usual in my part of the world, we have to pay chief rent, insurance and other things, and when we have deducted all that from the 5s. 4d. the rent comes to well below 4s. a week.
How can the owner afford to pay 3s. 10d. out of 4s.? That is not at all 998 an isolated case. I have a list of 25 other cases with which I shall not weary the House. It is, unfortunately, true, whether we like it or not, that a great many of these small owners cannot possibly claim now because if they handed over all their net rent, that amount in the last three years, let alone in the last year, would not be enough to claim the rent increase.
Therefore, for these people, if this condition remains as it is and unless immediate and effective steps are taken to make it possible by much more active use of the provisions under the 1936 Act, Sections 90 and 91, to advance money to them, so that in the future they can claim, we shall find that for that type of small house the owner, without any capital resources of his own, will never be able to start. He will not be able to get over the first hurdle.
I now come to a more important aspect of the same problem. I have obtained particulars of a large number of housing properties in different parts of the country. Hon. Members will see that similar problems arise even in the case of comparatively wealthy estates. In the first place, it will often be impossible to claim the allowance under the second condition with which I am dealing if we retain the period of three years. Either the period should be extended to five years, or else it will only be possible to claim by spending more on repairs this year, which is exactly what we want to happen. In the case of quite a surprising number of these estates, even where no claim can be made for the back period, the amounts spent on repairs are sufficiently near to the qualifying figure to make it worth while spending a bit more, so to speak, to throw a sprat to catch a mackerel.
I want to give one or two instances. I have a case of 24 small houses on which, in the last three years, the expenditure on repairs is just over £500. The qualifying figure would be £1,000, so the landlord cannot claim now. But if he were in a position to claim, the landlord could add £336 to the rent. By doing a little sum it will be seen that the landlord will get just over £500 if he spends all the increase on repairs, which is exactly what he will have to spend—namely, half £1,000. There we have a small group of houses on which quite a 999 substantial sum has been spent, the landlord of which will not be able to get over the first hurdle but will almost certainly, if he spends the money, be able to get it back the following year.
I have another case of 63 houses. The landlord has spent £3,400 on the property, which is quite a large sum of money. The qualifying amount is £4,600, so he cannot claim. But if we make the same calculation, it becomes clear that there is every reason for thinking that this Bill will see several hundreds of pounds extra spent on repairs on those houses in the next few years.
I should like to give a somewhat different example of a set of over 100 working-class flats. The qualifying figure is £8,000. In the last three years £14,000 has been spent on this property, so that these flats qualify at once. But it so happens that in those three years over £1,000 was spent on dry rot. I deduce two things from that. First, many people will be able to claim if the period can be extended to five years because it will be possible to average these exceptional cases. Secondly, many people, while not being able to claim this year, will be encouraged to spend more on their repairs and will claim next year.
In addition, and this is of extreme importance, surely that last case of over 100 flats—I could give several more examples—shows that the Bill will secure that in the case of houses which in the future receive a large expenditure on dry rot ora gable end or roofs or underpinning, the landlord of which will refuse to throw any more good money after bad, so that they are pulled down or become slums, enough money will be available to ensure that those exceptional expenses are met, because exceptional expenses of that kind will automatically ensure that even if the landlord was not able to claim before, he will be able to claim in the future.
I am sorry to have been somewhat particular but, after all, one or two actual cases are worth a lot of general statement. I submit, therefore, that we are not being unreasonable in hoping that under this Bill a great deal of money will be spent on repairs which otherwise would not be spent, and that houses which are now in danger of further 1000 deterioration will be saved. Even if it is shown that not all the 6 million houses will immediately be brought into good condition but that we can make a substantial start, it will be a good thing.
I have one last point to make on the first condition. The first condition holds, in Clause 40, an extremely grave danger for the Minister's plan, to which I wish to draw his attention—namely, the subtle distinction between repair and good repair. Here again, custom in the North of England differs from the South. While one cannot generalise, I think it is broadly true to say that tenants in the North do the interior decoration which, in the South, is still the landlord's responsibility. I am not going to argue whether that is good or bad, but I want to put to the Minister a practical point, and I have checked it up with a number of estate agents of great experience.
Several have said to me that if this means taking on a new liability for the interior decoration of property, they will hesitate to advise their clients to serve notices. If they do not serve notices, the Bill is dead. We need not spend a lot of time arguing whether or not landlords should do interior repairs. In the case of a genuine weekly tenancy, there is no reason why the tenant should do any repairs; but where we have a long lease, owing to statutory protection, I should have thought there was a case for saying that the well established distinction between tenants' repairs and landlords' repairs in interior decoration should come into play.
Whatever our views on that point may be, the fact remains that while the increase in general repairs may be sufficient or so nearly sufficient as to enable a start to be made, I fear that in Committee we must look carefully at the exact new obligations which may be put upon landlords if we call upon them to bring into complete decorative repair the interior of their property, and maintain that complete decorative repair. If, under the first condition, we are putting such a new serious liability on landlords that they will not serve notices, that will be just as serious as if we tie up the second condition so closely that they cannot qualify or do not have the money to do the work.
There is little doubt in my mind that a substantial amount of new and valuable work will be done on a vast amount of 1001 privately owned property. It is in that hope that we ought to commend this Bill. Having watched the development of the housing policy of the Government, we have good reason to be grateful. Ordinary fathers, mothers and children will for a long time have reason to be grateful for the fact that the housing problem has attracted to its solution one of the most subtle, receptive and courageous minds which have ever been applied to this supreme social problem in our time.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Albert Evans (Islington, South-West)
The hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Horobin) has given us some interesting examples, and has made what I took to be some criticisms of the formula on which the Minister is working. No doubt we shall hear more of some of the points he made when we come to the Committee stage. The hon. Gentleman will, of course, pardon the hilarity with which his remarks about local authorities were received on this side of the House. We do not understand that local authorities are bad landlords. We believe that their tenants have adequate protection without the operation of the Rent Acts, and, from our wide experience of local government, we believe that local authorities maintain their properties in good condition both outside and in.
I agreed with the hon. Gentleman when he said that the deplorable conditions of some millions of our houses is not a party matter. I think both sides will agree that this is a problem which must be faced and for which a solution must be found. It is difficult to say exactly how many of these houses there are. The Parliamentary Secretary spoke of 6 million, 4 million of which required repair, and the Minister himself talked of 7½ million, and broke down that total into different categories. However, I think we can all agree that the figure involved is quite substantial, certainly several millions. There are probably about 4 million houses which, unless action is taken soon, will deteriorate to the point of becoming a total loss to the community.
I am sure that all hon. Members, and anybody who is at all interested in the subject, will agree that something must be done to prevent the loss of such a 1002 large number of houses from the stock of habitations available to the community. Therefore, we agree that the repairs must be done, but I think we can also agree that such repairs will cost a lot of money. There can be no dispute about that. When we come to the question of who is to pay for these repairs, there may be some difference of opinion.
I believe it would be agreed by hon. Members on both sides of the House that if these houses are properly repaired, a reasonable increase in rent would be justified. Indeed, I think that the majority of tenants would agree that if their present semi-slum dwellings could be made habitable and some modern conveniences installed in them, they would be prepared to pay a reasonable amount in addition to their present rent. I have actually tested that point, and I found that the tenants were almost unanimous in saying that they would be prepared to pay a little more in such circumstances. But, in saying that, we must remember that there is a section of tenants who are not in a position to pay more. They are the poorest of our people, who are not dealt with in this Bill.
Those people, who, because they are poor, are unable to afford an increase in their rent—the "submerged tenth," as they used to be called—are not covered by this Bill. That is a matter which we cannot very well discuss today, but it is one to which this House will have to address itself before very long—how to provide decent housing accommodation for the poorest of the community at a rent which they can afford to pay. Many of them cannot afford the present rents charged for private lettings or for local authority houses.
The hon. Gentleman said that local authorities have found it necessary to raise their rents, and there can be no dispute about that. Local authorities have found that a good house, properly maintained, often means an increase in rent. If we agree that repairs have to be done, that the money has to be spent, and that rents will have to go up in consequence, then I think that the Government must also agree to the consequences that will follow.
If the houses are put into sound repair and rents are increased to cover the cost, 1003 then it logically follows that there will be quite an upward jerk in the cost-of-living index. That will be the inevitable outcome of the success of this Bill. Therefore, the Government must realise that as a consequence of their proposals—if successful—wage claims will be forthcoming and will have to be met. National Assistance payments and pensions of all kinds will have to rise with the increase in the cost of living.
I now turn to Part II of the Bill, with which the hon. Member for Oldham, East dealt so fully, and I propose to add one or two points which occur to me. I agree with the hon. Gentleman and with others who have spoken that this is the core of the matter. It attempts to deal with the several million houses which are in different stages of disrepair, and attempts to find means by which to bring them back into repair and thus prevent them from becoming a total loss.
When I read the Bill, I was surprised to find that it differed considerably from the White Paper. Indeed, I think it fair to say to the Minister that in one important matter the Bill belies the White Paper. On reading the White Paper—on which we only had a short debate—I said to myself, "Well, the Minister evidently intends to make sure that the repairs are done before rents are increased." That was the impression which many of us got from reading the White Paper.
I consulted several of my right hon. and hon. Friends and we decided that the Minister really meant business, and that he was going to see that the landlord did the repairs. We came to the conclusion that the Minister really had learned the lesson of the 25 per cent. increase in the 1920s, and that he realised that landlords generally—not in all cases—could not be relied upon to do the repairs unless there was compulsion behind the Measure that allowed them the increase.
I am afraid that we were mistaken in thinking that, and I think it would be well to remind the Minister of the two paragraphs in the White Paper which, I suggest, misled the House and the country. Paragraph 38 says:Her Majesty's Government intend that a landlord will be permitted to claim a repairs increase only if the house is in good general repair as respects tooth structure and decora- 1004 tion. If the house is not already in such a state of repair, the landlord must put it right before claiming a repairs increase.They are perfectly clear words. Paragraph 39 says:Further, Her Majesty's Government intend that no repairs increase shall be allowed unless and until the landlord can show that he has actually spent money on repairs.The Parliamentary Secretary can raise his eyebrows, but those two paragraphs misled some of my right hon. and hon. Friends, who, after all, are not without experience in their reading of White Papers, into the conviction that the Minister really meant business, that he was thinking of the houses first of all and intended to get the repairs done. But we were mistaken. The Minister's speech on the White Paper showed clearly that we have been far too simple and that we were wrong. We had forgotten that the Minister likes to do unpleasant, difficult things in a light and pleasant way, and that seems to me what he has attempted to do this time.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Ernest Marples)
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way, and I am sorry to interrupt, but surely the two conditions to which he referred are implemented in Clauses 18 and 19 of the Bill. Clause 18 reads:Where a dwelling-house is let under a controlled tenancy…subject to the provisions of this Part of this Act,—(a) if and so long as the following conditions…are fulfilled, that is to say—(i) that the dwelling-house is in good repair"—
§ Mr. Marples
We can, because the local authority will decide whether it is in good repair, and Clause 19 says that the landlord must have spent the money on it.
§ Mr. Evans
It is quite evident that the mind of the hon. Gentleman and my mind run on different tracks. I am saying that the words of the White Paper led many hon. Members on this side of the House to think that the Minister intended to see that the repairs were done before the rent was increased. In fact, we know that the reverse is true. We now know that the landlord will not have to prove his case but that the tenant will 1005 have to disprove it. The onus will be put on the tenant to get a couple of days off from work to do so.
The hon. Member for Oldham, East talked about the essential justice of the county court, and we will not disagree with that, but does the Minister realise that this excursion to a county court by countless thousands of poor tenants is a sheer impossibility? [An HON. MEMBER: "It is good for the lawyers."] It is all very well to say that justice is for everybody provided that they can pay for it. I do not like cynical phrases and it is clear that the safeguard which the tenant has of going to the county court is not practicable.
§ Mr. Horobin
If the hon. Gentleman looks at Clause 21 he will see that the landlord has to do exactly that; he has to satisfy the court in an action for recovery. All the tenant has to do is simply not to pay the rent. If the question is in dispute as to whether money has been spent, the landlord has to go to the court to get his rent. The tenant does not have to do anything.
§ Mr. Evans
Now the hon. Gentleman is inciting tenants not to pay their rent. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, he is saying that the remedy is not to pay. Has the hon. Gentleman ever been in the position of being ejected for non-payment of rent? I can assure him that the fear of non-payment of rent is a very real one in the minds of working-class people. It is not sensible to suggest that the tenant should refrain from paying his rent in order that the landlord shall take him into the county court.
The Minister should explain why he has adopted this method of the landlord claiming his increase before the certificate of disrepair has been obtained. Will he explain why he could not reverse that procedure and say that the landlord, before he raises the rent, must get a certificate of good repair from the local authority? It could be done. It is quite a practical suggestion. I know that yesterday "The Times" said that it was not a sensible or practical suggestion to put the onus on the landlord. It said:To put the onus on the landlord to prove that he qualifies for a rent increase, rather than on the tenant to challenge the increase, is impracticable."The Times" made that assertion without giving reasons to support it, but there 1006 is another authority, apart from the "Thunderer," which has a larger experience of this practical point than "The Times" leader writer. The Sanitary Inspectors' Association has considered this matter and has put on record its considered views on this point of the certificate of good repair and the certificate of disrepair. In paragraph 62 of its memorandum, headed "Increase of Rent," it says:As private owners are by law required to carry out repairs, there appears to be a need for rent adjustment, at least in certain circumstances. The Association suggests that any such increase, being applied to specific circumstances, perhaps transitory in character, should be subject to periodical review, and in any case precautions would necessarily have to be taken to prevent the imposition of an increase without specific performance of the duties…Now I come to the point I am making:This safeguard could be applied by a requirement that, precedent to any increase, the sanitary inspector should (in the same manner as obtains in the reverse direction in the Rent Restrictions Acts), issue a certificate that the repairs have been satisfactorily completed…That is the considered view of a large body of men who know more about this matter than any others in the country, and the Minister would do well to look at it again. If the right hon. Gentleman does not make some alterations in this part of the Bill, it will not work. Therefore, if he wants his Bill to work he should consider the proposals made by the Sanitary Inspectors' Association and also consider whether he cannot alter the Bill in Committee. We will readily help him to do so on that point. If the right hon. Gentleman allows the present position to remain, he will unloose on the local authorities a volume of work beyond their capacity. Does the Parliamentary Secretary realise what he is throwing on to the local authorities as a result of these proposals?
There is in this great Metropolitan area of ours a borough called Islington. It is a great borough. In that borough alone there are 40,000 assessments, estimated to contain 90,000 rentals, almost all of them 70 to 100 years old. Knowing the state of disrepair of those properties, and knowing the ways of landlords and their agents, I shall consider it my duty to advise at least 40,000 of those tenants to apply at once to the local authority, and to the courts if necessary, as soon as the landlord makes his claim. 1007 I think the Minister will find that, if he does not alter this part of the Bill, he will have great difficulty in trying to make it work.
Now I want to say one or two words upon Part I of the Bill. I shall be brief, because much of this has been covered already. Apparently, slum clearance is not to be left to private enterprise—the local authorities have to do it. We all agree that the local authorities must do it, and do it in stages across, perhaps, the next 20 years. The squalor left by private enterprise must be cleared up by local authority enterprise.
The local authorities also have the new task of patching up these houses, the demolition of which is to be delayed. We understand from Clause 6 that the Exchequer will pay a certain amount and the local authority will have to pay a like amount; in other words, it is to be on a 50–50 basis as between the Exchequer and the local authorities. Is not this a new departure in housing finance? Is it not true that, since the war, housing finance has been on a three-to-one basis? I understand that before the war it was on a two-to-one basis. That is my information from a reliable source.
Now we have this 50–50 basis, the local authority paying an amount equal to the Exchequer grants. It might be that the exact details of these financial provisions have not been finally settled. I understand that talks are going on with the local authorities, but I have been told that the Minister has committed himself and has told the local authorities that the 50–50 basis has been fixed and that he will hold to it. I should like to know whether that is so and whether the Minister has bound himself to that basis before the Second Reading of this Bill. The Minister owes it to the House to explain exactly to what he has committed himself with the local authorities. If he wants the local authorities to go ahead with their part of this immense job he will have to reconsider and change his financial proposals.
All of us wish to have this job done. We want to see the several million houses put in a condition worthy of the people who live in them and worthy of the nation, but I am afraid that we shall 1008 be disappointed by the operation of this Bill. I fear that Part I will not function because of the unfairness of the financial Clause, and Part II will fail because of the need of private enterprise to make a profit. It will not be profitable enough for the landlord to operate this proposal on any wide scale. The homes of our people are a national responsibility. The provision of homes for the people will always be a problem before Parliament and I believe that all of us will come to realise in time that that responsibility can only be carried out by public enterprise.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Brooke (Hampstead)
The House listened with interest to the thoughtful and moderate speech just delivered by the hon. Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. A. Evans), and I have some sympathy with his comments on the financial proposals. But when the hon. Member suggests that the right way to arrange the machinery relating to increase of rents is in every case to require that a certificate of good repair has to be obtained from the local authority even though the tenant and the landlord are completely agreed about the situation, he must realise the fantastic addition to expense and work that he is recommending.
The hon. Member referred to the huge figures of controlled properties in Islington. Borough councils have many important duties, and there is not an unlimited supply of sanitary inspectors in the country. Is the hon. Member really going to recommend that sanitary inspectors should leave their most urgent functions in other directions, to go round and inspect houses and grant certificates of good repair where landlord and tenant are entirely agreed that the property is in good repair?
§ Mr. A. Evans
I am aware of the volume of work that that proposal would involve for the local authorities. That point has been made before in this debate, but I think that that is preferable to the reverse proposal whereby, in duty bound, we should have to send thousands of people to the local authorities to obtain a certificate of disrepair. I think that the hon. Member will know from practical experience that the local authorities could do that job, as I suggested, on a staggered basis over a period of days.
§ Mr. Brooke
I have stated my view once and the hon. Member has stated his view twice. I will leave it at that.
I pass on to a subject on which, I hope, we shall be in agreement. Surely we shall all welcome the fact that the White Paper and this Bill appear to presage the resumption of the slum clearance drive which was so tragically interrupted by the war. In this country we were able to make far too little impression on the slums until 1933. Then, in the six years before the war, people from slum dwellings were refocused at the rate of 200,000 a year. We are all agreed that since the war progress has been negligible.
The real difficulty, the crux of the matter, is how to rehouse—"decant"is the standard word, which most of us dislike—those people who have to be moved out of their slum houses before new homes can be built on that land; and often those new homes will not satisfactorily house as many people as the old hovels filthily housed before slum clearance took place. It is only when the rate of new house building rises above 300,000 a year that slum clearance becomes a possibility. For that reason, first of all, I am most deeply grateful to my right hon. Friend for the whole of his housing policy, leading up to this chance of progress in clearing the slums.
Reference has been made to the standard of fitness laid down in Clause 7 of the Bill, and I was surprised when the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) criticised it as in some way falling short of the standard recommended by the Mitchell Committee in 1946. I have the Report of that Committee; it is quite a rare document now. I can see in it no substantial difference. If there is a difference I hope that we shall hear the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) on the subject, because she signed that Report and she would appear better qualified than anybody to say whether this Bill carries out her Committee's recommendation.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I should like to call the hon. Member's attention to one very remarkable difference, in that the repair required by the recommendation of that Committee was to be good general repair, a phrase which reappears in this Bill.
§ Mr. Brooke
I think that the hon. and learned Member is making the mistake which so many people have made, of not comparing like with like. I am referring to paragraph 23 of the Mitchell Report, which recommends that a certain subsection in the 1936 Actshould be repealed and be replaced by a Clause somewhat to the following effect: 'For the purpose of this Act the house shall be regarded as unfit for human habitation if it is not…'.It is that paragraph in the Mitchell Report which has to be compared with Clause 7 of the Bill, and it appears to me that the words in the Bill carry that out entirely.
However, I join with other hon. Members in expressing the hope that when he winds up the debate my right hon. Friend will give the House more explanation than it has had up to the present of the financial proposals in Part I of the Bill. The suggestion is a 50 per cent. grant to local authorities in respect of loan charges on the cost of acquisition at site value, combined with a grant of 45s. a year towards the cost of temporary maintenance of the unfit houses.
The first of these costs is virtually fixed. It is not something to which the local authority, by good or bad management, can make some difference; but the other is unfixed and variable. I should have thought it desirable that the Treasury should be as generous as possible in respect of the first part of the grant—that relating to the cost of acquisition.
Slum clearance must be pursued with determination or not at all. It is essential to get the enthusiastic goodwill of the local authorities for that great endeavour and it is useless for the Treasury or any Government to imagine that local authorities or the general public will tolerate the rates rising ceaselessly up when other forms of taxation are going down, because, as we all know, the basis of rating is a narrow one and rates do not operate truly fairly as between one payer and another. I am not in the least worried about the charge that local authorities will become slum landlords. They are temporary trustees and they can the quicker cease to be slum landlords the better they get on with their job. But a sound financial settlement which will secure results is a sine qua non.
I have one further financial point to make, in connection with the Amend- 1011 ments to the 1949 Act. Incidentally, the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) and one or two hon. Members opposite have suggested that that Act failed because the Press omitted to give it sufficient publicity. We must blow that story sky high. The reason why that Act, which everybody welcomed, in fact failed to produce results was because almost immediately it reached the Statute Book one of the recurrent economic crises of those years fell upon the country, and the Labour Government found it necessary to cut drastically the monthly quotas for repair, maintenance and conversion work which were allowed to the local authorities. The result was that the average local authority hardly had enough quota even to license work in fulfilment of statutory notices, and it could not dream of going out and inviting applications for conversions, because it would have been unable to license them.
The amendments to the Act seem all to be in the right direction, but I ask whether the substitution of 8 per cent. for 6 per cent. is likely to be sufficient if we want to get the work done. In another part of Clause 13 the period for which the house is expected to remain habitable is lowered from 30 years to 10 years. How many owners of house property will be able to put a major improvement in hand if they are limited to an 8 per cent. return on their outgoings and the life of the property may be less than 20 years? It seems to me that that is drawn too close and that it would be wiser—andI believe my right hon. Friend could do this with the common consent of all parties—to remove that limit and to extend to all cases the power of the local authority referred to in subsection (6) of Clause 13 to determine what the permitted rent shall be.
As for Part II of the Bill, which is the more controversial Part, I listened with intense interest to the defence of the Government's approach put up last night by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). He went right to the heart of the matter in explaining and arguing out why it was right to rely on the private owner and the building industry to do this job, which we all agree to be necessary, rather than to throw the whole weight of it on the local authorities and then 1012 possibly damage the efficiency of the building industry.
What this Bill is—and it claims to be nothing more—is a practical plan for enabling a start to be made. We have heard a number of speeches from the other side of the House apparently desiring to provide by legislation that 6 million rent-controlled houses shall be repaired immediately. Indeed, one of the most often repeated criticisms has been that under the Bill too little will happen. The proposal coming from the benches opposite—that if the local authorities take over all these houses everybody will get their houses repaired at once—surely is the certain way to overload the building industry. I have heard hon. Members opposite say that on several occasions—
§ Mr. Brooke
I should have thought that those who remember what the overload of war damage repairs did in the way of harm to the building industry would have hesitated to hold out hopes that people would get their houses repaired well and quickly if the local authorities took them over and started doing the whole thing at once.
One hon. Member in the debate on the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech suggested that under the local authorities this virtue would be gained: that the worst houses would be repaired first. I tried to imagine that in application to my constituency. We have upwards of 15,000 rent-controlled properties, and under that plan, presumably, the borough council would first have to make a survey of all the 15,000, then get them into an order of badness and then start the work. There is no spare staff to do this job throughout the country. If a local authority like mine proceeded at the rate of 20 houses a day, it would complete 15,000 in three years, and then I suppose it would start getting on with repairing the worst of them. Time will not wait for that.
We must have an immediate start. The hon. Member for Islington, South-West has admitted that people are willing to pay more rent for their homes if they are properly repaired. The fundamental question of the debate is, who is to pay? The Bill says that the tenant must not pay more than a certain amount. The 1013 Opposition's plan would remove that limit. As I said in the debate on 4th November, "Vote Labour for much higher rents."
How much will it cost on average, if the Socialists' plan for transferring all rent-controlled houses to local authorities is carried out? What will be the all-in average cost of buying the house, presumably at market value, and then carrying out the repairs?
§ Mr. Lindgren
Surely the hon. Member does not suggest that local authorities should buy a house at market value when there is a sitting tenant?
§ Mr. Brooke
If they are not buying at market value there will be an element of confiscation in the plan. Perhaps this is the crux of the question, and perhaps the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) will deal with it when he speaks at the end of the debate: do the Opposition propose that owners should sell their houses at market value to local authorities or at some figure below market value?
§ Mr. Lindgren
Would the hon. Member tell us what a landlord is losing if he gets the sitting tenant value?
§ Mr. Brooke
It is just as possible to determine the market value of a house with a sitting tenant as it is without a sitting tenant. Having purchased the house, the local authority has to spend quite a substantial amount of money on it. What will the combined cost of all that be? Will it be £400, £500, or £600? If it is £500, the local authority, having to meet loan charges on £500 at 4 per cent. and wanting to amortise that sum over 30 years, will need 11s. a week in rent to do it. On top of that 11s. there will have to be put all the costs of repairs and management and insurance, which amount to over 10s. a week for the pre-1914 cottages of the London County Council.
We even heard a horrifying suggestion yesterday from the hon. Member for Newcastle - upon - Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) that if the local authorities took over all these rent-controlled houses they would actually be able to make some profit out of them, which could go to make good the loss on the slum or near- 1014 slum houses. That would mean yet more on the rent. So it does not look as though, under the Socialist plan, the tenant of the present rent-controlled house will come off well so far as his rent is concerned.
The Government plan holds the field. It is based in essentials on the proposal put forward by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in 1951, though it is a bit more unfavourable to landlords than that.
The Opposition appear to be completely confused in the case which they have been putting before the House during today and yesterday. They say at one time that only local authorities should do this work and not the private landlord. that it should be taken right out of the hands of private landlords. The Opposition had their chance in 1949 if they really believed that. They did not confine the 1949 improvement grants to local authorities. I have in my hand a circular issued in September, 1949, when the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale was Minister. In that circular it was stated:Action by the local authority will be particularly appropriate where there are groups of houses which lend themselves readily to improvement and for which comprehensive proposals are not forthcoming from the owners.At that time the Socialists' view was that the owner should be encouraged to do as much as possible, and the local authority should do the rest. Now that they are not in office, they turn round and say that the local authority should do everything.
They cannot decide whether their case is that this Bill will not make repair sufficiently profitable to the landlord—that was the argument which we have heard from the Front Bench opposite—or will make it too profitable. The case that it will make it too profitable was given to Holborn the other day in this leaflet:Landlords of old houses are rubbing their hands with glee. They are expecting a rich harvest from the Tory Government's new rent proposals.That is what is said when there are votes to be caught or stolen. That is the kind of thing which we heard yesterday from the hon. Member for Itchen (Mr. Morley) 1015 and the hon. Member for Clapham (Mr. Gibson).
The hon. Member for Clapham made a speech which sounded a most damaging one. He quoted dividends paid by various property companies. The complete answer to that is to look at the facts about the housing societies. The housing societies and trusts are bodies which under their constitution are limited to a low rate of interest, or none at all, and all surplus profit goes back into the property.
Since 1947, the housing societies have been pleading with the Government that their properties should be freed from control, because under the system of control they found that they could not maintain them in a condition which they desired and which the tenants required. Nobody has ever suggested that the housing societies waste their money or misuse their revenue. For that reason, I am proud to be the first in this debate to welcome the provision in Clause 28 of the Bill that the properties of these bodies, as well as the properties of local authorities, are to be freed from control. My one request is that my right hon. Friend will consider making Clause 28 fully comprehensive. At present there are, as he may know, a few charitable trusts and housing societies which could not qualify under the definitions in the Clause. I trust that in Committee my right hon. Friend will favorably consider Amendments to put that right.
I return, in conclusion, to the hon. Member for Clapham. I am sorry that he cannot be in his place. He quoted figures designed to prove that property companies owning rent-controlled house property were paying large and increasing dividends. This happened towards eleven o'clock last night, and I have since looked up one or two of the cases which he quoted.
The hon. Member referred to Brixton Estate Limited, which he said owned seven acres of working class properties in Brixton. He went on:There is no doubt about these being rent-controlled properties.I have consulted a standard work of reference, which states that Brixton Estate Limited "owns an estate of about seven acres in Brixton, comprising offices, factory buildings, garages and workshops" 1016 On that kind of argument the hon. Member for Clapham was resting his case against the Bill.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Marcus Lipton (Brixton)
May I put to the hon. Member the point that this company does in fact own, in addition to the kind of properties which he has mentioned, rent-controlled residential property?
§ Mr. Brooke
I should not be surprised, and I am not denying it. But the case which the hon. Member for Clapham was putting was that these were companies which were managing rent-controlled property so profitably that they were able to pay high and increasing dividends out of it.
I intend to give the House one further example. The hon. Member quoted also Bell London and Provincial Properties Limited, which in the same work of reference that I have mentioned is thus described:Owns controlling interest in Marble Arch Restaurant Ltd., Park West Service Station Ltd."—and finally a company at whose profitability I cannot guess—Liberal Guarantee Company Ltd.
§ Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, North-West)
Has not the hon. Member done sufficient research to find out when their properties which are rent-controlled were purchased by the companies, and why they purchased them at that time, knowing that they were rent-controlled and knowing what the probabilities were in regard to those repairs?
§ Mr. Brooke
No, I have not had the time to make more detailed inquiries. I am submitting that if we are to take the dividends of those companies as evidence in this debate, we need proof that the profits of those companies are principally derived from rent-controlled properties. That was certainly the impression which was given to the House last night, and it is not the case.
I know that I have been tempted into fields of party controversy, but these matters with which we are dealing go so near the heart of England that I hope that however much we differ upon them we shall be yet able to join in making this Bill as good as may be. I hope, too, that my right hon. Friend, who has 1017 done so much in two years for the housing of the British people, will bear particularly in mind, when the Bill is passed, that full information about all the powers, responsibilities and duties arising out of the Bill should be made available to everybody in the simplest and clearest possible form.
I say that because I do not believe we can make the machinery of this or any other Bill perfect in so complicated a field. I believe, however, that we owe to all concerned, tenants, landlords and local authorities, not only clarity of purpose but clarity of explanation.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. G. Lindgren (Wellingborough)
The hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke) need never apologise for bringing in what he termed party politics. He of all Members opposite speaks with some knowledge and experience of local government, and from his speeches this House profits considerably. But I think he strayed from his usual fairness when he chided my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) about his 1949 Housing Act.
The hon. Member suggested that the Opposition now wanted the local authorities to take the initiative, whereas under the 1949 Act my right hon. Friend proposed that private enterprise should take the initiative, and that the local authorities should come in if private enterprise failed. The difference is that under the 1949 Act the local authorities had control the whole time. If there was an improvement grant, not only were the local authorities contributing, but they were passing the plans and inspecting the work. The hon. Member for Hampstead suggested that we were saying that local authorities should be the only ones to do the work. That may be one way of putting it. I would prefer to say that the local authorities are the only people who can be trusted to do the work.
Perhaps the only hon. Gentleman opposite who faced up to the problem was the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). I am delighted to see the hon. Member in his place. His regular attendance is an example to many hon. Members. My opposition to this Bill is general and fundamental, and that is why I appreciate the approach of the hon. Member for 1018 Wolverhampton, South-West. The first fundamental question I wish to ask is, why did local authorities become concerned with the provision of housing at all? It was because private enterprise failed to provide the houses. It is impossible for the speculative builder or the investor to provide a house at a rent which the ordinary working person can afford to pay.
§ Mr. Lindgren
I shall come to that later.
After the 1914–18 war. when it was no longer possible for private enterprise to make a profit out of housing the working-class, the then Coalition Government had to provide local authority housing. We started off with the Addison Act of 1919, and then followed the Chamberlain Act of 1923 and the Wheatley Act of 1924, almost yearly to the Housing Act of 1936 which consolidated all the others. Local authorities became concerned with the provision of housing because private enterprise had failed to provide them. I wish to make that point at the outset.
This Bill will fail because private landlords are not in the business for the benefit of the community, or out of consideration for the tenant, and they never have been. They are there for what they can get out of it. There are, of course, isolated exceptions. I know there are some good landlords with estates in the country who look upon their houses as part of the general assets of the estate. But I am a cockney and I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. A. Evans). We regard landlordism from the point of view of our experience of landlords. This patronage, about which some hon. Gentlemen opposite speak, may happen in some isolated village where they live, but it has not happened to those of us who live in the towns.
One of two things will happen under the provisions of this Bill. Either landlords will put up the rent and do little or no repair work, and pocket the money, or they will not put up the rents because they have no intention of doing any repairs, and so there will be no change in the situation at all. I said that landlords would put up the rent and not 1019 do any repairs, and the Minister raised his eyebrows. The right hon. Gentleman may have the best intentions in the world, but we have lived under Tory landlords and we know what they do. We suffered from the 1920 Act.
I can tell the right hon. Gentleman what will happen. Every landlord will put up the rent irrespective of whether or not he spends a penny on the property. He will send a notice to the tenant, and what will the tenant have to do? He will have to go to the local authority to ask for a certificate of disrepair, and he has only 14 days in which to do it.
§ Mr. Lindgren
Then what is he to do? There is nothing under this Bill to stop a landlord, who has not spent a penny on the property, from sending a notice to the tenant that the rent is to be increased—[Interruption.] I did not hear what the Minister said, but I will give way if he wishes to interrupt me.
§ Mr. Lindgren
The Minister can interject how he pleases—about mouldy turnips or other people's speeches—but we are speaking with some degree of experience of living in towns where there are property-owning landlords.
§ Mr. Lindgren
That is the point. Whoever loses there is one group of fellows who are always in, right from the start, and that is the lawyers. They will get their money every time. With them will be the architects and surveyors. After all, the lawyer wants to see the money on his desk before he takes up a case.
I think the problem was faced by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West when he said that the choice lay between the suggestion of the Opposition and whether we can make private enterprise pay. He said, as proof of his support for this Bill, that he would suggest that in the inter-war years private enterprise was showing the way. He said that first of all private owner-occupiers were buying the houses and then persons were able to purchase houses and live in them. 1020 and they were paying mortgage interest and repayments. Secondly, 110,000 houses were built for letting by private enterprise from 1937 to 1939, I think those were the years the hon. Gentleman mentioned.
Let us deal with the first point. It was not municipal enterprise or socialism which was responsible for the term "jerry-building." That term was used to describe the work of the speculative builders in the inter-war years, whose standard of construction was such that the industry and everyone else was ashamed of it. They were even assisted in their evil work by the building societies. Has the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West heard of the Borders case? Owner-occupiers were being fleeced. Properties were jerry-built, and the poor folk who went into them found more often than not that the property was a millstone round their necks for 20 or 30 years.
The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West said that the amount of mortgage repayment was little more than the rent. That is not altogether true, but I will give him that point. The house purchase schemes operated with the second mortgage of the building society on the builder of the house were almost a social evil. People who were induced to undertake obligations which were more than they could carry were almost legion. The problems which arose as a result of financial strain were terrific.
I worked among people who were in a fortunate position. I was a railway man and we were not subject to the cursed fear of unemployment during the Toryism of the inter-war years. So long as we behaved ourselves we knew we had a steady job. Many people outside who purchased houses were not so fortunate. Local authorities and building societies had to face many problems caused by tenants being missing overnight and leaving the keys behind in the house. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West said, "Nonsense"—
§ Mr. Powell
I did not use the expression, "Nonsense." I merely repeated the 1021 word "tenants," because the hon. Member seemed to be referring to tenants and not to prospective owner-occupiers. But now that he has kindly given way to me I would also remind him that the percentage of defaults on building society mortgages in the years immediately before the last war was under 1 per cent.
§ Mr. Lindgren
Yes, but the hon. Gentleman is not talking of the rackets which went on with the second mortgage through the building societies, the houses for £5 down and all road charges paid. They were the ones which were in the mind of the hon. Member when he spoke last night, and they are the ones to which I referred when I spoke of the jerry-builder and the curse of the building industry in the inter-war years.
I leave that point and come to the question of houses to let. The hon. Gentleman said that there were 62,000 houses to let of a gross value of under £20 in Greater London. He said that 62,000 of 110,000 houses in the Greater London area were of an average gross rateable value under £20.
§ Mr. Lindgren
The hon. Gentleman said,'of 110,000 houses built for letting between 1st October, 1937, and 31st March, 1939' "—that is in 18 months—'almost 62,000,' "—that is, over half—'were of a rateable value not exceeding £13, or £20 in Greater London.' "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th November, 1953; Vol. 521, c. 890.]
§ Mr. Lindgren
I challenged the hon. Gentleman when he made that statement. I admit that my researches since then apply only to North London. I could not find any of these houses of under £20 gross rateable value until I come to the Hatfield Rural District Council where there were some of a gross value of £20. But I have not been able to find any in the North London area in the short time since the hon. Gentleman made his speech.
When one examines the houses which were built outside London one would not suggest that they were of best quality standards. This is a part of the policy of the Government. There are interests 1022 behind politics. Do not let us hoodwink ourselves. One of the interests behind the Tory Party is the property owners and the Central Landowners' Association. This is a vested interest within the Tory Party. Hon. Gentlemen opposite can accuse me of being a vested interest within the Labour movement, as representative of the trade union movement within the Labour movement. I accept that, but this is a vested interest of property owners within the Tory Party.
This is within the general policy which the Minister has followed on housing. The right hon. Gentleman likes to make himself out as a tremendous success; but in the inter-war years the general standards of council houses were a music-hall joke. When the comedian in the music hall got tired of talking about the mother-in-law he used the council house as a standby—hear the woman next door change her mind, and all that sort of thing. A succession of Tory Governments between the wars depressed housing standards to such an extent that during the last war when the Tories were worried, as they always are during a war, they promised all sorts of things and set up the Dudley Committee. It was not a Socialist Government but a Tory Government who set up the Dudley Committee to determine post-war housing standards.
The houses which the Minister is now building are considerably below Dudley standards. They are even below the standards of houses built by local authorities in 1938. There is in addition the two-bed roomed house which the Minister of Works seems to be quite proud of. That is not a house which ought to be encouraged. I interjected when the Minister of Works was speaking—perhaps wrongly—that hon. Gentleman opposite do not live in two-bed roomed houses.
§ Mr. Lindgren
Most of those who do live in them do so from Monday to Friday and have another house in the country for the week ends.
§ Mr. Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
The hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren) is twisting the argument of his earlier interjection which was designed to give the impression that while the Government could claim more 1023 houses, because they were smaller houses, they could not claim so many bedrooms. The Minister replied that there were 50 per cent. more bedrooms, so that argument failed.
§ Mr. Lindgren
I agree. That was the effect of my first intervention. It is true that the houses built under the standards of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale, whatever else one might say about him—[Interruption.] Hon. Gentle men opposite can say what they like. This at least can be said for my right hon. Friend. The houses built when he was Minister were built to Dudley standards which the Coalition Government promised would be adopted. But the houses which are being built today are of a debased standard. The Minister is reducing ceilings to 7 feet 3 inches and taking away all sorts of amenities—
§ Mr. Lindgren
—reducing the superficial floor area and bringing the number of bedrooms down to two. If one lowers standards and makes the houses smaller, with two bedrooms instead of three or four, of course one can build more houses even with the same amount of materials.
§ Sir Geoffrey Hutchinson (Ilford, North)
Is it not the case that the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) has claimed credit for designing these new houses?
§ Mr. Lindgren
With great respect to my right hon. Friend, I should not like to live in a house that he or any other Member of this House designed. My right hon. Friend is a Cambridge don and a politician, and I much prefer to live in a house designed by an architect and built by a builder. Not even the Minister can claim credit for those designs. They are the work of architects within the Department for which a particular Minister happens to be responsible. It is true also that the density in housing is being increased.
My objection to the Bill is fundamental. I just do not believe that hon. Members opposite are interested in the housing and housing standards of the working class. I have had 25 years' local government experience of fighting the Tories on those standards and I do not 1024 believe that they have changed a bit. The Minister's action in debasing the standards since he came into office convinces me that there is no sincerity whatever in the desire of hon. Members on the Government side to improve the housing standards of the people. I believe that their desire is, as it always has been, to improve the rent and profit that comes from the necessity of housing the people, and that that is the basis of the Bill.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Derek Walker-Smith (Hertford)
In view of the fact that I do not wish to detain the House very long, I do not think I ought to be tempted into following the hon. Member for Welling borough (Mr.Lindgren) into such fascinating speculations as to whether his right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) is a better designer of houses than his right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), or, indeed, to borrow the hon. Member's phrase, as to what might be said against his right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale. The House will look forward to hearing from the hon. Member on that topic on some other occasion
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
—and, perhaps, in a different, if not, technically, in another place.
I want to do what has been a little unusual in this debate by starting my observations about the Bill at the beginning, at Part I. I welcome Part I of the Bill as constituting a signal to local authorities to resume the great slum clearance campaign under Part III of the principal Act, the Housing Act, 1936. The House will appreciate that the Conservative Party have a very good and long record in regard to this matter—
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
I am obliged to the hon. Member. Some of his hon. Friends are notoriously selective in their study of history, but in direct answer to the hon. Member's question, the Tory Party's record began with what he will know as Sir Richard Cross's Act—
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
No, it was not 1889. The Artisans' and Labourers' Dwellings Improvement Act, 1875, is 1025 known as Sir Richard Cross's Act. It was passed, as the hon. Member will recall, in the second Session of Disraeli's great Administration of 1874. The Act to which the hon. Member refers is the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890, which was passed during Lord Salisbury's Administration and which held the field until the Act of 1925.
To come a little more up to date, during the 1930s under the 1935 and 1936 Acts there was great progress in the matter of slum clearance. But for the unhappy interruption of the war, there is no doubt that the slum clearance problem would have been solved by this time. In the 1930s there was this very rapid advance on two fronts: first, under Part III of the Housing Act, in regard to slum clearance, and secondly, in the provision of houses by private enterprise, not only for owner-occupancy but also, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) explained yesterday, for private letting, plus a number of ordinary local authority subsidised houses under Part V of the Housing Act, 1936.
That was a sensible approach to the problem of the deployment of the building industry and the provision of housing, and it comprised a proper allocation of function. The local authorities and the contract builders concentrated on their work under the Housing Act in the provision of houses and flats under Part V and also on slum clearance. At the same time, the private builders, the non-contract builders, were deployed on the business of private enterprise housing for owner-occupancy and private rental.
The history of the 1930s shows that that allocation of function produced a very rapid advance on these fronts, accompanied by various other factors of an encouraging nature. In the first place, in the 1930s, subsidies under the Housing Act, 1936, we redirected to those in need of subsidies and did not produce the social anomalies and paradox which we have seen in the later 1940s and in the 1950s. There were, at any rate, in the later part of the 1930s, rising standards of house construction with the formation of the House Builders' Registration Council. Also, there was a rapid and continuous improvement of standards within the building industry itself. The later 1930s saw the advent of the holidays-with-pay scheme in the building industry, 1026 the guaranteed week and the wet-time scheme, all notable advances in the field of conditions of the building industry.
§ Mr. Gibson
The unions were entitled to the credit of the holidays-with-pay scheme in the building industry.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
I do not think the hon. Member would be so unfair as to try to take for one side of the industry all the credit for what was an agreed measure. If Mr. George Hicks were still in the House, with his recollection of what happened in those days, he would not take that point.
Along with those advances there was in the field of rent restriction a policy of decontrol which was a satisfactory policy, because it was based on the provision of alternative up-to-date housing accommodation at an economic cost. Therefore, when I heard the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale say yesterday that the Government were beginning to repeat the pattern of pre-war Tory housing, I took it to be a considerable compliment to my right hon. Friend.
If this welcome restart of the slum clearance campaign is to be a success, the local authorities must be stripped for action and not cumbered about with a great many other additional functions. It will be necessary once again to seek a more logical and practical allocation of functions. I echo what was said last night by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, that this will mean a larger proportion of the provision of non-slum clearance houses by private building, and it will entail a revision of the subsidy position under Part V of the Housing Act, 1936, to ensure that the maximum amount of public money is available where it is most needed: that is to say, in the implementation of the slum clearance campaign.
Now may I turn to Part II of the Bill. So far as this is concerned, it is generally agreed in the House that some action is required to arrest the processes of disrepair. There is less agreement as to whether the extent of disrepair is to be laid at the door of the landlords or not. In my submission, the House has heard very little evidence that, although there are good and bad landlords as there are good and bad tenants, the landlords as a whole are to blame. I do not mean that 1027 there has not been a good deal of iteration, but there has been very little evidence.
§ Mr. Janner
Does the hon. Gentleman deny that, in a very large number of cases—involving, possibly, millions of houses—the landlords did not use the 25 per cent. for repairs?
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
The hon. Gentleman makes an assertion, without any very clear evidence about it. I do not say that it did not happen in some cases, but I do say that the law gave a remedy in Section 2 (1, d) of the Act of 1920 which was available to the tenants. Furthermore, if landlords allowed houses to get into such disrepair, the local authorities had their power to serve statutory notices under the Housing Acts. Therefore, there were very considerable curbs on any landlord who was neglecting his liability to repair in the way which the hon. Gentleman suggests. I do not say that none of them failed in their duty, but I do say that there is no evidence of this wholesale disregard of these responsibilities which is suggested; and hon. Members really do little credit to the average intelligence, courage and resource of the tenants when they suggest that they were so pusillanimous and ignorant in regard to their rights in this matter.
I think that probably a more important question now is whether the ratio of rents and repairs in the post-war years is in balance. Here the House has been helped by the figures given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale, which in sum show that, whereas before the war 11 per cent. of expenditure went on rent plus rates, it is now a figure of only some 7 per cent. When the House remembers that that is an inclusive figure including rates, and also remembers how much rates have risen in the post-war period, it will be realised how the ratio of rent to repairs has got out of balance in the post-war years.
Indeed, in this country we are spending only half as much on rent and rates as before the war, as against 4½ times as much on tobacco as before the war. It is therefore quite clear that there is an unbalance between the amounts of rent and the cost of repairs in these post- 1028 war years. From that, I think the House will conclude that any remedy must include the possibility of rent increases, having regard to the general position and also to the extent to which local authorities have found it necessary to raise their rents in the last few years.
Looking at the report of the Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants, I find, for example, these increases in regard to weekly net rents charged for three-bedroom houses owned by local authorities and completed before 31st March, 1945, as between 1950 and 1952, Bath had to raise rents by 4s. 3d., Doncaster by 2s., Merthyr Tydfil 2s. 3d., Nottingham 2s. 5d., Preston 2s. 7d., South Shields 3s. 7d. and West Ham 3s. 1d. I have selected these as being some of both kinds—some Socialist and some non-Socialist authorities—in order to show the generality of the position. Therefore, I think the House will say that there is no impropriety in a Measure which is going to allow some rises in rents. The House will no doubt think it right that the rise should be linked to the cost of repairs, as it is in this Bill; and that is what is done in Clause 18.
I must be frank with the House. I think that what is sought to be done in Clauses 18 and 19 is very difficult. What my right hon. Friend is trying to do is to tread the razor's edge between hardship to tenants on the one hand and inaction by the landlord on the other. The difficulty here is that any inducement which is sufficient to ensure action by the landlord may bring hardship to the tenant, but, on the other hand, in trying to avoid hardship on the tenant it is quite easy to result in a nullity because there is not sufficient inducement to the landlord. After all, that is the basic problem of this part of the Bill.
Along with the hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Mr. Elwyn Jones), I took part in a radio discussion on the Home Service of the B.B.C. some time between the issue of the White Paper and the publication of this Bill; and not the least interesting thing about taking part in these discussions is the correspondence which they bring. I studied the letters which I received with care, and, in substance, what the tenants' letters said to me was this. They made two points, in the main; first, that the record or conduct of the landlord in their 1029 particular case was such as to disentitle the landlord to any increase at all, and, secondly, the difficulty of finding the money with which to pay an increased rent.
I did not feel much difficulty about the first, because, quite clearly, on the facts as stated in these cases, there would be no benefit to the landlord in the provisions of this Bill. The second point was one on which I felt some difficulty and with which I had considerable sympathy, though I think in the generality of cases it probably is not an undue burden; that is to say, when we compare the present position of wages, it is not an undue burden to have to pay the increase in rent for better accommodation, having regard to the fact that the increase will not, in the ordinary way, be very much.
Again, looking at the report of the Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants, I find that in the case of 31.7 per cent. of the houses in England and Wales the additional rents could not exceed £8 a year. I do not say that that is negligible, but I do say that, to a man working on present day wages who is paying for a better house, it is not unreasonable. The difficulty arises in regard to people like old-age pensioners and those on National Assistance and so on. The House must face this problem. It may be that in some cases, public money will go to pay an increased repairs increase, but it will go because there will be a better house as a result, and a better house is part of the assets of the nation. I think the House should be prepared to accept that position.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
Would the hon. Gentleman agree that, in those cases, the Assistance Board ought to be able to take up the cases themselves direct, and make the landlord substantiate the claim for a little extra rent?
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
That is an important point. I think the hon. Gentleman referred to it in his interesting speech yesterday, and it will probably be further explored in Committee. I should like to pass to what the landlords said to me in the letters that they wrote after that broadcast.
Their points were these: First, "Where am I to get the money from with which to do the repairs before I get the increase of rent?" Their second point was that the tests under Clause 18 were too exacting. I find the first of those points very 1030 difficult, not so much for the large estate company as for the small landlord. I do not have the answer, and I was not able to give it to them. I am not a financier, but is clear that if landlords are not able to raise money to do this work, that part of the Bill becomes a nullity. That is why this is a very important aspect of the matter. I do not know what influence my right hon. Friend will have on the banks, but the point is obviously most important. If the Bill is to be effective, the small property-owner should be able to raise the money and to satisfy the tests in the Bill.
In regard to the tests being too exacting, my correspondents specified various points, many of which have been referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Horobin), my hon. Friend the Member for Angus, North and Mearns (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley), and others in the debate. One of their difficulties which has been less referred to is under Clause 19, the "stopper" Clause, as I think it is called. Some of these correspondents point out that the gross values are very arbitrary and out-of date, as all of us with any knowledge of rating realise.
This is the Nemesis of the postponement of the quinquennial revaluation, an unfortunate effect of the blunder made by the late Socialist Government in Part IV of the Local Government Act, 1948. A good deal of inequity will result in regard to it, more particularly if the meaning of the Bill is to link it to current gross values and not to gross values as they may be after the quinquennial revaluation. Perhaps my right hon. Friend will refer to this point in his reply, because I am not sure about it.
The other points included the one made by my hon. Friend the Member for Angus, North and Mearns last night about the statutory deduction including not only repairs but insurances and other expenses necessary to keep the property in a state to command the rents. That being so, it may be that that is too exacting a test.
Therefore, I feel bound to say that it would be wrong to express the view that it is certain that these proposals will secure widespread repair. On the information that is known to me I could not feel that certainty. I hope it is probable and it should be possible. While there is that necessary uncertainty in 1031 regard to Part II of the Bill, there is absolute certainty about the undesirability and impracticability of the alternative put forward by the party opposite for the municipalisation of rent-controlled houses. Perhaps I might summarise my objections to that course.
The first is that the course proposed is a gradual remedy for an urgent problem. Secondly, that it will be extremely costly. In spite of what the hon. Member for Wellingborough says "Challenge to Britain" does refer to "fair compensation." If compensation is fair, it will be astronomical. If it not astronomical, it will be unfair. Thirdly, that the alternative will impose a great burden on the technical and other staffs of local authorities which will gravely hinder them in this great duty of slum clearance, under Part I.
§ Mr. Walker-Smith
I am sorry. I am in this difficulty that when I give way often it means that I speak too long. I have given way several times already.
Fourthly, the objection is that, from the point of view of the tenant, it would effect the end of rent control; not absolutely immediately as a matter of law, because the old controlled houses will presumably retain their rent control. The 1939 rent-controlled houses will become decontrolled immediately they are taken over by the local authorities, under Section 3 (2) of the 1939 Act. So far as the old controlled houses are concerned, there will be overwhelming pressure to bring them into line with the 1939 controlled houses and with the new houses of the local authorities, so as to get rid of rent control from all local authority houses. As soon as that happens, there will be increases of rents such as have already taken place in the instances I have quoted, or there will be increases of rates, which would bear immediately on the tenants, because all tenants would then be direct ratepayers.
From every point of view—of the tenants, of good administration, of economy, and of the houses themselves—the scheme put forward by the party opposite is doomed to failure. That being so, the Bill, with its very good provisions for slum clearance and its, at any rate, possible provisions for the achievement 1032 of better repairs, is a very considerable advance which can be commended with confidence to the country.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Short (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central)
The hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) started his speech by proving that the Conservative Party had a good record in slum clearance, and to do so he had to go back to 1875. One is tempted to comment on what he said that, having made the slums, they then set about to clear them. The hon. Gentleman spent a great deal of time referring to the 1930s, and he took a phrase used by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) about "the emerging pattern of pre-war Tory housing" as a compliment. Of course, we are getting the same pattern as we had in the 1930s, an immediate house with as many amenities as you want for people who can afford it, but not nearly sufficient houses for people who have not the means.
I represent what must be one of the worst-housed constituencies in England, if not the worst, the centre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I shall refer a good deal to my own area because I know it best. My people are living in appalling, degrading and humiliating conditions of overcrowding and decaying houses. I did hope that when, in the Gracious Speech, the Government said they would tackle this problem, the Bill, when produced, would be some help to the people I represent.
I have tried to look at the Bill objectively, but I must say that as it is framed it will not begin to touch the fringe of our problem. It will, no doubt, improve houses where the standard of maintenance is already fairly good, but it will not do anything at all for the houses which are the core and heart of this probblem, the millions of houses that will be written off in five to ten years' time unless a great deal of money is spent on them now. I do not believe that they will be touched by the financial provisions of the Bill.
To begin with, the Bill is, of course, based upon a false premise. In the White Paper, the Government say:The success of the Government's measures for the building of new houses makes it possible now to turn to the old houses.1033 On the next page, they repeat this by saying:This expansion of the new housing programme enables us now to turn to the problem of the old houses.A good deal has been said about this, and I also want to say a word about it, because it really is not true. If we strip the Tory housing record, such as it is, of all its ballyhoo, we see that the party opposite have provided practically no more accommodation than did the Labour Government.
During the tenure of office of the present Government, the waiting list in Newcastle-upon-Tyne—I hope the Minister will remember these figures—has gone up by 2,000 to 17,000. They are certainly providing more houses, but in Newcastle-upon-Tyne this year 70 per cent. of all the corporation houses have been two-bedroom houses.
When the Minister of Works was speaking—having been duly prompted by his right hon. colleague—he said that 50 per cent. more bedrooms were being provided. Some time ago I did a bit of research on this question. I have not the figures for 1953, because, obviously, they are not complete, but this is what has been happening on the question of bedrooms, and bedrooms, after all, are the best yardstick for measuring the amount of accommodation provided.
If we compare 1948 with 1952, we find that in 1948 one-bedroom houses represented 3.4 per cent. of all council houses built, whereas in 1952 they represented 7.5 per cent. of all the houses built. In 1948, 13.2 per cent. of all the houses built were two-bedroom houses, whereas in 1952 such houses represented 35.1 per cent. of all the houses built.
Now let us look at the increase in the number of three-bedroom houses, which are the most useful of all. In 1948, 80.4 per cent. of all the houses built by the Labour Government were three-bedroom houses while in 1952 the proportion fell to 54.6 per cent.
§ Mr. Nicholls
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has any experience on his local government housing committee, but he surely must know that local authorities build the sort of houses which the applicants on their housing lists require. He will find that in the industrial areas more than 60 per cent. of the 1034 applicants on the average waiting lists want two-bedroom houses. Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that although the demand is for two-bedroom houses, local authorities should build three-bedroom houses with all the extra cost and extra use of materials which that involves?
§ Mr. Short
The hon. Gentleman referred to my experience in local government. I am a member of the City Council of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and for some time before I came here I had the honour to be the leader of my party, which is, unfortunately, in a minority on that Council. I can tell the hon. Gentleman that the figure of 70 per cent. is not based on a proper analysis of the waiting list. The Newcastle-upon-Tyne Council is a Tory council and they want the Tory Government to build 300,000 houses a year. That is why there is this preponderance of two-bedroom houses, and that is not only being done in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, but all over the country.
The number of small houses—and let the public get this clear—bears no relation to a proper analysis of the waiting lists. In Scotland, in 1952—and I collaborated with some of my Scottish colleagues in working out these figures from answers given by the Minister in this House—there were actually fewer bedrooms provided than in the previous year. Therefore, to say, as the Government do, that they are providing more accommodation is really not correct. They are providing houses, but fewer bedrooms.
As my right hon. Friend pointed out, there is a very important aspect of this over-building of two-bedroom houses I do not know whether the House remembers the most disturbing Report of the Royal Commission on Population, but in that Report we were told that the average size of families in Britain over the past 20 years had been 2.2 children, which is 6 per cent. below replacement level. In other words, the population will increase up to 1971 and will then come right down unless we get bigger families.
I suggest that by concentrating on two-bedroom houses in this way the Government are discouraging people from having more children. In addition to reducing the size, the quality and the amenities of the houses have also considerably deteriorated. My hon. Friend the Member 1035 for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) and another colleague from Newcastle and I recently spent half a day visiting a new housing estate. Quite frankly, I was shocked by the quality of the houses I saw. They are the worst council houses I have ever seen, both in regard to finish and amenities.
The bedrooms were only 7 ft. 3 ins. in height and their windows had been cut down to 2 ft. and pushed up to the eaves. In the second bedroom upstairs, the door could not be opened if a single bed was put in it. All the cupboards were cut out, and, by some remarkable feat of planning, the back door was next to the front door. If a bicycle was stood in the passageway, there was no room for a pram, so if the husband had to go to work on a bicycle the couple could not have any more babies. That is the sort of thing that is happening, and happening under deliberate pressure from the Minister.
§ Mr. Marples
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that local authorities are building houses lower than the Dudley standard?
§ Mr. Short
I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to come to Newcastle and to go with me to have a look at the estate of which I am speaking. He would get a shock.
The only real increase which has taken place is that in houses for sale. Admittedly, there has been a tremendous increase here. I think that the figure for this year will be 60,000 houses built for sale, but, of course, those houses are not allocated according to need at all. They are allocated according to the length of one's pocket, and, therefore, make no impact upon the waiting lists at all.
There is no lowering of standards in these houses, and no cutting out of amenities. Indeed, the announcement made by the Minister of Works yesterday ensures that the amenities of houses built for sale will be increased. That means that while council houses are going down in quality, privately built houses are going up in quality. Of course, that is pure Toryism; that is the way it has always worked out. In the words of the popular song of the day:The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.1036 A second false premise on which this Bill is based is that the standard of maintenance was adequate before the war. In the White Paper, the Government say:Before the war the nation was making good headway in dealing with both the provision of new houses and the maintenance of existing houses.Again, this is just not so. The maintenance of houses was by no means adequate before the war, and I think that this fact is absolutely fundamental to the Labour Party's objection to this Bill.
I know from my experience in my own city that before the war there was gross neglect in the maintenance of houses, in spite of the 25 per cent. Increase allowed to landlords for repairs. Houses are now being written off very largely because of pre-war, and not post-war, neglect, and in those days, of course, the rent was adequate. In Newcastle-upon-Tyne whole streets of studily-built terraced houses are now disintegrating and falling into a hopeless state of disrepair because the landlords in the 1920s and 1930s—about whom the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) was speaking—were unwilling to reduce their profits. That is why the houses are now having to be written off.
The Government state, in the White Paper, and I apologise for quoting from it so much:The other and more serious cause…that is, the cause of houses deteriorating—…is rent control.Maybe that is so now, but I have had a long acquaintance of this in the North-East and I suggest that, if the landlords had played the game before the war, the present rents would have been adequate because the maintenance costs would not now be so great. But now, unfortunately—and we all admit it, on both sides—the problem is beyond them and the neglect of the houses has become cumulative. The remedy, I believe, is now quite beyond the means of most landlords.
We have heard a lot today about housing trusts, and so on, but a great many houses are owned by quite small people. It is quite common to find, in a street of flats, that the family downstairs owns the pair. That is common throughout most of the great cities. The 1037 neglect has gone so far, however, as to be beyond their means to put it right. I suggest that the financial inducements in this Bill will not, and cannot, put back the problem of repairs within the means of landlords, because we have to bear in mind that the house must be put in order before the increase may be claimed. To put most of these houses into order again would require not £20 or £30 as provided in the Bill, but £300 or £400. A problem of that size is quite beyond the means of most of the landlords.
This anti-social attitude of the landlords between the wars has sealed their fate, because their neglect then has removed their ability to deal with the problem now. Only the resources of the State and of the local authorities are now adequate to save those 6 million threatened houses. In other words, it has now become a social problem which cannot be solved by individual private enterprise. Of course, the Conservative Government still regard housing, or house property, as a field for profitable investment. In the White Paper they say:…the rent of a dwelling may be regarded as composed of two parts—interest on investment and cost of repairs.We, on this side, regard housing as a social service in which private profit must have no part whatever. I think that is the fundamental cleavage between the Labour Party and the Conservative Party on housing. I always thought that the party opposite did not believe in nationalisation, but, by their present proposals, they will go down in history as the party which believes in nationalising the slums. They supported nationalisation of the railways, and condemned the nationalisation of steel; that is why, perhaps, they support the nationalisation of the slums.
The financial provisions of the Bill are based on the assumption that the cost of repairs has gone up by 300 per cent., but what we are not told is that the market value of the property has also gone up by 300 per cent. The landlord has an asset which, if he can liquidateit—and most of them move heaven and earth to do so—
§ Mr. Nicholls
Can the hon. Gentleman produce any evidence to show that the value of rent-restricted property has increased by 300 per cent.?
§ Mr. Short
I said, if the landlord could liquidate it. By that I meant if he could get possession. Those of us who represent congested city constituencies know of hundreds of cases where the utmost pressure has been brought to bear on such people as widows, and old people, to live in with someone so that the landlord could sell the house. I know that many large property owners in Newcastle-upon-Tyne have sold houses since the war at enormous profits, but in very few cases does any of that profit find its way back into the improvement of other houses. If the landlords want a new deal they must change their social behaviour. As the lawyers would say, "Those who seek equity must do equity."
There is no denying that, under this Bill, millions of tenants will have to pay more rent, and I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale that most of them would be quite willing to pay more rent if they could have modern amenities and a house in a decent state of repair. But people should understand that this Bill does not provide them with amenities. What the landlord has to do to benefit under the Bill is to put the fabric and the decoration into good order. Clause 40, the interpretation Clause, states:'good repair'…means…good repair both as respects structure and as respects decoration;There is nothing whatever said about geting rid of the dusty old kitchen range, or putting in a bathroom, or installing an indoor toilet or anything of that kind. It does not show that side of the problem at all.
§ Mr. Short
That exists already under the 1949 Act, and here again the landlords are quite unable to do anything under that Clause because most of them have not the money. The Amendment to the 1949 Act, as suggested by the Bill will not make the slightest difference.
I do not agree with the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale about the equity of the increase from 6 per cent. to 8 per cent. If we take a house of an existing gross value of £25 the statutory deduction is £7. If at any time, and this illustrates the point I am making, the landlord, say, paints the exterior at a cost of £21 he can 1039 then claim an increase of rent of £14 per annum for ever more.
§ Mr. Short
As I say, if he paints the exterior of the house at a cost of £21 he can increase the rent by £14 per annum for the rest of its existence. I believe that such a financial arrangement as this will only act as an irritant to the tenant and will make no difference whatever to the state of repair of the houses in my constituency, or indeed anywhere else in the country.
The White Paper mentioned a figure of 140,000 slums. But that is a pre-war figure. I think the present figure would be some hundreds of thousands, certainly considerably in excess of 140,000. I agree with all that the White Paper says about slums. In Newcastle, which is typical, the city has a wonderful, well-planned, well laid out perimeter, and a decaying heart. I am not referring to Newcastle United when I say that. It is the same with most cities. Building has been going on for generations out from the city, and the heart is now in a state of the utmost decay. That cannot go on indefinitely.
I believe that we have now reached the stage in our great cities where we have got to come back and build where we were building in medieval times, in the centre. A great many people prefer to live in the neighbourhood where they were born and bred. Many people prefer to live in the middle of cities. Of course, there are certain things we must do before we start rebuilding in our slum areas.
For one thing, we have got to set up smokeless zones. That is particularly true on Tyneside, because we have the highest tuberculosis rate in the country; it is twice as high as the national average. We could not start rebuilding in the slum areas unless we did something of that kind. Provided we can set up smokeless zones, and provided we have a good standard of industrial design in the cities, there is no reason why we should not start rebuilding in the places where we were building in the days of Queen Elizabeth I.
1040 Unfortunately, this Bill provides nothing new, so far as I can see, for the clearance of the slums. It provides for nationalising the slums, or part of them, but it provides nothing new in the way of an inducement to clear the slums. The White Paper says:The pace and phasing of a slum clearance programme must be for the local authority to determine in the first place—by measuring that need against the general housing need upon which they have concentrated their efforts since 1945.It says later:The Minister of Housing and Local Government must inform himself, and must be able to inform Parliament, of the way in which local authorities are setting about the task, and must be able to satisfy himself that their proposals, singly and in total, do not exceed or fall short of the resources that can properly be allocated for these purposes.There we have the duty of the local authority and of the Minister with regard to slum clearance. But how can either the local authority or the Minister carry out those functions if one great sector of the campaign to save the houses is omitted? One whole sector of this campaign is put in the hands of private landlords. How, then, can the local authorities plan the campaign and the resources so that the whole thing moves forward together in the various areas? If, as we suggest, the local authorities took over streets of rented houses in need of repair and modernisation, then and only then could the local authorities and the Minister perform the function which this Bill lays upon them.
It is rather like a battle in which all the army is under a commander-in-chief, except for one independent brigade which is not under anybody. It can please itself what it does; it can please itself whether it fights or not. Yet that brigade is holding an important sector. How could we hope to win a battle of that kind?
§ Mr. Short
I hope I have not introduced a military note into this debate. This Bill is based on a great national problem. We are all agreed about the existence of the problem. Here are 6 million houses, and, no matter whose hands they are in, they are a valuable social asset which we cannot allow to deteriorate any further. But there our agreement ends. We on this side of the House 1041 believe that the Government's approach to this problem is fundamentally wrong, because their solution to this great social problem is based on the outmoded landlord-tenant principle. It is a principle which failed in the inter-war years, and always has failed to maintain our houses. On present costs, which are likely to go on increasing, or which will certainly not decrease for a considerable time, it is an utterly impossible basis on which to plan the housing of our people in the future.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hay (Henley)
The rather remarkable speech to which we have just listened created one particular effect in my mind, and it was this: if the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short) really believes, as he has said, that this is a vast problem which must be solved, it seems extraordinary to me that he, in common with so many of his hon. Friends, did nothing whatever about this same problem in the years between 1945 and 1950 when they were in power. No effort was made by the hon. Member and his hon. Friends to rebuild the hearts of these cities that were decaying and falling to pieces.
§ Mr. Hay
The hon. Gentleman made a vitriolic speech earlier. I have listened to many speeches from the opposite benches in this debate, and the same theme has run through all of them—a constant attack upon what this Government are seeking to do to put this grievous problem right, a thing which they themselves were frightened to do and from which they ran away
§ Mr. Short
Surely the hon. Gentleman will recollect—it is a fact which the Conservative Government so often forgets—that when the Labour Party took office the war was still on; the war was still to be won. That is not starting from scratch. It is starting further backwards. All our builders were in the Forces. They had to be got out. Damage had to be made good. The building force had to be recreated. That is where we started from—not from the point where this Government started.
§ Mr. Hay
I want to talk about the proposals of the Government, because I believe this is the most important matter that we have got to discuss. The argument put forward by hon. Members opposite in connection with the solution of this admittedly grave matter of the repair of our older houses is based upon "municipalisation." As has been pointed out from this side of the House, that is an idea which, although perhaps attractive in theory, is nevertheless unworkable because primarily it is very costly.
An interchange took place between the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren) and one of my hon. Friends on the amount of compensation which would be paid if this proposal for municipalisation went forward. The hon. Member for Wellingborough was quite frank about it. He said, "We will certainly not agree to anything like the market value." Yet neither he nor any other hon. Member opposite, putting forward this grandiose plan of municipalisation—which is really nationalisation under another name—have said precisely what their compensation proposals would be. Would they buy up these houses at site value? Would they carry out exactly the same sort of scheme as they did for slum clearance? Would they introduce any kind of element of remuneration for the landlord for the loss of an intrinsically valuable asset? Or would they confiscate the property without any compensation at all? That is what we want to know.
§ Mr. Lindgren
As the hon. Gentleman mentioned me, perhaps I might ask, if these properties are such a loss to the present landlords, what compensation does the hon. Gentleman think they ought to have? Does he suggest that the local authorities ought to buy them at vacant possession value?
§ Mr. Hay
I gave way to the hon. Member because I thought that I should get an answer to the question I put to him. Instead, he puts another question to me. This municipalisation plan is not mine, but his own, or that of his right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan)—with whom he was at one time 1043 in closer contact than he is today, judging from what he said.
The other argument against municipalisation as the answer to this problem of the older houses is that it is very cumbersome to carry through. It is, naturally, very slow. Repairs will not be done any more quickly than they can be done by the small jobbing builder upon whom my right hon. Friends pin their trust in this Bill. The man working for the small private owner—the little man round the corner—can easily do the job very quickly. This could not be done by a local authority at anything like the same speed.
As far as the tenants are concerned, municipalisation would result in a complete removal of the protection which the Rent Restrictions Acts, for better or worse, still hold over them. Once houses come into the scope of the Housing Revenue Account—as a number will do under this Bill—the rent umbrella is immediately removed and the tenant is at the mercy of the local authority. The tenant will not know whether his rent will go up, whether he will be evicted or allowed to stay, or whether he will be able even to keep a lodger without having to pay a "lodger tax." He will suffer from all the disadvantages under which council house tenants labour today.
No one is going to tell me that a man who works on the bench in a workshop, or in the field, alongside a council house tenant, and who himself lives in a rent restricted house, will be very keen to exchange his private landlord—saddled as that landlord is with the shackles of the Rent Restrictions Acts—for the council, which is completely free to charge what rents it likes and to evict whom it likes, when it likes.
§ Mr. Albert Evans (Islington, South-West)
If the hon. Member makes that assertion, how does he explain the very long waiting list for local authority houses? Most tenants of private houses are clamouring to get into local authority houses.
§ Mr. Hay
I know they are, because of the Rent Restrictions Acts. Those Acts have imposed such a freeze upon housing accommodation that people have been making use of more accommoda- 1044 tion than they need. That is part of the price which we have to pay for our inaction in the field of rent restriction for so long, and part of the price we have to pay for the failure of the last Government to build anything like the number of houses we used to build before the war. The most they could work up to was a miserable 200,000 a year.
§ Mr. Hay
As my hon. Friend reminds me, it was only in 1948 that they reached even 200,000 houses. Yet we hear speeches criticising and poking fun at the fact that we are building 300,000 houses and solving the housing problem.
We have been discussing, and I have been arguing against, municipalisation. Several hon. Members opposite have equally criticised the possibility of private enterprise being properly mobilised to assist in the solution of the problem of the older houses. I believe that private enterprise is a much more flexible instrument to use than municipal control. It is certainly more efficient. There is a great deal ofmisunderstanding—and certainly a great deal of distortion—on the benches opposite, as to exactly what is the rôle of private enterprise in the provision of houses. We have heard what I call, frankly, clap-trap, about housing being a great social service, fit to be entrusted only to public servants. The fact is that the ordinary house is a piece of capital equipment, just as is a factory or a machine.
§ Mr. Hay
A house is a piece of capital equipment, and it is produced, originally, on certain economic terms. Those are, first, that the house will provide to the person who puts it there a degree of profit, because if there were no degree of profit it would not be put there, and, secondly, that it should provide revenue enough for its own maintenance and its eventual replacement when it falls to pieces, just as in the case of a factory or a machine.
1045 Thirdly—and this is the great virtue of house property as an investment—it is a security. It is not liable to such risks as are other types of investments, like stocks and shares. From the point of view of strict economics, a house should be a self-balancing unit, providing itself with enough revenue for its own replacement and maintaining all the time a reasonable degree of profit for the person who maintains it.
§ Mr. Wilfred Fienburgh (Islington, North)
Is the hon. Member talking about private enterprise housing?
§ Mr. James MacColl (Widnes)
As the hon. Member is putting the case for private enterprise housing, he should face the difficulty squarely. It is all very well to say that there should be an adequate revenue for replacements, but there should also be some means of securing that the money is used for replacements. The whole trouble about private enterprise houses—as has been shown from the reports made from time to time—is that there is no means of securing that private landlords plough back part of their rents for replacements. They have used the rents for their own purposes, and that is why we are in the present mess.
§ Mr. Hay
If the hon. Member does not know he had better read the Bill and come back better instructed. It is clear, as the Government have explained, that private enterprise has an important and useful rôle to play in the maintenance and provision of houses for our people. I suggest, however, that if the Government intend to rely upon private owners to carry out these repairs, which are so vitally necessary to our older properties, those owners must be given adequate incentives to do that job.
1046 We talk a great deal about providing incentives in many other spheres of our national life, but, although much is said against the landlord and the property owner, he is just as much entitled to an incentive as anyone else. This Bill gives only the very barest possible minimum incentive, and I hope that in Committee we shall be able to do something to adjust it to make it a little fairer. If we are placing a responsibility for the repair and maintenance of old houses on the shoulders of private landlords; if they are to be the instruments of the Government's policy in what they call "Operation Rescue," and that policy is to work, they should be given an adequate incentive to do so. In many respects the private owner will be given no adequate incentive. In many cases he will be under considerable handicaps and even hardships in carrying through the policy outlined in this Bill.
There are four major handicaps, some of which have been touched upon by my hon. Friends in earlier speeches. First, there is the requirement that the house must be put into good repair before the repairs increase can be obtained. In considering that, one must ask on self why it is that the house is not in good repair at the moment. Why is this Bill necessary? The answer is that the continuance, for nearly 40 years, of rent restriction has prevented money being available for carrying out the repairs.
Now, at last, we have a Government who are prepared to do something about this problem and not run away from it as the party opposite did when they were in power. I believe that the duty put upon the landlords to put their property into good repair to the very high standard laid down in the Bill will prove a very great handicap, particularly to many of the small owners who own, I believe, by far the largest proportion of this kind of property.
Then there is the other handicap that the landlord has to prove he has spent certain sums of money in the past. This is something I have not been able fully to understand. I still cannot quite see the reason why the owner should have to go to all the trouble of producing accounts to show that over either of these two arbitrary periods, whether it be one year or three, he has spent certain sums of money on repairs.
1047 That is a point that we shall have to probe into a little more deeply in Committee, but I am not at the moment by any means convinced that it is necessary. We have been told that this is a test of the landlords' good faith, but I think the test of the landlord's good faith, speaking of them generically as a group, is that, for the most part, as my right hon. Friend and others have frequently said, houses have, in fact, been kept in reasonably good repair—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—despite the inadequate returns.
The third handicap is what my right hon. Friend calls the "stopper" which I personally—it is a matter of personal preference—should rather like to call the "ceiling." I cannot really think that it is absolutely necessary to have the ceiling placed as it is, at the figure of twice the gross rateable value, when we realise the enormous anomalies and difficulties one gets into where the actual valuations themselves are so out of touch with reality, having been fixed, perhaps, many years ago in entirely different circumstances and conditions from those at the present moment. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Horobin) dealt with that point very well.
The fourth handicap that the owner has got to surmount is the risk, the constant and almost interminable risk, that at any particular moment the tenant may suddenly obtain a certificate of disrepair, with the county court proceedings and their attendant costs, the engagement of the lawyers that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wellingborough dislikes so much, latter-day Jack Cade as he is. All these complications will make any owner say to himself, "Shall I really be better off if I do apply for this repairs increase?"
Those are the four big stumbling blocks, which, I hope, we shall do something to make a little jess difficult. But there is a fifth. I believe that if something is not done, not by the Minister, but by the Chancellor of the Exchequer next year, this difficulty will completely destroy all the Minister is trying to do. I refer, of course, to Income Tax, because unless these repairs increases are to be reasonably and fairly treated for tax purposes I think that there will be a serious risk of owners saying to themselves, 1048 "Why should I worry? I get perhaps 2s. or 3s. a week extra for the repairs increase, of which the Revenue takes half. It is just not worth going to all the trouble of doing it." So I hope that my right hon. Friend will continue—I am sure he is—to have conversations with and to put pressure upon my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to treat the repairs increase generously when he brings forward his Budget next year.
I want to turn to another topic, also connected with the repairs increase. It is, I think, a very important one to which insufficient attention has been paid during the debate so far, and it is the very problem of financing the initial repairs which must be done before the owner starts to qualify for the repairs increase. I think it is clear from the White Paper and from what the Minister said, and what the Parliamentary Secretary said earlier on, that they conceive that the amount of expense which will be necessary to put into repair a property of a type suitable to qualify for the repairs increase will not be very large, but I would, with respect, differ in many ways from that optimistic view.
The standard of repair which is laid down in the Bill is a very high one indeed. It is one which, in the hands of a sanitary inspector who was, shall we say, not particularly well disposed towards private ownership or private owners, might easily be the instrument which would effectively prevent the landlord from doing anything short of putting his house into the condition of Buckingham Palace. I really think if that standard is to be enforced rigorously it will knock the bottom completely out of this policy. I hope that when we go to Committee we can examine the definition in the Bill of what is good repair.
But there it is. A very considerable sum of money must be found by the owner before he can submit a claim for repairs increase. Where is he to get the money? It may be several hundreds of pounds, and I conceive that it could easily be as much. He may go to the banks. Perhaps the banks will be prepared to lend the money. I do not know. Or he could go to the building society to see if it is prepared to lend him a bit more on his mortgage. I do not know.
1049 His third alternative, unless he happens to have a rich uncle, is to go to the local authority. Under Section 4 of the 1949 Act he can obtain a loan from the local authority for the very purpose of doing these repairs. The rate of interest charged fluctuates according to the length of time for which the loan is required. In fact, I believe the local authorities' rates are fairly generous compared with the ordinary commercial rates.
Assume that a large number of owners, anxious to take advantage of the provisions of this Bill, anxious to put their properties into good repair, wanting to find the money to finance the initial repairs before they can start drawing the money from the tenants, are going to the local authorities. Is my right hon. Friend going to address to the local authorities a request that they should be more generous in granting these loans than they have been in the past? Not only is it the question of a straightforward business transaction where one borrows money more or less commercially from the local authorities at a low rate of interest, but many other conditions are attached as well which are set out in Section 4 of the 1949 Act.
If the local authorities are to be generous then I believe what we shall have done will have been to have transferred from the private owners' shoulders and from the shoulders of the tenants a burden that, but for rent restriction, their rents would have enabled them to carry for the maintenance of the houses—we shall have transferred the necessary repairs costs at two removes to the Treasury, which means the taxpayers. Because the local authorities borrow from the Public Works Loan Board, and the Public Works Loan Board borrows from the Treasury, and the Treasury gets the money from the taxpayers. Unless we are very careful about this it may easily turn out to be what the Treasury, I think, calls in its technical parlance, an "open ended commitment" to finance the initial repairs of these millions of houses up and down the country.
This Bill is one which owes a certain amount of its parentage not only to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, not only to the Sanitary Inspectors' Associaton, but to the Government of Northern Ireland. I am sorry that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) is not here 1050 because, no doubt, he would be very interested in this. In 1951, the Government of Northern Ireland brought in an Act which has been on the Statute Book there ever since, and very much along the same lines as those of this Bill.
I have been making some inquiries about how that Act has been working in that country, and I am told that the initial result of the passing of that Act was an enormous demand on the part of tenants for certificates of disrepair. That has now slackened because very few owners are prepared to go through all the complicated procedure, which is the same as we have in this Bill, and all the trouble to obtain the repairs increase.
My informant in Northern Ireland, to whom I was speaking this morning—an estate agent in Belfast, who knows the problem very well—said that for all practical purposes that Act, which is so similar to the Bill before us, looks like breaking down and certainly is not doing the job expected of it. We must look at that in Committee and see whether there is any way in which we can make the terms upon which these repairs increases can be obtained a little less onerous to the owner and a little fairer to him, so enabling him to do the job which I am sure he can do.
We need not do it at great expense to the tenant. A great many things have been said about tenants; we are told that we must not irritate them or do anything which will in the slightest degree upset them. That has been the constant theme which we have had running throughout the debate. I am sure, first, that the vast majority of tenants of rent restricted property in this country will be quite happy to pay a few shillings more in rent if they can have their properties put in a decent condition. Secondly, I am equally sure that the vast majority of the tenants of rent restricted houses can afford the increase which is being asked of them.
Let me refer hon. Members to the Blue Book on National Income and Expenditure published last August, which shows that in 1952 this country spent no less than £850 million on alcoholic drinks, no less than £821 million on tobacco and no less than £187 million on entertainment. They spent only £736 million on rent, rates, light, heat and water charges. When people say that tenants are so 1051 screwed down that they will have to flock in their thousands to the Assistance Board because they cannot pay the rent, I cannot help thinking that it would be less hypocritical to suggest that a little less money might find its way into the pockets of the football pool promoters and the purveyors of alcoholic drink, and a little more towards the repair of the nation's old houses which, as one hon. Member rightly said, form a great national asset.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, North-West)
I have listened very carefully to the speech of the hon. Member for Wembley—
§ Mr. Janner
I am not at all surprised at the kind of speech which he made because clearly he is in sympathy with the policy of the Government in increasing the cost of living for people who are occupying these houses, just as they are in favour of an increase in the cost of living in so far as other commodities are concerned. I approach this matter possibly from an angle somewhat different from the approach of other hon. Members hitherto, with the possible exception of my hon. Friend the Member for Itchen (Mr. Morley). I did not think the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren) was vitriolic in the slightest. I wonder what the hon. Member for Henley will feel by the time I have finished saying what I have to say on this subject. Possibly he will have to find some more superlative adjectives to add to his comments about my hon. Friend's speech.
This Bill has been presented to the House by the Government solely as a Measure to remedy the existing state of affairs which exists in regard to outstanding repairs to houses. In my view it is a sugar-coated poison pill, particularly as far as it deals with the security of the tenants' homes. It is a continuation of the Government's policy of rationing by the purse. Already, in consequence of the Government's actions, the cost of living has soared and the cost of staple foods is beyond the capacity of many of the lower income classes. Now there is to be a rationing of homes by the purse. That is what Part II of this Bill means. 1052 I will not talk about Part I because that is merely a continuation of a policy which we introduced.
§ Mr. Janner
In 1949. We introduced Measures which enabled slum clearance to take place. I intend to talk about the Rent Acts and what is happening to them in the Bill. The hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) raked up some historical facts and gave us the history of housing which has brought us into the present very serious situation. I will follow his example. I have been re-reading the book, "Landlords and Tenants," written by an old friend of mine, Dan Rider, who made such a valiant fight to keep the protection of a roof over the heads of the wives and children of the men fighting in the First World War. That was mainly the origin of the Rent Acts. It will make interesting reading for the Government and I hope the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary will take up this book one of these days and read it.
I should like to quote one passage in it, and then I think hon. Members will understand what is the background of the Rent Acts which today we are about to attack very seriously in Part II of the Bill. This is what was written about one of the causes of the Rent Acts, and it concerns the First World War:Chaplains with the troops at the Front started sending me distressing letters from the wives of the soldiers in their regiments containing notices to quit. They said the men were distracted and had come to them for advice and they asked me to look into the matter and to protect their wives and families. I wrote to the women to come and see me…. I found their petty landlords were adopting petty methods to frighten them out in order to get more rent from another tenant and in all these instances we taught the landlord a lesson.He continues in that strain.
I think we are wasting a very considerable amount of sympathy on some of the landlords—I do not say all landlords, but a very substantial number of them, as I shall prove in a moment from a survey which I made in my own constituency. I thought my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) made a very sincere and moving speech in which he exposed the result of the Government's proposals, particularly in respect to Part II of the Bill. It is difficult for me to believe that the 1053 Government have made their proposals without knowledge of the consequences to the tenant. The position is very serious.
In spite of the complexity of the Rent Acts, they managed to keep one of the most important institutions of life, the home, within reasonable limits of cost to the lower income group. I know there are anomalies, but the provisions contained in the Rent Acts have been of considerable service to millions of families in this country. Unhappily, they were difficult to understand, and the vastmajority—and I speak in definite and clear terms on this—of the tenants were completely unaware of the protective provisions which they contained. The hon. Member for Henley knows that very well. He is a solicitor and he knows that people came to him—or possibly he gave assistance in some of the advisory committees which were spread throughout the country—10 or 15 or 20 years after the passing of some of the Acts, who had been paying rents far in excess of any rent which they were obliged to pay under the Rent Acts. They had not the slightest idea of what their remedies were.
That prevailed throughout the country; millions of people were affected by it. Most of us know that that is so not only in respect of rents but also of repairs. The hon. Gentleman knows very well that when the average layman came along for advice he did not know what he had to do in order to obtain relief. He did not know where to go for this or that he had to make a copy of the sanitary notice or that he had to serve it on the landlord. All these things were unknown to him. What was the result. Many a house went into disrepair because the tenant did not know what to do about it. Unfortunately by the time he did get to know what to do he was placed in a position in which it was almost impossible to repair the house. That is the position generally with regard to the Rent Acts.
I say that it is practically impossible to calculate the number of tenants who were concerned in this matter. I personally dealt with hundreds of cases in which large sums were recovered from the landlords and I had not the slightest doubt that the hon. Member and many others in this House have done similarly whether they are lawyers or not. Much has been said about lawyers, but this is 1054 one of the sides of the Rent Restriction Act which did not pay a lawyer as a rule to deal with. I think that any lawyer in this House will know very well that the lowest scale of charge was allowed in respect of the Rent Acts, unless a very special case could be made out, and it did not pay financially to go into the whole inquiry which was necessary; to find out what the rent was in 1914, what the rates were in 1914 and all the rest of it. I hope that when hon. Members talk about lawyers in future they will deal with us with mercy and perhaps with a little more justice.
§ Mr. Janner
I hope that my hon. Friend is making that statement to me. I should say many hundreds, and I have advised in many thousands of cases. As rent adviser to the Labour Party I should think that possibly I have advised in many hundreds or thousands of cases.
My hon. Friend and I were members of the same local Labour Party for many years, and I have never known a man more generous in giving help to poor people in the district than he was.
§ Mr. Janner
I am much obliged to my hon. Friend. I think that it should be made known to the House that we are not really as bad as we are painted on so many occasions. I have said that a vast sum of money was obtained by increases of rent. Not only was this so in respect of increases which had been legally placed upon the tenant by means of notices, but also in respect of increases which were charged far and above anything which was allowed under the Acts.
Let me come back to the increases which were allowed under the Acts. I cannot understand the attitude adopted by some people in this matter. Since the year 1920, 25 per cent. of the net rent controlled under the 1920–1938 Acts, was allowed to landlords in order to enable them to keep their houses in repair. I say that if they had used that 25 per cent.—and we know that the Parliamentary Secretary was rather cynical when I interrupted him the other day and he would not allow me to get in because I think he was a little afraid. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Oh, yes, I am sure he was. He 1055 was talking about some 469 furnished lettings applications heard by the rent tribunals in which -there had been the decision that the rent should be increased. He overlooked some 18,000 or 19,000 cases in which the rent was reduced. I think that the figure was even 20,000 to 30,000 or more.
When I talked in millions on this subject I meant millions. I think that millions of houses out of those which are under control under the 1920/1938 Rent Acts received the 25 per cent. increase without the owners doing a single thing in the way of repairs. I took the precaution, in case I was doubted on this, to have an inquiry made in my own constituency, in a district which was recently visited by the Parliamentary Secretary, in which many of the houses had been allowed go into almost complete decay. What was the result of that inquiry? A letter which I received from a person who conducted the inquiry as a member of a group said that he came up against the most appalling conditions.Quite a number of people told ushe wrotethat they had to go into the centre of the town to use the public conveniences as the places which they had to use with so many others were not fit to use.But there had been this 25 per cent. all through those years allowed for that purpose. In addition what did they find? They visited 124 houses, all rent-controlled under the old1920/1938 Acts, and in respect of 53 of them nothing had been done in repairs. In 49 cases the tenants had done repairs themselves which they were not supposed to do under the terms of the Act. I should like to quote the kind of position which they found there. Let us have this matter clear and see where we really stand. In one of the streets this is the kind of thing that happens to various houses:No repairs done, 13 years' residence; no repairs done, six years' residence; no repairs done, 40 years' residence; no repairs done, 14 years' residence.In cases where the landlord did do repairs this is what they found—11 years, odd slates; 46 years, a new ceiling. That is all that the landlord did in the whole of 46 years.
§ Mr. Janner
Now we are faced with this tremendous difficulty. Of course the houses are falling out of repair. Is this Bill the way to tackle a problem of this nature? I venture to suggest that it is not. I suggest that what should be done is for a proper inquiry to be made as this has not been done up to now as to how much has actually been received by the landlords in order to arrive at the position as to what repairs have to be done.
Who has cause for complaint? I think that is the next point which we have to examine. We hear from time to time about the poor one house person, and of course there are some, but they are exceptions taking the millions of houses into consideration. What has actually happened?
I should like the right hon. Gentleman to listen to this; I will do my best to be as quick as I can, but there is a tremendous lot to be said. Since 1920 until the present day what has happened, who has cause for complaint? If the person who actually owned the house in 1915 was receiving the same rent there might be some cause for complaint, but in fact he was given 25 percent. of the net rent as an increase in the years when that was ample to enable the repairs to be done, but he did not do them. That is number one.
Let us take No. 2, the person who has purchased a place and is now asking to be helped in carrying out the repairs. Did he not purchase with his eyes open, did he not know that the Rent Acts were in existence, that if he took the place as an investment he had to face up to the difficulties that existed and would exist in the future? Consequently, why is the coming to the rest of the community and asking them to subsidise something that he has bought?
Let me go one step further and consider the positionin regard to a person who came on to the scene by reason of a will or something of that nature. We are told of the poor widow in this regard. I quite agree it is very hard for her, but the will only comes into operation on the day of the death of the person who has made it, and if there are no assets—if there happens to be a liability—no one is 1057 bound to take that liability. All these arguments are matters which require very careful investigation.
Here is a Bill which purports to be a Measure remedying the Rent Acts. Is there anything in it to help the tenant? Let me give a few illustrations of what might have been done by a Government which wanted to give security. By this Bill the Government are only removing security. Let me give an illustration of what might have been remedied. Today, when a tenant dies the widow of that tenant or a member of that family is entitled under the Rent Acts to retain possession of the place, but as soon as that widow dies that house becomes decontrolled in so far as protection is concerned and the landlord can sell it at whatever price he wishes. Landlords are selling such houses at enormous profit, everybody knows that.
We must face up to the situation which exists. Instead of the possibility being given to the family of the widow to have a roof over their heads, and it may very well be that a man dies today and his widow only a few days later, there is no security of tenancy for the families who are left.
§ Mr. Janner
Yes, they are trespassers. Why is that sort of thing not dealt with by the Bill?
I think that the Government's policy is to do away with the Rent Acts, and that is a very serious thing. I have complained time and time again in the House, but the Parliamentary Secretary will not listen, that he shuts down and keeps on shutting down rent tribunals, that he takes away the offices, the places where people can get the information which they are entitled to have; and he is now introducing a Measure whereby he will ask the rent tribunals to do more than they have been doing in the past.
In this Bill there are a number of matters which underline perfectly clearly what a constituent wrote to me a few days ago. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith) is not here. He spoke of the kind of letters he got when he had spoken on the wireless and said that they emphasised the importance of this Bill, that it was not 1058 strong enough, that we must have more increases. Let me read a letter which came to me from my own constituency, and with this I propose to conclude:Very many of us are perturbed by Mr. Macmillan's new rent scheme.This is important, it deals with the very points with which we have been dealing.May we hope that the facts below are considered by you.By that he meant, by the Government; I considered them long ago and I am of the same opinion as my constituent.Tens of thousands of tenants have lived 20 years or more in houses, the rent of which would show them to be a far better investment than 3½per cent. war loans, after deducting amounts spent on maintenance and repairs. My own tenancy of this house, for example.It is 7, Browning Street, Leicester.House cost owner £200, average rent 10s. 6d. plus rates £27 10s. clear. Total amount spent by landlord inclusive of some damage by bombs £30. After allowance of 4 per cent. this leaves a profit of no less than £320.It would be safe to estimate that millions of houses and tenements would show tremendous profit on the investments. The cry about 'deterioration of property' is, I think, just a whining racket of profit hungry owners.
I am myself a part owner of a house let at 6s. 6d. a week in Yorkshire. After keeping it in good repair it shows a profit comparable to my 3 per cent. War Bonds.
I put it to you Sir, that it would be a vile injustice to raise the rents of this street, and especially streets like those around Belgrave Gate, Wharf Street area and elsewhere. There are many worse in Birmingham (Bristol Road district). Glasgow tenements too are horrible injustices at present rents. I have travelled a good deal, London to Aberdeen. East and West Coasts, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford….Before the increase in costs of maintenance, before the first (1914) war and certainly prior to 1939, the housing conditions in certain parts of London and the larger English and Scotch cities were a shame and a horror, ghastly in its terribleness. Owners could have been compelled to maintain their property in habitable condition, and rent tribunals could have investigated the original cost of house…."
There is more in this letter, but it follows on lines similar to those I have stated.
I say to the Government, withdraw this Bill. Think of something better. Think of something which will meet the case. Do not think merely of placing money into the hands, or into the pockets of many—I do not say all—but very many who will know how to dodge out 1059 of any Act you pass and who will not do the repairs you are trying to make provision for.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Sir Geoffrey Hutchinson (Ilford, North)
At this late stage there is little I can usefully add to this debate. I am sure that the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) will not expect me to embark upon a discussion of the history of the Rent Acts, although perhaps on some future occasion he and I may have an opportunity of debating that interesting topic. One of the subjects we may be able to discuss then would be the number of houses in his constituency which have been repaired under this Bill when it becomes law.
I wish to make one or two observations on a subject about which little has been said, and that is the effect which this Bill is likely to have on the local authorities. I think that the local authorities will welcome this Bill and will be glad to play their part in this new campaign to end the scandal of the slums. But today local authorities are in an overburdened position financially. If they are to play their part in this great scheme it will be necessary to afford them the financial assistance they require.
§ Sir G. Hutchinson
I think it would.
Last night the hon. Member for Clapham (Mr. Gibson) said that this scheme would cost the London County Council £500,000. I think he might have recalled that under the Government which he supported the London County Council lost the Exchequer grants which amounted to a great deal more than that. But let that pass. There is no doubt that this Bill will place upon local authorities some financial burden.
I shall not refer to the terms of the Bill in the limited time available to me. I am not clear as to what provision is made for affording financial assistance to the local authorities in respect of their slum clearance proposals and the proposals for the acquisition and temporary reconditioning of properties which would eventually be redeveloped under slum clearance schemes. The financial proposals of the Bill will, I hope, be discussed by my 1060 right hon. Friend with the local authorities, and their views ascertained and fully considered before the proposals of my right hon. Friend take their final form.
The Financial Resolution is on the Order Paper following the Order for the Second Reading of the Bill. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to say that the Resolution will not preclude future discussions with the local authorities. It was said, I think yesterday, that a meeting is to take place before very long. If that is so, I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to assure us that this matter will be considered in conjunction with them and that no final decision will be taken until after their views have been taken fully into account.
Having said that, I make one brief observation upon the Bill itself. I assure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) that there is no need for him to look anxious. I know what the right hon. Gentleman expects of me. The problem which confronted my right hon. Friend when he approached this matter was the problem of ensuring that adequate repairs would be done to the great number of rent-controlled houses.
I have listened to almost the whole of this debate. I do not think that anybody has claimed that the burden which the Bill will place upon tenants is an unreasonable one. Indeed, many hon. Members on both sides of the House have said frankly that if these houses are to be put in proper order it will be necessary for some contribution to be made by the tenants whether the houses remain in private ownership or whether they pass into the ownership of the local authorities.
The main criticism which has been made of the proposals of my right hon. Friend is that they will not be successful in achieving the purpose he has in mind. But nobody has contended that, if in fact my right hon. Friend's proposals produce the results which he hopes to get from them, the Bill will not have made a major contribution to a most urgent and serious problem. I should have thought that in those circumstances the House might have given the Measure a Second Reading. Then we can see in the future whether the expectations which are entertained of it are fulfilled.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
There was one point in the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Ilford, North (Sir G. Hutchinson) with which I cordially agreed, and that was when he called attention to the undoubted fact that the financial burdens on local authorities in respect of housing operations of one sort and another are substantial and are growing, and that unless something is done about it they will grow to very large figures. Indeed, they have reached substantial figures already.
The question of the magnitude of the rate for housing purposes is a matter of increasing anxiety to the local authorities. In these circumstances, I do not apologise for commencing by making some references to the financial provisions of the Bill first in relation to the State and, secondly, in relation to local government. The Financial and Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill is a curious document. Its whole idea is to give Parliament, before it passes a Bill, even on Second Reading, a picture of the financial commitment into which the House is entering.
But this is an extraordinary document. Time after time it says that the Government cannot state what the financial commitments are. I know that this happens from time to time, but one would have thought that the Government might have given a rough indication, or, at any rate, an indication as to whether the commitments are substantial or not. Clearly, the potential transfer of the slums to local government with a grant and the ultimate demolition must involve substantial figures, and I should have thought that Parliament had a right to know.
The only figure that is mentioned in the Memorandum is the modest sum of £10.000 in respect of increased expenditure on rent tribunals. For a Government who pride themselves on their financial rectitude, strictness and propriety, all of which I do not follow from time to time, it is rather a curious Financial Memorandum and of a somewhat exceptional character.
Now I come to the local authority financial aspects of the matter. As I have said, the rates in respect of housing and related purposes are substantial and 1062 are growing. We must all remember—and one sometimes has to remind municipal tenants who complain about burdens that are put upon them, especially when there are modest increases of local municipal rents for municipal properties—that the housing rate of the local authority has to be met by everybody. The municipal tenants are included, but so are the tenants of private owners and owner occupiers. Therefore, this question of housing finance in its local government aspects is bound to be increasingly discussed in Parliament and among the local authorities.
The higher interest rates which the Government imposed at a fairly early stage in their life have increased the local authority burden generally. I suppose that there was no department in which an added burden was more notice able in this single respect than the housing department of a local authority. So it must be remembered that the Government have pursued a policy which has added to a substantial degree to the financial burdens of local authority housing.
It is proposed under the Bill to lay upon the local authorities new functions, new burdens, and to impose these functions and burdens on the local authorities—or to empower them in these respects, at any rate, to do it—notwithstanding that it is a further addition to their financial burdens to lay these burdens on the local authorities under distinctly less advantageous financial terms than has been the case for a long time past. Further burdens are to be imposed on the local authorities, and with a proportion of State contribution substantially less than has been the case for quite a considerable time, that seems to be a bit rough on the local authorities.
Sometimes I wonder—perhaps the Minister can tell us—whether any Member of the Cabinet has ever served on a local authority. I do not recall any who did, but there may be one or two. It is curious, however, that these things should be either set aside or overlooked, with the result that precedents which have been built up as to the proportion of financial aid from the State to local government in respect of housing seem either to have been forgotten or wilfully and coldly set aside by the Government.
Let us see what are the arguments in regard to the finances of the Bill from 1063 the local government point of view. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, there have been consultations with his Ministry, and there have been some consultations between the financial officers of the local authority associations and the London County Council and officers of his Department. It has been pointed out by the local authority representatives that all the postwar housing legislation has provided for sharing on a three to one basis, which means 75 per cent. by the State and 25 per cent. by the local authorities. Even before the war, the basis was two to one, but now the Minister proposes a basis in respect of loan charges on this slum operation—or near-slum operation—not of three to one, not of two to one, but of 50–50; that is to say, of one to one.
From the local authority point of view, this is a very serious retrogression which will cause the local authorities considerable anxiety, and we must remember that it is in respect of a new function, a function which I shall come to describe later, tout a function of taking over slum property from the slum landlords because they themselves do not know what to do with it. That is the first point in respect of the finances of the Bill—that it breaks away from the recent three to one basis, that it breaks away from the pre-war two to one, and that it is now one to one, or 50–50. I do not know whether it is worse than it has ever been before, but certainly it is worse than it has been for quite a long time.
The next point is that it is understood that the average figure of the cost of bringing slum property into a reasonable state of repair—the average basic figure which the Minister has taken—is £140, and it is said that it is based upon the Birmingham experience. As has already been pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas), the work has already cost Birmingham £180 or £190. My hon. Friend the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Shurmer) confirms that, and I am much obliged to him. Therefore, if that is the tendency, and the figure is confirmed by my hon. Friend, £200 would not be an unreasonable figure to take, and it does make a material difference as between £140 and £200.
1064 There is a further point. The Bill is based upon the doctrine that the loan period should be 15 years, that being based upon the estimated average life of the dwelling, but is it by any means certain that the average life of a partly reconditioned slum will be 15 years? The next question is: Ought it to be 15 years? I am very doubtful whether it ought, and if it is not so, and if it does not last for 15 years, as is quite likely, but lasts for only 10 years, the point comes, when the 10-year period is up, when the loan charges go on for another five years without any revenue from the property at all. I submit that that also is an unreasonable proposal.
It is claimed that there should be improved terms. It is true that the Minister originally offered, instead of the figure £2 5s. under paragraph (b) of the relevant Clause, £1 13s., but there has been an improvement in that respect which it is fair to acknowledge. The local authorities argue that that is not enough and that it ought to be more, and they make a strong case to that effect.
A curious feature of the Money Resolution is that the contribution laid down in this respect is £2 5s.or such other sum as the Minister of Housing and Local Government may determine.I could follow that the Minister might determine a lesser figure than £2 5s., but will he tell us whether it enables him to make the figure bigger? I do not know. Could it be made £125 instead of £2 5s.? I do not think that is likely, but could it be done? If so, this Resolution makes a complete fool of Parliamentary control of finance. I do not recall any Financial Resolution which lays down that the Minister can fix "such other sum" as he likes.
§ Mr. Morrison
My hon. Friend has a point there. If this Financial Resolution is a complete delegation of powers to a Minister, without Parliamentary specific or maximum authority, it is a matter for argument whether it is Parliament which is the financial authority. My hon. Friend is on a point whether the Committee upstairs could not increase the amount. A Committee of the House of Commons ought to have some degree of authority as well as a Minister of the Crown.
1065 The local authorities claim that the Government's share should be at least two-thirds of the acquisition costs and the deficit on improving and maintaining slum properties. Secondly, they claim that the estimated cost of making a slum dwelling tolerably habitable should be assessed at £200 rather than £140; and, thirdly, that the amortisation period should be 10 years rather than 15 years. If these points were conceded, where should we arrive?
On this basis it would appear that the unit maintenance grant would be approximately £12 1s. a dwelling or part of a dwelling, on the following calculation: debt charges on £200 at 3½ per cent. for 10 years, £23 17s. 6d.;repairs and maintenance £15, making a total of £38 17s. 6d., less the estimated rent £20 16s., leaving a deficit of £18 1s. 6d., which, with a 66⅔ per cent. grant, would bring a grant of £12 1s. Those figures take a bit of upsetting. I think they are sound figures, which are advanced by responsible financial officers of local authorities, and they are in the possession of the right hon. Gentleman's Department.
I have only one other thing to say about local authority finance, and that is to reinforce the appeal made by the hon. and learned Member for Ilford, North, although I am not sure whether it was made in specific terms. I think the Minister said that he should not bind himself to the particular terms of the Financial Resolution. I hope that the Minister will be able to say that the Financial Resolution will not be moved, for a reason which I hope he will regard as reasonable. There is to be a meeting between the Minister, the local authority associations and the London County Council on 10th December to discuss all the matters I have raised—and others as well—and various aspects of the Bill.
It is true that on 23rd October the Minister informed the local authorities that he would hold to the 50–50 basis. I think it is a little bit tall to meet the local authorities for the purpose of discussing matters, and then to say that on that very important element there is nothing to discuss. However, I am glad to know that the Minister has promised to meet the local authorities again on 10th December. If this House were to pass the Financial Resolution tonight, it would 1066 make a mockery of that meeting of 10th December, unless, of course, it is the Minister's intention to scrap it later and bring another one forward; though I do not think that that is an easy thing for a responsible Minister to do, and I am sure that the Treasury would not like it.
I hope, therefore, in order that the local authorities may be able to argue their case on 10th December, that the Minister will be able to announce that he will not bother with the Financial Resolution tonight. As a matter of fact, he does not need it, at any rate until the Committee stage of the Bill, and, strictly speaking, he does not need it until we reach the Clauses which authorise the expenditure of Parliamentary funds.
I very much hope that these negotiations with the local authorities will be free and not tied up in advance, and that the Minister will be so good as to agree that the Financial Resolution shall not be moved tonight, because, otherwise, a situation would arise which would be unfair and inimical to good relations between the great State Departments and the local authorities, which, irrespective of party politics, I am always sorry to see happen. Of course, I think that a little bit of fun between local authorities and Government Departments from time to time is one of the pleasant ways of British life, and it is something which I myself have very much enjoyed in the past from both sides of the table. I hope that the Minister will be able to give that assurance.
I now come to the provision of the Bill in connection with slums. This is a technical Bill, and I congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on having got through yesterday with reasonable clarity, because it is not an easy Bill to explain. These Bills never are. I hope that the Minister of Works enjoyed himself this afternoon in dealing with what was mainly his Departmental business, namely, the question of supplies. We were very glad to hear him.
The Bill aims at an acceleration either of the clearance of slums or a departure whereby local authorities clean them up, recondition them, and so on. That is the dual purpose of the Bill in respect of slums—direct clearance, reconditioning, and maintenance for a time. For my own part, I am not thoroughly convinced of the wisdom of local authority acquisition 1067 and patching up of the slums. I admit that, according to reports, the municipality of Birmingham, which is a great municipality, has done some interesting and valuable work in that respect, and the next time I go there I hope to be able to see what Birmingham has done.
§ Mr. Morrison
I have great respect for the work of the municipality of Birmingham, and I am glad that it has, politically, come on with great energy recently. But I do not think that my friends from Birmingham would disagree with me when I say that, if it were possible physically to clear a slum out of existence at a reasonably early date, even if some years ahead, it would be preferable to patching them up for a period which may turn out to be longer than we anticipated at the time we were doing it.
I sat as a member of a Cabinet Committee on one occasion to deal with the question of building prefabricated houses on open spaces, a matter which was liable to be controversial, but the war was on and it was done more or less peacefully. We all talked then about the 10 years that those prefabricated houses would last, but I said at the time, "We are deceiving ourselves. They may last longer than that, and we must realise that to interfere with these open spaces for a period longer than 10 years is a serious business." And here we are, in this period, giving the Minister powers to make that 10 years, or something like it, longer.
I would sooner demolish the slum, sweep it right away as quickly as it is empty. If it is left empty long, someone will come in and it will be empty no longer and, it is most important, when a slum is empty of human beings, to pull it down, smash it up, and clear the site. I would honestly prefer to do it in that way rather than have this other business of the local authority taking over slum property. Why do I say that? It may be thought that I am a very funny sort of Socialist when I am offered, by the Conservatives, the socialisation of the slums, but I question, and they might question themselves, what they are doing in bringing forward a policy of socialisation of the slums—but they are.
1068 What will happen when the local authority takes them over? First of all, it has to carry these added financial burdens, which are to be substantial. Secondly, many people, decent, good citizens, will be asking the local authority, before it knows where it is, "Why are you owning and managing filthy, abominable property of this sort?" There will be probably a lot of respectable Conservatives asking Labour local authorities why they are going on with slum property, and, it may be, some Labour people in Conservative local areas doing the same the other way round.
I am not saying that we are not decent people, or that the other side are not decent people, within their limits. I mean non-political people, who will be arguing that this is a scandalous state of affairs, and the poor local authority will be pushed around to get on with this financial, administrative and organising job with extraordinary speed—pushed to do it and to spend a lot of money upon that property. And when it has done so, the local authority will have to say to the tenants, some of whom are attracted by a low rent, and are prepared to put up with a slum—some, although not all, "We have spent all this money on the house. The grant from the Ministry is 50–50"—if it still remains there, which I hope it will not—"Now we must put up your rent."
So, having been knocked about politically for not putting the slums right quickly enough, possibly by political opponents, when it does put the slums, right and has to increase the rents, as it will undoubtedly have to do, it will be knocked about by the inhabitants of the slums in that way as well. I would, therefore, sooner wipe the slums out of existence as soon as possible, rather than that the local authority should become a slum landlord, which is not a natural job for a local authority. I confess that I do not like it. It will cause the complications and troubles to which I have referred.
We want to know whether the local authorities can acquire only the actual slum property, because in one speech that we heard from the benches opposite this afternoon—I think it was by the Minister or Works—it was suggested that it was natural that the local authorities should 1069 take the slums, but that it was not natural for the local authorities to take anything that was worth having. On the other side of the water, in the Waterloo area, the London County Council has acquired property which was largely slum property. But, at the same time, it acquired shops and industrial hereditaments. It sought to treat people in occupation fairly according to the extent of their occupation. It also eased the burden. The Minister of Works ought not to be so simple in this matter of socialisation that he says that it is right that the local authority should carry the burdens, but that if there is any money to be made and if there is any financial relief, that is for private interests.
I am not surprised. I know why he said it. The whole story of the record of this Government is, "If there is any money to be made, let private enterprise make it; and if there is any money to be lost, socialise it." They are as good Socialists as we are when the taxpayers' or ratepayers' money is to be lost. It is when there is anything to be made that they are not Socialists. This Government hates the word "monopoly," though quite a number of its supporters spend a lot of their life building up private monopolies.
What are the Government doing now—this Government which is so busy in denouncing monopolies in the public service? It is not only socialising the slums; it is trying to manufacture a municipal slum monopoly, and it is not even giving it adequate sporsorship. So this Government, which uses the word "monopoly" ignorantly in respect of television, transport and iron and steel, is now fastening, so far as it can, a slum monopoly on local government because its own friends in the property owning world do not know what to do with the slums, and say, "Let them go to the local authorities."
Whether, under the provisions of the Bill, the repairs will be done by private enterprise I am not at all sure. If private enterprise does not do the repairs because it either cannot or will not, then is that property to become slumproperty and will that be socialised and added to the municipal slum monopoly? It seems to me to be a bit tall if that is the case. I do not like the onus of proof being on the tenant. I think it ought to be on the 1070 landlord, and these matters ought to be dealt with by rent tribunals and not by county courts.
I say this in conclusion, because it is time for the right hon. Gentleman to wind up the debate. He has much to answer, and he thinks he ought to have three-quarters of an hour. Certainly, those of us on this side of the House are anxious to see the end of the slums—and if I detect some development of conscience among Conservatives I welcome it. The slums have been denounced by the Labour Party and Socialists ever since we have existed. So have the dreary streets which are now inflicting increasing mileages on our great cities.
I cannot and do not forget the slums, which are a disgrace to our country. Nobody was more proud than I when, at the London County Council, with the aid of my hon. Friend the Member for Clapham (Mr. Gibson) and others, we were able to begin abolishing the slums with big slum clearance programmes. If it had not been for the war we should have broken the back of the problem by now. Other local authorities in the United Kingdom were doing something, and some Conservatives and Liberals were also engaged in the work.
But do not forget that we were the pioneers and the fighters. I can remember the day, young as I am, when Tory candidates for local authorities advised slum dwellers to vote against the Labour Party because we should disturb them in their slums—and many people did so. We want to get rid of the slums; we want to get rid of ugliness, and we want our country to be beautiful, clean and attractive. It is our sincere conviction that this Bill is not the way to do it. We believe that it is ineffective in itself and unfair to local authorities in its provisions. Therefore, with a clear conscience and with complete conviction, when the Question is put we propose to vote against its Second Reading.
§ 9.16 p.m.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Harold Macmillan)
I very much regret, as we all do, the reason why the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) has not been able to be here tonight to wind up the debate for the Opposition. I hope that he will make a very speedy recovery, and I should like to have that message sent to 1071 him from all his friends on both sides of the House.
Nevertheless, he has provided a very adequate substitute, in the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), more especially because of the right hon. Member's long experience in local government and, therefore, the very valuable help that he has been able to give us on certain aspects of this problem. I noticed that in his speech he stuck rather rigidly to certain parts of the Bill and avoided or evaded the presentation of the great alternative plan.
The Government have every reason to be satisfied and grateful for the generous reception, from the Press and the public as a whole, of the ideas which have been put forward in the White Paper and which are now embodied in the Bill. Of course, there have been criticisms both inside and outside the House. It is the traditional function of an Opposition to oppose. Nevertheless, I am personally grateful for the very valuable criticisms and suggestions which have been made in the course of the debate by Members on both sides of the House, especially by Members who have considerable personal experience of these problems. I want to assure them that from whatever quarter those suggestions or criticisms may have come, we shall study them most carefully between now and the opening of the Committee stage of the Bill.
It would be foolish of us to claim that all the details of those complicated proposals—and they are complicated—are immutable or sacrosanct. The function of the Committee stage is, surely, to mould the Bill in accordance with its main principles. On Second Reading it is the general design of the Bill which comes either for support or rejection.
The first part of our proposals is intended to provide that, in the case of houses already in a reasonably good condition, or in quite a good condition, the income available to spend upon current repairs should be sufficient to prevent them from falling into disrepair. That is the purpose of part one of the scheme.
The scheme that we have adopted, based upon the statutory deduction, is, we frankly admit, of a somewhat complicated character. It cannot be presented or argued with the simplicity of a percentage increase, but a percentage 1072 increase, at any rate in England and Wales, in the special conditions prevailing in England and Wales, with the control, the decontrol, the recontrol, and the great variety of rents of houses of the same rateable value and the same amenities, in my view, would have been inequitable and unjust in every point of view.
In this debate, although there has been general recognition that either in one scheme or the other, whether houses remain in private ownership or are taken over into public ownership, the rents would have to be raised, I do not think anyone has suggested that we ought to substitute for a more specialised and accurate scheme the method of percentage increase in England and Wales. Some months ago when the Parliamentary timetable, I think, made people think we should be unable to introduce this Bill—last summer—I was interested to read in the "Daily Herald" that:The Minister of Housing and Local Government is under pressure to grant a percentage increase of 50 per cent.The article went on to say:He is prepared to go some way at least to meet this demand, and to meet it without making hard and fast rules about spending the extra rent on repairs.At any rate, that particular prophecy has proved to be untrue.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in some cases I have investigated up in the North of England a permitted increase might well have to be 50 per cent., or in some cases slightly over?
§ Mr. Macmillan
"A percentage increase without any conditions"—that is what was said about the Bill. I think, perhaps, one of the considerations that has caused a little confusion among the critics is that I refused to fall into this particular trap. However, it was some comfort to me to see that the day on which this prophecy was published was 1st April. Of course it would have been easy to have devised a simpler scheme. My hon. Friend the Member for Hertford (Mr. Walker-Smith), who made a very valuable speech, has pointed that out very clearly, but it would not have been a fair scheme either in respect of the principles of any increase or in respect of safeguards.
1073 On the rent proposals there are only three questions to answer. They are partly Committee points, but they are vital. Are they fair to the tenant? Are they fair to the landlord? And will they get the job done? That is the test. I think there has been very little weight in the attack, broadly speaking, in this House so far as the tenants are concerned. The argument has not been pressed powerfully in Parliament. Of course, it will be reserved for the street and the doorstep. Nor do I think that the tenants will object to paying this modest increase so long as they get the repairs done at the same time. The operation of the "stopper" or "ceiling" principle prevents the total rent of any house rising beyond the rents which other houses in the same street already command, and the condition that the repairs increase must be spent on repairs ensures that the tenant will get value for his money.
§ Mr. Shurmer
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for allowing me to interrupt him. I did not have the chance to get in the debate because he wanted an extra quarter of an hour. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks the landlords will do the repairs now with a small increase, then why did they allow the majority of the houses to get into bad disrepair during the inter-war years when they had the 25 per cent. increase of rent to pay for them, and plenty of labour and materials available?
§ Mr. Macmillan
I was dealing with the tenant's point of view, and now I shall come to the landlord's point of view.
§ Mr. Macmillan
I shall deal with it, if I may, in the order of my speech. Of course we considered the proposal that the landlord should obtain a certificate of good repair. That was made by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas), the hon. Member for Itchen (Mr. Morley) and the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Miss Bacon). We rejected it on two grounds: first, in many of these cases there will be no question of litigation or dispute and, indeed, in the majority, mutual agreement will be reached between landlord and tenant. The second reason is that it would place an intolerable burden upon 1074 the certifying local authority. As the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) said, the authorities are already short of surveyors and sanitary inspectors. The hon. Member is no longer in his place—
§ Mr. Macmillan
I am sorry; the hon. Member was on the Front Bench, but during the debate he has demoted himself. I beg his pardon. There was already some difficulty, he said, in getting enough surveyors and sanitary inspectors, but of course if we were to throw all that extra work upon them in addition, it would be an impossible demand, and I am sure it is wiser not to do so.
Then it is said that the declaration of the landlord as to the amount of money he has spent—that is, the statement that he has spent actual sums of money—ought to be decided, in case of dispute, not by the court but by the local authority or a rent tribunal. But surely this is not a matter of opinion or of judgment but a matter of fact. I do not think the great majority of people will willingly and knowingly sign their name to the document we propose if to do so would be an absolutely false declaration. I do not think the majority will do so. Very few people do such things. It is quite a risky thing to do, and it will get them into a good deal of trouble if they are found out. In any event, such a question, as my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Horobin) pointed out in his admirable speech, is a suitable question for determination by the courts. I was glad to hear such tributes paid to our county courts by hon. Members below the Gangway who have such experience of them—[Laughter.]—of their work.
It is said that once the landlords have obtained the repairs increase they might then allow the house to go out of repair. If they do that they are taking a very big risk. They take a double risk now if, having got the repairs increase by satisfying the two conditions, they then let the house drop out of repair. First of all, I think the tenant may come down upon them, and if he does obtain his certificate they will lose, not only the new repairs increase, but the 40 per cent. increase they were granted on the rent in 1920. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] They will lose both and go back to the 1914 control. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] They risk the 1075 new repairs increase and 25 per cent. of the 40 per cent., at any rate; that is quite a risk.
Moreover, they may attract the attention of the local authorities, stimulated by my Department, who will begin to apply some of their new powers as to dilapidation and all the rest. Finally, under the circumstances, the landlord risks the house in the end being taken from him with no payment at all except that of the site value. Although we will consider in Committee any suggestions, particularly the point about 14 days, which is a Committee point and to which we will give sympathetic consideration, I think we have taken the right course in framing these conditions.
One point has been raised which has always been in my mind and on which I should like to say a few words. It was raised by the hon. Members for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East, Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) and Lincoln. It is, how will this fall upon tenants who are in difficult circumstances? I must frankly admit that such a proposal as I am making now, although perhaps right to make, would have been one which I would have hesitated to make without some special provisions in pre-war circumstances. It would have forced a number of people to make use of the Poor Law system which, under its old form, was thoroughly distasteful to the most honourable and deserving people in our whole community.
But I have made inquiries into the working of the new National Assistance system, which we all claim, and, I think, we believe, to be free of the stigma of the old Poor Law. That is its purpose. We believe it to be the proper system—at least I believe it to be so—by which the effect of any measures which may economically be correct over the whole field may be corrected over some part of that field.
I find that a very large number of those now drawing National Assistance are already receiving assistance either for the whole of their rent or for some part of their rent. I think that the figures are 1¼ million out of 1¾million. Therefore, those who are receiving the whole of their present rent in full will obviously receive the repairs increase, should it apply, and 1076 those who are receiving it in part may also qualify because there will be a heavier burden upon them. By this means, I am informed, the very great majority, if not all, would in fact have the repairs—I admit it frankly—paid on their behalf, by whom? By all of us. In my view that is right. They will be paid by the nation.
It will have this advantage, that their houses will be kept in good repair and they have the right to see that their houses are kept in good repair. If they have no resources from which they can pay economically, why is it wrong then that the whole community should pay on their behalf? I think that it is an extraordinary doctrine if we are to force them to live in bad conditions.
The hon. Gentleman who introduced this argument pointed out that this was already happening on a considerable scale as rents rose. But what rents have gone up? Why, only the local authority rents. It is the local authority rents which have gone up, although I have no doubt that some increased assistance has been given to those who happen to be in local authority houses the rents of which have gone up.
Now I come to the landlords. There is a good deal of division of opinion about the landlords. When the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale talks about them he does so with tears in his eyes. He says, "The poor landlords—we are not going to give them all they deserve." The hon. Member for Clapham (Mr. Gibson) could not stand for that, and he said that he did not agree at all with the right hon. Gentleman's estimate of the landlord. Hon. Members have been either pro-landlord or anti-landlord. Some say that this is intended to put more money into the landlord's pocket. I have no doubt that in particular quarters, where they think their argument will be successful, they will continue to use it.
There are certain points to which I want to refer. There is particularly the case, referred to by the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe), of rural cottages and some houses in the older industrial towns. It is suggested that the rents are low and, therefore, though the percentage increases which I propose might be quite high, the increase in terms of money would be very small. It is said that not only are the rents low but 1077 also the gross values are low. Therefore, repair increases based on the statutory deduction would be correspondingly small and the operation of the ceiling would be correspondingly restricted.
Of course, it must not be forgotten that the effect of lower assessment is to some extent modified by the fact that the statutory repair deduction is proportionately higher for houses of low gross value. There is a scale. For instance, if the gross value is £12 the repairs deduction would be £5, whereas if the value was £9 the repairs deduction would be £4, rather higher in proportion. That is to some extent an alleviation, but I have not represented this plan as an attempt to iron out all the great varieties and anomalies of the rent system. I do not think that that could be undertaken, and I really do not see any way of meeting this precise difficulty at the moment, although I will think further about it, except to say that I think we have to consider all the way through this sort of proposal the balance between the logical and the mathematical argument and the human approach.
Logically and mathematically, in the case of a very low rent, say of 2s. 6d. per week, it is quite true that the increase which will be made will be very small. On the other hand, people think partly in terms of what they are already paying and one has to try to balance what is a human response to what people think is a very high percentage with what we hope will be enough to make a contribution towards doing this work. Today the cottages on many estates are somehow kept in good repair because it is regarded as right and good by the landlord to do so. This will be some contribution towards easing that burden.
The next question from the landlord's point of view came from my hon. Friend the Member for Angus, North and Mearns (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley), who was followed by others, as to whether in establishing his claim to the repairs increase the landlord could go back over a period of only three years. Why not go back five years? I was led to go back for a short period because in the case of the owners of many well-managed estates and properties it is the practice to have a regular cycle of repairs. Not to have gone back at all would have been very hard on perhaps the best of all landlords.
1078 On the other hand, one must strike a balance somewhere. If one were to go back too far we should, I feel, be in danger of endangering the principle which I think is so important, and which, I am sure, the whole country regards as important, the principle that the repairs increase and the actual doing of the repairs should be closely linked. While I will look at the point again, I do not want to endanger the whole principle that these two things, the repairs increase and the repairs, should go together and be seen to go together.
I am more concerned with the fear that the repairs increase taken as a whole may not be of sufficient size or may be hedged in by too many conditions to be of any real use to the landlord. There are two versions of this argument; I do not wish to overstate it. There is that put forward, and I must take serious note of it, by the National Federation of Property Owners. This is what I would call the argument of insufficient incentive to do the job.
The other version is put forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale—he is not here, but he has explained to me why he is not here—which might be roughly described as the theory of the "mouldy turnip." I do not know whether the National Federation of Property Owners have yet elected the right hon. Gentleman to their committee, but what strange bedfellows these really are.
Of course it is impossible to dogmatise, but I would emphasise again what is the category and the class of houses which we are trying to deal with by this repairs increase. It is the class of house that can be dealt with by an increase for current repairs. It is not intended to deal with houses which will require several hundreds of pounds to be spent upon them. Obviously no increase in the rent which can be proposed in whoever's possession those houses may be, whether in private hands or whether in the hands of housing associations or local authorities, could be an economic rent if one means by economic rent rent sufficient to pay for the structural repairs of houses which have fallen into such a bad state that they need £300 or £400 to be expended on them.
I wish to go back to the estimate which has been made to the best of their ability by those who advise us. There are seven 1079 and a half million houses in Great Britain owned by landlords and let to tenants as houses and flats. Probably a million of these are no good anyway, and will have to be torn down. The problem is to do it quickly, when we have people living in them, as quickly as the right hon. Gentleman seems to think we can do it. But we have to place the people somewhere. I would say that there are five million or so houses which are in a reasonably good condition and which this system will stop from falling into bad repair. They can be maintained as an asset, and as good houses, and not become a burden to the nation.
There are perhaps another million where the condition is somewhere in between. Under our proposals some of them will have to go down and I hope that landlords, under the pressure of the local authority, will be made to put some houses into a condition which at least is fit for human habitation. The landlord may think that is a good thing to do, and this will be on; step towards encouraging landlords to put them into a sufficiently good condition to earn the repairs increase. Other properties will have to come down, and there will be applied to them the scheme and the machinery which we have devised to try to deal with them by the only means by which we can deal with them. If it cannot be done at all on an economic basis, it can be done only by the community in one form or another, the local authority being assisted by the central Government.
Finally it is asked, why should the owner do current repairs at all, even on houses in moderately good, or in good condition, if he has to use all the extra rent for extra repairs? Why should he do this if he cannot add to his free income which he may spend on himself? The first answer is that many landlords do this already even with an insufficient rent. They do it when they can afford to do so, not out of the income of the house but out of other resources which they may have at their command—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"] Well, we all know that that is true. If the income of the house can be made sufficient the landlords will have two motives, first, because it is a good thing to do, and secondly, because it is preserving and maintaining an asset which can have a 1080 substantial value, instead of allowing it to decay and, as I said before, to reach a position in which it may eventually be taken from them with no payment at all.
I wish to say a word about taxation, a question raised by the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Hay). Like most other people, I find it as difficult to understand the theory of taxation as to conform to the practice of paying it. But I should say that roughly this is the position regarding Income Tax. It has been said that the repairs increase will be subject to Income Tax. That is perfectly true, and it is in line with the taxation policy in general. But it should not be forgotten that landlords can, and ought, to make a maintenance claim. In his claim which, as the right hon. Gentleman said, is for a five-year period, the landlord has this advantage, that he is able to average out his expenditure over the five years, so that a particularly heavy expenditure in one year, where there would not be enough income to make the full claim, can be spread over the income for five years.
Therefore, indubitably, the five-year maintenance system is an advantage to the landlord. He already receives an automatic statutory deduction for tax purposes. But I will consult with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to see if it is necessary or possible to devise any additional means of meeting this problem.
This leads me to another doubt—expressed by a number of hon. Members, particularly by the hon. Members for Oldham, East and Henley—about where the landlord is to get the money. He has of course to get the money to do the repairs, and he may have to wait some time to get the repayments, especially on his maintenance claim. In many cases the landlords of large estates will have no difficulty at all, and it is indeed remarkable how much money is spent on repairs today.
The hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade), who made such an excellent contribution last night, pointed out that the smaller landlord would be faced with spending perhaps £18 or £20 and would have difficulty in obtaining it. Apart from the ordinary sources such as the banks—and we hope that the banks will be generous—there is machinery provided in the 1949 Act to which I want to 1081 call public attention once more. Under it the local authorities have power, and in my view they have the duty, to advance money to individual landlords for the purpose of paying for repairs. I think that is a great benefit that that Act did, and I should like to thank the right hon. Gentlemen opposite for having made that provision.
The interest they pay is the current rate of interest which, for short-term loans, is now just under 3 per cent. I hope that the local authorities will really make an effort under the new scheme, if it comes into being, to provide the necessary money especially to the small landlords. After all, it costs them nothing and it may save them a great deal, because every house that is kept in good repair in their area saves them the duty of dealing with it under my scheme or under the still bigger alternative of having to take it over at some time themselves. Therefore, it costs them nothing, and nowadays virtue which costs one nothing gives one an agreeable opportunity for feeling good.
Nobody has seriously argued that the great mass of houses can be kept in proper condition without some addition to the rent where the rent is already insufficient for the purpose. After all, the local authorities have no particular urge to increase their rents. As was pointed out yesterday, they are in closer touch with the electors than we are, because they have to face them more frequently. Every day we see that the rents of local authority houses are going up. Sometimes these are Conservative-controlled and sometimes they are Labour-controlled. It is pure hypocrisy to talk about the rich harvest for the landlords. In many cases the local authorities have already had to make larger increases in rent than would be allowed to private landlords under the Bill.
I believe, therefore, that this part of our proposal—the part dealing with the repairs increase—is fair. I believe that it is fair to the tenant and to the landlord and that it will work. I believe that it can make a contribution towards the maintenance of this vast number of houses, three-quarters of the whole we have to deal with, and keep them in decent repair at no public expense.
Now I come to certain points about the second part of our scheme which have not been opposed because they are 1082 common between us. I refer to conversions and improvements. The public imagination has been struck by some of the experiments which have been made. Public opinion is ripe for a new impulse in this direction. I have been informed that, as a result of increased publicity even in the last few weeks, many more applications are already coming in for grants. I hope that this is only the beginning of a great drive.
As the Parliamentary Secretary said, success depends partly on suitable legislation. We are trying to make amendments. I am not accusing those responsible for the old Act, but there are one or two Amendments which we think will be useful. Success also depends partly on sensible administration and partly on broad public response. So far as legislation is concerned, we have put in some amendments which we think will be valuable and useful. So far as the general structure is concerned, I do not think that I can alter that.
I know some people feel that it ought to be obligatory upon the local authorities to make the grant, but I could not accept that because I feel that where public money is at stake and where the authority is in a sense the trustee, both for its own money and for Exchequer money, there must be proper conditions. Some authorities have rejected this scheme altogether; they have not used their discretion, which is what the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale meant them to do, but have rejected it altogether. Curiously enough, this is not solely, so my researches prove, on ideological grounds.
This action has been taken by councils of different political complexions. So far as Labour councils are concerned, I hope they will rest upon the sound doctrine which has been given to them by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and so far as Conservative councils are concerned, I hope they will take the advice that we give them. Therefore, I hope they will exercise their discretion in the way in which it was intended as to whether it is a good scheme and ought to be put into effect, and that that should be the only criterion.
There are, on the other hand, some administrative changes which we intend to introduce. The Minister's conditions have sometimes been rather too inflexible 1083 and rather a barrier to progress, and we hope to make these more reasonable and more flexible. Therefore, in one way or another, I believe that with good publicity, by getting public opinion behind the scheme, by getting the authorities to use the powers which were given to them in the previous Parliament, by strengthening those powers and by improving the administration, we can now make a great forward move. This is one of the most effective measures for using a large number of houses which are structurally sound but out of date in their amenities and in their design for modern conditions, but which can play a most useful part for many years to come as part of our whole housing reserve.
There are some things I must say about the slums before I conclude.
§ Mr. Macmillan
I do not think I need say a great deal about the scheme itself. It has been very well received. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"] Surely, there can be no objection in anybody's mind to going forward with a new attempt to open up slum clearance of a big scale. As for the rather novel proposals—that is, the deferred demolition—while I took note of what the right hon. Gentleman said, I am not impressed by it, nor are the local authorities.
It is true that when I asked the local authorities to meet and I put this proposal before them, I said, "You all know that there are slum areas which cannot be cleared in five years or even in 10 years. In some of the great cities you know that it will be a longer job. What is the alternative? You can either take them and, at least, do something for the people who are there waiting, or you can take the high line and say, 'We could not be owners of bad property.' But if you do that you would be like the Levite, you would be like the man who passed by and left the poor man in the ditch. Why should you be ashamed to do something for them while they are waiting? Why should be it wrong to do some little work to help them during this period that they have to wait?"
1084 The Birmingham experiment has given us a very good example of what can be done, and I am proud to acknowledge that it is upon what they have done in that scheme that I am trying to base my future policy. As regards slum clearance as a whole, the Association of Municipal Corporations has called a two-day conference next week—this is not as regard finance—to launch a whole new crusade of slum clearance.
§ Mr. Macmillan
No. This is the two days' conference of representatives from every local authority. It was called, not by me, but by them. That was done on Mr. Greenwood's first Bill.
As regards the finance side, I have already discussed the financial provisions of Part I of the Bill at a full meeting of the local authority representatives, and further discussions have taken place with my officials. It was convenient to everybody to put the Financial Resolution on the Paper, but since I am to meet them personally on 10th December for a final review, we shall not ask the House to proceed with the Financial Resolution until after then. I hope that will meet the general wish.
There are only one or two things on which I want to end. It has been suggested that, instead of acting in the way we are trying to act, which I think is practical and realistic, we ought to have promoted a Measure which would progressively, bit by bit, hand over the whole of some 7 million houses and land them on the local authorities. I am going to place administrative burdens on the local authorities under Part I of this Bill. I do not mean financially, but in resources of manpower and trained men like surveyors and architects and so on, and if, in addition, they are to take over 6 or 7 million houses, then I say that is neither practical nor realistic.
I leave out altogether the sum of money which that might cost, and, after all, even £2,000 million or £3,000 million is not to be sneezed at. From the point of view of the people, they are more likely to get the houses dealt with if everybody plays their proper role—landlord and tenant, if we use the local authorities in the only way in which the local authorities can 1085 work. The people should not be taken in by these academic proposals. My proposals are realistic, whereas the alternative is all right in a debating society or a resolution, but is really not attuned to the needs of the day.
I cannot help thinking that the trouble is that the party opposite do not like our housing story. In the first year, we were being taunted as to when we would complete our target. In the second year, when it was clear that the date was getting imminent, some alternative had to be found. In the Housing Summary which is in the Vote Office tonight, it will be seen that, in the month of October, 30,000 houses were built in Great Britain—a record for any month since the war. In the second year of our Administration, that is to say, from 1st
§ November, 1952, to 31st October, 1953, the number of houses built was 300,001. [Laughter.] I mean 301,000. So we have already reached that target. Now, the right hon. Gentleman opposite says that these new plans are unworkable, and indeed asks me to prove that they will work. We have proved that what we said before has worked, and so I say to him that if, perhaps, he waits two years, with the help of all our colleagues in the Government, he will see that the job will be done. In this Bill, we are asking Parliament to give us the necessary tools, and then we shall put our hearts into finishing the job.
§ Question put, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 309; Noes, 282.1089
|Division No. 10.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Colegate, W. A.||Grimond, J.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Harden, J. R. E.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Crouch, R. F.||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Harrison, Col. J. H, (Eye)|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)|
|Baker, P. A. D.||Cuthbert, W. N.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Hay, John|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Davidson, Viscountess||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Deedes, W. F.||Heald, Sir Lionel|
|Barber, Anthony||Digby, S. Wingfield||Heath, Edward|
|Barlow, Sir John||Dodds-Parker. A. D||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Baxter, A. B.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Higgs, J. M. C.|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Donner, Sir P. W.||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Doughty, C. J. A.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||H"nchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Drayson, G. B.||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Hollis, M. C.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Duthie, W. S||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M||Hope, Lord John|
|Birch, Nigel||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Bishop, F. P.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.|
|Black, C. W.||Erroll, F. J.||Horobin, I. M.|
|Boothby, Sir R. J. G||Fell, A.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Finlay, Graeme||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Fisher, Nigel||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)|
|Braine, B. R.||Fletcher, Sir Walter (Bury)||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.|
|Bromley-Devonport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Ford, Mrs. Patricia||Hurd, A. R.|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Fort, R.||Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Foster, John||Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.|
|Bullard, D. G.||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||Jennings, R.|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Gammans, L. D.||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)|
|Campbell, Sir David||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)|
|Carr, Robert||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Glover, D.||Kaberry, D.|
|Channon, H.||Godber, J. B.||Kerr, H. W.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Gough, C. F. H.||Lambton, Viscount|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Gower, H R||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Graham, Sir Fergus||Langford-Holt, J. A.|
|Cole, Norman||Gridley, Sir Arnold||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.|
|Leather, E. H. C.|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Nutting, Anthony||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Oakshott, H. D.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Odey, G. W.||Stevens, G. P.|
|Lindsay, Martin||O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Storey, S.|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Osborne, C.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Page, R. G.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Longden, Gilbert||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Summers, G. S.|
|Low, A. R. W.||Perkins, W. R. D.||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Peyton, J. W. W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|McAdden, S. J.||Pitman, I. J.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|McCallum, Major D.||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Powell, J. Enoch||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Tilney, John|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Profumo, J. D.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Raikes, Sir Victor||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Rayner, Brig. R.||Turton, R. H|
|Maclean, Fitzroy||Redmayne, M.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Remnant, Hon. P.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Renton, D. L. M.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Wade, D. W.|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Robertson, Sir David||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Wakefield, Sir Waved (St. Marylebone)|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Robson-Brown, W.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Marples, A. E.||Roper, Sir Harold||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Maude, Angus||Russell, R. S.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Maudling, R.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Wellwood, W.|
|Medlicott, Brig. F||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Mellor, Sir John||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Molson, A. H. E.||Scott, R. Donald||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Moore, Sir Thomas||Shepherd, William||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Wills, G.|
|Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Nabarro, G. D. N.||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Neave, Airey||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||York, C.|
|Nicholls, Harmar||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Soames, Capt. C.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Spearman, A. C. M.||Mr. Buchan-Hepburn and|
|Nield, Basil (Chester)||Speir, R. M.||Sir Cedric Drewe.|
|Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Donnelly, D. L.|
|Adams, Richard||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Driberg, T. E. N|
|Albu, A. H.||Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Burke, W. A||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Burton, Miss F. E.||Edelman, M.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. (Brighouse)|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Callaghan, L. J.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Carmichael, J.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Champion, A. J.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)|
|Baird, J.||Chapman, W. D||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)|
|Balfour, A.||Chetwynd, G. R.||Fernyhough, E.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J.||Coldrick, W.||Fienburgh, W.|
|Bartley, P.||Collick, P. H.||Finch, H. J.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)|
|Bence, C. R.||Cove, W. G.||Follick, M.|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Foot, M. M.|
|Benson, G.||Crosland, C. A. R.||Forman, J. C.|
|Beswick, F.||Crossman, R. H. S.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Freeman, John (Watford)|
|Blackburn, F.||Daines, P.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N|
|Blyton, W. R.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Gibson, C. W.|
|Boardman, H.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Glanville, James|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Gooch, E. G.|
|Bowles, F. G.||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Deer, G.||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Delargy, H. J.||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Wakefield)|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Dodds, N. N.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.|
|Grey, C. F.|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Manuel, A. C.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)|
|Hale, Leslie||Mason, Roy||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mayhew, C. P||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Mellish, R. J.||Snow, J. W.|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Messer, Sir F.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Hannan, W.||Mikardo, Ian||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Hardy, E. A.||Mitchison, G. R.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Hargreaves, A.||Monslow, W.||Steele, T.|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Moody, A. S.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Hastings, S.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Morley, R.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Mort, D. L.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Moyle, A.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Hobson, C. R.||Mulley, F. W.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Holman, P.||Murray, J. D.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)||Nally, W.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Hoy, J. H.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||O'Brien, T.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Oldfield, W. H.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Oliver, G. H.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Orbach, M.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Oswald, T.||Thornton, E.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Padley, W. E.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Paget, R. T.||Timmons, J.|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Tomney, F.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Janner, B.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Pannell, Charles||Usborne, H. C.|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Pargiter, G. A.||Viant, S. P.|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Parker, J.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Paton, J.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Peart, T. F.||Watkins, T E.|
|Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Popplewell, E.||Weitzman, D|
|Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Porter, G.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W)||West, D. G.|
|Keenan, W.||Proctor, W. T.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Kenyon, C.||Pryde, D. J.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Key, Rt. Hon C. W.||Pursey, Comdr. H.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Rankin, John||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Kinley, J.||Reeves, J.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Wigg, George|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Reid, William (Camlachie)||Wilcock, Group Capt C. A. B.|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Rhodes, H.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Richards, R.||Willey, F. T.|
|Lewis, Arthur||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Logan, D. G.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|MacColl, J. E.||Ross, William||Williams, W. R (Droylsden)|
|McGhee, H. G.||Royle, C.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|McGovern, J.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|McInnes, J,||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|McLeavy, F.||Short, E. W.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Shurmer, P. L E.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Yates, V. F.|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Skeffington, A. M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson.|
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the whole House."—[Mr. Whiteley.]1090
§ The House divided: Ayes, 281; Noes, 308.1095
|Division No. 11.]||AYES||[10.12 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Baird, J.||Blackburn, F.|
|Adams, Richard||Balfour, A.||Blenkinsop, A.|
|Albu, A. H.||Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Blyton, W. R.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Bartley, P.||Boardman, H.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Bence, C. R.||Bowles, F. G|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth|
|Attlee, Rt Hon. C. R||Benson, G.||Brockway, A F.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Beswick, F.||Brook, Dryden (Halifax)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Reid, William (Camlachie)|
|Burke, W. A.||Janner, B.||Rhodes, H.|
|Burton, Milt F. E.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T||Richards, R.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Jeger, George (Goole)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Carmichael, J.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Champion, A. J.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Ross, William|
|Chapman, W. D.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Royle, C.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Coldrick, W.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Collick, P. H.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Short, E. W.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Keenan, W.||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Cove, W. G.||Kenyon, C.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||King, Dr. H. M.||Simmons, C J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Kinley, J.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Daines, P.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfold, E.)||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lewis, Arthur||Snow, J. W.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Lindgren, G. S.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Deer, G.||Logan, D. G.||Sparkes, J. A.|
|Delargy, H. J.||MacColl, J. E.||Steele, T.|
|Dodds, N. N.||McGhee, H. G.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Donnelly, D. L.||McGovern, J.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||McInnes, J.||Strachey, Rt. Hon J.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Strauss, Rt. Hon George (Vauxhall)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||McLeavy, F.||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Edelman, M.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Swingler, S. T.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Mallalieu, J. P. W (Huddersfield, E.)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Mann, Mrs Jean||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Manuel, A. C.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Fienburgh, W.||Mason, Roy||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Finch, H. J.||Mayhew, C. P.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Mellish, R. J.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Follick, M.||Messer, Sir F.||Thornton, E.|
|Foot, M. M.||Mikardo, Ian||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Forman, J. C.||Mitchison, G. R.||Timmons, J.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Monslow, W.||Tomney, F.|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Moody, A. S.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Morley, R.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Viant, S. P.|
|Glanville, James||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Gooch, E. G.||Mort, D. L.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Moyle, A.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Mulley, F. W.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Wakefield)||Murray, J. D.||Weitzman, D.|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon D. R.||Nally, W.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Grey, C. F.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||West, D. G.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||O'Brien, T.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Hale, Leslie||Oldfield, W. H.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Oliver, G. H.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Orbach, M.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Oswald, T.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Hannan, W.||Padley, W. E.||Wigg, George|
|Hardy, E. A.||Paget, R. T.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Hargreaves, A.||Paling, Rt. Hon W. (Dearne Valley)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Harrison, J (Nottingham, E.)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Willey, F. T.|
|Hastings, S.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Pannell, Charles||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Pargiter, G. A.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Parker, J.||Williams, Rt. Hn. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Paton, J.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Peart, T. F.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Holman, P.||Popplewell, E.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)||Porter, G.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Hoy, J. H.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Proctor, W. T.||Yates, V. F.|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Pryde, D. J.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Pursey, Cmdr. H|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Rankin, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Reeves, J.||Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Fisher, Nigel||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Fletcher, Sir Waller (Bury)||Longden, Gilbert|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Low, A. R. W.|
|Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Ford, Mrs. Patricia||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Fort, R.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Foster, John||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||McAdden, S. J.|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||McCallum, Major D.|
|Baker, P. A. D.||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Macdonald, Sir Peter|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Gammans, L. D.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Garner-Evans, E. H.||McKibbin, A. J.|
|Barber, Anthony||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Glover, D.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Baxter, A. B.||Godber, J. B.||Maclean, Fitzroy|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Gough, C. F. H.||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Gower, H. R.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Graham, Sir Fergus||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Gridley, Sir Arnold||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Grimond, J.||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Birch, Nigel||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Marples, A. E.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Harden, J. R. E.||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)|
|Black, C. W.||Hare, Hon. J. H.||Maude, Angus|
|Boothby, Sir R. J. G.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Maudling, R.|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Medlicott, Brig. F.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Mellor, Sir John|
|Braine, B. R.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)||Hay, John||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Heald, Sir Lionel||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Heath, Edward||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Buchan Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Higgs, J. M. C.||Neave, Airey|
|Bul"ard, D. G.||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Bul"us, Wing Commander E. E.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hirst, Geoffrey||Nield, Basil (Chester)|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.|
|Campbell, Sir David||Hollis, M. C.||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Carr, Robert||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Nutting, Anthony|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hope, Lord John||Oakshott, H. D.|
|Channon, H.||Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Odey, G. W.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Horobin, I. M.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Clarke, Brig Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Cole, Norman||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Colegate, W. A.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Osborne, C.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Hudson, W R. A. (Hull, N.)||Page, R. G.|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Hulbert, Wing Cdr. N. J.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hurd, A. R.||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Jennings, R.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip℄Northwood)||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Kaberry, D.||Profumo, J. D.|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Kerr, H. W.||Raikes, Sir Victor|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Lambton, Viscount||Redmayne, M.|
|Donner, Sir P. W.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Leather, E. H. C.||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Legh, Hon Peter (Petersfield)||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.||Lindsay, Martin||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Llewellyn, D. T.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Erroll, F. J.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Russell, R. S.|
|Fell, A.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Storey, S.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.||Summers, G. S.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Scott, R. Donald||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Shepherd, William||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)||Webbe, Sir H (London & Westminster)|
|Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)||Wellwood, W.|
|Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Snadden, W. McN.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Soames, Capt. C,||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Spearman, A. C. M.||Tilney, John||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Speir, R. M.||Touche, Sir Gordon||Wills, G.|
|Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Turner, H. F. L.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)||Turton, R. H.||Wood, Hon, R.|
|Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||Tweedsmuir, Lady||York, C.|
|Stevens, G. P.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)||Vosper, D. F.||Sir Cedric Drewe and|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Wade, D. W.||Mr. Studholme.|
Resolution agreed to.