§ Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment to Question [17th November], That the Bill be now read a Second time.—[Mr. Sandys.]
§ Which Amendment was, to leave out "now" and at the end of the Question to add "upon this day six months."—[Mr. Lindgren.]
§ Question again proposed, That "now" stand part of the Question:—
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
I think that, on reflection, hon. Members in all parts of the House will regret very much that this debate has been broken in half. It would have been much more seemly, and certainly much more in keeping with the stature of the subject, if we could have had a continuous two days' debate. It is also unfortunate that a considerable amount of time has elapsed which has eaten into the second day of the debate. I hope, however, that that will not prevent us from having a Division at a reasonably early hour. Of course, we would have preferred if the Leader of the House had found it possible to take the recent Division after the housing debate, although, I suppose, it is far too much to expect the Leader of the House to throw away one half of his scissors.
This is the first major debate on housing since 1945. That is not to deprecate many of the other debates that have taken place but, in the main, they did not concern themselves with the fundamental principles of housing. They occurred, in the main, on the revision of subsidies from time to time. But this is the first time since then that we have been able to discuss the fundamentals of the question. I welcome it for that reason, because I think the time has come when we should now review the whole of our housing programme.
I would have preferred that the Government would have found it possible to be able to discuss at the same time the proposals with which they are threatening us 1062 about rent restrictions. We would then have had a complete picture of the Government's proposals and the country would have a better idea of what is in store for it. This issue is of very great importance indeed, as hon. Members in all parts of the House will soon find. Local authorities up and down the country are deeply disturbed, and the more they learn of the Government's proposals the more disturbed they become.
I might be permitted, as this is a wide, sweeping discussion, to try to indicate the lines upon which we considered post-war housing should be conducted and I should like to refer to a speech which I made as far back as 1945.
§ Mr. Bevan
Yes. I am referring to a speech made on 17th October, 1945. We said then that in our judgment the main responsibility for dealing with post-war housing should rest upon the local authorities; and in this we were making no departure from a statement made by the previous Government.
It was clear to everybody that we would be faced with a very dangerous political situation if the provision of post-war housing was left to the caprice of private enterprise. Even as it was, as early as 1946 there were dangerous movements among homeless peoples in different parts of the country. Hotels and other buildings were forcibly seized. I ask hon. Members opposite, who have been boasting about their housing policy since, what would have been the situation in Great Britain if, in the immediate post-war years, the people with the longest purses had been able to buy houses and the returned ex-Service men in their hundreds of thousands had been walking the streets homeless? I venture to say that the post-war years of Great Britain would not have been as peaceful and prosperous and progressive as they were had that been the case.
Although hon. Members opposite made all kinds of wild speeches, they knew in 1063 their heart of hearts that the only way in which this grave social problem could be successfully tackled was by the Government and the local authorities co-operating and keeping private enterprise firmly under leash. There were numbers of people, especially speculative builders, who looked enviously and covetously at the money in the pockets of people at that time at the end of the war, and who desired to do as they did from 1921 onwards and make large fortunes out of speculative building. But we knew that it was not in the best interests of Great Britain that they should be let loose on the community, so we decided that postwar housing should be entrusted to public enterprise. I have not heard any right hon. or hon. Member on the other side of the House, who dare, even to this day, quarrel with that decision.
It is quite true that at that time the Leader of the party opposite, with his usual irresponsibility, got up in the place where I am now standing and asked that all forms of building should be let loose, that there should be no attempt to canalise building materials and labour into the public housing, but that anybody should build a house—where he liked, what he liked and as much as he liked. But, thank goodness, the right hon. Gentleman was not in office. Fortunately, he was not permitted to have his way.
In those years we had an ordered building programme. It was not as fast as we would have liked—[Interruption.] Certainly not. We would have preferred to have built houses much more quickly—of course. The country would have liked to do it, but I ask hon. Members, even today, to ask themselves, as we had to ask ourselves over and over again in those years, what would we not build if we wanted to build more houses? For example, the Minister last week, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill, mentioned that he had been Minister of Works. I am bound to say to him that a most calamitous Minister of Works he was. I had to spend the first year, almost the first two years, of my office in cleaning up the demoralised mess in which he had left the building industry.
When hon. Members say that they would have liked more houses, have they ever looked at the figures of those years? Have they realised that in July, 1945, there were 204,000 building workers on 1064 war damage repairs alone? Have they realised that one of the great difficulties of bringing the building industry back to a more wholesome state of health after the war was the right hon. Gentleman's policy of cost-plus on all war damage repairs?
I am not suggesting for one moment—I want to be entirely fair to him—[HON. MEMBERS: "Fair?"] Yes, I desire to be fair to him. I remind the House that after the war we had a tremendous repair problem on our hands and resources had to be mobilised very quickly. In some instances, so impossible was it to make any proper estimates on the houses that were damaged as to what it would cost to put them back in repair that cost-plus methods were a rough and ready way of getting the job done. But we all know—and those connected with the building industry know much better than anybody else—that that method brought into the building industry all kinds of undesirable elements, all sorts of people who never belonged to the building industry, who just mobilised labour of all kinds from wherever they could get it, and some of them made very large sums of money indeed.
Indeed, in 1946, 157,000 building workers were engaged on war damage repairs, and in 1947 the figure was 99,000. In 1948, the building programme was in balance, when we had almost reached our post-war peak, but there were still 76,000 building workers on war damaged building repairs. In all those years, we had to deal with the legacy left by the war, and I must say that I was astonished at the irresponsibility of some of the campaigns carried out at that time.
Furthermore, and hon. Members in all parts of the House must remember this, in addition to providing homes for our people, we had to provide them with places in which to work. I represent a South Wales constituency which depends on steel and coal. There was a very great need indeed for housing—a much greater need than in some other parts of the country—because, in between the wars, hardly any building was being done—hardly any industrial building at all. There was some slum clearance, but the result was that there was hardly any building labour in the area and hardly any building contractors.
1065 We had to make a very hard decision. Should we build a smaller number of houses and build factories and steel works and places of that sort, in which the workers would have secure employment, or should we build more houses and have them unemployed in the new houses? We made the decision, which was endorsed at the time, that it was better to secure work and put up with the overcrowding a little longer. That was the decision.
But we decided something further in 1945, and the right hon. Gentleman should begin to pay a little attention to it. He was quite wrong the other day in saying that the main purpose of the housing subsidy was to keep rents within the means of tenants. There was a second reason, and it remains as important today as it was then. It is to try to guide the building of houses where they are most needed in the national interest, and that the relationship between the local authorities and the State should be of such a nature that the State could get the building of houses done where they would serve the long-term interests of the nation. Therefore, allocations and licences were necessary.
I will give the House an illustration. One of the greatest needs of all, as I think hon. Members who represent rural constituencies will admit, is to get houses built for agricultural workers, but in the deep rural areas there were hardly any builders at all. There were areas in Great Britain where no new rented house had been built for a hundred years, and it was appreciated that if we were to place our agriculture on a sound footing we had to provide houses for agricultural workers.
Today, the provision or lack of provision of houses for agricultural workers in the countryside is the most pressing need. At present, one of the greatest difficulties—one of the reasons there is a migration of labour from the countryside—arises because the agricultural worker does not get in the countryside the amenities which he can find in the towns. Hon. Members know that very well in their hearts.
How were houses to be built in the rural areas? I will tell the House exactly how it was done. Almost every rural area is bordered by belts of speculative building, where the speculative builders 1066 made fortunes before the war by building the ugliest houses ever seen. They were aesthetically quite outrageous. Never has there been such an outrage committed on the British landscape as was committed in those years, and, of course, they wanted to stay there, adding to the spectacle. The only way in which I could drive them to build houses in the rural areas, and the only way in which they have been driven, was by refusing licences in the urban belts, so that if they wanted to continue to make a living building houses, they would have to build them in the deep rural areas.
That was how it was done, and one of the reasons why rural housing is now declining is because the speculative builder now deserts the deep rural areas and is operating once more in the urban belts. I challenge hon. Members opposite to say how they would have tackled the problem. If they had been allowed to do then what they have done since, if they had abandoned building licences, if they had not given what were called at the time negative directions to the building force, these rural houses would not have been built and the agricultural situation in Great Britain today would be much worse than it was then. The right hon. Gentleman, I am afraid, does not begin to understand his job. His job is to use the powers of Government in co-operation with the local authorities to try to create a sensible ground plan for the nation, and if this had been done earlier, we would not have had the housing problem which we have now.
In the years between the wars—and I am not simply mentioning this again as a "King Charles's head"—there was a mass migration of labour from the North and West to the South and South-East. Scotland lost hundreds of thousands of men, and so did Wales, Durham, Northumberland and parts of Yorkshire—all of them proceeding into the South and South-East to follow employment. Now, having created that situation and having almost coagulated them, so that the term "traffic in London" has become a term of irony, we have now to spend hundreds of millions of pounds in unspilling them. That was Tory planning. We now have to do our best in building new towns, with the local authorities leap-frogging over each other in trying to get building sites elsewhere. 1067 This is being done not merely to deal with better housing and not merely to deal with the problems created by increased population, because that was not the only thing.
I have a figure in my mind as to the migration that took place before the war, when there was an increase of population of about 12 per cent., but here was an increase of population in the South and South-East of England of 32 per cent. It also occurred in the Midlands, and here we had a profound redistribution of the industrial population, with the result that today the nation has to spend very large sums of money to repair the follies of those years.
§ Mr. Bevan
The in-between-the-wars years. The right hon. Gentleman himself, in his Bill, is having to continue the work which was started by the Labour Government, because it was we who started the new towns. We started all the administrative schemes which are now being carried out, and it was while we were in office that the extended towns programme and the overspill programme were laid down.
The right hon. Gentleman has to continue them, because the housing of London and its environs is now one of the scandals of Great Britain. The rents in London are so high that they are an outrageous burden on people's shoulders. The pallid faces of hundreds of thousands of men and women workers who crowd into London every morning and try to empty themselves from London every evening, spending weary hours in travelling, is a monument to the misbehaviour of the party opposite in the inter-war years. [Laughter.] I can hardly see any cause for laughter in that.
There was a further principle which governed us after the war, and it is one I want to commend to the right hon. Gentleman. It bears directly on what we are discussing today. I had the idea—if it was wrong I should be told so, but I have not been told so yet—that there was something that was bad in the segregation of people with the lower incomes in districts—"villages"—of their own. I had the idea that if there was one thing we wanted to do it was to avoid what I then described as "castrated townships," 1068 twilight townships, from which scarcely anybody came, except the gentlemen in pinstripe trousers and with rolled-up umbrellas, the townships where one could hardly see anybody at all who did not belong to the same or similar and distinct income group.
I thought it was desirable that our communities should be as mixed as possible, that the people of the different income levels should be mixed together and not live in different places. We did our very best to bring that about. At first, of course, in the immediate post-war years, it was inevitable that the people who went to live in the townships on the municipal estates should have been of the lower income group, because, as a general rule, they had most need; but, later, we encouraged the local authorities to provide other accommodation on those estates. I even went so far as to ask them, in arranging their plans, their siting, to leave plots of ground they could sell to people to build houses on. In other words, we wanted to mix them up as much as possible.
When hon. Members opposite now tell us one of the justifications of this Measure is that they can see people with motor cars on the municipal estates, I answer that that is what we wanted, that is what we set out to ensure. We set out to try to get the doctor and the lawyer and the banker and all kinds of people mixed up on the municipal estates. [An HON. MEMBER: "Yes, but not subsidised."] I will deal with that in a moment.
It was, in our view—and I want hon. Members opposite to answer if they disagree with me—an undesirable feature of British life that there should be class segregation. Let us see how far this Measure now before us bears on that matter. As I say, we did bring about a certain amount of mixing up of the people; we had some success. As hon. Members know, the best villages in England in which to live are the villages where, walking down the main street, one finds the doctor's house next door to the grocer's house next door to the "vet's" house next door to the country labourer's house—[Interruption.] The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) is impudent. If there is one person from whom one cannot usually get good manners, it is he who starts with a noble title. We wanted to 1069 bring about that sort of mixing of the people, and when we are told that the character of the local authorities' estates has now changed, we regard that as an excellent thing.
I shall not tonight argue the merits of differential rents as such. On this side of the House we can see no relationship whatsoever between subsidy and differential refits. Differential rents were applied before the war and are being applied today with the subsidy in existence. As I said earlier, the twin purposes of the subsidy were to link the local authorities with the State in a social planing operation and to keep down the general level of rents. Both those purposes are as important today as ever they were. Therefore, the argument about differential rents is irrelevant in this discussion.
However, I would ask hon. Members opposite to consider this. If the application of differential rents becomes universal, if we are to have probings into personal incomes, if we are to have people spying on their neighbours and telling upon their neighbours, if we are to set neighbours against each other, and if we are to pauperise local authorities' estates—there is an element of all that if there is an investigation into the needs Of people before it is decided at what levels to fix their rents—will there not be a disposition to make local authority estates once more second-class estates? Will there not be a danger that many who can afford to will leave those estates as quickly as possible? Will not then the very aim I thought was universally accepted, that we should have as much variety and differentiation of people on local authority estates as possible, be lost? Shall we not once more have the dreary, monolithic villages of people all of the same income group? Other people will be living elsewhere, where they will be unlikely to be subjected to this kind of investigation.
I put that before the House as a danger. No one can say that it is not a danger. It is a real danger. Therefore, before we base the whole of our housing policy upon the principle of differential rents we ought to ask ourselves what kind of Britain we are trying to create. Are we trying to create a Britain in which class differentiation is accompanied by class segregation and, therefore, by class bitterness? Or are we 1070 trying to create a Britain in which every man is as good as his neighbour?
I ask right hon. and hon. Gentlemen to think very carefully indeed. It may be that, over a period of years, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty years, as local habit adjusts itself, as schemes are carefully worked out with as much delicacy and equity as possible, local authority after local authority will adopt some form of differential rents scheme. It may be possible. It might happen, but it ought not to be made the principle of action and the centre of legislation. It ought not to be the fulcrum of legislation.
This is precisely what the Minister has aimed at. What has the Minister said? He justifies the reduction of subsidy and its eventual abolition on the ground that if a local authority spreads the cost of its housing over the whole pool of local authority housing by the application of differential rents, State subsidy will not be necessary. That is exactly what the right hon. Gentleman says in the Bill—exactly what he says. He takes this national, notional pool and he says—
§ Mr. Bevan
Yes, 2¾ million houses. He says that if we spread the cost of contemporary building, spread it out over all of the local authority houses, it may not be necessary in some cases to raise the rents at all, and that over the whole house building programme it is necessary to raise the rents only by 7d.—5d. and 2d. That is not a complicated sum.
He does this by applying the principle of averages. Averages are a very convenient arithmetical formula. They enable us to arrive at rough approximations. They are very rough, extremely rough, I am reminded of the old chestnut, that the tramp and Rockefeller had all the money in the world between them.
The great difficulty about this is that the number of old houses available to local authorities varies enormously over different parts of the country and this proposal will alight with varying degrees of violence in different areas. The average upon which the Minister has based his proposal is a very unreal average indeed. Therefore, we consider that in the meantime it would be desirable to continue the subsidy and let the local authorities, if they so wish, gradually adjust themselves to the situation.
1071 It was only last year that the right hon. Gentleman reduced the housing subsidy and justified it on the ground that the Bank Rate had been reduced. This year the Bank Rate is up and the subsidy goes down, and in a short time it will go down even further. Last year the housing subsidy was reduced, not only on account of the reduction in the Bank Rate but on account of the lower standard of housing. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) has been attacked on a number of occasions—perhaps I should not say "attacked" because he has been cheered sometimes by the party opposite—because it was he, it was said, who recommended what was subsequently called the "People's House" to the local authorities.
§ Mr. Bevan
I am trying to put the facts. My right hon. Friend informed the local authorities of the existence of the house. [Interruption.] Does the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries wish to intervene? Perhaps not. I understand his diffidence. He is on very thin ice. The local authorities looked askance at these houses. They were not building them very rapidly, and then the Minister did a little trick, on which he was congratulated by his hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). The right hon. Gentleman based the reduced subsidy on the house that was not being built in sufficient numbers. In the past, the subsidy was always based upon taking the actual cost of building a threebedroomed house of 950 superficial feet. That was the house which I recommended in 1945, and the subsidy was based on that house all the time.
We met the local authorities each year and we took into account the actual cost of building, not what might have been the cost. We did not take a house that was not built and say, "We think that it will cost that sum of money." We took the actual house and then agreed about the subsidy, but what the right hon. Gentleman did, in order to enforce low-standard housing on the local authorities, was this—he based his subsidy on the "People's House," so that if the local 1072 authorities wished to build a better house they had to do so at their own expense.
The right hon. Gentleman himself said last year, on 21st October:The ideas embodied in that type of house, originally put forward by the last Government, are now being adopted to an ever greater extent by local authorities, and the subsidy is based upon the type of house which local authorities in general have decided to build.The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West used these word:That was precisely what was expected in 1952 both by the Government and by the local authorities, when they agreed that a more general compliance"—A lovely selection of language. I congratulate the hon. Member—with the suggestion made to them by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) would have this result."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st October, 1954; Vol. 531, c. 1389–1412.]That is, a reduction in the cost of the house anywhere from £50 to £100.
Therefore, what actually happened was that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West congratulated his right hon. Friend upon basing his subsidy on a lower standard house, which would cost £50 to £100 less. This was to reverse the whole procedure formerly adopted. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland did not reduce the housing subsidy to make the local authorities build that house. It was this Government and the right hon. Gentleman who did that, and it is they who are now responsible for the fact that that house is being built as to more than 80 per cent. of local authorities—houses described by The Times as the slum of the future.
§ Mr. Bevan
That is entirely irrelevant to the question. We are discussing a housing debate that took place on 21st October, 1954. As the hon. Member knows very well, the housing subsidies are revised in March and, therefore, it was hardly possible to revise last March from a decision which was made last October.
§ Mr. Powell
The right hon. Member is making the charge that the revised subsidies were based on a house which had not been built in considerable number. I pointed out that it had been built in considerable number.
§ Mr. Bevan
The answer to the hon. Member is that his own Minister informed the House in that debate that the house was being built in greater numbers under pressure from the regional Dicers of the Ministry of Health and, what is more, before the year was out, the right hon. Gentleman informed the House—
§ Mr. Sandys
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is referring to me or to my predecessor, but apparently one of us is supposed to have said that these houses were being built in larger numbers under pressure from the regional officers. Could the right hon. Gentleman read those words?
§ Mr. Sandys
When the right hon. Gentleman looks up HANSARD he will see that he said that "the right hon. Gentleman informed the House" that these houses were being built under pressure from the regional officers. I am quite content if the right hon. Gentleman now withdraws that statement.
§ Mr. Bevan
But I again come back to the right hon. Gentleman's own statement in the debate on 21st October, 1954. I must now read it all to put it right. When the right hon. Gentleman was reminded that this was a smaller house, he said:I think that is very satisfactory.The right hon. Gentleman added:In any case, I would point out to the hon. Member"—that is, my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale)—that the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) conceived the idea of 1074 the house which was subsequently … christened by my right hon. Friend"—that is, the present Foreign Secretary—… the 'People's House'."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 21st October, 1954; Vol. 531, c. 1389.]And the Minister himself said last year that he thought that this house was desirable. I know enough about the administration of the Ministry of Health to realise that when the Minister says he told us that a certain kind of house was desirable his officers would convey that to the local authorities.
§ Mr. Sandys
May we get this clear? Does the right hon. Gentleman think, or does he not, that the "People's House" is a good kind of house?
§ Mr. Bevan
I do not, but I do say that it is highly undesirable for the Government to use their financial power to impose that type of house on the local authorities, and I am also saying that they reverse the whole process in doing so.
I would remind the House, also, that we had a long defence the other day of the principle of differential rents as applied to these houses. How far the local authorities will adopt this proposal I do not know, but it is generally agreed that there will be an increase in rent which in some circumstances may be substantial. That is not denied anywhere. Of course, it will be all the more substantial where local authorities have not large pools of pre-war and post-war houses. It will be very substantial.
In narrating the history of subsidies after the war, the right hon. Gentleman pointed out that when wages went up the relationship between wages and rents was maintained by the Labour Government in much the same way as had been established in 1945 and 1946. That was quite right. As earnings rose, we did not lift the subsidy because we thought it was desirable to maintain the same sort of relationship, which was about 10 per cent. Last year, when this was discussed, it was suggested that this was a proper kind of relationship and that it should be continued. Do we now understand that the same logic applies to rents in the future, that if rents are raised by the abolition of the subsidy or by the proposal for 1075 differential rents, the workers are entitled to an increase in wages equal to the increase in the rise in the rents because subsidies were kept at that level to keep pace with the rise in wages and to maintain the same relationship?
Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether he would now consider it to be fair that if rents go up, as they will do, to 15 per cent. of earnings therefore all the trade unionists in the country are entitled to demand an increase of wages equal to the increase of rent? Will he answer that?
If the relationship was right then, why will it not be right in the future? If it was right to defend that relationship before, why is it wrong now? Does the Chancellor realise that this argument will be heard in every home and that people will say that it is the policy of the Government—that it was the policy of the Labour Government, it is the policy of the Conservative Government—that this relationship between earnings and rents should be maintained and that, therefore, if it is disturbed no one can complain if all the unions of the country insist on re-establishing the same ratio as formerly?
The party opposite are making a proper whip with which to whip their backs; indeed, I almost heard it crack just now. This arises directly from the policy which the Government are adopting at the present time. Of course, I do not believe that it emanates from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. It emanates from the Treasury. It is the same kind of silly blunder of which we have had an example in the last few days—a failure to appreciate that when we begin to juggle with these figures we shall have physical responses. What I mean by physical responses is that the workers will take action to protect themselves in the industrial field against wounds inflicted on them in the political field.
Hon. Members must bear in mind that a Government majority is not sufficient. They were warned at the Election of that. A Government cannot govern a country successfully unless it carries with it the good will of the people. Today, the working classes are highly organised and rather more intelligent. They will understand what is happening and, furthermore, they will feel that they have been betrayed.
1076 The Government have insisted that in future local authorities shall go to the market to raise their money. What a shocking decision—in order to put money into the pockets of a lot of financial "spivs." What necessity was there for that? We have had no justification of it. The rise in the rate of interest is no justification. Can any hon. Member seriously justify sending local authorities of varying sizes, of different capacities, some with officers of little or no financial experience, to raise money in the City? I ask hon. Members to think seriously about this action.
We have had much experience of this. For many years I was a member of a local authority and I paid many visits to the Public Works Loan Board. My local authority had to go to it because we could not raise money in the open market. At that time the Board told us that as a consequence of our lower financial status we would have to borrow money on higher terms, that our lack of security would have to be expressed in terms of an increased rate of borrowing.
The Press is now reporting that some local authorities are going to the City in great distress, offering high commissions but unable to get accommodation. Why have they done that? It does not affect the standard of borrowing, it does not affect the amount of money raised, because all this money is sanctioned first by the Government. The local authorities cannot raise a loan at all without first getting loan sanction. It is not as though the Government are discouraging local authorities from borrowing by forcing them to borrow at disadvantageous rates, because local authorities have first to jump that hurdle before they can borrow at all.
Why, then, are the Government doing this? We should like to know. Is it to put money in the pockets of their friends? [An HON. MEMBER: "Of course it is."] It is a monstrous proposal. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Housing and Local Government is a past-master of the art. He has been putting large sums of money in the pockets of the steel masters for the last few years. Now he wants to add to the loot. It cannot be said that this is regarded by the Government themselves as a reputable action—perhaps I can take the grin off the silly face of the noble Lord the Member for 1077 Dorset, South by reading a statement made by the Assistant Postmaster-General on 14th November this year. He said that the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) had… paid the best tribute in the House today to the Post Office services when he said that they were the best and cheapest in the world. That is true; they are the best and the cheapest. He went on to ask why we did not borrow money in the open market. If we did, we should not get it more cheaply. In fact, it would cost the Post Office more, because we would have to bear brokerage and other charges. At present, we borrow money at the cheapest possible rate."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th November, 1955; Vol. 546, c. 146.]Here is a tribute from the Assistant Postmaster-General to the borrowing of money through Government agencies. Why do the Government drive local authorities into the open market? We have not been told a single justification for it, and therefore, we are left to conclude that the only justification is the one that I have mentioned, that what they are anxious once more to do is to allow large numbers of parasites to earn easy money.
There is one more thing that I want to say. The next thing that the country will have to bear in mind is the extent to which the Government failed to take the country into their confidence about their proposals at the last General Election. The authority of Parliament has already been undermined by the Conservative Party. It was undermined just before the General Election, when it rigged some of the constituencies. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Oh, yes. Hon. Members should read their own newspapers, where they will see it admitted.
At the General Election there was no suggestion that, if it got power, the Conservative Party would immediately reduce housing subsidies. In fact, the Conservative Party gave the opposite impression, saying, in its manifesto:The problems of local government finance will receive our urgent attention.That form of words is usually taken to mean that one is going to help somebody, give someone a hand; it does not usually mean that one will make the problem worse.
The Conservative Party also said:They must be considered afresh in the light of present-day conditions. When the 1078 effects of the new valuations can be fully measured we shall review the proportion of the rate burden falling upon the different groups of those who occupy property and we shall consider whether any changes are needed to remove injustice. We shall examine possible ways of supplementing the rate"—Has the Chancellor of the Exchequer heard about those words—including the revision of Government grants."?We should like to know whether the Government intend to replace the subsidy that they are taking away by other forms of Government assistance. I should have thought that anyone reading those words would have taken it for granted that what the Government had in mind was to reconsider the financial relationship between local government and the State in order to put the local authorities in possession of greater finances. That is surely the inference; but the Government are doing the very opposite.
The Government are, in fact, at the present time carrying out the injunctions of the former leader of the party, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), who, when speaking one day on the subject of steel, said, "Of course, you can stick anything into an Election manifesto, but you do not necessarily have to carry it out." That is the political morality of the Conservative Party.
Following a demonstration at their party conference, hon. Members opposite have boasted that they have built a much larger number of houses. But they were not concerned about building houses; they were building their majority. Having built their majority, they now start undermining the housing programme. One can find very few authorities in the country who will say that they are now building at the same rate as they built formerly. Nor, indeed, will the slum clearance programme come along fast enough to replace the fall in housing which will occur in local authority programmes.
We can, therefore, look forward, to seeing, very shortly, unemployment in the building industry, and that, in the view of many of my hon. Friends, is what the Government really have in mind. The whole of their financial operations, the whole of their policy, is designed to attack the public sector as much as possible, to reverse the policies of recent 1079 years, and to offend an old British political convention that, when serious, fundamental changes are accomplished after years of effort, the opposing party accepts them. The Conservative Government are now attempting to reverse all the fundamental conceptions which the Labour movement convinced the country it should adopt.
It is now clear to all of us that the welfare of the country can no longer be entrusted to a group of people who do not respond to the welfare of the State and to the needs of ordinary men and women, but are pulled by those who represent the worst elements in the British community.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
I am sure that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) was right when he said at the outset of his speech that, in considering this Bill, the House is taking the gravest decision upon housing policy since the end of the late war. I am disappointed that he did not use a speech which was not short to develop the real nature of that decision. Most of his remarks would have been relevant to a Bill which proposed to deprive housing authorities of their housing powers, or a Bill the provisions of which necessarily involved differential rents, or a Bill which altered the conditions of borrowing by local authorities; but of the essential decision which is before the House the right hon. Gentleman said little or nothing.
The fact is—it is acknowledged on both sides of the House and widely throughout the country—that the present situation, resulting from the combined operation of rent restriction and housing subsidies as we have them, is intolerable. [Interruption.] I shall quote the manifesto of hon. Members opposite in support of my statement.
Whatever view one takes of the purpose of housing subsidies and rent restriction, it is recognised that this situation involves gross anomalies and injustices; anomalies and injustices as between owner-occupiers and tenants, the one subsidised if in a council house and the other not; anomalies and injustices between the tenants of privately owned hours and the tenants of council houses; 1080 injustices and anomalies within each of these groups, since the rent which a person pays, whether in a privately owned house or in a council house, has no ascertainable relationship either to the value of the house or to the means of the tenant; injustices and anomalies, finally, in the source of the subsidy, which is drawn haphazard either from the rates and the taxes in the case of a council house or from the capital of the owner of the house in the case of rent restriction.
This system is already resulting in a widespread waste of housing accommodation. That was acknowledged quite frankly and correctly by the party opposite at the last Election. In "Challenge to Britain" it promised:Labour will ensure that our existing stock of houses is more sensibly used. … People must be encouraged to move out of houses or flats, which are too large for them, into smaller ones.I agree. There is at present an immense waste of housing accommodation. As usual, the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale stated the same truth more fearlessly, candidly and vividly when, on 30th November, 1953, he said:… taking the country as a whole we are not very far away from the amount of total accommodation which the nation requires … if we take the country as a whole we find that there is a very great deal of under occupation … the nation is in grave danger, unless it is careful, of being stupidly extravagant."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th November, 1953; Vol. 521, c. 826.]This situation is widely recognised by hon. Members on both sides of the House.
§ Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees
In those circumstances why, during the Committee stage of the Housing Repairs and Rents Bill, did the hon. Member and his Friends oppose a new Clause, put down by hon. Members on this side of the House, to enable exchanges to take place?
§ Mr. Powell
It would enable me to detain the House for a shorter length of time if, instead of anticipating the point I am about to make, hon. Members would wait for me to make it.
§ Mr. Powell
I am about to do so.
At the last Election and long before—notably through the mouth of the right 1081 hon. Member for Ebbw Vale—the party opposite announced that they saw no escape from that intolerable situation, except by municipalising all rented houses and bringing all rented accommodation under a single control.
§ Mr. Powell
All rent-controlled private properties. Let us take those 7 million properties for a start. The proposition is that all rented houses except those outside rent control at the present should be added to the pool of council houses, so that some equity, justice and reason in the allocation of tenancies and the application of subsidies could be obtained over the whole field.
If such a policy were used—as, presumably is the intention—to reduce the majority of rents of such houses below the economic level, it would also eventually necessitate the control of all rented houses, and the control of the prices at which houses in the market could change hands. One cannot leave uncontrolled one sector of a commodity—and that the minor sector—and purport to control all the rest. Virtually, the proposition of hon. Members opposite is that the provision of this human need of housing should, in the main, be nationalised.
§ Mr. Powell
That is one possible solution of the problem. It affords a possible means of removing many of the anomalies and discrepancies to which I have referred. But before we conclude that it is the only one, or the right one, we ought to consider the assumptions upon which it is based.
It would undoubtedly be deeply repugnant to the mass of the people; certainly to those who are tenants of privately-owned rent-restricted houses. Before we 1082 decide that that is the right direction in which to go, let us look at the assumption which underlies the proposal. That assumption is that for the majority of families—or, at any rate, for a very large minority—the provision of decent accommodation from their own resources is impracticable. That is the assumption which underlies the claim that the mass of housing, one way or another, should be subsidised.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Does the hon. Member extend his argument to furnished houses? In pursuance of the argument which he is now developing, is he in favour of repealing the Act under which the tenant of an uncontrolled, derestricted but furnished dwelling-house may apply to a tribunal to control his rent?
§ Mr. Powell
My general views upon the subject will become perfectly clear before I finish.
If it be true that decent accommodation, at current standards and prices, cannot be paid for by a large section of our families, and if it should therefore be the case that we have to provide a new social service analogous with education and medical treatment, within the scope of which nearly everyone will or can come, the solution proposed from the benches opposite is the correct one. We have, therefore, to consider whether it is in fact a tenable proposition that the current price of decent housing accommodation cannot or will not be afforded by the great mass of families in Britain.
The House ought to recall that the conception of subsidised housing, both after the First World War and the Second World War, has been that it is, in essence, temporary—to deal with conditions created by war. These are words used by the late Lord Addison in introducing the first housing subsidies Act in 1919:… whether they are built by private enterprise or not, you ought to arrange it so that when you have got rid of the artificial inflation of cost, caused by the War, at the end of that time the rent received ought to pay for the charges on the house."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th April, 1919; Vol. 114, c. 1730.]
§ Mr. Powell
Yes, in 1933.
When a general housing subsidy was reintroduced at the end of the Second 1083 World War, the Coalition Government said of that housing subsidy, in Cmd. 6609 on Housing, issued in March, 1945:The Government recognise that subsidies will be needed while building costs are abnormally high in consquence of the war; and they propose to provide them for house building both by local authorities and by private enterprise.In both cases, therefore, when Parliament has introduced general housing subsidies, it has done so for the purpose of avoiding the sudden rise in rents which would result from abnormal conditions after a war, followed by an equally sudden decline to normal conditions.
§ Mr. Powell
Yes, but there is another Minister of Housing of more recent vintage whom I was about to pray in aid, and that is the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale who, when he implemented the policy—or very largely implemented the policy—of the Coalition Government, as he himself reminded us in his speech, built into his 1946 Act a provision for the progressive reduction of the general housing subsidies. Not only that. So convinced was he that these subsidies were of a temporary nature that he actually obliged himself, if he were not able to start reducing them after twelve months, to come to the House with a report explaining why not.
Therefore, in his view the purpose of the general housing subsidies was, so to speak, to level out the bulge of abnormal post-war shortage and abnormal post-war prices.
§ Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)
Would not it be fair to add that the provision was just as applicable to an increase as to a reduction?
§ Mr. Powell
No. There was no provision in the Act of 1946 for an increase in the housing subsidies. That required completely new legislation.
But we must do more than study the intention of the authors of the 1919 and subsequent inter-war Acts and also of the authors of the 1946 Act. We have for our consideration the whole experience 1084 of those inter-war years. We can see how events followed from the abolition of the general housing subsidy in 1933. My right hon. Friend's predecessor, Sir Hilton Young, in 1933 did what my right hon. Friend is doing in the Bill before the House by discontinuing the general housing subsidy while leaving the emphasis upon the subsidy for slum clearance.
In 1933 the circumstances were somewhat less favourable for doing that than they are today. The number of houses built between 1918 and 1933 bore a somewhat lesser proportion to the existing stock of houses than those which have been built between 1945 and 1955. The proportionate increase in the total national housing stock which occurred between 1918 and 1933 compared rather disadvantageously with that which we have seen since 1945.
After the 1933 Act discontinued the general housing subsidy, local authorities continued to build on a great and increasing scale. Every year from 1933 to 1938, with one exception, the local authorities built many more houses than in the preceding year. Those houses included a considerable number built for general needs without subsidy—something which is still permissible under this Bill. Therefore, presumably, there was a demand in 1933 for houses at current costs of construction which local authorities were prepared to build and prospective tenants were able and willing to rent.
What is much more important is that the need for rented houses was, after 1933, fulfilled on an increasing scale by private enterprise.
§ Mr. J. A. Sparks (Acton)
Will the hon. Gentleman then explain to the House why the 1936 Act was necessary? [An HON. MEMBER: "Nineteen thirty-five."] That is the major Housing Act.
§ Mr. Powell
The effect of the 1936 Act—which, as someone who knows a little better says, only consolidated the 1935 and previous Acts—was that it extended the emphasis of the subsidy from concentration upon slum clearance to the subsequent phase of concentration upon overcrowding in individual houses. It was in no sense a reversion to the general housing subsidy which had been abolished in 1933.
1085 The effect upon the provision of rented accommodation after 1933 was remarkable. The Ridley Committee which examined rent restriction in 1937 found that during the three years, March, 1934, to March, 1937, roughly one-third of the small houses built by private enterprise had been let; so that straight away after the abolition of the general housing subsidy, we find private enterprise building small houses—and small houses in this context are those of £13 and below rateable value outside London—to let without subsidy.
§ Mr. Powell
One in three, and that speeded up as we came to the end of the 1930s. The Pole Report of 1944 on private enterprise housing records that of 110,000 houses built for letting between October, 1937 and March, 1939, over half were of a rateable value not exceeding £13. Those houses themselves were over one-third of the total output, then at its maximum, of the private enterprise building industry.
§ Mr. Powell
No, it is one-third. Of those built to let, quite apart from those built to sell on mortgage, one-half were of a rateable value of under £13; thus one-sixth of the total product of private enterprise fell within class "C."
§ Mr. Silverman
I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that this one-third was one-third of a total which was itself one-third of the general housing programme.
§ Mr. Powell
I am sorry if I was not clear. One-third of the houses built in those years by private enterprise were built to let, and half of the houses built to let were of the smallest type—of the same size as was then still rent controlled. Thus, in the 1930s, after the abolition of the general housing subsidy, as large a number of houses of the smallest type were built by private enterprise to let as had been provided in most preceding years by local authorities under subsidy.
It may be objected that circumstances today are widely different; that although 1086 today there are many favourable factors affecting the earning power and the purchasing power of families, there has not been that fall in the cost of building and rise in the value of money which was experienced in the inter-war years, and it is perfectly true that by 1933 the gap between current unsubsidised rents and the rent assumed in the calculation of the subsidy was already a very narrow one.
We must, therefore, ask whether, in comparing the 1930s with today, the relationship between current building costs and wages has changed to the disadvantage of the tenant. We must ask whether the same people who in the 1930s were being built for by private enterprise, the people who were moving out of rented houses into houses built by private enterprise and sold on mortgage, are today less able to afford current costs either as rents or repayments on houses built to sell.
I am glad that the hon. Member for Barons Court (Mr. W. T. Williams) is in his place, because I noticed what he said on Thursday about taking chance indications of ability to pay, and I very much agree with him how wrong it is to pick upon the fact that one sees a car outside a house on a council estate and deduce from that a widespread ability to pay unsubsidised rents. Nevertheless there are certain general facts which are quite revealing and ought not to be dismissed.
One is that over one-third of the families in this country have television licences. The running of a television set costs approximately twice as much as the full amount of the subsidy for general housing needs. It must therefore be clear that a very large number—not by any means a majority, but at any rate, a substantial minority—of families, both in council houses and in rent restricted houses, are able to afford an item of need which, at least in the scale of necessity, would usually be placed lower than decent accommodation.
Beyond indications of that kind, however, we can appeal to the relationship between building costs and the level of earnings. Since 1939, the level of average adult male earnings has risen, or had at March of this year, by about 315 per cent.
§ Mr. Powell
Yes, and that is of course practically the same figure as the increase in building costs which was established by the Girdwood Committee.
§ Mr. Powell
That is earnings.
Another feature which we have to take into account is that today, owing to full employment and the opportunities for women to be employed, the average family income has risen much more steeply than the average earnings of male wage earners. There is, therefore, a considerable margin to play with between the average family earnings today as compared with 1939 and the current cost of building today as compared with 1939.
I am well aware that the figures I am using are figures of earnings, and that it would be undesirable if we assumed that a family ought to be dependent on the present level of earnings for an item of expenditure so essential and, by its nature, so permanent or enduring as its rent or its housing accommodation. We must, therefore, bring other factors into account, and the first is that we are, in these figures, talking about new houses. We are comparing with the figures of earnings or wages the current cost of new houses, which in the nature of things are necessarily the most expensive.
It is the essence of housing that the vast majority of the stock available at any given time is second-hand and in the whole range of values it will be the new houses, the current production, which will be found at the top. Therefore, we are entitled to assume that the economic value of the second-hand houses in the country, upon which the vast majority of our people are and must remain dependent for their accommodation, grades, as it were, downward according to amenity and intrinsic value, from the current cost of the new houses which are provided.
An interesting fact bearing on that came out in the inter-war years when houses were being decontrolled under the Rent and Mortgage Interest Restrictions Act, 1923.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I recall a speech made by the hon. Gentleman on 21st October, 1954, when he said:… the crux of this whole business,"—1088 that is, the rate of housing subsidy, which is exactly what we are discussing today, is—the average net rent to which the subsidy is designed to reduce the gross rent."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st October, 1954; Vol. 531, c. 1414.]The hon. Gentleman took, as his measure of this continued upgrading by one Government after another of the subsidies, 10 per cent. of net earnings. Why has he now so completely changed his point?
§ Mr. Powell
I have not changed my point at all. The point is that I have taken as a comparison the earnings going into the family and compared them with the current replacement costs of new houses, and those figures show that for a considerable proportion of families current rents are not out of range.
I am now proceeding to show that for many families the economic cost of the inferior houses, that is the existing stock of houses which take their value downwards from the new houses, is also not out of range; for whenever in the interwar years rent controlled houses were decontrolled, it was found—and these include the smallest houses—that their rents did not in fact rise to a level with current replacement costs, but formed a bracket, as it were, between controlled rent and replacement cost approximately at the level of the subsidised rents of the time. That will be found in a table in paragraph 41 of the Ridley Report in 1937. Yet even those figures, which show how the rent of decontrolled houses moved in relation to current replacement costs, themselves give an unfavourable view of the true position; for the existence of rent control creates an artificial scarcity, and in 1931 it was officially estimated that the rents of the individual decontrolled houses were at a higher level than they would have been if decontrol were general.
In view of these facts, it seems to me impossible to claim that for the majority of families in this country it is unreasonable to expect that they should be able to pay the current economic value of the accommodation which they reasonably require. Or, to put it in another way, that they cannot or will not demand decent accommodation for themselves and their families, and that the building industry and the existing stock of houses are not capable of complying with that need and that demand.
1089 Having reached that point, let me say that the transition which it is evident must be made from the totally unreal position in which we stand today to a position of reality, must be a gradual one. The answer to the right hon. Gentleman, when he asks are we proposing suddenly to alter the relationship upon which the subsidies have been based between wages and rents, is, "No." The answer is that by terminating the general housing subsidy the impact made upon rents will, for several years, be a negligible one, except under differential schemes in cases where local authorities think them appropriate.
§ Mr. Powell
I am certainly not going to prescribe to local authorities the type of differential rent scheme they should adopt.
In bringing about the first stage of this process by abolishing the general subsidy, my right hon. Friend has made two exceptions. The first exception is where a local housing authority does not possess any considerable pool of subsidised houses and where, therefore, the consequence of transition would be a sudden and abrupt one and not gradual. The other exception he has made is in the case of slum clearance.
At present, local authorities are the only instrument which we can use for the rapid clearance of the slums and thus for the raising of the standard of housing by the most immediate method, the removal of the lowest stratum. If local authorities today are to go ahead and be able to demolish the slums as rapidly as possible, we must give them the assurance that they will not, in ten, twenty or thirty years' time, find themselves with houses built at higher costs than then obtain and thus with difficulties of letting them and covering the annual charges on those houses.
It is very logical and right that slum clearance should be promoted by the retention of subsidy for that purpose. No alternative has been suggested from the benches opposite whereby slum clearance can be expedited. No one who 1090 has spoken from those benches has suggested any way in which the present rate of slum clearance can be accelerated. On the contrary, when the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren) spoke, he criticised hon. Members on this side of the House for having supported the building of 300,000 houses and more a year, and accounted on that ground for our present economic difficulties.
If hon. Members opposite intend to revert, should they have the opportunity, to fixing the maximum possible output of houses at 200,000 a year, what is the chance of more rapid progress with the clearance of slums? On two scores, therefore, their policy is entirely negative. The only contribution they have to make to the debate is to advance the theory of the municipalisation of all rent controlled accommodation. That is a counsel of despair. We on this side of the House believe that, in conditions in which the country can demand and obtain an ever-rising standard in all other fields, essential and inessential, it is absurd to say that the British people cannot, or will not, house themselves. It it absurd to say that British industry, which has gone ahead in every other sphere, cannot, if it has the opportunity, go ahead with the housing of the people. We view this Bill as the first step in a new phase of enabling the British people to improve their own housing conditions.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) will remember that earlier in his speech he promised to answer a question from my hon. Friend, the Member for Stockton-onTees (Mr. Chetwynd). He has not done so. Does he care to do so?
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I agree with the opening sentence of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), that this is the most important debate on housing we have had since 1945. My only regret is that it has to, take place within such narrow limits, because the question of subsidy and whether it is fair or should be changed is linked with a number of other questions. I should have preferred—as I believe would all hon. Members—to have seen the full picture of the housing policy of Her Majesty's Government.
1091 The problem of subsidies is linked with rent restriction, with the powers of local authorities, the strength of local authorities, the rating system and whether the rating policy which was followed by the Conservative Government in 1925–29 is still within the purview of their immediate policy for the future, or whether they propose to change it. All these matters would have come very much better had we had a full White Paper explaining the present position and how the Government proposed to deal with it.
I want to take up one point mentioned by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), namely, slum clearance. Do the Government propose to change and speed up the procedure in respect of the acquisition of land and matters of that kind? The provision of homes—I prefer that word to "housing"—is a basic social service, because it is not much use providing all the others, even education and health services and the like, unless there is a decent comfortable home for every family. It has been the policy of all parties for a very considerable time that the obligation to provide such homes must rest upon a public authority and it has, therefore, been put upon the shoulders of the local authorities.
I do not think that anybody wants to change that, because local authorities know their own conditions and problems and are in the best position to deal with them. Unfortunately, however, local authorities differ so much in every way. I believe that I am the first hon. Member to speak in the debate who represents a purely rural area. Every one of the other speakers has represented a large industrial area where there are large numbers of people and where the local authorities are comparatively wealthy, certainly compared with those responsible for country districts.
§ Mr. C. Davies
There is also very considerable difference within the large areas. The right hon. Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot), who was Minister of Health at the time, will remember, because I had to deliver the report to him—and my Welsh colleagues know—that in 1939 I reported on the 1092 conditions in Wales. As far as I knew, there was no difference between the conditions in my own country and those in England. Those conditions could be described as shocking. It was a disgrace and a blot upon our civilisation that decent human beings should be compelled to live in the conditions which I then found and about which evidence was given to me by all the local authorities. The mere description was enough to make people shudder.
Nevertheless, people are still living in those conditions. Had the war not come, by today those slums would have been removed. The terrible thing is that people are still living in those houses, even today, condemned as they were, not merely in 1938–39 by me, but by medical officers of health, even fifty years ago, as unfit for human beings. That is not merely due to lack of energy, lack of drive by local authorities. It is also due to the fact that local authorities have not the power or wealth possessed by many other authorities, for example, the London County Council.
I have given these figures in the House before and it may interest hon. Members to know that the rateable value and the capital value of all the 13 counties of Wales, including Monmouth and the four county boroughs, Cardiff, Swansea, Merthyr and Newport, were less than the rateable value and the capital value of the City of Westminster alone. Yet they were responsible for more than 2½ million people living in all kinds of conditions. That is one of the difficulties with which one has to contend. That being so, one regards what the rural districts have done with more tolerance than one might otherwise have done.
Undoubtedly many rural districts failed between the two wars to take advantage of such grants as had been made available by the Government of the day. I could give instances in which this rural neglect should be condemned in the very strongest terms because the hardship caused by the councils at that time is having to be paid for by the councils there now.
We cannot understand why we should go on adding to the continuous chaos from which we are suffering and that we should be content with one housing grant from John o'Groats to Land's End, 1093 which cannot be applied equitably. The whole of our local government system ought to be looked at and brought up to date. I hoped at one time that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale would tackle it. He was sorely tempted to do so. It needs great courage.
The local government system was carefully thought out in the 1870's and 1880's, nearly 80 years ago, when the local authorities were created. In 1884 the borough councils were brought into being, in 1888 the county councils, and in 1894 the rural councils, all based upon the conditions that prevailed at that time. Within two years of the creation of the rural district councils the revolution took place, namely, the abolition of the need for a man to walk in front of a motor car with a red flag. That made a world of difference to transport and communications. The greater use of the telephone also began, making all the difference in methods of administration. Yet still any new problem or obligation or difficulty is handed over to one or other local authority, without inquiring very much further about it.
The Bill is a first step towards reform, and I want to know what the other steps are. I do not think much can be expected from going into averages, so I will base my case on the differentiation made by the Minister between the poorer and the wealthier authorities. That differentiation is not right. We want to provide homes for people at rents which are fair in the districts in which they live, however that is arrived at, whether out of the rates or out of a national fund. Homes must be something that people can pay for at a fair rent. We cannot make anything out of the differential rent system in the rural areas or by pooling, because we have not the amount of housing on which we can rely for the reduction of rents.
It is interesting to look at the condition of some of our local authorities because it gives a picture of the other rural counties of Wales. My own county council has six borough and urban councils and four rural councils, and the total population is only 42,000. The result is that the total amount of the rates available is very small indeed, even with the council which is best off. In the case of a rural authority which is largely helped by having the Liverpool reservoir within its area, a penny rate produces £235 a 1094 year. In some of the boroughs it falls to as low as £36, £19 19s. 3d. and £14.
I take it that the Minister will particularise in the Committee and will explain what is intended by Clause 5. We have high rates amounting to as much as 31s. 8d. in the £ in the rural areas. The lowest is 24s. 6d., in a district where there is not much difference between one area and another. The rents are as high as 29s. 3d., although there are some as low as 10s. a week. I therefore look forward to hearing from the Minister about the weaker areas.
I conclude by congratulating him on his courage in bringing forward a Measure which I hope will be part of a bigger policy dealing with rent restrictions, rating and local authorities. Otherwise there is no justification for the Bill. I hope that it is only part of a general picture.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ Mr. J. C. Jennings (Burton)
Mr. Deputy-Speaker, this is my maiden speech. In making it, I ask the House to be kind to me. I shall, in accordance with tradition, endeavour to be non-controversial, and if I unwittingly err I hope to be forgiven. I have approached this occasion with diffidence, but am comforted by the thought that all hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have faced a similar ordeal and have survived.
Before I came to this House I was a schoolmaster. I feel very much the new boy in a new school, with almost everything to learn. Because of my experience in schools and my knowledge of working with children in a variety of schools and a variety of districts, from mining villages to urban areas and back to a country village, I have learned the value of good homes and good houses. A good house is not necessarily a good home, but it helps considerably. Housing is not only a problem of bricks and mortar, materials and labour, but is essentially a human problem, with men, women and children as its raw material.
In schools and classrooms I have seen children unable, because of the home they lived in, in a slum, to benefit by what the schools were able to offer them. I have seen children in schools, and have listened to their talk in playgrounds, who were old beyond their years because of what they had seen and heard in the house in 1095 which they lived, in a slum. Because of those things I welcome the concentrated attack on slums which will take place as the result of the Bill. There are 13 million permanent houses in England and Wales. Out of those, 847,000, or 6½ per cent., are designated as unfit to live in and are due for demolition.
I represent the division of Burton, in Staffordshire, and against the background of the national figure I should like to deal with the figure which applies in my own division. Many people associate Burton with beer. But Burton is not only famous for beer. Besides the Borough of Burton, we have the extremely busy market town of Uttoxeter, with its racecourse and its busy Smithfield market, and in between the two there is a wide expanse of agricultural land with a great many people living in an agricultural community. Burton is synonomous with other things besides beer—its Hanbury alabaster, its world-famous Tutbury glass, and its numerous light industries.
Let us consider slum clearance in this widely varied division. In the borough itself the figure is only 1.7 per cent. In Burton, there is no clearance area specified by the authorities. This is a tribute to the work of the city fathers in the past and to the people who own and live in the houses. In the whole of the division the figure is 2.8. Therefore, against the general background of slum clearance Burton stands very well. Within five years there ought not to be a single slum in the Burton division.
This Bill provides an incentive to clear the slums, and it therefore puts heart into the older parts of many of our towns. It would be criminal folly to continue increasing the sprawl of new housing estates over good farming land while town centres are allowed to decay. I welcome Clause 4 (1), which enables the Minister to increase by £9 the general needs subsidy of £10 in respect of dwellings provided for the agricultural population. It has been said that slums are not built, but made. In our future policy we should encourage the right type of people and stop the exploitation of big houses which are not in themselves slums, but which can soon be made into slums by crowding people into them.
I should like humbly to make two constructive suggestions to my right hon. 1096 Friend. I think we should be very careful when dealing with compensation in connection with the demolition of slum property. There are various types of houses scheduled as fit for demolition. I know one, a cottage, which was bought by a person who did not know that a demolition order was soon to be made against it. Is that person to be given site value? I know of an old couple who bought a house in the country many years ago. It is now scheduled for demolition. They bought it with their savings and they are now living on their pension. Are they to be given site value? If local authorities all over the country acknowledge the principle of differential rents, I suggest to my right hon. Friend that in all conscience we can also accept the principle of differential compensation for varied types of slum property.
I have one other suggestion. It is a plea for the old folk. Those of us who have worked on local authorities know that all sorts of ideas for housing old people are propagated. Some people urge that they should be put into groups of houses, together. Others urge that they should be spread out over the estates. We should consider whether the bungalow type or the terrace type of house is the most suitable. As there is a special subsidy for slum clearance and for agricultural houses, so I suggest that my right hon. Friend should consider granting a special subsidy for the erection of houses to accommodate old people. Our aim in building should be a separate home for each family.
In conclusion—and I hope hon. Members do not think that this is an ominous sign, bearing in mind Mr. Speaker's remarks about that phrase—I hope that this proposal will soon be realised. I thank the House for its indulgence.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Mr. George Isaacs (Southwark)
The House has listened to one of our new colleagues, the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings), speaking for the first time, and we can well understand his feelings. He has admitted that he has been told to avoid controversy, and he has certainly taken good notice of that advice. I would liken the hon. Member to a swimmer who has approached a strange stream for the first time. He says to himself, "I do not know how strongly the current is running. I must not be in too long, and I must 1097 avoid bumping my head on the rocks of controversy." The hon. Member has done very well. He has avoided the rocks, and he has not stayed in the water too long. He has certainly crossed the stream with vigorous free-style strokes and has shown that he was a master of the effort that he has undertaken.
The hon. Gentleman knows also that his colleagues will have been watching to see how he makes the passage, and his constituents will note his achievements. I believe that his colleagues consider that he has done very well, indeed, and I am sure that his constituents will feel that he has put forward with vigour a case in which we are all interested. I am sure that the House will look forward to hearing the hon. Member again. The hon. Gentleman may now turn to those of his hon. Friends who have not yet taken the plunge and may say to them, "Come on in; the water is fine."
I approach the subject of this Bill from the point of view not so much of its national aspect as the manner in which it will affect the constituency which I represent. We want the slums to go. We have plenty of them in Southwark, and we shall certainly be glad to see them disappear. One thing that the war did in Southwark was to clear away a lot of the slum property, although it would have been better if we had had notice so that we might have removed people's furniture before the enemy came. I hope that when clearing the existing slums we shall not turn other fairly decent property into slums by failing to make necessary provision for it.
We have heard a lot about the expense involved, and there has been discussion on whether the figure is 2d., 5d. or 7d. This discussion takes my mind back to the days when the country was split on a question of "9d. for 4d." That figure has certainly increased a lot since then, and I should like to know what the amount is going to be in this case. I have made inquiries in my borough, and I am told that land on which to build a five-storey block of flats will cost about £15,000 an acre. The present subsidy for a block of flats with a lift is £67 7s. Under the new proposal with no special subsidy for the lift, it will be £48 17s. when the building is for slum clearance—a difference of £18 10s. a year or 7s. 2d. a week. If these buildings are to be used to house people who are not 1098 coming from slum clearance areas the new subsidy is £36 17s. instead of £67 7s. The difference is £30 10s., which is 11s. 9d. a week.
I am advised that these provisions will have an effect on the cost of the loan. In March of this year we were paying, in Southwark, 3¾ per cent. on loans raised for the building of flats. That has risen to 5 per cent. On a flat costing £2,500 the extra charge will be £26 15s. a year, which is 10s. 3d. a week. That makes a total in extra cost for the slum replacement house, with subsidy, of about 17s. 5d. a week and for general building of 22s. a week.
Even if these figures do not work out to be correct when averaging is done—and I do not know how averaging is to be done in Southwark—it seems strange that when we are discussing a Budget very much linked with a housing Bill there should be talk of making people spend less to cure inflation and of encouraging export and, at the same time, talk of placing them under the risk of having to pay more in rent.
What will be the consequences? In Southwark, which is not one of the largest boroughs in London, although hon. Members will expect me to assert that it is one of the best, we have 3,644 families on our housing waiting list. If we restrict our housing accommodation to those who are removed for slum clearance, we shall be in a difficult position. Under construction at present is accommodation for 2,281 families. If all those families are taken from the list of 3,644, we shall have 1,350 still on the list with no hope whatever of getting accommodation if all future accommodation is to be given to people from the slums. At the present, we still have to take people from the slums into some of these houses.
What prospect is there for these people? It must be remembered that a lot of our homes are overcrowded without being slums. I know what slums are like, for when a boy I lived in a slum. I lived in a house which was pulled down over our heads because somebody thought he could get more money for the site as a factory site. I know what it is like for people living in those conditions. We have to do something for people who were forced into bad housing conditions—not slum houses—and bad conditions of life in their homes because of the war.
1099 Some of the houses in the borough are structurally sound in so far as the walls and window frames are good, but they have leaky roofs, bad drainage and there is rat infestation to a great extent. In the nine months up to 30th September this year our local authority had to take action in 1,460 cases of people living in these houses, which are in bad conditions but not slum conditions; and however much one patches a leaky roof one does not keep all the water out, for one needs to have a new roof to do the job properly.
I have seen quite a number of these cases. Since 1951, since I have had more freedom and a position of less responsibility, I have made regular weekly visits to my constituency and I have seen personally, and have records of, over 3,000 cases; and most of them are housing problems. Many of the people are on the London County Council list, many are on the borough council list and some are on both lists. Some of the cases are tragedies. It must be said to the credit of the borough council and the L.C.C. that they make out their priority schemes, they have a system under which they work, and they will not deviate from that system because of special pleas from any of their councillors or any Members of Parliament. We put cases to them and we find that, bad though they are, other cases are worse.
Perhaps I may quote some examples of life in the Borough of Southwark, which lies between the Palace of Westminster and St. Paul's Cathedral, on the south side of the river. If necessary, but not for publicity, I can give the names and addresses of these cases. They are of people whom I myself have seen. When the war ended the youngsters came home from the war and wanted to get married. There were no rooms for them, because we lost 50 per cent, of our rateable value in property in the borough during the war. Everybody knows what we suffered.
The young people were taken in to live with their parents. That was not so bad, allowing a son or a daughter to have a room for the first year or so, but as the years went by, with no prospect of a home for themselves, and as the family began to grow, tragedy followed—the tragedy of broken homes, divorces and men living away from their wives. I know of cases where the wife is living with 1100 her parents and the husband is living with his parents and they see each other virtually only at meal times.
I ask the House to remember that I am not talking about the days of Charles Dickens. He said enough about the Borough of Southwark in his day. I am talking about the present day. The first example I give is of a man and his wife with three children of mixed sexes, aged 6, 5 and 2 years, with one bedroom and a kitchen. The next is the case of a man and his wife with three children of mixed sexes, aged 7, 5 and 2 years, with a medical priority, living in one bedroom and one kitchen. The medical priority brings them into the L.C.C. list of category A. They tell me that they have been moved from category B to category A—and they tell me that with great joy. I have not the heart to tell them that nobody in category A has a chance of a house until he has been there for at least 12 months because the category A list is so full of cases, in front of his, which are as bad as his and probably worse.
The next case is of a widow with adult sons and two adult daughters, all living in two rooms. Another case is of a man with his wife and three boys, aged 7, 5 and 3, and a girl aged 4, who have only two rooms and who have been on the list since 1951.
I will not go through all these cases, but there are two others which I ought to mention. The first is of a man and his wife with two boys, aged 15 and 5, and two girls aged 14 and 9, who have been on the list since early 1954—that is not a long time—and who have only two rooms and a scullery. The other case is of a widow who has, living with her, her married son and his wife, with four other sons aged 18, 14, 7 and 5, all living in two rooms. They have been on the list since 1950.
None of these people is in a slum. I am told that a very small percentage of the 3,500 on the waiting list—under 5 per cent.—are living in slums. All the others are in houses which are quite habitable and suitable, but which are all overcrowded.
What does it bring in its train? What of the problem of education? Mothers tell me that their children have had to give up trying for scholarships because, with only one or two rooms and five or 1101 six people living in them, there is nowhere for the boy or girl to study and to do homework. Children are driven on to the streets because there is no room for entertainment at home. The young people go to the cinema. Hon. Members may talk about "spivs" and Teddy boys, but they must bear in mind that a boy cannot take his girl friend home or a girl cannot take her boy friend home when they are living in such conditions.
There is another drawback in these conditions. What is to be the future of the little children? If hon. Members were to come with me this evening to the Borough of Southwark I could show them young parents with children of 4, 5 or 6 out in the streets at 9 o'clock or 10 o'clock. The children cannot be put to bed as the house is full of grown-ups and they have to be dragged around by their parents. It is all very well for the Government to tackle the question of slums—we support them on that—but they have also to do something about over-crowding.
Seeing and understanding these people, I know that many of them could well afford better accommodation if only they could obtain it. Sometimes we ask them what they could afford and we are staggered by the answers they give. Some of them have got on in the world and are now better off.
Another important factor is that our social habits have changed. When I was young and lived in a big house in which there were several families there was only one w.c., but no one thought that a hardship. Now young people regard that as a most important thing. They say, "We have to share the w.c. with another family." There is a change in the outlook of people today; people want more decency. They want bathrooms. The first time I saw a bathroom in a house was when I moved to Leyton, in 1905. There was a bathroom there with cold water only. Such were the conditions of those days when landlordism was running rampant.
My plea is not only that we should clear the slums, but so amend the Bill as to enable us to have decent houses for people who are not slum bound, but are overcrowded—not to the extent that a local authority can charge them with overcrowding, but morally overcrowded. 1102 We should so amend the Bill that it could not be said, "No houses built on Sandys."
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ Mr. John Barter (Ealing, North)
I hesitate to impose on the House another maiden speech. However, I was greatly encouraged by the right hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Isaacs), who suggested that I should "Come on in as the water is fine." If by any chance I should appear to be swimming in rather deep water, I trust that I may have the indulgence of the House and be excused if occasionally I accidentally enter into the streams of controversy.
I am prompted to participate in this debate because, like many areas in the country, this subject particularly affects my division of Ealing, North. Mention of that division will remind the House of the departure of a gentleman who was at one time certainly one of its institutions; one who I understand was very well respected on both sides of the House. Whilst I found that my disagreements with him were not confined to the political field, I also found that he was a most gracious and courteous adversary.
Ealing, North, as hon. Members will deduce, is a part of the Borough of Ealing. I hesitate to advance its claims as the most important part, particularly in the presence of my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, South (Mr. Maude). Hon. Members will understand that to me it is of supreme importance. In the years since the war the borough has played a very notable part in the housing drive. In the statistics published up to March, 1949, it held first place in the country, and at no time in the five years during which the statistics have been published has it dropped below fifth place. As a result, in my division there is approximately one council dwelling for every six dwellings.
I have spent much time meeting constituents all over my constituency, and I find that they consist of council house dwellers, those who dwell in ordinary rented houses, and owner-occupiers. I am much impressed by many of the arguments brought forward by my constituents.
The constituency was largely built in the 1930's and subsequently. By virtue of that fact many of those who are 1103 owner-occupiers have completed the purchase of their houses and have now retired. There are also very many other cases where the homes are still being purchased. I find that in both cases these people have one thought in common. These people feel that they are doing their best to make provision for themselves, their wives and families. Very often, however, they find the costs, the payments to building societies, payments for rates and repairs, extend their available means as far as they should be stretched. Their concern is—and this has frequently been expressed to me—that they can point to others who, for one very good reason or another, have not been able to make that provision and are in consequence, living in rented houses let by the council. They raise no objection to people living in these houses, but to them it is an intolerable burden that in many cases they have to assist in artificially depressing the rents of certain council tenants who, they state, are very often in receipt of higher incomes.
They look at the council houses—particularly those developed since the war—and note that they contain very many attractive amenities. Many council houses I have seen have fitted kitchens—a thing I certainly do not have—and refrigerators and washing machines. All those things are very attractive and extremely desirable, but my friends who are owner-occupiers feel that they should not be asked to contribute so greatly towards the rents of those who live in those circumstances.
I state these complaints I have received without comment. Hon. Members generally will agree, I think, that the case is one which should attract an element of sympathy, although hon. Members may not agree on the solution to the problem. The point I should like to make is that the misfortunes of widowhood, sickness and hardship are not the monopoly of those who live in rented houses. On the other hand, also in my constituency—some 16 per cent. of that constituency—are a number of council house tenants. They live in flats, houses—traditional and prefabricated—and in hutments. There are many on the waiting list. Some of these undoubtedly have been able to provide themselves 1104 with some additional pleasures—the television set and the motor car we hear so much about.
I would underline the fact that the presence of a motor car outside a house does not necessarily mean that the person inside the house enjoys a very high level of living or income. Many of my constituents have a motor car outside their council house because they must have it for the purpose of earning their living. I also want to make it clear that we should not avoid drawing a balance on generalisations of this kind. There are too many of these generalisations. I want to be sure that those who find that their economic circumstances are difficult, who in my opinion are very often those who should have first call on council houses, do in fact have first call.
I recognise that this is a local matter, and I am not anxious to interfere with local politics, but I must point out that in my division it has been expressed to me by a number of borough councillors that they are concerned at the number of people who come to them with urgent housing needs but are not able to meet the present level of council house rents. It is for that reason—at least so it was expressed to me—that they have introduced a differential rent scheme. I attended a meeting which was arranged specifically for council tenants to hear how the scheme worked. As one might expect, I found that there was concern among the tenants at any increase in rent, but their main concerns were for the condition of some of the new properties—I offered to go round and inspect them, but my offer has not so far been taken up—and the method of assessing their ability to pay.
Perhaps one of the greatest means tests of all is Income Tax. I would hope that there might possibly be some measure which enables those authorities who have to assess means at all to do it all together. I should like to express my great appreciation to the House for the courtesy it has extended to me.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Blenkinsop (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)
We have all listened with a great deal of real pleasure to the speech that we have just heard from the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Barter). Above all, we are amazed at the facility and the easy way in which he embarks 1105 upon what is certainly a very onerous task and responsibility. He certainly showed no strain or sign of anxiety and I think it would be fair to say that the hon. Member's predecessor, for whom everyone in the House had a great respect, would himself, had he been able to do so, have been very glad to compliment his successor on his ability and the fluency of the speech that we have just heard.
Not only was the hon. Member's speech a fluent one. The very interesting ideas that he gently suggested rather encourages us to hope that we may hear a little more about them at later times when we further debate some of these subjects. And so I would say that we have all very much enjoyed listening to the hon. Member, and we hope to hear him develop more fully later some of the points that he put to us this evening.
It seems to me that my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) was quite right in suggesting that the Bill cannot be looked at by itself. We must look at this Measure within the broader context especially of the financial measures of which it is really part. Indeed, this Bill is part of the Chancellor's proposals to reduce local authority expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman indicated that much in his earlier speeches on the Budget when the House reassembled after the Summer Recess. He indicated that, broadly speaking, the proposals that were to be put forward for housing would be brought forward in part with regard to the financial stringency from which, it was impressed upon us, we are suffering at the present time.
So far from the Minister of Housing and Local Government being a man of great courage, it seems to me that he is a man who has submitted to pressure. If he had introduced this proposal before the Election, we might indeed have been willing to grant him courage—and we should have granted him several other things too. But in these circumstances, at this time, after the Election is over and under the pressure of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, courage is a misnomer for the present acts of the Minister. He has been under very great pressure for a long time to do precisely this, as many of us have well known. The proposal for housing in this Bill is a proposal that will result inevitably in a slowing down, if not, in some areas, a complete stoppage, 1106 of public housing work. It is to some extent covered up by the right hon. Gentleman with a lot of pious, platitudinous words about slum clearance.
We are told that local authorities are given a great new incentive and encouragement to get on with slum clearance. Really, what does it amount to? When one looks at the Bill, what is this marvellous new incentive that is given to local authorities to get on with slum clearance? In fact, it means that the Government are retaining the lower level of housing subsidy that was imposed upon unwilling local authorities earlier this year. They are retaining those lower subsidies for slum clearance work while intending to do away altogether with a good part of the other subsidies for general housing needs. That is a crazy sort of incentive.
We have heard various expressions about negative compulsions. This present proposal, I should have thought, was a negative incentive. Perhaps it is rather less negative than the complete wiping out of the subsidies for other purposes, but it is negative all the same in the sense that it is withdrawing something that the local authorities had available to them earlier in the year.
We have heard a great deal of talk about the need for local authorities independently to face their difficulties. Who has placed the difficulties in their way? It is the Minister himself and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The major factor—not the only one. I agree—during these months has been the Government's determined policy to raise interest rates and to impose upon every local authority heavy new burdens. That is another example of what the Minister presumably calls his incentive to local authorities. The only incentive that he is giving them is an incentive to check their work, not to get on with it. It is an incentive to withdraw from their activities.
I would rather that hon. Members opposite expressed their arguments openly instead of coming here with all these wonderful phrases about how the local authorities will carry on with their work. We are told that despite the Bill local authorities will get encouragement to get on with more work. Hon. Members know that that is nonsense. The purpose of the Bill is to restrict the amount of local authority building, not to increase it; and 1107 at the same time as public building is to be restricted, private building—provided people have the cash in their pockets—is to be given free licence to do whatever is wanted.
In my own area on Tyneside, one can see lavish schemes of private house building going forward which, I say quite frankly, under past Administrations would not have been licensed and would not have been approved so long as the overwhelming needs of the mass of ordinary people had not been met. Now these relatively luxury needs are being met at the very moment when, by this Measure, local authorities are being discouraged from getting on with the essential and vital work that they need to do.
Therefore, I shall not join any hon. Members who pay tribute to the courage of the Minister. I rather regard the right hon. Gentleman as now making his second step backwards. In earlier days, when his father-in-law was present and was leading the Government, there was a disastrous period in his term of office. Now we are to suffer apparently from another disastrous period of office by the right hon. Gentleman. I am not going to join those who pay tribute to the right hon. Gentleman for his courage.
§ Mr. John Hay (Henley)
Will the hon. Gentleman specify which was the first disastrous period during which my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) was responsible?
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
I refer to the right hon. Gentleman who is now the Minister of Housing and Local Government. His earlier disastrous period was when, as Minister of Works, he made or was supposed to have made some provision for meeting housing needs at the end of the war, which landed us in such difficulties that we needed a long time to clear them up. If one simply mentions the problem of the steel houses, I think it will have some reminiscent ring in the mind of the Minister of Housing and Local Government, if not in that of anybody else.
Let us look at what this Bill will in fact do. It is clear that it will discourage building by local authorities. Secondly, in so far as local authorities decide to carry on with their building programmes, it will inevitably, due to financial pressure, force them into considering further 1108 reductions of standards, and there will be pressure upon the Minister to approve further reductions of standards. Will he be sorry to receive these representations? I doubt it. Indeed, I think that the right hon. Gentleman will welcome them as a move towards restoring the position, as he conceives it, in which the duty of the local authority is merely to provide housing for the most indigent of our people, and to build down to that kind of level. That is what we shall be hearing about before many months have passed.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale said earlier—and I believe it to be true—the effect of the Bill will be to increase the amount of class segregation from which we suffer. In my own constituency, there are housing estates which are still known as the old slum clearance estates, where the tenants and their children are still known as the slum clearance tenants—houses that were built down to a low level for people who were trying to exist under the means test in those days—and that stigma has clung to those people ever since. It was my great hope that we were trying to do something, as my right hon. Friend said, I thought with a great deal of agreement on both sides of the House, to get away from that concept, but I believe that this proposal is dragging us down again.
Let us consider what is happening. Under the previous provisions—reasonable subsidy provisions, and, above all, low rates of interest charges—it was possible to see a general development of housing for the general needs of those within an area, and, under those circumstances, with the variety of types of house being built, it was possible to encourage people to realise that their housing needs were being met, not so fast, certainly, as any of us wanted to see, but certainly to see their needs being met within a reasonable period of time.
Now, under these proposals, which will inevitably involve further increases of rent, the result will be to cause more overcrowding, not less. What will happen, surely, will be that we shall find cases of people living in houses which are perhaps too large for them, who will be encouraged, the Minister says, to take houses which are not so large. But what will happen? Consider the case of an old couple who may be living on their own in a house that is too large. When 1109 their rent goes up, as the Minister is anxious to ensure that it shall, what will happen in those circumstances? There is no guarantee at all that there will be any other proper provision for them of the size of house which is needed. Naturally, what would happen in that case is what happened during the interwar years. They will go to live with their families, and create further overcrowding problems, in order to save money.
This is not merely my own political view—a jaundiced political view, as some hon. Members may think—because I have here a recent valuable and impartial report of Political and Economic Planning called "How many Houses"? It refers to the revision of the Rent Restrictions Acts, and we must consider this aspect, because the Minister has announced his intention to revise the Acts in order to do away with rent control. The report includes this comment:A revision of the Rent Restrictions Acts might stifle the expression of the demand for housing by economic means and might conceivably make small families living in large houses want to leave them. But it is doubtful whether the large overcrowded families could afford the rents charged for the larger houses.I think that is absolutely true. This so-called courageous attack on the problem of housing is a miserable retreat, not an attack at all. It is not an attack on the problem, but a retreat from it.
I was amazed at the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), who I am sorry is out of the Chamber at the moment, because, towards his peroration—a rather empty peroration, I must say—he claimed that we on this side of the House had never made any proposals for speeding up slum clearance. Yet, if I am not mistaken, the hon. Gentleman was a member of a Committee of this House which was discussing an earlier Bill introduced by this Government—another bad, botched Bill, dealing with housing rents and repairs—to which we on this side of the House made certain suggestions for amendment. Those Amendments would have made it possible for Birmingham and other cities of that size to carry on with the emergency powers which they then possessed to execute slum clearance and other housing works much more rapidly than they can do within the scope of existing legislation.
1110 I must say, to the credit of the Conservative councillors in Birmingham, that that was supported by them there. Was it supported by hon. Members opposite, and, in particular, by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West? Not a bit of it. There was the opportunity. What a great shame it was that they did not seize upon the opportunity of supporting that proposal.
§ Mrs. Harriet Slater (Stoke-on-Trent, North)
Was it not also true that, during the Committee stage of that Bill, representatives of Birmingham on the other side of the House voted against the proposal, although they supported it when they were in Birmingham?
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
That is absolutely true, and indeed many of us pointed that out at the time. I merely want to make it quite clear that the effect of the present Bill, linked with the financial measures which are part of it, and linked with the proposals with regard to rent control, which have been discussed by the Minister, will not be to give encouragement to people to tackle the problem but will be a means by which all the hopes of this country of moving forward can be destroyed. All our efforts and all our hopes of wider opportunities for our people and their families are being set back.
I live on Tyneside, an area about which not very much has been said in the debate so far, and there are some features, one especially, that I want to mention, which have not been sufficiently stressed. This Bill contains phraseology about slum clearance and about maintaining the lower subsidy rate for slum clearance. As I understand it, it is intended to do away altogether, over a period of a year or two, with the subsidy for normal housing, with certain special exemptions. On Tyneside, we have some of the most severe overcrowding that is to be found in any part of England. It may well be that in some parts of Tyneside we do not suffer quite as much as do other areas from the slum problem—a great deal has been done in that direction—but, as far as overcrowding is concerned, the figures are absolutely appalling.
The figures of the 1951 census show that on Tyneside something more than 20 per cent. of all families occupy only 1111 one or two rooms, and there is 11 per cent. of overcrowding. These are figures which are higher than those for the rest of the country, even including other urban areas, and yet this is the very problem which the Minister invites us to imagine has been largely solved and about which we can do little more.
§ Mr. John Arbuthnot (Dover)
Is it the hon. Gentleman's suggestion that it is a mistake for small families to move into smaller houses to make the larger houses available for larger families?
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
Not a bit. Long before the hon. Gentleman came into this House I was advocating urgently that it should be made easy by local authorities for the older people to move from their larger houses into smaller houses more suitable for them. What I am objecting to very strongly—I had better again make it clear, so that the hon. Gentleman can follow—is that the Minister's proposals are intended to raise the rents of houses where the old people are now, without any guarantee at all that smaller houses suitable for them will be available for them. It may be that because of the increased rents, which they cannot afford to pay, they will go back to existing slum or semi-slum or overcrowded areas, making the housing problem more and not less difficult. If the hon. Member cannot understand that, I cannot help him.
It is true that on Tyneside there is a very severe problem of overcrowding that we have been trying desperately to tackle. In spite of all our efforts the problem exists still, and is still very severe indeed. It is no use the Minister saying that the local authorities can go on building. They can: admittedly, there is nothing to prevent them from building—except the fact that the Government intend to withdraw the subsidy, and that that will inevitably raise rents generally.
Already pre-war and post-war housing rents have been averaged out to some extent on Tyneside and in many other areas, but, after all, the contrast between the standard of housing pre-war and the standard post-war is very great indeed, and it would be utterly intolerable to charge much higher rents for pre-war houses, with less facilities and smaller rooms than the post-war houses.
Yet that is the very problem which the Minister utterly refuses to face. That is 1112 why we think it is absolutely monstrous that at this moment the Minister should present this proposal to the House. So far from being courageous, he has been pressed on by others. We allow this in his favour, that he is being pressed by his right hon. Friends. However, there are other forces less reputable behind the scene outside this House, who have been pressing for this policy for a long time. I hope we shall hear the voices of the representatives of those pressures and interests express their viewpoint here in the House.
It should be our responsibility to fight the Bill line by line, and to fight it, not only on the simple political grounds, but in the realisation, and because of the realisation, that this Bill will set back all our hopes in all our areas for the kind of decent housing development that we had hoped to see.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Mrs. Evelyn Emmet (East Grinstead)
I hope the House will extend its kindly tolerance to yet another maiden speech. I shall keep the House only a very short time. I want to raise the difficulty that the widows of Service men with families find when they try to obtain civilian housing, and I relate this problem to Clause 5 of the Bill, which states:Where the Minister is of opinion … that there is urgent need for more housing accommodation … and that unless the Minister exercises his powers under this section that housing accommodation could not be provided … the Minister may direct that, in the case of any approved dwelling … the amount of the annual exchequer subsidy otherwise payable under this Act, if less than the amount hereinafter specified, shall be increased to such sum as may be specified in the direction. …These cases in which I am interested and wish to put before the House cannot be dealt with in groups, as can agricultural workers' cottages or the houses of workers in industry. They are scattered up and down the country. It might be thought that for that very reason they could be easily absorbed by the local authorities, but unfortunately the problem of housing is inevitably a local one and many of the local authorities as a rough guide have priority lists based on points from which they make their allocations and outside cases upset their lists. Local residents, if they hear of an outside family being taken on the list, are naturally very loud in their complaints and feel that they have been superseded.
1113 I think that for the same reason it is easy to distinguish between the Service widow and civilian widow who, perhaps, also loses her house on her husband's death. The latter, after all, will be among friends and neighbours. Moreover, she may have lived in the locality some time. She may even be a native. She will have very little difficulty, on making application, in being immediately put on the local housing list. The widow of a Service man, however, not only loses her husband and her home but also her friends and neighbours when she moves out of married quarters, and she becomes an outcast in her own country.
I am encouraged to think that the Minister may be able to help in these cases, or, at any rate, look upon them sympathetically, in view of the Circular he sent to housing authorities on 8th March this year. I want to quote a paragraph of it:Sailors, soldiers and airmen, returning to civil life after a period of years in the Forces, as often as not possess no fixed abode anywhere at all. To insist, in such circumstances, on a residential qualification is to make it quite impossible for many of them to get their names put on the housing list, however great may be their need. That these men should be penalised in this way solely by reason of the fact that they have been serving their country, is a most grievous injustice, which should not he allowed to continue.If it is difficult enough for a man with a wife and family, a potential wage earner, or one with already a good job to go to, to find a house, how much more difficult it must be for a woman left with very small financial means, and with children to support and a home to find. The benevolent societies which work for the three Forces stand behind these widows and help them as much as they can, but they cannot provide houses.
I should like to suggest that possibly the Minister may see his way in these cases, which, after all, are not very many, to offer to increase the subsidy to a local authority willing to take on one of these families. It cannot be, I think, a very large financial burden. It may be said from the local authority's point of view to be an enticement financially so small as not to be worth while, but I think a gesture of this sort would establish a principle; it would make quite clear the duty that, I am sure, everybody feels we have to the dependants of men in the fighting Services who die during their period of service.
1114 It would, I am perfectly certain, give tremendous satisfaction to the men who are serving to know that this had been made possible. It would bring the local authorities into partnership with the Government in meeting this need, and, above all, it would allay the fear which must be constantly in the minds of our young wives, especially those who marry into the Royal Air Force, in which death can come so suddenly, the fear which must take the form of the question, "What shall I do with the children if anything happens to my Bill?"
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)
It is my duty to congratulate the hon. Lady the Member for East Grinstead (Mrs. Emmet) on her maiden speech. It is more than a duty; it is a very sincere pleasure. The hon. Lady is a very distinguished member of the Conservative Party, with a very wide experience in the international field and in the sphere of local government. She has impressed the whole House with her plea for the people of whom she spoke. I hope that her maiden speech will not fall on deaf ears in the Government. It was a very human approach, full of a warm sympathy, delivered with the confidence that betokened not a maiden speech but many years of practised public speaking. We shall all look forward to hearing her again in the Chamber, when perhaps she may choose one of the wider issues in our discussions.
The Minister sought to present the Bill last week in the guise of doing a favour to the local authorities. He sought to convey the impression that he was not really taking anything from them. He was going to make it very much easier for them to do their job of slum clearance. He adopted the attitude throughout his speech of saying, more or less, "This will hurt me far more than it will hurt you." But we should not be deceived by the right hon. Gentleman's approach, because he is one of the most ruthless Ministers in the Tory Party. When the party wanted to de-nationalise the iron and steel industry it chose the right hon. Gentleman to do it. A year ago, when it wanted to make the first cut in the subsidies, it was the right hon. Gentleman who had the job to do, and throughout his speech on this Bill there stuck out the blatant Toryism which we 1115 warned the people would appear once the party opposite had won the Election with an adequate majority.
The right hon. Gentleman's speech on 21st October, 1954, when he reduced the housing subsidy, was the thin edge of the wedge. If the right hon. Gentleman had stuck to the principle and policy then enunciated, he ought now to be increasing the subsidies and not doing away with them. Last October, according to the right hon. Gentleman, it was necessary to reduce the subsidies because the loan rate had fallen. Today, the loan rate has risen, and therefore, in logic, the right hon. Gentleman should be increasing the subsidy; but we know perfectly well that the Government have now departed completely from the former principle. They are now reducing the subsidies deliberately, as a frontal attack upon the social services.
This act is part of an economy campaign directed at that sphere at which the Government feel that they can direct it, that is, the public authorities. They ought to be directing it at private enterprise, but that would be contrary to their convictions. The Government choose this sector for attack because there is here a buffer between the Government and the people who will be affected. When rates rise it will not be the Government who will be directly blamed but the local authorities, who have to take the action. The Government, therefore, have deliberately chosen this form of attack.
The Minister said, in effect, that these proposals would not hurt the local authorities, but I have here a letter from the Northern Regional Committee of the National Housing and Town Planning Council, addressed to all Members of Parliament for constituencies in the Northern Region, including, I hope, Conservatives. The letter is headed, "Housing Subsidies Bill" and states:At a meeting of the Northern Regional Committee of the National Housing and Town Planning Council, held at Newcastle-upon-Tyne on the 18th inst., the provisions of the Housing Subsidies Bill were considered"—This is important:The meeting was attended by representatives of five county borough councils, nine non-county borough councils, 32 urban district councils and nine rural district councils, situate in Cumberland, Durham, Northumberland and the North Riding of Yorkshire. Two representatives were authorised to vote on behalf of each local authority.1116The following resolution, moved by the representative of Jarrow Borough Council, was adopted by 67 votes to 11:'That this meeting of representatives of housing authorities in the area of the Northern Regional Committee of the National Housing and Town Planning Council voices the strongest possible protest at the introduction of the new housing subsidies which will have the effect in the case of most housing authorities of virtually suspending the building of houses for local authority housing lists.Secondly, that this meeting further characterises the new subsidies as a retrograde step which, in conjunction with the increase in the rate of interest on loans, will mean the withholding of decent homes from countless numbers of people for many years to come, and urges Her Majesty's Government to reconsider the matter without delay.'That is a letter from a thoroughly responsible body.
It is part of our case, on this side of the House, that the Government have virtually limited, if not suspended, completely, the building of houses by local authorities except for slum clearance. We maintain that this is part of a deliberate policy, followed by the Government since they have been in office, of limiting the activities of municipalities in the matter of house building.
We claim that by this policy the Government hope to bring about a reduction in the demand for corporation houses. It is clear that this is a fundamental change in housing policy. We now see quite clearly that need is not to be the key but whether one can afford a house. We see that need, which was the ground for obtaining a house when Labour were in power, has gone overboard and that many people who have been looking forward for years to obtaining a house, and whose need is apparent, must be disappointed and that we might just as well scrap most of the housing lists.
It would not be quite so bad if the Government faced the alternative means of bringing about their avowed purpose. No real effort has been made to bring about a reduction in the cost of house building. I know of an instance brought to my notice last week of a certain ring supplying a building component which could be reduced in price by 14s. a ton if free enterprise were given proper rein. Because prices are fixed and a ring exists, the cost of house building is artificially kept far too high.
1117 Again, if the Government had not proceeded to make the recent increase in interest charges, the cut in subsidies would not have been so calamitous. If the Government would adopt the scheme, favoured by this side of the House, of giving the local authority the right and the power to arrange exchanges between occupiers of private houses and corporation houses that would go a considerable way towards solving the housing problem. But when hon. Members opposite talk about people moving out of large houses two questions arise. The first is, where are they to move and who is going to provide accommodation for them? The second is, what guarantee is there that those who go into the new houses will be able to afford the high rents which will be charged for them? There are innumerable ways by which some of the desired results could be achieved if the Government so wished without cutting the subsidies.
Clearly, the social consequences of the Bill will be evil. Many people will have to face the choice of spending money on higher rents and spending money on feeding their families. Before the war Dr. McGonigle conducted an experiment in my constituency, which proved quite clearly that, once corporation rents pass a certain level, malnutrition sets in among families because they cannot afford the increased rents. As higher rents had to be paid, expenditure on food became less. We do not want to see a repetition of that state of affairs, but I am certain that these conditions will come about again if the Bill is passed and that we shall see once again the segregation of people in the country into two classes—corporation tenants and others. There will grow the snob outlook which over the past few years was being gradually wiped out.
The Bill should not be taken in isolation. It is part of the Government's wider economic policy. The Government are seeking to deal with inflation and believe that the Bill is one of the weapons with which to deal with it. But the Bill will have an effect opposite from what is intended. Faced with a demand for increased rent, the housewife—and she is the one who bears the burden—is bound to agitate with her husband to get an increase in pay and, day in and day out, he will have this nagging about his not earning more money to meet the increased rent. In that economic aspect alone the 1118 Bill is bound to fail. Government policy in dealing with inflation should have been to aim at keeping rents as low as possible, instead of putting them as high as possible.
It is clear that local authorities will not be able to build at the present rate, even if they can afford it. Who will build the houses for the sort of people on our waiting lists? Who will provide houses for elderly people, such as the person in my constituency who is now living in a house far too big and who had some hopes, until the Bill came along, that in 18 months she could be rehoused in a small bungalow built by the local council? Now that is right out and she is condemned to stay in a house much too large, with all the inconveniences that brings. Who will build houses for families living in overcrowded conditions, or those cases where a man is having to live away from his wife because there is no room in the house? Who will provide for the person who is living in what is not a slum, but what is certainly a sub-standard house?
As things were developing, as more corporation houses were being built, those people had some hope that they would be rehoused in better conditions, but the Bill has been the death knell of all those hopes. Now such people are condemned to living for as far ahead as one can see in precisely the conditions from which they are now suffering. That is not good enough. The Government have now abandoned all pretence of planning in all these building operations. They have no conception whatever of what raw materials and what manpower will be available for building. If everything is left to local authorities, private enterprise, garages, petrol stations and all the rest of it, how can the Government say what raw materials will be available in adequate supplies? How can they say from where the building force will come to do the necessary jobs, such as building schools and hospitals? The Government have given up any conception of planning the resources of the building industry.
We are most anxious that slum clearance should proceed. In fact, in that connection the Government got all the help they needed in the Housing Repairs and Rents Act, 1954. But the Government's figure of 60,000 houses a year is ludicrous. It means a trickle of houses to each local 1119 authority each year, if they are to do that and at the same time to undertake other house building. It means that people will have the heart-breaking task of waiting for years for a house to come along. But that is by no means the worst of it.
This is part of the Government's policy of "divide and rule." They are saying to all the people who do not live in corporation houses, "Look at all those wicked people living in corporation houses who could afford to pay higher rent. It is not right that you should be living in worse accommodation and have to support them. Therefore, let us put up the rents of people living in corporation property." They will do that; but what is the next step? The Government will come along and say to private tenants, "People living in corporation property have had to have their rents increased. It is unfair that you should be living at the expense of the landlord and, therefore, we shall also put up your rent."
I warn people who think that they are on a good thing by backing the Bill to be more careful and to look a little further than the end of their noses. This is the first step in the process of putting up rents all round, and the worst effect of the Bill is clearly that it will make the statutory duty of the local authority virtually impossible. My own local authority will be faced with having to make an increase per house, per week—that is a three-bedroomed house—of about 11s. 4d. as a result of the Bill and the rise in interest charges. If they spread the increase over all their housing accommodation, it will still mean a substantial increase in rents and their attitude will therefore be that they must leave that kind of building alone and concentrate on those where they get the subsidy, although that is not offering any benefit, but only maintaining the present level.
We have seen, particularly in a speech of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), that the idea of a Tory housing policy should be, "Condemn the people who now want houses to the kind of house that was provided by private enterprise before the war; do not let them have a car; do not let them have television; do not let them have any of the normal amenities when, if they can afford such amenities, they should be paying for another house."
§ Mr. C. J. M. Alport (Colchester)
My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) is not present, but I shall be grateful if the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) will give chapter and verse and quote where my hon. Friend said anything of the sort.
§ Mr. Chetwynd
If the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) will read the speech of his hon. Friend, he will see that what I said is a perfectly fair summary of what he said. That is the Tory idea.
I want to ask only one question. Where are the private enterprise builders who will provide those houses for letting at a reasonable rent? Why is it that the bulk of all houses built by private enterprise since the war have been for sale?
§ Mr. Chetwynd
What is clear is that private enterprise has failed in the job of housing the people. The only alternative is to place that job fairly and squarely on the local authorities, but they will not be able to do it if they are crippled by a Bill of this sort. We have to bear in mind that we ought now to be building with improved standards, better housing conditions, and not just keeping things as they are. We are not building for next year or the year after, but for 50 or 60 years ahead and we ought to be improving the standards of the houses.
The Minister has said that in a year or so he will bring in provisions to abolish the subsidy as it will be in the Bill. We are entitled to know what "a year or so" means. The Minister has half-severed the neck of local authorities in the present Bill and we are entitled to know when the axe will fall with its full force.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ Mr. David Price (Eastleigh)
I think that the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) will agree with me—and I think that this was the burden of his speech—that in considering the Bill we are considering the whole social outlook of the present Government. Both sides of the House will agree that this is not merely an ad hoc Measure. There may be certain hon. Members who will not agree, but that is the general tenor 1121 on both sides, and it is therefore fair that we should look at the alternative social philosophies of the two parties. I do not think that it was fair of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) to carp at the fact that my right hon. Friend had introduced a Measure which was not in accordance with the social philosophy of the other side of the House. The electorate at the last General Election made it clear that it was prepared to give this side of the House a sufficient majority to try—
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)
Did the electorate know at the Election that a Budget was to be introduced and Purchase Tax placed upon kitchen articles, and that subsidies were to be cut and abolished?
§ Mr. Price
The hon. Member has given ample expression to that first point already, in the House and outside.
With regard to the general, broad, philosophic approach to politics and the social philosophy of the Conservative Party, I can say, speaking for myself, that I endeavoured to make it quite clear at the General Election. The specific Measures of my right hon. Friend are Front Bench Measures, and we as back benchers are not brought into the picture until after they are presented to the House.
§ Mr. Mitchison
I have not been able to find a single word in the Conservative election manifesto indicating anything of the sort; I have found a quotation to the contrary. Did the hon. Gentleman know about, or did he say one word about, reducing housing susidies?
§ Mr. Price
I can be held responsible only for what I personally said. If the hon. and learned Gentleman were to read that admirable book of some of my hon. Friends, One Nation, he would see this philosophy very clearly expounded.
I suggest to the House that we on this side have quite a clear social philosophy in this matter. Our aim is a property-owning democracy founded on a dynamic economy with a basic minimum standard of life and labour below which no man or woman of good will, however weak, will be allowed to fall. I suggest that the essential philosophy of the party opposite—and I hope that this is not an unfair description—is an egalitarian society 1122 based on public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange.
Those are fundamental differences of approach. I do not feel that hon. Gentlemen opposite are entitled to accuse my right hon. Friend of dishonesty or sharp practice in bringing forward a Bill which I believe accords with the general and well-known explicit social philosophy of hon. Members on this side of the House. I should like to suggest certain features of the Bill that accord with this philosophy. We must judge the Bill as one in a line of general measures, and I agree with those hon. Gentlemen opposite who say so. I accept it as one of a general line of measures. If it is not, I am very disappointed in my right hon. Friend.
I believe that the Bill acknowledges the basic responsibility of all to provide themselves with their own accommodation, if they can. The argument that people should have public authority houses, especially in relation to people in the middle income group who can afford their own houses, is one which is an anathema to many of us on this side of the House.
§ Mr. Victor Collins (Shoreditch and Finsbury)
How does the hon. Gentleman suggest that in a constituency like mine, a metropolitan borough, where the developed cost per site is £28,000 an acre, people can provide themselves with houses?
§ Mr. Price
If the hon. Gentleman will bear with me I intend to go through certain aspects of the Bill, and I have that point very much in mind.
The second point in what I regard as a sound Conservative social philosophy which the Bill reveals is that it acknowledges a duty to society to help those who are not able to help themselves. I agree that there is room for a great deal of argument as to how one should define that. I am open to the suggestion that there may be flaws in the Bill. I acknowledge that, but, as this is a Second Reading debate, one is entitled to deal with the broad issues. The third point which I think the Bill acknowledges is the role of the State to deal vigorously with special problems. It may well be that the point raised by the hon. Member for Shore-ditch and Finsbury (Mr. Collins) comes under that head.
Of those special problems the one of slum clearance is very properly put at the 1123 head of the list. In view of the amount of building there has been since the end of the war—and I am aware of the length of certain housing lists—it is right to take up the crusade against slums which, from this side of the House, was carried out so energetically in the years just before the last war. In view of the housing record of hon. Members opposite during their term of office, it ill becomes them to carp at the Minister for putting this emphasis on slum clearance. Speaking for my own constituency, I say that we welcome particularly the emphasis that is put on clearing hutted camps. These hutted camps, many of which have reached the end of their planned life, are a scandal. Even those who are on the general housing list in Eastleigh will, I am sure, welcome the removal of certain of these hutted camps.
I would also say that the special provision in the Bill in respect of new factories being established in an area is one which we welcome. It is proper for extra Government assistance to be given. The movement of industry is a national rather than a local problem. The fourth point in which the Bill makes an important step forward towards a Conservative social philosophy is that it moves from indiscriminate subsidy to discriminate subsidy. That is a fundamental point. It is one which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot ignore in considering their approach to the problem.
There must be a limit as to how far one is prepared to turn to one's neighbour and say, "You must contribute towards my rent because I cannot afford it." This may be brought down to a personal level. How far is anyone entitled to go to his neighbour and say, "You must help pay for my rent." The economic price of all houses has to be paid by the nation as a whole. The only problem is how we distribute the burden. I am certain that hon. Gentlemen opposite would not ignore that point.
§ Mr. Price
That is a fair point, and my answer is that in principle I agree with the hon. Gentleman. I am speaking 1124 for myself when I say that, as a general principle, one must move away from indiscriminate subsidy to discriminate subsidy. One should subsidise people who show a need. I believe that that is sound and morally correct.
§ Mr. F. Blackburn (Stalybridge and Hyde)
How is there discrimination in the general housing scheme when the subsidy on all houses is to be reduced and eventually taken off altogether? How is the hon. Gentleman discriminating there?
§ Mr. Price
I think that my right hon. Friend answered that point when he talked about the spreading of the abolition of the subsidy over all houses.
I come to the point which follows from that. Obviously some form of rent rebate scheme—or other authorities may prefer differential rent schemes; I prefer the former—is a fair one. Those who can afford to pay the economic rent should pay; those who cannot should be subsidised. I accept the point—I concede it to the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr. Blackburn)—that it may be that the financial rates worked out by my right hon. Friend may need to be adjusted. I accept that, because I personally do not regard this as a Measure for saving the Exchequer money. I regard this as a Measure for sorting out what in my opinion is a social injustice; namely. that the subsidies are not going to the right people.
Even if it meant that as a result there had to be increases in certain sections of National Assistance, I should accept that as a logical consequence. Let me make it clear that I am speaking about how I view the matter as a back bencher, and not necessarily as one who has the direct confidence of the Minister. The problem that follows from what I have said is, how does one measure need? It is very easy for hon. Gentlemen opposite to run away from this problem. Unless one is to have indiscriminate subsidies for ever rising, which have to be paid for by the nation, at some stage one must measure need. It is pure political and Governmental cowardice to run away from that problem. I hope that when we reach the Committee stage there may be opportunity to discuss this matter in greater detail.
§ Mr. Price
No. The hon. Gentleman makes more than his fair share of interventions.
The Bill must be viewed as one of a number of Measures. I hope that in due course my right hon. Friend will introduce a Bill to amend the Rent Restrictions Acts, the argument for which has been most cogently put from this side of the House. Secondly, I hope that he will be even more generous regarding private house purchase. I declare my interest. I am a complete, profound and fervent believer in private ownership and owner-occupation of houses. I should like to see the Small Dwellings Acquisition Act extended so that the local authorities can grant 100 per cent. mortgages and also include legal fees.
Under slum clearance schemes I should like to see special compensation paid additional to Clause 40 of the 1936 Act which amounts to little more than site value, at the best one-and-a-half site value. May I make it clear that I am holding no brief for the Church Commissioners and other mass slum landlords? I am talking specifically about owner-occupation, of which there has been a great increase since the war. I should like to support the suggestion made from this side of the House that we should have a differential approach to compensation in this respect, and I hope that the suggestion will be taken up by my right hon. Friend.
The other matter which I feel should follow from this general approach is that I hope that my many right hon. Friends involved in the major problem of the people on fixed incomes and the pensioners will reconsider some of their recent replies to Questions in the light of the Bill. It gives me great pleasure to welcome this Bill, not only as one which is removing distortions in our economy, but as an important step forward towards social equity.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Mr. C. W. Gibson (Clapham)
The hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price) will forgive me if I do not follow him too far, but there was one question over which he made me ponder. He said that he and some of his hon. Friends are against indiscriminate subsidies and he applauded what he calls discriminate subsidies. Does that apply to family allowances?
§ Mr. Gibson
I will not press for an answer now.
I have listened to the debates on this subject, and it has brought back to my mind the experiences of some of us in the 1920s and the 1930s. Unfortunately, I am old enough to remember the first wild attacks by the Tory Party on housing subsidies after the First World War and similar attacks in the 1930s. On each occasion similar arguments were used, but a fresh Government had to reintroduce subsidies, and generally at a higher level than before. That had to be done because of the pressure of public opinion. I warn the Minister that he will not get away with this Bill without a violent public agitation.
Already in many of the most responsible quarters in local government there is a very strong feeling about this. Last Saturday I attended a conference and I was surprised at the number of those present and the vigour with which they attacked the policy behind this Bill. Assertions were made which were backed by knowledge and experience that, in spite of what the Minister has said and the tone of some of the speeches to which we have listened in this House, this Bill will have the effect of raising rents to a figure which it will be utterly impossible for the kind of people for whom we say we are building to pay.
Let me mention one or two. In Southall, we were told, if this Bill goes through and the subsidies are altered as it is proposed, rents will be 51s. to 60s. a week for a normal two-bedroom house, in addition to rates. In Finsbury, the figure will be from 51s. to 61s. 6d. In Deptford, where they have expensive land as well as severe overcrowding, rents will be anything from 33s. to 53s. a week, plus rates, and plus 10s. more if the 5 per cent. charge on housing loans is insisted on, and the authority has to build under it. At Stepney the figure will be 64s.
This is typical of the effect which this Bill will have on future housing in London, not only in the county but in the greater London area as well. The result will be that house building will stop. No houses for general purposes will be built, and I doubt if houses for slum clearance 1127 purposes will be built. How can we expect people, who have been living in slum houses generally, at a lower rent, to occupy houses or flats for which will be charged the kind of rents that I have just mentioned? It is already becoming very difficult. I wish the Minister were present in the Chamber at the moment, because I wish to say something about a case in his own borough.
The House will forgive me if I tell a personal story. A woman came to me at my political surgery a fortnight ago and complained that she was paying £2 11s. 9d. a week rent for a two-bedroom flat in the Borough of Wandsworth which is run at the moment by the Tory Party—and she said that her husband, who had a regular job as a labourer, was earning £8 a week. She said that because she must pay her rent her children had been getting less food these last few months, and although she ought not to do so, she was proposing to find a job again in order to be able to see that her children got enough to eat.
That kind of thing will be duplicated hundreds of thousands of times all over the country. That is what happened in the 1920s and 1930s and it is as clear as daylight that it will happen again, because that has always been the inevitable outcome of Tory policy. I warn hon. Members opposite that some of us will not feel ourselves in the least inhibited in supporting and encouraging violent protests outside this House at the way in which this Bill will work.
Inevitably this Bill will result in a slowdown and, ultimately, in the stopping of house building. It is rather cleverly arranged that the existing subsidy will be paid on houses which are now being built under contracts already agreed. We reckon that that will carry us on for another 18 months or two years. The Minister himself did not give it more than 18 months; we shall feel the full effects of this Bill after that period. Already local authorities are deciding not to go on building in view of the high cost of interest rates. I know a housing association which has made that decision during the last couple of weeks, and it is clear that in the end this will mean the stopping of general housing altogether.
Is there any reason for all this? Can the Government suggest that there is no 1128 longer a need for houses? The Minister himself agreed that there was still a great need for houses all over the country. There are enormous waiting lists in every town. Most of the authorities have now sorted out those lists into urgent cases and those which are not so urgent. In London we have a very urgent waiting list of nearly 50,000 families, and it is probably true to say, on the same basis and taking the whole country, that there must be 200,000 families, if not more, whose demand for decent accommodation is really urgent. The supply of housing for those families will stop.
Under the Bill the supply of houses for that kind of family will stop, because the pressure of the Government against general housing by local authorities is already resulting in nearly all the houses which they are building having to be allocated in rehousing people from slum areas or people living in temporary houses—which, we all agree, must go at some time or other—or the thousands of families now living in requisitioned houses, especially in the Greater London area. Even the London County Council is finding it very difficult to provide new houses for families who are on the urgent waiting list, because of the enormous demand made by families affected by the factors which I have just mentioned.
Some of the road programme is to continue, and every time a new road is built in a great town it is inevitable that the local authority concerned is compelled to rehouse many families. In London that is a very considerable figure. The Bill will not satisfy the need for new houses by families who urgently require them. In a longish letter to The Times I did my best to make that point. In the last few days there has appeared in that newspaper another letter, written by a Mr. Audrey Harvey, whom I do not know, who gives a list of badly housed families. He says:A family of 11—two adults and nine children—have only two rooms into which to wedge themselves. Conversely, a young couple have already waited seven years to start a family because they do not think two rooms in a reeking basement a fit place. Many desperate young husbands have been forced to live apart from their wives for years because their one-room homes cannot hold both father and babies.I know that to be true from my personal experience. The writer of the letter also mentions the case of a father, mother and 1129 daughter—who is now aged 15—who are obliged to share the same bed.The parents of a girl of 10 have been told not to let her use the same lavatory as their tubercular co-tenants, but there is only one—so the child must be kept under hospital observation. Why is there no hope of moving these people and thousands like them. for years to come?These are not slums, or houses which we should be able to condemn as unfit to live in; they are the ordinary type of rather bad house, in which people are crowded together like a lot of sheep. With that kind of situation, whatever may be our social philosophy, any humane society would insist upon local authorities continuing to build as fast as ever they can, in order to find sufficient houses for that kind of family.
This is a problem which private enterprise building has never been able to solve. It is rather interesting to note that not once in this debate has any hon. Member opposite suggested that private enterprise should build new houses for the slum dwellers, or pull down the slums; for the very good reason—as I know, having spent seven years as chairman of the largest housing authority in the country—that when a slum is pulled down and the familities in it are rehoused, first, it requires the building of more houses than the total number pulled down, because they are always occupied by two or more families, and, second, it always costs a tremendous amount to do the job. That loss is partially met by the rates, but there still remains a loss, which private enterprise firms will not look at. It is merely in accordance with good Tory policy of greed and grab that nobody on the Tory side wants private builders to pull down the slums and build new houses for the people living in them.
Can it be said that we cannot afford it? We have heard a good deal about the cost of housing subsidies. The Annual Report of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government for 1953–54, which was issued a few months ago, shows that the housing subsidies for last year amounted to £35,494,000. I could not find details of the amount which the rates have to bear, but if it is one-third, and that proportion is added, one gets a total of £47,325,000. Is anybody going to say that a great nation, with an income of £8,000 million a year. which 1130 can throw away £1,500 million upon armaments, cannot afford less than £50 million a year in order to provide masses of our people with decent homes? Hon. Members on this side of the House will not only always say that housing is a social service, but will accept all the implications of that statement, and will be prepared to provide the subsidies which are necessary in order to maintain the rents at a figure which ordinary workmen can afford to pay.
The Minister and other hon. Members opposite—including the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell)—have said that plenty of money is available with which to pay these increased rents; one had merely to amalgamate family incomes. As though anybody with any experience of working-class life could ever imagine, first, that family incomes could be amalgamated, and, second, that if it were possible to do so it would be effective for more than four or five years. Children at school produce nothing in the way of income. Some children remain at school until they are 16, 17 or even 18 nowadays, and when they are 21 and 22 they marry and go off, if they can find a place in which to live. It is only for a few years, therefore, that this amalgamated family income can be regarded as being in any way real.
One reads in the Daily Mail that there are thousands of families with incomes of £20, £30 and £40 a week. I can only say that from my experience that is complete and utter poppycock. I have never known a family in my constituency to have anything like that amount of income—even adding together the wages of the husband, wife, sons, daughters and grandparents. I do not say that working-class people are not now financially better off than they were before the war, but, taking into account the changing value of money and the fact that the value of the £ is still going down—even under a Tory Government—the amount of money earned by working-class families is, proportionately, not large as compared with what it was in 1938. The real improvement in these days arises not from the fact that more money is going into working-class homes but that, because of full employment, we are getting 52 weeks' wages every year—except in the building industry, where we always get some broken time, whatever the weather.
1131 The average income of our workers can easily be found. It is mentioned in the Blue Book on National Income and Expenditure, prepared by the Government and issued only a week or two ago. There we find—and this amazed me—that there are 18,100,000 workers whose earnings, after taxation, were less than £10 a week. It is true that another 5,900,000 earned between £500 and £750 a year, but, adding them all together, one does not arrive at anything like the fantastic figure which has been mentioned in some Tory newspapers and by some hon. Members opposite this afternoon.
These are incomes and not wage rates, which are much worse. In the building trade, craftsmen like bricklayers, plasterers, painters and plumbers are getting a wage rate which is only about £9 6s. for a full week. At this time of the year they are working winter hours, four hours short at least, even if the weather does not rain or turn foggy and make it impossible for them to work at all. Many men in the electricity industry are below £10 a week. When a man works overtime to try to buy his children some boots or clothing or to give his wife a better time, why should it automatically be assumed that part of it should go to the landlord in increased rent?
We cannot work a social policy on that basis. We can only take general averages. The facts show that the general average of income is below £10 per week. It is impossible to expect on that income the kind of rent which local authorities all over the country are now beginning to discover will have to be paid after the Bill is passed. As it is impossible to expect such rents to be paid, we must resist the Bill.
I believe the Bill is the beginning of unemployment and slump. If there were time, I could argue this point in detail. Experience proves that it happened in the 1920's and 1930's. The slump always starts with great unemployment in the building industry, and this industry is afraid of it. Recently, one of the biggest unions, the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers, decided that the situation was getting so serious that it had to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and call his attention to what was happening.
1132 I have a quotation from that letter, which was published in the Builder for 4th November. I mention that point in case somebody may think that Mr. Lowthian, the Secretary of the Union, has primed me with it. The letter was written by Mr. G. H. Lowthian, who is the Secretary of the Union and is a member of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress. He said, on behalf of his union, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, talking on general housing policy:Local authorities, therefore, will be faced with the dilemma that they may be able to demolish slums, but cannot provide new houses at reasonable rents for those being displaced.That is the point I have been making. He goes on:Obviously there is going to be an even more drastic fall in municipal house building than has taken place in the last few months.He adds:More bricklayers are unemployed than usual at this time of the year.If the policy adumbrated by the Bill is persisted in, the inevitable results will be the slowing down and final stopping of new building, for general purposes certainly, and probably for slum-clearing purposes as well; an increase in unemployment; the raising of rents of all houses, and the beginning of a trade slump about which, frankly, the trade-union movement has very great fears.
The Bill will create a tremendous disturbance, and every working-class home will feel it. Those who are not living in council houses will be alarmed at the suggestion that we are going to lift the Rent Restrictions Act. If the worst comes to the worst and rents go up, there will be an inevitable demand for further wage increases. How can any Tory object to them? The right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) stood at the Government Dispatch Box and said, "Let's have a free-for-all. Let us have a free economy." It must be free for the workers as well as for others.
If we put the organised workers into the position in which their incomes buy less and they have to spend a greater proportion than 10 per cent. on rent—and that will be high—inevitably there will be demands for more wages. We shall begin again the cycle of booms and slumps which created so much havoc in earlier years in the lives of our people.
§ 8.6 p.m.
§ Mr. J. J. Astor (Plymouth, Sutton)
Unlike the hon. Member for Clapham (Mr. Gibson), I welcome the Bill in general. I could not see the force of the argument of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), when he suggested that the 300,000 houses which this Government have managed to build were achieved by some sort of trick, that we were trying to build for votes and, having got the votes, we were going back on the house building programme. The argument seemed to appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite.
The fair way of looking at the last General Election is that the electorate, which by and large likes to judge performance and not promises, found itself better served by the performance of the present Government in the field of housing than by the performance of the party opposite, because of our more realistic approach to housing conditions. [Interruption.] I agree that the Bill is particularly unpopular, but I believe it is part of a larger plan designed to make the earnings of the wage earner buy more. When that is understood, the Bill will not be as unpopular as hon. Gentlemen opposite say that it is.
§ Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, North-West)
Does the hon. Gentleman include in that larger plan the increase of rents which will come when the Rent Restrictions Acts are removed?
§ Mr. Astor
I was referring to a larger plan, because I believe that the Bill is part of a Government plan to prevent the situation which arose when the party opposite were in power, and when earnings gradually bought less and less.
I have intervened in the debate to draw the attention of the Minister to one aspect of this subject. I am not very impressed by the reactions of hon. Gentlemen opposite about the result of the last General Election in relation to housing. They are sensitive to the result of the Election, which was largely brought about by the performance of the present Government in house building—[Interruption]—and that is why hon. Gentlemen opposite have made so many of what have seemed to me to be illogical noises. I want the Minister to pay attention to Clause 5, which empowers him in certain circumstances to increase the subsidy where it 1134 can be proved that the local authority has to bear an unreasonable rate burden or to impose unreasonably heavy rent.
I hope we shall have an assurance that it is under that Clause that the Minister intends to deal with blitzed cities. I shall try to relate the peculiar position of Plymouth to the provisions of Clause 5 (1, b). I hope that the Minister does not think that because the blitz happened more than ten years ago the responsible local authorities have no problem now.
§ Mr. Astor
The City of Plymouth lost 4,000 houses and, because of further clearance, which must precede reconstruction, coupled with the dockyard development plan, 6,000 families have had to be rehoused. The City of Plymouth has made heroic efforts, as anyone in the Ministry can tell the Minister if he does not know, and some 13,000 houses have been rebuilt.
The difficulty of blitzed cities, however, is that even now they are suffering from the wounds which were inflicted on them more than ten years ago. A significant and important fact is that in 1946 the families per house in Plymouth were 1.41, and now the figure is 1.45—an even larger number of families per house, in spite of the fact that the local authority has built 13,000 houses; and the national average, I understand, is 1.09.
Having established the fact that the blitzed cities suffered, and that their local authorities made heroic efforts to reconstruct their houses, I appreciate that the Minister will not be convinced unless it can be proved that there is a direct relationship with the rate burden applicable in 1955—and, of course, there is. In 1945, the Plymouth Council, which was Socialist, took a brave decision. It decided that, at the expense of the rateable value of its city, it would, instead of building shops and factories, build houses. It is estimated that this policy has cost the council £50,000 a year. The policy to rebuild houses at the expense of shops and factories has meant a loss of rateable value each year to that city.
Clause 5, to which I have referred, relates also to unreasonably high rents. The level of rents can be judged only if one takes into account the level of wages. 1135 Since 1949, the local authority in Plymouth has worked a differential rent scheme—not a rebate scheme. It has resulted in considerable inquiries, and among other points that have emerged is the fact that only 20 per cent. of the council tenants earn more than £10 a week, inclusive of overtime.
That shows the low wage-earning capacity in Plymouth. The same is true under either Government because the whole field of employment is dominated by the dockyard and there is not, in the dockyard, the same opportunity to earn either high wages or considerable overtime as there is in some Midland and North Country cities. I hope that the Minister will be impressed by this figure and will realise that the level of rents in a blitzed city such as Plymouth can only be judged in relation to the wage-earning capacity of the tenants.
What are known in building circles as "abnormals" are considerable in the Plymouth area. For each house built, some £200 abnormal expenditure is involved because of the severe contours, the steep hills and the very shallow subsoil, underneath which is hard rock. Therefore, the building costs in which the local authorities are involved are abnormally high in that area. I hope we shall have an assurance that it is under Clause 5 that the blitzed cities will be dealt with, and that the City of Plymouth will be remembered as a Service town which endured a severe blitz, has made a spectacular recovery, and has carried an unreasonably high rate burden for some years, although it is a low wage area.
§ Mr. Lewis
I should like to congratulate the hon. Gentleman and tell him that I support him in his remarks on blitzed cities. I, too, represent a blitzed city. At the moment the Minister has not given even a faint promise on the point which the hon. Gentleman has mentioned. If the Minister does not make a promise, would the hon. Gentleman support me in moving an Amendment in Committee to cover this point?
§ Mr. Astor
The hon. Gentleman and I have been in these blitzed city discussions before. I think this is a good point. I hope—in fact, I am pretty sure—that the Minister will give an assurance that this subject will be considered under that Clause. I could not, on the Floor of the 1136 House, promise to support any Amendment which the hon. Gentleman might move until I saw it in writing and until I was sure that both I and he understood what it meant. Therefore, my support must be conditional. If Clause 5 means what it says—and I have no reason to think that it does not—I feel sure that the Minister will give proper consideration to the City of Plymouth.
§ 8.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Simon Mahon (Bootle)
The hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Mr. Astor) commenced his speech by saying that he supported the Bill and then he went on to present an admirable case against it. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman should try to make the same speech outside the Plymouth dockyard and should tell the men and women with three children who are living in a back room that they can afford to pay the new unsubsidised rents whereby £29 is taken from the assistance which they should receive.
I was interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price), who entered this Parliament with me and who is, I think, making considerable progress. He said that he believed in the ownership of private property. When I was a child and I had done something particularly handsome, my mother, with thousands of years of Irish ancestry behind her, said, "Son, you are the son of a dispossessed Irish King." The point is that I have always wanted to own my own home and I have always wanted people to own the land of this country. Most of the people, however, who assume they own their own homes know very well that they do not own the land, and a man very often cannot have the pleasure of digging his own soil.
The thing to do is to make people own their own homes. People feel best when they own their homes. They have a greater interest in the country. But who are the people who stopped them owning their homes? The world did not start in 1945. Since I have been coming here I have heard people talking about 1945 and 1951 until I am sick of it. I remember 1931. I started work in 1929 as a scaler-boy in the Liverpool docks. In those days people were moving because it was cheaper to move than to pay the rent. That is perfectly true.
1137 We talk about so many houses being bought and so many being rented. Let us consider the position today. I have heard many speeches from hon. Members representing London constituencies, but I want to tell the people from London that their problem fades into insignificance when compared with the problem of Merseyside. The hon. Member for Sutton has referred to war-time bombing. We are tired of the promises of Governments. We have had no help at all. Our towns were bombed. We listened to Evans of the "Broke." We listened to the late Ernest Bevin, to my right hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Attlee) and to the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) saying "Keep open the Western Approaches." We kept them open, and now this is the way the Government are treating the people who kept them open.
In Liverpool there is a population of 350,000 slum dwellers—the population of a city living below standard in anti-social conditions. To be fair to the Government, I regard the building of 300,000 houses a year as a tremendous achievement. The only comment I have to make is that they reduced standards, and I objected to that—and I have had considerable experience as chairman of a housing committee; but it would be churlish and ungracious if I said there had not been a considerable effort in the House and in the country to house a million people a year in new surroundings. A tremendous effort has been made by the building industry, by local authorities and by various governments. In spite of paying that compliment, I have an objection to make: it is not how many houses we build that matters, it is where they go and what happens to them.
There has been a major change of policy and I am objecting to it because it affects the people whom I represent and it will slow down their progress. They have been badly treated for long enough. The Government's new policy is based on a higher level of wages in industry. Let us be honest and reasonable; whatever comes to the Chancellor comes out of the human frame. The Government are telling men working on the docks that they are earning high wages and that the removal of the subsidy is based on the standard of wages. That was said from the Government Front Bench—that they are removing the 1138 subsidy because of the high wages. But the people in Liverpool are not earning high wages, even though they have to work long hours, and because of the high cost of living and the fact that people want to do the best they can for their children, wives are being forced to go out to work.
I want to be very serious on this. The Government should consider whether it is good socially and economically to drive women out to work in order to keep their homes going. I say that it is not a good thing and that ultimately we shall find that it is the most retrogressive step ever taken.
I make a plea to the Government to tell the Liverpool docker that they think he can afford to pay £2 and £2 5s. a week for his house. I say that he cannot do it. For years I have been chairman of a housing committee, and I want the House to know that I am telling the truth about these things, for it is important that people should tell the truth on such an issue. I have interviewed every family which has been given a house by my committee—and we are a town of 76,000 people and have built 800 houses a year. The people cannot afford to pay a big rent. They can pay no more than they pay now. Do not let us go into these abstract matters. I am telling hon. Members frankly that people in Bootle can afford to pay no more. It takes us all our time to get the rents in as they are.
If a man is earning £15 or £16 a week, by all means let the Government take this action, but the wages in our area are £7 or £8 or £9 a week and the average wage of a docker is only about £10 a week. Even that ignores how old a man is. I answered an article in one of the national Sunday newspapers on this subject. Their headline was, as far as I remember: "Whilst trouble brews on Britain's bustling waterfront, men earn £40 a week." Some hon. Members will recall that in the newspapers. I answered it, but they would not tell the dockers that a Labour M.P. had answered it and the answer was pushed on one side. Their statement was not true, and I suggest that the policy of the removal of the subsidy is completely without foundation.
I studied the figures concerning these 300,000 houses. This year there is to be a reduced number of local authority 1139 houses and there is to be an even lower number next year. If we are in earnest about slum clearance, do not let us stop private house building altogether, if there is a need, but let us keep it in social balance with the demand for local authority houses. An excellent case has been made out by my hon. Friends for this. Let us tackle slum clearance as it should be tackled.
Last year 308,000 homes were built, and of them 199,000 went to local authorities, 88,000 to private firms and 21,000 to special needs. In 1955 the local authority proportion will be considerably less. Figures given by the Prime Minister were 60,000 houses to accommodate 200,000 people a year. Already there is a discrepancy, because in the Command Paper on Slum Clearance we have been told that there are 13 million dwellings in England and that 847,000 of them are unfit. The estimate of future demolitions is given as 375,000 in five years, which means 75,000 a year. Even on the record of the local authorities, the Government estimate is 15,000 a year short. These things have to be borne in mind.
I want to allow other hon. Members to speak and I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me this extension of my Parliamentary experience. I am not yet used to standing up here and making speeches. Altogether 847,000 houses are estimated as unfit—one-fourteenth of the houses of the country, with one-tenth of the people of the country living in them. In other words, one-tenth of the people are living in unfit houses. Let me remind hon. Members that 94,000 of these houses are on Merseyside and that the 350,000 people living in them, in anti-social conditions, have been living in them for too long.
I have known of the anxiety displayed by the Minister of Labour about people in industry, particularly on Merseyside, but how can the Government expect people to be industrially responsible whilst the Government are being socially irresponsible? In many circumstances the Government are lucky to get the men to go to work as the conditions are so bad. There are filthy jobs on which they have to work in all kinds of weather, and they come back to the girl who has waited for years for a decent home and the bloom has gone off family life. The man is conditioned to his social 1140 and domestic environment when he goes to work. Although my hon. Friend the Member for the Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock) and I have stood at the gates of Gladstone Dock on many occasions, we shall be slow in future to go there and tell the men to curb their ambitions, because they should fight if ever they fought.
How can 350,000 be got out of the slums without a fight? It has been a fight all the time. We have not a house for sale because social statistics are so appalling. The Minister might take this as a pat on the back. Two years ago I raised the question of houses sold in slum-clearance areas—£500 was paid for a two-up and two-down in a zoned area. I am grateful for the fact that eventually a pamphlet was put out on slum clearance which helped us.
We are talking about slum clearance and allowing the subsidy to remain. That would mean £22 from the Government and £7 from the local authority. To bear out all I have said, in slum clearance areas on an A.4 house we in Bootle had an extra deficit per week of 15s. 11d. after the local authority subsidy and after the Government subsidy. A four-bedroom house is given a subsidy of £41 7s. 11d. per year extra, not because we want to do so, but because we have got to do so. We just cannot put people into a house in a slum-clearance area and say that the rent is £2. We have to destroy the environment of poverty and the habits of poverty which have accumulated over the years. That has to be done gradually, and people cannot be dealt with in those circumstances on those figures because the figures would double up again. It is self-defence against high costs. I can give figures to show that on an A.1 fiat for old people the deficit is 3s. 10d. after the subsidy. On an A.2 it is 7s. 2d., on an A.3, 10s. ld. and on an A.4 15s. 11d. That is after slum clearance. The amount should be stepped up and a reasonable subsidy given.
We are told that we should spread the load. How can we spread the load in a working class town where everyone has to work? It is all right for Bournemouth, it is all right for Brighton, but in a town like mine with its tremendous responsibilities surely Clause 5 must operate. I have not sufficient faith that Clause 5 will operate. I have seen a similar Clause 1141 in other Bills. I have come to the Government on behalf of local authorities when such Clauses have been inserted but never used. I do not expect the Government to give way—they will not give way to me—but I want a categorical undertaking that when we have this Clause in the Bill we shall have all the help we deserve.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hay (Henley)
The speech of the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Mahon) has indicated that the House has acquired a new hon. Member of considerable calibre. It was a very difficult speech to answer in some ways because the hon. Member obviously speaks from a great deal of personal experience of conditions in his district. I want to say a word or two to show that the problem is a difficult one, and that unless something is done now—and I believe this Bill makes an honest attempt to do it—the problem will, as time passes, grow to such dimensions that it will be almost impossible ever to tackle it.
One person who has not been mentioned in the debate on the Bill is the taxpayer. I know that the taxpayer is not very popular except at Election time, but it is worth mentioning that we are talking of a subsidy bill of about £107 million a year. I should remind the House what the Bill seeks to do is not to abolish the payment of that £107 million a year, but to prevent it rising any further. If the Minister had chosen to be as drastic and as wicked, as cruel and as heartless as some hon. Members would have us believe, he would, I suppose, have introduced a Bill to abolish housing subsidies altogether.
§ Mr. Hay
—for the next year or so, the normal rise in the "general need" subsidy is to be checked by reducing the amount to £10 a year; and then eventually it is to be abolished altogether. But that will not affect houses already built and, to use my right hon. Friend's expression, those "in the pipeline," 1142 which will still carry the same rate of subsidy as at 3rd November. That is the point that the House must be seized of before we come to a decision tonight.
We do not seem to have had in the debate so far a sense of perspective. I do not set myself up as a model, but we must realise that the purpose behind the Bill is to check the constant drain on public funds which comes from indiscriminate subsidies. My own feeling is that if we were to ask the ordinary man in the street about housing subsidies, he would say that it has been a good thing for a lot of people for a long time but that it is about time the thing was checked. That is my view about this.
Unless we make a break at this point, when the country really is prosperous, when employment is full, when production is rising and when revenue, to use the technical expression, is buoyant, I can see a time coming when it will be virtually impossible ever to do it. With all respect to the hon. Member for Bootle, to whose sincerity I have already paid tribute, I believe that the ordinary man or woman living in a council house—or, to be precise, those who will be going into council houses—will be able to pay the higher rents which will be demanded.
I know that there will be individual cases of hardship. Some people will say that they are faced with a bill that they simply cannot meet. If that is so, and if those people are living on such a low rate of income or earnings that they cannot pay an increased rent, that is the very purpose for which we set up National Assistance—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—in which both parties in the House took the greatest delight and pride, for the reason that National Assistance was always intended to be the underlying foundation below which nobody should be allowed to fall.
As I have said, I think that the great majority of people who will qualify for council houses will be able to pay the rents, but there will be cases, I believe, of people who will not be able to pay. There, National Assistance will come to their aid, as it already does for such a very large number of older people and people who have undergone particular vicissitudes.
1143 I am not trying to make a cheap party point. I ask the House to accept that in this Bill we are not trying to be hardhearted, and I am not trying to be hardhearted, in mentioning National Assistance. I merely say that there is that underlying support should any individual tenant find that he cannot pay the rent.
§ Mr. Albert Evans (Islington, South-West)
Is the hon. Member arguing that if as a result of the Bill rents rise beyond the reach of increasing numbers of council tenants, he is prepared to see an increasing number of people appeal to the National Assistance Board for relief?
§ Mr. Hay
I suspected that that might be your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
As I understand it, if people are in need and their means are insufficient to enable them to pay their way, they can go to the National Assistance Board and obtain National Assistance. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If I am wrong, no doubt the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Lewis) will instruct me, but I do not think I am wrong.
The Bill marks a definite transition stage. It is a stage to which we would 1144 have to come sooner or later, and I am glad that it comes now. It is a stage where we change over from this artificial pattern of subsidies and controlled rents to one of greater realism.
It follows that the Rent Restrictions Acts must be revised, and my right hon. Friend has already announced that he is in process—with his colleagues, I assume—of reviewing the whole effect of the Rent Acts. I want to urge that that review should be carried out very quickly and without too much prolixity, because I do not think the present Bill makes sense without a review of the Rent Restrictions Acts. It is part and parcel of the policy of getting back to economic realism, as we did in the case of the food subsidies and in a number of other aspects of our national finance.
Frankly, I believe that the people of this country will be better housed once we have got rid of this artificial rate of subsidy and the no less artificial but private rent subsidies, which are the inevitable result of continued rent restriction. These are highly controversial matters, and I do not expect hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to agree with me. I do ask them to accept the view, which I hold, that these are highly necessary measures. For that reason, I commend the Bill to the House and strongly support the proposals of my right hon. Friend.
Let us remember that we have before us some very difficult problems, and that they will raise a great many human difficulties. The sooner we tackle this problem with realism and energy, the sooner we grasp this nettle, as my hon. Friend has called it, the sooner we shall be in a position to house our people better. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for West Ham, North tempts me to take a little more time, but I will resist doing so, because I will debate with him on some other occasion whether and to what extent we should allow private enterprise to provide new houses.
I say to the hon. Member for West Ham, North that because one believes in private enterprise and private ownership it does not mean that one does not believe in the necessity of human values. It does not mean that one ignores the great human problems that arise when one embarks on a big programme of 1145 slum clearance and the like. I think that the hon. Gentleman and I would most likely agree on the things that have to be done, although we might be in disagreement about the methods by which they are done. I believe that this is the first essential step to be taken and that the Bill should pass into law as quickly as possible.
§ Mr. Tom Brown (Ince)
Is what the hon. Gentleman is suggesting intended as a reward for those people who are responsible for increased productivity?
§ Mr. Hay
The hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown) has obviously not understood the whole point of my speech. It was not that one should reward this person or that for what they have or have not done. I say that we should try to get back to an economically realistic system—[Interruption.]—and that we should not subsidise indiscriminately those who deserve the subsidy and those who do not. That is the basis of this Bill and of my speech, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman now understands it.
§ 8.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Herbert Butler (Hackney, Central)
Housing debates seem to follow a pattern in which we usually have the Minister making a statement which invites a lot of interruptions, and eventually the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) coming along with a lot of incomprehensible notes and diverting the attention of the House from the real purpose of the Minister's Bill. We have analogies made with all sorts of things which are in no way analogous, and we get asides which cannot be backed up by any figures at all. We get percentages of all kinds and a mixture of all, but, generally speaking, the position of the Conservative Party is amply demonstrated by one youthful adventurer who informs us of the political philosophy of his party.
We have heard the speech of the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price), which illustrated the Conservative conception of the responsibility of the Government to the people of this country. It was that the State should not intervene in these matters, but that private enterprise end the individual should assert individuality, that the individual should express himself and maintain himself.
1146 whatever the vicissitudes or the circumstances in which the people have to live.
What is the position of the Minister, and what is his outlook? We have to go a long way back to find the Minister's point of view. We have to go back beyond the time of the Act of 1890 which dealt with the common lodging houses. We have to go back beyond that, because after the humanitarian principles of certain people had been espoused in the country it was then necessary for Parliament to intervene to remedy the terrible conditions which existed. The Minister and the Conservative Party today believe that these things, bad as they are, do not necessitate the intervention of Parliament, and so they are back to the beliefs of the time before 1890. We on the other hand, say that the Bill will pave the way for the recurrence of all those evils which existed until the State intervened in this matter.
The Minister, while he may go back even as far as 1850, based a large part of his case on the fact that there was an Act which abolished subsidies. I think the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West referred to it. I remember looking at Circular 1334. I have been connected with housing in this country since 1928, and I happen to know something about houses and something of the methods which are adopted by local authorities in an attempt to provide the accommodation which private enterprise did not find it profitable to provide. That Circular said:For the supply of houses for letting to the working classes it is anticipated that with the present re-establishment of more normal conditions the economic forces operating in a free field will secure a larger volume and variety of production at competitive rents and that a greater number and diversity of persons and organisations will take a share in the ownership of working class houses.By that Circular local authorities were particularly asked—I put it no higher than that—to lower the standard of the roads on their estates, and they were asked to hand over to private enterprise any sites they could. Therefore, the mind of the Minister, at least sociologically, is conditioned by 1850. He has certainly not moved any farther than 1934.
The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West said how much had been done to provide houses to let since the Act of 1933. I can only answer that what has happened in London is that 1147 apart from houses built by the utility companies whose dividends were limited—The 4 per cent. Dwellings Company and the Samuel Lewis Trust Dwellings for the Poor—there has been practically not a house built to let in London since that time.
So the Minister now is faced with a problem. He has deep human feeling. We saw that when he gave us the Requisitioned Houses and Housing (Amendment) Act. We have seen that in his action with regard to the subsidies. He is a warm, pulsating being, who responds to all the misery. He is as warm and cultured as a second-hand slide rule.
The right hon. Gentleman bases his case on the fact that his gentlemen in Whitehall, who serve him very well indeed, prepare the figures of the millions of pounds which he cuts from the subsidies. They divide those millions by the number of local authority houses, and the right hon. Gentleman then produces the sum as a social policy. What he is really telling us is that he can read. After dividing the millions of pounds by the number of local authority houses as a matter of Government policy, the right hon. Gentleman says that all the cut amounts to is the equivalent of 2d. and 5d, making 7d. per week.
I do not propose to deal with the details of the Bill. We shall discuss them in Committee, but I assure hon. Members opposite that the subject matter of the Bill is one of those issues on which there will be no occasion for their suggesting that there are divisions of leadership and alterations of policy on this side of the House. We shall oppose the Bill, conscious of the fact that however harsh may be the Minister who has devised its Clauses he must not expect to have those vicious Clauses approved by the Committee.
The Minister cannot rely upon the "pink document" this time. Hon. Members who were so assiduous in their attendance at our debates on another Bill will remember that the Minister sat in Committee armed with two sheets of pink foolscap paper trying to suggest that local authorities in London had agreed with his proposals. He knew very well, and we told him at the time, that that was an absolute travesty of the truth, and that when the local authorities entered into 1148 negotiations with him he confronted them with, "Either this or that." But on this occasion the Minister knows, and I expect that the Parliamentary Secretary also knows, that when it comes to negotiations not only has the House assessed the Minister's character but the local authority representatives are not allowing themselves to be placed again in the same position.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren) indicated the attitude of the Urban District Councils' Association. The Minister was at Harrogate in September, when the annual meeting of the Association of Municipal Corporations was held. The Minister was due to attend there one day, but there was some difficulty with the Cabinet and he came the next day. The Conference adopted a resolution, without dissent, protesting to the Minister against the Public Works Loan Board rates and pressing him for an increase in the subsidies.
I ask hon. Members opposite who are connected with local authorities to remember that approximately 70 per cent. of the local authorities who were represented at that conference are controlled by Tory majorities, and that that 70 per cent. agreed with the resolution. When the Minister spoke he said that there must have been a murmur in the conference. The right hon. Gentleman needs a National Health hearing aid if he thinks that it was only a murmur. He said that local authorities were obviously waiting for a lead from the Government. These Conservative local authorities, meeting in conference press for an increase in subsidy and a reduction in the Public Works Loan Board's rate and the Minister says that he thinks that that is a murmuring in the conference.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stoke Newington and Hackney, North (Mr. Weitzman) gave figures showing how the changes would apply to the borough, part of which he represents. I have had the advantage of a joint report from the town clerk and the treasurer, and my figures show that the increase on a typical flat will be 26s. 11d. a week, made up of approximately 10s. 5d. per week due to increased charges, 2s. 10d. because of the reduction in the subsidy in February and 13s. 8d. by these proposals. No amount of juggling with 1149 figures can alter that. The Minister says that he expects that that increase will not be charged. That is entirely immaterial. The Government's decision is that the subsidy shall be reduced by the amounts I have indicated, and where local authorities decide to pass the increases to someone else, that is absolutely outside the purview of the Government.
Differential rents have nothing to do with the question of the reduction of subsidies, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) indicated. Socially, it would suit the Tory Party to have a workman living in one flat with his wife telling him of a man in the next flat who was supposed to have another £1 a week income. It is Conservative policy to separate people from each other and to set child against family.
§ Mr. H. Butler
I am not responsible for what Socialist councils do. The Minister is the first Minister to cut housing subsidies and then to tell people, because of that, to carry out inquisitions. It is to that point that the hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport) should address himself.
In his speech on Thursday the Parliamentary Secretary said that we have to inject some realism into our housing finances. Having said that, he proceeds to drain their life blood. He injects some realism into housing finances and then decides to cut the subsidies. On previous occasions I have said that on our local authority waiting list are approximately 6,000 families, and that of those 2,380 families are in category A of urgency. We have still more than 3,000 requisitioned units of accommodation which the same Minister has told us we must release by 1960. If those figures are added together, it can be seen that for our local authority the cutting of the subsidy will make it almost impossible for the general housing register to be maintained.
It is said that the Minister is concentrating on, and giving an incentive to slum clearance. One would imagine that local authorities had not done any slum clearance and had never heard of Arthur Greenwood. We had been carrying on with slum clearance up to the outbreak of war in 1939 and dealing with tenants who had been living in insanitary 1150 property. It is deceitful to attempt to give the impression that the subsidy for slum clearance in any way represents an advance. As has been pointed out on numerous occasions, all the Minister has done is to maintain the existing subsidy.
When we were clearing slums in 1934 and 1935 we often found that the people whom we cleared from the slums were unable to occupy the property erected to rehouse them. The reason was that they could not afford the rent, low as it was at that time, of the new property. When we start clearing slums again we shall find that there are many people who, although cleared from slum property, cannot afford to pay the rent of the new houses.
The Minister cannot get away with this "great crusade" which he talks about as if nobody but he knows anything about clearing slums. I have no doubt that the Minister has been told what he should do. His contribution has to be so many million £s from the housing subsidy. I have no doubt that other Ministers will come to the House and tell us about their little contribution to Conservative prosperity. The Minister has now given his "O.K." to reactionary authorities to allow them to contract out of their civic responsibilities. We had to fight for a long time in the sphere of local government to get a national standard of wages for local authority employees because of the reactionary complexion of Tory councils. The Minister has given one sop to the reactionary councils—they need not make the statutory contribution.
Once again housing legislation is tending to become permissive instead of obligatory, and once again the local authorities can be taken out of the sphere of competition with private enterprise. This is another increase, and we all know it, in the cost of living for working people. This proposal is in line with the policy pursued by this and previous Tory Governments. Their idea is to destroy the social services and force the people back into the jungle of free competitive enterprise.
The former Prime Minister said, "Set the people free." We have had increases in the rate of interest to local authorities; increases in the interest for the bankers; increases in the price of food by the removal of subsidies and increases 1151 in the cost of goods by additions to Purchase Tax. In addition, we have also had increases in the cost of spectacles and spectacle cases. Regional hospital boards have been told to keep their budgets down to last year's figures. There have been cuts in all the social services and increased rents, so that old-age pensioners and disabled ex-Service men are forced to contribute, even though they have been living in local authority property more than thirty years old.
These are the proposals of the Government—increase the cost of everything and then pass the responsibility to that section of the community least able to bear it. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, probably frightened of the British Legion, gave ex-Service men the 90s. pension, but they will acquiesce in making that 90s. worth less and less every week. We are now seeing the real policy of the Conservative Party, and getting from the Minister a true indication of Tory political philosophy. It will not stop here. It will be impossible for this thing to be fought out entirely in the political organisations of this country.
This matter will be discussed in the trade union branches. One of my hon. Friends said that when the trade unionist gets home, his wife will want to know, "What about it?" It will be no use the man saying, "The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West explained to me that it did not mean a thing." His wife will still say, "What about it? The rent is going up, the food has gone up, and when I telephone my mother-in-law the price of the call is going up. Everything is going up." People will want to know what is going to happen. I am exceedingly glad that at last we have had a real statement of Tory policy.
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ Miss Edith Pitt (Birmingham, Edgbaston)
We have heard a number of speeches today from hon. Members opposite endeavouring to suggest that this Bill has as its intention the decision of the Government to depress the poor and put money in the pockets of unnamed people; that the Government have yielded to pressure from people, again unnamed, and now that the Government intend to destroy the social services. Those arguments might have had some point twenty or thirty years ago, but I suggest that the hon. Members opposite have still a lot of 1152 thinking to do about present-day conditions.
This Bill is part of a deliberate policy—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—wait for it—to stablise the financial position of the country and to tackle inflation.
§ Miss Pitt
These things are necessary if we are to preserve the prosperity in which we enjoy a good standard of living and by which we maintain our social services and full employment.
The principle of the Bill is to restore realism to housing finance. We have gone a long way since 1919 when the duty of providing houses for the working classes was placed upon local authorities. It was the deliberate policy of the party opposite, when they were in power from 1945 to 1951, to force almost everyone on to the lists of the council housing departments. [HON. MEMBERS: "Force?"] There was no choice. But that meant that local authorities were housing not only members of the working classes—if we must use that expression—but professional people and people of all categories. That was confirmed in 1949, when the words "working class" were deliberately removed from the legislation.
Now the position is that about one-third of the rented houses in this country are controlled by local authorities. Surely, it is not suggested that all these people need the benefit of housing subsidies?
§ Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, All Saints)
The hon. Lady and I both served on the Birmingham City Council. She will be aware of the advertisement which, when her party had a majority, was addressed to the 66,000 tenants upon the register of Birmingham, asking how many would like to buy their own houses. I have the figures here. The city council spent £523 in advertising. Out of those 66,000 tenants, 2,813 wanted to buy their own houses—and most of those were people without families.
§ Miss Pitt
That is perfectly correct, but that advertisement was not followed up by an explanation of the procedure which had to be followed if people wanted to buy their own houses. The filling in of a coupon taken from a newspaper was not sufficient to tell would-be house purchasers what was involved, as the hon. Member is aware.
1153 As long ago as 1934, the party opposite, at its party conference, passed a resolution in these terms:The demands of the social services on public funds are so great and urgent … that the best results can only be obtained by a careful schedule of priorities. … 'Each according to his need' is a good Socialist precept … and it is believed that housing subsidies can be put to the best use, and best benefit according to need, by the adoption of the differential principle.If that were true in 1934, how much more true is it now, when the general standard of living has so much improved? I wonder if hon. Members opposite really are against benefiting the poorer sections of the community. If we subsidise all, we do not give to those in the greatest need the greatest amount which it is possible for them to enjoy. If the Bill encourages local authorities to use their pooled subsidies to introduce rent rebate schemes—which I prefer to differential rent schemes—it can only benefit those most in need.
If we are honest we can all give instances of tenants of municipal houses who can afford to pay more—
§ Mr. Lewis rose—
§ Miss Pitt
No, I cannot give way. I have been asked to be brief, and I know that many hon. Members opposite are anxious to speak.
I want to give an instance to prove my point that there are people living in municipal houses at the moment who can afford to pay more rent. In Birmingham, the Socialist-controlled Council recently announced—as hon. Members representing Birmingham constituencies will know—that applications for permission to erect garages on municipal housing estates were coming in at the rate of ten a week, or 500 a year.
§ Miss Pitt
I am perfectly happy; I am very glad to know that many working people have cars of their own. It gives great pleasure to the whole family, and not merely to the man of the house. Nevertheless, if those people can afford to maintain cars they can afford to pay more rent in order that other persons who are less well off may apply for rent rebates. When we introduced a rent rebate scheme in Birmingham two years ago, approximately £130,000 was set aside to meet the anticipated demands in the first year, but applications amounted 1154 to only £40,000. That does not suggest that every municipal tenant is experiencing great hardship.
In a recent speech the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) said that he was all in favour of robbing Peter of his subsidy to pay Paul, if Peter had a couple of grown-up sons and Paul had four babies. That is the essence of this argument: that we should help the people most in need, especially the families with young children who are growing up. There is very little incentive at the present time to tenants of municipal houses, and especially of pre-war houses, to vacate the premises. There is no financial inducement to do so, because they enjoy a low rent. Where they have families with grown-up sons and can afford to take on a more expensive house, they will not do' so because they are enjoying the benefit of a low rent. Where a couple are living in occupation of a larger house on their own they usually do not want to give it up, and not only because of financial reasons; but in many circumstances if the rents were more comparable with what they are paying they might release it for a family.
§ Miss Pitt
I have no intention of suggesting that anyone should be forced out of his home. When I was a councillor in Birmingham I have several times helped people to retain their houses where they had a great sentimental attachment to them. Nevertheless, I know old people who would be willing to go to something smaller, like a bungalow, with less work, if the rent of the new place were comparable to what they are paying now for a pre-war house.
It was suggested by hon. Members opposite, and particularly by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) and the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop), that we should encourage a better type of tenant, such as the doctor or the lawyer, in municipal estates.
§ Miss Pitt
The right hon. Gentleman suggested that we did not want all one type of person, such as people who had 1155 come out of the slums. I am not disputing the point. It is very good to have a mixed community, but surely the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends are not suggesting that this better type—I must use the word "better" for lack of something more descriptive—should enjoy the benefit of subsidised rents.
§ Miss Pitt
Do I explain myself more clearly if I say "people who have not removed to municipal housing estates from the slums?" Doctors and other such people living with former slum dwellers who have come to the new area can afford to pay the full rent. If hon. Gentlemen opposite suggest that those people would not stay in that area, they defeat their own argument. It does not mean that they lack financial capacity to pay the unsubsidised rent.
We have got away from a proper sense of proportion in the way we spend our money. We have for very long enjoyed protection in the basic things. We enjoyed protected food prices during the war, and protected rents for a very long time. It only remains for hon. Gentlemen opposite to suggest that we should have subsidised coal prices for us to see the whole pattern. That is wrong. We must go back to the essentials and make up our minds how much out of our individual income we are prepared to set aside for the three old, basic principles of food, shelter and warmth.
I am surprised to find that the pre-war record of personal expenditure showed that we allocated 11.8 per cent. of our incomes to housing while last year we allocated only 8.9 per cent. Does that suggest a proper proportion towards one of our basic needs? We are also building up an enormous burden of expense for future generations, and we ought to be aware of it. The burden of the social services, especially of pensions, will fall very heavily on future generations, who will be fewer in number. Why, then, continue to add to this with a housing subsidy burden which falls on all and is unfair to many who have to contribute to it?
§ Dr. Barnett Stross (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)
I have listened with great interest to the hon. Lady. I wonder whether, in her solicitude for the lower income groups, she has borne in mind the evidence which came from Stockton-on-Tees, where the medical officer of health in the 1930's showed that if a new burden in the form of increased rents is added the death rate is increased? Will the hon. Lady bear that in mind, for the rest of her speech, at least?
§ Miss Pitt
We are not talking about the 1930's. We are talking about 1955. I think that this Measure will be welcomed by all fair-minded citizens. It is wrong of hon. Members opposite to try to make political capital out of it, because it could easily recoil. Many of the fair-minded citizens who are paying contributions towards the subsidised rents of municipal tenants are anxiously watching what happens to this Measure, and if ever the party opposite were returned to power they would have cause to be grateful for the fact that this problem has been tackled by the present Government. It gives impetus to slum clearance and it endeavours to restore sound principles to housing finance.
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)
I am not going to follow the remarks of the hon. Lady the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Miss Pitt) beyond saying to her that Edgbaston must be a very remarkable place.
The Bill to which we are asked to give a Second Reading seems to me—and I am not mincing words—to be an iniquitous Measure with a great deal of political concealment about it both in regard to the past and the future. The main object of it, we are told, is to reduce and finally abolish subsidies on a number of houses, estimated at 80,000—annual subsidies, therefore, amounting to between £2 million and £2,500,000 a year, if one includes the obligatory local authority subsidy. If one adopts the methods so dear to the right hon. Gentleman and spreads that amount over, I suppose, the whole number of taxpayers, direct and indirect, it seems to me to amount to about ½d. a week, and I cannot conceive a saving of that order better calculated to cause the maximum of distress than that proposed in this Measure.
1157 We were told by the right hon. Gentleman with, I thought, a little less than his usual openness, thatThere is nothing new in what I am saying today. We have never attempted to conceal our views. In fact, as long ago as November, 1953, in the White Paper issued by the Government and entitled 'Houses: the Next Step' we drew attention to 'the ever-growing burden of housing subsidies which cannot, in the interests of the general body of taxpayers, continue indefinitely at the present rate'."[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1955; Vol. 546, c. 797–8.]If, in fact, the right hon. Gentleman had made it clear that they were going to reduce housing subsidies, one would at least have expected to find something about it somewhere in the Tory Election literature. One would have expected some candidate or another at some time, some speaker's notes or something of that sort, to mention the change, which quite obviously would have a very considerable effect on the votes of all council tenants and of those who were looking for council houses.
I cannot believe that the right hon. Gentleman meant to do anything of the sort. Indeed, when I look at the pamphlet to which he referred, "Houses: the Next Step," I find that the passage was quoted for quite another purpose—to call attention to the valuable contribution which in his opinion private enterprise could make towards solving the housing problem.
Certainly he has acted on that. What is the position? In 1951, the last year for which the Labour Party can be held responsible in this matter, one private house was built for every six built by local authorities. The Tories came into power and the proportion changed rapidly to 1-to-4. Then, in 1953, it changed to 1-to-2½, then to 1-to-1¾, and it is now nearly equal. Since 1953. the number of houses built by local authorities has not been rising but falling. To take the two years together, in 1953 there were about 205.000 of them and, if we take the rate of the first nine months of this year, the total would now be under 140,000.
The Government, we are told, has been building 300,000 houses a year. What complete nonsense. What has been happening is that the local authorities have been cramped and restricted by the deliberate policy of the Government and, for the past two or three years at any rate, 1158 have been building fewer and fewer houses, while the private builder, having been let loose, has been building more and more for those who can afford to buy houses. No one will convince me that out of the 100,000 houses built last year, and the increasing number likely to be built next year, by private enterprise for private owners, any very large proportion will be to let. These are the houses for people who can afford to pay for them, and the houses built which have gone down in number and in quality have been those for people who need them most—council tenants and those on the ordinary housing lists of local authorities.
This very remarkable proceeding is justified now on the score that we can reduce the housing subsidies and can thereby introduce economy, to the extent which I have indicated, and fairness into, local housing finance; and at the same time can give a great incentive to slum clearance.
Let us consider slum clearance first. As a result of the 1954 Act, local authorities had been asked about their proposals for slum clearance before this Bill came into being and before they knew anything about it. Their proposals were 375,000 houses in the course of five years—slum houses; that is to say, at the rate of 75,000 a year. So remarkable is the incentive which the Minister proposes to give by keeping the subsidy at exactly the same figure that he anticipates that when the Bill has gone through not 75,000 houses but 60,000 houses will be built in a year. This is a curious kind of incentive. "Houses: the Next Step" was certainly a step backwards and the incentive to slum clearance appears equally to be an incentive backwards.
What is the sense of the matter? The Government do not give any extra inducement whatever to local authorities to clear slums. All they do is to cramp and restrict their activities in another and similar sphere and drive them in that way in the good old Tory fashion into doing something they think the local authorities might not otherwise do. That of course is not direction; it is coercion. Local authorities are going to want to do something, for they have some public spirit. If they are prevented from meeting their ordinary housing needs then, says the right hon. Gentleman, with pride, what an incentive they will have—they will get on 1159 with slum clearance at a rate rather less than they would if this "incentive" were not there. I never heard a more preposterous proposition in the whole of my life.
We are then told that fairness and economy will be introduced. What about fairness? In October, 1954—which was not so very long ago—we had the last housing subsidy Bill, brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman with the unfailing support of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) and the debate was wound up by the present Parliamentary Secretary. What did they do? They brought forward, as a fair and adequate criterion of what a man could afford by way of rent, the very traditional 10 per cent. of earnings. They took for that purpose the earnings that are published from time to time by the Ministry of Labour and proved with pride that they were 8d., 9d., or 6d.—or whatever it was—better than that particular figure, patted one another on the back, and we all went away tolerably happy.
Having listened to the argument of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West—which on that occasion was much simpler and, I think, much more easy to follow than the somewhat complicated tangle which he produced tonight—the conclusion of the Parliamentary Secretary was:It seems to me perfectly fair, to relate this figure"—That is the notional rent a man is supposed to be able to afford by way of rent—to increased earnings, and 10 per cent of earnings is a fair proportion."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st October, 1954; Vol. 531, c. 1454.]The right hon. Gentleman and everyone who spoke from the benches opposite, including that political sadist, the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, was at that time of that opinion. What was so fair in October, 1954, by the time we come to November, 1955, has apparently become grossly unfair. It now involves terrible unfairness as between one council tenant and another, a terrible unfairness as between private building and council building and all the dreadful things we have heard from hon. and right hon. Members opposite today.
1160 What is the reason for the change? I am quite certain that everyone in this House knows it perfectly well. The reason for the change is that what was said on the former occasion was before a General Election and now we are having a debate after a General Election in which nothing whatever was said about all this to the people of the country. What the Government are doing now is getting over the beginnings of their thoroughly nasty programme, the nastiest part of the nasty programme, in the hope that it will be forgotten sufficiently by the time we get to the next General Election. That is as it may be, but let us see the effect of what they are doing.
§ Mr. Powell
The hon. and learned Member has referred quite a lot to me and implied that this was a policy adopted after the General Election with no warning to the electorate. I think I might enlighten him that so far as I am concerned I made it quite clear in my constituency in the last three General Elections—particularly the last one—that this would have to be done. I said that rent restriction in particular had been a cause of one of the major social evils of the last twenty years and one of the major reasons for bad housing conditions today and we would have to tackle it and the present subsidy structure. That was reported in the Wolverhampton newspapers on 21st May.
§ Mr. Mitchison
It appears to me that the hon. Member is not only a political sadist but a political masochist. I can merely say that no doubt he put the nastiest possible face on his own political views. He was re-elected none the less, so there must be something to him. But not a single word of all this appeared in the Tory manifesto and, obviously, it was perfectly unknown to the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price) who was questioned about it and quite clearly had not the foggiest idea that it was in the wind.
I will tell the House what I think has happened. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West must have got hold of the Cabinet on some occasion or another and talked to its members at such length that he finally persuaded them that the right thing to do is what they are doing now. At any rate, let us leave the man alone for a moment and continue to look at the subsidies.
1161 What has been happening? This figure of 10 per cent. has been persistently followed. It was followed first in 1946. It was followed in 1952. It was followed in April, 1955, as recently as that, as a result of the debate to which I have just referred; and it is only now, for the first time, that as far as the subsidy is concerned an entirely different figure is taken.
Of course, not only subsidy is involved. One cannot consider simply this attack on council housing without also considering what has been happening to the even more serious matter of councils' arrangements for borrowing and the rates of interest at which they have to borrow. I am not going into all that again at any length. I merely say this. If one takes the example of a three-bedroomed council house, one assumes a cost of £1,600. If one takes slightly different figures, there is a slightly different result, but the trend is the same. The rent assumed was 10s. in October, 1946, 18s. in April, 1952, and 19s. 8d. in April, 1954.
During the last year, the effect of the rise in interest rates, without any account whatever of the Bill, has been to raise that average notional rent from 19s. 8d. to 25s. 9d. a week. The effect of the Bill will be to raise that further to 33s. 2d. and, when the subsidy is abolished altogether, assuming a rough maintenance of the same earnings, to 37s. What a marvellous bit of Tory policy. Interest rates and the Bill between them succeed in practically doubling the rent of an average council house between April, 1954, and the period to about a year from now, when subsidies are to be totally abolished. And that, we are told, is fairness in council house finance.
I do not know how this Bill will work. I do not suppose anybody knows. One thing that I am quite clear about is that neither of the two methods that the Minister suggested has anything to do with the merits of the case. One can talk about spreading the increase over a number of houses and so making it look a little bit smaller. It reminds me of the pickpocket who takes half-a-crown from one's pocket and says, "If you have 6d. in a lot of other pockets and put them all into that pocket, you will not notice that the half-crown has gone". That seems to me to be the sort of argument involved in saying that the burden must 1162 be spread out. The plain fact is that unless some increase is to be put on other tenants, that will be the increase for a council house.
Then, we are told that differential rents is the right method. Some councils—of both political colours—have practised differential rents or rent rebates for many years. We had a highly expert Committee, headed by no less a person than the present Financial Secretary to the Treasury, which reported on this matter in 1953. The conclusion which it came to is very simple:We make no general recommendations for or against any of these rent systems we have described, for we well realise that the circumstances of local authorities vary greatly and what is suited to one area may be of little advantage to another.They go on to elaborate that.
What a pass the right hon. Gentleman must be driven to when the best way he can find to defend the effects of what he is doing now is to take out of the hands of local authorities something which has long been, and ought to be, their business, and to attempt to force upon them differential rents and rent rebate schemes whether or not they happen to be suitable to the conditions of that particular local authority. What about the respect which hon. Gentlemen opposite so often profess for local government in this country? What about the respect which anyone holding the office of the right hon. Gentleman ought certainly to express? But that is not the only injustice and not the only encroachment on local authorities.
What is going to happen? For eighteen months, there will be houses in the pipeline, and in eighteen months' time, when our debates, as hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite hope, may be partly forgotten, the effect will begin and it will continue increasingly. But, by that time, they hope that the blame will be placed on the local councils, and that their contribution—something which, after all, is just a little difficult for the man in the street to understand in detail—will be hidden by the lapse of time, and will seem, by the form in which it appears, as an apparent activity and decision by the local council.
What is to be the effect? I quite recognise that there may be some cases—I do not know how many, and I do not 1163 think the right hon. Gentleman has any idea how many—where this proposal will not have as much effect as in others. Take the case of the rural district councils. They have no pool on which to draw. They are simply to be stopped from house building. If the right hon. Gentleman does not believe me, he had better look at the remarks recently made by the Chairman of the East Ashford Rural District Council in the constituency of his Parliamentary Secretary, who said that this provision will stop rural district council building, and will certainly stop his rural district council from building.
That is one case, and we have heard of others today—described with great eloquence and particular knowledge—from my hon. Friends the Members for Bootle (Mr. Mahon) and Hackney, Central (Mr. H. Butler). Those are the sort of places where the housing lists for years ahead will go on being filled with applicants whose needs can never, under these arrangements, be satisfied.
The fundamental fault of the Government is this. In this Bill, they think in terms of houses, and not in terms of human need and of changing human needs. There is provision for decayed houses; there is none for overcrowding, none for the special needs of the aged and apparently no special provision for blitzed cities. The Bill has been concocted by those who may be very capable of thinking in terms of houses and money, but who seem to me, on this occasion at any rate, to have been somewhat bereft of ordinary human sympathy.
The effect of this Bill will be to confine new council estates to what will be known by everybody as slum clearance estates, and to prevent the bringing together of people of all kinds and all views in one community in a council housing estate. The effect will be that action in respect of the mass of houses in this country which have not yet reached the stage at which they ought to be demolished but which are beginning to reach it and are getting nearer and nearer to it every year—the houses which are already deficient for very many purposes, many, indeed, which might have been condemned if councils had always been fully active in the matter—will be postponed. Building to meet the needs of the young married couples, who have had to live with the father and mother of one or another of 1164 them, and who have not been able to get houses of their own, building to meet the needs of people who, in one degree or another, have been miserable under modern housing conditions, and who are seeking something better, building to meet the needs which have not been met, will be indefinitely postponed by the operation of the Bill.
I recognise, and I believe that all of us on these benches recognise, that there is an inconceivable muddle in present rents, just as there is in present rating. There is an inconceivable muddle because Parliament from time to time has recognised that we cannot go on putting up rents against people who have to live somewhere and who cannot afford to pay more, so that we have had the Rent Restrictions Acts, sometimes a bit crazy in their operation, sometimes repealed in one way or repealed in another, passed for the time being to operate in this way or to operate in that one. I agree that the result is an almost inexplicable confusion.
But what will this Bill do about it? The Bill is the first step towards killing council housing, and its effect will be to drive those who need houses, with a few specialised exceptions, more and more into the hands of landlords who, at the same time, are to find themselves freed from rent control and able to raise rents. That is no solution. That is an invitation. as some of my right hon. and hon. Friends have already pointed out, to make wage claims to meet those increases in rents.
If we consider again the case I was talking about just now, the result will be that instead of average earnings of 217s. 5d., the last published figure, average earnings will be required of 370s. in order to maintain the 10 per cent. ratio when subsidies are entirely abolished, assuming the present high rate of interest. This is not the way out. This is only one more muddle.
There is really only one thing to be done about housing in this country, about the type of house that is at present represented by the rent-controlled house. The relation between the man who owns the house, of whatever type, who is bound to regard it as a money-earning investment, and the man who lives in it as a tenant, is fundamentally wrong. The house is the home of the tenant; it is the income of the landlord. Out of a relation which is 1165 fundamentally wrong we never get anything that is politically, morally or administratively right or workable in the long run. I say, therefore, that the only remedy, the remedy from which the Bill is a step backwards, is to take rent-controlled houses—not the owner-occupied ones but the rent-controlled ones—and let them be held, managed, and built in the future by the local authorities.
There is no other way out. If ideological prejudice and blindness conceal that simple fact from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, I ask them to search their own consciences. I ask them to consider what is right in this matter, to consider the only right way out of this muddle, and then to tell me whether there is any other than that which I have just described.
We propose, for these reasons, to divide against the Bill. It raises numbers of detailed questions of considerable importance. I earnestly hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to assure us that the Bill will be taken in Committee on the Floor of the House. I add one warning to the more sanguine hon. Members on both sides of the House—"Go and look at the Money Resolution before you put your faith in Amendments."
§ 9.51 p.m.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Duncan Sandys)
I should like to start by giving the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) the assurance for which he has asked, and to say that the Government hope that it will be possible to take the Committee stage of the Bill on the Floor of the House. I hope that that will result in a more expeditious handling of the Measure.
This has been a much advertised row. For a number of weeks we have read that there was to be the most terriffic battle and storm and violence in the House of Commons over the Second Reading of the Bill. In fact, this has been an extremely sober and constructive debate. Different points of view, naturally, have been expressed, but, with one or two exceptions, those views have been expressed with moderation and, on all sides, with great sincerity. Personally, I have no complaint at all. We have launched the new Measure in an atmosphere which has been certainly very much calmer than the 1166 atmosphere that prevailed during our debate on the so-called agreed Measure, the Clean Air Bill, the other day.
I listened with pleasure to three maiden speeches today. One was delivered by my hon. Friend the Member for East Grinstead (Mrs. Emmet), whose family has a long tradition of service to our country and who comes to the House with a wealth of experience in the public service. We had another extremely interesting maiden speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Barter), and another from my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Jennings), about which I should like to say a little later on.
I am sure it will be generally agreed that each of the three hon. Members made a distinctive contribution to our discussions from their different standpoints, and I am sure that we all hope they will contribute to our debates again soon. I should also like to refer to the maiden speech, made last Thursday by my hon. Friend the Member for Devonport (Miss Vickers). It sounds patronising to say of an hon. Lady's speech that it was charming, but it was charming nevertheless, as I am sure everybody who heard it will agree.
My hon. Friend the Member for Devonport and also my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, North (Sir A. Hudson) asked a question which I should like to answer now. They asked whether the slum clearance subsidy would be available for houses to replace temporary bungalows. So far as temporary houses are concerned, that is to say Portal houses, the answer is in the negative. Those are good houses and are very useful for small families. It is not part of the Government's policy to simulate the premature scrapping of those dwellings. Temporary hutments, on the other hand, are thoroughly sub-standard—I think that we can all agree upon that—and we want to see them replaced by proper houses as soon as possible. Therefore, dwellings built to replace those temporary hutments, as distinct from the Portal houses, will attract the slum clearance subsidy. [HON. MEMBERS "Oh."]
I should like to clear up this point, because Lord Portal, being no longer alive, is unable to defend himself, and it is only fair that it should be made clear that the programme of 150,000 temporary 1167 houses—I think it was—which as Minister of Works I ordered in 1945, was, in the main, houses already designed and in a far advanced state of planning before I took over. In other words, it was Lord Portal and not I who was responsible for the planning of those houses, and it is very unfair to suggest that he was responsible only for a steel house which was never built.
§ Mr. Bevan
The right hon. Gentleman used the term "Portal houses." That was attached to the houses upon which very large sums of money were spent which could not be made because it had not been discovered that steel would not be available to make them. But the other houses, the Arcon house, the Tarran House and the others were not in an advanced stage of construction when he took over, and every business man in Great Britain is of the firm opinion that that was the most stupid policy ever conceived by any Government at any time.
§ Mr. Sandys
I know that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) was not a Member of that Government, but a number of his hon. Friends on those benches were, and the most expensive of all these temporary houses was the one constructed by Sir Stafford Cripps—but I supported the whole programme. The aluminium houses cost about £2,000.
§ Mr. Sandys
Anyhow, I supported the policy. I was largely responsible for this policy of the temporary house. I believe that it was inevitable at the time, but we need not be brought into that argument at this moment.
§ Mr. Lewis rose—
§ Mr. Sandys
I gave way to an inordinate extent on Thursday because I was very anxious to avoid any misunderstandings. We have now had two days' debate. If I misrepresent anybody, I will, of course, give way, but so far I have not alluded to the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Lewis).
§ Mr. Lewis rose—1168
§ Mr. Sandys
As we are dealing with the history of this subject, I should like to say that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale devoted part of his speech to complaining about my conduct as Minister of Works ten years ago. His exact words were that he spent his first two years of office cleaning up the demoralised mess in which I had left the building industry. He made the extraordinary complaint in support of that statement that I put more than 200,000 building operatives on war damage work.
§ Mr. Sandys
Yes. The right hon. Gentleman quoted the precise figure of 204,000. If he did not complain about it, I do not know why he wanted to quote a figure which was ten years old.
§ Mr. Bevan
The answer is simple. I said that when one estimated the number of houses that could be built after the war, account had to be taken of the very large number of building workers who had to be employed on war damage repairs. I complained about the demoralisation arising from the cost-plus system and about all kinds of people not connected with the building trade who came in and made fortunes.
§ Mr. Sandys
The remark about the 204,000 came immediately after. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I may be wrong, but the OFFICIAL REPORT will show. All I would say is that, so far as building operatives were concerned, the right hon. Gentleman seems to have forgotten that the war was still on and that bombs were still falling. As for the question of cost-plus, my job was to try to do something quickly about houses which had been torn open by bombs and the roofs taken off. Did the right hon. Gentleman imagine that I would send a quantity surveyor around to get out estimates and competitive tenders? I am very proud of the fact that during my period of office as Minister of Works over 700,000 houses were repaired in London while bombs were still falling. As for cost-plus, what I complain about is that it was allowed to drag on for so long after the war was over.
Various serious allegations have been made during the debate. Various hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren), who is not here tonight—
§ Mr. Sandys
I quite understand. I was told that he had gone to Peru. The hon. Member for Wellingborough, the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson), the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Poplar (Mr. Key) and the hon. Member for Aston (Mr. J. Silverman), and I think others also, alleged that the Bill will drive local authorities out of house building altogether. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] That is evidently a point of view which is generally shared by the party opposite. It is utterly absurd and utterly misleading. First, there are in the pipeline a quarter of a million houses which will not be completed for 18 months or more. All of them will attract subsidy at the existing rates.
§ Mr. Sandys
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would let me develop the point. Before very long about half the local authority house building effort will be going into new towns, overspill and slum clearance. And those houses will all be attracting either the same subsidy or a higher one.
Local authorities will continue to receive nearly £50 million a year in Exchequer subsidies for houses already built which they can spread over the relatively small proportion of new houses. [HON. MEMBERS: "Relatively small?"] Of course it is relatively small. The number of new houses, compared with the existing houses, is a relatively small proportion. If the small increase in rents which this Bill will involve—and I will go into that again later—should entail hardship to some tenants, it is open to a local authority to introduce a differential rent scheme.
If a local authority genuinely cannot afford to finance its new house building with the new rates of subsidy, it can apply for the additional grant under Clause 5 which, in extreme cases, would permit the 1170 subsidy to be raised to as much as £30 a year per house. Therefore, I submit, that there is not one single shred of justification for the misleading and mischievous suggestion that this Bill will drive local authorities out of house building.
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and the hon. Member for Wellingborough thought it worth while spending some of their time denigrating the Peoples' house. They said that the Conservative Government had lowered the standards of house building. When I asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he thought well of the Peoples' house, he said that he did not think it was a good house. Whatever he may thing about the Peoples' house, I think it a very good solution to the problem which faced us then.
§ Mr. Sandys
Whatever we may think about it, this is not a party issue. I have here a circular sent out by the then Minister the right hon. Gentleman for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) on 28th April, 1951.
§ Mr. Sandys
Let us be clear. We are accused by the hon. Member for Wellingborough of departing from the Dudley standard. I think that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale said the same thing. The Dudley standard lays down that there should be 900 feet super, as they are called. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is 950 feet super."] I believe that it is 900—
§ Mr. Sandys
All I can say is that the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland, in his circular, thought it was 900, and I am still advised by my Department that it was 900. I believe that there were certain exceptional cases in which it was 950. But this is what the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland, then the responsible Minister, sent out to the local authorities. He said:The Minister has now decided to leave it to the discretion of local authorities to dispense with the minimum requirement of 900 feet super for a three-bedroom house … 1171 provided that the sizes of the individual rooms and the total amounts of living space do not fall below the present standards,that is to say, the standards laid down in the manual of 1949 issued by the Labour Government. We have adhered precisely to that arrangement.
§ Mr. Percy Wells (Faversham)
The Conservative Government knocked 6 ins. off the height of the room.
§ Mr. Sandys
So far as I am aware, we are adhering to the same arrangements as were to be permitted by the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland in his circular.
§ Mr. Bevan
On the contrary. The charge against the right hon. Gentleman is not that he failed to allow the People's house to be constructed, but that in July of last year he placed an order before the House which based his subsidy upon the cost of production of that house, and therefore made it far more difficult for local authorities to build any other more expensive and better type of house.
§ Mr. Sandys indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Sandys
I cannot wag my head as hard as the right hon. Gentleman can. I see that he is shifting his ground. The answer to his point was so well made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) that I do not need to repeat it.
This is the first time I have heard an apologia from the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale. It was an interesting experience that we had this afternoon. He endeavoured to explain away his failure to build houses in adequate numbers when he was the responsible Minister. He may laugh, but in the course of his speech he said that it was a deliberate decision of the Labour Government to build fewer houses—
§ Mr. Bevan indicated dissent.1172
§ Mr. Sandys
I rather think that I put the right hon. Gentleman's point more clearly than he did. He can have it as he likes; the fact is that during the last three years of the Labour Government—by which time they had presumably got into their swing—about 80 million square feet of factory space was built. In the first three years of the Conservative Government, almost 100 million square feet were built.
§ Mr. Sandys
The right hon. Gentleman says, "So what?" My reply is, "So the right hon. Gentleman had better think out a better excuse next time."
There is a very important statement made by the hon. Member for Wellingborough to which I should like to refer. He said on Thursday last:Knowing"—I have the actual quotation here.
§ Mr. Sandys
I do not have to make it up. I have something very good here. This is what the hon. Member for Wellingborough said:Knowing that, with all the other commitments, 200,000 houses was the limit of the capacity of the building industry and the economy of the country, what did the Tory Party do? They built 300,000 houses.He went on to say:In fact, much of the trouble with which we are dealing today, together with the problems which the Chancellor is having to handle, arise from the fact that the whole economy of the country was upset by the Tory Government when they set out to build 300,000 houses a year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November. 1955; Vol. 546, c. 818.]We are grateful to the hon. Member for having been so frank. It is evident that the Labour Party still consider that, no doubt confined to Socialist methods, 200,000 houses a year is the maximum that they could produce if they were returned to power.
§ Mr. Sandys
I do not know what other inference one can draw from the statement of the hon. Member for Wellingborough.
§ Mr. Sandys
I have not such a tortuous mind as the right hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes).
The hon. Lady the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet) made an interesting point, though not a very sound one, the other day, and it was repeated by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale in his speech today. The hon. Lady argued that differential rents would drive away the better-off council tenants. If asked to pay the full, unsubsidised rent they might, the hon. Lady said, well prefer to go and buy a house of their own. Thus, local authority housing estates would be left only with tenants who needed to be subsidised. This would create what the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale described as "castrated townships." The right hon. Gentleman has a knack of inventing inelegant phrases.
I agree entirely with him that mixed communities are socially desirable, but that does not mean that everybody has to live in a council house. I do not know of any case where there are not council houses and privately-owned houses in the same local authority area. In fact, the right hon. Gentleman said this afternoon that he had asked local authorities, when he was Minister, to arrange for plots to be left which could be sold to people who wished to buy their own houses. The right hon. Gentleman nods his head in assent. It is therefore absurd to suggest that because a man leaves a council house he has to leave the district and thereby create a castrated township.
§ Mrs. Freda Corbet (Peckham)
The point I wanted to make was that the financial aspect of differential rents might very well look quite different in, say, 10 or 20 years' time when a large number of better-off tenants had departed, leaving the local authority with tenants most of whom were in such a position that all their rents had to be subsidised.
§ Mr. Sandys
I see the point, but if we are not going to charge the better-off tenants any more, we shall not get any benefit from their being better off, and when they do go—if they do—there will 1174 be a council house available without having to build a new one for somebody else.
The hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks) made an important point on Thursday last when he said that it was not correct thatthe people living in the slums are being passed over.It was against a point that I had made in my speech. He said:They qualify on the housing lists with any other persons. Many of them have been rehoused."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1955; Vol. 546, c. 794.]Are hon. Members opposite, and the hon. Member for Acton in particular, suggesting that the families in the slums are already getting as large a proportion of the new houses as is fair and good for them? What does the hon. Member mean?
§ Mr. Sparks
The right hon. Gentleman was telling the House that these persons living in the slum areas had been passed over. He made no qualification. That is not a correct statement of fact. Quite a number of them have been re-housed in new housing schemes. That is not to say that there is not a lot still to be done.
§ Mr. Sandys
That was just my point. In England and Wales since the war about 1½ million new local authority dwellings have been built. It is probable that, at the most, about 150,000 of these new dwellings have gone to the families from the slums. The reports from local authorities which were published in a White Paper the other day show that in England and Wales there are about 850,000 slum houses. Yet only one in ten of the new houses are going to the families living in these wretched slum areas. Nobody can seriously suggest that these people in the slum areas are getting fair shares.
There was one speech made on Thursday last which was agreeable to listen to but to which I must take very grave exception, and that is the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee). Other hon. Members made the same point, but not with the same pointedness as the hon. Lady. This is a serious matter. She suggested that strikes in industry, such as in mining, engineering and on the railways—she mentioned them specifically by name—would follow the increase in rents which will result from 1175 this Bill. The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale said something similar, but not in the same direct way as the hon. Lady, and that is why I am referring in particular to her speech. This was, I consider, a most irresponsible speech, more particularly coming from someone who has for so long been a Member of this House.
§ Miss Jennie Lee (Cannock)
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will read from HANSARD what I said. I asked him to look at the larger arithmetic of what he was doing and to calculate how much it would cost if the miners or the railway men or any other group of workmen decided that they were entitled to ask for their economic rights and to have the additional money which they would have to pay on rents. Let the right hon. Member quote from HANSARD.
§ Mr. Sandys
I think everybody who listened to that speech—[HON. MEMBERS: "Quote."] It was a long speech and I am not going to read it all out. In my view, at any rate, listening to it, I formed the impression that it amounted to little short of incitement to industrial action to frustrate the will of Parliament. As such, I believe it will be resented and repudiated by all responsible Members of the House.
If the people of this country misunderstand the effects and purposes of the Bill, it will be due to the distortions and misrepresentations of the party opposite and their Communist comrades. [Laughter.] I am glad the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale is enjoying it. I come now—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]—to a maiden speech.
§ Mr. Sandys
I come to a reference to a maiden speech, and I hope it will be received with the respect which is due to it.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am afraid not. There is nothing in the rules of order which allows that to be done. If the hon. Lady 1176 feels that she has been misrepresented, on considering the whole matter, perhaps she can see me on a future occasion and see whether it can be arranged for her to make a statement. I have never heard it suggested that an hon. Member is entitled to read from HANSARD in the middle of another speech.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
On a point of order. May I suggest that the difficulty can easily be resolved by the Minister, having quoted from memory what my hon. Friend said, giving way for a moment in order that my hon. Friend may quote from her speech.
§ Mr. Sandys
Since I made the allegation, I think it is up to me to read the text. This is the passage to which I referred, and it is reported in col. 883 of the Report of last Thursday's proceedings. The hon. Lady said:I do not care whether they are miners, bus conductors or engineers—we need them all to make a community.So far we can take no exception. The hon. Lady continued:But is it seriously expected that the working people will take a cut in their standard of living—on top of those already contained in the emergency Budget—and that there will be no retaliation?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1955; Vol. 546, c. 883.]
§ Mr. Bevan
It was on the basis of a statement of that sort, which is quite unexceptionable, that the right hon. Gentleman linked a number of names, including my own, and spoke about our "Communist friends." The fact is, the right hon. Gentleman is riding for an awful lot of trouble—and he will get it.
§ Mr. Sandys
I know nothing about the right hon. Gentleman's friends. All I observe is that the Communist Party, and the Daily Worker in particular, are running precisely the same line.
§ Mr. Sandys
I was about to make a short statement in reply to the speeches made by my hon. Friends the Member for Burton, the Member for Portsmouth, South (Sir J. Lucas), the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Portsmouth, West (Brigadier Clarke), about slum clearance compensation. They 1177 raised the question of the adequacy of compensation for owner-occupiers of slum property in slum clearance areas. My hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North called it a grave injustice, and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Portsmouth, West talked about people being robbed of their property by a stroke of the pen.
I should like to say this to the House. I am very much aware that there are cases of real hardship which arise in connection with the compulsory acquisition of slum property; in particular, owner-occupiers who have bought their houses under scarcity conditions during and since the war may, in certain circumstances, suffer severe financial loss which they could not reasonably forsee. I can give the House the assurance that the Government are considering actively what can be done to ease the position in this kind of case, and I shall make a further statement about this as soon as possible.
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale criticised my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West for relating the level of rents to the level of earnings. He seemed to think it was improper to consider earnings which include overtime, and suggested that only the basic level of wages ought to be taken into account. [Interruption.] I assumed the purpose—
§ Mr. Sandys
If the right hon. Gentleman accepts that earnings are a reasonable basis for any of these personal calculations in respect of rent and not the basic level of wages, then I will not pursue that point.
§ Mr. Sandys
I cannot follow the right hon. Gentleman's argument. Anyhow, the fact remains that, when he was Minister and calculated the notional rent for the purpose of subsidies, he based it on earnings and not on wages.
The right hon. Gentleman poured scorn on the calculation I made that the effect of the new subsidies, combined with the rise in the interest rates, would necessitate, on the average, an annual rent increase of about 7d. a week. He said it was only an average and that averages are very misleading. Of course it is only an average, and I made it perfectly clear in my speech that it was only an average; but that average figure of 7d. does give a broad indication of the order of magnitude of the rent rise which will be involved. It may interest the right hon. Member to know that, as a check on my arithmetic, I have made the same calculation for his constituency of Ebbw Vale. The rent increase which will be involved there is almost exactly 7½d. a week. He will see that averages are not always so misleading.
The alarmist and exaggerated statements made by the Opposition about rent increases which will be involved as a result of this Bill, will, I believe, act as a boomerang. When rents go up by some moderate amount the main reaction of tenants will be, not irritation with the Tory Government, but relief that the rises are so much smaller than they had been led to expect.
I come last to the rather moving speech of the leader of the Liberal Party, the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies). He spoke about the shocking conditions in the slum areas. I think we agree with him that they are a standing reproach to the whole nation. The right hon. and learned Member declared his support for this Bill. He said he did so in the belief that it formed part of a wider policy which would tackle the problem of rent control as well as the problem of local government reorganisation. I can assure him that that is our intention. I have already announced that we are reviewing the structure of the Rent Acts. As for local government reorganisation, I hope to be in a position to submit proposals to the House during the course of the present Session.
This Bill forms part of a consistent and comprehensive policy to build new homes, 1179 to save the old houses, to clear away the slums and to restore some fairness and sanity to our housing finance.
§ rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put:—
§ Question put, That the Question be now put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 321, Noes 250.1183
|Division No. 55.]||AYES||[10.40 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Howard, John (Test)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Doughty, C, J. A.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Drayson, G. B.||Hughes, Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Hulbert, Sir Norman|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Duthie, W. S.||Hurd, A. R.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Warwick&L'm'tn)||Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)|
|Ashton, H.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Hyde, Montgomery|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.|
|Atkins, H. E.||Errington, Sir Eric||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Erroll, F. J.||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Balniel, Lord||Fell, A.||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)|
|Barber, Anthony||Finlay, Graeme||Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Fisher, Nigel||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)|
|Barter, John||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Fort, R.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Foster, John||Kaberry, D.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, 8.)||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Keegan, D.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)||Kerby, Capt. H. B.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Freeth, D. K.||Kerr, H. W.|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Kershaw, J. A.|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Cammans, L. D.||Kirk, P. M.|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Lagden, G. W.|
|Bishop, F. P.||George, J. C. (Pollok)||Lambert, Hon. C.|
|Black, C. W.||Glover, D.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Body, R. F.||Godber, J. B.||Leather, E. H. C.|
|Boothby, Sir Robert||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Leavey, J. A.|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Gough, C. F. H.||Leburn, W. G.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Gower, H. R.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Graham, Sir Fergus||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)|
|Braine, B. R.||Grant, W. (Woodside)||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)|
|Bromley-Davenport. Lt.-Col. W. H.||Green, A.||Linstead, Sir H. N.|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Gresham Cooke, R.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Grimond, J.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Longden, Gilbert|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E.||Gurden, Harold||Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hare, Hon. J. H.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||McAdden, S. J.|
|Campbell, Sir David||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Macdonald, Sir Peter|
|Carr, Robert||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||McKibbin, A. J.|
|Channon, H.||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd)||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster)|
|Cole, Norman||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||McLean, Neil (Inverness)|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Hay, John||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Heath, Edward||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Maddan, Martin|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hn. H. F. C.||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Marples, A. E.|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Hirst, Geoffrey||Marshall, Douglas|
|Cunningham, Knox||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Mathew, R.|
|Currie, C. B. H.||Holt, A. F.||Maude, Angus|
|Dance, J. C. G.||Hope, Lord John||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Mawby, R. L.|
|Davies, Rt. Hon. Clement (Montgomery)||Horobin, Sir Ian||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.|
|D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Medlicott, Sir Frank|
|Deedes, W. F.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Remnant, Hon. p.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Moore, Sir Thomas||Renton, D. L. M.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Ridsdale, J. E.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Nabarro, G. D. N.||Rippon, A. G. F.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Nairn, D. L. S.||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Neave, Airey||Robertson, Sir David||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|Nicholls, Harmar||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Robson-Brown, W.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Nield, Basil (Chester)||Roper, Sir Harold||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Nugent, G. R. H.||Russell, R. S.||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Oakshott, H. D.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|O'Nelli, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Vickers, Miss J. H.|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Sharples, Maj. R. C.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)||Shepherd, William||Wade, D. W.|
|Page, R. G.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Partridge, E.||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Soames, Capt. C.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Peyton, J. W. W.||Spearman, A. C. M,||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Speir, R. M.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Pitman, I. J.||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gtn, S.)||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Pitt, Miss E. M.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||Whitelaw, W.S.I. (Penrith & Border)|
|Pott, H. P.||Stevens, Geoffrey||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Powell, J. Enoch||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Price, David (Eastleigh)||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Prior-Palmer, Brig. 0. L.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Profumo, J. D.||Storey, S.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Raikes, Sir Victor||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Ramsden, J. E.||Summer, G. S. (Aylesbury)||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Rawlinson, P. A. G.||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Redmayne, M.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)||Mr. Studholme and|
|Mr. Edward Wakefield.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Albu, A. H.||Cove, W. G.||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hannan, W.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Cronin, J. D.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)|
|Anderson, Frank||Crossman, R. H. S.||Hastings, S.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hayman, F. H.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Daines, P.||Healey, Denis|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)|
|Baird, J.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Harbison, Miss M.|
|Balfour, A.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Bartley, P.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Hobson, C. R.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Deer, G.||Holman, P.|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Holmes, Horace|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.)||Delargy, H. J.||Houghton, Douglas|
|Benson, G.||Dodds, N. N.||Howell, Denis (All Saints)|
|Beswick, F.||Donnelly, D. L.||Hoy, J. H.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||Hubbard, T. F.|
|Blackburn, F.||Dye, S.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Edelman, M.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Boardman, H.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hunter, A. E.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.)||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Boyd, T. C.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Irving, S. (Dartford)|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Fernyhough, E.||Janner, B.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Fienburgh, W.||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Fletcher, Eric||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. pncs. S.)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Forman, J. C.||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)|
|Burke, W. A.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Freeman, Peter||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Gibson, C. W.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Gooch, E. G.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Carmichael, J.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Champion, A. J.||Greenwood, Anthony||Kenyon, C.|
|Chapman, W. D.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Grey, C. F.||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Clunie, J.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Lawson, G. M.|
|Coldrick, W.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Ledger, R. J.|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Hale, Leslie||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Panned, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Pargiter, G. A.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Lewis, Arthur||Parker, J.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Parkin, B. T.||Sylvester, G. 0.|
|Logan, D. G.||Paton, J.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|MacColl, J. E.||Peart, T. F.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|McGhee, H. G.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|McGovern, J.||Popplewell, E.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|McLeavy, Frank||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Thornton, E.|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Probert, A. R.||Tomney, F.|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Proctor, W. T.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Mahon, S.||Pryde, D. J.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Rankin, John||Viant, S. P.|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Reeves, J.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Rhodes, H.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Mason, Roy||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Weitzman, D.|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Messer, Sir F.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Mikardo, Ian||Ross, William||West, D. G.|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Royle, C.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Monslow, W.||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Moody, A. S.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.>|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Short, E. W.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Mort, D. L.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Willey, Frederick|
|Moss, R.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Moyle, A.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Mulley, F. W.||Skeffington, A. M.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|O'Brien, T.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Oram, A. E.||Sorensen, R. W.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Orbach, M.||Sparks, J. A.||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Oswald, T.||Steele, T.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Owen, W. J.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Padley, W. E.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Paget, R. T.||Stones, W. (Consett)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Pearson and Mr. Arthur Allen.|
§ Question put accordingly, That "now" stand part of the Question:—1184
§ The House divided: Ayes 319, Noes 243.1187
|Division No. 56.]||AYES||[10.50 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Digby, Simon Wingfield|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Brooman-White, R. C.||Doughty, C. J, A.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Drayson, G. B.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Duncan, Capt. J. A.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Burden, F. F. A.||Duthie, W. S.|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David|
|Ashton, H.||Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Warwick&L'm'tn)|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Campbell, Sir David||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Atkins, H. E.||Carr, Robert||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Cary, Sir Robert||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Channon, H.||Erroll, F. J.|
|Balniel, Lord||Chichester-Clark, R.||Farey-Jones, F. W.|
|Barber, Anthony||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Fell, A.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Cole, Norman||Finlay, Graeme|
|Barter, John||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Fisher, Nigel|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Fort, R.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Foster, John|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hn. H. F. C.||Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Freeth, D. K.|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Crouch, R. F.||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Gammans, L. D.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Black, C. W.||Cunningham, Knox||George, J. C. (Pollok)|
|Body, R. F.||Currie, G. B. H.||Clover, D.|
|Boothby, Sir Robert||Dance, J. C. G.||Godber, J. B.|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Davidson, Viscountess||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Davies, Rt. Hon. Clement (Montgomery)||Gough, C. F. H.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Cower, H. R.|
|Braine, B. R.||Deedes, W. F.||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Grant, W. (Woodside)||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr, R. (Nantwich)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Green, A.||Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Longden, Gilbert||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Grimond, J.||Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Gurden, Harold||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Russell, R. S.|
|Hare, Hon. J. H.||McKibbin, A. J.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Sharples, Maj. R. C.|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Shepherd, William|
|Harvey, Air Cdre, A. V. (Macclesfd)||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Maddan, Martin||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Hay, John||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Speir, R. M.|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Heath, Edward||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Marples, A. E.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Marshall, Douglas||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Mathew, R.||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Maude, Angus||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Mawby, R. L.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Storey, S.|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Medlicott, Sir Frank||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Holt, A. F.||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Hope, Lord John||Molson, A. H. E.||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Horobin, Sir Ian||Moore, Sir Thomas||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Thomas, Rt. Hn. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Nairn, D. L. S.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Howard, John (Test)||Neave, Airey||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Nicholls, Harmar||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|Hughes, Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Hughes-Young, M, H. C.||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Hulbert, Sir Norman||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Hurd, A. R.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)||Oakshott, H. D.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)||Vickers, Miss J. H.|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Page, R. G.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Wade, D. W.|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Partridge, E.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Peyton, J. W. W.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Kaberry, D.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Keegan, D.||Pitman, I. J.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Kerr, H. W.||Pott, H. P.||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Kershaw, J. A.||Powell, J. Enoch||Whitelaw, W. S. I. (Penrith & Border)|
|Kirk, P. M.||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Lagden, G. W.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. 0. L.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Profumo, J. D.||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Raikes, Sir Victor||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Leavey, J. A.||Ramsden, J. E.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Leburn, W. G.||Rawlinson, P. A. G.||Woollam, John Victor|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Redmayne, M.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Remnant, Hon. P.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Renton, D. L. M.||Mr. Studholme and|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Ridsdale, J. E.||Mr. Edward Wakefield.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Baird, J.||Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)|
|Albu, A. H.||Balfour, A.||Blackburn, F.|
|Allaun, F. (Salford, E.)||Bartley, P.||Blenkinsop, A.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Blyton, W. R.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Boardman, H.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.)||Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Benson, G.||Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S. W.)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Beswick, F.||Bowles, F. G.|
|Boyd, T. C.||Hoy, J. H.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Braddook, Mrs, Elizabeth||Hubbard, T. F.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Brookway, A. F.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Probert, A. R.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pryde, D. J.|
|Brown, Thomas Once)||Hunter, A. E.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Rankin, John|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Reeves, J.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Rhodes, H.|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Irving, S. (Dartford)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Carmichael, J.||Janner, B.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Champion, A. J.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Ross, William|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.)||Royle, C.|
|Clunie, J.||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Shaweross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley|
|Coldrick, W.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Short, E. W.|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Cronin, J. D.||Kenyon, C.||Slater, Mrs. W. (Stoke, N.)|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||King, Dr. H. M.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Lawson, G. M.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Ledger, R. J.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Steele, T.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Deer, G.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lewis, Arthur||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Logan, D. G.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Donnelly, D. L.||MacColl, J. E.||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||McGhee, H. G.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||McGovern, J.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Edelman, M.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Sylvester, G. 0.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McLeavy, Frank||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Mahon, S.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Thornton, E.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Tomney, F.|
|Fienburgh, W.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mason, Roy||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Forman, J. C.||Mayhew, C. P.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mikardo, Ian||Viant, S. P.|
|Freeman, Peter||Mitchison, G. R.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Monslow, W.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Moody, A. S.||Weitzman, D.|
|Gooch, E. G.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Mort, D. L.||West, D. G.|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Moss, R.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Grey, C. F.||Moyle, A.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mulley, F. W.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hale, Leslie||O'Brien, T.||Willey, Frederick|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Oram, A. E.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Orbach, M.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Hannan, W.||Oswald, T.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Owen, W. J.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Hastings, S.||Padley, W. E.||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Paget, R. T.||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Healey, Denis||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Pargiter, G. A.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Parker, J.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Holman, P.||Parkin, B. T.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Holmes, Horace||Paton, J.|
|Houghton, Douglas||Peart, T. F.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Pearson.|
Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Godber.]
§ Committee upon Thursday.