HC Deb 01 February 1956 vol 548 cc1003-47
Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)

I beg to move, in page 5, line 22, to leave out from "accommodation" to "that" in line 24 and to insert "in the district of."

This Clause gives the Minister power to increase subsidies in certain circumstances, and he can exercise it if he forms an opinion upon two matters set out in the Clause. The purpose of the Amendment is to suggest that in the first case it ought to be quite sufficient if he is of opinion, on application, that there is an urgent need for more housing accommodation, and that he need not, in terms of statutory obligation, have regard to whether or not that need can only be met by housing provided by the local authority.

There is an additional danger in the Clause that it may well come to be the practice that a burden will be placed upon a local authority when it makes its application. It is not clearly indicated in the Clause who will have the onus of proving and of satisfying the Minister that the housing need can only be met by the accommodation provided by the local authority. While those words remain in the Clause there is a distinct peril that, in practice, local authorities making application to the Minister will find it necessary not only to have to prove the existence of an urgent need for more housing accommodation but to satisfy the Minister that they and nobody else can supply it.

That may be a very difficult onus to discharge. It may not be within the local authority's competence. In my submission it would be entirely wrong that any burden of that kind should be imposed on the authority. A local authority might find it necessary to bring forward evidence of an absence of private applications for development, of private tenders and the rest, and I suggest that, under the first head, it should be necessary only for the authority to satisfy the Minister of the existence, in the district of that authority, of an urgent housing need.

Mr. Mitchison

I regard this Amendment as going beyond a mere matter of drafting. I would read the Clause as leaving the burden—if one can use such a word in relation to what is really an administrative matter—on the local authorities, but it seems to me that the Amendment also raises a real question of principle, and if the Parliamentary Secretary is to reply I should like to put this to him.

Suppose the requirement that it should be shown that the urgent need can only be met …if that accommodation is provided by that authority is left out—which is what the Amendment seeks—the local authority will still have to show that there is the urgent need; it will still have to show, by the provisions of the next paragraph, an "unreasonably heavy rate burden" or "unreasonably high rents" in the case of the accommodation provided by them. The substantial question is this. If the local authority shows that there is urgent need, that those other matters do actually exist, but is unable to show—and does not believe—that the accommodation can only be met by them, is the Minister in that case to have power to direct an increased subsidy?

I wish to give two instances, the first being non-controversial and the second not. This is the first. Suppose that under authorised arrangements urgent need can be met by a housing association. From the language of the Bill it is quite clear that then the needs are not provided by the authority but by the housing association under authorised arrangements with that authority. It will be realised that, as the Bill is at present worded, though the local authority may make the arrangements, and though all the other requisites may be there, it may be unable to apply for the discretionary grant which the Minister is enabled to give. I do not think that is intended. If it is intended, then I should very much like to know the reason for this curious distinction between what the local authority does itself and what is done under authorised arrangements between it and a housing association. It is certainly not a distinction that is made in other parts of the Bill.

7.45 p.m.

I now come to what I suspect—from the Parliamentary Secretary's political history and, if I may use the phrase, the look in his eye—will be a bit more controversial. Suppose on making its plea for an additional subsidy the local authority gets this answer from the Ministry: "We fully recognise that in your area there is urgent need, and that you could not carry out the work without imposing a much heavier rate burden— even an unreasonable one. We fully recognise that it would mean unreasonably high rents. In fact, if you are to build council houses at all we recognise that you have qualified under this subsection in every respect but one. We happen to know that there is a housing company round the corner"—or a private landlord—"who would be perfectly willing to put up accommodation on the spot, so you do not qualify, because although this is urgently needed housing accommodation it could be provided by private enterprise."

I wonder what the answer to that will be. There is not the least doubt that under the Clause as it stands, the Minister—if that is the true position—is precluded from giving the additional subsidy, and the hon. Gentleman will perhaps allow me to observe that we shall have one more instance of the Tory doctrine of, "Never do by public enterprise what you can possibly do by private enterprise." We shall have another instance of another Tory doctrine—that housing is a matter of profit in the main and only to be left to local authorities when nobody else can do it.

We say that housing is a service, and that the relationship between a council and a council house tenant is, in the nature of the case, a better relationship and one preferable to that between a private landlord and a tenant. For that reason we say the opposite to what the Parliamentary Secretary will say if he gives me the answer that—in language chosen by himself and therefore more apt to his own philosophy—he will no doubt give, which is that the local authority will not get the additional subsidy unless it can show that, however urgent the need, however high the rate burden and however high the rents, nevertheless private business could not do the job.

Mr. Powell

While I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) that this Amendment somewhat transcends a matter of drafting, there will be no need for me, in explaining the necessity for the words proposed to be left out, to ascend into the regions of ideology into which he made an excursion.

If the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine) will reflect, he will see that if the accommodation required could be provided, and the need met by any other agency, it is unreasonable that, nevertheless, the local authority should incur an undue rate burden and then approach the Minister for higher subsidies in consequence. This is a charge made upon both the local ratepayer and the Exchequer. In all reason it must be shown that it is necessary that it should be incurred.

When the hon. and learned Gentleman was stating his case he made a very significant alteration in the wording of the Clause as it stands. He said that if it is shown that the accommodation can be provided by another agency, then the conditions in paragraph (a) will not be fulfilled. That is not so. The reference is to an urgent need which will only be met by accommodation provided by that authority.

Mr. Mitchison

The actual words are: … if that accommodation is provided by that authority.

Mr. Powell

No, the condition is that that should be the only way of meeting the need. Unless the accommodation provided is apt to meet the need—that is to say, if its character and the rent at which it is likely to be available are such that it will meet the housing need which exists, paragraph (a applies and the Minister goes on to consider paragraph (b)

Mr. Irvine

Who has to satisfy the Minister?

Mr. Powell

I was coming to the point of where the burden of proof rests, but for the moment I want to make it clear that it is not sufficient to say that another agency can provide housing accommodation. What has to be shown in order that paragraph (a) shall not apply is that another agency can meet the need, and that is quite a different matter.

If we assume—and that is what the wording of the Clause says—that the urgent need can be met by another agency, I think the whole Committee will agree that it would be unreasonable that the local authority should then burden itself with this task and approach the Minister for a higher subsidy.

The hon. Member for Edge Hill asked where the burden of satisfying the Minister rests. It rests, of course, with the local authority. It is the local authority which makes the application, and it is on its application that the Minister has to form the opinion in the terms set out in the Clause. But, of course, that does not mean that the local authority has got to prove its contention in mathematical terms or in terms which would necessarily be satisfactory in a court of law. The hon. and learned Member for Kettering expressed it very well when he said that this will take place administratively. The Minister has got to form a reasoned opinion by administrative means and at an administrative level that the only way in which the urgent need can be met is by the provision of the accommodation by the local housing authority.

I suggest that when the wording of the Clause is carefully studied, it will be found to be unreasonable that these words should be omitted, as they would leave the door open, at any rate in theory, to an unnecessary operation and to an unnecessary rate burden and payment of subsidy.

Mr. Mitchison

This is a comparatively minor Amendment, and though I do not for one moment accept the hon. Gentleman's proposition that if private enterprise could do it the local authority ought not to be allowed a discretionary subsidy in an otherwise proper case, I do not, in the interests of time, regard it as one that necessarily calls for a Division. At the same time, I understand from my hon. Friend the Member for Edge Hill that he does not propose to withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. MacColl

I beg to move, in page 5, line 29, to leave out "and other."

Curiously enough, at this comparatively late stage in our Committee proceedings, I think that this is the first time that the gloomy spectre that has haunted us all the time we have been considering this Bill has been produced in public for examination. At the back of the policy behind this Bill is this principle of pooling rents, and that is the basis of die right hon. Gentleman's policy, of his Bill and of his gamble with the housing of the nation.

I think I am right in saying that this is the first and perhaps the only place in which it is specifically mentioned in the Bill. It comes into the Bill at this stage in what one might describe as the means-test Clause. This is the Clause under which the wretched local authority, having got itself into a terrible mess in its housing, overpressed by the burden that is laid on it, has to come to the Ministry and ask for assistance.

We are discussing, as we were discussing on the previous Amendment, the conditions upon which the Minister is prepared to consider such a request. One of the conditions—the one with which my Amendment deals—is that, first of all, one must be satisfied that there are no private enterprise builders who might succeed in making a few pickings for themselves before the council steps in. Secondly, one must be satisfied that there will not be a crippling rate burden falling on the authority. Thirdly, one has to decide, not that the particular houses which the authority wants to build cannot be built at reasonable rents, but that if the rents for those and all the other houses in the possession of the local authority are raised to the full and get the full results from rent increases even then the housing revenue account cannot be balanced under reasonable conditions. Only then can an authority go to the Minister and chance its arm by asking for an extra subsidy. That is the background to this Clause, which has been quoted so optimistically and rather innocently by some hon. Members on both sides of the Committee from time to time. Those are, in fact, the harsh terms of this Clause.

I am not making a speech against the pooling of housing rents. As a matter of policy, carried out by a housing authority after due consideration and after careful examination of its position, I think that in many cases there is a great deal to be said for some degree of pooling rents. I think that is part of a prudent housing policy for most councils. I am not at all quarrelling with the idea that a council, if it wants to do so, as part of its policy, ought to consider whether some of the costs can be spread over all its housing.

That, however, is quite a different matter. In fact, people who believe, as I do, that there is something in that, and who have spent a certain amount of time trying to persuade their friends that there is something in it, are the very people who are likely to be most indignant at this principle now being used as part and parcel of a savage slash on Government participation in housing, which is what this Bill is.

This is not a matter of a council which, after having received adequate support from the Exchequer, as it has been receiving in the last ten years, finds that in those conditions it cannot make a go of things. Here we are considering quite a different situation. Here is a position in which a council which, for all its new house building for general purposes, is not to get any Exchequer subsidy in a year or two's time and even now is only going to get a miserable subsidy. Therefore, not only is such a local authority, which by definition is a poor one, to have its subsidy cut, but it is also to be faced with the enormous rise in the rates of interest, which is quite an arbitrary act on the part of the Government.

There is no obligation about it. It is only part of a calculated policy of the Government to back out of partnership with the local authority in building up the local authority's social services. The Government have performed these two arbitrary acts of sabotage of local authority housing, and have held the knife which has caused the damage to these councils which, as I say, are poor ones, the ones with the heaviest load of poor people, with the lowest rateable value, the lowest amount of good-class residential property, the least commercial development, with all the difficulties of a struggling industrial town and with a background of poverty. That is the kind of local authority which is going to be affected by this provision.

8.0 p.m.

It will not be the City of Westminster which will ask for assistance but the very poor industrial authority which for many years has struggled to maintain its services and to fulfil its housing obligations and which now will be defeated solely because of the Government's arbitrary act. It will not be defeated merely in the sense that it will be unable to carry out some luxury frill building—which is what the right hon. Gentleman and the Parliamentary Secretary seem to imply when they are discussing these matters. They brush aside housing for general needs as if it were not important and as if there was no need to worry about it.

In fact, housing without subsidy, as has been made perfectly clear, will include all future housing provision for old people and all future housing provision to deal with overcrowding—two problems most likely to hit those poor industrial towns to which I have referred. For instance, we have the kind of authority which has the worst problem to face, the biggest burden of old people requiring assistance with accommodation and the biggest need for subsidy housing. I can almost hear the Parliamentary Secretary saying, "They have some slums. Why should they not clear those? They need not bother about the old people."

Many housing authorities with some sense of social service will not feel that way about housing the old people. They will try to tackle the problem even if the Government wash their hands of responbility for it and will not share the burden. Those are the authorities with the minimum of resources and the maximum of responsibilities. Yet they have to come cap in hand for a means test in order to try to get what has been described as an additional subsidy. In fact, it is not an additional subsidy; it it not some sort of luxury frill. It is what the Government ought to be paying in any event if they were fulfilling their obligations and sharing the joint undertaking of local authority services.

Before such authorities can receive this subsidy they have to show that they have spread the cost of the Government's financial policy and subsidy policy throughout the range of all houses they possess, whenever they were built, whatever the cost at which they were built and whatever the subsidy they may have enjoyed when they were built.

Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, Northwest)

Or wherever they were built.

Mr. MacColl

We are not considering the question of expediency or what is judicious policy in one area or in another, as decided by the elected representatives. This is a case of the Government forcing this provision upon a local authority, whether the local authority likes it or not.

In any case, is there a very strong case in principle for saying to a local authority, "If we go on building houses for old people it will put a heavy burden on somebody"? The reason for that heavy burden is that the Government have backed out and will not help. Is there such an irrefutable case in principle for saying that the burden ought to be put on the tenants of old council houses rather than on the general taxpayer? I cannot see that there is.

Such a tenant may have taken a house perhaps twenty or thirty years ago at what was then the current rent for the house. He enjoyed what was the subsidy approved at that time by Parliament. It is one thing to say that he ought to pay for the increased cost of the repairs to his own house but quite a different thing to say that he ought to bear on his rent, as well as on his rates—for they will go up, too—the cost of 1957 housing of old people. I cannot see why the existing tenant should bear that cost any more than the general taxpayer.

I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will not start arguing about whether or not it is a good housing management arrangement to try to pool rents. That is a matter of prudence which can reasonably be left to the local council. We are looking at the compulsion being placed on those unfortunate authorities who are in such a crippled condition that they have to come to the central Government to ask for some help.

After all, why stop there? I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman has not thought of having a walk round the town hall to see that there is no extravagance. He might say, "You have the mayor's chain. You can pawn that to help. We want to make certain that there is no excessive furniture in the town clerk's office before we are prepared to give you a grant." Why not hand over the town hall to be run as a gambling saloon to meet some of the costs? Why stop at the tenants? Why pin the responsibility upon them for bearing this cost?

I invite the Committee to say that in this sphere, more perhaps than in any other, they cannot accept the Government's policy, because the Government are using the weapon of poverty and need to force their policy on to reluctant local authorities. This is a case in which, more than in any other, it is wrong to insist upon the pooling of rents. I hope that the Committee will support the Amendment.

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson)

It might be convenient for the Committee to discuss, with this Amendment, the next Amendment, in page 5, to leave out line 30.

Mr. Sparks

I should like to support my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) in his Amendment.

I can carry my mind back a few years to when we sat on the Government Benches and when at local authority election time Conservatives throughout the country condemned us for imposing controls and interfering with local authorities in the execution of their duties. Yet the provision in this Clause is a deliberate interference with the function of local authorities.

By what right does the Minister claim to dictate to local authorities the rent they should charge their tenants? By what act of justice can he claim to hold this threat in his hand that unless local authorities charge the rent he dictates they shall not receive the benefits of the Clause? This is a detestable principle which he is introducing into the Bill.

We on this side of the Committee believe that local authorities should be left to administer their housing and rental schemes in the way they think fit and proper. Some authorities have introduced pooling arrangements, some have differential rent schemes, some have rent rebate schemes and some have no need of them because there are alternative methods of dealing with the question. The right hon. Gentleman is imposing from Whitehall a means test on every tenant of every local authority in the country. In order to carry out the provision of this part of the Clause local authorities are forced to adopt such a policy.

Council tenants have been maligned a lot by hon. Members opposite, who very often denounce them. We hear much talk about Rolls Royces and television aerials outside the dwellings of council tenants. What the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Members opposite do not realise is that many of those council tenants have already paid a very substantial part of the cost of the houses in which they live.

When we talk about pre-war council tenants being low rented, which is not true as a general rule throughout the country —it may be true of some parts but not of others—it should not be forgotten that many of them have already paid a substantial part of the cost of the house. That being so, by what right does the Minister impose upon them the burden of paying 1956 rents which are inflated because of the failure of the Government policy, which has sent up the cost of living and the general cost of housing construction? By what right does he impose that burden on people who in many instances have paid more than half, probably 75 per cent., of the cost of the council house in which they now live?

We are proposing to leave some words out of this part of the Clause. The effect would be to leave with the local government responsibility for arranging its own rents in the way best suited to its own purposes. I do not see why the right hon. Gentleman should claim to interfere in matters of this kind. We have to take conditions—building costs and the cost of living—as we find them in 1956. In my constituency and most parts of London the economic rent of a three-bedroomed flat in a six storey building is likely to be £3 15s. a week. By what right are we to ask pre-war tenants to pay a substantial part of the current rent of that flat?

There may be some people who have to be rehoused who can afford to pay such a rent, but others may not. The local authority has ways and means of adjusting that of its own accord. The right hon. Gentleman is quite wrong in basing his decision whether or not he will provide additional assistance upon rental standards. Other factors must be taken into consideration. These very vague words which refer to an "unreasonably heavy rate burden" represent factors which should not be tied to a system of council rentals.

8.15 p.m.

It is quite wrong to lay down as the principal basis upon which the Minister will make his judgment the level of rents of council dwellings. I think it quite wrong for him to interfere and dictate to councils throughout the country what rents their tenants should pay. He should have some general regard to the rate burden in the area and certainly some regard to the rate fund contribution and the housing revenue account. He should also have regard to the cost of new housing construction.

He should leave entirely to the local authority the administration of its system of rentals. As he has said on many occasions, this subsidy is to be given to local authorities—so long as it lasts, of course —and they may use it and dispose of it to the best advantage. In this Clause he goes much further than that. He is laying down that, unless it charges its tenants a rent which he thinks they ought to pay, the authority will not get this additional subsidy irrespective of what the rate burden is and irrespective of other factors. That is an unwarrantable interference in the domestic affairs of council tenants. It is an interference in the activities of local authorities. The Minister should have far more confidence in them. He should allow them to have responsibility for the administration of their rental systems and not hold this threat over their heads that they must carry out his dictates before they can hope to get financial assistance.

Mr. Gibson

The reference in Clause 5 to unreasonably high rents being one of the factors the Minister is to take into account before he considers giving an increased subsidy raises an entirely new point in housing legislation. I do not see how the Ministry will be able to operate this provision.

Who is to determine what is an unreasonably high rent, and how is that to be determined. On what basis is the amount of rent to be calculated? Is it to be a fanciful thing such as we read about in the Daily Mail a week or two ago when it was suggested that thousands of council tenants had incomes of £20, £30, or more a week? I represent a London constituency and I have not yet found a London family with an income of that amount living in a municipal flat. What I do know is that the returns for Income Tax purposes published in the Government's Blue Book on Income and Expenditure show that in 1954—the last available figures—there were more than 18 million workers whose incomes after tax had been deducted were much less than £10 a week.

Some of us know the level to which rents have already gone. Even in London, in some of the boroughs, rents are being charged equivalent to, and even more than, 25 per cent. of the tenant's income. All or us to whom people come in our "weekly surgeries" have experience of complaints by tenants of very high rents which are absorbing such a large proportion of the family income that clothes are being worn out and the tenants find it impossible to replace them. They do not even get enough food—which is not surprising in view of the way food prices have been allowed to rise since this Government came into power and the tremendous drop in the value of the £. People are complaining about that kind of thing.

I will give one illustration. A poor woman who came to see me four weeks ago complained that she was being charged £2 9s. 8d. a week for a two-bedroomed flat. Her husband's wages were £8 a week as a labourer in the electric power industry in London. That, I understand, is the correct trade union minimum rate. The woman had two young children and there was no other income in the family. She and her children were undoubtedly suffering severely because of the struggle to try to make ends meet on a wage of that kind with that amount of rent to be paid. She told me that she would have to get work to enable the family to meet some of its financial troubles. I am sure that her case is typical of what is happening all over the country. Therefore, one has to look very carefully at a suggestion that the Minister or his officers should have power to decide what is an unreasonable rent.

What is an unreasonable rent in London? I think that 50s. a week is an unreasonable rent for a two-bed-roomed flat in London. It is vastly out of proportion to the pre-war rent for a flat of that kind, even adding to the pre-war rent the 8 per cent. which local authorities and landlords can add for the capital cost of improvement. Is that the kind of figure which is to be used in London? Many rents are much higher than that.

The councils which are trying to do their job in a humane way are fixing their rents at a much lower level. I read a report by the county council a week or two ago which shows that it is increasing its rents this year. Even so, they work out at about one-tenth of the average wage in London, which, according to the Ministry of Labour Gazette of a few weeks ago, is at present £10 17s. a week. I should add that they are net rents. Ten per cent. of that figure is roughly the average rent of county council flats in London. How high above that do we go before the rent becomes unreasonable? Are we to adopt a figure which the local authority itself says is unfair?

It seems to me, therefore, that this is an unworkable part of the Bill—unless the Minister intends never to give any additional subsidies, which is rather what I suspect all through the Bill. Any attempt to operate its provisions is bound to create difficulty in application and enormous troubles with the local authorities. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks) that this could be an unreasonable interference with the long-prescribed right of local authorities to fix their own rents. I have heard it said many times in the House of Commons that the fixing of rents for municipal properties is entirely the responsibility of local authorities. That is where the responsibility should lie. If rents are too low, there might be difficulty about balancing the housing accounts. I admit that troubles have arisen. Even the wealthy London County Council still has to have a fairly considerable additional subsidy to keep its rents at their present level, and other councils are similarly placed.

If a Conservative council does not want to make any subscription from the rates, rents are pushed up to a figure which, on present-day earnings, is utterly impossible for the tenants to bear and is the cause of the tremendous discontent which exists, not only in London, but in all the large towns where this kind of policy has been pursued.

Any attempt by the Minister to operate this procedure in the calculation of additional subsidies is bound to be unworkable. He would be well advised to accept the Amendment to enable himself to operate the Bill, which is difficult enough to work in any case, a little more easily than otherwise would be the case. On practical, humanitarian grounds, rents ought not to be more than about 10 per cent. of a man's weekly earnings. I feel, therefore, that the Clause gives to the Minister a power which he ought not to have and which should be left in the hands of local authorities.

Mr. A. Evans

I hope that the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary appreciate how we read the two words which we seek to delete from the Clause. I hope the right hon. Gentleman appreciates the implication that we attach to them. To a local authority which gets into difficulty with its building for general need, which finds itself in difficulty with an overburdened rate fund and with rents rising because of the loss of subsidy, these words seem to us on this side to say, "You need not apply for the additional subsidy unless you are operating a differential rents scheme."

The Minister has written into the Clause the condition that hard-pressed local authorities need make no application for special consideration and for the additional subsidy unless they have first begun to operate some form of differential rents scheme. That is the implication that we attach to these two words. I should like the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary to say whether we are right or wrong.

8.30 p.m.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. MacColl) said in introducing the Amendment, this is the only place in the Bill where the Minister has dared to bring in his pet theory of differential rent. Intellectually, he has based his whole case for the reduction of subsidies upon the theory that by spreading the burden, the increase need not amount to more than 8d. a week. His case for the reduction and, finally, for the abolition of the basic subsidy has been built upon this theory of spreading the increased rents, by means of a form of differential rent, over the whole of the property owned by the local authority. This is the first as it is also the last place in the Bill at which the Minister seeks to bring into the Bill this idea of his—and it is only an idea, a theory: it has yet to be tested in practice.

It seems to me that these words are quite unnecessary, even for the Minister's own purposes. He has full discretion to consider every application for additional subsidy. He can consider all the facts of the local conditions; he can go into each case fully, and, unfettered, he can make his decision on each case on the facts of each case. Therefore, there is no reason why the Minister should have inserted into the Clause his own pet theory of the differential rent. He can have his way. He can help where he thinks his help is needed. He can refuse additional subsidy where he thinks refusal justified. He can use his discretion, completely unfettered, even without these words. I think he would be wise to rely on his judgment of the facts of each case, and to delete this almost impudent insertion of his pet theory into this Clause.

Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)

The Clause describes exactly the conditions under which we in country districts labour. I speak particularly about my own county. The Clause describes the conditions of the local authorities there, where there is a great need, an "urgent need"—those are the words of the Clause—for more houses.

The costs of building are abnormally high in such districts. They are high because the distances are great to the centres where the materials can be obtained. They are high also because the number of builders is very few and competition is very limited. The rates are abnormally high. I have often mentioned them in this Chamber. There are one or two localities which occupy the unenviable position every year of being the highest rated in the country. That is the position. The provision of accommodation has to be left to the local authorities.

Why, therefore, are these words necessary? What will happen now? Local authorities will be anxious to provide the accommodation A local authority will say, "The costs will be so much. Our rents here are already too high for the incomes in this rural area. The rates are already abnormally high. Now we must apply to the Minister." What answer will the Minister give, in view of these words? I should have thought that the answer given by the Member for Islington, Southwest (Mr. A. Evans) was right. The Minister has complete discretion whether to give this additional help or to withhold it. What advantage will there be in putting in this additional condition which local authorities must face before they apply? What further protection is there, therefore, for the Treasury or for the Minister?

I should have thought that this wording was an unnecessary discouragement to the local authorities, who already find themselves in very great difficulties. What they need at present is encouragement, and I was hoping that this Clause would be the very one to give encouragement to the local authorities in all the rural districts, to the local authorities which are already suffering so much and which are so anxious to provide the accommodation which is needed. If it is not provided—and this is another matter I have had to mention here before, and more than once—my people, failing to get accommodation, will have to seek their homes and their livelihood elsewhere, although they prefer to remain in the land of their birth.

Mr. Janner

This paragraph cannot be considered without reference to the earlier one, but it seems to me rather strange that paragraph (a) is put in.

The Deputy-Chairman

We are not discussing that paragraph.

Mr. Janner

I am discussing it in relation to this subsection, and I think, Sir Rhys, that in a moment or two you will see how it applies.

Local authorities throughout the length and breadth of the country are faced—I know very few, if any, which are not— with the difficulty of providing housing accommodation, and the rates are, consequently, being heavily affected already. Every housing authority is faced with the urgent need for more housing accommodation. Why place a local authority in the position in which it will be impossible for that authority to deal with the situation at all?

We are asking in this subsection that unreasonably high rents for that and other housing accommodation shall be taken into consideration. Is not the Minister already aware that local authorities have almost come to the limit of what can be charged for the housing accommodation which already exists? In my own constituency, the problem is an extremely serious one. The chairman of the housing committee has described already the amount that is to be put on the tenant as being "a bitter blow." Eleven thousand people are waiting for housing accommodation. Rents have had to be increased by as much as 6s. 6d. a week, and the rents of pre-war houses have been increased.

I am afraid that the Minister does not understand that it is not only the rent of the house that is important. There is also the fact that the cost of living in other respects has gone up to such an extent that the local authorities cannot and must not be encouraged to make it impossible for a person to have a home as well. That is precisely what this subsection is asking us to do. It is asking the Committee to accept a position, without the Amendment, in which a local authority has to pool the whole of its housing and further increase the rates, although they have reached the straining point, before the Minister will grant permission for the additional subsidy to be paid.

That is a very disheartening thing for local authorities, as I know from knowledge of my own constituency. In Leicester, I am quite convinced that the council has done its best to keep rents down. The Government, in consequence of their policy, have forced rents up and up. The result is that people in parts of the town are considerably agitated already about the amount of rent which they have to pay in consequence of the action of the Government. I am certain that there will be further agitation when they know that if an allowance is to be made in a particular district in respect of the subsidy it will have to be paid not only by the people for whom houses are being built but also by the rest of the inhabitants of that town.

Attempts have been made for years to keep the rents at the lowest possible level, not to raise rents as is intended by the provisions of this Bill, and not to put everything in a pool for the purpose of raising rents. On the contrary, until the coming of the present Government everybody realised that it was essential to keep rents low so that people should have a roof over their heads and, in addition, be able to keep their families in reasonable surroundings. This provision in the Clause means that those with fixed incomes and those who are aged will have their rents increased. People who have budgeted for their family needs must now pay additional rents following upon this pooling idea.

The Government should think again about this matter. Not only are they interfering with the duties of local authorities, many of whom take those duties extremely seriously, but they are also setting an example to authorities to increase their rents beyond the paying capacity of the tenants. "High" in itself indicates that the rent is rather heavy, but what do the Government mean by "unreasonably high"? The Government have no right at all to interfere. The country will strongly resent this action. It will still resent it, but will resent it less if the Amendment is carried.

Mr. Powell

This was a difficult Amendment for the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) to propose to the Committee, for the hon. Member is a well-known proponent of the principle of pooling subsidies in their application to the rents of local authority houses. That point of view, however, has long ceased to be heterodox. Today, there can hardly be any local authority in the country which applies the subsidy it receives specifically to the house or groups of houses in respect of which the subsidy is being paid. Most authorities, under varying schemes and methods, pool the subsidies they receive over their existing stocks of houses.

Mr. Mitchison

The hon. Gentleman, of course, has much more information about this than other people can have. Does that apply to the rural authorities in the same way? Does Montgomeryshire, for instance, which was mentioned by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), pool its rents, and do rural districts generally?

Mr. Powell

I will come to that point later. I notice that the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) mentioned that the rents of pre-war council houses had been increased to a considerable extent to meet deficiencies arising on post-war houses.

Mr. Janner

No, I did not say that. I said that the rents went up because of higher prices, and that higher rates of interest were imposed by the present Government. That is an entirely different matter.

8.45 p.m.

Mr. Powell

They went up because they were being used, in part at any rate, to meet the deficiencies arising on the postwar construction. They are deficiencies in the housing revenue account. That is a typical example of what most major housing authorities experience. Pooling of subsidies in one form or another is already a generally accepted practice.

Mr. Mitchison

In rural areas?

Mr. Powell

If the hon. and learned Gentleman will let me continue I shall come to that point.

Then, ask the hon. Member for Widnes and his hon. Friends, what about the situation of the local housing authority which, even if it pooled its subsidies, would still find itself in the position either of incurring an unreasonably heavy burden on the rates or of having to charge unreasonably high rents? May I at this point interpose that I do not think there is anything sinister about the expression "unreasonably high" in that collocation. I think the reason for the expression is that a rent could be unreasonable in two directions and that for legal exactitude it was the height of the rent that had to be specified as being unreasonable. It is purely a matter of terminology.

Although one would hardly believe it from the debate, this Clause is designed to meet the position of those local housing authorities about which the hon. Member for Widnes asked. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) cited his own county, but many of the local authorities in that area are precisely of the type which it is envisaged the Clause might cover. Obviously I cannot express it more definitely than that, because it must depend upon the calculations which follow from the actual schemes put forward to my right hon. Friend. Yet it is that type of case which it is envisaged will fall to be dealt with under the Clause.

Now follows the question, "What is the interpretation of the crucial qualifying words 'unreasonable in respect of rate burden and unreasonable in respect to the height of the rents'?" No one can quantify exactly—I had to get that word in somehow—a discretionary expression such as this is intended to be, and must be if the Clause is to leave a discretion to the Minister to deal with the great variety of cases. I would suggest to the Committee, however, that the natural interpretation of an unreasonably heavy rate burden and unreasonably high rents is one which is unreasonably heavy or high in comparison with rate burdens or rents in other reasonably comparable local authority areas. That is the natural manner of interpreting an unreasonably heavy rate burden or an unreasonably high rent. Naturally the Minister will look at the general level of rents being charged in other local authority areas comparable in character with the one in question, and to the rate burden in comparable areas. It would seem to me to be the natural interpretation of those words that they should rest upon such a comparison.

Much has been said about this Clause importing a means test. It does nothing of the sort for the individual tenant. There is an essential distinction between pooling of rents and the application of a differential or rent rebate scheme. One can pool rents and still have flat rate rents. A differential or rent rebate scheme is only one form of the pooling of rents, although I must say that when the hon. Gentleman the Member for Clapham (Mr. Gibson) referred to some of the rents charged by the London County Council——

Mr. Gibson

I was not. I was referring to rents charged by other county councils.

Mr. Powell

I see. Certainly there are cases where the level of rents being charged by local authorities who do not apply a differential rents scheme gives rise to the reflection whether they would not be well advised to consider adopting one. However, that is not implicit in the Clause; it is not implicit in the words which it is proposed to delete. The only implication is that the subsidies received by a local authority will be pooled over the whole area of the houses which it owns.

Mr. Mitchison

I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that the Clause does not refer to differential rents schemes as distinct from the pooling of rents. May I take it from that that the existence or non-existence of a differential rents scheme will be left to the individual local authority and not considered as a relevant circumstance when the Minister exercises his discretion under the Clause?

Mr. Powell

What I am saying is that there is nothing in the application of the subsidies received over the whole stock of houses belonging to a local authority which enforces upon that authority the adoption of a differential rents scheme, a rent rebate scheme or any other form of the pooling of rents. However, there is, of course, a means test in the sense in which the hon. Member for Widnes used the term, implicit in the Clause. It is the provision that the local authority concerned must show cause to the Minister, and the Minister must be satisfied that there is an unreasonably heavy rate burden or unreasonably high rents involved in the contemplated housing operations. That is nothing new to our housing legislation.

Mr. Mitchison

I am very sorry to press the hon. Gentleman, but he did not answer my question. Perhaps we are getting to the extreme limits of the Amendment. Is it or is it not the case that a differential rents scheme will be considered as a relevant circumstance by the Minister when exercising his discretion under the Clause?

Mr. Powell

The Minister has obviously to take everything into account, but the effect of the words: …for that and other housing accommodation … leaves the matter entirely open. That has to be looked at in the light of the circumstances of the individual authority.

Reverting to the question of the means test in the sense of the local authority which is making the application coming to the Minister, as the hon. Member for Widnes said, "cap in hand," local housing authorities have at any rate since 1946 been invited to come "cap in hand" to the Minister in order to earn the standard amount of Exchequer contribution under Section 3 of the 1946 Act. The Minister has in that case to be satisfied that the provision of the house in respect of which the application is made would impose an undue burden on the district, and then, if the Minister thinks fit so to determine, the standard amount of the annual Exchequer contribution shall be the special standard amount. Therefore, under the legislation introduced by the Labour Party, local housing authorities which claimed special treatment had to go "cap in hand"—if the hon. Member for Widnes must have it that way—to the Minister to show that there were special circumstances obtaining in their area. The discretion remained then, as it will remain now, with the judgment of the Minister.

Mr. MacColl

I was perfectly well aware of that, and was also well aware that the hon. Gentleman would make that point. The distinction that I drew was that in the case of the 1946 Act the Treasury were already paying a full general subsidy on all houses and, therefore, it was only in respect of the excess that an application became necessary. Also, the specific terms relating to the amount of rent increase were laid down in the Act and were not left to the discretion of the Minister.

Mr. Powell

Oh, no. The hon. Member is confusing it with Section 7 of the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1946. The word "undue" in "undue burden" was in the discretion of the Minister, just as "unreasonably heavy rate burden" is in the discretion of the Minister in this Clause. The two are on all fours.

Mr. MacColl

Will the Parliamentary Secretary address himself to Section 3 (2, (b) of that Act?

Mr. Powell

That imported a restriction which is not present in the Clause we are considering. The Minister could not give the special standard amount under the 1946 Act, even though he was satisfied that there was an undue rate burden, unless the rents in that area were below the average for comparable authorities. So I do not think that is an advantage on the side of the 1946 Act, if that is the paragraph to which the hon. Member for Widnes is referring.

In view of the fact that the pooling of rents—which is recommended by many Members opposite and which in one form or another is the general practice among local authorities—is implicit in the words which are under discussion, it would be unreasonable for any local authority to qualify under the Clause, simply by taking account of the finances of the new houses. Most authorities do not do that at the present time, because they spread the burden over the existing stock. I suggest that the Committee resist the omission of those two words.

Mr. A. Evans

Will the Parliamentary Secretary deal with the point made by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) and myself, which was that the two words are superfluous and that their absence would in no way fetter the discretion of the Minister?

Mr. Lindgren

The Parliamentary Secretary has been more hard put to it on this Amendment than on many others. He is a most knowledgeable person, and he knows the value of words and he knows the legislation. Deliberately to apply to his context the phrase that we on this side of the Committee are in favour of the pooling of subsidies was very misleading. Of course we are in favour of the pooling of subsidies. In the inter-war years we fought Tory Government after Tory Government to get it. With varying rates of subsidy and varying rates of interest we had varying rents for similar accommodation and we had to keep separate housing revenue accounts for each housing scheme.

9.0 p.m.

Local authorities got into an unholy mess, and we had to press successive Tory Governments to permit pooling. Ever since the Housing Act, 1936, housing subsidies have been pooled. Where the Minister deliberately goes wrong is that this is not pooling, but excluding subsidies, for there is no subsidy to give. It is true that we now have the £10 subsidy, but later there is to be no subsidy.

The Minister is saying that what we ought to do, because the Tory Government are taking away the subsidies, is to spread the lack of subsidy over previous housing schemes so that existing tenants should pay the subsidies which properly should be paid by the Treasury. That is not pooling. If I were in other circumstances I could call it something else. They have a name for it in the Army.

Let us look at what we are doing. This Clause shows how the Tory Party are prepared to use even the housing of the people for purely party political purposes and to be as ruthless as they can, after they have secured power, which they use for the benefit of their friends. During the time of the Labour Government, subsidies were £16 10s. from the Government and £5 10s. from the local authority rates. Interest was at 2½ to 3 per cent. That was a reasonable subsidy from the centre, a reasonable rate contribution and a reasonable rate of interest. Local authorities were then able to build good houses at reasonable rents.

Mr. Peter Kirk (Gravesend)

But not many of them.

Mr. Lindgren

We were getting 200,000 a year until the Tory Party came to power and upset the whole economy of the country for purely party political purposes. [HON. MEMBERS: "HOW?"] I will show Government supporters how. If they really knew the effect on the people of this legislation they would not be so inclined as they are to jibe.

The first thing the Tory Party did when it came to power was to increase the rate of interest from 3 per cent. to 4 per cent.

The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)

The hon. Gentleman must keep to the Amendment.

Mr. Lindgren

I am keeping to the Amendment, Sir Rhys.

We are asked, in the Clause, to spread part of the increased subsidy over the tenants of houses that are not yet built. The increased rate of interest meant an increase in the rent of future council houses of 4s. 6d. per week. The Tory Party had only a majority of 20 in the House of Commons so, purely for party political purposes, because they knew that if rents were up by 4s. 6d. a week there would be trouble, they increased the subsidies to £26 14s. and £8 18s., making a total of £35 12s., to keep the rents level. Since that time rates of interest have risen five times in just over twelve months from 4 per cent. to 5¼ per cent.

I put this point to the Parliamentary Secretary. If subsidies of £26 14s. from the centre and £8 18s. from the local rates were justifiable when his party had only a majority in the House of Commons of 20, and the rate of interest was 4 per cent., why is the subsidy being withdrawn now and the increased subsidy which was given by the Tory Party at that time to meet the increased cost of interest rates being spread over houses which are to be

built in the future at interest rates of from 5¼ to 5½ per cent.?

There is no question of spreading. This is placing on houses that have already been built a charge over and above the normal charge in respect of houses yet to be built. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] The Government have no answer.

I will give way if the Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister can show the justification for spreading part of the increased subsidy given on houses built after 1945 over houses built prior to that date in order to deal with houses which are to be built with less subsidy and at 5½ per cent.

Hon. Members


Lieut-Colonel Marcus Lipton (Brixton)

There is no answer.

Mr. Lindgren

In this Amendment we are asking, instead of what the Govern-wants, which is to spread the lack of subsidy and the increased cost of housing arising from the increased interest charges and the withdrawal of the subsidies, over past building, that the determining factor shall be the rent required of a scheme under construction at the time. We consider that that is justifiable.

There is very little justification for saying that, because the Tory party has deliberately increased housing costs and interest charges, houses built in 1922, 1923 and 1924 should bear increased rents to assist in respect of the rents of houses built in 1956 and 1957. We say that the scheme being undertaken at the time should be the determining factor as to whether the rent is reasonable or unreasonable, and unless we can get a better explanation than we have so far received I must advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to divide.

Question put, That the words "and other" stand part of the Clause:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 235, Noes 206.

Division No. 97.] AYES [9.6 p.m.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Barber, Anthony Bishop, F. P.
Aitken, W. T. Barlow, Sir John Body, R. F.
Alport, C. J. M. Barter, John Bossom, Sir A. C.
Amory, Julian (Preston, N.) Baxter, Sir Beverley Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Beamish, Maj. Tufton Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)
Armstrong, C. W. Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.
Ashton, H. Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry
Atkins, H. E. Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Brooman-White, R. C.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.
Baldwin, A. E. Bidgood, J. C. Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.
Balniel, Lord Biggs-Davison, J. A. Butcher, Sir Herbert
Banks, Col. C. Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Butler, Rt. Hn. R.A.(Saffron Walden)
Campbell, Sir Davio Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Carr, Robert Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Cary, Sir Robert Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Osborne, C.
Chichester-Clark, R. Hulbert, Sir Norman Page, R. G.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, w.) Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)
Cole, Norman Hutchison, James (Scotstoun) Peyton, J. W. W.
Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Hyde, Montgomery Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Iremonger, T. L. Pitman, I. J.
Corfield, Capt. F. v. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Pitt, Miss E. M.
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Pott, H. P.
Crosthwaite-Eyre., Col. O. E. Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Powell, J. Enoch
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip-Northwood) Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Raikes, Sir Victor
Cunningham, Knox Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Ramsden, J. E.
Currie, G. B. H. Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Rawlinson, Peter
Davidson, Viscountess Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W. Redmayne, M.
D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Keegan, D. Rees-Davies, W. R.
Deedes, W. F. Kerby, Capt. H. B. Remnant, Hon. P.
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Kerr, H. W. Renton, D. L. M.
Doughty, C. J. A. Kershaw, J. A, Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Kirk, P. M. Robertson, Sir David
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Lagden, G. W. Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Duthie, W. S. Lambton, Viscount Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Lancaster, Col. C. G. Roper, Sir Harold
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Langford-Holt, J. A. Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Errington, Sir Eric Leavey, J. A. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Erroll, F. J. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Sharples, R. C.
Farey-Jones, F. W. Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Shepherd, William
Fell, A. Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T. Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Finlay, Graeme Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Fisher, Nigel Lindsay, Martin (Solihull) Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Linstead, Sir H. N. Spearman, A. C. M.
Freeth, D. K. Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Speir, R. M.
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Gammans, L. D. Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W. Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Garner-Evans, E. H. Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick) Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
George, J. C. (Pollok) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. McAdden, S. J. Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Gough, C. F. H. Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry Storey, S.
Gower, H. R. McKibbin, A. J. Studholme, H. G.
Graham, Sir Fergus Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury)
Grant, W. (Woodside) McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Teeling, W.
Green, A. McLean, Neil (Inverness) Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Gresham Cooke, R. Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R.(Croydon, S.)
Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Maddan, Martin Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Gurden, Harold Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
Hall, John (Wycombe) Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark) Touche, Sir Gordon
Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon) Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Turner, H. F. L.
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Markham, Major Sir Frank Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Maoclesfd) Marlowe, A. A. H. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Marples, A. E. Vane, W. M. F.
Harvie-Watt, Sir George Marshall, Douglas Vickers, Miss J. H.
Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Mathew, R. Vosper, D. F.
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Maudling, Rt. Hon. R. Wall, Major Patrick
Heath, Edward Mawby, R. L. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Moore, Sir Thomas Whitelaw, W.S.I.(Penrith & Border)
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Nabarro, G. D. N. Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Hirst, Geoffrey Nairn, D. L. S. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Holland-Martin, C. J. Neave, Airey Woollam, John Victor
Hope, Lord John Nicholls, Harmar Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Horobin, Sir Ian Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)
Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence Nield, Basil (Chester) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Nugent, G. R. H. Mr. Edward Wakefield and
Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Oakshott, H. D. Mr. Godber.
Howard, John (Test) O'Neill. Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Ainsley, J. W. Beswick, F. Burton, Miss F. E.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Blackburn, F. Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Boardman, H. Callaghan, L. J.
Anderson, Frank Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.) Carmichael, J.
Awbery, S. S. Bowles, F. G. Castle, Mrs. B. A.
Bacon, Miss Alice Boyd, T. C. Champion, A. J.
Balfour, A. Brockway, A. F. Chapman, W. D.
Bartley, P. Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Chetwynd, G. R.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Clunie, J.
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Brown, Thomas (Ince) Coldrick, W.
Benson, G. Burke, W. A. Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Irving, S. (Dartford) Reeves, J.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Reid, William
Cronin, J. D. Janner, B. Rhodes, H.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Dairies, P. Jeger, Mrs. Lena(Holbn & St.Pncs,S.) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Davies,Rt.Hon.Clement(Montgomery) Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Ross, William
Deer, G. Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Royle, C.
de Freitas, Geoffrey Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Dodds, N. N. Kenyon, C. Short, E. W.
Dye, S. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. King, Dr. H. M. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Edelman, M. Lawson, G. M. Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Skeffington, A. M.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lindgren, G. S. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Sparks, J. A.
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Logan, D. G. Steele, T.
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Mabon, Dr. J. D. Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich)
Fernyhough, E. MacColl, J. E. Stones, W. (Consett)
Fienburgh, W. McGhee, H. G. Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)
Fletcher, Eric Mclnnes, J. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Forman, J. C. McKay, John (Wallsend) Swingler, S. T.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) McLeavy, Frank Sylvester, G. O.
Gibson, C. W. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Greenwood, Anthony Mahon, S. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Grey, C. F. Mann, Mrs. Jean Thornton, E.
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Timmons, J.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Mason, Roy Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Grimond, J. Mellish, R. J. Usborne, H. C.
Hale, Leslie Messer, Sir F. Viant, S. P.
Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Mikardo, Ian Wade, D. W.
Hamilton, W. W. Mitchison, G. R. Weitzman, D.
Hannan, W. Monslow, W. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) Moody, A. S. Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Hastings, S. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) West, D. G.
Hayman, F. H. Mort, D. L. Wheeldon, W. E.
Healey, Denis Moss, R. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Herbison, Miss M. Moyle, A. White, Henry (Debyshire, N.E.)
Hewitson, Capt. M. Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Wilkins, W. A.
Hobson, C. R. Oram, A. E. Willey, Frederick
Holman, P. Owen, W. J. Williams, David (Neath)
Holmes, Horace Padley, W. E. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Holt, A. F. Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Houghton, Douglas Palmer, A. M. F. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Howell, Charles (Perry Barr) Panned, Charles (Leeds, W.) Williams, W. T. (Barons Court).
Howell, Denis (All Saints) Pargiter, G. A. Winterbottom, Richard
Hoy, J. H. Parker, J. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Hubbard, T. F. Paton, J. Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Plummer, Sir Leslie Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Popplewell, E. Zilliacus, K,
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Hunter, A. E. Probert, A. R. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Proctor, W. T. Mr. Pearson and Mr. J. T. Price.
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Rankin, John

9.15 p.m.

Mr. Ernest Thornton (Farnworth)

I beg to move, in page 5, line 32, to leave out from "authority" to the first "the" in line 34.

The Deputy-Chairman

It might be convenient to discuss at the same time the next Amendment, in page 5, line 33, to leave out"(c)."

Mr. Thornton

In this Clause the Minister seeks authority to increase subsidies in certain specified cases, and then seems to place restrictions on his authority which make the practical effect of the Clause almost meaningless. The Parliamentary Secretary referred to the need and desirability of pooling rents between the low-cost houses and the high-cost houses, but the Government then exclude from consideration for a special additional subsidy a class of house which cannot possibly be pooled—the house in an overspill housing scheme.

If that is not the explanation, I wonder why the Minister seeks to exclude the three categories of houses mentioned in Clause 3. If the Minister seriously wishes to grapple with the housing problem of our great conurbations and, at the same time, help to meet the pressing need of our vital basic industries, he should afford the maximum help to the houses which come within categories mentioned in paragraphs (c, (d) and (e) of Clause 3.

This problem is vital to cities like London, Manchester, Salford, Liverpool and Birmingham and to all our great congested industrial areas. Tonight, however, I want to pinpoint the problem of houses in category (c) of Clause 3, because this reveals a problem arising from overspill development. I have in my constituency a high successful overspill development— the Worsley Town Development Scheme which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, West (Mr. Royle) mentioned earlier this afternoon, was the pioneer effort which led to the introduction of the Town Development Act. This overspill scheme in Worsley, which is an important part of my important constituency, is an excellent example——

Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)

An excellent constituency; a good Member there.

Mr. Thornton

—of co-operation between a county borough, a county council and an urban district council. This scheme, which was a pioneer scheme, has been highly successful up to the present. It was a scheme in which the predecessors of the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary took a very great interest. They were looking forward to its completion. Ultimately, the scheme was to consist of 4,500 houses. The standard of the houses built there and the layout of the estate, were highly commendable, but the scheme is now jeopardised by the Bill. There are already grumbles from the tenants about high rents. That is understandable because, as I and the Parliamentary Secretary indicated earlier, in these overspill schemes——

The Deputy-Chairman

It does not appear to be in order to discuss the details of these schemes under this Clause, but merely whether they should be included or excluded.

Mr. Thornton

I am coming to that point, Sir Rhys.

In my submission, under paragraph (c) these houses should qualify for the discretion of the Minister to give subsidies over and above the £24 provided. Since March, 1955, higher interest rates and reduced subsidy have heightened the problem of higher rents to such an extent as to jeopardise the success of the scheme.

I want to quote not my own authority, but the authority and statement of Councillor J. Pennington, Chairman of the Worsley Town Development Joint Management Committee, a very responsible and able local government administrator, who recently said: At a recent meeting of the Worsley Town Development Joint Management Committee strong protests were made against the increased rates of interest now payable by local authorities and fears were expressed that increasing rents arising from the increased interest charges and the reduced subsidy from 1st April last would make it impossible for Salford families in urgent need of housing accommodation to accept houses in Worsley. It is quite obvious that if rents rise to such a level families from Salford, the exporting authority, cannot accept tenancy of these houses and the whole scheme will fail. The town development scheme will stop. In addition, they are faced with added expense in travelling from their new homes in Worsley to Salford, where most of their jobs still are and are likely to be for some time because industrial development has not yet kept pace with the speed of housing development.

The treasurer of the Worsley Joint Committee estimates that as a result of increased interest rates and the new subsidy proposals the cost of each new house now building or to be built will be increased by 9s. a week over the cost of houses built up to 31st March, 1955. That of itself is an indication of why this kind of house should come within the provisions of the Minister's discretion in Clause 5 to help towards increased subsidy to lower excessively high rents. This jump in revenue cost of houses building and to be built since March, 1955, will increase the average rents of the whole of the houses in the scheme by 2s. a week in the first year, 1s. 2d. a week in the second year, and smaller amounts in the following years. The smaller amounts result from the fact that as the number of houses completed grows in proportion to the number of houses built in each year, the burden of the higher rent charges will be on a diminishing scale.

Another important factor is that the increased rents of the overspill houses have the effect of widening still further the gap between rents of overspill houses and rents of comparable houses administered and owned in the ordinary housing scheme of the Worsley Urban District Council. This quick, serious increase in already high rents jeopardises the success of this so far highly successful scheme and its continuing expansion. As was pointed out by the chairman of the committee whom I have quoted, there will be great difficulty in obtaining Salford tenants at these very high rents; and as I have already indicated, additional travelling expenses will be involved for those who reside so far from their employment.

The increase in overspill rents will largely take place in the next five years. After the completion of the scheme in from seven to ten years' time, assuming that it does go forward, other rents generally will probably tend to climb nearer to the rent level of the overspill scheme houses. It might well be asked why the Urban District Council of Worsley does not pool the whole of its house rents. Worsley has played the part of the Good Samaritan, it has welcomed these worthy citizens of Salford into its own ranks, but I think it would be asking rather too much of the Worsley council house tenant to bear increased rents to lower the rents of the Salford citizens who come into the town. That would be more than reasonable to expect of the citizens of Worsley, generous though they are.

Even if that were done, it would not solve this very pressing problem. Worsley Urban District Council has only 1,200 pre-war low-cost houses. When the overspill scheme is completed, there will be 4,500 houses in the scheme by 1962. By that year, in addition to the overspill scheme, Worsley Council hopes to have 2,000 post-war houses. Thus, the system of all-inclusive pooling would give the ratio of 1,200 low-cost houses to 6,000 or 7,000 high-cost houses. The only effect, therefore, of all-inclusive pooling would be excessively to increase the rents of the Worsley council house tenants for an infinitesimal reduction in the level of rent of the Salford overspill scheme. Therefore, that is not a practical solution.

Where this relatively high concentration of high-cost houses occurs, it presents a particular problem, which should call for the Minister's discretion in increasing the subsidy above the £24 level. These overspill house rents are not only high actually: they are high relatively in relation to the other houses in the area. That, of course, is a cause of some friction, but this disparity between the level of rents of the Worsley Urban District Council's houses and the level of rents of the houses for the overspill population will tend to diminish after seven or ten years' time.

9.30 p.m.

Therefore, while this case is not peculiar to Worsley alone, for there are other similar cases elsewhere in the country, I believe that it is a crystal clear case that calls for the Minister's discretionary powers, if he has any intention at all of using it, and I ask the Minister seriously to consider increasing the subsidy beyond the £24 limit. He could do it on a year by year basis, review it year by year——

The Deputy-Chairman

I do not think that that arises on this Amendment.

Mr. Thornton

If the Government are serious in their desire to concentrate on the main housing problems, if the Government are serious in their claims to develop housing where it is most urgently needed, and if the Minister is serious in his claim that he is redirecting the housing drive into the most socially useful channels, then here is an opportunity for the Minister to vindicate himself by extending his discretion to the paragraph (c) category of houses.

If, on the other hand, he adheres to the strict limitations imposed by this Clause, one will not be unreasonable in assuming that the Government's main purpose is to cut back seriously the rate of house building, for let them make no mistake about it, the effect of the Bill and of the Government's policy of high interest rates will be to slow down, if not to stop one of the most successful and socially useful rehousing schemes we have seen in the post-war period. I hope the Minister will reconsider the Clause and agree to introduce some measure of generous flexibility which would guarantee the continuing success of this and other commendable and socially useful schemes.

Mr. Mitchison

I am sure the Committee appreciates the sincerity and the eloquence with which the case of Farnworth and thereabouts has been put by my hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Thornton). It was a case relating, as he put it, to Clause 3 (3, c) and, of course, the Amendment is a little wider. One presumes that the Minister has not put the exception of dwellings dealt with in paragraphs (c), (d) and (e) in the Bill here unless it is necessary; that is to say, unless there are cases in which (c), (d) or (e) houses, but for this exception, might be the subject of his discretion under this Clause.

We on this side of the Committee are perfectly well aware that the (c, (d) or (e) houses would not have their subsidies cut, would attract a higher subsidy than the general needs subsidy; but, on the other hand, the Minister's discretion under this Clause goes up, in the case of a dwelling other than a flat, to £30, and the (c,) (d) and (e) figure is £24. What we are discussing, therefore, is whether there is any good reason why the Minister should be precluded from giving an extra £6 in the cases of the houses covered by those three paragraphs. I am not going to deal with this point at great length because, as I say, clearly the Minister would not have put in the words unless there were houses to which he could apply this additional remedy, if he does not debar himself from doing so.

I want to take one case, and I will take a house under paragraph (d) as an instance. Let us take it that there is some industry in the local authority area in question. Let us take it that that industry has urgent needs and that for that reason people have to come into the area, not having houses there, in order to meet those needs. That is the paragraph (d) case. If that happens these immigrants are not going to help the general housing position in the area. They are, on the contrary, going to make it more difficult for the local authority, because even with the £24 subsidy, the local authority will still have to meet more than that in the process of building the houses.

Whether that is regarded as building expenditure or as services and administrative expenditure, one way or another the burden will be added to a little. It may perfectly well be that as a result of that move into the area there will be a more urgent need for more housing accommodation and conditions will exist, or arise, that cannot be dealt with without an unreasonably heavy rate burden or unreasonably high rents. In those circumstances, I completely fail to see why the Minister should expressly preclude himself from giving the additional £6 in these cases.

There is, as one can see in Clause 3, a type of case to which he desires to give special encouragement, and yet, under the Bill as it is drawn, it is precisely to that type of case that he cannot extend the full discretionary relief under Clause 5. I will not say any more about the character of that discretionary relief for the moment because we shall find it easier and more proper to say it on the Motion, That the Clause stand part of the Bill—and there is a good deal to be said about it.

For the moment, I confine myself to the one point raised by the Amendment. Why does the Minister think it necessary to prevent himself giving additional relief, amounting to £6 in the case of a house and a corresponding sum in the case of a flat? Why does he preclude himself from giving that relief in the very class of case which he particularly desires to encourage? Why does he put himself in the position of finding that he is perhaps giving additional relief in an ordinary case and unable to give it in a case equally bad but which happens to fall within the scope of one of these paragraphs?

I would remind the Minister once more that this relief is entirely within his discretion. First of all, his opinion has to be formed on certain matters, and he can then decide the amount of any additional subsidy. In those circumstances why exclude these categories?

Mr. Sandys

The effect of the Amendment would be to make houses defined in Clause 3 (3,c,) (d and (e) eligible for the discretionary grant under Clause 5. It is an Amendment which is certainly well justified if only to elicit information as to why these three categories of houses have been excluded from the operation of the discretionary grant.

The hon. Member for Farnworth (Mr. Thornton) said that houses in these three categories should be eligible for this special grant because—and this was the main reason he gave—they are houses which cannot be pooled in the sense referred to in our earlier debates. That is to say, the subsidies payable on them cannot be regarded as part of a pool of subsidies which would include a great number of other houses belonging to the local authority concerned.

Mr. Thornton

I do not know whether I made it clear, but my remarks were directed entirely to the category (c) houses.

Mr. Sandys

I thought that the hon. Member was introducing the Amendment as a whole. Group (c) houses come under town development, and the hon. Member was referring to a town development scheme in his own area at Worsley which is operated for the benefit of Salford. That is perfectly true about some of the houses but not about all of those mentioned.

I should prefer to take the three categories one by one. First, I should like to take the one which was referred to by the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), that is the category (d) houses provided to meet the needs of incoming workers and required for an urgent expansion of industry. We have already very exhaustively discussed this problem when we dealt with the two earlier Clauses. It is the general problem of providing houses for incoming miners and others and I do not think that it would be useful if I went over all that ground again.

I can say briefly that the reason for not applying the discretionary grant under Clause 5 to these houses is in the main the conditions governing the grant in Clause 5 (1, b), namely: … unless the Minister exercises his powers under this section that housing accommodation could not be provided without imposing an unreasonably heavy rate burden or necessitating the charging of unreasonably high rents for that and other housing accommodation provided by the authority. We feel that those conditions would not be appropriate to local authorities building houses for families coming in from outside.

They would imply, and this was the point which was made rather forcibly by the hon. Member for Farnworth, that we expected the receiving authority which was to build these additional houses for incoming workers to pool the subsidies and, if necessary, to increase the rents of their existing inhabitants in order to average down the rents of the incoming workers.

9.45 p.m.

The hon. Member for Farnworth said it would be asking too much to expect the citizens of Worsley to accept an increase in their rents in order to help to keep down the rents of the newcomers from Salford. He then explained that Worsley had only a comparatively small number of houses, that the expansion scheme was considerable, and that it would unbalance their finances and their housing programme. For that reason—a reason which I cannot put in a better way than the hon. Gentleman put it—we do not think it would be right to expect the receiving authority in such an area to pool the subsidies and to average the rents. Putting them into this Clause would imply that we expected them to do so. If we attempted to insist on such a condition, there is no doubt that all these development schemes would come to an end, because those receiving authorities would refuse to make agreements, and these schemes go forward as a result of agreements between local authorities. It would make such agreements virtually impossible if we adopted that line. Does the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) want to interrupt me?

Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

So the people must stop in Hankey Park?

Mr. Sandys

I was not saying that. I have said that it would not be practicable to apply these conditions under such circumstances. The additional houses built for the newcomers in such areas must, by and large, be financially self-supporting. I say "by and large," because there is no reason why some contribution should not be made from the local rates if the local authority think that desirable. In the long run, of course, the newcomers bring in rateable value and additional activity and wealth to the new area. But, by and large, we consider that they should be looked at separately from the existing pool of houses in the area into which they come.

That is the reason why, while providing the higher subsidy of £24, we are not providing the additional grant under the conditions of Clause 5 which are inappropriate. Houses provided by a receiving authority as part of a scheme of town development under Clause 3 (3, c), to which the hon. Member for Farnworth referred, are in much the same position, in certain respects at any rate. It is suggested that Clause 5 should apply to these houses, but for the same reason it would be inappropriate to apply this condition of Clause 5 (1,b)to the making of a grant to authorities in that position——

Mr. Thorntonindicated assent.

Mr. Sandys

I see that the hon. Gentleman nods his head in agreement. If we were to apply the discretionary grant under Clause 5 to houses built in Worsley, we should be implying that we would do exactly what the hon. Gentleman thinks would be unfair, and I entirely agree. That is the main reason why houses built as part of a development scheme under Clause 3 (3, c) are not included in the discretionary grant under Clause 5.

Mr. Thornton

I am grateful to the Minister, but I cannot accept his reason, because I think that the Minister's discretion in interpreting this Clause would be the charging of a reasonably high rent for that and other housing accommodation provided by the authority. Some attempt was made by the Parliamentary Secretary to give a comparison of high rents. In Worsley we have two separate housing schemes and there would be a reasonable or unreasonable level of rents for one category and a reasonable or unreasonable level of rents for the other category. I think the Minister's explanation is an attempt to get out of what he ought to do in the Clause.

Mr. Sandys

The hon. Gentleman may think the Clause should be different, but I really think he would not like his Amendment to be adopted in the form that he suggested. The provision is quite clear; one cannot get away from it. Subsection (1, b) says: … that unless the Minister exercises his powers under this section that housing accommodation could not be provided without imposing an unreasonably heavy rate burden … That is the first point.

The hon. Gentleman says that the new houses ought to be treated differently from existing houses. One cannot have a set of rates for people living in new houses which is different from the rates of people living in existing houses. That would not be practicable. I think I have given clear reasons why it is inappropriate, for the precise reasons which the hon. Gentleman himself advanced, to apply these conditions to a case of that kind.

Mr. Thornton

I would direct the Minister's attention to the fact that the words are: … an unreasonably heavy rate burden or necessitating the charging of unreasonably high rents for that and other housing accommodation… The words "that and other housing accommodation" presuppose two separate categories of houses. Thus, it is within the Minister's province under the Clause to treat them as separate categories and to assume that there are reasonable and unreasonable rents in relation to each category.

Mr. Sandys

If the words were "that or other housing accommodation" they might mean what the hon. Gentleman suggests. However, it was brought out in the debate on an earlier Amendment that what is meant is that the rents over all the houses owned by the authority are to be taken into account in deciding whether unduly high rents would have to be charged in order to build new houses without the additional discretionary grant offered under Clause 5.

Apart from that argument, there is an additional reason in respect of this category of houses under town development schemes why Clause 5 should not be applied. It is that the Minister already has power to increase the Exchequer contribution up to a total greater than the provisions of Clause 5 permit. Under the Clause the subsidy can be raised from £24 to £30, but under the Town Development Act, as amended by the First Schedule of the Bill, the Minister will have power to increase the Exchequer contribution by another £8, making a maximum of £32. That is a good reason for not including those houses under the provisions of Clause 5.

In this connection I should like to say just a word, in passing, about the example, given by the hon. Member for Farnworth, of Worsley. It is often a good thing to consider precise and not merely abstract examples. The houses in the scheme at Worsley are owned by Salford. I think that they are built by Worsley for Salford and owned by Salford. [HON. MEMBERS: "They are owned by Worsley."] I understood that they were owned by Salford as happens in many of these cases. Worsley will, of course, receive £24 subsidy for those houses and another £8 from Salford as its contribution, making a total of £32, which again is more than the houses would get if they had the maximum of £30 under Clause 5. The "7d. calculation." if I may refer to it as such, which I made on an earlier occasion and to which Members opposite have referred—that is to say the increase in the average rent which will be needed as a result of the reduction in the subsidy and the increase in the interest rates— for Salford is 7d. It works out to exactly the average for the country as a whole. Of course the rents in Salford are not very high.

Mr. Ellis Smith

I should not think they were.

Mr. Sandys

However, I will not go into details of that kind now.

There is a third category to which the Amendment refers and those are houses which fall in the class defined in Clause 3 (3, e), that is to say houses provided by a local authority of a congested area outside its area and on a scale and of a character comparable to that of a new town. Those houses will, of course, attract the higher subsidy of £24. That will help to meet the additional costs

involved in a scheme of comprehensive town development such as we have in mind here.

The reason that it is not proposed to allow these authorities to draw an additional grant under Clause 5 is that the houses in these outside estates would belong to the exporting authority. That is clear from the Bill which refers to those houses … provided by the local authority of a congested or over-populated area in some other area…. Those are houses which are built and owned by the exporting authority which has built them in some other area. Those houses will therefore form part of the total pool of the houses of the exporting authority and will therefore be within the pool of the local authority. If the exporting authorities were to qualify for assistance under Clause 5 in respect of those houses, they could, of course, apply for it. However, that is most unlikely in view of the fact that they will be large authorities.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 233, Noes 199.

Division No. 98.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Carr, Robert Graham, Sir Fergus
Aitken, W. T. Cary, Sir Robert Grant, W. (Woodside)
Alport, C. J. M. Chichester-Clark, R. Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Green, A.
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J. Cole, Norman Gresham Cooke, R.
Armstrong, C. W. Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Grimond, J.
Ashton, H. Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)
Atkins, H. E. Corfield, Capt. F. V. Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Gurden, Harold
Baldwin, A. E. Crowder, Petre (Ruislip-Northwood) Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)
Balniel, Lord Cunningham, Knox Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)
Banks, Col. C. Currie, G. B. H. Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd)
Barber, Anthony Davidson, Viscountess Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)
Barlow, Sir John D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Barter, John Deedes, W. F. Heath, Edward
Baxter, Sir Beverley Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Henderson, John (Cathoart)
Beamish, Maj. Tufton Doughty, C. J. A. Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Drayson, G. B. Hill, John (S. Norfolk)
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Hirst, Geoffrey
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Holland-Martin, C. J.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Duthie, W. S. Holt, A. F.
Bidgood, J. C. Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Horobin, Sir Ian
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Errington, Sir Eric Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Erroll, F. J. Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)
Bishop, F. P. Farey-Jones, F. W. Howard, John (Test)
Body, R. F. Fell, A. Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)
Bossom, Sir A. C. Finlay, Graeme Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Fisher, Nigel Hughes-Young, M. H. C.
Boyle, Sir Edward Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F. Hulbert, Sir Norman
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Freeth, D. K. Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark(E'b'gh, W.)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Gammans, L. D. Hyde, Montgomery
Brooman-White, R. C. Garner-Evans, E. H. Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. George J. C. (Pollok) Iremonger, T. L.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Butler, Rt. Hn.R.A. (Saffron Walden) Gough, C. F. H. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Campbell, Sir David Gower, H. R. Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Mathew, R. Shepherd, William
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Maudling, Rt. Hon. R. Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W)
Joynson-Hicks., Hon. L. W. Mawby, R. L. Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Keegan, D. Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Kerby, Capt. H. B. Moore, Sir Thomas Spearman, A. C. M.
Kerr, H. W. Mott-Radolyffe, C. E. Speir, R. M.
Kershaw, J. A. Nabarro, G. D. N. Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Kirk, P. M. Nairn, D. L. S. Stanley, Cap. Hon. Richard
Lagden, G. W. Neave, Airey Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Lambton, Viscount Nicholls, Harmar Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Nicolson, N. (B'n'mth, E. & Chr'ch) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Langford-Holt, J. A. Nileld, Basil (Chester) Storey, S.
Leather, E. H. C. Nugent, G. R. H. Studholme, H. G.
Leavey, J. A. Nutting, Rt. Hon. Anthony Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury)
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Teeling, W.
Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T. Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Osborne, C. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Lindsay, Martin (Solihull) Page, R. G. Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)
Linstead, Sir H. N. Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Peyton, J. W. W. Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Pickthorn, K. W. M. Touche, Sir Gordon
Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W. Pitman, I. J. Turner, H. F. L.
Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick) Pitt, Miss E. M. Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Pott, H. P. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Macdonald, Sir Peter Powell, J. Enoch Vane, W. M. F.
Mackeson, Brig, Sir Harry Raikes, Sir Victor Vickers, Miss J. H.
McKibbin, A. J. Ramsden, J, E. Vosper, D. F.
Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Rawlinson, Peter Wade, D. W.
McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Redmayne, M. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Rees-Davies, W. R. Wall, Major Patrick
McLean, Neil (Inverness) Remnant) Hon. P. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.) Ronton, D. L. M. Whitelaw, W.S.I.(Penrith & Border)
Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Maddan, Martin Robertson, Sir David Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Woollam, John Victor
Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Roper, Sir Harold Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Markham, Major Sir Frank Russell, R. S.
Marlowe, A. A. H. Sandys, Rt. Hon. D. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Marples, A. E. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R. Mr. Oakshott and Mr. Godber.
Marshall, Douglas Sharpies, R. C.
Ainsley, J. W. Cullen, Mrs. A. Hobson, C. R.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Holman, P.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Davies Ernest (Enfield, E.) Holmes, Horace
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Houghton, Douglas
Awbery, S. S. Deer, G. Howell, Charles (Perry Bar)
Bacon, Miss Alice de Freitas, Geoffrey Howell, Denis (All Saints)
Balfour, A. Dodds, N. N. Hoy, J. H.
Hartley, P. Dye, S. Hubbard, T. F.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Edelman, M. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Benson, G. Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Beswick, F. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Hunter, A. E.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Edwards, Robert (Bllston) Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Blackburn, F. Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)
Boardman, H. Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Irving, S. (Dartford)
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.) Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.
Bowles, F. G. Fernyhough, E. Janner, B.
Boyd, T. C. Flenburgh, W. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.
Brockway, A. F. Fletcher, Eric Jeger, Mrs.Lena(Holbn & St.Pncs.S.)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Forman, J. C. Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Jones, David (The Hartlepools)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Gibson, C. W. Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)
Burke, W. A. Greenwood, Anthony Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Burton, Miss F. E. Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Grey, C. F. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Kenyon, C.
Callaghan, L. J. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Carmichael, J. Hale, Leslie King, Dr. H. M.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Lawson, G. M.
Champion, A. J. Hamilton, W. W. Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Chetwynd, G. R. Hannan, W. Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)
Clunie, J. Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) Lindgren, G. S.
Coldrick, W. Hastings, S. Logan, D. G.
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Hayman, F. H. Mabon, Dr. J. D.
Collins, V.J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury) Healey, Denis MacColl, J. E.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) McGhee, H. G.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Herbison, Miss M. Mclnnes, J.
Cronin, J. D. Hewitson, Capt. M. McKay, John (Wallsend)
McLeavy, Frank Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Swingler, S. T.
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Sylvester, G. O.
Mabon, S. Probert, A. R. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Proctor, W. T. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Mann, Mrs. Jean Rankin, John Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Reeves, J. Thornton, E.
Mason, Roy Reid, William Timmons, J.
Mellish, R. J. Rhodes, H. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Messer, Sir F. Roberts, Rt. Hon. A. Usborne, H. C.
Mikardo, Ian Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Weitzman, D.
Mitchison, G. R. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Monslow, W. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) West, D. G.
Moody, A. S. Ross, William Wheeldon, W. E.
Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Royle, C. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Mort, D. L. Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Moss, R. Short, E. W. Wilkins, W. A.
Moyle, A. Silverman, Julius (Aston) Willey, Frederick
Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Williams, David (Neath)
Oram, A. E. Simmons, C. J. (Brlerley Hill) Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Owen, W. J. Skeffington, A. M. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Padley, W. E. Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.) Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)
Palmer, A. M. F. Sorensen, R. W. Winterbottom, Richard
Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) Sparks, J. A. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Pargiter, C. A. Steele, T. Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Parker, J. Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich) Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Paton, J. Stones, W. (Consett) Zilliacus, K.
Plummer, Sir Leslie Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)
Popplewelll, E. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Pearson and Mr. Rogers.

It being after Ten o'clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.