§ Question again proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.
§ 4.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
I am particularly glad to have caught your eye at this moment, Sir Charles, because I hope during my observations to make a few points which I would have made in support of an Amendment which appeared in my name on the Notice Paper but which was not selected and, therefore, as the Committee will appreciate, can only be discussed on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
Before I come to that point, which deals with the concession given to those who appealed against the new valuations under the 1955 Act, may I also, like so many of my hon. Friends, register my protest against this mischievous Bill and, in particular, this mischievous Clause? As the Committee knows, the action of the Minister of Housing and Local Government in seeking to reduce the rating charges of shopkeepers and others at the expense of householders is a most retrograde step.
The Minister is not, as he claims, removing an injustice. In our submission, he is creating an intolerable injustice to all classes of ordinary householders who are paying rates throughout the country. Furthermore, he is taking a step which is condemned by every local government authority and, in particular, by the associations who represent the municipal corporations and other local government authorities.
I hope that in the course of time the Minister will realise the very unfortunate impression which he has been creating since his appointment to his present office—
§ Mr. Fletcher
Long before that—in the way that he is handling local authorities.
I mentioned it in that way, if my hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) will allow me to say so, for this reason. There was a time when I used to know the Minister as a member of the London County Council, on which we both served for a long time, and when the Minister had the interests of local government at heart. When he left that sphere, his interest in the welfare of local government seemed to me to lapse, but now that he has been appointed Minister of Housing and Local Government one might have been excused for thinking that he would again show some interest in, and concern for, the welfare of local government.
The Minister is setting up for himself a very unenviable reputation. It cannot be a good augury for his tenure of office that he sponsors a Bill which flies in the face of all the representations that have been made to him by local authorities throughout the country. Apart from the injustice which the Clause creates, we condemn the Minister for sponsoring the Clause, because it indicates a most unfortunate attitude on his part of following a course which shows a total lack of sympathy towards the interests of local authorities.
In speaking on the Bill, other hon. Members have indicated the effect which the Clause will have on their boroughs. I do not want to compete with any of my hon. Friends, but I should be remiss in my duty if I did not point out that in the case of the Borough of Islington alone the effect of the Minister's proposals in the Clause is to reduce the rateable value of the borough by no less than £250,000, all of which, of course, will fall to be paid by householders in the borough.
I turn now to one specific point which has not yet been raised in this series of debates. Although I am not very optimistic, I hope that I can have the Minister's attention and sympathy, because, although he seems to me to have shown a most uncharitable attitude so far in resisting all the Amendments that have been put down, this is one which, although I am not in a position formally to move it, is nevertheless worthy of his 447 serious consideration. If, therefore, I can shortly explain it and secure the right hon. Gentleman's support for it, it will enable him to redeem his reputation somewhat—though only, I fear, to a limited extent—in the eyes of local government authorities; and he will, of course, have opportunities of introducing the appropriate Amendment at a later stage of the Bill.
§ The Chairman
I think that probably the hon. Member will agree that that is not the way in which he should proceed. Since the Amendment was not selected we cannot now discuss it.
§ Mr. Fletcher
What I was hoping to do was to explain why, in my view, the Clause would be improved if it were in a different form. I was proposing to indicate that one of my reasons for my opposition to the Clause is that it is at the moment in a particular form. With great respect, Sir Charles, I would suggest that I should be in order if I were to indicate its defects and, naturally, in explaining its defects, if I were to indicate, not at length, how they could be improved.
§ The Chairman
That sounds simple, but that would make the selection of Amendments a useless proceeding. If we were to discuss Amendments which have not been selected there would be no point in having selection of Amendments.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I do not, of course, want to argue, Sir Charles, but, with great resepct, I am sure that it is within your recollection that on a number of occasions in Committee Amendments which had not been selected have been discussed in general on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)
Apart, Sir Charles, from any question of an Amendment's having been selected or not, would my hon. Friend be in order in explaining that the concession given by the Clause to certain classes of ratepayers 448 ought to be conditional rather than unconditional, and in indicating, of course in a summary way, what condition there ought to be and the reasons for it?
§ The Chairman
Yes, but the rule, as stated by Erskine May, is that on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" the debate must be confined to the Clause as it then is.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am obliged, Sir Charles. I am quite convinced that I can explain the matter and say what I want to say within the terms of order and without contravening your Ruling. It may, unfortunately, take a little longer, but I cannot help that.
It becomes necessary to consider the precise effect of the Clause as it stands unamended. Its simple effect is to reduce the rateable value of shops, offices, etc., as they stand at present by 20 per cent. In subsection (6) there is a reference to the Rating and Valuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1955. That Act, which will continue to apply, provides that if an owner of a hereditament has entered an appeal against the valuation under the provisions of that Act, then pending the hearing of the appeal and its determination he is given the concession of not having to pay the rates on the increased assessment under that Act until the appeal has been determined. In other words, the maximum that can be collected from him by the local authority is the amount of rates which would have been recoverable on the hereditament in question for the year previous to that in which the new valuation came into force.
The result of that concession is that a great deal of the rate revenue is outstanding and local authorities are very considerably embarrassed, in the calculations that they have to make, by being short of rate revenue which they would be entitled to if the appeals had been heard and been unsuccessful. For example, in the City of Birmingham, the total amount which, by virtue of the Act of 1955, has been retained by various shopkeepers and others is as much as £484,000. In Manchester, it is £600,000. In Reading, it is £650,000 and in Southampton £20,000. I have taken at random those examples from those supplied to me by the Association of Municipal Corporations.
449 The striking point of it is that in practically every case of the amount which is retained under the Act of 1955 about 80 per cent. or more is retained by shopkeepers and others who will benefit by this Clause of the Bill.
§ Mr. W. R. Williams (Manchester, Openshaw)
In addition to that loss of £600,000, which my hon. Friend has mentioned, there are in Manchester 5,000 appellants, and the delay is likely to be between two and three years, possibly more. Therefore, this loss of revenue will be not for twelve months but for two, three or four years, perhaps.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am very much obliged to my hon. Friend.
The problem that we are hoping to cure is a continuous one. It does not arise in this current year only, or next year. As the Minister knows, there has been an overwhelming spate of appeals against the assessments. Indeed, the Minister has claimed that that is one of his justifications for bringing forward this Measure. He has said that one reason why he wants to give a flat 20 per cent. rebate to the owners of shops and offices is that so many of them have entered appeals, thereby indicating their discontent.
As the law stands at present, all those people who have entered appeals have not had to pay any additional rate. They have been able to rely on the Act of 1955 and, if they have entered appeals, they have not had to pay any more rates than they paid a couple of years ago. Owing to the large number of appeals pending, it will take two or three years, as my hon. Friend the Member for Openshaw (Mr. W. R. Williams) said, before they are all determined. That throws the finances of local authorities into chaos.
It is for these reasons that the Association of Municipal Corporations and others have suggested to the Minister that his proposal to give those ratepayers a rebate of 20 per cent. should be accompanied by cancellation of the concession in the Act of 1955, because if the Bill becomes law they will get a 20 per cent. reduction in their rates, anyhow. Moreover, in most cases, of course, that reduction will more than equal any reduction of assessment an appellant could hope to obtain by prosecuting his appeal.
450 But even if it turned out that appellants were successful and they were relieved to the extent of 20 per cent., or even if, in the final result of an appeal, they were entitled to some relief, that would be set aside against the rates they had previously paid or, should there be anything due to them by way of relief, they themselves in turn could set it off against any future instalments of rates.
This may seem a technical point, but it is of great importance to those who have to administer the finances of local authorities. It is another indication of how the Minister, if he wishes to enjoy a period of good will and co-operation with the local authorities—which we on these benches wish to foster and which, I should hope, would also be the Minister's ambition—this is the way in which he might be able to make some contribution towards it.
I conclude, as I began, by saying that whatever reliefs of this minor kind the Minister may be persuaded to concede before the Bill becomes law, we on these benches think that Clause 1 is thoroughly bad, because it produces great injustice to householders all over the country and great hardship to local authorities.
§ Mr. Harold Gurden (Birmingham, Selly Oak)
In case, Sir Charles, you should query whether or not I am in order in raising the matter that I am about to mention, I should like to say that the point arose when I spoke in Committee last week on the first Amendment on the Notice Paper that day. It was agreed then that I was in order in raising the matter. I therefore mention again the question of sewage disposal works operated by joint boards. Through no fault of mine, and because of circumstances out of my control, an Amendment on the subject was not tabled on Clause 1. The matter perhaps could have been covered by some of the Amendments that were tabled but, unfortunately for joint disposal boards, those were not accepted.
The principle of derating seems now to have been accepted and confirmed by the Bill. As such, I have no objection to it but it is a complete puzzle to me—and I hope that the Minister will explain it—why joint sewage disposal boards have not been included in these derating provisions. As I have said before, it would be far more satisfactory if we had an indication from my right hon. Friend 451 that these works could be deratéd in conjunction with industrial derating and thereby give further relief. I must not pursue that subject further, otherwise I shall be out of order.
These boards operate works, which can be likened to industrial works, to dispose of the sewage of a number of local authorities in an area. In the case of the Colne Valley Sewage Disposal Board, the works are at Rickmansworth and they dispose of the effluent of 13 local authorities. It so happens that because these works are situated in Rickmansworth the whole of the rates payable on them go to that local authority and are precepted from all other 12 local authorities from which the effluent is drawn, covering an area of about 150 square miles, mainly in Hertfordshire, though there is one local authority in Bedfordshire which is also involved.
This problem has become more acute because of the 1956 revaluation and the Colne Valley Board's rates, paid to Rickmansworth, have gone up from £9,500 to £42,000, which, I am told, is equal to a rise of 342 per cent. That has made the position far more acute and there is greater need now for derating, which I certainly think should have been provided for in this Clause. The remaining 12 local authorities are, therefore, having to pay the £42,000 while Rickmansworth has not only its sewage disposed of free of charge but is making a profit by reason of the fact that the works happen to be situated within its area.
I used another example when I spoke last time in Committee, that of the Tame and Rea Sewage Disposal Board which disposes of the sewage of eight local authorities. In the main, the sewage is sent to Sutton Coldfield, an adjoining authority, and most of it is disposed of there. Sutton Coldfield receives £34,000. None of that sum is reduced by net annual value, because there is no such thing. The authorities have to pay rates on the full annual value of the works and Sutton Coldfield can be charged only £18,800, precepted by the Board on the local authority for the disposal of its own sewage. Therefore, Sutton Coldfield is making a profit on it.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Dr. Horace King)
Is the hon. Member arguing that these cases come within the Clause?
§ Mr. Gurden
No, Dr. King. My complaint is that the Clause does not cover joint sewage disposal boards.
§ The Temporary Chairman
If the hon. Member's argument is that the cases to which he has referred do not come within the Clause, but ought to be covered by the Clause, he is out of order.
§ Mr. Gurden
That may well be, Dr. King. I had a suspicion that that was the case, but since I did not have a reply from my right hon. Friend when I spoke on this matter in Committee on the previous occasion, quite frankly I was taking advantage of this opportunity to try to extract from him some information. I understand that he had knowledge of the matter before it was raised by me and I gathered from the joint sewage disposal boards that he was quite willing to do something about it.
However, I cannot proceed with this convincing case, which is of no special advantage for any local authority in particular but is rather a joint matter which should be cleared up. I had only just realised that there may not be any Amendments accepted to the Bill and in that case there would not be anything but a formal Report stage. I was hoping, therefore, to get in on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," but I shall be content to listen to what my right hon. Friend has to say on the point later.
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Sir L. Plummer
It is natural enough, when discussing a Clause such as this, that many of us should make constituency speeches which would be interesting to our constituents, interesting to the local authority, interesting to the hon. Member himself, but would not be of much interest to the rest of the Committee. I propose to follow the example which has been set by making a constituency speech and I guess that the only person who will listen to me, and that not with much sympathy, will be the right hon. Gentleman himself.
Before doing so, I want to say a few words to the Minister as a constituent of his. That is not to say I ever voted for him—God forbid that I ever should—but 453 he represents me in the House of Commons and, therefore, it is necessary for me to speak to him as a constituent as well as a London Member. Since the right hon. Gentleman has been occupying his illustrious post, he has been imposing burden upon burden on the citizens of London. I do not know what these brave and industrious people have done to deserve such treatment. Because the right hon. Gentleman represents a borough of London which is, on the whole, highly prosperous, he has no excuse for exercising his talents for extortion on other boroughs which are not so fortunately placed.
Facing our constituents in these London working-class boroughs there is a constant rise in the cost of one thing or another and there is no sympathy from the Government. Not at any time have the Government said to us that they are trying to alleviate these conditions. What they do is to pile Pelion on Ossa until the position of our people is causing anxiety.
I noticed that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education, in an appeal to Oxford University undergraduates not to emigrate, listed four points which show clearly that this great nation is really all right and should not be left. One he quoted in aid mentioned the number of people who, every year, looked at historic houses. If this Government go on much longer there will be an army from my constituency trying to get into historic houses and to squat there, because they will not be able to afford to pay their rents and rates. For the right hon. Gentleman, who knows London well, and who has built his reputation in London, to treat these boroughs in this fashion makes me believe that he has, as the rest of his party has, a death wish on them, for he and his hon. Friends are doing their best to destroy themselves at the hands of the electorate.
The rates of the London County Council will go up this year. It is fair to assume that from all the indications. The rates of the local authorities will go up, too. My own will certainly go up. The effect of Clause 1 of the Bill is to add another 18d. to the rates in the Borough of Deptford; for the effect of the relief is to reduce the income of the borough by about £65,000. So we have to go to the people in their homes and say, "Under one Act introduced by the 454 right hon. Gentleman"—or rather piloted by the right hon. Gentleman; never let us shame him with the responsibility of having introduced the Measure—"you have to pay more rent. You now have to pay more rates. You now have to make more provision for this, that and the other."
How does the right hon. Gentleman expect the citizens of a working-class borough like Deptford to recoup themselves from the impositions which he is placing upon them? What can they do? In these heterogeneous suburbs there are not many people who belong to strong trade unions, because there is not any great industry there. As many of my hon. Friends know, these boroughs are dormitories for people who work in all parts of London and in all kinds of occupations. They are not closely knit, as are the miners and engineers and other industrial workers, who can go, through their trade unions, to their employers and get at least some part of the increased cost which the Government have put upon them. These people have to go without.
Clearly, it is the policy of the right hon. Gentleman—and he is following it with an enthusiasm which is distasteful—to see that there is a steady lowering of the standard of life of those living in the London suburbs. How, in all equity, can he justify that a borough like Deptford, which I have the honour to represent, should be penalised in this way in the interests of making it easy for the Chancellor to raise the Surtax limit for right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite and the people they represent? To do this is to deny a fruitful reward to the working people of London who have contributed, and who continue to contribute, so much to the well-being and prosperity of this nation.
§ Mr. H. Rhodes (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Piecemeal legislation such as this Bill is indicative of the failure of the Government to keep a grip on the legislative programme and on the needs of the people.
Since I came into Parliament I have not known the local authorities with which I am associated so disturbed as they are about this Bill and about the provisions in Clause 1, and so I make no apology for delivering a constituency 455 speech for a few minutes. In my constituency I have the Borough of Ashton-under-Lyne, the Borough of Mossley and the Urban District of Droylsden. In the case of Ashton-under-Lyne the provisions in Clause 1 mean an increase in the rates of 1s. 8d. in the £. In the case of Mossley it is 1s. 5d. in the £. In the case of the Urban District of Droylsden it is 2s. in the £.
That means that in the case of a house which has a rateable value of £20, the increase in rent is likely to be 7½d. per week. If the rateable value were £30, the increase would be 11d., and so on. Here in London people sometimes are apt to think that a few coppers on the weekly outgoings of a working-class or middle-class home is not very important. While 7½d. may not seem much to some hon. Members sitting in the House of Commons, it is a very important amount in the budget of the average working-class home in a constituency like mine.
This imposition, together with the increases in respect of the welfare services of our community which were announced yesterday, will make an impact compared with which many of the things that the Government have done even in the immediate past will fade into insignificance. This is a straw which could break the camel's back.
The timing is all wrong for local local authorities. The chairmen of local authority finance committees are very busy at present, and we should remember that they give their time and are not paid civil servants. During the last few weeks they have been cudgelling their brains to find out how to make ends meet. To bring forward a Bill such as this, with provisions like those contained in Clause 1, is, to say the least, upsetting, distracting and ridiculous at this time.
The banks, the multiple stores, the chain stores and others who are favoured under Clause 1 are added to the list of the privileged classes who receive the benefit of derating. Clause 1 introduces fresh confusion by creating a new class. The Minister ought to realise that these piecemeal bits of legislation which create confusion among, and additional work for, local authorities are a real injustice, and to be deplored.
There was enough chaos after the 1955 Act. In my constituency at present large 456 sums of money are being withheld because claims are being made against increased assessment under that Act. It seems that it will be many years before some of the claims can be heard. In fact, the Inland Revenue Valuation Department cannot say when the cases will be heard at all. So far no valuation courts have been set up, and there appears to be no likelihood of any being set up in our district during the next year or two.
I do not know why this Measure should have been introduced, nor do the aldermen, councillors and local authority officials in my constituency. When the regulations under the 1955 Act were introduced, the local traders objected, but they did not regard the situation as sufficiently serious to warrant this kind of legislation. The local traders were more concerned with the question of industrial derating than their own increased assessments. I want to put on record the fact that the Bill is causing anxiety and injustice to people who can least afford to bear this extra burden, and protest on behalf of the citizens and the local authorities in the constituency of Ashton-under-Lyne.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. James MacColl (Widnes)
I have an advantage over some of my hon. Friends in that I have not previously spoken during the proceedings on the Bill, so I approach the discussion with a freshness of outlook which appeals to me, though it may not necessarily appeal to my hon. Friends.
I was particularly moved and stimulated by the speech of the hon. Member for Selly Oak (Mr. Gurden). The hon. Member was fortunate enough to catch the eye of the Chair. From among all the Conservative hon. Members who have been bursting to speak—[HON. MEMBERS: "Both of them."]—from among the representatives of different types of local authorities, representatives of different interests affected by the Bill, who have struggled with each other to catch your eye, Sir Charles—the hon. Member alone was successful.
The hon. Member complained that he had not understood the rules of the game. He had an intelligent suggestion to make for altering the Bill. He did not understand that there were not to be any Amendments and that there would not be other than a formal Report stage. 457 Poor innocent, he did not know his Minister. What does he think happens when we discuss local government affairs and matters affecting the welfare of the business community and the residents of the houses in our local authority areas? The Minister takes no notice of what is said and makes no attempt to listen to reason, to consider Amendments on their merits or to get the Bill altered in accordance with the constructive suggestions that are made.
That was what happened in the Standing Committee on the Rent Bill this morning. The Minister had to get walloped because it was too much even for his hon. Friend.
§ Mr. David Jones (The Hartlepools)
Does my hon. Friend realise that the Minister actually said, last Thursday, that because the Bill had been in the hands of the municipalities since 21st December, and they had based their calculations on the fact that it would pass through the House unaltered, he thought he ought not to accept any Amendments?
§ Mr. MacColl
That is what "consultation with local authorities" means to the Conservative Party. When one wishes to avoid Parliamentary criticism, one consults local authorities and agrees with them and then one says that one cannot alter the Bill. When one knows that the local authorities are going to disagree with one, one says that it is inappropriate to discuss alterations until one has the agreement of the House.
The way the Government have behaved over valuation is an absolutely shocking story. It started with the Valuation for Rating Act, 1953. That was followed by the Rating and Valuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1955. Now we are discussing the Rating and Valuation Bill, with no "Miscellaneous Provisions." Thus, since 1953 we have had three Measures dealing with the problems of rating and valuation. The only originality the Government have displayed is in changing the names of the Measures by ringing the changes between "Valuation for Rating" and "Rating and Valuation," and, for good measure, tossing in "Miscellaneous Provisions" in the middle.
How can local authorities be expected to plan their budgets when the lifeblood 458 of their operation, their rateable value, is treated in this way at two-yearly intervals? It is the very negation of planning, the negation of any kind of orderly direction in budgeting. It makes it impossible for financial committees or ratepayers to have any idea of what the position will be.
We have not come to the end of the story, because even while we have been discussing the Clause we have had a statement from the Minister to say that he has in mind even wider proposals for reconstructing local government finance. So, even when they are faced with the Bill, local authorities will know that next Session there may well be another major Measure which will completely alter the whole position.
There can be no excuse for the Government messing about with the affair in this way, taking these different bites at a complicated problem. The right hon. Gentleman cannot pretend that the Clause has come about because its necessity has been suddenly realised, because I notice from the OFFICIAL REPORT that the Parliamentary Secretary said earlier in our proceedings that the Government well knew, when we were discussing the 1953 Measure, that there would be difficulties over the different rating of shops and residential property.
That point was mentioned to the Government during the Committee stage of that Measure, but the present Prime Minister simply ignored the problem. He brushed it aside, saying that he was not prepared to deal with it. In other words, he left what he knew to be a difficult problem, a problem which he knew would become more and more important, until everybody had to act on the basis of the 1953 Measure. Now the Government have turned round and said that there is a tremendous emergency and we must rush through this Bill in anticipation of the general reconstruction of local government finance.
That is utterly inexcusable. We could have dealt with the whole matter when we were dealing with the 1953 Act, or have left it to be dealt with as part of the general revision which is promised for the future. Either of those plans would have had some excuse. What has no excuse is lifting this Measure out of its general context and introducing it as a 459 special Measure. Whatever may be the technicalities, whatever may be said about the hardship and the rest of it, the essentials of the Clause are that the ordinary tenant of a house will pay some of the rates of the great banks, the Midland Bank, the National Provincial Bank, and the rest. That is what the Bill means. The Government may try to camouflage it with technicalities, but that is what they are doing.
The Bill will remove rates from the great banks and chain stores and, if industrial hereditaments are not to be rerated, those rates must be paid by the ordinary ratepayers, owner-occupiers and tenants. At a time when the Government are so helpfully putting this extra burden of rates on the tenants of houses, they are also passing the Rent Bill, which increases the rents those tenants will have to pay. Elsewhere, we suggested that they ought to fix a ceiling of 7s. 6d. for a rent increase applied to gross rents and not only to net rents.
The effect of that would have been that a tenant suddenly faced with the increase would have known that in total he had to pay only 7s. 6d., instead of being swindled—which is what will happen. However, what will happen is that tenants will receive a note from the landlords saying that their rent is to be increased and that their rates are to be increased because the Midland Bank and the National Provincial Bank and the rest cannot afford to pay all of their rates and so the tenants of ordinary houses will pay the extra amount.
This is a new lot of muddled incompetency and failure to appreciate the problems of local government finance. Unfortunately, it is not the end, but the middle of a whole chain of incompetent muddle and badly thought-out legislation which people cannot understand and about which they are left completely in the dark. It is entirely unjust and discriminates against those people who can least afford to bear the burden.
§ Mr. Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)
It is deplorable that the Minister, with his considerable record in local government affairs, should have the task of piloting this Clause through the House of Commons. It is even more deplorable that he appears to relish the task. In the Rent 460 Bill he appears to be playing the rôle of a kind of inverted Robin Hood, robbing the poor to assist the rich. In this Bill he is playing the part not of the Minister of Local Government, but of the Minister for the dissolution of local government.
A series of Measures is being introduced by the present Administration, which is certainly having the effect of increasing the problems of local government. Whether it is calculated to do that, I do not know. I sometimes wonder whether the intention is to place upon progressive local authorities the odium which would normally come to the Government by reason of their reactionary legislation.
The effect of the Clause on hard-hit areas, such as that which I represent, is very considerable. I make no apology for briefly referring to one or two essential statistics. Clause 1 will deprive West Ham of a rateable value of about £171,000. My hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) asked the Minister what London and the blitzed areas had done to deserve this treatment from the Government. This hard-hit area, with almost the whole of England's social problems in a nutshell, is once more being struck a blow by the Government, with no provision for compensatory grants for the West Ham authority to make good the loss.
The rate which will be required from West Ham ratepayers in 1957–58 will have to be increased by 1s. 8d. For the occupant of a house with a rateable value of £25, that will be an additional 10d. a week in rates. The Minister may say that that is a negligible sum, but these additional impositions of 10d. a week on the working class budget are hitting the people hard and are hitting hard those in a constituency where people work hard. Not many people live in idleness in West Ham. There are many old-age pensioners who can no longer work, but I do not think that it will be suggested that they can afford another 10d. a week.
This is yet another Measure which will hit those least able to bear the burden and is in fact a classic piece of Tory legislation. It comes to West Ham at a time when it is already to be heavily hit by the reduction of £180,000 in the Exchequer equalisation grant during the next two financial years. That sum also 461 will have to be met by increased rates, and so the Clause is calculated to increase the difficulties of local authorities.
Our democracy depends upon the health and vigour not only of Parliament—that, of course, is the pillar of our democracy—but also of local authorities. This constant undermining of local government is creating a mood of depression and despair among aldermen and councillors throughout the country. It is doing great harm to local government and deterring those able men who ought to be rendering services to the community in this sphere from volunteering to enter upon the arduous duties of local government.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. W. E. Wheeldon (Birmingham, Small Heath)
During my experience of the House of Commons, I have not known an occasion when a Measure has received so little support from hon. Members as this Bill. There has not been one hon. Member on the Government back benches who has given unqualified support to it. Indeed, nearly all the speeches made from the Government side, and there have not been many, I agree, have been highly critical of the Government's proposals.
That criticism is, of course, reflected outside. Throughout the country, pretty well every local authority has expressed an opinion against these proposals. The only support for the Bill, as far as I can see, has come from those few people who will certainly gain fairly considerably from these proposals once they are enacted. It is remarkable, too, I think, that even those local authorities which have Tory majorities have opposed the Bill. I think the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Mr. Black), during the Second Reading debate, gave the instance of his own county council, the Surrey County Council, and I think also of the Wimbledon Borough Council, both of them with Tory majorities, having gone on record in protest against these proposals.
Surely, the Minister ought to regard that criticism as being significant, but, instead, he has sat here throughout the whole course of the Bill and has even indicated that he does not intend in any way whatever to compromise on the Bill or to accept any Amendments. In view of the terms of Clause 1, I think that is 462 deplorable. I believe myself, and I said so on Second Reading, that there is complete justification for the opposition that has been expressed. The Bill adds to the growing number of anomalies that abound in our rating system. It aggravates the unfairness of the incidence of the rate burden, and, despite what the Parliamentary Secretary said a few days ago, it perpetuates a state of continual change in local government affairs.
We were appealed to only a few months ago from the Government side of the House not to proceed with our Bill for the rerating of industry, and one of the strongest arguments which hon. Members on the Government side put forward was that we must allow local government finance to settle down until there was a complete and general review. That was not said in isolation; it was put forward by both the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary, and by their supporters on the back benches opposite. If that argument holds good for the derating of industry, it holds good equally well for the derating of certain commercial and other premises. The Minister and the Government are doing local government a very bad service indeed in introducing at this time a Measure of this kind.
For 20 years, local authorities have been in a state of almost complete confusion and chaos in regard to the rating system. From 1934 until last year, they were handicapped by the failure of successive Governments to deal properly with revaluation. Then we had a revaluation, and the local authorities at least hoped that for a few years to come they would be able to settle down to a slightly more orderly and sane system. No sooner had we got that revaluation and that slightly more orderly system of raising finance than we got a Measure of this kind, which, of course, means more confusion and more chaos, more chopping and more changing.
All this has been brought forward, I believe, on the plea that some mitigation should be accorded to the poor shopkeeper. I have every sympathy with shopkeepers or indeed anyone else who is hard hit as a result of rating, but I have not yet been convinced that there is any real hardship as a result of the revaluation that took place last year.
I want to examine the point of view that has been strongly expressed by the 463 Minister himself. In my contention, this alleged benefit for the small shopkeeper will prove to be something very small indeed. On the Minister's own figures, three-eighths of the total relief will go to shopkeepers, but only a tiny fraction of that three-eighths, in my opinion, consists of what we as laymen think of as ordinary shopkeepers—the man who keeps the corner shop which sells sealing wax, cabbages and all the rest of it. Quite a large proportion of this three-eighths will go to branches of the various joint stock banks and the large multiple stores—large prosperous concerns—but even on that figure of three-eighths which the Minister quoted the conclusions to be drawn are not quite those which the Minister would lead the Committee to believe.
The total relief given to this section of shopkeepers, and I am again quoting the Minister's figure, is £44 million of rateable value. Taking three-eighths of that figure, we arrive at £16½ million of rateable value. In the same speech, the right hon. Gentleman told us that there were 674,000 shops which would have the benefit of that relief. If we divide the £161 million by the 674,000 shops, according to my arithmetic there will be a relief per annum of £24 9s. of rateable value. I propose to assume that, on the average, the rates will be 20s. in the £. They are not that now, but if this Government remain in office much longer, they soon will be. If I take the figure of 20s. in the £ as the average, and I think that that is a generous figure, well on the side of the Government, it will mean that, on the average, the relief granted to the shops will be 9s. 5d. per week.
All this upset, chaos and confusion for 9s. 5d. a week per shop on the average. But that is not the end of the story, because we must remember that that figure of 674,000 shops includes the bank branches, off-licences, cafés, restaurants and large stores as well. All that for so little.
Therefore, I conclude that the Bill is completely unjustified. It is a typical example of Tory tenderness for the well-to-do, because the relief which the Government are giving, as has been pointed out by many of my hon. Friends, is almost entirely at the expense of those people who can least afford the burden. 464 Anyone who lives in or represents an industrial constituency knows very well that, despite full employment, there is today among many working-class people a considerable fear of the extra burdens they are having put on their shoulders month after month by the increases in the cost of living. We had another example in the proposals announced on behalf of the Government yesterday, and very shortly these people will have further increases in their rents. On top of all that, there will be increases as a result of this Bill.
All these are mounting up in the aggregate to a very considerable burden on working-class shoulders, yet, by this Bill, the Government are saying, in effect, "We are going to give relief to the banks and other prosperous people and ignore completely the claims of the poorer people." On that basis, it is quite fair to conclude that the Bill is totally unjustified and should be opposed by all reasonable means.
§ Mr. Sidney Dye (Norfolk, South-West)
The Bill has been described by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for West Ham, South (Mr. Elwyn Jones) as a piece of classical Tory legislation. It could quite truthfully be called many other things. The sting of the Bill is in this Clause; in fact, if there had been no Clause 1 there would have been no Bill. The Clause came like a bolt from the blue to local authority organisations. For a long time they had been discussing with the Ministry rating and other matters related to their finance. Then, without any kind of indication or notice, came the Bill.
In that respect it is a disgraceful piece of work. In fact, we can describe the Bill as a bastard Bill, because whereas legislation in connection with local government finance is usually put forward as the result of negotiations and discussions between the representatives of local government associations and the Ministry, this one came unheralded upon the scene. Local government organisations have no knowledge of its parentage. They took no part in it. So, if it is a classical piece of Tory legislation, it is also unfair in relation to the way in which it has been presented to the House.
The effect of the Clause is to reduce the rateable value of shops and other premises and put up the rates on ordinary 465 house property. Other hon. Members have referred to the effect in their constituencies. Local authorities have been faced with the rising cost of administering their services. In Norfolk, in the coming financial year, whereas the rise in the cost of all services administered by the county council amounts to 6d. in the £, the Clause will mean an increase of 1s. in the £. The cost of administering the health, welfare, and education services, and maintaining the highways and so forth, has caused an increase of 6d. in the £ during the twelve months, whereas the Bill means an increase of 1s. in the £.
There will be a little saving to shopkeepers, but will they be able to reduce the price of anything which they sell in their shops? I am afraid that the customers, who are already being asked to bear a portion of the rate burden which the shops would otherwise have borne, will not derive any advantage from the Bill. We have been told that the Bill was introduced to bring relief to the small shop-keeping community, who are on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of five years of Tory Government, but we can be quite sure that nothing will be cheaper. Whereas prices in the shops will remain as they are, the customers, through their rates, will have to meet this additional sum, which amounts to 1s. in the £ in Norfolk.
That is quite unfair. It seems to be in accord with all the efforts which the Government are making to raise the cost of living. It seems to be the only thing that they want to do. They want to increase the price of everything—food, rents, etc.—and apparently the rates must go up as much as possible this year. Why have the Government suddenly taken it into their head to regard this as the year in which the cost of everything should be increased? It would be extraordinary to expect the situation to remain as it is now. It is quite likely that the effect of the various measures which the Government have introduced—including this one—will he cumulative and will lead to further inflation.
The Government have been very misguided in treating local authorities as they have done, and in monkeying about with rateable value in the way in which they have done, by forcing the county and borough councils to increase their rates 466 this year because of this adjustment, and postponing the rerating of industry to a later date, when it should all have been done at once. This is the piecemeal method of a Government who do not know what they want to do. They have no clear vision of the function and finances of local government.
Almost without exception the many men and women who voluntarily give their time to local government service are feeling discouraged because of the way in which the Government are treating them in this Bill and in other matters. Fewer people will be coming forward to serve on local authorities, because of the feeling that a rise in rates brings with it a disfavour towards those who serve on local councils. This is a bastard of a Bill, coming from a Government which are very doubtful about what they do.
§ Mr. W. R. Williams
My hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Dye) poses a very pertinent question, namely, why are the present Government piling on the agony for the lower-paid elements of the community? Almost every week we are told of some additional burden being placed on the working classes. The answer is not so difficult to find as my hon. Friend thinks. There is no General Election this year. It is quite possible that there will not be one next year. The Government want to do now as much as possible of the dirty work that they propose to do during their term of office, in order to make reasonably certain that when the General Election comes, in one, two or three years, the people will have forgotten the evils which are taking place this year.
I want to make it quite clear to the Minister that the people will have long memories about some of these issues. Anybody who goes around his constituency, especially if it is an industrial one, will be satisfied that the Government will not get away with some of the things which they are doing by way of increases in rents and other impositions upon the working classes. If the workers have ever been class-conscious during the last ten years, they are class-conscious now. They realise that the legislation enacted in this Parliament is class-conscious to a very formidable degree.
§ Lieut.-Colonel J. K. Cordeaux (Nottingham, Central)
Does the hon. Member agree that, whenever the next General 467 Election does take place, last year will be even further away from it than this year? Wages were then rising very much faster than prices.
§ Mr. Williams
I should like the hon. and gallant Member to pose that question to electors in his constituency, especially the old-age pensioners and other people living on small incomes. When he has done that he may be entitled to have the audacity to ask me whether the situation is as he describes it.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux rose—
§ Mr. Williams
I think I had better get on with my speech and allow the hon. and gallant Gentleman time to think about the matter and to go to his constituency so that he will not have to ask me to answer a question which his constituents can answer equally well for him.
My second point is this. I am very surprised that even the docile back benchers opposite are prepared to take these recurring blows which their Government are inflicting upon them. It seems quite clear that the Executive alone is working out all these things. Parliament is losing its authority in these matters as surely as night follows day.
Here we have another example of where the most important Clause of a Bill is going through its Committee stage without, so far as I can see, a single Amendment to it being accepted. One or two hon. Members opposite had the courage to say that this was a bad Clause; in fact, they went further and said that the Bill was a bad Bill. I know that it is the view of a large number of lion. Members opposite that the Clause is a bad Clause, and I am sure that they must, through their usual channels, have brought to the notice of the Minister the fact that they regard both the Bill and the Clause as bad.
We on this side of the Committee, goodness knows, have tried to show what the effect will be on our working-class constituents. We have done everything to try to improve the Bill, if that be possible. The net result of our efforts has been that not a single Amendment put down by us has been accepted by the Government.
I warn Governments, no matter of which colour, that if they insist on having 468 government by Executive like this in respect of all Bills of major importance to the people of this country, then the question of democratic government will be seriously involved. The people, and hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, will come to the conclusion that it is impossible to improve such Measures and that the will of the Executive will always prevail. Even Ministers are becoming slaves to the bureaucracy of Whitehall. I think it is time that someone said this in this House of Commons before Parliament's democratic way is seriously disturbed.
There is no need for me to repeat all the things which I said on Second Reading, but I wish to mention one or two again in order to emphasise them. I say quite categorically that no small shopkeeper in Manchester is going to be in any way substantially better off. He might be a shilling or two better off, but in no substantial way will the small shopkeepers of Openshaw and Manchester be better off because of the Bill. On the other hand, the Prudential Assurance Co., the banks and the other commercial interests whose profits are already fabulous, will, as a result of the Bill, make much bigger profits and be in a position to pay much bigger dividends. The ordinary fellows in Openshaw will have to pay an extra 2s. in the £ because of this additional burden placed upon them.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux rose—
§ Mr. Williams
I do not think that I should make a habit of allowing the hon. and gallant Gentleman to intervene all the time. I know what he said about the shopkeepers on Second Reading.
To hon. Members opposite who seem to be taking the matter more seriously than does the hon. and gallant Gentleman, I should like to say that they should realise that in the industrial areas they will have to depend on the votes of the ordinary people. I do not see how you can go back and justify your inactivity in regard to Clause 1. You ought to be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves—
§ Mr. Williams
I apologise, Dr. King, and bow to what you say. I should not think of saying that the Chairman ought 469 to be ashamed of anything he did. I was just going to suggest that it is very difficult for hon. Members opposite to think that there is any virtue at all in Clause 1 so far as their constituents are concerned.
I have been asked by Manchester—and I suppose the same is true of Liverpool from where the Parliamentary Secretary comes—to protest as vigorously and as vehemently as I can against this additional burden being placed on the local finances of that great city. This extra 2s. in the £ is additional to the burden of 2s. in the £ already placed upon Manchester by the higher costs of material and labour. It means over 4s. in the £ so far as Manchester is concerned.
I want to make one other point in regard to the matter raised by my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) about those people who are appealing against the rating imposed under the Rating and Valuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act. About 5,000 appeals are pending in Manchester at the present time. The net loss of rateable value to the Manchester City Council arising out of those appeals is over £600,000. Manchester is already losing £1¼ million under the provisions of Clause 1 and a further £½ million because of the withholding of rates under the 1955 Act. That represents an additional burden upon Manchester of more than £2 million under these Measures.
The Government are making a concession to some people under the 1955 Act. Surely, if the Government make concessions of that sort, they should not expect local authorities to face up to the full burden which is being imposed upon them. I wish to ask the Minister, even at this late stage, to do something to help authorities such as Manchester. Manchester gets nothing at all from the equalisation grant. It has never received anything from the grant, but the ratepayers of Manchester, the ordinary householders, are being called upon to bear an additional burden of nearly £2 million.
§ Mr. D. Jones
I should like to remind my hon. Friend, in view of the fact that he is speaking of Manchester, of what the Minister said on 14th February.
§ Mr. Jones
The Minister said:I think that any hon. Member, if he consults the town clerk or clerk of the council in his constituency, will be informed that the finance committee has been proceeding on the basis that Clause 1 would pass into law unchanged, and that would, in fact, determine the rateable values for the coming year for that class of property."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th February, 1957; Vol. 564, c. 1483.]In other words, the Minister said that he was not going to accept any Amendment to the Clause despite what anybody said.
§ Mr. Williams
I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing the obvious to my notice once again. I had really dealt with that point earlier on, but perhaps my hon. Friend had forgotten that. At any rate, I am grateful to him for assisting me, because, as I said previously, I am always grateful for assistance from whichever quarter of the Committee it comes.
Why does not the Minister try, even on this small question of the concession for withholding rates pending appeals, to give some form of compensation to authorities such as Manchester which are being called upon to face such a substantial burden in the coming year? I should have been failing in my duty—I think that some other hon. Members who represent Manchester divisions are failing in their duty for not doing so—if I had not brought to the notice of the Minister the fact that the people of Manchester as a whole and the members of the Manchester City Council, both Tory and Labour, feel that the Government are imposing upon Manchester a burden which is quite unfair and are not spreading it over the people who can afford to stand it. Manchester feels that the burden is being placed on those who find it very hard to make both ends meet on wages which are diminishing in value every day.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North-West)
I have been a Member of the House of Commons for some years, as has the hon. Member for Openshaw (Mr. W. R. Williams), and I have a personal regard for him, but I have never heard such utter nonsense talked by him and by the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Dye) as was contained in their speeches today. Obviously they have not a knowledge of the facts.
471 I have a complaint against the Government for omitting the balancing factor which they could have put into the Bill by cancelling all industrial derating and thereby saving us much trouble. With respect to the two hon. Members, may I mention that had the Bill not come before us in this way to put things right for them, the shopkeepers would have been in a most unfair position. The former Minister assured us that if he found that such a position as now exists did arise, he would put it right. Not only did he assure hon. Members on this side of the Committee but also hon. Members opposite, who at that time felt strongly about the matter.
What is the truth? If the shopkeepers had had their premises held at the valuations disclosed, theirs would have been virtually the only valuations on an up-to-date basis, because industrial derating still applies and because houses are held back to the 18-year-old valuations of 1939. If house values were brought up to date and put on a correct basis, there would be a much bigger proportion of the total rate burden placed on them.
§ Mr. F. Blackburn (Stalybridge and Hyde)
I take it that the hon. Member is accepting the argument advanced by the Government that the Bill was introduced because of unfairness to the shopkeepers?
§ Mr. Blackburn
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that that unfairness was known in 1955 when we had the Rating and Valuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act and that, therefore, in the opinion of the Minister this was going to be unfair? If the Minister proposed to make any concession, that was the time to do it, not 18 months later in another Bill.
§ Mr. Harris
In December, 1955, I outlined in the House the problem of the small shopkeepers and the difficulties about the valuation of their premises. The then Minister said that when all the facts had been considered, if the valuations proved unfair to the shopkeepers, he would undertake to put the matter right.
§ Mr. Harris
Yes, I know, but these are the facts as they were then. I regard 472 the action of the Government in this case as merely honouring the pledge given by the then Minister, not only to hon. Members on this side of the Committee, but also to hon. Gentlemen opposite who at that time were deeply interested in this matter.
What has been said by the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West and the hon. Member for Openshaw is first-class political stuff, and they know that as well as I do. I do not doubt that the hon. Member for Openshaw thought it was first-class, and I expect that he is pleased about it, but what he said has no relation to the facts of this problem.
§ Mr. Harris
I am prepared to explain in any part of the country what is done by this Bill. It is sheer nonsense to argue about the cost of living and everything else, which has nothing to do with the Bill. As everyone who has studied the matter knows only too well, if the valuations on shop premises were left as they are—they are the only ones on an up-to-date basis—shopkeepers would be carrying a most unfair burden in relation to all other ratepayers.
§ Mr. MacColl
The hon. Member said that he had not heard two hon. Gentlemen talking such utter nonsense as was talked by my hon. Friends. The hon. Gentleman was not in the Chamber when I was speaking. In the course of the nonsense I was talking, I pointed out that the present Prime Minister was told specifically in 1953, when this valuation was approved, that it would have this effect. The right hon. Gentleman ignored that information and refused to do anything about it. How can it now lie in the mouth of the Government to say that they have to rush this Measure through as an emergency when they have had since 1953 to do something about the problem? Why did not the hon. Member vote against the Bill in 1953?
§ Mr. Harris
I apologise for not being present when the hon. Gentleman spoke. I should like to have heard a third effort. I have followed the debates on the Bill from the commencement because I have been very interested in it, but I could not be present when the hon. Gentleman was speaking.
473 May I remind the hon. Gentleman that it was a Socialist Government in 1948 who started all this nonsense about valuations? They are the people to blame for causing us this present trouble. What did they do? They held house property at 1939 values. That is what they did. It was an absolute political stunt. The Socialist Party put over this nonsense on the basis that it was all rather complicated, and that hon. Members did not know much about it.
§ Mr. Dye
As one of the hon. Members who talked so much nonsense, may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether it is the basis of his argument that the difference between 1938 values and 1956 values would be adjusted by a reduction of just 20 per cent. in the valuation of the shops, and that this puts the shops on a par with residential property?
§ Mr. G. Lindgren (Wellingborough)
I think that we should put on record that the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. F. Harris) has been one of the most faithful attenders among hon. Members opposite during the debates on the Bill. He said it was the fault of the Labour Government who introduced the 1948 Act that we have the present trouble. We have heard that said two or three times, and it is not correct. The 1948 Act provided a formula for the valuation of houses. That formula was based on certain things—cost of construction, assumed factors, and everything else—and may have been complicated, but it had nothing to do with 1939 values. It was the 1953 Act which scrapped the 1948 basis of valuation for domestic properties and put them on 1939 values.
§ Mr. Harris
I am prepared to stand by what I have said. The hon. Gentleman is entitled to his view and I am entitled to mine, and I have chapter and verse and lots of correspondence to support the view I have expressed.
Whoever is at fault about the past, the fact remains that we are now considering this Bill and it is nonsense to try to argue that this puts on to the householder the burden that we are taking from the shopkeeper. If house valuations were put on a par with the shops, the burden would be switched back the other way. Therefore, far the moment, it can be reasonably claimed, even on this basis, 474 that the shopkeepers are still carrying a certain burden which should have been carried by the householders. That is a fair point.
§ Mr. Harris
How much is anybody's guess. Even in Croydon we have found it difficult to say. I should have thought that this adjustment of 20 per cent. was about right.
§ Mr. D. Jones
Is not the hon. Gentleman contradicting himself? He argued at the beginning of his speech that the Government did the right thing, and then he said that had the Government brought up industrial hereditaments to 100 per cent. it would have solved the problem. Therefore, there was a problem to be solved. The fact that the Government have now decided on an increase first of 25 per cent. and later of 50 per cent. means that the problem has not been solved, and if the burden has not been placed on industrial hereditaments, obviously it has been placed on the householders.
§ Mr. Harris
That is a fair argument. Personally, although I was one who made the suggestion of going up by 25 per cent. stages, under the Government's proposals I think that we have the worst of all worlds, as they will find out in due course. Either the Government should have had the courage to say that industrial derating ought to go altogether, or we should carry on as we are. I put up the suggestion only to show the way things must go. As an industrialist, I know only too well that there is no justification today for industrial derating. I should like to have seen in Clause 1 the embracement of the idea of the cancellation of industrial derating, which would have created a different picture.
I fully agree with what the hon. Member said. My answer to all this is that I should have liked to have seen all valuations brought up to present-day valuations. Then there would be no grumbles or grouses. At present we have industry wrongly derated at 75 per cent. and later on, apparently, we are to get a 50 per cent. figure, and we are then to get houses at the 1939 values and shops brought up to the right valuation, followed by a 20 per cent. cut. That is nonsense.
475 I maintain that what the Government have done by the Bill is to honour the pledge which the Minister gave to shopkeepers. I cannot complain about that. If they had not done so, I should have thought that the shopkeepers had been terribly let down. It is not a question of getting mixed up about who is passing what burden to another. This is a pledge which has been honoured by a Government. I am pleased to see that someone keeps a pledge sometimes in Governments. I still maintain that it is most unfortunate that at the same time we have not done the job properly.
As Clause 1 is drafted I must support it, because it is the right thing for me to do and because it honours the guarantee given by the Minister to me and many of my colleagues at the time. I think that the shopkeepers would have been very unfairly treated if the Clause had not come before us.
§ Mr. C. W. Gibson (Clapham)
I must confess that the speech that we have just heard from the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. F. Harris) was the most peculiar one that I have listened to for a long time. He described the Bill as being the worst of both worlds, neither good fish, flesh nor fowl, and then said that he would support it. That is, to me, a very illogical way of looking at things.
Nevertheless, I was delighted that an hon. Member near London had said something from the Tory benches. The hon. Member comes from Croydon. I have been sitting in this Chamber for a long time. The London area represents about one-fifth of the population, but there has not been a single Tory spokesman for or against the Bill all the afternoon. Where are they? All the London local authorities, including, I understand, parts of Croydon, have been objecting to the way in which this matter is being dealt with by the Government.
In our previous proceedings I pointed out that the L.C.C. estimate is that these proposals would increase the county rate in London by 1s., but I am told that some of the boroughs will have an increase, for various other reasons, of anything up to 1s. 4d. to stick on top of the 1s. increase, so we may find ourselves in London with an increase in rates of 2s. or more by next April. That is being 476 piled on top of all the other burdens which the Government are putting on the people.
All the local authorities have protested. We are entitled to protest that no one representing the Tory interests in this Committee has been present this afternoon from the London area except the Minister, who had this Bill fathered on him. I do not believe that he would have brought it to birth himself. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not?"] I do not know. There are Ministers and Ministers. I should not have thought that anyone with knowledge of London local government and the struggle it is having to raise funds to keep the services going would have dared to have fathered this Bill on the London local authorities. Apart from the Minister, no other Conservative Member of Parliament has been here all the afternoon. I have no doubt that, when it comes to a vote, hon. Members opposite will troop in with great joy for something which looks as if it were giving the small shopkeepers an advantage. Is it? I doubt it very much.
My hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath (Mr. Wheeldon) pointed out that the saving to shopkeepers, so far as he could work it out statistically, was about 9s. a week. Are we having all this excitement about Clause 1 over 9s. a week? The truth is that this is not a Bill to give a 20 per cent. cut in the rateable value to small shopkeepers. It gives the very large shopkeepers a 20 per cent. cut. They are the people who will benefit. Woolworth's, with its millions of net profits, Marks and Spencer's and all the other huge stores which make such enormous profits, which can be seen by anyone who takes an intelligent interest in what appears in the newspapers, can afford to pay more; and they ought to pay more considering the wealth which they are getting out of London. They are all to be given a 20 per cent. cut in their rateable value. This cannot be because the present situation is difficult and is making it impossible for them to meet the calls upon them.
In my own area, Clapham, small shopkeepers came to me when the valuations were made and complained. I went to a meeting of the local chamber of commerce to discuss the matter with them. I did not observe there representatives of Woolworth's or of Marks and Spencer's, 477 or of the brewers. Those there were all small men who felt that they were suffering. They complained very bitterly that they might have a terrific burden put upon them. They have a heavy burden put upon them; I am not disputing that for one moment.
§ Mr. F. Harris
Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that Woolworth's or any of these other big stores are getting a benefit as a result of this adjustment—as they will do, of course—but that the Government take at least 42½ per cent. of that back by way of taxation on their profits?
§ Mr. Gibson
Woolworth's put charges for business purposes against Profits Tax. So, whichever way it goes, they stand to gain. Whatever may happen from that angle, the real point is that such big business organisations which run shops do not need because they have been hard hit and cannot meet their expenses a 20 per cent. cut in their rateable value. It is unfair on the community generally to use the small shopkeeper excuse to do something which is grossly unfair to the householders.
The old widow and orphan argument seems to have gone in these days. It is now the small shopkeeper and the small householder that we hear about from Tory propagandists. Although the hon. Member did his best to hide the fact that the householders have to bear this, it is, nevertheless, true that if businesses, big or small, are to do less, someone alse must pay more or the local authorities must spend less. We know that the local authorities are not to spend less and that, in many cases, they are to spend more. Therefore, the burden must go on the householders. There is nowhere else it can go.
It will mean anything from 1s. 6d. to 2s. or more on the rateable value of every house in London. I say that this is unfair to London householders and that the burden should have been put on other shoulders. I agree with the hon. Member about derating. I have been preaching it for years. I even got my chamber of commerce to pass a resolution in favour of it. But apparently that is net the sort of thing that has influence on the powers that be who bring such Bills as this forward. Everyone who knows anything about local government will admit that 478 there really is a need not to fiddle around with the burden of rates like this, but to give the local authorities an additional source of income in some way, and I think that those who are at present getting away with paying no rates ought to pay them—the landlords.
I would tax land values and thereby give a considerable increase in income to the local authorities. It would do what the Minister said he wanted to do the other day, when he was talking about putting this 25 per cent. extra on businesses. It would give the local authorities more freedom and independence in the running of local affairs. This Clause will not do it. It will add to the difficulties of the local authorities. It will make more unfairness in the way in which the burden of local authority rates is borne.
I hope that the Committee will reject the Clause and that hon. Members opposite will not make the kind of speech which the hon. Member for Croydon, North-West made, criticising it and then saying that he would vote for it. Finally, I again call attention to the fact that none of the Conservative Members of Parliament for the London area, where this Bill will certainly be a very great burden upon householders, has been present to listen or to take part in the debate.
§ Mr. Mitchison
We have had a full discussion on this Question. I hope that we shall be able to proceed with the rest of the Bill and to complete the Third Reading, after a short discussion—if any—by eight o'clock, which hon. Members will remember was an engagement as regards the completion of the Bill. I shall not take long.
The right hon. Gentleman has on several occasions made his case for the Clause, but he has left me completely unconvinced. This is the one temporary Clause in the Bill. The only reason for it, we are told, is to deal here and now with something that can wait no longer. On 8th May last year, his predecessor in office told us that the general review of local government finance would be completed by the end of 1956. Between the Second Reading of the Bill and the Committee stage the right hon. Gentleman told us that he had in fact completed it. His predecessor expected also to finish by the end of the year the discussions with local authorities, which the right 479 hon. Gentleman proposes to hold in the future.
It is clear that the right hon. Gentleman has known all along that he was just on the verge of reaching at any rate his own conclusions on the subject of local government finance generally. The question that still remains unanswered is, why, in those circumstances, did he think it necessary to bring forward this one provision in advance of everything else and, by so doing, to cause grave difficulties to local authorities and to impose on the domestic ratepayer a burden which the ratepayer ought not to be called upon to bear?
Let us see the effects of the Clause. It is crystal clear. It was not crystal clear at the beginning. Some of the arguments brought forward in favour of it seem to have had remarkably little to do with the simple reality of the Clause. The Clause deals with relief amounting to about £44 million of rateable value in the year, that is to say, about one-fifth of the total of £220 million. That relief is given to whom? About five-eighths of it goes to people who on any showing cannot be regarded as shopkeepers but own substantial offices, perhaps in the City of London. They include branches of banks or of insurance companies, and other kinds of office in which every type of business is transacted. That is a large and miscellaneous class. Even when we refer to the shopkeepers we find the banks inside the category and called "shops" in the analysis of rateable value.
The long and short of it is that shops as a whole will get about a quarter of the benefit, or three-eighths if one takes the full category of shops. It is only roughly a quarter when we eliminate the banks, etc. included in that category. At the end of all that, which shops will get the benefit? The answer is "All shops". The hon. Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. F. Harris), on the Government benches, who has attended throughout the Committee proceedings and with many of whose views I have the greatest sympathy, was mistaken when he supported the Clause on the ground that it would benefit the small shopkeepers. If that were the only problem the width of this Clause would be inexcusable. If that was the intention of the Government, they could have done it far more simply by 480 framing the Bill to exclude offices, as suggested from this side of the Committee in the earlier proceedings. Now we can see what the effect will be.
I repeat, because it is right to repeat, that two classes of people will benefit from the Bill. One is the shopkeepers, large and small; Marks and Spencer's, Woolworth's, the Great Universal Stores and all its subsidiaries, as well as the small shopkeepers who are put forward as a kind of sentimental smokescreen, and who will get precious little out of the Bill because they will lose something as individual ratepayers.
On the other side of the picture is the Prudential Assurance Company. Go and tell a man in a small street that his rates are going up 2s. in the £ so that he may pay the rates of the Prudential and of the big joint-stock banks. It may be good Tory justice, but it does not appeal to us on this side of the Committee.
One further person will benefit. I again repeat; I think it right to repeat what has been said before. The Treasury is putting its hand on the finances of local authorities first in one way and then in another. Local authority activities are more and more cramped and reduced to doing the very minimum, and that with difficulty. The Treasury meanwhile scoops something into the till in order to make the next Budget a little less hard than the economic circumstances of this country justify. That is the picture.
Why do we say that the Treasury profits? For this simple reason; do not let us forget it. If this concession is made to these people the result will be a benefit to the Treasury as they all treat their rating as an allowable expense.
The domestic ratepayer has nothing of that sort to fall back upon. This money is taken straight out of his pocket. It is additional money, considerable additional money. Rate poundages of the order of 1s. 6d. or 2s. have been mentioned. I am told that the figure for Manchester is now 2s. 5d. Whatever the figure is, it is considerable, at a moment when the cost of living is going up and when the householder will have to pay more for insurance stamps, when his milk and bread subsidies are being withdrawn and when, if he lives in a rented house, his rent is being put up by this Tory Government.
481 Here is a typical instance of a little bit of Tory legislation, brought in to mulct the small man and the local authorities for the benefit of the big boys. That is just about what it amounts to.
Why this Measure could not have been postponed to await the general review, or the very simple project of rerating industry 100 per cent. was not coupled with it, in which case the cost would not have fallen on the domestic ratepayer at all, I absolutely fail to understand. The right hon. Gentleman says that that is administratively impossible. That is the last desperate resort of every Government wishing not to do the right thing. Let him remember that my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), with all his experience of local government and with the expressed views of two leading local authorities which he mentioned behind him, said there was no reason whatever not to bring in the rerating of industry now, and that local authorities could cope both with that and with this in time for their next financial year.
Does the right hon. Gentleman say that my right hon. Friend is wrong and that, sitting in his Ministry in Whitehall, the right hon. Gentleman knows so much more than does my right hon. Friend about what local authorities can and cannot do? If he does I am bound to tell him that I prefer the practical experience, over very many years, of my right hon. Friend. The right hon. Gentleman has also had practical experience, but I prefer the views of my right hon. Friend to the views which the right hon. Gentleman now expresses from his eyrie in Whitehall.
The right hon. Gentleman knows full well that if in fact those two things had been brought in together the local authorities would have been all right and that poor, harassed man, the ordinary ratepayer, the householder, would not have had to suffer this totally unnecessary burden at this moment.
§ The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Mr. Henry Brooke)
Before I rebut and demolish the main argument of the Opposition, I hope that the Committee will allow me to refer back to a number of points raised by individual 482 hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, not only today but when this debate began a week ago.
My hon. Friend the Member for Selly Oak (Mr. Gurden) spoke of the position of sewage works. I must remind the Committee that when we were discussing earlier Amendments to the Bill I explained at some length why the Clause was drafted so as to apply exclusively to properties which were assessed to gross values and excluded properties assessed to net values. I indicated the reasons why it was not possible for the Government to accept an Amendment which would have extended this concession to the whole gamut of properties assessed to net values, and went on to argue that it would be unreasonable to pick out certain categories assessed to net values—of which sewage works might be one—and give them selectively the benefit of this concession.
I would remind my hon. Friend that in the course of that earlier debate I explained that we should have a major local government Bill before us in the relatively near future. I undertook to examine all these matters beween now and then. I suggested that other hon. Members who were interested in them, and who have brought points before the Committee, might likewise wish to examine them between now and then because it seems to me there is no doubt that if hon. Members wish to raise this issue on that occasion there will be a further opportunity to do so. I explained the reason why I did not think it would be right to complicate this ad hoc Bill with further Amendments of that kind.
The hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) this afternoon expressed a wish to deprive the beneficiaries from this Clause of the benefit of Section 1 (7) of the 1955 Act. I am in some difficulty in replying to the hon. Member because what he was putting to the Committee was the argument in favour of an Amendment which was not selected. Therefore, I think he will appreciate that I cannot go down that path very far. I will, however, say to him that, even after the reductions made by this Bill are taken into account, the properties which are relieved by Clause 1 will still be bearing on an average a substantially larger share of the rate burden than they were 483 bearing before the revaluation. It would seem somewhat strange in those circumstances to deprive them of a right to which others who are bearing no larger share than they bore in 1955–56 would still be entitled. That, briefly, is my answer to the hon. Member. Had we been able to debate it on an Amendment, no doubt we could both have developed our points of view at greater length.
The hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks), who is not in his place at the moment, but who always has a well-informed contribution to make to our debates, suggested that there was some insinuation in this Clause against the work of valuation officers. I am sure that on reflection no hon. Member would wish to make any charge of that sort. The Committee fully realises, I am certain, that the valuation officers carry out their professional duties in accordance with the law laid down by Parliament. It is their duty to value to gross values as laid down. Then it is for this House to decide whether any class of ratepayers should be given a reduction from the gross values arrived at by the valuation officers. I want to assure the Committee—if there is any need for the assurance—that it is not because of any shortcomings in the work of valuation officers that this matter is brought forward.
§ Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)
The right hon. Gentleman says that it is the duty of the House to correct any mistakes or misvaluations made by the officers. Surely the appellate tribunal is there. Is it not true that the vast majority of those whom the Bill is now to relieve did not appeal at all against the valuation?
§ Mr. Brooke
If tomorrow morning the hon. Member reads what I said I think he will find that I did not suggest for a moment that it was the duty of this House to take appeal cases away from valuation officials. On the contrary, all I was seeking to do was to make clear that there are two distinct tasks to be performed. It is for the valuation officer to arrive at the full valuation of each property which he has to examine. It is quite separately and distinctly for this House to decide whether each class of property should be rated on the full annual value or on some reduced figure.
§ Mr. G. A. Pargiter (Southall)
Does that mean that at any time in future if an Act of Parliament which we have debated properly and on which we have come to certain conclusions is challenged in some particular form it is the dictum that it will be the duty of the House to examine the result of a particular part of that Act with a view to amending it, even though it is admitted that everything that has been done was in accordance with the wishes of Parliament?
§ Mr. Brooke
I am not quite sure whether the hon. Member is seeking to argue that one Parliament cannot amend the work of another Parliament, or that one Parliament can bind a future Parliament.
If I may return to the interesting speech of the hon. Member for Acton, he mentioned a figure of £32 million, which was his estimate of the loss of rates—not the loss of rateable values, but the loss of rates—which might result from this Clause. He seemed to me to use words which might have conveyed to the Committee that as a result of the Bill householders would themselves pay an extra £32 million in rates. That, of course, is not the case. As I mentioned on Second Reading the share of the householders in the total rate burden is about 52 per cent., so that in so far as additional rate revenue has to be raised, 52 per cent. of it, and no more than that, will fall on the householders.
The hon. Member for Acton and one or two others suggested that changes in rates per head from year to year were a reliable measure of the rate burden which was falling on the domestic ratepayers. That is a fallacy, because the changes in rates per head of the population take into account the rates paid by all sorts of ratepayers, personal and impersonal, if I may put it that way. Before we can draw any conclusions from variations in rates per head from year to year we have also to examine variations in the share of the total rate burden which is borne by different classes of ratepayer.
§ Mr. Arthur Moyle (Oldbury and Halesowen)
The right hon. Gentleman is speaking about the effect of the Bill on householders. I should like to bring it down to individual cases. I am informed by the Worcestershire County Council that for a house rated at £40, the Bill 485 will have the effect of increasing the householder's rates by £6 10s. in the next two years.
§ Mr. Brooke
I am sure that the hon. Member will not expect me, at this stage of the proceedings, to check in detail the effect of the Bill on an individual Worcestershire householder. I was seeking only to do my duty, not to introduce new matter but to reply to a number of points which had been raised in the course of this fairly long debate.
The hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Dye) suggested that if there had been no Clause 1 there would have been no Bill. That, too, is a fallacy. Each of the four operative Clauses of the Bill is intended to correct a clear injustice. Even if any one of them had been omitted there would have been a necessity for the Bill to include the others. All these Clauses were deemed to be urgent in order to remedy definite injustices which could not wait until a longer Bill, such as has been foreshadowed, could be passed into law.
When the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) twits the Government with the suggestion that it would have been easy to speed up the big review of local government finance and, even if these immediate changes had been urgent, to have introduced simultaneously more radical amendments of the rating system or the local government system, I must remind him of what I said earlier. I pointed out that the review of local government finance could not make progress until, first, we saw the new valuations, which were not available until December, 1955, and, secondly, until we saw the rates made by the local authorities on the basis of the new valuations, which came into force from 1st April, 1956.
The hon. and learned Gentleman has suggested that it would have been possible after the time when the new rates came into operation, on 1st April, 1956, to have worked out all the details of a major local government Bill dealing not only with rerating but also with local government structure, areas and status, and to have passed it into law so rapidly and with such little consideration by the House that the local authorities could have based their budgets for 1957–58 upon it. I am sure he would not dream of sustaining that argument in one of his better moments.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Let me assure the right hon. Gentleman that what I said today represented one of my better moments. Let me also ask him this: if what he says is true, why did his predecessor state on 8th May, 1956, when he knew all this, that he expected to have completed his discussions with local authorities and to bring in the proposals consequent on his general review of local government finances by the end of the year? If it is a question of what we do with the proposals, I would tell the right hon. Gentleman that he has not set a very good example by bringing this Bill forward in a form which apparently did not allow him to accept any Amendment, however meritorious.
§ Mr. Blackburn
May I call to the Minister's attention the fact that the then Parliamentary Secretary stated on 28th June that that review would be completed by the autumn of 1956 and that the necessary legislation would be put into effect by April, 1957?
§ Mr. Brooke
I had not realised that the hon. and learned Member for Kettering had been having one of his better moments. I had hoped that the hon. and learned Gentleman had even better moments than that.
My predecessor told the House that the Government hoped to be ready by the autumn of 1956 with proposals which they could discuss with the local authorities and then bring them back in time to make an announcement to the House of the Government's conclusions before the end of 1956. That proved not to be possible. A good many things had to be done last year, and the review itself, with which I was not wholly unconnected, took considerably longer than had been expected. If I did wrong in making a statement to the House last week, contrary to my predecessor's announcement that he would consult the local authorities first, then it is to the local authorities that I should apologise and not to Parliament; but I believed in the circumstances that Parliament having been kept waiting for so long, it was desirable that I should make a statement in broad terms to Parliament first. I hope now to consult local authorities.
The main issue between the two sides of the Committee is this: is there at present a measure of injustice in the 487 rating system towards the shopkeepers? We say that there is, because the shopkeepers and the like are the only people who are rated at 100 per cent. on full current values. Householders are not, agriculture is not and industry is not. We think that that is something which should be remedied at the earliest possible moment. The Opposition's case is that it will cause injustice to the householders and hardship to the local authorities.
Let us look at those points one by one. If the Clause is passed, the householders will find themselves in the coming year bearing 52 per cent. of the total rate burden. Let us look back two years and see what the householders were bearing then. They were bearing no less than 60 per cent. of the whole rate burden. If hon. Members seek to establish that this is a measure of grave injustice to the householders, they have to make clear why it is unjust to the householders to ask them in 1957–58 to pay 8 per cent. less of the total rate burden than they were paying two years earlier.
I am told that the shopkeepers are being much too tenderly treated. They will, under the Government's Bill, be paying 36 per cent. of the total rate burden, as compared with 32 per cent. two years ago. In fact, in the two years, their share will have gone up by 13 per cent. and the share of the householders will have gone down by 13 per cent.
§ Mr. Herbert Butler (Hackney, Central)
What is right and proper in the relationship? If householders are paying 52 per cent. and someone else is paying 48 per cent., what is the justice in the matter? What is the point about it?
§ Mr. Brooke
The argument is perfectly simple. It is that we cannot single out one class of ratepayers and rate them at 100 per cent. full current value if everybody else is being treated in a more favourable way.
The final argument put by the Opposition was that this Clause was harsh to the local authorities, who ought to
§ receive, at once, additional Exchequer assistance. I wanted to satisfy myself about this, and I have been looking up the figures. The Opposition's contentions is that the product of a penny rate will fall and that the the local authorities will, therefore, have greater difficulty in raising money. The fact is that in 1957–58, as compared with 1955–56, the product of a 1d. rate throughout the country will have gone up by 65 per cent. That is the position of the local authorities who are said to be harshly treated by this Clause.
§ I remember, and I took it to heart, that the hon. Member for Islington, East and one or two other hon. Members, told me that I was already showing myself to be a hopeless Minister in the eyes of local government. The hon. Member for Islington, East said that I had a very unenviable reputation. The hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. West) asked—and I must confess that I thought it was a little early—whether there had ever been in the history of local government a Minister who had faced such widespread opposition from local authorities. The hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) said that I touched a new low in my failure to understand the requirements of local government finance.
I am glad to see that only within the last week the Chairman of the General Purposes Committee of the Association of Municipal Corporations has said that he feels that the Association should give my proposals for local government finance a warm welcome. I am also glad to see that the Secretary of the County Councils Association has said that the Government's plan:
… will, if operated with the imagination shown in its conception, give local authorities an independence of judgment and a responsibility for local affairs which cannot but enhance the status of local government in the country.
I am prepared to let my reputation rest with the local authorities.
§ Question put, That the Clause stand part of the Bill:—
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 226, Noes 193.491
|Division No. 67.]||AYES||[6.25 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Armstrong, C. W.||Barlow, Sir John|
|Aitken W. T.||Ashton, H.||Barter, John|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Atkins, H. E.||Baxter, Sir Beverley|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Baldwin, A. E.||Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Balniel, Lord||Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Hesketh, R. F.||Page, R. G.|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)|
|Biggs Davison, J. A.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Partridge, E.|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Body, R. F.||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||Hornby, R. P.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Horobin, Sir Ian||Pott, H. P.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Braine, B. R.||Howard, John (Test)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Ramsden, J. E.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Hurd, A. R.||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Hyde, Montgomery||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Robertson, Sir David|
|Campbell, Sir David||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Carr, Robert||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Channon, Sir Henry||Joseph, Sir Keith||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Cooper, A. E.||Keegan, D.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Russell, R. S.|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Kerr, H. W.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Corfield, Capt. F. v.||Kimball, M.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Kirk, P. M.||Sharples, R. C.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Simon, J. E. S- (Middlesbr'gh, W.)|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Lambton, Viscount||Smyth, Brig. sir John (Norwood)|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Speir, R. M.|
|Dance, J. C. C.||Leavey, J. A.||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Leburn, W. G.||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Deedes, W. F.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Storey, S.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|du Cann, E. D. L.||Longden, Gilbert||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L,||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Taylor, Willliam (Bradford, N.)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Teeling, W.|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Temple, J. M,|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||McKibbin, A. J.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Fell, A.||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R.(Croydon, S.)|
|Finlay, Graeme||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Forrest, G.||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Maddan, Martin||Vane, W. M. F.|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Vickers, Miss J. H.|
|Gibson-Watt, D.||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Wade, D. W.|
|Glover, D.||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Godber, J. B.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Gower, H. R.||Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Marshall, Douglas||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Mathew, R.||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Green, A.||Maude, Angus||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Grimond, J.||Mawby, R. L.||Whitelaw, W.S.I.(Penrith & Border)|
|Grimston, sir Robert (Westbury)||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Gurden, Harold||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Neave, Airey||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Nicholls, Harmar||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Heath, Rt. Hon, E. R. G.||Osborne, C.||Mr. Barber and Mr. Bryan.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Blackburn, F.||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Blenkinsop, A.||Brown, Thomas (Ince)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Blyton, W. R.||Burke, W. A.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Boardman, H.||Burton, Miss F. E.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)|
|Balfour, A.||Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon, P. J.||Bowles, F. G.||Callaghan, L. J.|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Boyd, T. C.||Champion, A. J.|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol) S.E.)||Braddook, Mrs. Elizabeth||Chapman, W. D.|
|Benson, G.||Brockway, A. F.||Chetwynd, G. R.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Brought on, Dr. A. D. D.||Clunie, J.|
|Coldrick, W.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Probert, A. R.|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Pryde, D. J.|
|Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Randall, H. E.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Rankin, John|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Reeves, J.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Reid, William|
|Cronin, J. D.||Kenyon, C.||Rhodes, H.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Lawson, G. M.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Ross, William|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lewis, Arthur||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lindgren, G. S.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Lipton, Marcus||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Dye, S.||Logan, D. G.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Snow, J. W.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McGhee, H. G.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||McInnes, J.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||McLeavy, Frank||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Fernyhough, E.||MacDermot, Niall||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Fienburgh, W.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Finch, H. J.||Mahon, Simon||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Sylvester, C. O.|
|Forman, J. C.||Mason, Roy||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mellish, R. J.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Gibson, C. w.||Messer, Sir F.||Timmons, J.|
|Gooch, E. G.||Mitchison, G. R.||Tomney, F.|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P, C.||Monslow, W.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Moody, A. S.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewis'm, S.)||Viant, S. P.|
|Grey, C. F.||Mort, D. L.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Moss, R.||Weitzman, D.|
|Hale, Leslie||Moyle, A.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Hall. Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||West, D. G.|
|Hannan, W.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Oliver, G. H.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Oram, A. E.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Hobson, C. R.||Orbach, M.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Holman, P.||Oswald, T.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Holmes, Horace||Owen, W. J,||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Hubbard, T. F.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Pargiter, G. A.||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Hunter, A. E.||Parker, J.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Parkin, B. T.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Pearson, A.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Pentland, N.|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Popplewell, E.||Mr. J. T. Price and Mr. Short.|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena(Holbn & St. Pncs, S.)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.