HC Deb 18 February 1959 vol 600 cc410-41
The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. J. Nixon Browne)

I beg to move, in page 11, line 38, at the beginning to insert: Subject to subsection (6) of this section". As this is a paving Amendment, it may be convenient also to consider the Amendment:

In page 12, line 17, at the end to add: (4) An application under this section must also contain a statement either that the applicant is the occupier of the dwelling or that the occupier has consented in writing to the making of the application. The Amendment excludes from the new scheme of "standard grants" dwellings provided after the end of 1944. The purpose is to help older properties by giving them modern facilities and making them worth-while purchases. This is in line with advice given to local authorities on the administration of the existing scheme of improvement grants. The practice has been followed since 1949.

Without the Amendment, it would be possible for new dwellings to be built or provided by conversion schemes, not with grant aid, without, say, a bathroom and hot water supply, and for the owner to apply later for grant towards the cost of putting in these "standard amenities". Under the Bill provisions as drafted, a local authority would be obliged to pay a standard grant to the owner.

We feel in the circumstances that the dateline of 1944–5 is the correct one.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

I beg to move, in page 11, line 38, at the beginning to insert: Subject to the provisions of this and the next following section". I suggest that we could also consider the Amendment:

In page 12, line 17, at the end to add: (4) Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this section, a local authority shall not approve an application for assistance under this section in respect of any dwelling, being one of two or more dwellings owned by the applicant and comprised in one subject in the valuation roll, unless the local authority are satisfied that on the completion of the works specified in that application and in any other application or applications made at the same time as that application, all the dwellings owned by the applicant in the subject will be provided with the standard amenities. What we seek to do fits in very well with the excellent Scottish conditions and the kind of amenity improvements we seek to have made in this Bill. Subsection (1) of the Clause says: A local authority shall give assistance in respect of the improvement of any dwelling by any person other than a local authority by such works as may be required for the dwelling to be provided with the standard amenities, that is to say, subject to subsection (2) of this section, all of the following:—

  1. (a) a fixed bath or shower in a bathroom;
  2. (b)a hot water supply;
  3. (c)a water closet for the exclusive use of the occupants of the dwelling; and
  4. (d) satisfactory facilities for storing food;"
What we seek to put in here is that there shall be a condition provided: Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this section, a local authority shall not approve an application for assistance under this section in respect of any dwelling, being one of two or more dwellings owned by the applicant and comprised in one subject in the valuation roll, unless the local authority are satisfied that on the completion of the works specified in that application and in any other application or applications made at the same time as that application, all the dwellings owned by the applicant in the subject will be provided with the standard amenities. I do not need to tell the Joint Under-Secretary that it is likely where the improvements are to be made that they will be made in tenement property It is much more likely that that is where they will be made and that is where we want them made Those are the properties in Scotland which have not got these now commonly accepted amenities, which are so common that we do not even call them up-to-date.

The hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that it would be exceedingly unfair if we allowed this kind of thing to go on in a kind of patchwork way. What we want is that every tenement in a property shall have modern facilities and that it shall not be open to a landlord to apply these amenities to only one dwelling within a property without any consideration of what is to happen to the rest. We have no objection to his proceeding bit by bit if the indications are that it is his intention to deal with all the dwellings, but during the last 20 or 30 years we have been plagued with the business of tenement properties sliding into slumdom, first becoming sub-standard and then becoming slums.

It would be unfair to local authorities to place on them an obligation that if in one case there is a plan to repair one house and it is surrounded upstairs and downstairs and on each side by houses in a rotten state, irrespective of the rottenness of that state, the authority must make a grant because of the amenity improvement in the one house. So we seek to lay down the stipulation that regard shall be paid, not to the condition of just one house, but to the intentions of the landlord in respect of all the houses within that property.

There may be difficulties, but I think it is a balance of difficulties against injustice to the local authority. In our previous approach to this problem of improvement, the Labour Government in 1949 laid down that the local authority had discretion as to whether or not it would give a grant in relation to major improvements. That was added to in relation to certain subjects by a Conservative Government in 1951–52. The main point here is that the matter is made compulsory. There is no measure of manoeuvre for the local authority and no flexibility apart from the few conditions laid down about the dwelling being fit for human habitation and so on. I think that Scottish conditions even more than English conditions warrant more consideration being given to the question of a house within a block of property. The local authorities should be given very much more power to refuse grants in particular circumstances, and this is one of those circumstances.

I do not think for a moment that landlords will use the Bill. They have never done this in the past, and we have to remember that we are relaxing other conditions in the sale of these houses. It may be that a landlord will select one house of out a block of property, repair it and be able to sell it. Whatever he spends on that property will be taken off the possibility for repair of other properties. He will be enriching himself, not only at the expense of the local authority and the State, but also at the expense of the people living in substandard property. This is a matter which we have to watch very carefully in Scotland.

We want to see these houses brought up to date. I suspect that the answer I shall get from the Joint Under-Secretary will be to the effect that the state of these houses is so bad that we shall be glad to get one of them brought up to date. He knows as well as I do that local authorities are at present compelled, because of the state of a tenement block, to bring the whole block down, despite the fact that there may be one house in that block which is in good order. The local authorities should be given the power to allow money to be expended in this way, not on the state of one house that is to be improved, but in relation to the state of the whole property upon which the span of life of that one house itself eventually may well depend.

I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary will be as forthcoming in respect of this Amendment as was the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Housing and Local Government when dealing with a similar Amendment for England. He recognised that there was something in it, and I think that he decided that he would think about it to see whether or not he could introduce some such flexibility into the powers of the local authorities.

The difficulty, as the Bill stands, is that if an application is made and the house is fit for human habitation then, whether they like it or not, the local authorities have to provide the grant in respect of it. This may be against their better judgment in relation to their knowledge of the state of the houses above and below. We have to balance this question of the urgency of the problem against justice to the local authorities, the ratepayers and the people who have to live in the property and who may well be crying out for repairs to be done by the landlord who is prepared to spend money on one house but not on all of them.

Some of the houses side by side may not be in a state of good repair. It may be that the sanitary inspector has been chasing the landlord to put them into repair. It may be that the local authorities have themselves been compelled to spend money on puting them into repair, and yet the landlord in respect of one house in the same block, under the conditions of the Bill, can say, "I am going to do this; I want the grant", and he must get it.

I would ask the Joint Under-Secretary to look at this problem, which is a serious one and not remote from reality. Anyone who has seen pictures of tenement property in Glasgow knows that this is a problem which we are up against all the time. It concerns Edinburgh as well. If the Secretary of State would stand on the verandah at the top of St. Andrew's House and look down for a moment on that rotting property—

Mr. McInnes

The right hon. Gentleman might fall over.

Mr. Ross

It is more likely that the property might fall over than the Secretary of State. We have to ensure that the money being spent is being rightly spent and that the discretion being taken away from local authorities in this way is wise. I think that there should be some conditions applied concerning this problem and that this is one of them.

Mr. J. N. Browne

The Amendment refers only to a very limited class of dwelling. So far as I can ascertain there are very few cases now where there are two or more dwellings even in one ownership which are premises in one valuation roll entry under Scottish practice.

Having heard the moderate speech made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), I take it that he does not want the view which he has in mind granted to the one valuation roll entry. That comes from the difficulty of copying an Amendment which applies to England into Scottish wording.

5.45 p.m.

Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)

There is need for independence in these matters.

Mr. Browne

It seems to us unfair to put the owner into the position of having to improve all the dwellings at the same time. Let me put this point of view. First, he may not be able to afford it. We know that many of these properties are owned by small men who have the greatest difficulty in making ends meet and it may be too great a burden on the owner for him to be able to afford to repair all the houses at once.

Secondly, the hon. Gentleman referred to patchwork. What is wrong with patchwork if the owner keeps on doing it and does as much as he can afford? Surely the object of the exercise is to get the standard repairs into the houses. Thirdly —and this is where, I think, the hon. Gentleman who is in a reasonable frame of mind today will agree with me—in many of these properties there will be houses which cannot qualify for the standard grant, even if we wanted them to, because there is no room for a bath, the heating and all the standard amenities which have to be supplied under this Bill or not at all.

He and I can both think of tenements where some of the properties could be improved up to the necessary standard of amenity but not others. It is for those reasons and because the Amendment is impracticable that we feel that we must reject it, although I appreciate the feelings of the hon. Gentleman who spoke for it.

Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)

The Minister has given us two different reasons for rejecting the Amendment. The first was that he did not see any reason why we should complain about work being done in a patchwork way. I do not think my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) laid any great stress on it being done in a patchwork way.

Mr. Browne

The hon. Gentleman did not want it done in that way.

Mr. Ross

I did not say that I did not want it done. The implication was that I did not want it left.

Miss Herbison

The second reason adduced by the Minister was that an owner might not have the money; he might be a poor man and own a little property and not have the money necessary to repair the house. If that is the case, would the Minister look at this matter between now and the Report stage to see that if an application is made for one house in a block of property it can be granted on condition that, within a specified time, improvements would be carried out to the other houses?

If the Minister accepted an Amendment of that nature, it would mean that what we are trying to do by this Amendment would come about. I, like my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock, know the kind of property that exists in many areas in Scotland and not just in Glasgow and Edinburgh. We realise that the local authorities may be forced to give good money to a landlord of a property that would not be worth it, because it was one of a block not being repaired. I ask the Minister, for the reasons which I had tried to give, to look at this matter again between now and Report stage. If he cannot give us all that we have asked for in this Amendment, surely it is right, when he is placing a duty on the local authorities, to protect them against some of the landlords of whom he and I know in Scotland.

Mr. Ross

I cannot allow the Minister's comments to pass without a word or two. We do not want these properties to be considered in terms of single houses. The Minister knows the kind of property about which we are talking. He said that if the Amendment were accepted there were certain houses which could not take the standard amenities, and that is true. But surely it follows that it will be a waste of money to put standard amenities into one of these houses which will eventually be destroyed by the fact that nothing can be done about the rest of the property. The great curse of Scotland is that about 10 per cent. of the houses in Scotland consist of only one room. If we take the number of houses which consist of one or two rooms, it amounts to over 40 per cent. Let us proclaim that to English hon. Members. In such property, where are we to make a bathroom? Where are we to make a separate water closet?

In order to get the continued use of these houses we must look at the property as a whole. If hon. Members go into a close in the Gorbals or Kilmarnock, on the first landing they will probably find three houses—a room and a kitchen on one side; a kitchen in the middle; and a kitchen on the other side. These improvements can be carried out properly for the benefit of the people of Scotland only if the whole property is treated as one and if we take the central kitchen and make out of it two bathrooms and the water closets. That is why I object to this patchwork way of proceeding.

What will be done if one house is dealt with and then the remainder of the property is left? Whether the landlord likes it or not, he may not be able to do anything with the other houses, but the life of the good house will be determined by the life of the rest of the property. We might well be wasting money.

Secondly, does the hon. Member think it fair, and in line with the other Parts of the Bill, that we should do this and enable the landlord to do nothing about the rest of the property from the point of view of ordinary repairs and yet be able to sell the house later? The hon. Member is fully aware of what I and my hon. Friends have in mind in this connection. We want the property to be considered as a whole and the landlord to apply himself to bringing up to date, as and when he can, within the limits of his financial circumstances, the whole of the property and not just one little part of it.

I agree that the landlord may well be unable to do the whole thing at once. In fact, I said so. I should be satisfied if he demonstrated to the local authority his intention of proceeding from one part of the building to another, from one house to another.

Appreciating the kind of housing with which we are dealing here, I hope that the Minister will think again about the merits of our proposal. It may well be that the words are not right and that there is the snag of the single house, but if we are to do anything worth while we must consider the problem in terms of a property rather than of single houses otherwise we shall be wasting money. Not to do so would be unfair to local authorities. If given discretion they would probably not spend money in that way in all cases. The Minister is taking discretion from the local authorities and making them spend ratepayers' and taxpayers' money in a way which they probably would not adopt if they were given a discretion. I hope that the Minister will think about this again.

Mr. J. N. Browne

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) for his second speech. I now see where he and I are at cross purposes. He asked where we should put the separate water closet in these houses, and there was a suggestion of making three flats into two. That is a subject for an improvement grant. The Bill covers the standard grant and makes no provision for conversions. It does not apply to conversions.

I do not disagree with the hon. Member, but in this Bill we could apply the standard grant to the improvement but not to the conversion of houses. If the property owner cared first to convert the house from three flats into two and, having done so, applied for a standard grant, he would probably get it, but if he wants grant aid for helping him to do the conversion, that is an improvement grant and not a standard grant.

The hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) asked whether I would consider accepting a condition that all suitable houses in the tenement should eventually be repaired. I think I am right that she wanted me to consider that if an owner wanted an improvement grant for one suitable house in the tenement and there were three suitable houses in it, it would be a condition that he would eventually deal with the other two houses. That is not in the Amendment and I have not been able to take advice on it. It might give rise to problems such as, in whose opinion it was practicable to do this. I should not like to give an undertaking. We will look at that point but not with an undertaking that, after reflection, we will accept it.

Miss Herbison

It seems to me that the Minister has made up his mind on this matter. If any landlord decides, for the kind of motives which my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) has described, to ask for a grant just for one house, it seems that the Government are perfectly content to permit that.

The Minister referred to the difference between the standard grant under the Bill and the improvement grant under the previous Acts. We are considering property where in some cases it is possible to put in the standard amenities and in some cases it is possible to do so by a conversion grant under the 1954 scheme. In other words, by the time the work had been finished, either under the provisions of the Bill or under the provisions of the previous Acts, we should have a block of houses which were worth while, which gave good housing accommodation for the people living in them, and which would have a good life ahead of them. In that case one might be ready to say that public money had not been wasted on these houses.

We do not say that the words of our Amendment are the correct words, but we are convinced that there should be some such provision, and we have said enough, I think, both about the grant for standard amenities and the improvement grants, to show that we desire to have as many houses as possible in Scotland made better houses. At the same time, we desire not to waste public money in the way which would almost certainly occur in these circumstances under the Bill.

6.0 p.m.

Mr. Willis

My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) has raised a very important issue in relation to large cities where there are numbers of large blocks of tenements, many of which should be either modernised under a development scheme or pulled down. There should be no tinkering about with them at all. Most of us are conscious of that, so we must look at this matter rather more seriously than the Joint Under-Secretary appears to have done. He seems to have looked at it from a Departmental, almost a legalistic, angle.

One way of meeting what, I think, the hon. Gentleman admitted were perfectly valid points would be to give local authorities greater powers. As Clause 20 stands at present, local authorities have not the power to prevent what my hon. Friend fears will happen. It is not beyond the wit of the Scottish Office to see whether it cannot, under Clause 20, extend powers to local authorities that would enable them to prevent tinkering and a waste of public money on houses that ought not to be tackled at all.

It may be true that the Amendment is not worded as it should be, but if the hon. Gentleman cannot think of a suitable Amendment he might consider an extension of powers to the local authority. Here the local authority knows best. It knows better than the Secretary of State or anyone else—and better than this House—whether a standard grant should be given in respect of certain selected houses—which is what it comes to —in a tenement block. It is able to judge whether the work will fit into any development plans there may be for these blocks. In those circumstances, the local authority ought to be given the necessary powers. That is a perfectly reasonable request, and I am surprised that the Under-Secretary does not say that he will examine it.

Mr. J. N. Browne

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) has underlined my point in every word that he has said. He is thinking of the wider powers of the improvement grant and not of the narrow scope of the standard grant—

Mr. Willis


Mr. Browne

He wants the local authority to have wider powers, but it has wider powers in respect of the improvement grant. However, as what he said is subject to the old argument about "shall" or "may" connected with Clause 20, perhaps this matter would better be discussed when we deal with that Clause.

Miss Herbison

Has the Minister no answer to my suggestion of a combination of the standard grant and the improvement grant? For the reasons I gave, I thought that it was worth his consideration. It would ensure that what money is spent will be well spent on houses that we will have with us for some time; and that public money was not wasted. We have tried to meet the Minister's argument that some houses could not take the standard amenity by suggesting that it could be done by a combination of both grants. Perhaps he will look at that between now and the Report stage.

Mr. Browne

I thought that I had undertaken to do that.

Amendment negatived.

Miss Herbison

I beg to move, in page 11, line 41, after "provided", to insert: for the exclusive use of its occupants". I have noticed that since similar Amendments were moved by our English colleagues a number of improvements have been made to the Bill by the Secretary of State for Scotland, and in this case the right hon. Gentleman might himself have put down this Amendment rather than have left it to us.

The Bill sets out the four standard amenities, among which is: …(c) a water closet for the exclusive use of the occupants of the dwelling …. We are very glad that the Government insist on that, because we know how glad people living in the kind of property we have in mind in Glasgow and Edinburgh will be to have a water closet for their exclusive use in this way.

Another of the amenities is: …satisfactory facilities for storing food …". But if those facilities are not made exclusive to a household we could find a number of families all trying to store their food in the same place. Again, the … fixed bath or shower in a bathroom … is not meant, apparently, for the exclusive use of one household but of many. The non-exclusive hot water supply may not be quite so stupid, because we know that in many of the up-to-date blocks of flats hot water is supplied to them all. However, I am sure that I do not need to say any more to the Minister as he will realise that the standard amenities should all be for the exclusive use of the one household.

Mr. J. N. Browne

I agree that my right hon. Friend should have put his name to the Amendment, and I shall advise my right hon. and hon. Friends that the Government accept it.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. J. N. Browne

I beg to move. in page 11, line 43, at the end to insert: (b) a wash hand basin. With your approval, Sir Gordon, perhaps we could discuss this Amendment with that in page 12, line 1, leave out from "closet" to "and" in line 2; and the Amendments to Clause 21:

In page 12, line 44, leave out "fifty" and insert "fifty-five";

In page 13, line 4, leave out "twenty-five" and insert "thirty";

In line 5, at end insert: (b) by five pounds for that mentioned in paragraph (b.) The Amendments to Clause 21 refer to the monetary side of the wash basins.

The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Gordon Touche)


Mr. Browne

The Amendment I have just moved meets what is sought by the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), but there are two differences, both of which, I am sure, are acceptable. One is that there is no reason for saying that the wash-hand basin has to be in the bathroom. There are people who prefer to have it in another room. If the house is a little crowded, that allows more than one person to wash at the same time.

Further, we felt it better that, as it is a new and separate item, there should be a separate grant. Otherwise, if the house had a bath but no wash-hand basin, the local authority might have to pay a grant of up to £30 for that item alone. We are therefore putting down the Amendment in this form for technical reasons, and we are also very grateful to the hon. Lady for her Amendment.

Mrs. Mary McAlister (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)

The hon. Gentleman has said that there is no apparent reason why the wash-hand basin should be in the bathroom, but I think that it is an elementary requirement that it should be in the bathroom. I think this should be specifically written into the Bill, and I cannot accept what he says.

Mr. Browne

People live in all sorts of different conditions, and I think that the owner-occupier or the owner who has to get the agreement of his tenant before he can put in these improvements, and who might well argue with the tenant about them, should be allowed, in the case of a wash-hand basin, to put it where he thinks best, rather than that we in this Committee should insist that it should be in the bathroom.

Mrs. McAlister

We are spending public money, and according to this the wash-hand basin could be anywhere.

Miss Herbison

My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Mrs. McAlister), who is most interested in these Amendments which we put down because of her very great knowledge of housing conditions in Glasgow, feels strongly that the bathroom is the proper place for the wash-hand basin.

I want the Minister to think again about the kind of houses which he passes through in Glasgow. If a bath, which is a standard amenity, is put in, surely the place to put the wash-hand basin would be in the bathroom. We may have big houses where there may be another room in which one could put a wash-hand basin which would give the necessary privacy that one wants for the use of a wash-hand basin. It seems to me that we have to be very careful that when a grant is given for the provision of a wash-hand basin it is put in the room where there is privacy. For most of the houses in Scotland which we are thinking about, the one place where there would be that privacy would be the bathroom. I think very great care will have to be taken about this, but I would add that we are very glad indeed that the Minister has accepted the Amendment that we have put down, and, indeed, has added his own.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 12, line 1, leave out from "closet" to "and" in line 2.—[Miss Herbison.]

Miss Herbison

I beg to move, in page 12, line 9, at the end to insert: Provided that an application under this section shall not be entertained, if and in so far as it relates to a dwelling in relation to which a notice to provide a water-closet has been or may be given under section two hundred and forty-six of the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1892 (which, as amended, requires the provision by house owners of water-closets or earth-closets on notice given by the burgh council and magistrates), or to which section five of the Act of 1950 (which enjoins county councils to require the provision of water-closets, where reasonably practicable, or earth-closets) applies. One of the standard amenities is a water closet, and in our previous legislation—indeed, as far back as 1892— power has been given to a local authority to insist on the owner of a house pro- viding a water closet where that is possible, and, where it is not reasonably practicable, to insist on the provision of an earth closet. I hope that we have got far enough away from the days of earth closets, but we feel that we ought to be very careful, and, since for a long time there has been on the Statute Book the power of local authorities to insist on the provision of a water closet, public money ought not to be used in these instances.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)

I have looked at the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1950, because I could not help but remember occasions when we were having to use public money to make provision for what is surely one of the most elementary amenities in any household. Section 5 of the 1950 Act says this: … every local authority being a county council shall require the owner of every occupied house or part of a house occupied by a separate family within their district to provide for each such house or part of a house a sufficient watercloset wherever it is reasonably practical so to do, and, where that is not so practicable, a sufficient earthcloset; and if the owner fails to carry out such requirements within three months after intimation thereof, the local authority may themselves execute the necessary work, and the expenses incurred by them in so doing may be recovered by them from the owner. It seems to me that we are taking a very retrograde step in providing for the failure of the private landlord to fulfil his statutory obligation. We are saying, in effect, that if the landlord fails to carry out the provisions of Section 5 of the 1950 Act, then the public, the ratepayers and the taxpayers, will pay up and will help him to fulfil a task which he is under some statutory obligation to fulfil himself. I take violent objection to the entire principle of paying out public money to encourage landlords in the provision of amenities which, if they were good landlords, they would have provided already. In any case, many of the ratepayers will be poorer than some of the landlords, but will be helping to pay for these grants. We are continually being impressed by the hardships of ratepayers and taxpayers; yet some of these ratepayers will be poorer than the landlords, but will be asked to pay for the shortcomings of landlords.

There is no question of a means test in this matter, so far as I know. The Government have been at pains to say, precisely because there are some ratepayers and tenants of council houses who may endure hardship in occupying those houses, that when others are occupying council houses and are yet able to pay the economic rent, they shall pay that rent. There is a means test there, but there is no question of a means test in this provision. The landlord will get the grant whether or not he can afford to pay himself. The hon. Gentleman should make it quite clear that the private landlord who has not thought fit to provide a sufficient water-closet under the provisions of the 1950 Act, should be made to do so, and if he cannot do it, his property should be taken over.

Mr. J. N. Browne

I appreciate the point of view of the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton), but there is another point of view. First of all, the Whole question of giving grants for a water-closet, where there is a statutory power of a local authority regarding its installation, is, as the hon. Gentleman realises, wider than the standard grant. The argument, if there is one, is equally applicable to the ordinary improvement grants Which are being granted in Scotland at this very time.

I would point out to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that they made no such provision when they brought in the 1949 Act.

Mr. Thomas Steele (Dunbartonshire, West)

That is not an argument.

Mr. Browne

It is a fact, if not an argument. It is true that, under that Act, the local authority has discretion in granting aid, but I have looked at this point, and I have no reason to think that any local authority has refused to give an improvement grant for a water-closet because of that statutory provision. We see this matter in another light altogether. As we see it, the Bill does not in any way cut across what is a long-standing statutory provision that an owner can be required by the local authority to provide water-closets. What it does do is to make it easier for him to fulfil that obligation, because he can get a grant of up to £40. But then, what is the object of the Bill? What is the object of the exercise?

Mr. Hamilton

We know—more for the landlords.

Mr. Browne

The hon. Gentleman knows better than that. The object of the exercise is to reduce the number of houses without water-closets. That is what we all want, and we want to reduce that number to the greatest possible extent. I believe that we shall make it easier to do that by putting the landlord in funds rather than excluding him simply because there is a statutory obligation in some other Act requiring him to do it.

Mr. McInnes

I cannot quite follow the logic of the hon. Gentleman's argument. It is quite clear that there is already a statutory obligation under another Act. What is wrong with incorporating in this Bill that statutory obligation? As my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton) said, there is an obligation in Section 5 of the 1950 Act, where the provision is made to cover county councils. Under another piece of legislation, the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1892, there are provisions dealing with burghs.

When we are asking for all sorts of things to be provided for in a Bill, for wash-hand basins, showers, baths and all the rest, why should it be unreasonable to extend it to incorporate the provision of water-closets? I cannot understand the hon. Gentleman's attitude. Does he anticipate that landlords will refuse to meet their mandatory obligations? Why select this particular aspect of the standard amenities? Why should the landlord select this particular part of the standard amenities simply on the basis of a monetary consideration? Is it not more desirable to have a provision of this kind than many of the other provisions we are seeking to incorporate? Ought not we to have a provision such as the Amendment indicates, despite the provisions in the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act and Section 5 of the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1950? The hon. Gentleman ought to be more frank and forthcoming with us. What exactly is in his mind which precludes him from accepting the Amendment?

Mr. Browne

I will try again. I think the hon. Gentleman has confused me a little on this. He says "Why not incorporate those obligations in the Bill?", that is to say, the obligations under the 1950 Act. What he is doing by his Amendment is denying grant for a w.c. to anyone who is under, or who would come under, the obligation. He seeks to deny grant to those people.

My view is that the local authorities have unimpaired by this Bill their existing powers to require a w.c. All the Bill does, if they do require a w.c. or have done so, is to make it possible for the owner to come to the local authority and say, "This is one of the standard improvements. May I have grant for it?". I think that that will help him to provide the w.c.

Mr. Hamilton

That is precisely what we object to. We on this side feel that the private landlord is already under statutory obligation to provide it, and we think that he ought not to receive grant for being a good landlord. That is all we say. We should not reward him for carrying out the duties of good citizenship. That is what we object to.

Mr. Ross

I hope my hon. Friends will correct me if I have it wrong, but am I to take it that this Amendment draws attention to the fact that there are houses which have no water-closets, the landlords are under an obligation by law to provide water-closets, the local authority has served notice on them telling them to do it, and they have not done it? Is it the suggestion that, under the Government's Bill, such landlords can put the w.c. in and the public will pay for it? Is the Joint Under-Secretary of State going to suggest that is right and fair?

There may be two landlords of property side by side, both under the same obligation. They have both had notice. One abides by his statutory obligation and puts the thing in, paying for it himself. He does not even put his rent up. The other landlord, who has refused to do what is his job and duty under the law, can use this Bill to obtain from the local authority money which is provided partly by the local authority and partly by the Treasury, put the thing in, and then, indeed, raise the rent.

How can the Joint Under-Secretary refuse this Amendment? He spoke about being in difficulty in understanding what someone on this side had said. How can he possibly justify the subsidising of a landlord who has refused to perform his statutory duty, not only subsidising him but also allowing him to raise the rent in respect of what little he does spend? It is most unfair and cannot be justified. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will think again.

What is the local authority to think about it? The local authority has no power to refuse. A local authority may have been badgered for years and years by the unfortunate tenant saying that he wants a water-closet in the property. The sanitary inspector agrees and says, "All right; according to the present law"— the Statutes are referred to in the Amendment—"we shall serve notice upon the owner to put it in". The owner does nothing at all. He ignores the local authority. He refuses to comply with his statutory obligation. Yet the Joint Under-Secretary says that it will now be quite fair for this man to claim a standard grant in order to put the w.c. in. This is to put a premium on the bad landlord, and it really cannot be justified at all. Moreover, he is then to be allowed to raise the rent after the work has been done—and done partly by the local authority. This is really to carry things much too far. I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary will think again. This is probably one of the most important Amendments we have put down.

Mr. Browne

The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) is a little at sea. Under the Housing (Scotland) Act, 1950, Section 5, a county council shall require the owner … to provide … a sufficient water-closet wherever it is reasonably practicable so to do, and, where that is not so practicable, a sufficient earthcloset. In the burghs, the local authority may make byelaws regulating certain matters, so far as reasonably practicable, in respect of existing houses, including the provision of a separate water-closet. In both categories, there may be many cases where the local authority has felt that it just could not take the powers, where it has not been reasonably practicable because of expense. In these cases now, local authorities will say that it is reasonably practicable for them to do so because the owners can obtain improvement grant.

Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman has not even read the Amendment. The Amendment says in relation to which a notice to provide a water-closet has been or may be given". At the moment, I am concentrating on "has been given". That means that the local authority has already decided that it is reasonable and practicable. Will the Joint Under-Secretary answer that?

Mrs. McAlister

In the constituency which I represent, there is a very large proportion of disrepair certificates in force at present, whereby the landlords have lost some rent. It seems to me that, under the terms of this Clause, a landlord can now receive public money to put the property in some sort of order and then put up the rent. Can that be right?

6.30 p.m.

Mr. Willis

The attitude of the Joint Under-Secretary is the most astonishing that I have encountered in this Committee. What he is saying is that we must deliberately encourage people to break the laws which we have passed. Not being content with inciting law breaking, he goes on to say that we should reward the law breaker. Could anything be more ridiculous? I should have thought that that argument does not stand examination one moment.

I do not know what the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-General for Scotland has to say about this. I do not know whether he is looking thoughtful or whether he is looking tired, but he certainly ought to have something to say about the Amendment. Sitting next to him is a man who is encouraging people to break the law. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) is quite correct in saying that a notice can be served on a man to provide a water closet in a house, he can refuse to do the work and can apply to the Minister for the money with which to do it. As has been said, the local authority may not decide to serve such a notice if the man could not afford to provide it. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I thought that the tenor of the hon. Gentleman's argument was that the local authority-would not serve such a notice unless he was able to do it.

Mr. Browne

I said, if it is reasonably practicable.

Mr. Willis

According to what the hon. Gentleman said, "reasonably practicable" means whether the man is in a position to afford to be able to do it or not. Where a man is able to do the job he should not get the grant. That is perfectly reasonable, is it not? The argument of the hon. Gentleman was that we do not want to deny a grant to a man who cannot afford to do the necessary work. The Amendment does not deny him the opportunity of getting a grant. If the Amendment is too wide with the inclusion of the words "may be given", surely the words could be left out and the Amendment limited to the words "where an application has been given".

The hon. Gentleman cannot simply dismiss the Amendment altogether. He can say that the wording is too wide and that as it is at present there is a possibility of some of the things happening which he fears might happen. But if the deletion of the words "may be" removes those fears, I am sure that my hon. Friends would agree that the Amendment would at least be a step in the right direction. We should prevent people who ought, in accordance with the law, to have carried out certain jobs but have not done so from getting money.

Is not the hon. Gentleman prepared to consider the Amendment at all? He cannot just dismiss it, because a very good argument has been adduced in support of it. He is seized of the matter and ought to be a bit more forthcoming and open about it and say that, in view of the argument adduced, he will consider the matter and, if necessary, delete the words which seem to widen it in the direction which he fears. I am sure that if he did that he would find it very difficult to resist the Amendment.

Mr. Browne

There is a clear division of opinion between us. We want to help—

Mr. Willis

The law breaker.

Mr. Browne

—Scotland to get more w.c's. The Opposition take the slightly different view that if there is an obligation, it should be carried out without any help. We cannot go any further in this matter because, clearly, there is a division of opinion.

Question put, That those words be there inserted: —

The Committee divided: Ayes 168, Noes 189.

Division No. 46.] AYES 14.52 p.m.
Abse, Leo Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Ainsley, J. W. Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Mahon, Simon
Albu, A. H. George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Gibson, C. W. Mann, Mrs. Jean
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Gooch, E. G. Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Awbery, S. S. Greenwood, Anthony Mason, Roy
Bacon, Miss Alice Grey, C. F. Mayhew, C. P.
Balfour, A. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Mellish, R. J.
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Griffiths, William (Exchange) Messer, Sir F.
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.) Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Mitchison, G. R.
Benson, Sir George Hamilton, W. W. Moody, A. S.
Beswick, Frank Hannan, W. Mort, D. L.
Blackburn, F. Hastings, S. Mulley, F. W.
Blenkinsop, A. Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Blyton, W. R. Herbison, Miss M. Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Boardman, H. Hewitson, Capt. M. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.) Holmes, Horace O'Brien, Sir Thomas
Bowles, F. G. Houghton, Douglas Oliver, G. H.
Boyd, T. C. Howell, Charles (Perry Barr) Oram, A. E.
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Hoy, J. H. Owen, W. J.
Brockway, A. F. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Paget, R. T.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Panned, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Hunter, A. E. Parker, J.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Parkin, B. T.
Burton, Miss F. E. Janner, B. Paton, John
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St.Pncs.S.) Pearson, A.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Peart, T. F.
Champion, A. J. Johnson, James (Rugby) Pentland, N.
Chapman, W. D. Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield) Plummer, Sir Leslie
Chetwynd, G. R. Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Popplewell, E.
Coldrick, W. Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Prentice, R. E.
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Probert, A. R.
Crossman, R. H. S. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Randall, H. E.
Cullen, Mrs. A. King, Dr. H. M. Rankin, John
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Lawson, G. M. Reeves, J.
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Reid, William
Deer, G. Lewis, Arthur Reynolds, G. W.
de Freitas, Geoffrey Lindgren, G. S. Rhodes, H.
Delargy, H. J. Logan, D. G. Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) McAlister, Mrs. Mary Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) MacColl, J. E. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) McInnes, J. Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Fernyhough, E. McKay, John (Wallsend) Ross, William
Finch, H. J. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Royle, C.
Silverman, Julius (Aston) Swingler, S. T. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill) Sylvester, G. O. Wilkins, W. A.
Skeffington, A. M. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) Willey, Frederick
Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.) Thornton, E. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Sorensen, R. W. Tomney, F. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Sparks, J. A. Usborne, H. C. Winterbottom, Richard
Spriggs, Leslie Viant, S. P. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Steele, T. Warbey, W. N. Woof, R. E.
Stewart, Michael (Fulham) Watkins, T. E. Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall) Weitzman, D. Zilliacus, K.
Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E. Wells, William (Walsall, N.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. John Taylor and Mr. Short
Agnew, Sir Peter Glyn, Col. Richard H. Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.
Aitken, W. T. Goodhart, Philip Moore, Sir Thomas
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Gower, H. R. Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Alport, C. J. M. Grant, Rt. Hon. W. (Woodside) Nabarro, G. D. N.
Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Neave, Airey
Arbuthnot, John Green, A. Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)
Armstrong, C. W. Grimond, J. Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)
Ashton, H. Gurden, Harold Noble, Michael (Argyll)
Astor, Hon. J. J. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Nugent, G. R. H.
Baldwin, Sir Archer Harris, Reader (Heston) O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
Balniel, Lord Hay, John Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Barber, Anthony Henderson, John (Cathcart) Page, R. C.
Barlow, Sir John Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Peel, W. J.
Barter, John Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Peyton, J. W. W.
Batsford, Brian Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth
Baxter, Sir Beverley Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Pitman, I. J.
Beamish, Col. Tufton Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Pott, H. P.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Holland-Martin, C. J. Powell, J. Enoch
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Holt, A. F. Price, David (Eastleigh)
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Hope, Lord John Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Hornby, R. P. Redmayne, M.
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Rees-Davies, W. R.
Bingham, R. M. Horobin, Sir Ian Renton, D. L. M.
Bishop, F. P. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Ridsdale, J. E.
Bossom, Sir Alfred Howard, John (Test) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Russell, R. S.
Boyle, Sir Edward Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Hurd, Sir Anthony Sharples, R. C.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.) Shepherd, William
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun) Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Brooman-White, R. C. Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry Smyth, Brig, Sir John (Norwood)
Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Spearman, Sir Alexander
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam) Speir, R. M.
Burden, F. F. A. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden) Joseph, Sir Keith Stevens, Geoffrey
Campbell, Sir David Kaberry, D. Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Cary, Sir Robert Kerby, Capt. H. B. Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Channon, H. P. G. Kerr, Sir Hamilton Storey, S.
Chichester-Clark, R. Kershaw, J. A. Studholme, Sir Henry
Clarke, Brig, Terence (Portsmth, W.) Kimball, M. Summers, Sir Spencer
Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Kirk, P. M. Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
Cooper, A. E. Langford-Holt, J. A. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Cooper-Key, E. M. Leavey, J. A. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Leburn, W. G. Teeling, W.
Corfield, F. V. Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Temple, John M.
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Crowder, Petre (Rulslip—Northwood) Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Cunningham, Knox Lindsay, Martin (Solihull) Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)
Dance, J. C. G. Linstead, Sir H. N. Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Davidson, Viscountess Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
de Ferranti, Basil Longden, Gilbert Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Digby, Simon Wingfield Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Vane, W. M. F.
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vickers, Miss Joan
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. McAdden, S. J. Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.
Doughty, C. J. A. Macdonald, Sir Peter Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Drayson, G. B. McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek
Duncan, Sir James McLean, Neil (Inverness) Wall, Patrick
Duthie, W. S. Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Maddan, Martin Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Erroll, F. J. Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Webster, David
Farey-Jones, F. W. Markham, Major Sir Frank Whitelaw, W. S. I.
Fell, A. Marlowe, A. A. H. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Fisher, Nigel Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E. Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Fletcher-Cooke, C Marshall, Douglas Woollam, John Victor
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Mathew, R.
Freeth, Denzil Maudling, Rt. Hon. R. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Garner-Evans, E. H. Mawby, R. L. Mr. Bryan and Mr. Gibson-Watt.
George, J. C. (Pollok) Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.
Division No. 47. AYES [6.35 p.m.
Abse, Leo Herbison, Miss M. Prentice, R. E.
Ainsley, J. W. Hewitson, Capt. M. Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Albu, A. H. Houghton, Douglas Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Howell, Charles (Perry Barr) Probert, A. R.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hoy, J. H. Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Awbery, S. S. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Randall, H. E.
Bacon, Miss Alice Hunter, A. E. Rankin, John
Balfour, A. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Reeves, J.
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Jeger,Mrs.Lena (Holbn & St.Pncs.S.) Reid, William
Benson, Sir George Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield) Reynolds, G. W.
Beswick, Frank Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Rhodes, H.
Blackburn, F. Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Blenkinsop, A. Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Boardman, H. Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Bowden, H. w. (Leicester, S.W.) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Boyd, T. C. King, Dr. H. M. Ross, William
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Lawson, G. M. Royle, C.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Lee, Frederick (Newton) Short, E. W.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Lewis, Arthur Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Burton, Miss F. E. Lindgren, G. S. Skeffington, A. M.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Logan, D. G. Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Champion, A. J. McAlister, Mrs. Mary Sorensen, R. W.
Chapman, W. D. MacColl, J. E. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Chetwynd, G. R. MacDermot, Niall Sparks, J. A.
Cliffe, Michael McInnes, J. Spriggs, Leslie
Coldrick, W. McKay, John (Wallsend) Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Crossman, R. H. S. Mahon, Simon Swingler S. T.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Sylvester, G. O.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Mann, Mrs. Jean Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Taylor, John (West Lothian)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Mason, Roy Thornton, E.
Delargy, H. J. Mayhew, C. P. Tomney, F.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Mellish, R. J. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Edelman, M. Mikardo, Ian Usborne, H. C.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Mitchison, G. R. Viant, S. P.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Moody, A. S. Warbey, W. N.
Fernyhough, E. Mort, D. L. Watkins, T. E.
Finch, H. J. (Bedwellty) Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Weitzman, D.
Fitch, A. E. (Wigan) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.) White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. O'Brien, Sir Thomas Wilkins, W. A.
Gibson, C. W. Oliver, G. H. Willey, Frederick
Gooch, E. G. Oram, A. E. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Greenwood, Anthony Paget, R. T. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Grey, C. F. Palmer, A. M. F. Winterbottom, Richard
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Griffiths, William (Exchange) Parkin, B. T. Woof, R. E.
Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Paton, John Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Hamilton, W. W. Pearson, A. Zilliacus, K.
Hannan, W. Peart, T. F.
Hastings, S. Pentland, N. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hayman, F. H. Plummer, Sir Leslie Mr. Holmes and Mr. Rogers
Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Popplewell, E.
Agnew, Sir Peter Bossom, Sir Alfred Crowder, Petre (Rulsilp—Northwood)
Altken, W. T. Boyle, Sir Edward Cunningham, Knox
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Dance, J. C. G.
Alport, C. J. M. Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Davidson, Viscountess
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Brooman-White, R. C. Deedes, W. F.
Arbuthnot, John Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) de Ferranti, Basil
Armstrong, C. W. Bryan, P. Digby, Simon Wingfield
Baldwin, Sir Archer Bullas, Wing Commander E. E. Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.
Balniel, Lord Burden, F. F. A. Doughty, C. J. A.
Barlow, Sir John Butler, Rt.Hn.A.A. (Saffron Walden) Drayson, G. B.
Barter, John Campbell, Sir David Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)
Batsford, Brian Cary, Sir Robert Duncan, Sir James
Baxter, Sir Beverley Channon, H. P. G. Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)
Beamish, Col. Tufton Chichester-Clark, R. Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn
Beil, Philip (Bolton, E.) Clarke, Brig Terence (Portsmth, W.) Erroll, F. J.
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Conant, Ma]. Sir Roger Farey-Jones, F. W.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Cooper, A. E. Fell, A.
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Cooper-Key, E. M. Fisher, Nigel
Bingham, R. M. Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)
Bishop, F. P. Corfield, F. V. Freeth, Denzil
Body, R. F. Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Garner-Evans, E. H.
George, J. C. (Pollok) Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Gibson-Watt, D. Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Renton, D. L. M.
Glyn, Col. Richard H. Lindsay, Martin (Solihull) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Goodhart, Philip Linstead, Sir H. N. Russell, R. S.
Gough, C. F. H. Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Sharpies, R. c.
Gower, H. R. Longden, Gilbert Shepherd, William
Graham, Sir Fergus Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Grant, Rt. Hon. W. (Woodside) Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick) Spearman, Sir Alexander
Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Speir, R. M.
Green, A, Macdonald, Sir Peter Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Gurden, Harold McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Stevens, Geoffrey
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) McLean, Nell (Inverness) Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Hay, John Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Maltland, Cdr. J. F. W.(Horncastle) Storey, S.
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Studholme, Sir Henry
Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Markham, Major Sir Frank Summers, Sir Spencer
Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Marlowe, A. A. H. Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Marshall, Douglas Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Hobson, John(Warwick&Leam'gt'n) Mathew, R. Teeling, W.
Holland-Martin, C. J. Mawby, R. L. Temple, John M.
Holt, A. F. Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Hope, Lord John Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Hornby, R. P. Nabarro, G. D. N. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Neave, Airey Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)
Howard, John (Test) Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham) Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch) Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
Hurd, Sir Anthony Noble, Michael (Argyll) Vane, W. M. F.
Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh,S.) Nugent, G. R. H. Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.
Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun) O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Page, R. G. Wall, Patrick
Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam) Peel, W. J. Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)
Johnson Eric (Blackley) Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Joseph, Sir Keith Pitman, I. J. Webster, David
Kerby, Capt. H. B. Pitt, Miss E. M. Whitelaw, W. S. I.
Kerr, Sir Hamilton Pott, H. P. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Kershaw, J. A. Powell, J. Enoch Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Kirk, P. M. Price, David (Eastleigh) Woollam, John victor
Lambton, Viscount Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Leavey, J. A. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Leburn, W. G. Rawlinson, Peter Mr. Hughes-Young and
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Redmayne, M. Mr. J. E. B. Hill.
Mr. J. N. Browne

I beg to move, in page 12, line 17, at the end, to add: (4) An application under this section must also contain a statement either that the applicant is the occupier of the dwelling or that the occupier has consented in writing to the making of the application. I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee, Mr. Hynd, if this Amendment could be discussed with the Amendment in the name of the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), in Clause 20, page 12, line 21, at end insert: (2) The local authority must be satisfied that the occupier of the dwelling, if he is not the applicant, has given his consent in writing to the application. Our Amendment meets the point raised by hon. Members opposite in the Amendment to which I have referred. It is right that the tenant should agree before the owner of a tenanted house makes application for standard grant. Our Amendment goes just a little further than the Opposition Amendment. The Opposition considered that it was sufficient to require the local authority to satisfy itself about the tenant's willingness. It is just possible that the applicant might promise to produce such a letter and go ahead with the work but then fail to produce a letter. As a result, there might be difficulties between the tenant and the local authority. In our Amendment, therefore, we obviate this slight risk by requiring the notice of written consent to accompany the application or, failing this, a statement that the applicant is himself the occupier.

6.45 p.m.

Miss Herbison

Again, we are pleased that the Minister has found it possible to accept the principle of our Amendment. There is little difference between the two Amendments and it is important that the occupant's consent should be known.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. J. N. Browne

I beg to move in page 12, line 17, at the end, to add: (5) Where the works include the provision of a hot water supply, their execution must include the connection of the supply to a sink as well as to the bath or shower and the wash hand basin. This Amendment gives effect in what is, I am advised, slightly more effective wording to the wishes of hon. Members opposite in their Amendment in page 11, line 44, which was not discussed.

Mrs. McAlister

I am grateful that the Minister has accepted the principle of our Amendment. I may be guilty of oversimplification, but there was a time when I used to think that it would be extraordinary for a hot water supply to be in operation in a house but not to find its way to the kitchen sink or to the bath. Bitter experience, however, has taught me better. Different people have very different ideas of what is meant by a hot water supply. It was not long ago that communal taps disappeared from Glasgow—if, in fact, they have disappeared. The only difference was that there was no hot water in the taps. If public money is being spent, it is essential that this safeguard should be written into the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment proposed: In page 12, line 17, at end add: (6) An application under this section shall not be entertained if it relates to a dwelling provided after the end of the year nineteen hundred and forty-four.—[Mr. J. N. Browne.]

Mr. Willis

The Amendment is put down, I imagine, on the supposition that houses built after 1944 should have the standard amenities. In my constituency, houses which were erected by a local authority did not have satisfactory facilities even for storing food. People put their food in the cupboard, but the butter melted, the meat went bad and all sorts of other things happened, because the cupboard was at the back of the fireplace in the sitting room. I wondered, therefore, whether the assumption which the Government are making was altogether a sound one when we find that even local authorities—and the Government themselves must have approved of the houses—can make the mistake of not providing these facilities, which—

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. H. Hynd)

Order. I do not know whether the hon. Member is on the right Amendment. We are discussing the Amendment in page 12, line 17, to add the proposed subsection (6).

Mr. Willis

Yes, Mr. Hynd. It states: An application under this section shall not be entertained if it relates to a dwelling provided after the end of the year nineteen hundred and forty-four. The application relates to improvements to provide certain fixed standard amenities. I suggested that the Amendment was put down on the assumption that houses built after 1944 would have these amenities. I was pointing out that I did not know what led the Government to this conclusion, because even local authorities—and, I presume, the Government—have not been able to provide these amenities satisfactorily in my constituency, where houses have been built in which the facilities for storing food are far from satisfactory. Perhaps, therefore, the Joint Under-Secretary might offer a word of explanation.

Mr. Michael Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, South)

I note that my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary proposes in the Amendment to limit the grant to a dwelling house built before 1944. [HON. MEMBERS: "After."] It would seem to be before. May I ask why this date was chosen? It would seem as if it would exclude any flats or maisonettes which would come into being as a result of old property being converted. Surely it is wrong that that type of property should not attract grant.

I made the same point on Clause 4, which deals with houses in England and Wales, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government said that he would look into it. I do not know what conclusions he has reached. If he does not propose to give a favourable reply as regards Clause 4 I do not mind, because that applies to England. But I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland will take my point and alter the Bill before Report so that converted property can attract the grant, that is, property converted right up to the time of the publication of the Bill, which I think was in November, 1958.

I beg my hon. Friend to do this and not to worry about what may be happening in England. We want to improve the Bill in relation to Scotland. If it is any help to my hon. Friend, I am quite prepared to take counsel with my Unionist colleagues to see whether we can get enough pressure brought to bear to ensure that this point is covered.

Hon. Members


Mr. Ross

Am I to understand that the Bill will not apply to conversions made since 1944?

Mr. Clark Hutchison

I do not know what the hon. Member may or may not understand.

Mr. Ross

This is important. If the hon. Member had been in the Chamber earlier he would have heard the Joint Under-Secretary tell me, in relation to the first Opposition Amendment, that if, as from now, a dwelling was provided as a result of conversion on improvement grant and there was an application thereafter for these standard amenities, a response would be forthcoming. I should like the Joint Under-Secretary to reply to that point in relation to the wording of this proposed subsection and to state whether we are to take what he said earlier at its face value and whether this relates to conversions on improvement grants after 1944.

Mr. J. N. Browne

The Bill does not apply to conversions, but my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. M. Clark Hitchison) is referring to houses converted, not necessarily with grant, since 1944 and which lack the standard amenities, and he thinks that there should be a grant up to the date of the Bill for those types of houses. We looked into this. We are most anxious, as we are throughout the Bill, to keep in line with England and Wales. We feel that there would be few, if any, houses provided— which I think is a better word than "converted" and means all sorts of ways of producing a house—since the war which lacked these standard amenities.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) was talking about local authority houses. He has studied the Bill very thoroughly and I am sure that he knows that those do not come within its scope. Since we believe that there would be few, if any, of these houses, and since we want to keep in line with England and Wales, we think that the date which we have provided for in the Bill is the right one.

Mr. Ross

We cannot let the Joint Under-Secretary get away with that. When we were discussing the previous Amendment I objected to property being dealt with in a patchwork way. I said that a property should be dealt with and looked at as a property and not just as one house in that property. The Joint Under-Secretary said at the time that there was nothing to prevent an owner of that property applying for and obtaining an improvement grant which would allow him to replan that property, and, where there were three houses, to cut one out and make the property into two houses. But the hon. Gentleman did not stop at that. He said that thereafter the owner could apply for a standard grant and get it.

In view of the fact that the two houses in respect of which there will be a request for standard amenities will be new houses provided since 1944, I want to know whether or not the Joint Under-Secretary is prepared to reconsider what he said. In other words, by moving the Amendment, the hon. Gentleman is denying the possibility of happening what he said would happen when he was replying to an earlier Amendment.

Mr. Browne

I must apologise. I think that the hon. Member is quite right. I replied wrongly that the standard grant was available to post-1944 conversions. It was not what I meant to say.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Ross

I merely want to ask the Joint Under-Secretary what he hopes to get out of the Clause, which says: A local authority shall give assistance in respect of the improvement of any dwelling by any person … I can remember a time when, in the House of Commons, we were considering the question of improvement grants and the Government were relying on the landlords of Scotland to modernise all their houses. Time and again the number of applications made under the Act which provided those grants has been quoted by my hon. Friends. That Act gave far better grants for modernisation than does the present Bill, and it provided the landlords with far better houses, yet the Joint Under-Secretary knows that the response from the landlords of Scotland was absolutely negligible. I say that the situation will be exactly the same this time in respect of this Bill. I have no doubt that the Bill will be used by owner-occupiers, and to that extent I welcome it, but I object to this pampering of landlords who have let Scotland down in the past.

No adequate reason has been given by the Joint Under-Secretary why these provisions should apply again to landlords in Scotland. Can the hon. Gentleman tell me how many houses are capable of being dealt with in this way? We went to the considerable trouble in Scotland of having a special committee report on the question of modernising our homes. Its report is a very valuable document. I wonder what that committee would have thought of the Bill and of the suggestion, fifteen years after it had laboured and laid down a blueprint of what should be done to our homes, that we should have this tinkering bit of extra cash given for one or two things which a landlord might or might not do. The Clause is not sufficiently imaginative to ensure that the work which needs to be done in Scotland will be done. As long as we leave it to the private landlords in Scotland to modernise our homes, they never will be modernised. The Joint Under-Secretary must realise that.

7.0 p.m.

Can the Minister tell me how many houses in the rural areas will be dealt with under the Bill? We have discussed the question of the water closet. The Scottish Housing Advisory Committee surveyed and reported on the condition of housing in the rural areas, and its results are included in the Report on Rural Housing in Scotland. For the purposes of that survey the Committee took three typical parishes in Scotland in which housing was unusually bad. It was found that of the houses surveyed 33 per cent. had a water supply within the house and also a sink, 66 per cent, had a water supply outside the building only, 23 per cent. had a water closet, 48 per cent. had a dry closet and 29 per cent. had no sanitary conveniences.

Does the hon. Gentleman think this Clause will result in any improvements in rural areas or in the tenements of Glasgow? It will not start to do so. This is just window dressing for an election in which quite a number of hon. Gentlemen opposite will be tried and found guilty by the people who live in those same tenements in Glasgow and in the rural areas and who have had no consideration from this Government in respect of their housing conditions.

Mr. J. N. Browne

The hon. Gentleman will know the facts about improvement grants. During the first five years of their operation 3,350 houses were completed and since then they have been running at a rate of 2,400 a year.

Mr. Ross

How many were tenements?

Mr. Browne

I cannot give that information. The hon. Gentleman then gave us details of bad housing conditions in the rural areas and asked if this Clause would effect improvements. Then he said it was window dressing. I cannot see the logic of the hon. Gentleman's mind. He either does or does not want Scotland's houses to be improved. This Bill is no fairy wand which will improve all the houses. What we hope to get from it is a better response than we have now both from owner-occupiers and landlords. Then the hon. Gentleman repeated the old business about our pampering the landlords who, he said, have let Scotland down in the past.

I beg the hon. Gentleman to realise that two wars and the restrictions put on the landlords have let the landlords down. He must realise that we are not doing something for the landlords. We are trying to bring some slight measure of elementary justice after the extraordinary difficult position in which they have worked in the last thirty years. We are putting the tools in their hands, and they will make better use of them with this Bill than without it.

Mr. McInnes

I would not have intervened if it had not been for the vigorous but synthetic defence made by the Joint Under-Secretary of State. I agree with the observations of my hon. Friend. The Minister fails to recognise that every Bill introduced by this Government relating to housing has been designed to give increased income to the landlords and property owners. We know perfectly well that, having got that increase, they have refused to carry out the repairs for which it was provided.

Let us take the Housing (Repairs and Rents) (Scotland) Act

The Temporary Chairman

Order. I do not think we should start to discuss that Act.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.