HC Deb 17 March 1960 vol 619 cc1484-618

3.38 p.m.

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)

I beg to move, That this House notes with concern the overcrowding and frustration endured by large numbers of people owing to the inadequate provision of housing at reasonable cost; considers that these evils cannot be remedied without greater encouragement for building by local authorities and for owner-occupation; and that for these purposes it is necessary to reduce the burdens now imposed on local authorities by Government policies, to enable them to raise loans at rates of interest lower than those now prevailing, and to assist them in tackling problems of overspill and of acquisition of land and property in their areas. The Motion refers to the overcrowding and frustration endured by many people owing to the inadequate provision of housing at reasonable cost. Indeed, the terms "overcrowding" and "frustration" are moderate, in view of the facts. That there is overcrowding and frustration will not be denied by any hon. Member and our first task is to try to form some estimate of the number of our fellow citizens who are affected by these evils.

There are many sources which we can consult. The Housing and Town Planning Council conducted a survey not long ago, covering about half of England and Wales. In recent months, I have been indebted for the work of many of my right hon. and hon. Friends who have made detailed inquiries about housing conditions in many parts of the United Kingdom.

Taking the information obtained from that source, and from the Housing and Town Planning Council and other sources, we are led to the conclusion that over the country as a whole at least one family in thirty is suffering from what would be described on any classification as an urgent housing need. That is to say, the conditions in which they live are such that no human being ought to be expected to tolerate them any longer. If that is the situation over the country as a whole, we have then to notice that it varies a great deal from one part of the kingdom to another and that there are parts of the country in which at least one family in ten is living in conditions of that kind—a submerged tenth, indeed.

But if we look a little beyond the extremity of need, if we look at the position of people who are suffering not conditions which we should say at once were quite intolerable, but who are living in conditions which are a continual hindrance to the development of a full life, conditions in which human beings should not be expected to go on living for any length of time, we must, in my judgment, at least double the number of persons affected. This means that in many parts of the kingdom about one-fifth of our population is afflicted by the evils of the problem that we are discussing today.

That is the extent of the problem. I do not know that there is anything adequate one can say to describe the quality and intensity of it. I doubt that there is a single hon. Member at present in the House who has not had detailed to him by constituents the terrible, depressing and gloomily repetitive facts about what it is like to live in overcrowded housing. Very many of us, as private Members of the House, are at times afflicted with a terrible feeling of helplessness when faced with these cases. The quality of the problem ranges from inconvenience and frustration at one extreme to desperation at the other.

I have in mind a family of a man, wife and four children living in one attic room, the kind of room in which it is impossible for an adult to stand upright unless he stands in the middle of the room because of the slope of the ceiling towards the sides. Despite the fact that the local authority for the area in which the father lives has been building energetically—its housing policy could not legitimately be criticised—and it scrutinises its applicants with the utmost fairness, it is still obliged to say to him that his is not one of those cases to which it can offer immediate help.

That is one example. I need not labour the point, because hon. Members know it so well. Apart from special cases of that kind, there is, for example, the young married couple unable to find a home of their own, unwilling to start a family until they can and wondering when the marriage which they celebrated on a day which is gradually slipping, month by month, into the past will lead to the full family life for which they hoped when they became engaged. There is the moderate-sized family with adolescent children who would like occasionally to bring friends home, but who cannot do so because the size of the home does not permit ordinary social activity of that kind.

There is the family with young schoolchildren eager to take advantage of expanding opportunities in education, but hampered in so doing because there is no place at home where they can study or do even the simplest kind of homework. All kinds of people, the old, the young and the middle-aged, the single person, the small family and the large family, go to swell the ranks of the overcrowded, the frustrated and, sometimes, the despairing.

What do we need to solve the problem? A good many estimates have been made. In another place, it was suggested that houses should be built at the rate of 300,000 houses per year for at least Che next decade, and the noble Lord, Lord Waldegrave, speaking for the Government, did not dissent from that estimate. Let us consider some of the factors which make it up. Our population is increasing by 200,000 a year, and that simple natural increase resulting from a surplus of births over deaths alone creates each year a demand for about 60,000 or 70,000 more homes.

Also, though we often forget this in our efforts at house building, houses wear out and merely to replace wastage there is probably a need for about 150,000 houses a year. To deal with the problems of need which I have described, probably about 80,000 or 90,000 houses each year are wanted. There are also various lesser but still important factors which one must not neglect.

I doubt that 300,000 houses a year would be adequate. I should imagine that, on the most cautious estimate, we ought to be building about 40,000 houses a year more than we are now building, and there is hope that that number would be adequate only on the assumption, which on present facts we cannot make, that the new houses are built where they are needed, that they are the kind of houses needed, and are intended for the persons whose need is greatest. If one does not make that assumption, and if one takes into account the fact that some new houses will be built to provide a second home for those who have one already, then one must increase very considerably the estimate of what the nation's housebuilding effort ought to be.

Who is to do the building? The whole trend of the Government's housing policy has been to suggest that it should increasingly be done by private enterprise and to a progressively smaller extent by the local authorities. It is exactly on the point that I have just mentioned that private enterprise shows itself inadequate to the task. Private enterprise will, indeed, build. In view of the encouragement it has received from the Rent Act and certain other legislation, it certainly ought to. But it is hesitant to build where the need is greatest or for those whose need is greatest.

I do not want to be thought to be belittling the size of the housing need in any part of the kingdom, because it is to be found in both urban and rural areas, but I think that it will be agreed that we notice it most strikingly in some of our great cities. Several of my hon. Friends who represent Liverpool constituencies who, for a reason which will be within the knowledge of the House, are unable to attend the debate today, regret very much not being here. They could most strikingly illustrate the point I am making.

Who has been tackling the job of building in the great cities where the need is greatest? Let us take nine great cities in England and Wales. Last year, public enterprise devoted one-fifth of its entire building effort to building in those nine great cities. Private enterprise devoted only one-sixteenth of its efforts to building in those cities. The reason is not very far to seek. We have only to look at a technical memorandum on the problem of the central areas, published by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, which tells us that the private developer will not build so much in the great cities and where the need is most acute because, as it is put in the memorandum, private enterprise is normally interested only in the profitability of the project. It is remarkable what truths even a Conservative Government can discover by sufficiently prolonged research.

Private enterprise will not devote a sufficient proportion of its effort where the need is most pressing. Further, it shows an immense preference for building for sale or for high rents rather than for rents within the means of the people whose needs we are discussing. We have been told over and over again that one of the effects of the Rent Act would be to bring on the market an increasing supply of houses to rent at moderate levels.

If I may say so, the Parliamentary Secretary's optimistic prophecies about the effects of the Rent Act are still remembered in my constituency, where he was active at the time the Rent Act was under discussion, but they are not remembered with any great enthusiasm. It has been claimed that the Rent Act is having this effect, and it is time that the Government produced, if they can, some evidence in support of that contention. What increase has there been in the number of houses available for rent at moderate levels since the Rent Act was passed—and, in heaven's name, where are they? All of us have a long list of names and addresses of constituents who would run a long way to find houses if the Government could tell us where they are.

I think that we should particularly notice the plight of a great many of our citizens who are inadequately housed, but who could afford to pay more rent, and would be very willing to do so, if they could get that little more accommodation which makes all the difference between squalor and decent living. What they cannot afford is the heavy outlay still required for purchasing a house. Neither can they afford the very high rents, and, above all, the insecurity involved in entering into a new tenancy with a private landlord at the present time. That is one effect of the Rent Act.

It creates a real dread of moving, not solely because of the rent which the tenant would have to pay at once, but because he has no security whatever and does not know what demands may be made on him in the future. Further, private enterprise will not take sufficient account of need in considering who is to have these houses. When vacancies occur a private landlord with a number of properties under his control is not primarily concerned, even if he is concerned at all, with the needs of the many people who will no doubt seek to become his tenants. He is concerned partly with what he can get, and partly with factors affecting his convenience rather than theirs.

How often have I had it said to me by a constituent—and I am sure that other hon. Members have had the same experience—who has been diligently searching for a house to rent from private landlords, "I have found a place that I think would suit me, but when they found that I had children they said, 'No' ". This is private enterprise industry which is supposed to be meeting people's needs. If any public industry supposed to be meeting people's needs behaved in that way, what kind of outcry would we have from the benches opposite? We say, therefore, that to meet the need we must reverse the Government's policy of relying increasingly upon private enterprise, and must call upon and encourage local authorities more and more to tackle this problem.

What has been the Government's record in the matter of local authority building? Perhaps it might be convenient at this stage for me to comment on the first part of the Amendment on the Order Paper, which undoubtedly the Parliamentary Secretary will subsequently move. It begins, as all Government pronouncements on housing do, by the Government giving themselves a hearty pat on the back—and for what? For the fact that they have found it possible to build more houses a year after fourteen years of peace than was possible two or three years after a great war. That is what the nature of the Government's case amounts to.

It amounts, also, to a quiet ignoring of the fact that they began their job when the building industry was already fully developed and manned. After the war, one had to begin with a building industry which had to be built up from scratch. It ignores, also, the fact that there would have been no chance of a solution of this problem at all if there were not in existence the new towns and that the job of creating them, sometimes in the face of fierce opposition from the party opposite, had to lie on the Government which took charge of the country's affairs immediately after the war.

I will say no more about that side of the matter, not because there is not a great deal more that I could say with enjoyment but because we want to try to tackle the housing need as it exists today. Whatever may be said of the total building, it will not be disputed that building by local authorities has now declined to two-thirds of what it was when the Government came into office and is only about one-half of what it was six years ago.

The Minister told me not long ago, in reply to a Question, that council house building was going up. It is a little less unsatisfactory than it was, but I hope that his Answer meant that the Government are now proposing to embark on a policy of seeing that it goes up a very great deal. If it does not mean that, the Answer was hardly worth giving. If it means that the Government are to make a switch of policy, we shall welcome that at least as a sign of partial conversion.

Why is it that local authorities are doing less and less building? Let the Minister or any hon. Member who is interested do what so many of my hon. and right hon. Friends have done, put to local housing authorities the question, "Why are you not building more than you are at present?" Some will say, "Because our present programme has met, or is meeting, the needs." How many?—5 per cent. or, in favourable parts of the country, 10 per cent.? What is the answer that will come with monotonous regularity? It is "Financial reasons, particularly high interest rates". Particularly in London, and other large cities running a fairly close second, is there the difficulty of finding sites on which to build.

Let us take the financial problem first. First in that compartment is the question of high interest rates. A great many figures have from time to time been produced to measure the growing burden of high interest rates on local authorities' housing programmes. Let us picture a local authority building an average-sized council house in the year 1951. To do so it had first to borrow a sum of money which it spent on labour and materials, what is called the tender cost of the house. Subsequently, it had to pay more money in interest on the sum that it had borrowed.

Let us suppose that such a council tried to charge a weekly rent which would cover both those costs, the original cost of labour and materials and the interest, which is not the full economic rent because there are expenses of management to be covered as well, but the economic rent up to that point. To do that in 1951 it would have had to charge a rent, in round figures, of £1 a week, of which 9s. would have been for the cost of labour and materials and 11s. the interest that had to be paid.

Now let us look at a council trying to do the same thing today. To build an average council house—and the average council house is a little smaller than it was in 1951—and charge an economic rent, it would have to charge a rent not of 20s., but of 35s., of which 10s. would be for labour and materials and 25s. in respect of the interest burden. That means that since 1951 the economic rent of a council house has risen by 15s., of which 1s. may be regarded as the inevitable cost of labour and materials and 14s. of which is to be laid at the door of Government policy in respect of high interest rates.

That is the problem with which local authorities are struggling. They are also struggling with the growing cost of land, recently referred to by as respectable and eminent authority as Sir Harold Bellman, who spoke of land in the outer London area, to say nothing of more costly places, changing hands at £8,000 an acre. There are estimates by competent authorities that the cost of land constitutes at least 15 per cent. and possibly as much as 30 per cent. of the cost of the house. That is another difficulty against which local authorities are struggling.

What help are they getting from the Government? First, we have the disappearance of the general subsidy. What have we been given as an excuse for its disappearance? We have been told that it was necessary to concentrate the effort on certain specific classes of building, particularly building to accommodate people from slum clearance. No doubt that is why we see a reference in the Amendment to the progressive demolition of the slums. How has slum clearance progressed? At the end of 1955, the Ministry estimated that there were about 850,000 dwellings that ought to be cleared. In March, 1959, the Ministry expressed the hope that 395,000 of them would be cleared by the end of 1960. But in January this year there was a circular from the Ministry saying that only 250,000 will be cleared by the end of 1960, 145,000 short of the target which the Ministry set itself. One can call that "progressive demolition of the slums" if one likes. No doubt, in a literal sense it is progressive. They cannot be demolished all at once. If they are demolished one after the other, one can call it a progressive process. It might be reasonable for the Government to substitute the word "disappointing" for the word "progressive" in their Amendment.

I have stressed the high cost of land, high interest rates, the disappearance of the subsidy and the financial difficulties with which local authorities are struggling, but the Government have their answer to this. We have had it so often before, and it crops up again in the Amendment. It is the usual Government answer—it is somebody else's fault. This time, it is the local authorities' fault because, in the Government's view, they subsidise tenants who do not need it. [Interruption.] My hon. Friend's inquiry reminds the Government of certain other classes of the population who receive subsidies without a close inquiry into the extent of their need. That is a very interesting and important question, but, so that I shall not take up too much time, let me concentrate on the allegation by the Government that local authorities could well tackle their problem if they did not subsidise tenants who did not need it.

If this is the Government's excuse for the housing situation, we are entitled to know the nature of the remedy that they propose. Is it the Government's policy that local authorities should say to council tenants with more than a certain income, "Get out"? If so, will they give any sort of guarantee to those tenants that they will be able to get something within their means from private landlords under the circumstances created by the Rent Act? Is that Government policy? If it is, what is the figure that people should be earning at which they are turned out of council flats? What is to happen to someone who has entered a council house with a moderate income and makes progress in his occupation or profession? Is he to take a council house in the knowledge that if his income goes beyond a certain point he will be flung out, with the housing market as it is today?

Above all, what proportion of tenants do the Government imagine are in this position? Can it be suggested that the proportion is such that it will make any serious contribution to local authorities' housing problems? Or is it the Government's policy that local authorities should say, "We will begin by telling everybody that they have to pay an economic rent. If they cannot afford to pay an economic rent, they must prove it by giving us the facts of their income, their family circumstances and necessary expenditure." If that is the Government's policy, I think that we are entitled to ask what they think is the sort of rent that councils should charge.

If the Minister were to inquire, like a number of my hon. Friends, into the relationship between the gross value of council houses and the rent, he would find that in a great many areas the rent is between one and three quarters and twice the gross value. In a number of cases, it is about twice the gross value and in some cases it goes up to two and a third or two and a half times the gross value. I do not think that it can be maintained that over the country as a whole council rents are fixed at an extravagantly low figure. Certainly, tenants would not believe that, and I do not think that the figures would bear it out, either.

Without going into the whole argument about proposals for differential rent and rent rebates, what we ought to notice is this. Even if councils dutifully follow the Minister's advice and embark on considerable inquiries into the means of their tenants, when one sets what they might be likely to get out of that against the burden imposed on them by high interest rates, the absence of subsidy and the high cost of land, it cannot be much more than a fringe contribution to the solution of our housing problem. What- ever rents local authorities charge, every new block of flats which they build shows an alarming rise in the burden that is bound to be imposed on either them, their tenants or the ratepayers, and that is predominantly due to policies for which the Government are responsible.

No doubt the Minister will win certain victories. Some authorities are being driven into schemes of this kind, but notice what will happen. It will be a bit easier to make ends meet. They will not find it makes any substantial contribution towards enabling them to build more houses. If a proposal does not do that it is not worth doing at all. They will find, also, that, where they operate schemes on a limited scale, they can get away with making fairly arbitrary judgments about what allowance should be made for overtime, a wife's income and for the income of an adolescent child.

If such schemes are carried out on any considerable scale and if those rather hasty calculations are maintained, torrents of well-justified complaints will pour into the town halls, and local authorities will either have to abandon the scheme or try to undertake detailed inquiries into people's circumstances, for which local authorities are not equipped and for which purpose they were not intended.

Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham) rose

Mr. Stewart

I do not propose to give way. Perhaps the hon. Member will be able to make his point later.

Apart from finance, the other great reason afflicting local authorities is shortage of sites. In some of the most crowded areas, the nation must tackle the problem of getting people cleared from some of the most overcrowded areas. The permanent Secretary to the Ministry spoke not long ago of the need to get ½ million people out of London, ¼ million out of Manchester, 200,000 out of Birmingham and possibly a total of 2 million out of conurbations up and down the country.

This is connected with the problem known as overspill. When a local authority endeavours to get people out of its area into another, there is legislation under which it is given certain powers and help. In 1955, the Minister of Aviation, then Minister of Housing, estimated that this legislation should result in about 20,000 cases being dealt with in a year. What has happened, as we can see from Answers given to my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl), is that as against the 20,000 houses a year needed for overspill purposes estimated by the then Minister of Housing, the figures of what has been achieved in the last four years have been, respectively, in round numbers, 13,000, 13,000, 9,000 and 8,000, or a total in the four years of only about half what the former Minister of Housing considered would be necessary.

Further, if we are to carry out the task of clearing the population out of the more overcrowded areas, we must have a more resolute policy about new towns. The Labour Government designated 12 new towns. The present Government have designated one. The London County Council, recognising that its problem could not otherwise be solved, has by its own enterprise undertaken a task that would have lain more properly in the Government's field and is endeavouring to bring a new town into existence in Hampshire. I hope that at least the Ministry will give all the help it can to that project.

That is the nature of the problem with which we are faced. What is the answer that Government policy gives to the would-be tenant, the person in overcrowded, desperate, frustrating conditions? If he says that he wants a council house, the Government say, "We do not much care for council houses. We have been trying to get fewer and fewer of them built. If you go into a council house, you must expect to be regarded as a kind of applicant for National Assistance, with a label round your neck that you are somebody whose means must be inquired into. If you go to a private landlord and are lucky enough to find anywhere, you do it in peril of the kind of thing now being experienced by people who signed three-year agreements under the Rent Act three years ago. If you try to solve your problem by buying your house, Government policy in the past few years has succeeded in causing that operation to take you longer and to cost you more than you had reasonable ground to sup- pose it would when you embarked upon it.

We say that that situation must be tackled by collective action, by greater powers and fulfilment of greater duties by the local authorities. We believe that local authorities should have the power and the duty progressively to acquire properties of the kind that were rent-controlled before the Rent Act and that the first thing that they should do on acquisition is to offer them to the sitting tenant at the price at which they acquired them. That would be a real encouragement and help for owner occupation, which, for many people, is a healthy and useful solution to their housing problem. With those houses that remain in their possession, the local authorities would be able to do what the private landlord will not do—that is, when vacancies occur, allocate them according to need—and make a real dent in the long list of people whose need is acute.

Next, we must encourage increased council building by a restoration, at least at some level, of the general subsidy by preferential rates of interest and by giving councils help to carry out what is necessary in some areas—a job of comprehensive development, of clearing up an area that is, say, an untidy jumble of housing, open space that is wasteful because it is too small to be of any amenity use, and semi-industrial and commercial buildings. We must see that the legislation concerning overspill is either more effectively used, or is amended and that real encouragement is given to the development of new towns.

We have here a huge problem which private enterprise is not equal to solving. This is part of the general case applicable to the whole of our civilisation. In the evolution of animals, we find that as a creature develops a larger frame or more elaborate limbs, it must develop also a larger brain and a greater capacity for co-ordinated action if it is not to go the way of the dinosaurs. And so in the civilisation of men, as a country grows richer, as its way of life becomes more complex, it must develop a greater capacity for collective intelligent foresight and collective efficient action.

4.15 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Sir Keith Joseph)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: approves the untiring determination of Her Majesty's Government to improve housing conditions and opportunities; notes the continued high level of housebuilding since 1952 in comparison with previous years; welcomes the progressive demolition of the slums; but regrets that many local authorities still subsidise tenants who do not need it, thereby failing to use Exchequer moneys to best advantage in fulfilment of their housing responsibilities ". I agree with that part of the speech of the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) in which he stressed that there still remain in some areas overcrowding and bad housing conditions. With the rest of the hon. Member's speech, I propose to deal as I speak and I shall try to evade none of the points he raised. I propose, however, to deal as quickly as I can with the past and then turn to an analysis of the position as it is today and to what is being, and should be, done about it.

Since the war, nearly 3½ million new dwellings have been built in Great Britain. Of this number, no fewer than 2½ million have been built since 1951. This has been achieved only by giving housing top priority from the moment that this Government were returned to power. Let me mention some features of this remarkable housing drive, a drive that has put no less than one in six of all the families in the country into a new home since this Government first took office.

First, there was the great upsurge of building for owner-occupation. It is true, as the hon. Member for Fulham said, that it is taking place more in the South than in the North, but even in the North the drive has produced a considerable number of new homes. Last year, in England and Wales alone, there were over 146,000 completions. This year, judging by the starts, the number will be much higher. By no means all of these houses are occupied by households who vacate a previous dwelling. Many are bought by fresh households, but a number of these which are built for dwner-occupation definitely free other dwellings directly or indirectly for the general use.

Home ownership is a basic belief of our party. It fosters the independence of the owner and, by his savings, enables us, at the same time, to pursue expansion more safely. But not even the home owner can be spared the effect of the interest rate, which is one of our weapons against the universal enemy of inflation. In their benefit to all, stable prices far exceed the fluctuating burden of interest rates.

To ease home ownership, we first abolished the building licence. Then we reduced and then abolished Stamp Duty on homes up to £3,500. We have made money available to building societies to extend the market in older properties. During the six months after this began in mid-1959, no fewer than 28,000 advances were made for this purpose and the scheme is only now getting into full swing. We have encouraged local authorities to lend money for house purchase. During 1959, they lent no less than £50 million for this purpose, including £1½ million in cases where 100 per cent. of the value of the house was lent.

Then there is the stock of existing privately-owned housing, owner-occupied or to let. The Government have acted vigorously to ensure the improvement of those among these houses which are without modern amenities. There are upwards of 3 million of them, with lives of varying lengths, which lack one or more of the facilities that a family today can rightly expect to find in its home. It pays the community to modernise these houses rather than to let them deteriorate into museum pieces. It pays the community to improve them, only when they are sound. When we came to power, the idea of improving properties had scarcely begun to have any effect at all.

During the four years following 1949, only about 6,000 improvement grants were claimed and used. Since then, by virtue, first, of the present Prime Minister's change of policy in 1954, and then of the standard grant introduced last year, the rate in England and Wales has gone up to 80,000 last year, and we expect it to top the 100,000 this year.

Mr. Charles Royle (Salford, West)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Sir K. Joseph

I would rather not be interrupted. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the 1949 Act?"] I gave credit for the 1949 Act, for the idea of improvements, but said that, at that time, the rate was very low. If the hon. Gentleman reads HANSARD he will find that I said that the 1949 rate was very slow.

Housing for letting, of which the hon. Member for Fulham has spoken, is vitally important. My right hon. Friend hopes very much that private enterprise and housing associations, which the hon. Gentleman did not mention, will add to their existing stock and will increase their rate of building to let. They have a large and important part to play, but, as he said, the bulk of new housing comes from the local authorities.

The peak of their building is past, partly because, as he himself said, in some areas the urgency of the demand is already satisfied. After all, in the country as a whole, since 1951, over 7 million people have been rehoused, and the housing situation as a whole has been transformed. A decline in general building of houses by local authorities was, therefore, to be expected. Many local authorities have now built enough to meet their really urgent needs. Some urban authorities are, however—I shall come to this in more detail presently—starting to cut back because of the shortage of available sites, but, despite this, we are on a rising trend now. In 1960, there should be a rising trend of completions as compared with 1959, and we must not forget, as the hon. Gentleman contrived to forget, that local authorities dispose each year of a formidable number of vacant dwellings —relets. Even assuming that throughout the country they average only 2 per cent. of the stock, this in itself supplies local authorities with no fewer than 70,000 dwellings to dispose of each year.

As the hon. Gentleman made clear— and I should like to agree with him —local authorities are now encouraged by special subsidies to turn more and more to special needs. For four years, slum clearance has been in the front of Government policy, and we intend to keep it there until it is finished. There is, of course, a subsidy for this. Of the 875,000 houses judged unfit in England and Wales in 1955, about 200,000 have already been demolished, and 600,000 people rehoused—as many as live in the whole of the City of Sheffield—and this progress will continue.

In five years, the problem will be confined to those areas with the highest concentration of outworn properties, and over the greatest part of the country the neglect of generations will be a thing of the past. The Minister has recently asked local authorities to review their slum clearance programmes, and when they are coming to the end of their present plans but still have more to do, to send him their further proposals.

There has also been special encouragement by persuasion and subsidy to build for a class of the community which the hon. Gentleman did not even think fit to mention—the elderly. The percentage of local authority one-bedroom dwellings has grown from 7 per cent., when we came to power, to no less than 26 per cent. now, and my right hon. Friend has made it plain that he would like to see it over 30 per cent. Last year, about 22,000 one-bedroom dwellings were completed by local authorities through the effect of private enterprise and housing associations.

This, then, briefly, is our record, but there still remain the problem areas. I shall now turn to the present position and problems of certain areas of the country where there is a concentration of all the difficulties, where the legacy of neglect in the form of slums is greatest and where the shortage of sites is most severe. I shall be dealing with the latter in a few minutes.

In these areas, so different from the rest of the country, where the worst of the problem is solved, inescapable difficulties stand in the way of any quick solution, and it is in these areas particularly that the problem has been increased by four general factors, which are in themselves blessings. The first two are linked. They are that, thanks to the rising prosperity and the longer expectation of life, there are more and smaller households for every thousand of the population than there were. These smaller households are due partly to the trend of family units which used, for lack of room or money, to share accommodation to favour separate dwellings. This is what is called fragmentation by the experts. The other is that so many more people are surviving longer in old age and thus increasing the need for smaller dwellings.

The third factor that affects the problem is another blessing. It is that the population, which has increased by 3 million since the war, is still increasing, as the hon. Gentleman said, at the rate of about 80,000 families a year. The fourth is the rising standard of education and of prosperity that rightly leads the people to expect higher standards of housing. These are the results of prosperity. They are welcome factors in themselves, but they have, naturally, increased the task in the problem areas.

We have to cope with the demand growing each year in number and in quality. The target that we have to hit is itself a moving one. Obviously, in these problem areas there must be more space for building and improved accommodation. We could, of course, permit the wholesale expansion of our cities, and we could not let them cut into the green belts, but this would be a counsel of despair, and I am sure that no one in this debate will raise it. We should be sacrificing the inheritance of our children and of our children's children. Not only should we be using land that is for our delight, recreation and our agriculture, but we should be adding to the problems of size already set by so many of our cities. We must use other methods.

If we may not build out, perhaps there are places where we could build up, or where the density can be increased as redevelopment occurs. The L.C.C. quinquennial review, published only a few days ago, proposed local increases of density of this kind. There is, of course, the space still left in the new towns. Over 70,000 houses have been built in the new towns, and in the next three years another 20,000 will be built. Over half of these will probably go to Londoners.

Then there are the expanded towns, where overspill agreements have been made between the exporting authorities and the receiving authorities, and where several sorts of subsidies already exist to help the process. After great efforts on the part of the exporting and receiving authorities, there are now to be built in the expanded towns to serve eight of our large cities no fewer than 73,000 dwellings, of which 15,000 are either built or under construction. There will be other expanded town agreements.

These then are the methods which will provide more space for building and more accommodation. How do the Opposition propose to deal with all this? What is their solution for this problem? They ask for more subsidies by way of lower interest rates, but the subsidies already paid amount to £74 million each year—£58 million from the taxpayer and £16 million from the ratepayer. How could the hon. Gentleman speak of the absence of subsidies?

These subsidies are surely adequate to enable councils to house those who cannot afford to pay the full rent. They can do this by pooling the subsidies and by aharging as near as their tenants can afford to the full rent for each dwelling. The aggregate subsidy, plus the surplus arising from charging those rents for cheaper pre-war dwellings, will be concentrated on reducing the rents to those whose capacity to pay is more limited.

Most authorities have enough cheap pre-war houses and enough above-average income tenants to enable them to do this, even if some of their better-off tenants quit and fend for themselves rather than pay a full rent for a dwelling that they will never own, but there will still remain, from the full rents of the next income level, and the pooled subsidies, ample to enable them to reduce the rents of those who are least well-off.

The hon. Member spoke in general terms about the rent levels charged by local authorities today. I would like to give the House two examples of rents being charged in great cities, where industrial earnings are at least not below average. In one city the rent is 16s. for a three-bedroom, post-war house, and in another city it is 16s. 3d. Those are only examples. Let us suppose only that average council rents were raised to twice the gross rateable value, as private tenants have in many cases come to regard as normal. The result would be that, by that act alone, councils would receive an increase of many millions of pounds income each year, to enable them to cope with the building that remains to be done.

Why should the taxpayer and the ratepayer provide yet more subsidies to permit low rents of this sort to be maintained regardless of need? Why should households who may or may not have once had some special claim to be housed by the local authority retain automatically, regardless of need and of any change in their circumstances, a privileged low rent at the expense of the rest of the community? The fact is that all local authorities should consider differential rent schemes. At the moment, only about one-third of them are running such schemes. Far too little use of them is made by those local authorities who could, with their help, serve far better both their electorates and their waiting lists.

Low interest rates are the particular form of subsidy which the hon. Member suggested, but they are only an indiscriminate form of subsidy, and in that way are even more undesirable than the discriminating form. In fact, there are direct subsidies for local authorities which particularly need them because of the cost to their rates and rents of building new houses today. Subsidies are payable for expensive sites costing, as developed, over £4,000 per acre, and for those authorities faced with unreasonably high rates and unreasonably high rents on all their houses there is a special discretionary subsidy of up to £30 per house per year, for sixty years.

So far, 50 local authorities have been able to take advantage of this subsidy. No—in many places, though not all, the problem is not one entirely of a lack of dwellings, and certainly not one of a lack of subsidy. I shall try to explain why I say this. For those people with a steady, above-average income, there are plenty of alternatives. I do not think that hon. Members opposite would deny that. These people can buy a new or old house, if not at home then nearby. They can rent the less cheap houses that are to let.

Mrs. Harriet Slater (Stoke-on-Trent, North)


Sir K. Joseph

I could have brought for the benefit of the hon. Lady newspapers with pages filled with advertisements for houses to let. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"] I am speaking of people with above-average incomes, and of houses that are not the cheapest. These people can also join in self-help housing associations; they can claim and use improvement grants and conversion grants, and they can borrow money from local authorities and building societies. Those with above-average incomes and steady jobs can fend for themselves.

I am not for one moment including those households which have high incomes only for a relatively short time, while the children are earning, and before they marry. I am not suggesting that those households, on that account alone, should fend for themselves. But, generally, it is those who are below average in earnings, or whose jobs are not steady, who most need help, if they have no decent homes. I recognise the social dangers of their housing distress. I see in his place the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin). As he knows, co-ordination of the social services—of which he spoke yesterday— is a theme upon which I have personally been expounding for several years. I noted with interest the sympathetic reply to his speech given by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. So far as it concerned housing, the first need is for more accommodation and the better use of existing accommodation. There is no magic way to achieve this. We can achieve it only by a combination of the separate methods of attack which I am now discussing. I hope that I have convinced hon. Members opposite that it is mainly those who have less than average incomes, or who are without any jobs, who most need help.

I now turn to the question of what is available for them. Many of them are living in the remaining slums. Figures of those are included in the rather large estimate of households in need given by the hon. Member. But the slums are coming down and the people living in them are being rehoused in new homes. Some of those who are in distress will be housed in the vacancies of which I have spoken—the relets of local authorities—which probably number 70,000 a year. Others will buy their own homes, because their income permits it, and they will get building society or local authority loans. Others will move into conversions, and some will rent improved or unimproved existing rented property.

But for some there is suitable accommodation in being, already unused, which would be available if municipal rent policies were different. In all too many cases today dwellings are either overcrowded or under-occupied. Much misery could be averted if those who do not even use all the space they have would move into the room or rooms of those who, at the moment, live on top of each other Under-ocoupation is a great shame, wherever it occurs. We would like to see more conversions to reduce it, and there are already grants of up to £400 per dwelling to encourage this very conversion.

I hope that hon. Members opposite will realise that wherever, thanks to the taxpayers' or the ratepayers' subsidies, the rent is below proper levels, we are actually tempting families to under-occupy their space. We are offering them a bribe to waste accommodation. Councils who so arrange their rents are not serving either their electorates or their waiting lists responsibly.

There are two particularly fruitful sources of under-occupation. One is connected with those very families who have high earnings for a short time, while their children are at work and before they marry. When these children do leave the household their parents often stay on, and no one occupies the one or two bedrooms left vacant. Another fruitful source of under-occupation is connected with the elderly. Only too often the elderly retain homes that are too large for their convenience, simply because there are no dwellings suitable for them, or because they do not know where to go. Meanwhile on the waiting lists are families who desperately need the very accommodation that is available, but not used by them.

The Government have begun to create conditions so that at least there will not be so many pressures tending to create under-occupation. Rent decontrol, which is gradually extending as vacancies occur, is one such influence. So is the growth in special building for the elderly, nourished by the subsidy available. So are our constant attempts to persuade more local authorities to use differential rent schemes. So are the conversions for which we supply grants. Obviously, such transfers and such better allocations of dwellings can be brought about only gradually.

I give the point to the hon. Member for Fulham that, obviously, these cannot solve the whole problem, but they can solve a significant part of it. By charging a full rent for all except those who cannot afford it we would make two things more likely: that those who can fend for themselves make way for those who cannot, and that those who do not need space that is not being used by them would make way for those who need that accommodation.

Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)

How many of these houses are there?

Sir K. Joseph

We must remember that there is a large stock of municipal dwellings—over 3½ million—and a very small proportion of those, about 1 per cent. to 2 per cent., would make a very considerable dent in the waiting list. I am putting deliberately low the number that would be released. We are dealing here with very large total magnitudes.

The fact is that there is no single solution to the problems that remain where there is a housing shortage. The remaining serious but localised problem needs tackling simultaneously by all the methods which I have indicated. First, there must be more building for owner-occupation and more building by local authorities to let. These are increasing, except cheap private building to rent. Because of the shortage of sites, this means more use of expanded towns, the completion of new towns, and in some places a higher density.

Secondly, there must be more and continued slum clearance, more conversions, and more building for the elderly— which the hon. Member for Fulham did not even bother to mention—and more improvements. All these are already subsidised and they are in full swing at an increasing rate.

Thirdly, there must be an easier market for buying and selling sound property, even of the older sort, and this has been helped by the capital support to building societies.

What we need now on top of all this is better use of municipal dwellings. Full rent should be normal, and subsidies should be concentrated on those who cannot afford the full rent. This would remove the temptation to under-occupation and would tend to lead those who can fend for themselves to make way for those who cannot. These are the means which will together ease and then clear the remaining housing problems. The Government have a record of solid achievement behind them. Over 7 million of the population have moved into new homes since 1951, there is greatly increased building for the elderly, one-quarter of the slums have already been demolished. Problems of improvement, house-purchase, owner-occupation, have all been solved. We shall continue until the remaining serious but localised problems have been solved, too.

4.44 p.m.

Mr. Frank Allaun (Salford, East)

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government has just said that it would ease the situation if tenants were to exchange houses, but he must know that if a tenant leaves a controlled house and exchanges with another tenant, the immediate effect is that that house becomes decontrolled and the landlord can raise the rent to any amount he likes. He can insist on having tenants who have no children or tenants who have no dogs, or he can sell the house altogether. Therefore, this proposed exchange of houses would in no way be advantageous to the tenant.

Mrs. Slater

Is it not true that when the Rent Act was being discussed, the Labour Party tabled a Motion to the effect that the Minister should take action to enforce exchanges, but the ToTy Party voted against it?

Mr. Allaun

A couple of weeks ago I attended a trade union conference. In the course of the discussion a delegate said, "When I come home from work and want to wash my feet, my wife has to pull an enamel bowl from under the cupboard and put the kettle on the stove." He might have gone further and said that his was not a solitary case. There are 5 million houses without a bath in Great Britain, and that means that roughly 15 million people, or nearly one-third of the population, have no bath in their houses in 1960, in the age of atomic energy, automation and space travel. Surely there is something wrong here.

The overcrowding situation beggars description. I can take the Parliamentary Secretary to a house in my constituency—a typical Salford house, because these long rows of terraced houses are all the same. They are "two up and two down" houses and the bedrooms, about 10 ft. square, are the size of boxrooms. Sleeping in these two bedrooms in one house which I know, are a father and mother and eight children of different sexes, aged up to 19 years. As the father said to me, "It is not right." Two of the children have been seriously scalded because there is no hot water or bath in the house and every drop of water has to be heated in a big saucepan on the gas stove.

In an overcrowded kitchen of that kind it is not surprising that there should be serious accidents. The mother has had one lung removed, and one of the little girls has been in an open-air school. This family has been on the housing waiting list for years. Three hundred yards away is a similar case of a mother, father and eight children sleeping in two tiny bedrooms.

Young couples come to our advice bureaux. I am sure that this must apply to hon. Members on both sides of the House. A constant stream of hopeless people come to see us and we can do nothing for them. Some of them have been on the waiting list for sixteen years, ever since 1944. Young couples are in a terrible position. They want homes of their own, because however amiable the families, two families sharing one kitchen stove is one family too many.

A mother said to me the other day, "Mr. Allaun, I have been on the waiting list now since 1945. When we applied after the war I dreamt of giving my children a proper home, a home with a bath and hot water and perhaps even a garden, but that is fifteen years ago and fifteen years is a long time to wait for a house. Today, the children are grown up and they have missed forever What they were entitled to have—a proper childhood." Her cheeks flushed and her eyes filled with tears. I felt it wrong that mothers should not be able to give their children a proper childhood, which is something to which they are entitled.

Take my own constituency again. Five out of ten houses in Salford have no bath, and most of them have no hot water and no inside toilet. Many of them are so wet that the paper peels off the walls, and the children are seldom free from chest and lung trouble. It is a very difficult task for parents to bring up their children healthly and well in circumstances like that.

In Manchester, nearby, two houses a day, on the average, either fall down or have to be demolished because they are in imminent danger of falling down. Those figures are not mine. They are reported by Dr. Metcalfe Brown, the Medical Officer of Health. He says that 600 houses a year either fall down or have to be demolished.

In Stockport, I know of houses which have no toilet at all. I know of a square where they have to take the young children's chamber pots from the house to lavatories in the middle of the square. In Macclesfield, a case came to light yesterday where families have to walk 50 yards to a toilet. That is Britain, in 1960. It seems to me that some people do not know how the other half of the world lives. It is easy for Cabinet Minister and others who live in the west ends of our cities to be ignorant of what is happening in the east ends.

I do not want to go on at length, because, to tell the truth, I never thought that I would be called so early and I had not prepared what I was going to say. But it is all very well saying that these people should buy their own homes. Some of them do, but the great majority of people cannot afford to do so. There are 20 million earners plus their dependants with an income of £16 a week or less, and in my view, if one is earning less than that sum a week, one cannot afford to buy one's own house, otherwise one will run into a load of trouble. I think that hon. Members will agree with that.

These people are dependent on council houses and their plight is worsening seriously. The Minister knows the figures as well as I do. The total of council houses built has halved since 1954. In that year, 235,000 council houses were built. In 1958, the figure was 140,000 and last year it was 122,000, almost exactly half the 1954 figure. This has happened for two reasons. The first is because of the Government's financial policy and the second is because it has removed the subsidy from most types of houses except those for slum clearance purposes. The interest rate was 3¼ per cent. in 1951 under the Labour Government and by last January it had risen to 5¾ per cent. Since then, there has been a further rise with which I will deal in a moment.

The Minister will remember that I put a Question to him some time ago about the effect of this, and it transpired that a £1,500 house, by the time interest had been paid for sixty years at 5¾ per cent., would eventually cost £5,353—more than three and a half times the capital cost. This is why people are having to pay high rents. I will give an example.

Last Sunday morning, I went to see a block of flats that has been built by Salford City Council—and my council is doing well not because of the Government's policy, but despite it. In that block of flats were people who came out of "Hanky Park", which is the name for Hankinson Street, about which Walter Greenwood wrote in his novel, "Love on the Dole". Those houses, I am glad to say, have been demolished, and they were paying 13s. a week for them.

Now these people have come into very nice council flats, built by direct labour which has reduced the building time by fifteen months on a three-year schedule and has saved hundreds of thousands of pounds. The mothers in this block of flats told me of the tremendous benefits they were getting. Their children were eating bigger meals, and sleeping better than they did in the back streets of the slums.

They came into these flats, however, at 33s. a week and the council is forced to add 7s. a week to the rent, bringing it up to nearly £2. For people of low income—I am not thinking merely of people on National Assistance, but builders' and engineers' labourers earning £8 or £9 a week—this is a tremendous burden. The effect of that interest rate is obvious. Since January, there has been a further 1 per cent. rise in the Bank Rate. I am not a financial expert, but I believe that the Bank Rate ultimately affects all other interest rates and that, eventually, there will be a heavy addition to the 5¾ per cent. So far, it has only been one-eighth of 1 per cent., but even that has its effect.

According to the Salford City Treasurer, on a multi-storey flat costing £2,390—as the Minister knows, multistorey flats are far more expensive to build than normal corporation houses; that is an average charge—this 1 per cent., if it were added, would mean 8s. 6d. added to an existing increase of 21s. 3d. a week since 1951 in interest charges.

The average council house—not such an expensive one as that—has been increased by 26s. a week in interest charges by the higher interest rate and by the removal of the subsidy—the second reason for the fall in council building. Let us consider the effect of the removal of the subsidy on most types of houses. The position in Salford is tragic. People come to me who have been on the housing list since 1944, and I know that they have not a cat in hell's chance, because the only families in Salford who are getting houses are those who were registered in 1944, or who are in slum clearance areas, since the council is being forced to provide houses exclusively for slum clearance tenants. This is not peculiar to Salford. Many councils have gone even further and have stopped building altogether, although there is this tragic need for houses.

How much would it cost to reduce the interest rate on houses from 5¾ per cent. to 3¼ per cent.? The Minister has given me the figure. On last year's housing programme it would cost precisely £6 million a year. That is a fleabite compared with the £45 million a year given in last year's Budget in Income Tax relief to Surtax payers, or the £250 million a year given in subsidies to farmers, or the £1,600 million a year spent on the arms programme. I believe that we should do it. It should be in the form of cheap interest rates rather than subsidies of one kind or another, because it should be for the local authorities to say what type of house they need most.

When we asked for this, the Minister of Housing refused our demand. He said that if we introduced some kind of differential rent scheme and devoted existing subsidies to those who needed them most we would cure the problem. I do not think that it would, and there are many reasons for my saying that. The Minister's proposal would mean that some house rents would go up a little and some would go up a lot, but if we had cheap housing loans it would not be necessary to raise the rents at all.

I could give other reasons, but, instead, will conclude by saying that, on the home front, this is the greatest social evil of our time. The position of the council house tenant is worsening, mainly due to high rates of interest. Unless, by their financial policy, the Government are able to reduce all interest rates, they should provide cheap loans for housing. That would prove the salvation of people who, at present, are condemned for years and years to live in these terrible housing conditions.

5.1 p.m.

Mr. Colin Turner (Woolwich, West)

Representing, as I do, Mr. Deputy Speaker, one of the most widely-flung London constituencies, entirely dormitory in character and having as its two main problems transportation and housing, I am extremely grateful to have caught your eye. I speak as one who has had the honour to serve on the housing committee of a borough council. I shall endeavour, in my remarks, to keep the political temperature of this highly controversial topic at the very lowest point and, at the same time, ask the House to extend its time-honoured courtesy to one who is addressing it for the first time.

I intend to restrict my remarks to two matters. The first is that, in my opinion, many local councils have extremely poor public relations, which is aggravating their housing problem. Secondly, I wish to say a few words about the future of housing in London.

The home is the centre of happy family life and of our whole social outlook. The housing waiting list is the centre of misery—of expectation, in some cases, but, in more cases than not, of uncertainty. This is due almost entirely to the poor public relations of many local authorities, whatever may be their political complexion.

When good authorities get an application acceptable for their housing list, they point the applicants, send them a copy of the housing points scheme, inform them of the pointage in their category, and tell them when, at the estimated rate of progress, they are likely to receive accommodation. Those families, and the man in particular, see a chink of light on the horizon and know that there is at least some hope. They can then look around and decide whether to put up with their present conditions and wait for a council house, or just make that little extra effort which, in many cases, will enable them either to purchase or to rent a house of their own.

It is time that local authorities took the people on their housing lists into their confidence. Only those authorities which fail to do the best they can in the circumstances are likely to face the wrath of the electorate. People on the housing lists should be treated as human beings, not as mere numbers. They are entitled to know when it is likely that the local authority will be able to help. That type of information brings out the best in our people, and local authorities should concentrate on giving it.

Lack of knowledge, of understanding of the position, breeds frustration. It creates a feeling that there may be something wrong with an allocation system that gives a house to Mrs. Brown before Mrs. Smith gets hers. That is not what we want. If local authorities will take the people into their confidence they will reduce that sense of frustration —perhaps not in any large measure, but every extra person who can be helped improves the situation.

I do not think that any hon. Member will dispute that London has a massive housing problem ahead of it. The main problem is not finance, but shortage of sites. Therefore, we want really urgent action, and a complete reappraisal of what we are to do with the available land. We have to look again at all the land, all the zoning problems. London's priority No. 1 is housing, and I will be as drastic and revolutionary as anyone likes by saying that we should now decide that there is to be no further factory or office building on sites that are to be redeveloped. Once and for all, we should concentrate on housing and, of course, on the ancillary services, such as schools.

If the Government were to give this matter really urgent and energetic attention they would not only increase the density on those sites that come up for redevelopment, as my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary said, but they would look again at the whole thing, rezone areas now designated for industrial and office purposes, and look at the surplus land that is still in the hands of such public authorities as British Railways. If they were to do that we might greatly change the outlook for London's housing.

At present, this is an essential task for the Government. The Government and the local authorities will be judged on the boldness of their imagination and the urgency of their action. "Time and tide wait for no man"—London's housing problem certainly does not. For those on the housing lists, justice has not only to be done but has to be seen to be done as well.

5.9 p.m.

Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)

It is a real pleasure, and I say it with deep sincerity, to follow the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Turner), and to congratulate him on his maiden speech. He has shown very great wisdom in choosing a subject that he has obviously studied with great care, and one that vitally affects his own constituents. He must have realised that those hon. Members fortunate enough to listen to him listened not only with great care but with great respect. I am sure that we shall all look forward to hearing more from him as the years go by. I not only congratulate him but thank him for the way in which he tackled his subject.

I wish the Government had adopted the unanimous report of the Committee, over which I had the honour to preside, as long ago as 1946, which considered the problem in London, this tremendous area which extends for thirty miles from this House, where one encounters the most difficult problems in housing with regard to water, transport and education. The whole of London should come under one regional government so that matters such as those referred to by the hon. Gentleman could be dealt with as a whole instead of piecemeal, as they are at present.

I now turn to a region which is very different from that represented by the hon. Member for Woolwich, West. One is accustomed, and perhaps one must expect, to hear optimistic speeches from the Dispatch Box that all is well and that we have never had it so good, but I have never before heard from a Parliamentary Secretary such a rosy picture as was painted today. I wish the picture painted by the Parliamentary Secretary bore some relation to the facts.

The hon. Gentleman said that slums were coming down. It is now twenty-two years since I handed in a report on the conditions which lead to illness and which cause so much suffering to humanity, and, in particular, which cause that dread disease, tuberculosis. In the course of the two years it took me to conduct that inquiry, I interviewed scores of doctors, and every one of them emphasised that the cause of disease was bad housing, because damp and cold houses weaken the resistance which the body ought to be able to put up against attacks by the tuberculosis germ.

Other factors were bad schools and bad feeding. The problem of bad feeding in country districts, certainly in those districts where the children were forced to be away from home for many hours during the day, has been overcome to a certain extent by the introduction of bus services which enable children to be taken to school quickly and thus save some of the time they have to spend away from home. In addition, the provision of milk and mid-day meals in schools helps to combat disease.

The housing problem has not been tackled as it should have been. I agree that the war intervened, but lest it be thought that conditions in Wales were worse Chan anywhere else, immediately after I handed in that report separate inquiries were made by that great institution, the Women's Institutes, in 2,000 villages in England. Conditions were found to be worse than those which I described in Wales, and the same thing could be said for Scotland.

I want to give the House the figures in my own county. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, time and again I have called attention to the rate at which the population in my county is dwindling. The figure today is down to 43,000, which means that we have about 14,800 houses. I asked the right hon. Gentleman's Department in Cardiff if it could give me the number of houses, out of that 14,800, which were occupied but were unfit for human habitation in the County of Montgomery. I was shocked by the report. There was not one council from North to South or East to West which came through with a clean sheet. There was not one which had not been told that it must attend to this problem because it was the cause of most of the trouble. Bad housing weakens the family, reduces the power of production, and is the most expensive of all matters because of the suffering it causes through disease and early deaths.

To my surprise and horror, I found that this year in the County of Montgomery there are 2,309 houses—that is roughly one-sixth of the total—unfit for occupation which are occupied because no other houses are available. I have blamed the councils for this, but the councils cannot do more than their finances permit them to do.

Reference has been made to the difficulty of getting land. Councils often have to resort to compulsory acquisition. What can councils do? I propose to give the House some details of rateable values for the county and for one rural district. I have here the report of a recent meeting of one rural council. For the whole county, until revaluation, a 1d. rate produced £663. That was also the amount produced in the Counties of Anglesey, Merioneth and Cardigan. After revaluation, a 1d. rate produced £1,371.

The cost of roads in my county is higher than in any county in Great Britain. Most of the members of the council are farmers. They naturally concern themselves with the roads leading to the farms on which they work, and a great deal of money has been spent on subsidies for the highland farms, but it is no good doing that if no money is available for roads, houses and schools.

May I now give the figures for Forden Rural District? A 1d. rate produces only £120 a year, and a recent report in the local paper says: From 4th April, all council house rents in Forden Rural Area will be increased by 1s. per week. This was necessary, the council decided on Wednesday, to cover deficits. It was stated it was the policy of the council to make no rate allowance on the houses. The deficit last year was £236, and if rents were maintained at present levels would rise to about £500 this year. I heard with surprise today that the rent for some council houses is only 16s. a week. I wish that applied to my county where the people, who are only agricultural labourers, are not capable of earning these enormous wages that can be earned in the larger towns in industrial areas. The report continues: Present rents range from 32s. to 34s. 2d. a week. It was reported that the Exchequer grant to the council this year would be £7,115 There then follows this quotation: Following a public meeting in Abermule in July, the clerk reported that owners of the Vicarage Field and the field to the south of the school had refused to sell. These were the sites considered most suitable for housing. Unless compulsory powers were obtained the scheme considered in 1956 was not possible. The rents of any houses erected would, he stated, vary from 40s. 5d. (rehousing after slum clearance) to 56s. 1d. a week, exclusive of rates. It was stated during the meeting that with a present increased loan rate the houses could not be let for less than £3 and it was unlikely that they could be let at that figure. No wonder the report concludes: It was agreed that no action be taken. That is the position.

What was the good of the Parliamentary Secretary making such an optimistic, roseate speech as he did this afternoon when conditions are like that? How can people pay a rent of nearly £3 a week out of an agricultural wage? That sum is not far short of half the weekly agricultural wage. How can they possibly look after their families properly when a demand of that sort is made upon them? How can I blame my councils now that the cost of the loan has gone up? As the hon. Gentleman opposite rightly pointed out, there has been an increase of an extra 1 per cent. since January. When I press the councils to do more and to look after their people, as they are anxious to do, the answer they make is, "How can we? The rates are already more than they can bear. Therefore, we have to leave them in these houses".

One does one's best to attract new industry to these areas, and, fortunately, new industry has come to one or two small towns. When that happens, what is the result for those who have been waiting patiently for a new house? They have to give way in order that the house may go to what is called a key man in the new industry so that his family may be provided for, and they themselves have to remain in the insanitary houses which we condemned years ago.

That is the picture I put before the right hon. Gentleman today, not the roseate picture but one which still affects the well-being, the future and the power of production of our people.

5.23 p.m.

Mr. Philip N. Hocking (Coventry, South)

In rising to address the House this afternoon for the first time, I wish to claim, as other of my colleagues have done, the indulgence which, I understand, is traditionally given on the occasion of a maiden speech. I will try to be as uncontroversial and as un-provocative as I possibly can.

The constituency of Coventry, South which I represent is probably well known to many hon. Members. It is associated with the name of Miss Burton, my predecessor, and on this occasion I should like to say how well she worked for the constituency during the time she represented it. It is perhaps ironical that the good fortune of one party should be the misfortune of another, but that, I suppose, is how politics have worked for some considerable time.

I think that if I were to forecast what will be said in most of the speeches this afternoon, it would be that everybody would want to see more houses and more housing accommodation provided. I believe that that accommodation can be and will be provided in due course in various ways. Houses, flats and bungalows for old people will probably be provided by local authorities and by private builders, but, as was said earlier this afternoon, it would appear that in recent years the proportion of one to the other has become approximately equal.

It has been said on many occasions, and has been written, that in order to rehouse the people from the blighted and slum districts and to keep pace with normal housing demands, it will be necessary in, possibly, the next twenty years to build something like 400,000 houses a year. It is obviously going to be a very great problem and one which will become more and more difficult as the years go by owing to the shortage—and it is a very real shortage—of the basic material of building, land.

I have no doubt that in recent months many hon. Members have noticed that the price of land suitable for development has risen very sharply. That rise in the price reflects, I believe, the shortage of land. Land which a few years ago could have been bought for hundreds of pounds today fetches as many thousands of pounds. In some instances, the price has gone up by as much as ten times.

From the analysis which the Ministry has made of the development plans of a large number of local authorities, it would appear that something of the order of 15,000 acres are going to be used each year for residential purposes. This acreage of land, I believe, is far too small to enable us to keep up with the rate of building that will be necessary. If we assume that twenty dwellings per acre are built on the 15,000 acres—and that will not allow for any of the gardens which it has been suggested many people want surrounding their property—it will give us only 300,000 houses a year. That rate of building, I submit, will not keep up with the pace of house building that is necessary.

In view of the fact that these development plans were drawn up in the late 1940's and the early 1950's, when the problems were different from what they are today, I believe that the time is now ripe, especially as the quinquennial reviews are about to take place, for those plans to be drastically reviewed.

At the same time, some regard must be had for the problem of the balance between land allocated for local authority housing and land which can be used for private building. Land which is made available for private building could easily be integrated with that which is made available for local authority building. To a certain extent, I should like the problems of slum clearance, which for far too long have been the sole prerogative of the local authorities, to be handed over to private developers. I believe that is possible.

The local authorities have the power compulsorily to acquire land. If we study the problems in the blighted areas, we find that it is impossible for a private concern to buy enough land from all the different owners. If local authorities would exercise their power and compulsorily acquire the land and then offer it for sale to private concerns, either on a freehold or a leasehold basis, I believe that private enterprise would be able to play its part and bring its energies to bear in overcoming this very difficult problem.

If we could get some private development within these redevelopment areas it would also mean that we should have more of a mixed community. Far too often we find that where slum clearance has taken place the people tend to stick together far too much. I am quite sure that if we could mix the community it would, in the long run, be beneficial for those living in the district. Some may well say that it would be far too costly to carry out this sort of thing. From investigations I have made, however, it would appear that the cost of buying in the properties is in the region of £6,500 per acre. The cost of demolition today is extremely low, and if we compare the price of £6,500 per acre with the amount of money which some land seems to fetch in sales and auctions at present, we find that those two figures are similar.

It is essential that the dwellings provided are as economical as possible for the persons living in them, having regard to good standards of construction and design. I believe that good housing is a sound and worthy objective and must be encouraged. Encouragement will be self-defeated, however, if the houses which people want to buy or to rent, and can afford, are impossible to obtain because there is no land upon which to build them.

5.31 p.m.

Mr. Julius Silverman (Birmingham, Aston)

In the first place, may I congratulate the hon. Member for Coventry, South (Mr. Hocking) upon his speech? It was obvious that he had studied deeply the subject about which he spoke, and even if we cannot all agree with everything he said, which I am sure he would not expect, his speech certainly aroused our interest and we shall look forward to hearing him participate in our future debates.

I will deal now with some of the statements made by the Parliamentary Secretary in his opening speech. Birmingham has 73,000 applicants on its housing register and it is clear that of these well over 40,000, probably 45,000, are acute cases which form a large hard core of a serious problem. There are no duplicated cases. While I am speaking about Birmingham, we all know that the same applies to Glasgow, London and other large cities, and I can only say that the people of Birmingham will obtain very little comfort from the speech of the hon. Gentleman.

The Parliamentary Secretary said that although it is true that fewer local authority houses are being built, more private houses are going up. Of what use is that to the 73,000 applicants in Birmingham? The hon. Gentleman can take it that few of the families who come to me and to the councillors with their housing problems can think in terms of buying a house. If they could, they would not remain in circumstances of hardship on the local authority register, where they may have to wait for several years. So this is no answer to their problem.

It is true to say that many of the young families who are buying their houses at present do so because there is no alternative. It is not that they want to buy houses. In many cases they buy them when they have no children, maybe while husband and wife are working, and when they have one child. Later, when their familiy increases and there is only one bread winner, they find that they cannot afford what they were doing from sheer necessity, and their resources are strained to the uttermost. That is a widespread problem.

We are told that the problem can be dealt with by making municipal tenants pay a full rent instead of being subsidised. That is the Government's answer to the problem. In fact, there has been a consistent Tory campaign about municipal tenants. We are told that they are earning huge incomes and could buy houses or pay an economic rent for municipal housing. I have many thousands of municipal tenants in my own constituency and I can say from my personal knowledge in going from house to house that there are few of the tenants with large incomes about whom we have heard so much. I often wonder where they are. Yet this argument is consistently used by the Tory Party in attacking municipal tenants and, above all, in creating jealousy between the owner-occupier and the municipal tenant, which is. used for political advantage. I say deliberately that this is so.

Let us look at the position. In Birmingham, because of the shortage of land and because of Ministerial policy we must build flats, which constitute 80 per cent. of new dwellings, and if we had to charge municipal tenants an economic rent for the new flats being put up we would have to charge them £5 a week. Birmingham is a prosperous city, but how many families could afford to pay that? I can assure the House that very few could. The Parliamentary Secretary said that there were many people whose wages were above the average. There are quite a number, but how many can afford to pay that rent, bearing in mind the fact that the people who have gone into those flats since the war are almost all families with no less than two children, and therefore with only one bread winner? So I say plainly that there are few, if any, who can think in terms of paying a full economic rent for their flats.

The hon. Gentleman spoke of one area where rents for post-war dwellings are 16s. 3d. I can say that the lowest rent for any post-war dwelling in Birmingham is well over twice that amount, apart from old people's bungalows and flats. I do not know where this favoured area is. I have spoken to a large number of my colleagues and they do not know of rents as low as that. If there is such a place, I can only say that it is no use using such an exception as an example.

Reference has been made to subsidies to tenants. Who is being subsidised? As far as I can understand, the people who are being subsidised, those who receive the greatest portion of the rents and whose increased incomes put up the rents, are the moneylenders of this country, the people who advance the finance. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It is true. An increase of interest rates from 3 per cent. to 5 per cent. means a substantial increase not only in municipal rents but also in the interest payable on mortgages on owner-occupied houses.

Those are the people who are being subsidised by the Government. We have been told by the Parliamentary Secretary that this is done to fight the dread enemy of inflation, but the recent Report of the Radcliffe Committee on the Working of the Monetary System stated in substance that it does nothing of the kind. This is simply a subsidy paid out to wealthy people in this country, not only by local authorities and municipal tenants and owner-occupiers but also by the Government, because it costs the Government several hundred million pounds a year to pay for the increased rate of interest. There is no question of any differential rent forms being sent out to those people. The Government do not question the subsidy paid to them, and this Amendment says nothing about subsidising these people who can do without the subsidy. Therefore, I say that all this talk about subsidising so-called wealthy tenants is sheer nonsense.

What do we mean by a full economic rent? In Birmingham we have 50,000 pre-war municipal houses. I have always contended that the tenants are already paying an economic rent; in fact they are paying more. By that I mean that if no further houses had been built after the war, even allowing for the effect of the Government's increased rate of interest and for the full subsidy which these houses are getting locally and nationally, it would not be necessary to get a single penny more from the tenants. I ask the Minister, are they paying the full rent? What does the full rent mean? What is meant by making them pay what they can afford?

We talk about the local authority subsidy. I have always maintained that in most cases local authorities are not providing any subsidy for these people at all because the local authorities are acquiring a valuable asset of capital which in most cases balances the subsidy. An occupier is paying and buying his own house. By paying rent the municipal tenant is buying the house for the local authority and thereby providing it with a capital asset.

The local authority housing account is not merely a charge for running municipal houses. A large part of it represents social services which have nothing to do with the tenant already in the house. The cost of running the department provides for all other purposes which have nothing whatever to do with proper estate management in the ordinary sense, but it is all included in one account. That is a fairly substantial charge to place against muncipal tenants, and I say that it is wrong.

There are the 1954 slum clearance houses which the Parliamentary Secretary dealt with. They are an increasing burden on the local authorities. The 1954 Act provides for a contribution from the Government of half the loan charges, which is not very much, on a site value requirement over a period of sixty years and also £3 for fifteen years, that is, £45 for the repair of the house. Costs have gone up since then. In Birmingham it is estimated that the average cost of capital repairs to the houses taken over and retained by the local authority for some time—which is necessary because we have not the sites on which to build sufficient houses—is £45 as against £250 all told. This is becoming an increasing burden, but it is all on the same housing account. I say that it is all wrong that the cost of putting these houses into repair should be placed as a burden on ordinary municipal tenants and used as a method of showing that these people are subsidised by the community.

Another question which arises about differential rents is that we cannot charge more rent to a few hundreds or thousands of tenants without a differential rent scheme, which throws the burden on other municipal tenants. It has been calculated that to put a differential rent scheme into operation in Birmingham would cost the department £50,000 a year, which would be a substantial addition to the housing account. For these reasons, I reject the Government policy of differential rent schemes. It will not make any contribution to solving the problem. The Minister suggests the idea of putting up rents in order to use up what he calls "unused accommodation." Let us put it in different terms. It means that we shall bring economic pressure on small families and old people to take in lodgers.

I do not know how many hon. Members opposite are induced by economic pressure to take in lodgers, but it is a very wrong suggestion. I think it an abominable suggestion and it will be resisted by many people. It is all very well to talk about unused accommodation, but I maintain that Government policy will not provide a solution for the problem.

I have already referred to the 1954 houses and in this respect Birmingham has a substantial problem. We have taken over more than 34 houses and there are still a large number to be taken over. I hope that the Government are serious about their declared slum clearance policy. I hope that they will seriously reconsider the financial provision made in 1954. It is quite inadequate to deal with the present situation. It is an inducement to the poorer local authorities not to proceed so rapidly with their slum clearance schemes. But even if authorities can manage to proceed, it is imposing an unfair financial burden upon them.

Another problem arises regarding the 1954 houses. It is a small one, but it concerns some people who have been selling or buying these houses. The same problem has arisen in other constituencies, and in Birmingham we have a number of such cases. A typical case is that of a man who buys a house for £800 and it subsequently turns out that the property is to be subject to a clearance order. Even if the council has not then made the clearance order it can put it into operation at any time. In my opinion, such a house would be worth no more than £200 or £300 even without the threat of a clearance order, if it were allowed to stand.

No building society would provide a mortgage so that the seller must himself provide a mortgage. A solicitor acts for both parties, a procedure which I regard as completely undesirable in such cases. There must be a clear conflict of interests. A solicitor cannot in such circumstances give correct advice both to the man who is selling the house and to the man who is obliged to buy it simply because he has nowhere else to live. I am sure that the majority of reputable solicitors would not act in this way. Under such circumstances the solicitor should tell a person who proposes to buy that even if the house is not subject to a clearance order at the present moment it might become so in the future. He should advise the prospective purchaser that the house ought to be surveyed. If unfit it is valueless and can be demolished. With the exception of a few foolhardy people, such advice would be taken by prospective purchasers. But in the cases to which I have referred such advice is often not given The solicitor is acting for both parties and he cannot advise both parties properly.

Although in the general run of cases by acting for purchaser and vendor costs might be saved, in a case like that it is a very expensive matter for the purchaser. Something can be done. The Law Society, I understand, has given a warning to solicitors, putting them on inquiry. I think that in some cases some of these solicitors might be subject to actions for negligence, although it is very difficult for a client to think in those terms. Certainly something ought to be done. I have heard of a number of cases such as this. Sometimes it is due to the ambiguity of the local authority's housing provisions, but in most cases it is because proper advice has not been given and full inquiries have not been made.

If a man bought a house before 13th December, 1955, and it came under the 1956 Act he would be able to get full compensation when the house is taken over. I should not desire to extend that beyond 13th December, 1955, for obvious reasons, but, at the same time, I think in certain cases the council ought to have discretion, if it desired, to pay more than the site value for some of these properties. I suggest that it should be entirely within the discretion of the council to pay more in certain cases. I can understand why a date had to be fixed for providing full compensation under the 1956 Act. I wonder if it would be possible to continue the provisions contained in the Housing Act, 1957, which I think were originally in the 1956 Act. Paragraph 5 (2) of the Second Schedule of that Housing Act says: where the house has been purchased compulsorily, the aggregate of that amount and so much, if any, of the compensation in respect of the compulsory purchase as falls to be paid to the vendor, represents an adequate price for the purchase; and for the purposes of paragraph (a) of this subparagraph the mortgagee or person entitled to the benefit of the charge shall be deemed to have acted unreasonably if, at the time when the mortgage or charge was made, he knew or ought to have known that in all the circumstances of the case the terms of the mortgage or charge did not afford sufficient security for the principal … In those circumstances, the mortgage should be set aside.

I do not know whether it is possible —I should have thought that it was— to reintroduce that principle by way of legislation in order that this sort of unscrupulous seller could be dealt with and so that ordinary people who are becoming owner-occupiers under a policy which the Government approves should be protected against what is a form of robbery. I hope that the Minister will look at that. I know that something has been done about it already. The right hon. Gentleman has sent out circulars to local authorities and told them to warn these people, but I do not think that is sufficient. I hope something more will be done to protect these people against what is a form of robbery. If the Minister looks at that he can at any rate solve one problem of housing.

5.55 p.m.

Mr. John Hollingworth (Birmingham, All Saints)

Representing yet another constituency in the City of Birmingham, I feel obliged to reply in part to the remarks that we have just heard from the hon. Member for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. J. Silverman). Claiming the indulgence of the House, I think it better to suggest that the electorate of our city will judge as to the merits of housing policy in its boundaries. I ask for a double indulgence today inasmuch as, because of a prior engagement of which your office, Mr. Speaker, was informed, I was unable to be present to hear the opening speeches of the debate. Nevertheless, this is a maiden speech and I hope that it will take the traditional form.

I wish to tell the House tonight about my constituency of All Saints, in the City of Birmingham. I think it true to say that All Saints is typical of an inner residential suburb of many a large industrial city. It has a cross-section of population and a combination of trades and industry which is typified wherever one looks in comparable conditions throughout the country. As well as a cross-section of industry, it has a cross-section of population and a very large number of people who have come to this country, particularly from the West Indies, who, I am glad to say, are slowly becoming assimilated into the social economy of the area. I hope that as the years go by they will play a very effective and important part in the economic and social life of our great city.

As hon. Members know, in political terms this is a relatively new constituency. The name "All Saints" is as yet not well known even in the city itself. It was formed prior to the 1955 General Election, when the Boundary Commission went into the question of our large industrial cities to get some equation of population in an attempt to stem the tide of the expansion taking place round the boundaries. It is composed traditionally, historically and geographically of part of the Ladywood constituency, represented by an hon. Member whom I see sitting opposite, partly of the old West Birmingham constituency, which had many great traditional associations with this House, and a small slice of the constituency of Handsworth.

Therefore, it is a somewhat polyglot combination, but nevertheless, a typically representative section of our great city of Birmingham. My colleagues in All Saints tell me that its greatest association is, geographically, with the Chamberlain family, who played a tremendous part in this House and in the city in formulating the policy and programme of this country and of the city not so many years ago.

As a very humble young man speaking here for the first time, I do not think that I can conclude my remarks about my constituency without referring for a moment to my predecessor. I am very conscious of the fact that I have a very tiny majority. I hope that it may be doubled from 20 to 40 next time. Nevertheless, it is not the sort of majority that gives one that tremendous self-confifidence associated with hon. Members representing constituencies in Northern Ireland or South Wales. So I sincerely take this opportunity of expressing my thanks to my predecessor, Mr. Denis Howell, for the part he played in the last Parliament. I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the House will agree that until I managed to "pip him on the post" he was an up-and-coming member of the Labour Party. Now that hon. Members opposite have put their house in order, I hope they will see that he is put back there—but not to represent by constituency.

I said earlier that in the All Saints constituency there is a cross-section of property. Because of that, we have a cross-section of problems associated with it. We have the problem of the clearance of sub-standard property— today we do not always use the phrase "slum clearance"—and we have a problem which my right hon. Friend will have to tackle before long, what to do with the large number of houses which would come within the terms of leasehold reform.

I wish to enter into the debate on three counts. First, I should like to speak for a moment about redevelopment and slum clearance. Secondly, I should like to say a word or two about the provision of suitable accommodation for old people. Thirdly, I should like to have another go at a point raised so well by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South (Mr. Hocking)—the possibility of private enterprise participating in the development of the inner areas of some of our larger industrial cities.

May I refer to the vexed but vitally important problem of slum clearance and redevelopment? The constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. V. Yates) is being redeveloped very quickly. My constituency is well up on the list for redevelopment. I think that the policy of my right hon. Friend and the Government has been perfectly right in this connection. Emphasis must be placed at this point on slum clearance and on giving local authorities the enthusiastic backing which is required to ensure that these properties are torn down as quickly as possible and replaced by buildings of which we can be proud in this age of 1960.

May I also draw attention to the fact that, prior to demolition and rebuilding taking place in the City of Birmingham, there is a transitional stage in which, the Government having agreed to the compulsory purchase of property, the Corporation takes over, often for a substantial number of years, the running of the property. In one of my wards probably half the houses are being patched by the local authority because, although they are not yet ready for redevelopment, they need a considerable amount of attention.

It is pertinent to mention here that in my five months as Member for the constituency eight out of every ten letters I have received from my constituents have been to do with the problem of clearance and redevelopment. This morning I received correspondence from the Birmingham civic authority. I generally disagree with what the authority says, but in terms of one aspect—the patching of this property prior to redevelopment—I have considerable sympathy with a paragraph which I will read: Not the least part of the Corporation's housing burden lies in the cost of buying and patching unfit houses. The Government's contribution towards patching (£3 per annum for 15 years) is inadequate. It was based on the assumption that the average cost of reconditioning a house would amount to £172, whereas we are finding that it amounts to £300. In political terms, I know that I may be blotting my copy-book by saying this, but I know that that is true in the City of Birmingham. I know that it is a tremendous problem and that if only we can spend the right amount of money and get on with the work quickly, we can put some of this property back into good repair and provide accommodation for the people whom I consider—and this may be a back-handed compliment—to be second to none anywhere in this country.

As a fledgling Member, I should like to take this opportunity of saying a word of thanks, and, indeed, of congratulation, to the Housing Management Department in Birmingham, which suffers so much criticism, is so rarely thanked and the work of which is so rarely appreciated. In this great city the department has a tremendous job to do, and on an occasion such as this we should put on record the thanks of the Birmingham representatives at Westminster for the work which the department is doing.

I turn next to the very important question of the provision of dwellings for old people. Under-occupation is one of the big problems. In my constituency there is a tremendous amount of property— and I use the word "tremendous" in its truest form—which is undoubtedly under-occupied, simply because the family has grown up, the husband or wife have died, and we have either one man or one woman living on his or her own in a house which, though back-to-back with another house and terraced, is often surprisingly large.

If we could ensure a more vigorous attitude towards the provision of accommodation for old people by local authorities, I am sure that this would ease a situation in Birmingham which is desperate. I commend the fact that, as my right hon. Friend told me in reply to a Question a few days ago, the proportion of old people's dwellings being provided is on the increase. This is first class, but there must be more enthusiasm and vigour. We must have more property of this type. We have a very fine record in housing, and I beg my right hon. Friend not to let the country or the party down in this aspect of it.

I am informed that in Eastbourne, for the first time, flats have been built to accommodate old people. This is an experiment on the right lines. I wonder whether, in Birmingham, they have learned too late that they should have built upwards ten years ago instead of spreading the houses right out to the extremities of the city. Never mind: perhaps they will learn before it is too late.

May I next reiterate a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South? The House should take the opportunity to congratulate the building industry on its magnificent achievement over the past few years. I am reminded of a story told to me during the last election campaign. At a meeting a man said that the Conservative Party had built the houses. A voice from the back asked, "Did they do it on their own?" The answer is that no political party can ever do anything. It requires the initiative and enterprise of the people. The party which gives them the opportunity is the party which will succeed. We owe a debt of gratitude to the building industry for the part which it has played in the tremendous expansion of these housing targets over the past few years.

Before concluding, I should like to make again the point about the desirability of bringing together the talents of our building industry, of achieving a compromise between the devil and the deep blue sea—the local authority and private development—and of giving them an opportunity to go ahead in a vigorous and enthusiastic manner with the redevelopment of some of our larger industrial cities. This is vitally important. I have brought a book with me tonight which has been published as an example of what can be done. Hon. Members on both sides of the House may well have heard of the Calthorpe estate in the constituency of Edgbaston. Here are 1,600 acres of what, to be honest, is sub-standard housing according to modern terms, and it is being redeveloped by private enterprise. I am sure that it will be a shining example and that in a few years' time people will come from all over the world to see the redevelopment achieved here by private enterprise.

I make my few final remarks with especial sincerity. We are reaching the end of maiden speeches by new hon. Members. I think that I speak on behalf of a number of my colleagues when I say how much we have appreciated over the past months—and I mean this sincerely—the help and encouragement which we have received from senior Members on both sides of the House.

6.10 p.m.

Mr. Charles Royle (Salford, West)

I am sure that the whole House will desire me to congratulate, on its behalf, the hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Hollingworth) on the speech that he has just delivered. If he will allow me to say so, his speech was lucid and fluent and, in addition, the pleasant touch and witticisms at his own expense pleased the House. Because of things of that kind, all hon. Members will be very glad to listen to the hon. Gentleman again on many occasions.

I liked the hon. Gentleman's compliment to his predecessor, Mr. Denis Howell. It is not often that a new Member rises and takes the trouble to pay compliments to the man whom he has defeated at a General Election. I am sure that the House appreciated the reference that the hon. Gentleman made to our old friend from this side.

The hon. Gentleman made great fun of the fact that he won the election by only 20 votes. Someone must have forgotten to blow a whistle on that occasion. Next time, perhaps, the whistle will be blown in time and our old friend Mr. Denis Howell will be back with us in the House.

As I am very interested in the problem of the West Indians in this country, I appreciated very much the hon. Gentleman's reference to them and his hope and desire that they may be integrated into the population of Birmingham. Many of us look with faith towards full integration and appreciate, at the same time, that one of the greatest difficulties in the way of integration is the housing problem in the large cities where the West Indians are settling. Therefore, we congratulate the hon. Gentleman very sincerely indeed and hope that the next time he addresses the House he will feel as happy as he sounded today.

As would be expected, it is my desire this evening to support the Motion tabled by my right hon. and hon. Friends and oppose, with all the energy that I can, the Amendment which has been moved by the Parliamentary Secretary. I shall deal one at a time with the Motion and the Amendment. To me, the Motion is so obviously true. Two words in the Motion seem to hit the nail so squarely on the head, namely, "overcrowding" and "frustration". Frustration in this context is a terrible thing. In our great towns and cities where the housing problem is at its worst, frustration is so apparent that it becomes complete misery to the people concerned.

The Amendment deals with two specific aspects. The first is a comparison with the immediate post-war years. The second is an attack on many local authorities for subsidising tenants. Perhaps with honourable exceptions, such as the hon. Member for All Saints, it is a truism to say that, in the main, hon. Gentlemen opposite have no real conception of the problem of housing in the large urban areas.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

Oh, nonsense.

Mr. Royle

I repeat it. The constituencies which, in the main, are represented by hon. Members opposite have nothing like the problem of some parts of London, Birmingham, Manchester and Salford. Hon. Members opposite cannot imagine some of the things which are going on in that part of the country.

Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans) rose

Mr. Royle

Yes, I am prepared to give way, but the Parliamentary Secretary was not.

Mr. Goodhew

I think that perhaps the hon. Gentleman does not know that some of us have served in local government in areas which have these problems. Some of us have also been candidates, have put in a good deal of effort and have tried to do welfare work in such areas. For instance, I have been connected with North Paddington. Hon. Members will remember that the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) yesterday spoke about the housing conditions there.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Royle

Mr. Deputy-Speaker, it seems that three or four hon. Members wish to interrupt me.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Gordon Touche)

Order. Does the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. C. Royle) wish to give way?

Mr. Royle

I do not want to give way again, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. In any case, one interrupter at a time is enough. Perhaps I shall have the opportunity to give way later.

I chose my words advisedly. I used the phrases "in the main" and "with honourable exceptions". I repeat that it is in the main, and that in the majority of cases hon. Gentlemen opposite have no conception of this problem. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members opposite may challenge it. It is a matter for argument.

Mr. James Watts (Manchester, Moss Side)

May I challenge it?

Mr. Royle

I am now interrupted by an hon. Member from the City of Manchester. I notice that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mr. G. Johnson Smith) also wished to interrupt me. He represents an urban division of London. Those hon. Members are some of the exceptions. They understand, but there are hundreds of hon. Gentlemen opposite who have not a clue about it.

Mr. Watts rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. If the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. C. Royle) does not give way, the hon. Member for Manchester, Moss Side (Mr. Watts) must resume his seat.

Mr. Royle

Mr. Speaker, I think that I have been fairly good up to now in giving way. I do not want to be discourteous, but I know that other hon. Members wish to speak.

What I have been saying brings me to my own constituency, and causes me to make a very brief apology that hon. Members will hear about Salford again for a few minutes, having had a previous speech about Salford this afternoon. In my own part of the city there are eight wards. One is a suburban ward, two are what I often describe as artisan wards, and the other five wards grew with and after the Industrial Revolution, with masses of streets of terraced and small back-to-back houses which, even in these days, are places of the utmost misery.

Half of the population of my constituency is, to use a term which has been used so often now, not having it so good, either economically or in housing. Perhaps my trebled majority at the General Election against the general flow of results in the country had something to do with the fact that the conditions of my constituents were not so good and they realised that they were not so good in comparison to other areas.

In all those circumstances, the work of the local authority in Salford over the last fifteen years has been magnificent. It is a Labour council. It came to power in 1945. It had to take up what the Parliamentary Secretary described this afternoon as "those generations of neglect", and they were not Labour councils which were responsible for "those generations of neglect". Throughout the country and during the whole of that time, with very few exceptions, councils were run by Conservatives.

My friends in Salford have had to repair the misery of the generations which have gone by, fighting against terrific odds because of the conditions which prevailed. I remind the House of the difficulties of obtaining supplies of materials in the days when Labour councils took over. By the time right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite took power into their hands, in 1951, the troubles about the supplies of material had practically ceased and they faced a completely different state of affairs.

They therefore enacted that subsidies were to be available only for slum clearance houses, overspill, agricultural dwellings—though I can assure the House that the provision of agricultural dwellings does not affect us very much in Salford. Salford is something like your constituency, Mr. Speaker, if I may say so—devoid of farmsteads. Other odds and ends are exempted from the present housing subsidy provisions, but in every case they must have the approval of the Minister.

There is no Exchequer help in the form of subsidies for housing tubercular and bronchial oases and others suffering from very bad health. There is no help for the overcrowded. Those cases are ignored by the present Government by the way in which they limit the subsidy to local authorities. For my council, as for many others, the position is that the medical officer of health has to present a special report of the very exceptional cases of ill-health that come to his notice so that some priority may be given to them, but when that priority is given there is no Government subsidy to help the council.

Our constituency "surgeries" are a heartbreak. Hon. Members sit in their "surgeries" week after week and month after month, meeting people suffering all these miseries. I shall not give illustrations—I would speak for too long. I will only say, very sincerely, that I never spend an hour in my constituency without getting a terrible fit of depression. I always come away from Salford with a feeling of heartbreak over the circumstances that still prevail—

Mr. Allaun

Heartbreak homes.

Mr. Royle

Yes, heartbreak homes, and there are many thousands of them.

It is no overstatement to say that the Government are displaying a cynical complacency, and a disregard of these conditions. Could anything have been more complacent than the Parliamentary Secretary's speech? I should like to take him into some parts of Salford and ask him to deliver that speech there.

The Government Amendment consists of the old Tory story, "We built 300,000 houses in one year." It speaks again of comparison with the years before 1952. That argument is both dishonest and disloyal. It is disloyal to the House and to the country. For the sake of brevity, I shall ask a number of sharp questions rather than develop the underlying arguments.

Did we have a six-year war? Were we, Tory and Labour Parties alike, in it together? Were millions of our people engaged in war work and not in the work of peace? Did we lose one-third of the shipping needed to bring raw materials from abroad? Were we nearly bankrupt in 1945? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) told us that we were, and I should think that that is quite sufficient authority for hon. Members opposite.

Were we short of raw materials? Had we to switch from a war-time to a peacetime economy in face of tremendous difficulties? Had we to repair and reinstate hundreds of thousands of houses and very many factories with the few materials that were then available? I am old enough in my membership of this House to remember the activities of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) when he was Minister of Health; and to remember the activities of my old friend, George Tomlinson, when he was the first Minister of Works after the 1945 General Election.

Remembering those dark days, should we not expect that a loyal outlook is due even from hon. Members opposite? Where is this loyal Tory Party that can use this argument in the Government Amendment today? Where is this love for country? Members opposite accused us of a lack of loyalty at the time of Suez, but I just do not understand how, at this time, they can compare, or start to compare, the circumstances and opportunities of the present day in house building with those prevailing from 1945 to 1951. On the contrary, they exploit those difficulties for political ends. The Government Amendment speaks of … the continued high level of house building since 1952 in comparison with previous years … In view of the circumstances, they should hang their heads in shame for putting those words in this Amendment.

The only other thing that the Tory Amendment does is to condemn local authorities. The party opposite thinks that those local authorities are subsidising their tenants too much. Salford tenants are mostly lower-paid workers. They cannot afford any higher rents. The rents would be lower with subsidies, and the rents would be lower if interest rates were much reduced, as they should be.

Salford, battling against this terrific problem, expects me to speak as I have spoken. Obviously, I shall go into the Division Lobby to support the Motion, which condemns the Government, and to vote against the Government Amendment, which is completely dishonest. Ours is the policy for the people I represent, and I know that they wanted me to say what I have said.

6.28 p.m.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)

After a long and admirable series of maiden speeches, the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. C. Royle) has at last brought us back to good old party politics. He, too, like almost everyone who has taken part in this debate, referred to subsidies, and I think that it would be fair to say that the present structure of housing subsidies has not been regarded from either point of view during this debate as satisfactory. I would go further and say that the structure as it stands today is quite indefensible.

It is not surprising that it should be so. After all, these subsidies are the accumulated deposit of forty years of legislation—legislation passed over a period of forty years which have seen a more profound and sharp revolution, economic, social and financial, than perhaps any equal period in our history. It would, therefore, be astonishing if such a structure today, in 1960, would stand up to scrutiny and criticism.

In the present financial year, a sum for Great Britain of about £80 million collected in taxes is being applied to the reduction of the rents of a little under a quarter of the families of this country. Neither the direction nor the amount, nor even the principle of distribution, of that sum can be reduced to any rational or intelligible basis whatever.

The families to the reduction of whose rents this sum is directed are not selected upon any basis of financial need. They are, as every hon. Member knows, a very fair cross-section of the population of this country. The council house dwellers —it is already a rather old-fashioned expression, so let me say "the families in council houses"—are not a race apart in our midst. They are not distinguishable from the ordinary run of the population at large. The reasons why they occupy houses belonging to local authorities, and not houses belonging either to themselves or to some private individual, are in many cases related to prior housing need, never specifically related to financial need. Sometimes, as my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary made clear in, if I may say so, a very courageous and straightforward speech, the reasons are now purely historical.

Thus the selection of this 20 per cent. or 25 per cent. of families to qualify for this relief in aid of rent is purely accidental and arbitrary from the financial point of view. So is the sum itself. It is the fortuitous total of a whole series of subsidies related to the historic cost, or rather to various fractions of various percentages of the historic cost, of a whole series of houses built in some cases over 40 years. Not only has that sum no validity or significance for the country at large; it is available in different local authority areas in different proportions, proportions which bear no relation, or only an accidental relation, to the current circumstances and current needs of those areas. On top of all this, every local authority is free, as it must be and should be under our system, to apply these moneys according to different principles and in different ways.

Of course, I go along with my right hon. Friend in his Amendment when he says that local authorities ought not to apply these moneys uniformly but ought to exercise some financial discretion in the manner in which they use them. But rent rebate schemes and differential rent schemes—we should be quite clear about this—can be nothing more than a palliative. They mean only that this arbitrary sum will be allocated to this arbitrary collection of families with some regard to the relative financial need of those particular families. But we are still left with a system, to miscall it such, which is neither fish, fowl nor good red herring. It is not a general subsidy for the reduction of the cost of housing, nor is it a subsidy to help those families who cannot afford decent housing accommodation. No such system could do that, or, at best, only the system which the party opposite thought of at one time during the last Parliament and then showed a remarkable lack of enthusiasm for subsequently, that is to say, to bring all houses whatsoever into public ownership. Short of that, no system of housing subsidies can bring aid to those families which financially stand most in need of it.

Mr. Royle

If I may correct the hon. Gentleman, he said that the Labour Party in its manifesto spoke of municipalising or putting into public ownership all houses. We never said that. We referred to rented houses.

Mr. M. Stewart

Rent-controlled houses, with many exceptions.

Mr. Powell

I am sorry to see that hon. Members opposite who, I thought, had summoned up a certain amount of courage for their beliefs are still running away.

Mr. Royle

Not at all.

Mr. Mitchison

The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) is really not doing himself justice. He usually reads our party literature with the care and attention it deserves. On this occasion, apparently, he has not read it.

Mr. Powell

I say this to the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison): it would be only under a system of universal public ownership, of rented houses at any rate, that a subsidy in reduction of rent could be applied so as to reach always the families in real need of it. It has now been confirmed from the benches opposite that not even the Opposition are advocating such a system. In any case, we possess a fully developed system of social services of which it is the business to ensure that there is no family in the country which, for lack of income, is not within reach of the decent minimum necessities of life, including the decent minimum necessities of housing.

I do not really believe that anyone who applies his mind to these matters, or any hon. Member who is seriously concerned with the working of housing finance, would deny that there is this profound anomaly and absurdity in the system of housing subsidies as we have it today. But I know that many people feel and say, "This is a burden which Parliament must stagger along with as best it may, because of Acts of Parliament going back to the early 'twenties." They argue that there is, as it were, a kind of treaty, like a treaty made with an independent Power, whereunder Parliament has contracted absolutely to pay certain sums annually for forty or sixty years, as the case may be, and that therefore whatever may be the change in circumstances, economical, social, or otherwise, or whatever may be the change in the rents actually obtained for those houses, or whatever may be the change in the character and economic circumstances of the families occupying them, those sums must, by the law of the Medes and Persians, be paid for forty or sixty years.

I do not take that view of the obligation which Parliament has entered into in relation to the local authorities or, to put the matter more factually, of the obligation which we, representing the taxpayers, have undertaken towards the local authorities, representing the ratepayers. As I understand it, the nature of that obligation is this. Parliament has said to the local authorities: If, to meet the needs of families in your area, you build houses or flats and find that there is a gap between the rents which you can reasonably expect to obtain from those occupying the premises which you have erected and the annual cost of the property, then we, Parliament, will make available from the yield of taxation sufficient to ensure that the greater part of that difference does not have to be borne by your local ratepayers but is spread over the country as a whole by the national system of taxation.

I believe that that is the essence of the undertaking by Parliament which is enshrined in our housing subsidy legislation. If that be so, then, I believe, we are free and, indeed, obliged to recognise the consequences of the changed circumstances of today. We have an obligation to ensure that, wherever local authorities cannot fairly and reasonably obtain from those who occupy their properties the annual charges incurred on those properties, the lion's share of the difference should be met by the taxpayer. But if that were done, then, as my hon. Friend again made clear, there could still be a vast reduction in the burden which the taxpayer bears and a vast rationalisation of this system without any transfer of burden to the ratepayer.

There would also be another result which I think is perhaps even more important. There would be an end to a great and growing volume of grudge and bitterness felt by those who are not in local authority houses against those who occupy them. Very often, this grudge is based upon a complete misapprehension. Very often, it is due to misunderstanding. But that bitterness exists and is deeply felt. It arises from the inherent absurdity of the system with which we are left today, and only a radical reform of that system will do justice either to the taxpayers or to the families of this country as a whole.

Absurdities in legislation and in administration are very often inconvenient and prickly things to get rid of; but the damage which they do and the harm which arises from them do not grow less by unwillingness to face the temporary inconvenience of dealing with them. Sooner or later, this absurd structure will have to be reformed. Let us do it sooner rather than later. Let us begin now.

6.42 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Skeffington (Hayes and Harlington)

I am glad to have the opportunity of following the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), because I want to refer to some of the prognostications that he made when he spoke on the Queen's Speech in 1956.

Mr. Powell

Not on the Queen's Speech.

Mr. Skeffington

I fortified myself with references which I want to make and which the hon. Member will find in the OFFICIAL REPORT for 7th November, 1956, in the debate on the Address. Perhaps the hon. Member thought that I was about to refer to another of his memorable speeches, but now he knows which one I intend to comment upon. All that I want to say about it is that the prognostications he made on that occasion were as wrong and as faulty as the prognostications and arguments he has made today.

Before I refer to that specifically, I think that we all recognise that, although the debate today is ostensibly about bricks and mortar, it is, in fact, about homes and families. For many hundreds of thousands of families, despite the optimistic picture painted by the Parliamentary Secretary, their only hope for a happy and normal life depends upon their getting a home. To get a home they will have to look for some help from the community because in existing circumstances they will not be able to get a home in any way from the private landlord.

From my own experience, which is based not only upon evidence in my own constituency but also upon the evidence I have as a member of the Housing Committee of the London County Council which has great powers and great opportunities and which has, indeed, provided an enormous number of homes since the war, I well realise what, apparently, a great many hon. Members opposite do not realise, including the Parliamentary Secretary, that there are literally still thousands of families living in the most deplorable and desperate conditions.

It seems to me that if there were a social content and intent in the housing policy of the Conservative Party, it has now been very largely abandoned. I believe that, in point of time, the deterioration in any attempt at the maintenance of some social policy within a general policy for housing springs very largely from the speech of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, to which I have referred.

Speaking in the debate on the Address on 7th November, 1956, and basing himself upon some statistics in a P.E.P. pamphlet, he then made the quite astonishing statement that he believed that within a comparatively short time, taking the country as a whole, the amount of accommodation becoming available would, on balance, be equal to the amount of accommodation required.

Mr. Powell

Will the hon. Gentleman give the column reference?

Mr. Skeffington

It is column 163. I can read the actual words if the hon. Member has any doubt on what he said on that occasion: Therefore, the conclusion about the statistical examination based on the 1951 census, and the building statistics since, was that a balance between the general supply and demand, taking the country as a whole, was then in Slight and it was timed to switch the emphasis from a net increase of the total number of homes in the country to the replacement and improvement of existing homes. The hon. Member who then sat for Acton said—I think, quite rightly—and I am sorry that he is not here to say it again: The deduction is quite wrong."—(OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th November, 1956; Vol. 560, c. 163.] Indeed, anyone who is in touch with local authorities and their waiting lists and with their own constituencies knows that we are nowhere near that situation of having the amount of accommodation available for those who need it.

Mr. Powell

In fairness, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will make it clear that I quoted the P.E.P. pamphlet. I was not merely basing what I said upon it, but actually quoting the pamphlet. The words which he attributes to me are, in fact, part of a paraphrase of what that pamphlet says.

Mr. Skeffington

I fully agree. But all that that intervention shows is that the hon. Member should have based himself on better and more accurate statistics rather than on that pamphlet, because the whole of the experience of the four years since then have shown how completely untrue and unfounded was the contention. We know from our individual experience and by calculations made by various organisations— the Ministry is always rather coy about giving the total numbers on the housing lists of the local authorities—that, on the most conservative estimate, there are at least 2 million names on the waiting lists, and I think it very fair to say that at least one-quarter of those names come within the category of urgent cases because of gross overcrowding, illness or other factors.

I believe that that attitude of complacency of the hon. Member marks, at any rate in point of time, the deterioration and indifference of the Conservative Party and the Conservative Government to housing as a social service. What we have since seen developing is a formula that housing problems can be solved, first, by allowing the speculative builder to be as free as possible, and, secondly, by letting people purchase their own homes and "pay through the nose", so that they will no longer require to have subsidies from the rich or the local authorities.

This picture of the amount of accommodation available and the belief that there was no longer need for civic building is not only responsible for a good deal of distress, but has been very considerably exaggerated, of course, by the financial policies of the Government. What are the other factors? Not only are nearly 1 million houses, certainly nearly 900,000 houses, in England described as slums, but there are over 100,000 in Scotland. There are nearly 4 million houses over eighty years of age, and many of us realise the substandard nature of many of them. According to the 1951 census, 7 million are without baths. If we are to have a reasonable standard of living not only for those in the great centres of population, but for those throughout the country, a lot of building must continue for many years to come.

The picture that the Parliamentary Secretary painted, that even for those in the upper income groups, or those who are comparatively well off, there is plenty of accommodation for renting, seems to me completely false. I do not know where the Parliamentary Secretary lives, or what contacts he has, but perhaps I can refer him to an article by Hilary Maugham, in the Observer of 10th January, headed "Almost a Fight for Space". The article reads: From the agents comes a united chorus of Hallelujah! in praise of 1959. A boom year … High demand, short supply … Breathtaking … Fabulous … and, of course, ' Prices are hardening.' Building Land? 'There's almost a fight for it.' Country Houses? 'The market has been very active … more than we can remember for a very long time.' London Houses? 'Competition has been extremely keen, for really good-class houses.' 'A tremendous shortage of good properties. Prices hardened.' Suburbs? ' Increase in prices.' ' Great activity.' Seaside? ' Improvement in demand—especially in Kent.'". This is the case, even for those who can "look after themselves," in the words of the Parliamentary Secretary. They have a problem which, I hope, we shall not ignore, any more than we shall ignore the problem of those less well off.

Underlying the attitude of the Conservative Government and their complacency was, I think, the need to justify the help which they have given to landlords and their supporters by the Rent Act, 1957. We were told that the major reason, as, indeed, the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West said, was that, in view of the amount of accommodation available taking the country as a whole, we could allow a free market in housing accommodation, at any rate above a certain rent level. If we examine the facts we now know that the Rent Act has caused untold hardship, as we said it would.

I was interested in a survey made by the tenants' association in one ward of the constituency of the Minister of Housing and Local Government, in Hampstead. The association made an investigation into the situation. It discovered that out of 200 families, 70 have already been or will soon be removed from their homes as a result of the Rent Act. Fifty-six families, including 36 children, in decontrolled houses have had notice to quit. Those who have had to move out total 36 families, and 14 more will have to move shortly unless the law is amended. Twenty families living in controlled dwellings have been ' persuaded' to leave their homes, mostly with offers of money. Sometimes alternative accommodation was provided by the landlords at a higher rent and often with no agreement. Controlled tenancies in all known cases have had their rents increased to twice the gross value, exclusive of rates, which, on an average, has more than doubled the rent. The chairman of the association sums it up by saying: This is but a brief outline of a terrible story of personal discomfort, distress and unhappiness still continuing, based on a mass of individual stories told to the leaders of this association. The Minister can dismiss all this and say that a lot of awkward Communists are responsible for it. That is nearly always what is said when, in fact, tenants' associations become active. These facts have been published for some time, and, as far as I know, have not been contradicted. Even allowing for some exaggeration, because the facts may not have been collected by skilled investigators, I think that this gives a truer picture of how people in even a prosperous part of London are living than the picture which the Parliamentary Secretary painted.

The Government have made it clear from the time that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West had anything to do with policy that they detest local authority building. By high interest rates and the withdrawal of subsidies they succeeded last year in getting only 99,000 council houses built in England and Wales by local authorities. Although, fifteen years after the war, Conservatives still reminded us of what was done in the difficult post-war years by the Labour Government, it is interesting to note that the Conservative Government, with all the advantages, fifteen years after the end of the war, have enabled local authorities to build 41,000 fewer houses per year than were being built in 1950–51, when Labour left office. So "successful" has their policy been that nearly 500 local authorities have stopped building houses altogether, because they say that it is so difficult under present financial conditions and because the general subsidy has gone. They are being driven on to the money market, which many of them do not understand, and then find that the increase in interest rates makes building almost prohibitive.

The Government offer us two solutions, and this is implicit in their Amendment. People can be rehoused provided they are prepared to buy their own house "through the nose" and pay high interest rates, or they will allow a very small proportion of local authority building. Such an attitude means that for hundreds of thousands of people there will never be the chance of getting a home. Hon. Members opposite have talked about the revolution in the circumstances of millions of our people. I am sure that we are all grateful that conditions today are better than they were in the grand old days of Toryism between the two wars, but if one looks at the Income Tax figures—the hon. Member for Wolver-hampton, South-West knows them better than I—it will be seen that there are still 16 million taxpayers receiving less than £800 a year. It is extremely difficult for many of them to buy a house on mortgage.

I have had some recent examples in my constituency. A widow with one daughter aged 14 earning a net sum of £350 a year came to see me. She had difficulty in getting on the waiting list, because she has not been in the locality very long and her chances of getting a council house are not great for some years. I said, "There is a new Government scheme under which you might get a 100 per cent. mortgage. Go to the agents and to the local authorities and see how you get on. If I can do anything, I will." She went to the agents and the local authority, but on her income no building society will consider her, first, because she has not sufficient money to put down for a deposit, and, secondly, they say that she could never maintain the repayments.

If anyone doubts this, perhaps I can call in aid someone whose authority is very great. I refer to Mr. K. W. Brand, the staff architect of Wates Ltd. This firm builds, I suppose, more houses for owner-occupation than any other contractors, certainly in the Greater London area. Mr. Brand, at a conference of the Town and Country Planning Association, just before Christmas, said that many of the sort of people who bought Wates houses before the war earned £3 or £4 a week then. Now they earn between £600 to £800 a year and are virtually being priced out of buying houses.

Mr. Brand also said that mortgage repayments for a house would often come to more than one-third of the intending buyer's income and that few building societies would advance anything under these conditions. That is the fact which faces millions of small income earners. Despite the picture presented this afternoon from the Government benches, hundreds of thousands of families are in that position. They will not be accepted by the average building society.

Another case which came to my notice afforded a particular example of a man who became a victim of Government policy, who lost his home and that of his mother as a result of the Suez operation. I had the utmost difficulty in getting any kind of monetary compensation from the Government. If ever a man was disadvantaged by the action of the Government through no fault of his own, it was that man. He came back to this country and, as I have said, has lost two homes. At his age, it is difficult to get a job, but he now has one at which he earns between £300 and £400 a year.

The local authority is willing to help him, but on the salary which he is getting the local authority cannot give him a 100 per cent. mortgage. The result is that his mother is now in an institution, he himself lives in rooms and I doubt very much whether he will ever have a home of his own. For people of that sort, the only hope is the local authority list. There are not merely a few of these people, but hundreds of thousands of them.

In addition, there are the difficulties of high interest rates, to which several of my hon. Friends have referred. On a £2,000 house which is paid for over sixty years, the community, through the local authority, pays more than £7,000 before the house is paid off, £5,000 of this being accounted for by interest alone. This is as crazy a system as it is unfair and unjust on the local ratepayers.

Further, the Government have made matters much more difficult for the local authorities and, incidentally, for other people, too. By no less than four Acts of Parliament, the Government have found time to unscramble the town and country planning provisions in relation to the development charge upon land. We are now back to the stage that when local authorities buy land they have to buy it not merely at the existing use value, but at the full market development value of the land, which, in many instances, is created by the activities of the local authorities themselves. It is a fantastic situation.

In Middlesex, which has an acute housing problem, we find that since the passing of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1959, land is continuing to increase in price week by week. A scheme which, before the passing of the Act, would have cost £6,750 for the land now costs £16,800. In another scheme, land which, before the Act, would have cost just under £2,000, now costs £24,000. Another scheme which, formerly, would have cost £3,000 has now gone up to £35,000 This sort of thing goes on all over the country. These are not isolated cases. I mention Middlesex merely because I have my constituency in the county. We have 66,000 cases on the urgent lists of the district councils in Middlesex, in addition to which another ¼ million people should leave the county if it is not to become overcrowded.

Middlesex has about 900 acres left for residential purposes, both private and public, which means that possibly 40,000 people from its lists can be rehoused. It is a hopeless position when, in addition to all the existing difficulties, the Government have now imposed the quite intolerable burden of very high prices for land. I am referring not only to the centres of towns, but land which is outside the towns, both in Middlesex and elsewhere.

It is sometimes forgotten by hon. Members opposite that the family with a small income still represents the majority of people. It is all very well to talk about high wages when the breadwinner and one of his family are at work, but when these people become ill there is no security for them. A man who falls out of work through illness can get sickness benefit, but that is all. That is why it is so difficult for these people to buy houses.

Under the existing system, the only hope of getting a home and a happy life for the majority of the small income earners who have housing difficulties, whose numbers lie between a minimum of ¼ million and a maximum of 2 million, depends upon some form of community building. The message that we have had from the Government today is a complete rejection of that conception and the belief that everything is all right because people can get money through building societies. This is a message of despair. I hope that in the forthcoming local elections the electors will take the opportunity to demonstrate what they think of the Government and their lack of a housing policy.

7.6 p.m.

Mr. Martin Lindsay (Solihull)

I regret to say that, like hon. Members opposite, I was disappointed in the speech of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary. I thought I detected a note of complacency in his speech. The situation is not nearly as rosy as my hon. Friend was inclined to suggest. It is not only in the large cities and in the slum clearance areas that there are enormous waiting lists.

My hon. Friend had nothing new to tell the House. He gave no indication of any new approach by the Government. That, of course, is not the fault of my hon. Friend. What depressed me, however, was that I did not find in his speech any of the note of urgency which I have heard from almost every other hon. Member who has spoken in this debate. I say this with regret, because I recognise the great gifts that my hon. Friend possesses and I wish him nothing but success in his Ministerial career. I am glad to notice that my right hon. Friend the Minister is now on the Front Bench, because I hope he will not think me presumptuous if I make three suggestions to deal with what I regard as a very urgent situation, to which, if my right hon. Friend thinks fit, he may be able to reply when he winds up the debate.

We in Solihull are not in a slum clearance area or in an old city. We are a prosperous expanding area outside a large city. We have a live waiting list of 1,200 families, apart from 450 old people who want old people's one-bedroom dwellings. From the inquiries which I have endeavoured to make, I gather that our position is merely average throughout the country and is not by comparison particularly bad. It is a terrible situation to have 1,200 families on the waiting list fifteen years after the war. Something must be done about this.

In our case instead of getting better the position is getting worse, because 400 applicants a year are being added to the waiting list whilst the building rate is running at much less than half this figure. In consequence, hundreds of families on the waiting list of my council have virtually no chance of getting houses. I have particularly in mind childess married couples who have only recently come into the district.

It is no use my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary taking up a great part of his speech to talk about the opportunities that people have of buying houses when one thinks, for example, of a friend of mine, a builder's labourer, earning £12 a week. At that level of income, no building society will touch him. Although before the war he might have been said to be a casual worker, that certainly has not been his status in the post-war circumstances of the building trade. For people in such a position, nothing but a high rate of council house building can suffice.

Like many other local authorities, we are suffering from a lack of suitable land. The only thing that local authorities can do in these circumstances is to increase their density and build upwards. The Parliamentary Secretary mentioned that, but it is no good saying that alone unless the Government is prepared to bring about some further action which will persuade the local authorities to do what they are so reluctant to do.

To some extent, this is recognised by the more progressive local authorities, many of whom are, in fact, now increasing their density from the old-fashioned 12 or 13 dwellings per acre to about 25, but, in my opinion, this is not anything like enough. I take the view that authorities in such a position must build 11-storeyed flats, increasing the density to 35 or even 40 to the acre. The difficulty about this, of course, is the wishes of local people, which local authorities have to note, and local prejudices. Blocks of flats like these must be carefully sited. Nobody wants a large block of flats to look straight down on his garden, but a good deal of the prejudice of local people is directed against having council house tenants anywhere near them, and the feeling that that will depreciate their own property. Where such high blocks of flats have been built, it is, generally speaking, fair to say that the difficulties anticipated by the neighbours before they were built have not in fact arisen.

The cost of such blocks of flats has been greatly exaggerated. I do not know where the hon. Member for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. J. Silverman) got the figures which he quoted, but I am advised that a two-bedroomed flat in an 11-storeyed block costs only 10 per cent. more than the traditional two-bedroom house, at any rate where land is cheap. While one realises that not everybody wants to live in a flat, those people who cannot get houses are only too glad to do so. Surely, it is wrong for us to take it as a matter of course that more and more agricultural land is to be absorbed year after year, and that people will have to be content to travel further and further to and from their daily work.

If I may have the attention of my right hon. Friend for a moment, I want to ask him if he will say to the local authorities that, when they send him their development plans, he requires to see the details of their housing lists at the same time. I should like him to say quite firmly to the local authorities that if their density is not sufficient to make a real onslaught on these long housing waiting lists he will not approve their development plans. Unless he is prepared to take that kind of action I do not believe that we shall overcome the prejudice of local authorities, and I do not believe that we shall get the progress which I think is absolutely vital.

I want to make two, other suggestions to my right hon. Friend concerning two other ways in which he can help with directives to local authorities. The first is that he should suggest to them, or at least remind them of, the opportunities which they have, but which many of them do not seem to remember, of purchasing for letting the present under-occupied houses of elderly people who move out to the single-bedroom dwellings when the authorities make these dwellings available for them. I know that these houses are normally put on the market, but they do not necessarily go to the people who are in the most urgent need of them.

In the case of my constituency of Solihull, we have a progressive council which has made good progress in providing single-bedroom accommodation for elderly people. Their houses are put on the market, but people in Birmingham come out and buy them—instead of their going to people who have been long on the waiting lists and who are living in bad conditions.

The second suggestion which I want to make is in regard to councils which are reluctant to go ahead with 100 per cent. mortgages. They take the view, and it is a view which one can understand perfectly well, that people who have not saved up a bit of money are feckless people and not suitable people to take on a mortgage. I think they overlook the fact that a family which moves any distance at all, taking its possessions and furniture with it, does so at a cost of at least £100. For young people who have to pay for a move like that, and, at the same time, put down a deposit in order to buy a house, it means that they must have between £400 or £500, which represents very considerable savings indeed.

In Solihull at the present moment, building land in the centre of the area is changing hands at about £10,000 per acre. This, of course, is too expensive for building houses for ordinary letting. I have calculated that with land at about £750 a plot, with loan charges over sixty years, this would add something like 10s. per week to the rent of the house. Nevertheless, land sold even at those prices can be used to build houses for sale on 100 per cent. mortgages, and I do not think we are making anything like enough use of these facilities.

I know that great progress has been made since the war in building new houses, but we have to go very much further yet and very much faster. The problem now is no longer one of a frontal attack on a wide front, as it used to be. One must go round the flanks and attack this problem vigorously in many different ways, some of which I have tried to suggest. We look to the Minister and his Parliamentary Secretary to give a very vigorous lead in this direction.

7.18 p.m.

Mr. Bruce Millan (Glasgow, Craigton)

I am very glad indeed to have the opportunity of following the hon. Member for Solihull (Mr. Lindsay), because it seems to me that he is the only hon. Member opposite who has so far spoken who has any sort of appreciation of the realities of the housing problem. I was very glad to hear his criticism of the Parliamentary Secretary added to the criticisms which we have already made, because it seemed to me that the speech which we had from the Parliamentary Secretary today was appallingly complacent; in fact, the most complacent speech which it has been my misfortune to hear from the Government Front Bench in the short time I have been in this House.

I do not intend to follow the hon. Member for Solihull, because I want to deal with Scotland's housing problem. The first thing I want to say is that, in the case of Scotland, there is no doubt where the solution of the problem lies, and that is with the local authorities. In 1959, the local authorities in Scotland built five times as many houses as were built by private enterprise. Obviously, it is to the local authorities in Scotland that we must look for a solution to our housing problem, because private enterprise in Scotland does not possess the record even that it has in England and Wales. Of course, we in Scotland have also suffered from the reduction in local authority house building, which has already been noted by hon. Members on this side of the House, for England and Wales.

Last year, the number of local authority houses completed in Scotland was reduced from the 1958 figure of 27,400 to the 1959 figure of 22,700. That represents a very considerable reduction, and my fear is that there will be a further considerable reduction in the current year. It is not only that the number of houses in total is going down, but that there have been significant changes in the last few years in the size of the houses which have been completed.

Indeed, such successes as the present Government have had in increasing the number of houses built in the earlier years after 1951 could be attributed to the fact that the kind of houses they built were smaller than the houses that had been built from 1945 to 1951. In Scotland, in the six years of Labour Government, no less than 75 per cent. of the houses which we built were four-apartment, five-apartment or larger, but in the year 1959 the number of four-apartment, five-apartment and even larger apartment houses built in Scotland went down to 26 per cent. In other words, from a percentage of 75 in the six years of Labour Government the percentage was reduced to 26 in 1959.

The Parliamentary Secretary waxed considerably eloquent about the number of small houses which have been built in England and Wales. As a matter of fact, the hon. Gentleman was so pleased with this that he twice reminded my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) that he had forgotten to mention the number of small single-apartment houses that had been built in England. I do not know whether the Secretary of State for Scotland has the same view about small houses as his colleague in England, but I suspect that he does. All I can say is that it is a view which seems to have no appreciation of the realities of housing conditions in Scotland, because the curse of Scotland has always been the large number of small houses there. I will give one or two brief examples of this.

In Central Glasgow at the present time, about two-thirds of the houses have only one or two rooms. There are 30,000 people living more than four to the room and 80,000 people living more than three to the room. Glasgow is bad. There are similar overcrowded conditions in Edinburgh; indeed, in all the large cities of Scotland, and in some of the smaller burghs as well. So three-quarters of the houses in Glasgow at the present time are three-apartment houses or less, compared with Birmingham, where the equivalent percentage is only 15, and Manchster, where it is about 10.

It may be possible to make a case, although I do not think it was made today, for building large numbers of smallish-sized houses in England and Wales. It is impossible to make a case for a similar policy in respect of Scotland. I am sure that all my colleagues will have plenty of the same experience as mine of going continually to council houses in Scotland which have been occupied for only a few years but which are already overcrowded.

If we continue this process of cutting down the size of houses built by local authorities, we shall simply be piling up overcrowding problems in the years to come. That was one reason why I thought it was particularly reprehensible of the Government when they reduced housing subsidies—although it is true we are lucky to have subsidies at all in Scotland—that they cut out the differentials which used to be granted for the building of larger houses. We now have a flat-rate subsidy regardless of the size of the houses built by the local authority, and that, I repeat, is something which just does not meet our peculiar housing position.

I want to say something next about the new towns in Scotland, which have been a considerable disappointment to us. Complaints have been made this afternoon about the English new towns, but compared with Scotland they have done pretty well. For example, East Kilbride was designated in May. 1947, twelve years ago, and the total number of houses completed today is only 6,700, or 500 houses a year. Glenrothes, which was designated in June, 1948, almost twelve years ago, has built only 2,500 houses, or about 200 a year. Cumber-nauld, which was designated in December, 1955, has built only 300 houses, although it is beginning now to get into its stride. I will return to the question of new towns a little later, but it seems to me that they have not given to Scotland what we hoped they would give us when the Labour Government introduced the idea at the end of the war.

Next I will say something about rents. This question has been dealt with at length this afternoon, but I have something to say which is perhaps worth adding to what has been said, particularly about Scottish housing conditions. One of the constant themes we have had from the other side of the House today has been that if only local authorities would impose economic rents many of their problems would disappear. I will give some examples of what has happened in Scotland where local authorities have imposed not economic rents but rents which are much higher than the average rents at present imposed by Scottish local authorities taken as a whole.

The most well known example is the Dumfries County Council, because there was considerable controversy in the Press in Scotland and elsewhere about the Dumfries County Council's scheme for increasing its council house rents. The average standard rent of a house in the Dumfries County Council on an average for all sizes in 1959 was £62 3s. 3d. exclusive of rates. It is easy to see that this figure is far short of the economic rent of houses which are being built at the present time.

There are 2,248 houses in Dumfries County, which operates a rent rebate scheme. I have not the precise details, but Dumfries County is not a hotbed of Socialism, so presumably that scheme has some regard to the average wages which are likely to be earned by council tenants in the county. No fewer than 2,027 of the tenants of those 2,248 houses qualify for rent rebates. In other words, rather more than 90 per cent. of the tenants of Dumfries County qualify for these rebates. They are not rebates of a small amount, for the average is £43 14s. 10d.

There are other local authorities I could quote, including Angus County Council and the Burgh of Milngavie; but the figures I have quoted demonstrate that, in Scotland as well as in England and Wales, it is nonsense to talk to the local authorities in terms of asking them to impose economic rents and suggesting at the same time that they should introduce differential rents. Any rebate scheme which is at all consistent with average wages in Scotland would have so many exceptions that it would be hardly worth the trouble of having such a scheme.

That is the experience of Dumfries County Council, and from the point of view of Scotland, at least, we should not have any more talk about Scottish local authorities imposing economic rents, because it really means nothing in present Scottish conditions. It does not mean to say that there are not local authorities in whose area some increases of rent might not be justified. Obviously that may be so at any particular time, but any idea of imposing economic rents does not meet Scottish conditions at all.

I should like to see the Government looking at Scotland's housing problems as their most pressing consideration over the next five years. In fact, it will not be a question of five years; it will take a generation to do anything satisfactory about Scottish housing. But I should like to see the Government have the sense of urgency which the hon. Member for Solihull urged upon the Parliamentary Secretary. I should like to feel that the Secretary of State for Scotland and his colleagues at the Scottish Office also had this sense of urgency about Scottish housing, because it really is a national disgrace.

As a new Member of the House of Commons, it is terrible for me at present to meet constituents, even in a constituency where there is no real housing problem as such. Most of the houses in my constituency were built in the last thirty years, yet one finds numbers of people continually coming to one with most depressing tales of overcrowding, of sickness in the house and of inability to secure any sort of housing accommodation at all. Hon. Members who represent constituencies in the centres of our big cities in Scotland have a constant stream of people coming to them with housing problems. It is most depressing that this should continue to happen in 1960.

The Government should appreciate the point which I made earlier, that private enterprise, either in the form of landlords of tenanted property or in the form of owner-occupiers, will not solve Scotland's housing problem but that we must rely on the local authorities. If we are to rely upon them, we must look again at subsidies to local authorities for house building. I have already mentioned the reduction in subsidies and the elimination of preferential subsidies. In nearly every case, houses now built in Scotland are subsidised very heavily out of local rates simply because economic rents do not meet the reality in Scotland. Local authorities are naturally extremely concerned about the effect which new housing has on the local rate burden.

It is no use the Secretary of State saying that high interest rates and low subsidies have nothing to do with the fact that Scottish housing has declined over the last few years. It is obvious to anyone with any sort of local authority contact at all that the increasingly difficult financial conditions over the last few years have played a very big part in the reduction in local authority house building in Scotland.

As to new towns, I particularly want to make a comment in reference to Glasgow, where, believe it or not, there is at present a waiting list for houses of 130,000. Even eliminating the people who may have been satisfied in one way or another and the people who are dead-wood on the list, that list represents a considerable number of people most of whom have no real prospect of decent housing in Glasgow in their lives, and particularly within the city boundaries. There is a tremendous shortage of sites in Glasgow. It will not be possible to satisfy the demands of those people within the boundaries, and I am afraid that a good many of those who are on the housing list at present will never get any sort of local authority housing or any decent housing at all. They will continue to live in slum conditions, overcrowded conditions and sublets to the end of their lives.

There are three new towns in Scotland, and I have already said how very disappointed we are with the progress in building houses in them. There is desperate need for at least a fourth new town. Glasgow Corporation has been pressing this matter on the Secretary of State, but he said about a month ago that there was no need to do anything at all about it, because the Government wanted to get on with the third new town, Cumbernauld, and see how things developed there before taking on the responsibility of a fourth new town. I have already said that Cumbernauld was designated in 1955 and that the number of houses built there so far is only 300. When that figure is considered against Glasgow's waiting list of 130,000, it will be appreciated how absolutely inadequate is the new town programme in Scotland.

I hope that the Secretary of State will be inspired with this new sense of urgency and "get cracking" with a fourth new town, and perhaps a fifth and a sixth, particularly with reference to Glasgow's problem of overspill. It takes years, and it has taken years, from the date of the decision to build a new town to getting any real housing accommodation in it. There is a desperate urgency at the moment, particularly in Glasgow, but I am sure that I am speaking for the rest of Scotland as well. There is no sign that the present Government have any realisation of the true situation in Scotland or have any plans to deal with it.

7.35 p.m.

Mr. H. A. Price (Lewisham, West)

Hon. and right hon. Members opposite will not be surprised to hear me say that I disagree with much of what they have said, but there is one feature in practically all their speeches with which I must concur. It is the concern at the serious nature of the housing situation which still exists in many parts of the country and especially in that part of the country in which I am particularly interested, the Metropolis of London.

The only critical point that I would make about their speeches is that I am surprised that so many of them went to so much trouble to belittle the housing achievements of Conservative Governments since 1951. I cannot help thinking how much better the housing situation would be today if, when they had the opportunities, they had tackled the housing problem with the same effectiveness as we have been doing since. I remember particularly a comparison which so far has not been made in the debate, not between 1945 and 1960, which has been made, but between 1950 and 1952, when we achieved the construction of over 300,000 houses a year, despite the fact that we were told by so many hon. and right hon. Members opposite that it could not be done.

I am reminded of what I am told was the motto of the Eighth Army in North Africa during the last war, "The difficult we do at once; the impossible takes a little longer." It seems that the difficult has been done and now we face the imposible—or the nearly impossible. I hope that the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary will not be too satisfied about having achieved the difficult, so satisfied that they lack the necessary resolution to face the impossible, or the nearly impossible.

The nature of the problem has already been referred to. The hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) yesterday spoke of a family which had been living in an L.C.C. hostel at Plumstead for three years. I, too, have a case of a family which has been nearly three years in the very same hostel. The hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) referred to a man and wife and three or four children living in an attic. I, too, have such a case.

I expect that every hon. Member on both sides of the House representing London and areas like it have similar cases. But the appalling part of it is that these families, despite the shocking conditions in which they are living and despite the length of time that they have been living in them, are still being told by the local authorities that they have not a hope for as far ahead as anyone can see. The prospect is hopeless, depressing and demoralising, not only for the parents but for the children who have to live in these conditions with no obvious hope of improvement.

We must face the fact that these are the hard core of the problem. The majority of them, at any rate those who, because of their limited income, are unable to make other arrangements for themselves, are forced willy-nilly to rely upon the local authority—those whose weekly incomes are below the average and who have two, three or four children to care for. They could find alternative accommodation at £3 10s. or £4 a week, which is available, but they cannot afford it. They have to rely upon the local authorities.

That is the nature of the problem. I am not quite sure what the size of it is. Various figures have been quoted today, but I would not care to accept any of them. One thing I would ask the Government is whether they know the size of this residual problem. If they do not, I suggest that it might be worth while trying to find out.

I see one ray of hope. The seriousness of the situation has been accentuated during the last year or so by the derequisitioning programme which local authorities have had to carry out, but that has almost come to an end and I believe that many of the new houses and flats which have had to be devoted to that purpose will now become available for the rehousing of families on the housing list. Perhaps the Minister can tell us the size of the additional amount of housing which will become available for that purpose as a result of the ending of the derequisitioning programme.

My own feeling in the matter—though I do not think the Minister will agree with me—is that we embarked upon this derequisitioning programme and upon our slum clearance programme too soon. In London,'the number of new houses and flats being built at the moment by the local authorities is something in the region of 9,000—rather more than half by the London County Council and rather less than half by the borough councils. Of that total, only about 1,000 are being used for housing families from the councils' ordinary waiting lists. The other 8,000 are going to people who are being moved from slum clearance areas and families who are being moved from derequisitioned properties.

It may seem rather reactionary to suggest that we embarked on the slum clearance programme too soon, but I think we did. Many of the families living in these areas are living in utterly deplorable circumstances and should be rehoused, but they would, in any case, have been picked up by the councils' points schemes. There are many other families in these areas who, whilst living in sub-standard accommodation, are at least adequately housed. They are reasonably happy there, have been there for years, do not want to be moved, and do not see the need for it, but they have to be moved because they are living in a slum clearance area, whereas just round the corner are families of the kind to which the hon. Member for Fulham referred—families which are known to me and my colleagues—who are not living in a slum clearance area, but who are living in deplorable conditions with grave overcrowding and, in many cases, unhealthy conditions. Yet they not only have to remain where they are but are told that they have still many years to wait.

I suppose it is too late now to do much about this, but I suggest that the Minister should look very carefully at some of these slum clearance schemes which come before him, and have an eye, at the same time, to the housing need of a locality apart from the slum clearance need.

Mr. John McCann (Rochdale)

I am following this point with interest, and I cannot help feeling that I wish I were making the speech that the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. H. A. Price) is making now. Would he not agree that one of the reasons why we are building for slum clearance and not for general need is the Government's action in removing the subsidy for general housing, which has forced local authorities to designate new houses for slum clearance?

Mr. Price

I accept that point. That is why I said that I thought we embarked on the slum clearance scheme too early. There is not much point in losing too much sleep over what has gone. We have to consider what can be done to deal with the problem which exists. Before doing that we have to agree that the problem does exist. I am encouraged in that by the fact that the Minister has nodded two or three times, so I will not pursue the point.

What is to be done about it? I do not believe that there is any easy magic solution to the problem. If we are to solve it, as I suggest we must, it can only be done by a series of small contributions, each one of which can be small but which, in sum, add up to a solution. I dislike making a speech which is, in essence, critical without being able to make some positive suggestions, so I have jotted down a few points, hoping they might be helpful.

One which I have already mentioned is that we need to find out, first of all, the size of the problem, and, in doing that, let us have regard to the ability of those on the list to pay, because I feel that we are perhaps a little unaware of the fact that so many of these families are dependent upon local authorities and cannot look elsewhere.

On the question of subsidies, I agree with practically everything said by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), and I will not enlarge upon that. Can the Minister tell me whether local authorities are being held up for lack of money? Is there a bottleneck in the capital allocation for local authority housing projects? What is the waiting time—one year, two or three—and could it be speeded up? If local authorities could get money quickly, would it make a contribution to this problem? My impression is that it would.

Is there a bottleneck in building sites? Certainly there is in London. The borough councils, at any rate, seem to me to be extremely hard up for land upon which to build, and the situation is becoming progressively worse. If that is so, then let us face the fact that we must look for a solution to this problem outside London and not inside it. Is there anything we can do? I suggest three things that are worth looking at. Are we being too regimental in the matter of densities? Are we making the best use of the limited land we have? I feel that here and there we are sweeping away our slum properties, where there were terrace houses very closely built, and putting in their place modern flats or houses, or some of each, fewer to the acre than formerly. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] That, apparently, is also the experience of other Members. If that is so, could we not make a contribution to the problem, at any rate in London and areas like it, by relaxing our density requirements?

What is happening about conversions? When the Rent Act was going through the House we were told that one of the objects was to release large properties so that they could be converted into two, three or more smaller units. How is that programme going? The impression I get is that it is not going terribly well. Is there anything we can do to speed it up? If there is, let us do it.

The new towns have already been mentioned. I understand that the London County Council is anxious to build a new town at Hook in Hampshire, but that proposal seems to be hanging fire. Can anything be done to speed it up? If we have to look outside London —and I believe that we must—let us provide somewhere outside London for London families to move to.

With existing new towns, I am depressed by the length of time that a wage earner has to travel backwards and forwards from his home in London to his work in the new town before he can be rehoused in the new town. I had a case only recently which will serve as an example. A man has had to travel backwards and forwards between my contituency and Welwyn Garden City for eighteen months and will have to continue to do it for another twelve months before he can be rehoused in Welwyn Garden City. That is not the way to encourage families to move to Welwyn Garden City What has gone wrong? Can the Ministry do anything about it? It seems that something has gone wrong with the phasing of the provision of work with the provision of housing. That is the present situation. Can something be done?

I get the impression that there are areas outside London where housing problems are less acute. I could name one or two, but I will not do so in case I get irate letters. Many families living in London, with no need to live in London, could and would move outside if they knew that accommodation was there for them, but I understand that there is no machinery to organise that kind of operation. I suggest that the Ministry should consider that to see whether it can help.

We need to do something to encourage exchanges within London and within any one local authority. We all know of cases where families have grown up and where the children have married and gone away, leaving in occupation of a large local authority unit an old couple who would be only too happy to move into a small unit if the local authority would make one available, thus making room for a large family. I get the impression that few local authorities are doing as much as they could to facilitate that kind of exchange.

My right hon. Friend has before him the quinquennial modifications of the L.C.C. town planning. I wonder whether when looking at that he will carefully consider whether any of the sites which are earmarked for non-housing purposes could not be diverted to housing purposes. One hears of large desirable building sites which are sterilised for years in the hope that one day they might be used for some other purpose. Let us consider them very carefully. If we are to give housing, in London at any rate, the priority it deserves, some of those sites could well be used for housing purposes.

I apologise for keeping the House so long, but I now reach my final comment. Throughout the country, the unemployment situation is very satisfactory, but there have been local spots where the position has been much less satisfactory. The Government have taken emergency action to deal with that problem where it exists. The housing problem is a localised problem. Broadly speaking, the position throughout the country is probably fairly satisfactory, but here and there are black spots which need desperate action.

I urge Her Majesty's Government to approach the problem in the same spirit in which they approached unemployment. I have known my right hon. Friend for many years. He knows that I have not agreed with everything that he has done, particularly with the decontrol Clause of the Rent Act, but I have always admired his courage and determination. I beg him to apply both those virtues to this hard core, this residual problem, which is troubling us all. I believe that if he does that, in the next four years he can solve it.

7.55 p.m.

Mr. Leo Abse (Pontypool)

I join in the reprimand given by the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. H. A. Price) to the Parliamentary Secretary, for I have rarely heard a more absurdly sanguine speech dealing with what in many parts of the country is a terrible situation. I was struck by the fact that in an aside the Parliamentary Secretary mentioned his well-known interest in the social services. I cannot understand how he should have so schizophrenic an approach as apparently to agree with the hon. Member for Wolverhampton. South-West (Mr. Powell), who, as I understand it, was suggesting that housing should not approximate a social service and that, since there were already in existence sufficient social services which could be co-ordinated to meet the needs of the public—

Mr. Powell

The financial needs.

Mr. Abse

The point I am making is that anyone aware of social work who approaches this problem, not necessarily from the point of view of finance but from the point of view of human needs, knows that the basis of juvenile delinquency is to be found in slum homes and that the problems of matrimonial discord often arise from overcrowded conditions. I cannot understand someone like the Parliamentary Secretary, who so frequently shows his interest in the social services, being so sanguine when dealing with housing problems that are so widespread and grim.

In Wales, with a figure of 49 per cent., we have the unenviable distinction of having the 'highest number of households in any region without bathrooms— according to the last census—so there is no cause for complacency there. Progress made since 1951 is such that in industrial South Wales some 800,000 people live in homes without bathrooms and almost 200,000 in houses without lavatories.

It was only on Tuesday of last week that the Minister apparently boasted to my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) of the progress which had been made in Wales. The blunt fact is that if the present rate of progress is maintained the problem of homes without bathrooms or toilets will be with us in Wales for another twenty years.

My constituency illustrates only too obviously and grievously the type of problem which confronts local authorities in the mining valleys. In that eastern valley of Monmouthshire, as in most of the mining valleys of South Wales, the hapless National Coal Board, as part of its wretched inheritance from the predatory coal owners, has had houses in wretched condition bestowed on it. In my constituency, the Coal Board has inherited some 830 houses out of which only 30 have the normal amenities of a bathroom, a water closet and a hot water system.

Having investigated the matter, the Coal Board finds that nearly 500 of those houses are in such a state that they are incapable of improvement. It is quite useless for the Parliamentary Secretary to talk in terms of improvement grants which can now be made when in these valleys we are dealing with ageing houses built 100 or 150 years ago which are incapable of improvement.

We have tremendous problems in the mining valleys, not only with this large mass of ageing house property but with difficult building sites, for the valleys are steep-sided and then there are the hazards of serious surface subsidence caused by present or old mineral workings. Again, almost inevitably, we have other natural difficulties, such as occurred in Blaenavon, one part of my constituency, where because of shortage of water supplies not one house was built in five years.

It is when faced with that sort of situation that a small local authority with few resources has then to make the agonising decision of how many houses it can devote to slum clearance, and how many for an ever-growing housing list. We are slipping behind in this because more houses are being condemned than are being built in some parts of my constituency.

When I listened to the extraordinarily complacent speech of the Parliamentary Secretary, I had in mind houses that I visited recently in my constituency. There was a block of ten clinging to the mountainside. There is no water in those houses, and the people living in this block have to go to a tap in a cave about 20 yards away. That one open tap serves the needs of the ten houses, and adjacent to the tap there are evil smelling lavatories which serve those houses. Those conditions are reminiscent of the Middle East. They are not the conditions which we have a right to expect in twentieth century Britain.

When I leave Wales and arrive at Paddington and see how the building resources of this country are being employed in the West End putting up meritricious shop fronts, prestige offices and the building of luxury flats, I ask myself what sort of a social system hon. Members on the other side of the House are condoning when they say that there is no need to have proper social priorities and are only preoccupied with what they say is a proper regard to financial commitments.

At the bottom of my valley is a new town. It is the only new town in Wales. One would have thought that in a new town which is so near to constituencies like that of my hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery (Rev. L1. Williams), where the same problem exists as in my valley because there are too many properties which were built 100 to 150 years ago, there would be some sense of urgency; but one finds what has been found in Scotland: the development corporation is maimed. For a year the corporation has wanted to know its population target. It has wanted to know whether it could get on with building houses in the south western area of this new town. Although it has been asking for this information for more than a year, the new town corporation still does not know what it is aiming at. In the meantime, because of the credit squeeze and capital restrictions, the life is being squeezed out of the new town.

What are the housing prospects of the 3,000 people who are clamouring to come into the new town? If we are fortunate, 250 to 300 houses will be built in the coming year. That figure is supposed to meet the demands of the 3,000 people who want to get out of the nearby valleys and to meet the demands which are now growing because of the building nearby of the proposed Llanwern steelworks. Despite the importuning of everyone connected with the corporation, we are still not getting anything like the Government aid we have been asking for.

All we are getting is a change, which has recently been mooted, in the membership of the development corporation. The Minister ought to know that there is considerable feeling in the area that valient local authority administrators are being replaced by people who, however distinguished they may be in naval or other matters, are not equipped for the task of aiding the building of better and more houses in Cwmbran. A situation is created where an excessive number of people on the development corporation are dealing with a small number of houses. It would be better if we had more houses and less jobs for the boys to satisfy the demand in South Wales.

In all our mining valleys a lot of money is about to be spent by the National Coal Board. Between the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery and my constituency, there is one mine where nearly £6 million is in the course of being spent. A large amount of capital development is taking place in the mines in and around our constituencies, and for the first time there seems to be coming to South Wales the possibility that people will be able to choose their jobs. They will be able to select the place where they work. That is something which was unknown in Wales until comparatively recently. But miners will not live at the top of valleys without proper amenities. They will not work in the mines unless they have the basic amenity of a decent house. I know of miners who have left my valley to work in other areas because there was the possibility of getting a house. They would like to come back to the valley which is their home. Our valleys are now getting depopulated, not because of a shortage of work, but because of a lack of amenities, and the greatest amenity is a house.

Unless some priority is given to these industrial areas which have been sorely neglected for generations, there will develop a situation where there will be a shortage of miners who are prepared to work and live in those areas. I therefore urge the Minister to pay special attention to the needs of Wales. There should be a greater sense of urgency in the building of Cwmbran new town. We should get away from the complacency which appears to be apparent in attempts to conquer slum conditions. We must say that this is a matter where we are prepared to deploy, even at the cost of other people's profits, the large building resources in existence in the country to deal with what should be the first priority, the assuaging of genuine housing needs.

8.7 p.m.

Mr. John Barter (Ealing, North)

There is a natural tendency, as we embark on each debate, to consider the subject of our debate the most important human issue confronting us at the present time. It is very difficult to establish priorities as between food, warmth, and shelter, but I am certain that housing rates high on the list of human priorities. It is for that reason that I made an enthusiastic and fairly close study of this subject, and I have been aided by the opportunity of serving on the board of a company engaged in building production, and also on the board of a building society.

Several hon. Members have drawn attention to the fact that it is humane considerations which are involved in this issue. I agree with that, but we must not overlook the fact that in any diagnosis of a situation, however human it may be, it is sometimes essential to bring statistics to our aid. Statistics can assist not only in diagnosing the situation, but in giving a lead to problems that may arise in the future, and the solutions which may offer themselves to those problems.

I should like to draw the attention of the House to a particular problem, out of the wealth of topics which may be discussed on this subject, to which reference has already been made, that of land shortage. Land shortage is fairly acute at present, and appears to offer even less favourable prospects in the future. During the course of our discussions hon. Gentlemen opposite have complained at the comparisons which have been made between relative performances prior to 1951 and subsequent to 1957. They have made several excuses for their own poor showing. During their period of administration they were not faced with such a huge problem of land shortage as confronts us today.

We have two conflicting requirements. The requirement of town planning, on the one hand, and the very reasonable humane requirement of housing, on the other. The two requirements are in direct contradiction. It is, perhaps, interesting to note that of the land designated for housing, about 300,000 acres, in the town plans submitted for the period 1951–71, already, by the end of 1959, over one-half, in the first eight years, has been absorbed. The problem of land shortage is an acute one. Already, land prices are mounting quite considerably because of this shortage factor. That mounting price of land will be reflected not only in the cost of new houses, but also in the costs of old houses and in the rents which will be asked for all houses.

The House and the Government must consider whether there is any possibility of a solution to this problem. Those who look to land speculation are already casting their eyes on land which at present is devoted to and reserved for agriculture. There is some evidence that agricultural land is being sold at far above the price which it would fetch as agricultural land. Consequently, this matter requires fairly urgent consideration.

It is no good asking local authorities to review their town planning considerations and to put out little parcels of land. That would not have any real effect on the price. What is wanted is a bold survey of this problem and encouragement to local authorities to make a very large area of additional land available for future development.

About 100,000 acres are required to make an impression upon land prices. These land prices will be very important because, with the price of land going up so substantially, that, inevitably, has an effect on the cost of a new house or on the quality of a new house built on the land so that it may be contained within the range in which it will be more readily saleable. I should like particular attention to be given to that problem, which needs urgent consideration.

8.12 p.m.

Mrs. Joyce Butler (Wood Green)

I very much sympathise with what the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Barter) has said about the problem of land shortage. I think it is a problem which is common to all the local authorities which have this acute housing problem. I was not quite sure of the practicability of the scheme which he suggested, but I support him in urging the Government to look at the problem to see what positive contribution they can make towards solving it.

I was less happy about some of the comments which have been made by hon. Members opposite on the question of density. When there is acute housing shortage—and most hon. Members have tonight accepted that there is still an acute housing shortage—it is very tempting to say that we should push up the density and put more dwellings on the same area of land so that we may solve the problem. The point is, where do we stop once we start on that process?

In our central development area in Wood Green, we shall be developing at 75 persons to the acre. I have with me a scheme which has been approved in Hong Kong where the density is 1,500 to 2,000 persons to the acre! I hope that hon. Members who are talking about raising the density figures are not wanting to go as high as that. It shows the danger, that once we start closing that we do not know where we shall stop. If we take the responsibility for deciding density out of the hands of planning authorities we shall run into great dangers. It is a point that the Minister might look at in consultation with planning authorities with a view to some small increase, but it has to be watched very carefully.

I Join in what has been said already about the complacency with which the Parliamentary Secretary approached this problem. I support what was said by the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. H. A. Price) about the need to estimate what the size of the problem really is. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have criticised the respective parties for their small contributions to the housing problem. I shall be drawing the wrath of both sides on my head by saying that I do not think that any Government have built nearly enough houses since the war, and now need a great many more. In an attempt to probe the Minister of Housing and Local Government on this matter, I asked some Questions to which Written Answers were given. I tried to find what his estimate of the problem was.

I had a very interesting reply to the third of those Questions. I asked what estimate the right hon. Gentleman had made of the number of houses which needed to be provided for the next ten years to provide separate homes for new households. That is another problem quite apart from the problem of houses to replace slum clearance, housing for people in urgent need on the waiting list, and so on. His reply was that we should need 850,000. He went on to say that at the present rate of house building, three times that number of new houses would be provided over the same period of ten years. One could almost hear the flourish in the Minister's voice as he said it, and I imagine that, if they have not done it already, his supporters will quote that Answer up and down the country to show what splendid people they are to provide three times the number of houses required for new households for the next ten years. However, if we work out the sum it comes to 255,000 houses a year for the next ten years.

That is what the Minister says he expects will be built. It is a lower figure —and it covers every type of house; private enterprise and local authority, slum clearance and housing for those on the waiting list—than any figure for house building over the past few years. It is a very low estimate and the only one that the Minister has given. Quite apart from what my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) said earlier about the need to build at least 300,000 houses per year for the next ten years, a very interesting article by the editor of the Housing and Town Planning Review estimates that we would need 330,000 houses per year for the next ten years. I should like to know whether the Minister accepts these figures and this estimate of the problem. His paltry number of 255,000 houses a year is 100,000 a year less than an independent expert estimate of what will be needed. Does he say that this is the best contribution that he can make to a solution of this grave housing problem? I hope he will say that it is a misrepresentation, because I share the views of my hon. Friend that this is a great human problem to which it is the responsibility of the Government to make a serious contribution. We cannot keep on quoting what we have done in the past; we must look ahead.

The new towns have been mentioned. We all know that in the London and Middlesex areas very soon those new towns will come to the end of the process of taking in families from outside. They will still take them for the next few years but they are becoming built up and are rapidly reaching the point at which they will be able to build only for their own needs. We have heard not one word from the Government benches about what is to happen after that. We have heard not one word about further new towns or about any kind of national responsibility for overspill. There has been complete complacency and a reluctance to face the human problems which hon. Members have been putting before the House today.

When the Government talk, as they do, about local authorities using their subsidies in the wrong way and about the importance of encouraging differential rent schemes, they must remember that areas in which the housing shortage is most acute are, in the main, areas in which the low income families live. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) quoted figures about families in an area in Scotland where a differential rent scheme was operating. Those figures can be repeated all over the country. To introduce schemes of this kind and to juggle with figures is no solution whatever to the problem. It will not alter the fact that the families already in council houses in these overcrowded areas and the families on the housing waiting lists of those areas are, in the main, for one reason or another, families with low incomes. The only solution is to build more houses to meet their needs.

Now I want to make what I hope will be a constructive suggestion. The Minister has failed to do anything on a big scale and has failed to tell the House, "We intend to build 330,000 houses a year for the next ten years. We have had this housing problem long enough. We are tired of hearing hon. Members talk about this problem which exists in their constituencies. We believe that if we solve the housing problem we can save money on the social services in other ways and can make sure that the best use is made of the education, the health services and all the other services which we provide, because the families will be living in decent housing conditions."

I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman will say when he winds up the debate, but I do not think it will be very much more constructive than anything the Parliamentary Secretary said in opening the debate. He is obviously not taking a big view of this problem. Because of this, I draw his attention to a small suggestion which I hope he will consider. It is a point which I think can become increasingly important.

From time to time his Ministry sends out circulars to local authorities. From time to time it has sent circulars to local authorities about particular types of housing associations. In 1939 it encouraged local authorities to give assistance to housing societies. In 1952 it sent a circular to local authorities encouraging them to support self-build housing societies, and immediately after that circular there was a great increase in the number of self-build housing societies, which were established because the attention of local authorities had been drawn to their powers to help and because they went out of their way to help such societies.

In 1957 another circular was sent out drawing the attention of local authorities to the part which old people's housing associations could play and the assistance which they could give. I am asking that in 1960 the Minister should send a circular to local authorities drawing attention to the fact that they can assist the formation of co-operative housing associations. The Minister may remember that a short time ago I asked him a Question about co-operative housing associations. I pointed out that in Willesden two such co-operative housing associations had been set up since the passing of the Rent Act by groups of tenants who were decontrolled. They were threatened with eviction from the fiats in which they lived and they formed themselves into an association. They went to the Willesden Borough Council and obtained from it a loan under the Housing Act which enabled them cooperatively to purchase that block of flats. They saved themselves from eviction and they created a very useful association.

This next example may seem far removed from some of the problems which we have heard tonight, but eviction even from a luxury flat can sometimes be as serious to a family as eviction from a less luxurious flat. The Minister knows that the tenants of the block of flats in Dolphin Square are considering in the same way the formation of a co-operative housing association on the basis of a loan from the local authority.

I mention these examples to show that this is not academic. It has arisen out of the need which the Rent Act has created. The Rent Act has forced tenants to try to find a way of escaping from the threats of take-over bidders and avaricious landlords whom the Minister's Rent Act has done so much to encourage. The least the Minister can do in return is to help other tenants in similar positions to realise that they can avoid some of these dangers in this way.

The principle can go further and apply not only to tenants of existing properties but also to some of the families who have been mentioned tonight—people who cannot buy houses out of their own resources, but who, by forming themselves into a co-operative housing association, with the help of the local authority and advice from the National Federation of Housing Societies, can probably solve their housing problems by these means.

At the moment it is only a small movement. Perhaps it is only a crumb in face of the vast housing need about which we have heard tonight. But in the hope that if the Minister will not give us the whole loaf for which we ask he will give us this small crumb, I put this constructive suggestion to him, and I hope that he will take it up.

I am sure that after listening to the debate the Minister realises that the job which he holds is one of great responsibility and that hundreds of thousands of people are looking to him for some measure of hope for the future. On the housing waiting lists all over the country are people who have been there for years and years, seeing their hopes gradually dwindle. In his reply tonight the Minister may not say very much of comfort to these people, but I hope that he will study the debate at his leisure and try to face the housing problem in a new way, with a fresh approach to all the problems which have been put to him. I hope that he will try to find a solution, as he, and only he, can. However keen local authorities and other people are, the final responsibility rests on him, because his is the financial and the administrative responsibility of coping with this problem.

8.29 p.m.

Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)

I shall try to be as quick as I possibly can, because I know that some very good hon. Friends of mine are simply bursting to get into the debate before nine o'clock. I dare say that there are some hon. Gentlemen opposite who would also like to make a very brief contribution, because many of us have sat here for many hours.

I cannot help feeling that some hon. Gentlemen who have contributed to the debate have slightly blurred the problem of housing. I do not agree with them when they say that there is a chronic housing shortage in this country. I hope that they will not think that I am complacent in making such a remark. I think that the Political and Economic Planning Report, which was referred to earlier, was right in saying that the demand for and supply of housing accommodation was reaching an equilibrium. I think that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) made a similar statement many years ago. Since the right hon. Gentleman made that statement, and since Political and Economic Planning made its Report, hundreds of thousands of dwellings have been erected.

What I think is the root of our disquiet about the housing problem—I hope that we can be in agreement on this point—is that there is a housing shortage in certain parts of the country, and, in particular, in some of the large cities. Like so many hon. Members on both sides, I am sick to death of having to go to my constituency "surgery" and receive a constant stream of people who come from the most pitiful homes, where they are terribly overcrowded. We are "fed up" with it. We know that there is little that we can do for them.

Those hon. Members who know St. Pancras will know exactly the sort of conditions to which I refer. I have the greatest admiration for the fortitude of many of my constituents who have had to put up with deplorable conditions for many years. They have my greatest sympathy, because, literally, there is no hope for many of them. The best thing we can do is to have the guts to tell them that.

One of my hon. Friends suggested that local authorities should be more frank in this respect. I think that they should, too. It has one effect. It stops people going on to the waiting list who should not be there. Many hon. Members have referred to the thousands of people on the waiting lists. Again, let us not blow this problem up into too big a size. Of course, thousands of people put themselves on the waiting list if they think or are led to believe that they will get subsidised housing. Many people are not suffering so much from bad housing conditions or shortage of housing. What they want—this is why so many of them put themselves on the waiting list—is better housing conditions. Who can blame them for that? If that is what they want, they must be prepared to pay the cost of better housing conditions.

What we are getting at when we address our remarks to the Minister is that he should show a greater sense of urgency, not about those people who want rather better housing conditions at subsidised rent, but about those people who are enduring the most deplorable housing conditions and are suffering conditions of tremendous overcrowding.

I believe that local authorities can do more in this respect than they are doing. The hon. Lady the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Butler) said that, if differential rent schemes or rent rebate schemes were introduced in areas where there was overcrowding, they would be introduced in just the areas where they would not work anyhow, because they are the poor areas. I do not imagine that anyone would describe the residents of St. Pancras as rich. In fact, the average wage of people who live in that part of the country is rather below the national average.

The local council introduced a rent rebate scheme, so it might be of some interest to hon. Members to know exactly what happened. Before the rent rebate scheme was introduced in St. Pancras, the local council was faced with a deficit of £300,000. Now, having introduced the rent rebate scheme, that estimated deficiency has been reduced to £194,000. That is a considerable saving for a small borough.

We have heard a great deal about mounting interest rates, but I do not believe that they have had very much effect on the building plans of local authorities.

Mr. Michael Cliffe (Shoreditch and Finsbury)


Mr. Johnson Smith

All right. Since 1954, a borough very similar to many other London boroughs has built 2,076 new units and has gone in for 144 conversions. One would have thought that this year there would have been a downward movement because of the alleged crippling effect of interest rates, but that is not the picture at all. What the St. Pancras Borough Council projects, starting this March, is 405 new units, compared with 2,076 in the years from 1954 to 1960, and 50 conversions as compared with 144 conversions over that six-year period. If that borough council can do that, why cannot others?

In point of fact, too much can be made by hon. Members opposite of high interest rates—

Mr. Kenneth Robinson (St. Pancras, North)

If the hon. Gentleman has finished telling the House of the advantages of the differential rent scheme, with particular reference to St. Pancras, would he not complete the picture by saying that there have been mass marches ever since the differential rent scheme was brought in, and that very considerable hardship is being caused to council tenants in St. Pancras, many of whom are being asked to pay virtually double the rent they previously paid?

Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)

The hon. Gentleman's point was that higher interest rates have not influenced house building, yet one finds that the curve of council house building is going down throughout the country. Is he aware that many of our cities and larger towns are reaching a position in municipal housing in which the economic rents—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker(Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)

Order. Time is getting very short, and interventions should not be as long as that.

Mr. Johnson Smith

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman could not continue his remarks.

There is not a decline in building by local authorities this year. The Parliamentary Secretary made that quite clear in his speech, and I come from his general remarks to the specific example of the Borough of St. Pancras where, again, one has seen an upward movement. I shall not enter into a discussion with the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson) on the details of that particular rent rebate scheme— that is a matter for that council—but he knows as well as I do that this is not just a Tory principle, but is something that has been introduced up and down the country by Socialist councils as well as by Tory councils.

I noticed that the London County Council, in a letter that it sent to its tenants not long ago, did not view high interest rates as an argument for its inability to rehouse as many people on the waiting list as it would have wished. What it drew particular attention to, and I shall concentrate on this point, was the shortage of sites.

Shortage of sities is the main reason why the London County Council has not been able to fulfil its housing obligations to the extent that it would have liked. I have asked myself: how real is this problem? It is true that there are very few vacant sites left. We have tried to tackle this problem by redevelopment in the past. But I notice that when the authorities take a site which they designate for redevelopment they are not able, time and time again, to rehouse the people already living in that area.

If, say, there were 5,000 people in the redevelopment area, they build these fine new buildings but rehouse, perhaps, only 3,000. In that instance, they are not making very good use of the space available in London—

Mrs. Slater

Push them all together.

An Hon. Member: Push them up.

Mr. Johnson Smith

The hon. Lady suggests pushing them all together. I am indebted to one of my hon. Friends for the other suggestion, which I was about to make myself. I suggest that, in a country as tiny as this, if we do not want to sprawl and smear our inhabitants all over the land, there is only one solution —to go up, and not only to go up in terms of building height but up in terms of increased densities. To increase densities from 70 to 136 persons per acre would do no harm to people, for instance, in the Lewisham area.

In the quinquennial review of the County of London plan, the London County Council says that it intends to make recommendations to allow the density zonings to be increased. On the Elephant and Castle redevelopment, for instance, the London County Council proposes to suggest that the density should be increased from 136 to 170 persons per acre, because, as the council so aptly points out, the area is very close to the centre of London. It goes on to say that the existing densities in the area are more than 200 persons per acre.

What will happen to the people who are living in these places now when the area comes to be redeveloped? Although the density is to be increased from 136 to 170, they are living there at densities over 200 persons per acre. The consequence is that London faces a tremendous overspill problem. One hon. Member asked about the size of it. It is the dickens of a size. As a result of not using such sites as we have to the full and not increasing densities, the London County Council faces an overspill problem which, by 1972, will mean that about 600,000 people will not be rehoused in London. Between 1956 and 1972, homes for 600,000 must be found outside London for Londoners. The London County Council has estimated in its plan that it can hope, through its own operations and through private migration, that only about 460,000 will, in fact, be rehoused outside the London area.

Thus, as the review of the London plan points out, we are left with the staggering problem of nearly 150,000 people living in London today who cannot expect to be rehoused under the present County of London development plan. These are people already in London. If they are to be given a fair deal and a fair crack of the housing whip, for heaven's sake let us not be so rigorous as we have been in the past in our attitude to low population densities. London was at one time a lot of small villages strung together, but now it is a big city.

I find it most deplorable to have to take the train out of London and go through the dreary expanse of "one up and one down" terrace houses as one travels out. This is a sort of village community life on the doorstep or, indeed, in the very heart of the Metropolis, but London does not look like a Metropolis so long as people are smeared out in these areas of terraced houses, often in overcrowded conditions. If, as I say, the buildings were pushed up, people could have proper accommodation and live decent, airy and healthy lives. At the same time, we should do much to reduce the housing shortage.

Even though I believe that such steps as I have suggested could be taken, I have no doubt at all that there must be many other ways out of our present housing shortage in some of the big cities. Perhaps a new town is one of them. Other hon. Members have put forward various suggestions. I am quite sure that my right hon. Friend, who has listened to hon. Members throughout this debate, will give attention to some of the points which have been put to him by hon. Members on both sides. I for one will listen with very great interest indeed to hear what hope he can offer us.

8.44 p.m.

Mr. John Mackie (Enfield, East)

I am sure the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mr. Johnson Smith) will forgive me if I do not comment much on what he said, except to say that he said it well and I agree with some and disagree with other parts of it.

Together with most of my hon. Friends, I must emphasise how shocked I was at the complacency of the Joint Parliamentary Secretary when he opened the debate. I have no complaint about how much housing has been done. My complaint is about what remains to be done from now on. I propose to relate what I have to say to the Borough of Enfield, part of which I represent. It has a population of 110,000 and a housing list of 2,700 families. At least 8,000 citizens are not housed or are not housed properly. I have seen some of the housing in Enfield, and the densities at which people live are sometimes quite shocking. To those figures I must add that 500 houses are scheduled for slum clearance. Enfield is two-thirds behind the five-year programme which was put forward by the Minister five years ago, and it is now entering upon another programme that much behind. That involves another 1,500 people.

I was obliged to my hon. Friend the Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) for his speech yesterday in which he pinpointed what happens socially in the way of broken homes and delinquency as a result of inadequate and expensive housing. I should like to enlarge upon that, although I do not intend to do so.

I am personally responsible for housing over 60 families. It has given me great pleasure during the last twenty or thirty years to improve those houses to the best of my ability. I cannot stress too strongly the difference it makes to people to have decent houses, particularly to the wives and children. I can think of cases in which I took on people who had been in bad houses. I know of a case in which a wife had become almost a slut because of bad housing and had given up all hope. When she was put into a good house with plenty of room and all modern facilities, hot and cold water, a bathroom and electric light, the improvement had to be seen to be believed.

Last week, I went to see some people at Enfield housed by the War Office. I had put some pressure on the War Office to put in hot water. A lady who had lived in the house for thirty-nine years was absolutely thrilled that she was to have hot water for the last few years of her life. Although it was only a geyser above the bath with a pipe to the sink, she was thrilled with it. It was such a little thing, but how much better could she have been housed.

Since coming to Enfield, like other hon. Members, I meet my constituents about every three weeks, and the queue for housing is the longest of all. The number of people who ask me to help them to find houses is pathetic. The other day a man earning £700 a year pleaded with me to see if I could get him a house in Hemel Hempstead. He was willing to pay £180 to £200 rent. That is the sort of desperation there is in my constituency. In another case, two old people had given up their house years ago to stay with their son and daughter. Now there is no room for them because of the increase in the family. What could I do, except explain to them that the difficulty in getting houses was high interest rates, the Rent Act and the price of land? They had always lived in Enfield, and now in the evening of their lives they were leading a miserable existence. I tried to say that I would help them. I was quite shocked, but could not agree when a local councillor, who usually goes with me on my visits, said, "It would be much better just to tell these people that you cannot do anything rather than raise their hopes."

For a new Member of Parliament, anxious to do something, it is a grim outlook when I read in the Government Amendment untiring determination … to improve housing conditions … And I have to accept the advice that it is better to tell these people that I can do nothing. It depresses me intensely. The Government seem to have untiring determination to help people who do not need it; untiring determination to build steel and concrete piles across the river which will not bring a pint of oil into this country; untiring determination to build office accommodation which will not produce one iota of real wealth.

Let us look at this untiring determination working in the Borough of Enfield and see whether, if some other policy were adopted, it would be possible for me to give some hope to these thousands of my constituents. Last year, because of the credit squeeze and the run-down in building two years ago, the Borough of Enfield was able to build only 36 Council houses, whereas private enterprise built 310. The argument is that private enterprise will help to solve this problem. It does not. It only makes it worse. Not more than 5 per cent. of these private houses were occupied by people on the housing list. Some 50 to 90 per cent. of the others were from outside the borough, which is not helping the situation in Enfield. As I say, that makes the situation worse. Like everywhere else in Middlesex, land for housing is the biggest problem in my borough. I do not want to weary the House with stories of the frustrations suffered by the local council to get land, with the Minister turning down compulsory purchase in spite of the advice of his inspector, prices being too high, and so on.

We must try to solve the problem somehow. I say to the Minister that the only way to solve it is for borough councils, like the Borough Council of Enfield, to have the right to all the available land inside the borough. They must be able to switch land from one purpose to another and to keep the open spaces as they are. In Enfield, land is to be provided for a cemetery. People can be taken to other places to be buried and that land should be used for housing. Given the power, councils could solve this problem.

I am not against councils giving land to private builders on which to build houses provided the citizens in the borough concerned are housed in them. There is not much sense in arguing about the situation. We know the number of people who require houses and the situation with regard to land. Unless the councils are allowed to build council houses—plenty of arguments from both sides of the House have shown that it is council houses for which there is most need—I shall not be able to give any hope to the large number of people living year after year in literally degrading conditions.

Let me say a word about the price of land. The party opposite have had their way in this respect. They have got market value for it, but it is not a value which has been created by the owner of the land. It is true that there are subsidies for expensive land, but it still costs £20,000 an acre in Enfield, whether there is a subsidy for it or not. What this increase in the price of land costs the country in inflation I hate to think. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and hon. Members opposite worry about inflation. If there is something which has created more inflation than anything else, I should like to know what it is. If there is a case for a different method of ownership of land it has been made out.

Now let me say something about the cost of houses. Far too many small houses are being built with too limited accommodation for old people. Accommodation with one room to serve as bedroom and reception room and a small bathrom is not good enough. There should be two-room houses. We are setting far too low a standard. We hope that houses will be built to last for a long time. We are not at the moment catering for the doubling of the standard of living for which we are all hoping. The houses which are being built are too small to cope with the rising standards. There are no garages and no cupboards to accommodate the equipment used in sports in which people indulge. Accommodation with a living room, small kitchen and two bedrooms is all right for a time, but when two or three children come along and grandmother wants to come to stay, life can be unbearable. I appeal for a far higher standard of houses.

I live in a house with three public rooms, with my wife, five children, dog and television, and even I have to go to my office to get away from some of them. When there is only one room and a television set and the young people want to do different things, a situation is created in which family troubles are bound to arise. Let us build houses that will cater for the high standard of the affluent society in which we are told we live.

Let me say a word about the cost of houses, which is far too high. Much too big a profit is being made in building houses. I am building three houses now. We have just started them and the foundations are in. I am doing it by direct labour, with my manager and myself acting as our own architect and clerk of works. The area of these houses is 1,200 sq. ft. each. They are two-storeyed houses for farm workers. The land, as it is our own, has not cost us anything. We are building those three houses for £4,000. The profit in building houses must be quite fantastic. [An HON. MEMBER: "The hon. Member is building three of them?"] Yes, and I am willing to give the figures to anybody who likes to have them and to show the final cost when they are finished in the summer.

I know of a postmaster and a schoolmaster in my constituency who want to retire. They both went to look at a piece of land 90 ft. by 70 ft., for which they were asked a little under £2,000. How can middle-class people pay a figure of that kind for, land on which to build a house for their retirement?

Driving up to town every day, I pass a Methodist kirk on the galilee of which is a text which reads: He has a right to criticise who has a heart to help. We on this side have a real heart to see that our people are well housed. I am certain that we will give the Government all assistance in any scheme they produce to solve this problem. At the same time, of course, having that heart we would like to criticise.

8.57 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel J. K. Cordeaux (Nottingham, Central)

I am very glad to be so fortunate as to be called at this late hour, because three minutes just about gives me time to make a protest, on behalf of many hon. Members on this side of the House who represent industrial constituencies, about the awful tripe to which we have had to listen this evening from the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. C. Royle), who, I am glad to see, is in his place now that I am able to speak.

The hon. Member told us that we on this side who represent industrial constituencies knew absolutely nothing about housing conditions.

Mr. C. Royle

I did not say anything of the kind.

Lieut-Colonel Cordeaux

That is exactly what the hon. Member said, as anybody who sat through his speech will remember. The hon. Member is hopelessly out of date. Does he really think that the voters in our industrial and urban constituencies now vote for Labour candidates because they think that they will be better off from the viewpoint of housing conditions and future housing prospects? If that is what the hon. Member thinks he had better study the results of the recent General Election in places like Birmingham, London—

Mr. Royle


Lieut-Colonel Cordeaux

—Newcastle and Nottingham, when he will find how wrong he is.

The hon. Member told us that he trebled his majority at the last election and I congratulate him. He suggested, however, that the reason for that was the shocking housing conditions in Salford and the fact that people there voted Labour because they thought that thereby they had the best chance of getting better conditions. I suggest that the reason why the hon. Member trebled his majority was, obviously, his own personal charm and great ability. Whatever may have been the reason, whether unemployment or anything else, it was not anything to do with housing.

I find that I have one thing in common with the hon. Member, although I do not like to boast about it. I, too, trebled my majority. In my case, however, it certainly was not due to any personal qualities. It is very likely the other way round, due to the reason suggested by the hon. Member for Salford, West, namely, that my constituents know very well that their best chance of decent housing comes from a Conservative Government.

It was suggested that we Conservative Members in some of the industrial constituencies did not understand what went on in the slums. I have slums in my constituency, in Nottingham Central, that would bear comparison with even the horrible conditions described by the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun). I have three clearance areas and there is not a weekend when I do not go to see people who are in trouble in one or other of these areas.

I assure hon. Members opposite that the reason why people voted as they did at the last General Election, so far as housing entered into it, was because the voted for the party which, they knew from their experience since the war, had done its best for them to get the houses.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)

This is a debate about housing, not I may say to the hon. and gallant Member for Nottingham, Central (Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux) about why he won the last election, it has produced the usual crop of red herrings from the Government. I wonder if anybody, lately at any rate, has taken the trouble to look at the Motion on the Order Paper and at the Government Amendment to see what connection the latter has with the Motion. I can assure hon. Members that it is fairly remote. In the Motion, we begin by talking about the overcrowding and frustration endured by large numbers of people owing to the inadequate provision of housing at reasonable cost; and that remains entirely unanswered.

In the course of this debate, we have had three able and pleasant maiden speeches from hon. Members opposite, and, in addition, we have had speeches from other hon. Members opposite, every one of whom has stressed the urgency and importance of the housing problem. Some of them have said that this is a local problem. No doubt, but it always seems to include the constituency of the hon. Member who is speaking, and, when one sees what the locality is supposed to be, it apparently includes London, and I take that to mean not merely L.C.C. London but Greater London which includes 10 million people,

It includes, quite obviously, Glasgow, with well over a million people, and part of the industrial belt. In addition to that, it looks as if it will include all of what are commonly known as the conurbations. We have had it from Solihull, West Lewisham, Salford and South Wales, in addition to the places I have mentioned, and there is not the least doubt that fully half of the people of this country are living in areas where there is an urgency and seriousness about the housing problem. One would have thought that the Government answer would have been better than the few red herrings which constitute this Amendment.

That is exactly what happened in the last housing debate. I put to the right hon. Gentleman figures which tended to show that somewhere between one in five and one in ten of the population of this country are suffering by inadequate housing. I got no answer. I might have expected one from the Parliamentary Secretary today, but no, we have had the usual statement put in different terms. It is a difficult guess to make. All one can say is that it is a very large proportion of the population. All the Government can say about this in 1960 is, "You did not do so well nine or ten years ago." What does it matter whether we did well or did not do so well? What matters is what are the Government going to do about it now, or do they now say that there is no problem at all?

The right hon. Gentleman has a whole basketful of red herrings, and this one always comes out. It has nothing to do with the question which we are considering, but I am not in the least frightened of it. The situation was completely different after the war, and the comparison is a difficult one. If it is to be made at all, it needs to be made in considerable detail, and not by counting heads.

Let us see what the Tory Government have done. They started quite well. They got their houses built, a considerable number of them, but during the past four or five years we have had the whole programme slipping back. We have had public housing, council housing, halved. We have had private building rising in relation to council house building, but we have had the total falling. We are told that this is all to be solved by differential rents schemes adopted by councils and all the rest of it. The simplest plan is to look for a minute at the figures.

Let us begin by looking at them in a slightly different form. Take the gross capital formation on dwellings. Anybody interested can see them in the Monthly Digest adjusted to 1954 prices, so that we can leave out any question of the rising costs of building and the like. We shall find that in 1954, roughly speaking, public building was about twice the amount of private building. It was also about twice what public building was in 1958, and by that time private building had crept up and passed it, but the total was quite distinctly lower in 1958.

When we come to 1959 we get this extraordinary position, that just over 99,000 local authority houses were built in that year. Of those between 21,000 and 22,000 were old folks' dwellings, because that is what I take the one-bedroom local authority houses to be. As to slum clearance, about 60,000 houses were demolished or closed. It may be assumed that at least one new house was provided in place of each of those, and if we add those two figures together it leaves about 18,000 houses as the total local authority building for general need last year.

To say that the housing problem will be affected to any substantial extent by fiddling about with differential schemes in relation to 18,000 houses is simply rubbish. The fact is that this is still a really serious problem and the Government, to start with, will not admit it. Today they put up the Parliamentary Secretary to read out quite a good speech, but he did not realise the problem except in the first sentence. He then said that he did recognise it, but the rest of the speech continued as if it did not exist. He talked about adding baths and other things. There is something to be said about all those things, but the main point is that there are not enough houses at reasonable rents.

If we are going into the question of who is to blame for this, it is the Tory Party and the Tory Government It is simple. As I say, they started off quite well because 1952 and 1953 were good. Then what happened? Then things began to hot up a little. There was some hope for them until about 1955 to 1956. They then did a series of things. First, they reduced, and then removed, the ordinary general need housing subsidy. This action was defended on the grounds that they were organising a terrific slum clearance campaign. One does not organise a slum clearance campaign by leaving exactly the same subsidy for slum clearance and knocking the subsidy off something else. All one does is to make certain that the local authorities, in addition to dealing with slum clearance, are not likely to deal with the rest of the problem.

Even as regards slum clearance look at what happened. The 1954 Act—the present Prime Minister's Act—made the local authorities list the slum houses and say what they were going to do by way of clearing them. They were to clear in the first five years 375,000 houses, that is a rate of 75,000 houses a year. The actual figures of what has been done are these: that for three-quarters of that period this slum clearance campaign has resulted in a little over 180,000 houses being dealt with, and if we add one-third to that to make up the five years, we discover that the Government will be lucky if they get 250,000 cleared.

So the effect of the slum clearance compaign, this great Tory effort, will be to deal in five years with just about two-thirds of what the local authorities said they could deal with without having any slum clearance campaign. That has been used as a smokescreen all the time. We say to the right hon. Gentleman, "What about some more council houses?" He says, "Look at the slum clearance. We are doing magnificently". He should talk to his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and ask, "Why were you so foolish as to ask the local authorities how many they could do without assistance from the Tory Party? You have made our slum clearance campaign look positively silly".

That is trotted out again. Here it is. It is one of the regular red herrings. The Amendment first "approves the untiring determination". Really, I do not know who wrote that. He must have had his tongue in his cheek. It continues: … notes the continued high level of housebuilding since 1952 in comparison with previous years; Eighteen thousand council houses for general need last year! I think that is a bit stiff. What is the next sentence? …welcomes the progressive demolition of the slums. Well, we have just dealt with that. Here is the next one: … but regrets that many local authorities still subsidise tenants who do not need it, thereby failing to use Exchequer moneys to best advantage in fulfilment of their housing responsibilities ". This is another standard red herring. If the Government's programme and its execution will not bear examination they put it on the local authorities, and they have done it and done it very successfully.

The result of removing housing subsidies and the rates of interests now charged to local authorities is just that the ordinary man in the street, if he is in a crowded industrial area which very likely returns a Labour candidate, and very likely has a Labour council, will say, "It is the council's fault". It is not the council's fault at all. It is the fault of the Government who, by removing subsidies and by other actions which I shall mention in a moment, have made it impossible for councils to deal with a housing problem which cannot be dealt with by private enterprise. Private enterprise has a record going well back beyond 1951. One has to go back to the Industrial Revolution or thereabouts. When has private enterprise ever succeeded in housing badly-off people at rents which they can afford and in decent conditions?

Every hon. Member knows perfectly well that public enterprise housing had to be introduced in a big way after the 1914 war and has had to be developed since just because the rehousing of people who are not well off has not been done by private enterprise and has had to be done by public enterprise. Is there any reason to suppose that private enterprise is any more competent and any more willing to carry out the rehousing now than it was then? Private enterprise will do what it has always done. It will build in the wrong places at a price and for a class of people whom we are not talking about now.

We are talking about people who go to the "surgeries" of hon. and right hon. Members, if they have any, people whom they know in their constituencies and whom they know have the most serious and searching human problems that anybody can have in this civilised country. My hon. Friends have talked about homes and this has informed a debate about housing, about money, and about programmes and the rest. The Minister knows perfectly well that at the bottom of all this there is the question of human life, of family life, of homes, of prospects and chances for our young people. The responsibility for all this cannot be entirely shifted to local authorities. It cannot be cloaked by a reference to what the Opposition did or did not do eight years ago or by some minor considerations. The responsibility rests fairly and squarely on the Government.

The Government not only removed the housing subsidies but they brought in rates of interest as part of general financial policy and they introduced dear money for reasons with which we are not concerned today. If they are proud of what they did in the first year or two, let them look at the history and they will find that there was cheap money then. It was not a case of 5½ per cent. interest when they built 300,000 or more houses—not that they built them, for they were mostly privately built. If we must provide for people who cannot manage to be owner-occupiers, we must provide cheaper money and the Government must be prepared to do it even if they are not going to have cheaper money for other purposes. The hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason) shakes his head. Some day, perhaps, we shall talk about it outside the Chamber and he will tell me what is the alternative.

In this respect and in respect of a great deal more municipal property than at present, I have come to the conclusion that after the Government have removed the housing subsidies and brought in dear money and introduced the Rent Act there is no easy solution in the long run for this country. I believe many of the speeches which we have heard today were speeches that really puzzled hon. Members. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell)—I almost referred to him as "my poor friend"—delivered a philosophical speech. He found anomalies in housing subsidies. He knows quite well what the main anomaly is. It is that the Government believe that if a person is to have a housing subsidy, he is only to have it if he is very badly off and cannot get a house. But if a person keeps a herd of pigs and wants to build a pigsty, no one will inquire how badly off he is—he will get the money right away.

Mr. J. M. L. Prior (Lowestoft)

He has to pay two-thirds down straight away.

Mr. Mitchison

The hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) has got the point I am making.

Mr. Watts

Does not the hon. and learned Gentleman think that the subsidy given for slum clearance is to abolish pigsties?

Mr. Mitchison

I am afraid it is getting to that in some cases. I think the hon. Member for Manchester, Moss Side (Mr. Watts) and I would agree that human beings, as fellow citizens, have at least the right to be treated as well as pigs. I remember the story before the war of a leading Conservative in the North Country—Bradford, I think—who was taken for the first time to see some Bradford slums which were pretty bad then. His comment was, "One could not even expect pigs to live in them."

Mr. Watts

I quite agree.

Mr. Mitchison

I know the hon. Gentleman does. Some of those slums are still there and the clearing of them has proceeded as I said just now.

I want to deal now with one or two other things and return to the Amendment. I have spoken of local authorities and I shall now speak of owner-occupiers. The greatest blessing the Government could confer on owner-occupation at present would be to bring down the rate of interest, because there are remarkably few owner-occupiers who can manage to buy a house without having to borrow at the current rate of interest from the building society or the local authority. That is one short and simple point.

I turn from that to the question of interest rates operating now on local authorities and the need to enable them to raise loans at lower rates of interest. Members have been talking about the difficulty of finding sites. No one underestimates this difficulty, particularly in London, and I quite appreciate what they say, but I would remind them of one or two things. One is that this is not merely a problem for the London County Council and the Metropolitan boroughs, but is a major problem for the country as a whole—one that we have known since William Cobbett's day and which has gone through Royal Commission after Royal Commission. It is the problem of the flood that comes into London.

During the passage of the Local Employment Bill we wanted to give the Government powers to prevent offices coming in to London and to apply to them the industrial development certificate procedure. The Government turned it down. That is not the only thing they have turned down. Hon. Members talked about under-occupation. The Rent Act was to have dealt with that, but I do not think it has done so. During the passage of that Act, we proposed that there should be power to get exchanges made. What was the difficulty? It was not the first time that we had proposed it. We proposed it as an Amendment to the 1954 Act. The Prime Minister, who was then Minister of Housing and Local Government, said he would look at it, and then he turned it down. He consulted the landlords, and the difficulty is that the landlords will not do it. All big towns tell us the same thing.

No doubt on account of that difficulty the Government refused to give any powers to compel exchanges. Why do they compel people to move about from one council house to another yet do not compel landlords to make an exchange in circumstances where an exchange would be reasonable? If anyone really cares about owner-occupation, surely that is one of the first and easiest and most sensible things to do.

The Amendment refers to housing opportunities. I do not know what a housing opportunity is. It may be an opportunity to get a house or to have a bath installed in it when one has the house. I am not quite clear about that, but usually the Government have been unable or unwilling to give a straight answer to the question of why they do not restore the housing subsidies and why they do not let local authorities have cheaper money.

Usually, they talk about the side shows, as it were. The side shows are very important—baths and lavatories and washbasins and so on—things all provided under the recent legislation. For whom were they provided? They were provided for the landlord at the landlord's instance. When we moved to let the tenant oblige the landlord to put them in, the tenant being the man who lived in the house, the Government voted it down.

We speak about overcrowding in the Motion. Overcrowding is a serious aspect of the housing problem. When hon. Members want to build to the skies, overcrowding is one of the things they have in mind. Local authorities are supposed to deal with overcrowding, but at present they cannot do so because there is nowhere to move people. Clearly, common sense would dictate that if we are to build houses and subsidise their building in order to replace a slum dwelling, we ought equally to be able to do it to abate overcrowding. But when that, too, was proposed, when subsidies were being considered, the Tory Party voted it down.

At that time, at any rate, hon. Members opposite could not think of houses as anything but dwellings. They would not consider the circumstances or the way in which people lived inside those houses. Hon. Members know perfectly well how extensive overcrowding is in some parts of the country and they should remember their own past misdeeds in these matters, when they voted down our suggestions about overcrowding, voted down the proposition that the tenant, the man in the house, should be able to do the improvements, voted down this, that and the other, at the same time, by removing subsidies and by charging local authorities what to them was prohibitive interest and by introducing the Rent Act, shaking the whole fabric of housing in this country and all the advance which had been made.

The trouble about the Rent Act has always been exactly the same. Nobody in his senses ever supposed that all the streets would be lined with tenants who had been turned out on the morning that the Rent Act came in. I have said hundreds of times, if I have said it once, that nobody supposed that for a moment, but what the Rent Act does—[HON. MEMBERS: "The hon. and learned Gentleman said the opposite for a long time."] I have never said anything of the sort. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] If hon. Members say that I did say so, will they be good enough to give me the reference in HANSARD? I have never said anything of the sort.

The Rent Act has pushed up the general level of rents in the big towns, particularly in London, and it has inevitably added one thing which has done much the most damage—there is now no security in a rented house unless one has enough money and enough influence and knowledge and is prepared to take a fairly long lease. Otherwise there is nothing. That is the difficulty.

That is why private enterprise alone will not do and that is why private building for letting cannot give to the people of whom we are thinking the security which they get in practice if they go into a council house.

This is a major problem. It is the biggest human problem which the country has to face. It is shutting our eyes to the facts if we say that there is no problem or that it can be solved easily. To put it straight we have to provide public money to solve this problem. We have to see that it is solved on a national basis. We must not be deterred by private interests if they interfere with people living their lives as human beings.

If we fail to do that if we think that it is enough to subsidise new towns and old folk, which we do subsidise, the people who will suffer most are the young people. They are the people who have to wait for houses, who cannot get them and who often cannot afford to enter into arrangements for buying a house. They may wish to move at one time or another, and they are the people who will suffer if we suppose that this problem does not exist, and if, when it faces us in answer we produce the collection of red herrings that appear on this Order Paper.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will face the question and answer what has been put to him by one hon. Member after another, some on this side of the House and some on his own side of the House, and tell the people of this country how the Tory Party is now going to discharge its obligation of housing them properly at reasonable rents.

9.26 p.m.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Mr. Henry Brooke)

This is the first major housing debate in this Parliament, and it has been distinguished by three maiden speeches from my hon. Friends. I will not seek to make comparisons between them, because I believe that, by consent, they were all judged to be very good. They certainly rebutted the allegations by the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. C. Royle) that Tory members have no concept of housing problems. Indeed, I would have thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Turner) had given us the motto for this debate when he said that people should be treated as human beings.

I hope that the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) will not take it amiss if I say that his speech was of a Parliamentary quality which amply justified the new responsibility that he has assumed. I would say the same of the speech of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, who has been most unjustly charged with complacency. He sought to make a speech developing the opportunities that are available for people who are in a position to fend for themselves. That is an essential part of any effective solution of the housing problem, because only if they do that, and are aware of the opportunities, will it be possible for us to isolate the hard core of the housing problem which needs special attention and on which most of this debate has been concentrated.

Many people in this country are living in conditions which are unworthy of our civilisation. I do not propose to argue with the hon. Member for Fulham about the exact number, or the proportion of the population. I think that he would agree with me that it depends on what tests one applies in making one's calculations.

The hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) was unfair to me when he spoke of Cabinet Ministers living comfortably and never going to see other places His constituency was one of those places I specially visited last year and I put myself at the service of his local authority to show me anything, good or bad, which it wished to show me in Salford. I have sought to do that in many places. I have visited slum clearance areas in both big and small cities, I have been to see new experiments that different local authorities have been trying out to provide accommodation for old people. I am certain that it is part of the job of a Minister to see for himself. Whatever my shortcomings, I will not have it said that I am not acquainted with the way in which people are living and the manner in which local authorities are seeking to help them.

In travelling round and seeing the problem on the ground, I must say that I cannot help becoming more and more conscious of the tragedy that we lack the 300,000 or 400,000 extra houses that the Labour Government might have built, but did not build. If the hon. Member for Fulham is right in saying that, on average, one family in thirty is suffering from urgent housing need, what a difference those 400,000 houses which his Government failed to build would now be making.

Now that the Conservatives are in power, the Opposition argue, I understand, that house building should be insulated from all economic winds, that the rate of interest should be stabilised at a low figure and that whatever the economic conditions, whatever the depression or prosperity in the country, whatever the danger of inflation or otherwise, no notice should be taken of that, but house building by local authorities should go on entirely unchanged.

Earnestly convinced as I am of the intense need for council building for those who can least help themselves, I cannot accept that it would be right that this activity, out of all else, should be kept untouched and make no contribution to helping us to get through any economic difficulties from time to time. I am not in the least ashamed to say that we felt it essential, two and a half years ago, to slow down various forms of public expenditure, including housing, to ward off from the whole country the danger of inflation, and we succeeded in halting inflation. We succeeded in doing that to the advantage of everybody and not least to the advantage of those who would find that houses would cost far more now to build if we had not taken steps to prevent prices rising.

It is quite true that in the last two years, in 1958 and 1959, we completed only about 275,000 houses a year as compared with 227,000 in the only year in which the Labour Government managed to reach 200,000 at all. The hon. Member for Fulham sought to show that this Government were not interested in council house building.

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

Neither are they.

Mr. Brooke

The hon. Member says, "Neither are they", but we have not yet governed the country twice as long as his party did, yet by the end of this month we shall have got twice as many council houses built as his Government did.

Despite that, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. J. Silverman) spoke of a consistent Tory campaign against municipal tenants. Municipal tenants have gained more in the way of council houses from having an effective Conservative Government. In addition, we have given the private builders a chance to build, as my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Hollingworth), in his excellent maiden speech, said we should. He was the only hon. Member on either side of the House who expressed gratitude to the building industry for its tremendous share in this. I should have thought that hon. Members on both sides of the House should have joined in that regardless of party philosophy.

It is this opportunity for house ownership which explains the word that the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) was not able to understand in the Government Amendment. I suppose it is understandable that a Socialist would not be able to comprehend the word "opportunity", but I thought that we had brought opportunity back into the housing field. What I cannot comprehend is the argument that houses which are privately built for sale are of no value except to the people who buy them.

Every family which moves into a new house built for sale must also be moving out from somewhere. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about overcrowding?"] It is moving out from somewhere. It is either reducing overcrowding elsewhere or, much more probably, it is leaving other and cheaper accommodation vacant. It is exactly that cheaper accommodation which can be the greatest help to those people with lower incomes on the waiting lists who might not be able to afford an entirely new house or flat unless it were greatly subsidised.

I say that in particular to my hon. Friend the Member for Solihull (Mr. Lindsay) who, in his interesting speech, seemed to fear that the amount of private building taking place around Birmingham, London and other big cities was making no contribution to decrowding in those cities. It is not only a question of couples getting married and moving into new houses, because many of the people who are moving into these new privately built houses are vacating old property, sometimes very old property, in the big cities. It is the total amount of building which helps to bring relief to the housing shortage.

Mr. Mitchison

Does the Minister realise that this is decontrolled accommodation in the middle of a housing shortage?

Mr. Brooke

Yes, I do, and I also appreciate that there are people moving into it, because one of the facts which the Opposition refuse to face is that nowadays the whole country is very much more prosperous than it was.

There are these strange allegations that everybody in cities such as Birmingham and Salford is living just above the poverty line. I well know that there are still many families who find it difficult to make ends meet, but it is a travesty of reality to say that in the ordinary working-class home in a big city there is only just enough money to keep body and soul together.

The House may be interested to know that there are under construction at present about 17,000 more private enterprise houses than there were a year ago and about 20,000 more council houses. Unless something wholly unpredictable occurs, we are likely to complete well over 300,000 houses in 1960. Moreover, progress is not to be measured only by the total number of new houses built. Constantly on my mind is the fact that there are between 3 million and 4 million older houses, structurally sound, which lack modern amenities. There can be no question of replacing them just by a wave of the wand. They have a good many years of life in them.

We all know this type of house—the long terrace of houses, particularly in industrial towns. Originally, they were well built—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] The type I am speaking about was well built. I am not referring to the slum houses. These houses, however, were built at a time when houses did not contain hot water systems, fixed baths and the like.

It would be a sheer waste if in our minds we were to write off all those millions of houses. An essential part of an effective housing policy which will treat people as human beings is to help the people who live in those houses, and especially the women who have to run them, to obtain the hot water systems, the baths and the modern sanitation which every young woman moving into a house wants and deserves to have.

Mr. Mitchison

Even if she is only a tenant?

Mr. Brooke

Yes, even if she is only a tenant. I have been into some of those houses which have been shown by local authorities, including Socialist local authorities, as demonstration houses, proving what can be done by means of Exchequer grants—houses into which any married couple would be proud to move.

Mrs. Slater

While the right hon. Gentleman is putting forward that case, will he tell the House the proportion of landlord-owned houses which are being improved as against those which are owner-occupied? Is it not true that the general run of landlords are refusing to put in these amenities?

Mr. Brooke

No, I do not think that that is true. Such figures as I have obtained rebut the charge that is sometimes made that landlords are not taking any interest in providing these amenities. However, I am collecting the figures.

Mr. Loughlin

Will the right hon. Gentleman give us those figures which he has?

Mr. Brooke

I am collecting them. I quite agree that when the first scheme was started in the Labour Government's Act of 1949 very few took advantage of it. and they were almost entirely owner-occupiers. What has happened since is that the 1954 Act brought the numbers of improvements up to about 35,000 a year, and thanks to the House Purchase and Housing Act, which we put on the Statute Book last summer, I estimate that the number this year will be about three times that figure. I shall be disappointed if it is under 100,000. I should like to see it much higher.

Mr. B. T. Parkin (Paddington, North)

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that, even assuming the maximum good will, in many of the houses which he has been describing there is no elbow room for manoeuvre in which to install these improvements? Will he make inquiries on that? Will he suggest a form of remedy which involves dealing with a number of houses at once, instead of leaving it to a single one where it is literally impossible, without taking up a bedroom, to bring about the improvements of which he speaks?

Mr. Brooke

I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman that there are problem houses to be considered. If he will cast his mind back to when we were taking the Bill through the House last summer, he will recall that I said that I believed that the House Purchase and Housing Act would give a great stimulus to the improvement work, but that we would have to keep it under review and if, after a time, we found that it had exhausted its first strength we might have to legislate further to bring in additional groups or types of houses which could not up to that stage be improved. I do not think that the Government have anything to be ashamed of in the fact that they can report already that the total number has trebled.

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary mentioned that, strangely enough, the hon. Member for Fulham did not mention building for old people in his speech. I regard the provision of proper houses or flats or flatlets for old people as the very heart of a sound housing policy today. We know that the number and proportion of old people in the community continues to increase. We know, also, that there are far too few houses, bungalows, flats or flatlets specially designed to suit their needs. The needs of old people are different from the needs of families, and the study that has been made in my Department and by local authorities has brought to light any amount of gadgets, devices and expedients which can make life easier and happier for them when living on their own.

We are short of houses and flats of that type. Naturally, after the war local authorities had to concentrate on building for the families of men returning from the Services. Until recent years, the old people were not getting their fair share. I am glad to say that now we have worked up the proportion of old people's dwellings in the total number of council houses and flats built from 7 per cent. to 26 per cent. I want to see it go over 30 per cent., because not only are we providing the flats, but also a much happier life for the old people who go into them. In a great many cases, as the House well knows, those old people are living in rooms which are more than they want to look after any longer, sometimes at the top of flights of stone steps which they can hardly manage to climb. We shall be giving them better accommodation. By building what is a relatively cheap type of dwelling, we shall release much larger accommodation which hitherto they have been occupying.

I now turn to slum clearance. I noted carefully what the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) said on this subject in relation to his own county in Wales. I shall certainly look into the points he raised about the Forden Rural District Council. If that council thinks that it cannot afford to go on building, I shall try to find out—I have not had time since the right hon. and learned Gentleman made his speech—whether it has applied for the discretionary subsidy of up to £30 available to a local authority that cannot show that it can go on building without either charging intolerably high rents, or making its ratepayers pay intolerably high rates.

There are 49 local authorities in Wales that have established their right for that subsidy. I do not know whether Forden has applied for it, but I shall certainly look into that matter. Meanwhile, I am quite sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will be glad to hear —because I know of his interest, extending over many years, in housing conditions in Wales, and not only in his own county—that more slum houses in Wales were demolished or closed in 1959 than in any previous year.

Year after year we are closing or demolishing in England and Wales alone 60,000 houses a year that are unfit for human occupation. I understand from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kettering that that was to be written off as a "positively silly" policy of slum clearance. I cannot accept his views—

Mr. Mitchison

That is nonsense, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it.

Mr. Brooke

I have the words "positively silly" in front of me. His hon. Friend the Member for Fulham described it as a policy of slum clearance that was not progressive, but disappointing—

Mr. Mitchison

I can tell the right hon. Gentleman what the words related to—

Hon. Members: Oh.

Mr. Mitchison

I really will not be misrepresented like this. The description "positively silly" referred to the 18,000 houses which, on my figures, were all that were left out of last year's council houses for general need.

Mr. Brooke

I think that I have established the fact that, according to the words of the Amendment about slum clearance, progress is not disappointing but is very real Only under Conservative Governments have we ever had successful slum clearance drives.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), who at one time occupied with distinction a position in the Ministry, made a most interesting speech on subsidies—

Mr. W. A. Wilkins (Bristol, South)

Was the right hon. Gentleman about to leave the question of slum clearance? I ask because I have on previous occasions brought to his notice the peculiar battle we are fighting in Bristol on this issue. The Minister has some powers in this matter. All I ask him is: if the Tories in Bristol carry on with their policy of trying to prevent the closing orders operating, will he exercise his powers to stop them?

Mr. Brooke

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. Gentleman was not fortunate to catch your eye in this debate I really do not think that I can be expected to answer now speeches that were not made in the debate. I want to do my best to answer the points that were made and. in particular, the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West.

My hon. Friend wished for a new deal. He clearly had in mind the possibility of scrapping all, or almost all existing subsidies and, as I understood, devising a new scheme that would substitute payment from the Exchequer to local housing authorities according to the councils' proved need. I fancy that he sees rather less difficulty than I do about cancelling the statutory undertakings to pay subsidies to local authorities for sixty years, which are embodied in Acts of Parliament. But my hon. Friend's important speech did drive home the point against the Opposition that it would be absurd to start extending unconditional subsidies again.

The purpose of subsidies in these days must be to try to fix the priorities aright. I certainly do not defend the whole conglomeration of subsidies which have been built up ad hoc over the last forty years and more. I am quite ready to accept that some councils may in totality be receiving too much and some too little. But they are statutory undertakings into which the Government have entered, and I do not think that we could lightly set them aside.

As I understand it, the Opposition's case is that local authorities cannot go on building at present rates of interest and subsidy, despite the fact that the amount of council building is not going down, as their argument would suggest, but going up. In fact, the contribution made from the rates to housing revenue accounts to keep down rents was, in the year 1955–56, £18 million over England and Wales as a whole. In 1958–59, the last year for which figures are available, the sum is estimated to have been not £18 million, but £16 million, that is to say, the actual burden falling on the rates is not going up, as the Opposition suggest, but going down. What does that mean? [An HON. MEMBER: "Fewer houses."] The total number of council houses is, of course, increasing all the time, not going down.

Mr. Mitchison

The right hon. Gentleman should read his own Monthly Digest of Statistics, or his own returns. He will find that the figure for council housing dropped steadily from 1954 until last year. We have had two months of this year now, and he can juggle with the figures for those if he likes.

Mr. Brooke

I have been very patient with the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I should have thought that even he would realise that the housing revenue accounts include the rents and subsidies and expenses and loan charges on the whole number of council houses, not simply those which have been built in any one year.

That reduction in the rate fund contribution means that a good many local authorities, during the last three or four years, have been withdrawing subsidy from tenants who they found did not need it any longer. They have found that they need not charge so much to the rates. They have been overhauling their rent systems and, in particular, they have adopted some form of differential rent scheme. The total number is between one-quarter and one-third of all local housing authorities in England and Wales.

What is equally important is that, if a council fixes a low rent level with no differential rent scheme at all, it acts cruelly towards those on its waiting list. What the Government have done is to make house purchase easier, as is shown by the rapidly mounting number of people who are buying their own houses. Owner-occupation is now within the reach of very many people who, if they can stay on in a council house or flat with the benefit of a subsidy which they do not need, will stay there, thus keeping out of that council house or flat a family in genuine need at the top of the waiting list. That is the meaning of the latter part of the Government Amendment. It is a vital element in any effective housing policy at the present time. I am certainly ready and anxious to examine every constructive point which has been raised in the debate. It has been a very valuable debate. I am ready to follow up every thought that seems fruitful, whether it comes from one side of the House or the other.

Meanwhile, the Government intend to press forward with slum clearance, as it is doing, and in a year or two a very large number of local authorities will have cleared all their slums. We intend to press forward and, if possible, increase the proportion of council houses built for old people. We intend to maintain a high rate of house building and in 1960 it will be the highest for years. With the help of the Acts that we have put on the Statute Book, we are encouraging and shall continue to stimulate the conversion of over-large houses and flats and the improvement of the structurally sound houses which need to be modernised.

The shortage of sites is at the root of our difficulties. Exactly as my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South (Mr. Hocking) said in his excellent speech, there is a shortage of sites, particularly in and around the big cities. We have to find a solution for that without breaking into the green belts. I trust that I shall have both sides of the House behind me when I say that the green belts must be held.

We must be ready to examine densities, just as my hon. Friend the Member for Solihull and my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. H. A. Price) said in their speeches. This is the time to do it, because this is the time when development plans are coming up for quinquennial review. Do not let us imagine that building high will solve all problems or that we can raise the density to any figure we like. That is not possible. I trust that both sides of the House will agree that densities need examining again. Because there is this shortage of sites which is restricting building in the big cities we must not keep families who are in housing need out of council flats by continuing to subsidise better-off families to stay in them.

I believe most deeply that the whole House is right in insisting that there are still conditions in which our fellow men are living in this country which ought not to be tolerated for a moment. I ask the House to reject the Motion and to accept the Amendment, because I believe that the latter is sound and effective and that the former is unsound and would fail as Labour policy failed be-

fore. I believe that the Government have proved their ability to overcome difficulties, to clear the slums and to build.

Mr. Wilkins

In the moment that remains, may I extend once again an invitation to the Minister or to the Parliamentary Secretary to come to my constituency and repeat the speeches which they have made today with particular reference to slum clearance?

Mr. Brooke

That is a matter which will probably be thrashed out, possibly not to the satisfaction of the hon. Gentleman, at the council elections in May.

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

The House divided: Ayes 207, Noes 286.

Division No. 53.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Abse, Leo Fernyhough, E. Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)
Ainsley, William Finch, Harold Lipton, Marcus
Albu, Austen Fitch, Alan Logan, David
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Fletcher, Erie Loughlin, Charles
Awbery, Stan Foot, Dingle Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Bacon, Miss Alice Forman, J. C. McCann, John
Baird, John Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) MacColl, James
Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.) Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh McKay, John (Wallsend)
Beaney, Alan George, Lady Megan Lloyd Mackie, John
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Ginsburg, David McLeavy, Frank
Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.) Gourlay, Harry MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)
Benn, Hn. A. Wedgwood(Brlst'l,S.E.) Greenwood, Anthony MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Benson, Sir George Grey, Charles Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Blackburn, F. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)
Blyton, William Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Lianeliy) Manuel, A. C.
Boardman, H. Gunter, Ray Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Bowden, Herbert W. (Le/cs, S.W.) Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Marsh, Richard
Bowles, Frank Hamilton, William (West Fife) Mason, Roy
Boyden, James Hart, Mrs. Judith Mendelson, J. J.
Brockway, A. Fenner Hayman, F. H. Millan, Bruce
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Haaley, Denis Mitchison, G. R.
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Herbison, Miss Margaret Monslow, Walter
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Hill, J. (Midlothian) Moody, A. S.
Brown, Thomas (Inoe) Holman, Percy Morris, John
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Houghton, Douglas Mulley, Frederick
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Howell, Charles A. Neal, Harold
Carmichael, James Hoy, James H. Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Phllip(Derby,S.)
Chapman, Donald Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Oliver, G. H.
Chetwynd, George Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Oram, A. E.
Cliffe, Michael Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Oswald, Thomas
Collick, Party Hunter, A. E. Owen, Will
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hynd, H. (Accrington) Padley, W. E.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hynd, John (Attercliffe) Pargiter, G. A.
Cronin, John Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Crosland, Anthony Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Parkin, B. T. (Paddington, N.)
Crossman, R. H. S. Janner, Baraett Pavitt, Laurence
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Peart, Frederick
Davies,Rt.Hn.Clement(Montgomery) Jeger, George Pentland, Norman
Davies, Harold (Leek) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Plummer, sir Leslie
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Johnston, Douglas (Palsiey) Prentioe, R. E.
Deer, George Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech(Wakelleld) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
de Freltas, Geoffrey Jones, Dan (Burnley) Proctor, W. T.
Dempsey, James Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Dodds, Norman Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Randall, Harry
Donnelly, Desmond Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Rankin, John
Driberg, Tom Kenyon, Clifford Redhead, E. C.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Reid, William
Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter King, Dr. Horace Reynolds, G. W.
Edelman, Maurice Lawson, George Robens, Rt. Hon. Alfred
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Ledger, Ron Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Panoras, N.)
Evens, Albert Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Ross, William
Royle, Charles (Salford, West) Stross,Dr.Barnet(Stoke-on-Trent,C.) White, Mrt. Eirene
Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith Whitlock, William
Short, Edward Swingler, Stephen Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Silverman, Julius (Aston) Sylvester, George Wilkins, W. A.
Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Symonds, J. B. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Skeffington, Arthur Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) Williams, Rev. LI. (Abertillery)
Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.) Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.) Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Small, William Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.) Wills, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Thornton, Ernest Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Snow, Julian Timmons, John Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Tomney, Frank Woof, Robert
Spriggs, Leslie Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lym, Wyatt, Woodrow
Steele, Thomas Warbey, William Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Stewart, Michael (Fulham) Watkins, Tudor Zilliacus, K.
Storehouse, John Weitzman, David
Stones, William Wells, Percy (Faversham) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall) Wells, William (Walsall, N.) Mr. J. Taylor and
Mr. G. H. R. Rogers.
Allan, Robert (Paddington, s.) Currie, G. B. H. Howard, John (Southampton, Test)
Allason, James Dance, James Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John
Alport, C. J. M. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid. Sir Henry Hughes-Young, Michael
Amory,Rt.Hn.D.Heathcoat(Tiv'tn) Deedes, W. F. Hulbert, Sir Norman
Arbuthnot, John de Ferranti, Basil Hurd, Sir Anthony
Ashton, Sir Hubert Digby, Simon Wingfield Hutchison, Michael Clark
Atkins, Humphrey Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Iremonger, T. L.
Balniel, Lord Doughty, Charles Irvine, Bryant Codman (Rye)
Barber, Anthony Drayson, G. B. Jackson, John
Barlow, Sir John Duncan, Sir James James, David
Barter, John Duthie, Sir William Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Batsford, Brian Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Eden, John Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Beamish, Col. Tufton Elliott, R. W. Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Emery, Peter Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm) Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Joseph, Sir Keith
Berkeley, Humphry Errington, Sir Eric Kaberry, Sir Donald
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth) Erroll, F. J. Kerans, Cdr. J. S.
Bldgood, John C. Farr, John Kerby, Capt. Henry
Biggs-Davison, John Fell, Anthony Kerr, Sir Hamilton
Bingham, R. M. Finlay, Graeme Kimball, Marcus
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Kitson, Timothy
Bishop, F. P. Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone) Lagden, Godfrey
Black, Sir Cyril Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Lancaster, Col. C. G
Bossom, Clive Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Leather, E. H. C.
Bourne-Arton, A. Gammans, Lady Leavey, J. A.
Box, Donald Gardner, Edward Leburn, Gilmour
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John Gibson-Watt, David Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.
Boyle, Sir Edward Glover, Sir Douglas Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Braine, Bernard Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Lindsay, Martin
Brewis, John Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset. N.) Linstead, Sir Hugh
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Godber J B. Litchfield, Capt. John
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Goodhew, Victor Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Browne, Percy (Torrington) Gower, Raymond Longden, Gilbert
Bryan, Paul Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside) Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby
Bullard, Denys Green, Alan Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Gresham Cooke, R. McAdden, Stephen
Burden, F. A. Grimston, Sir Robert MacArthur, Ian
Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden) Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. McLaren, Martin
Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.) Hall, John (Wycombe) McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Harris, Frederic (Croydon N.W.) McLean, Nell (Inverness)
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Harris, Reader (Heston) Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)
Cary, Sir Robert Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) MacLeod, John (Roes & Cromarty)
Channon, H. P. G. Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd) McMaster, Stanley R.
Chataway, Christopher Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Macmillan,Rt.Hn.Harold(Bromley)
Chichester-Clarrk, R. Harvie Anderson, Miss Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Hay, John Maopherson, Niall (Dumfries)
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward Maddan, Martin
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Henderson, John (Cathcart) Maginnis, John E.
Cleaver, Leonard Hendry, Forbes Maitland, Cdr. J. W.
Cooke, Robert Hicks Beach, Maj. W. Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.
Cooper, A. E. Hiley, Joseph Markham, Major Sir Frank
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Marlowe, Anthony
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest
Cordle, John Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Marten, Neil
Corfield, F. V. Hirst, Geoffrey Mathew, Robert (Honiton)
Costain, A. P. Hobson, John Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)
Coulson, J. M. Hocking, Philip N. Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald
Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Holland, Philip Mawby, Ray
Critchley, Julian Hollingworth, John Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John Milligan, Rt. Hon. W- R.
Crowder, F. P. Hopkins, Alan Mills, stratton
Cunningham, Knox Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia Montgomery, Fergus
Curran, Charles Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Moore, Sir Thomas
Morgan, William Rees, Hugh Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Morrison, John Rees-Davies, W. R. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Neave, Alrey Renton, David Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Nicholls, Harmar Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Tilney, John (Waver tree)
Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Ridsdale, Julian Turner, Colln
Noble, Michael Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Tweedsmuir, Lady
Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Robinson, Sir Roland (Blaokpool, S.) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Robson Brown, Sir William Vane, W. M. F.
Orr-Ewing, C. lan Roots, William Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John
Osborn, John (Haliam) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Vickers, Miss Joan
Page, Graham Russell, Ronald Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Panned, Norman (Kirkdale) Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan Wakefield, Sir wavell (St. M'lebone)
Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Scott-Hopkins, James Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek
Peel, John Sharples, Richard Ward, Rt. Hon. George (Worcester)
Percival, Ian Shepherd, William Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Peyton, John Skeet, T. H. H. Watts, James
Plokthorn, Sir Kenneth Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick) Webster, David
Pike, Miss Mervyn Stanley, Hon. Richard Wells, John (Maidstone)
Pilkington, Capt. Richard Stevens, Geoffrey Whitelaw, William
Pitman, I. J. Steward, Harold (Stockuort, S.) Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Pitt, Miss Edith Stodart, J. A. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Pott, Percivall Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Powell, J. Enoch Storey, Sir Samuel Wise, A. R.
Price, David (Eastleigh) Studholme, Sir Henry Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.) Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury) Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Prior, J. M. L. Talbot, John E. Woodhouse, C. M.
Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho Tapsell, Peter Woodnutt, Mark
Proudfoot, Wilfred Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Woollam, John
Ramsden, James Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.) Worsley, Marcus
Rawlinson, Peter Teeling, William
Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Legh and Mr. E. Wakefield.

Question put, That the proposed words be there added:—

The House divided: Ayes 286, Noes 205.

Division No. 54.] AYES [10.12 p.m.
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.) Chichester-Clark, R. Gibson-Watt, David
Allason, James Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Glover, Sir Douglas
Alport, C. J. M. Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)
Amory,Rt.Hn.D.Heatheoat (Tiv'tn) Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset. N.)
Arbuthnot, John Cleaver, Leonard Godber, J. B.
Ashton, Sir Hubert Cooke, Robert Goodhew, Victor
Atkins, Humphrey Cooper, A. E. Gower, Raymond
Balniel, Lord Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)
Barber, Anthony Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Green, Alan
Barlow, Sir John Cordle, John Gresham Cooke, R.
Barter, John Corfield, F. V. Grimston, Sir Robert
Batsford, Brian Costain, A. P. Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Coulson, J. M. Hall, John (Wycombe)
Beamish, Col. Tufton Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Critchley, Julian Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm) Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Harris, Reader (Heston)
Berkeley, Humphry Crowder, F. P. Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth) Cunningham, Knox Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)
Bidgood, John C. Curran, Charles Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)
Biggs-Davison, John Currie, G. B. H. Harvle Anderson, Miss
Bingham, R. M. Dance, James Hay, John
Birch, nt. Hon. Nigel d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward
Bishop, F. P. Deedes, W. F. Henderson, John (Cathcart)
Black, Sir Cyril de Ferrantl, Basll Hendry, Forbes
Bossom, Clive Digby, Simon Wingfield Hicks Beach, Maj. W.
Bourne-Arton, A. Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Hiley, Joseph
Box, Donald Doughty, Charles Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John Drayson, G. B. Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)
Boyle, Sir Edward Duncan, Sir James Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Braine, Bernard Duthie, Sir William Hirst, Geoffrey
Brewis, John Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David Hobson, John
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Eden, John Hocking, Philip N.
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Elliott, R. W. Holland, Philip
Browne, Percy (Torrington) Emery, Peter Hollingworth, John
Bryan, Paul Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John
Bullard, Denys Errington, Sir Eric Hopkins, Alan
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Erroll, F. J. Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia
Burden, F. A. Farr, John Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)
Butler, Rt. Hn. R.A. (Saffron Walden) Fell, Anthony Howard, John (Southampton, Test)
Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.) Finlay, Graeme Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Hughes-Young, Michael
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone) Hulbert, Sir Norman
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Hurd, Sir Anthony
Cary, Sir Robert Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Hutchison, Michael Clark
Channon, H. P. G. Gammans, Lady Iremonger, T. L.
Chataway, Christopher Gardner, Edward Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Jackson, John Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald Scott-Hopkins, James
James, David Mawby, Ray Sharples, Richard
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Shepherd, William
Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Skeet, T. H. H.
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Mills, Stratton Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)
Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Montgomery, Fergus Stanley, Hon. Richard
Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green) Moore, Sir Thomas Stevens, Geoffrey
Joseph, Sir Keith Morgan, William Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Kaberry, Sir Donald Morrison, John Stodart, J. A.
Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Neave, Airey Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Kerby, Capt. Henry Nicholls, Harmar Storey, Sir Samuel
Kerr, sir Hamilton Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Studholme, Sir Henry
Kimball, Marcus Noble, Michael Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)
Kitson, Timothy Oakshott, Sir Hendrle Talbot, John E.
Lagden, Godfrey Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Tapsell, Peter
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Orr-Ewing, C. lan Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Leather, E. H. C. Osborn, John (Hallam) Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N,)
Leavey, J. A. Page, Graham Teeling, William
Leburn, Gilmour Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Legge-Bourke, Maj. H. Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Peel, John Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Lindsay, Martin Peroival, Ian Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Linstead, Sir Hugh Peyton, John Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Litchfield, Capt. John Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Turner, Colin
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Pike, Miss Mervyn Tweedsmuir, Lady
Longden, Gilbert Pilkington, Capt. Richard van Straubenzee, W. R.
Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby Pitman, I. J. Vane W. M. F.
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Pitt, Miss Edith Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John
McAdden, Stephen Pott, Percivall Vickers, Miss Joan
MacArthur, Ian Powell, J. Enoch Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
McLaren, Martin Price, David (Eastleigh) Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek
Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Prior, J. M. L. Ward, Rt. Hon. George (Worcester)
McLean, Neil (Inverness) Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain (Enfield, W.) Proudfoot, Wilfred Watts, James
MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty) Ramsden, James Webster, David
McMaster, Stanley R. Rawlinson, Peter Wells, John (Maldstone)
Macmillan,Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley) Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Whitelaw, William
Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Rees, Hugh Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Rees-Davies, W. R. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Maddan, Martin Renton, David Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Maginnis, John E. Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Wise, A. R.
Maitland, Cdr. J. W. Ridsdale, Julian Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Markham, Major Sir Frank Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.) Woodhouse, C. M.
Marlowe, Anthony Robson Brown, Sir William Woodnutt, Mark
Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest Roots, William Woollam, John
Marten, Neil Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Worsley, Marcus
Mathew, Robert (Honiton) Russell, Ronald
Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Legh and Mr. E. Wakefieid.
Abse, Leo Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Grey, Charles
Ainsley, William Cronin, John Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
Albu, Austen Crosland, Anthony Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Crossman, R. H. S. Gunter, Ray
Awbery, Stan Cullen, Mrs. Alice Halt, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
Bacon, Miss Alice Davies, Harold (Leek) Hamilton, William (West Fife)
Baird, John Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Hart, Mrs. Judith
Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.) Deer, George Hayman, F. H.
Beaney, Alan de Freitas, Geoffrey Healey, Denis
Belienger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Dempsey, James Her bison, Miss Margaret
Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.) Dodds, Norman Hill, J. (Midlothian)
Benn, Hn. A. Wedgwood(Brist'l,S.E.) Donnelly, Desmond Holman, Percy
Benson, Sir George Driberg, Tom Houghton, Douglas
Blackburn, F. Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John Howell, Charles A.
Blyton, William Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter Hoy, James H.
Boardman, H. Edelman, Maurice Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Bowles, Frank Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Boyden, James Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Hunter, A. E.
Brockway, A. Fenner Evans, Albert Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Fernyhough, E. Hynd, John (Attercliffe)
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Finch, Harold Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Fitch, Alan Irving, Sydney (Dartford)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Fletcher, Eric Janner, Barnett
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Foot, Dingle Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Forman, J. C. Jeger, George
Carmichael, James Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Chapman, Donald Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)
Chetwynd, George George, Lady Megan Lloyd Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)
Cliffe, Michael Ginsburg, David Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Collick, Percy Gourlay, Harry Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Corbet. Mrs. Freda Greenwood, Anthony Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Owen, Will Stones, William
Kenyon, Clifford Padley, W. E. Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Pargiter, C. A. Stross, Dr.Barnet (Stoke-on-Trent,C.)
King, Dr. Horace Parker, John (Dagenham) Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith
Lawson, George Parkin, B. T. (Paddington, N.) Swingler, Stephen
Ledger, Ron Pavitt, Laurance Sylvester, George
Lee, Frederick (Newton) Peart, Frederick Symonds, J. B.
Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Pentland, Norman Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Plummer, Sir Leslie Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Prentice, R. E. Thomson, C. M. (Dundee, E.)
Lipton, Marcus Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Thornton, Ernest
Logan, David Proctor, W. T. Timmons, John
Loughlin, Charles Pursey, Cmdr. Harry Tomney, Frank
Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Randall, Harry Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
McCann, John Rankin, John Warbey, William
MacColl, James Redhead, E. C. Watkins, Tudor
McKay, John (Wallsend) Reid, William Weitzman, David
Mackie, John Reynolds, G. W. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
McLeavy, Frank Robens, Rt. Hon. Alfred Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) White, Mrs. Eirene
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Whitlock, William
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Ross, William Wilkins, W. A.
Manuel, A. C. Royle, Charles (Salford, West) Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Williams, Rev. LI. (Abertillery)
Marsh, Richard Short, Edward Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Mason, Roy Silverman, Julius (Aston) Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Millan, Bruce Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Mitchison, C. R. Skeffington, Arthur Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Monslow, Walter Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.) Woof, Robert
Moody, A. s. Small, William Wyatt, Woodrow
Morris, John Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Mulley, Frederick Snow, Julian Zilllacus, K.
Neal, Harold Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.) Spriggs, Leslie TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Oliver, G. H. Steele, Thomas Mr. J. Taylor and
Oram, A. E. Stewart, Michael (Fulham) Mr. G. H. R. Rogers.
Oswald, Thomas Stonehouse, John

Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House approves the untiring determination of Her Majesty's Government to improve housing conditions and opportunities; notes the continued high level of housebuilding since 1952 in comparison with previous years; welcomes the progressive demolition of the slums; but regrets that many local authorities still subsidise tenants who do not need it, thereby failing to use Exchequer moneys to best advantage in fulfilment of their housing responsibilities.