HC Deb 27 June 1961 vol 643 cc216-49
Mrs. Joyce Butler (Wood Green)

I beg to move, in page 4, line 45, at the end to insert: (d) provided by the local authority of a congested area as part of a scheme of comprehensive re-development or urban renewal. The Amendment refers to Clause 3 (2) by which the Minister has excepted from his new rise-and-fall formula certain dwellings provided by local authorities or housing associations. That is to say, whereas generally for housing a local authority providing dwellings will obtain either a subsidy of £24 or a subsidy of £8 according to its financial position, there are certain types of housing for which the local authority will always receive £24. These types of housing are mentioned in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (2), of the Clause as recommitted.

In the proposed new paragraph (d) I seek to ensure that where a local authority provides dwellings as part of a scheme of comprehensive redevelopment or urban renewal it will always receive £24 subsidy for those houses or flats. I do so because in spite of the fact that the Minister, when this point was referred to briefly in Committee, said that the whole question of redevelopment is a big one, he implied—and I think that he actually used the words although they do not appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT—that this would be dealt with in another way.

There is a consensus of opinion at present in favour of comprehensive redevelopment and urban renewal which are urgent questions for many local authorities. The opinion is so strong that it has been expressed on all sides and it was implied in a good deal of discussion in Committee. Nevertheless, in spite of the importance of comprehensive redevelopment and urban renewal, there has been in recent years no new legislation or provision of assistance to local authorities to help them with such schemes. Indeed, what the Minister has done has been in another direction and the Ministry has in recent years withdrawn the planning grant given specifically for the blighted areas of the type which I am speaking.

I shall not pursue that matter further, because I should be out of order if I did so, but the point that I seek to emphasise is that although the need is urgent the Minister has done nothing effective to meet the need specifically and this Bill in some ways may deflect local authorities from urban renewal and comprehensive redevelopment unless it is amended in the way I am seeking.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government said as recently as 22nd June, in an Adjournment debate on housing in Manchester, that: … in some parts of the country slum clearance is approaching its fulfilment, so that it should be possible for some of the vital key staff to transfer themselves to the areas where slum clearance still remains a tragic and vital problem."—[OFFICAL REPORT, 22nd June, 1961; Vol. 642, c. 1830.] There are difficulties in this which the Minister has not fully appreciated. Many of the vital key staffs have their houses in these areas. They do not want to leave. They have their children at local schools and members of their families in local employment.

Even if that came about, which is very unlikely, probably a much better and more logical development would be for the local authority which had completed slum clearance work to proceed to comprehensive redevelopment. It would have the staff and facilities. The logical thing would be for it to do just that. But because of the subsidy position it may well feel that comprehensive redevelopment is too much for it to undertake. It has completed slum clearance and, therefore, it is much easier to do nothing at all, because comprehensive redevelopment and urban renewal are big tasks which require planning, thought, publicity, and co-operation from members of the public and the ratepayers.

4.15 p.m.

These are tasks which a local authority will not do unless it is under great pressure from the public or the Ministry or some other source to undertake a programme. There is no doubt that the provision of special subsidy encourages local authorities to build certain types of dwellings. The Minister knows from experience that where a high rate of subsidy is given for certain types of dwellings, local authorities tend to build those types. The Minister's policy has recognised that, but unless the right hon. Gentleman makes some provision for comprehensive redevelopment in the form of higher subsidy which the local authority is sure of receiving there is great danger that the local authority will not do the work at all.

The tenor of the later part of the Bill is directed towards encouraging landlords, with the support of local authorities, to patch up bad houses to make them as habitable as possible for a period. That direction, which the Minister has admitted the Bill now gives, however worthy it may be, is surely an emphasis on the patching up of property rather than on pulling the property down and redeveloping it. Therefore, the whole tenor of the Bill as we now have it and as it will operate in the country when it becomes an Act, will be to turn local authorities still further away from the redevelopment of properties which are not slum properties. If there were the money and the planning and all the things which those of us who passionately believe in good housing maintain should be available, these houses would be cleared and fine new houses put up in their place with a proper road layout, open spaces and all the other amenities.

It seems, therefore, that in the absence of any kind of encouragement to comprehensive redevelopment there is great danger that local authorities which should be undertaking that work will not do it. It is because of this that I submit that the local authority, which under the Minister's new formula would receive only £8 subsidy, should receive £24 for dwellings built as part of such a scheme. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) pointed out in the debate on housing in Manchester that Manchester is such an authority which will now receive only £8 a year for each of the dwellings that it builds. There must be many other local authorities in various parts of the country where this is an acute problem which, because they will receive only £8 subsidy, will neglect urban renewal.

The Minister may say that the local authorities which do this work already receive some help. They will receive an expensive-site subsidy and a special subsidy under the Bill where the flats are high. This is perfectly true. They will also receive the general housing subsidy, but my whole point is that all this will encourage small schemes. The Bill will not encourage the clearing of a whole area on a big scale which I am sure all of us agree is necessary from the planning part of view in these run-down areas.

If a local authority acquired a big old house and erected a high block of flats, it would receive, if the site were expensive, these special subsidies, but it would not be encouraged to take in a few more houses, to take in the roads and the other obsolete buildings, and to move the factories which are non-conforming users in order to make the scheme comprehensive—and that is what the Minister, as the Minister of Planning, ought to be encouraging it to do.

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

The hon. Lady the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Butler) and I believe equally passionately in better housing. The only difference between us here is that I could not advise the Committee to give a higher subsidy for rehousing from a congested area as part of a scheme of comprehensive redevelopment or urban renewal than the amount of the subsidy which is given for slum clearance as such, because I think that slum clearance has importance as great, and probably greater than, urban renewal.

I remind the Committee that the theme of Part I of the Bill is that housing authorities can be divided into different categories—those which are unable to pass the resources test and are shown to need a higher rate of financial assistance if they are to proceed with their statutory housing duties, and those which can pass the resources test, and, by that, are shown not to have so great a need for the housing subsidy. Indeed, it has been argued in some quarters, and there is some logic in it, that those authorities which can pass the resources test need no subsidy at all. Nevertheless, the Government, have not gone as far as that. In the Bill they have assigned a subsidy of £8 a year for sixty years to those authorities which pass the resources test and a subsidy of £24 to those which do not.

The hon. Lady has spoken of urban renewal and comprehensive redevelopment, and I know from what she said in Committee that she has in mind some remarks made by the City Treasurer of Salford emphasising the burden which can fall upon a big city if it seeks to carry out simultaneously far-reaching schemes of urban renewal. I submit to the Committee, however, that this is not the time to debate urban renewal in the large. It throws up far-reaching questions which go far beyond housing legislation. What we have to consider here are the houses which need to be built by or for a housing authority.

It seems to the Government that the right course is to make a special rate of subsidy available for overspill, because that is building of an entirely different character from the building of houses within the area of the authority itself. Where houses are being built within the area of the authority itself, the Bill widens the field, in that every house approved by the Minister and built by the authority will qualify for a subsidy at a rate fixed according to the resources of the authority.

That seems to be a sound principle, and it seems very hard, although I thought the hon. Lady argued her case most skilfully, to maintain that, regardless of the resources of the authority, the houses that are built as part of a scheme of comprehensive redevelopment or urban renewal should be given a special financial privilege, and that, regardless of the need of the local authority for the money, nevertheless, it should be singled out as being qualified for the £24 subsidy.

I should have thought that the Committee would hardly wish to see local authorities encouraged to proceed with urban renewal, perhaps to the detriment of slum clearance, by Parliament offering a higher rate of subsidy for the former than for the latter.

I understand entirely what the hon. Lady has in mind. I believe that she is anxious to find some financial means of stimulating urban renewal, but I put it to the Committee that this is not the place to do it. This is a housing Bill, and we must consider all the housing activities of a local authority in relation to one another. I must, therefore, advise the Committee not to accept this Amendment, because, in a way that seems unjustifiable to the Government, it singles out houses built for urban renewal and treats them as more urgent than houses built for slum clearance, a point of view which the Government cannot accept.

Mr. M. Stewart

I do not find the Minister's reply convincing. First, on this question of subsidies in general, as he knows, our view throughout has been that the whole of the subsidy provision in the Bill is inadequate to meet the housing problem. Therefore, when we consider the Bill in detail we are faced with this situation: if we put the case for any particular kind of enterprise by a local authority, the Minister can say, "Oh, but I have, by the nature of my Bill, held back the local authorities in general, and surely you would not want to encourage this particular activity of theirs rather than another."

It is rather as if a father starved all his children, and, when met with a plea urged by his neighbour on behalf of one of them, replied, "Oh, but you would not wish me to treat him in a better manner than the others." That is the nature of the answer which the Minister has given to my hon. Friend.

That is a general comment. Let us take the question of urban renewal in particular. My hon. Friend has argued very well the case for its importance, and on that I want to add only this: we need not think of it only in terms of large schemes. Sometimes what needs to be done is on quite a small scale. For example, we find in a number of London suburbs and London boroughs, here and there, a bit of land with property built on it which is a disorderly jumble, with narrow streets or lanes, perhaps one or two small industrial enterprises, some not very well sited and appointed shops, a little not-very-satisfactory residential property, perhaps, with a bit of open space too small to be of any amenity value. That is the kind of problem which, for example, the London boroughs could get on with very great advantage to their citizens.

The Minister talks about urban renewal in general. How, then, does he propose to encourage it if not sooner or later by provisions which would be included in a Housing Bill? I do not think that it is any answer for him to say that because this is a Housing Bill we cannot discuss urban renewal. If he is ever to encourage it at all, it will have to be through legislation such as this, affecting the powers and resources of local authorities.

I think that the right hon. Gentleman's fear that the local authorities would desert slum clearance unduly for a policy of urban renewal if this Amendment were accepted is altogether misplaced. A local authority which has before its eyes a great deal of slum clearance still to do will, as a matter of common sense or under pressure of public opinion, give every priority to it.

4.30 p.m.

Local authorities which would make use of the advantage which my hon. Friend offers to them would surely be those which are seeing the end of their slum clearance problem in sight but, on looking around their area, are obliged to conclude that although they have got rid of nearly all that could be called slums, they cannot turn their boroughs into attractive and dignified places unless they can get on with work of this kind.

The very fact that they are nearing the end of their slum clearance programme will mean that personnel and facilities are available for going ahead with work of this kind. On reflection, one must agree with my hon. Friend's argument that there is little in the Minister's idea that the skilled staff required for a slum clearance programme can be regarded as a mobile army which will obligingly travel round the country in pursuit of slum clearance programmes.

It will not work like that. We shall have one authority after another nearing the end of its slum clearance programme and ready to embark usefully on a programme of this kind. For such an authority there ought to be this degree of encouragement in the Bill. I hope that my hon. Friend will stick to her Amendment.

Mr. Frank Allaun

The Minister said that the subsidies will be paid according to the resources of the area and that this is a sound principle. In fact, the subsidies will be paid according to a highly complicated formula which will have extraordinary results. Liverpool, one of the worst housing areas in the country, will receive a subsidy not of £22 per house per annum but of £8 and until 1965 the subsidies paid to Manchester will similarly be reduced. On the other hand, many prosperous areas, such as Bournemouth, will receive a higher subsidy. That is not a sound principle.

The excellent Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Butler) would, to a certain extent, compensate for this unfairness. If anything, she has under-stated the case. She says that a local authority could choose to build multi-storey flats and thereby receive a higher subsidy, whereas if it went in for comprehensive urban redevelopment it would not receive a higher subsidy.

Mrs. Butler

My hon. Friend has misunderstood the point I was trying to make. I hope that the Minister will correct me if I am wrong. In any case in which a local authority built multi-storey flats it would receive the subsidy for multi-storey flats. If it built on an expensive site, it would receive the expensive site subsidy. But there is nothing to encourage the authority to make the schemes bigger and more comprehensive.

Mr. Allaun

I agree. The point which I was trying to make is that the multi-storey flat subsidy is paid according to the number of storeys built, and the authority would still receive the low basic subsidy of £8 rather than £24. Here, again, the Amendment would remedy the injustice. It seems wrong that those areas which need the subsidy most and will not get it are often those which need comprehensive urban redevelopment. In many cases they have overspill arrangements, but as the old slums are cleared they should be used for redevelopment of this kind. It seems to me that in this way the Government could make good the injury which they will do in the Bill to these old areas. There is a strong case for the Amendment, and I hope that the Minister will give way on the point.

Mr. Albert Evans (Islington, South-West)

It seems to me that the Minister's approach is inadequate. In the Clause the Minister provides subsidies of £28 in one category and £24 in another. The type of house on which the subsidy is paid is defined. It is clear from the Clause that the Minister is trying to direct his subsidies to schemes which will deport people from town centres to new towns and places where the Town Development Act operates. Most of the classes of house listed in the Clause are for people being decanted from the town centres to places outside the towns.

The core of the housing problem is in the centres of our large towns, and for ten years the Government have failed to solve that core of the problem. It is admirable that at last they have taken some step, however small, to help people to move more freely away from our congested town centres. But a gap will be left in the towns. The Minister provides a subsidy for those who move out of the town centres to places where the Town Development Act operates. But the old areas left in the town centres will need to be cleared up and redeveloped. It is a corollary of the Minister's policy, as laid down in the Clause, that these old areas should be redeveloped. It seems to me, therefore, that there is a gap in the provisions. My hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Butler) is quite right when she says that the Minister is taking no action to enable local authorities to deal with the old town centres which will become less and less populated under his proposals.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

Surely, in those circumstances, the rebuilding in the centres which are cleared will probably be by flats and will attract the subsidy in Clause 5, will it not?

Mr. Evans

I agree. But we also know that those centres which require redevelopment cannot always be used for high flats. Some of the urban authorities must mix their development and combine other housing accommodation with their flats. I think that the Minister

should accept the Amendment and round off his own proposals.

Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 167, Noes 229.

Division No. 220.] AYES [4.40 p.m.
Ainsley, William Holman, Percy Prentice, R. E.
Albu, Austen Houghton, Douglas Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr) Probert, Arthur
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Randall, Harry
Awbery, Stan Hoy, James H. Rankin, John
Bacon, Miss Alice Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Redhead, E. C.
Bence, Cyril Hughes, Emrye (S. Ayrshire) Rhodes, H.
Benson, Sir George Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Blyton, William Hunter, A, E. Robertson, John (Paisley)
Boardman, H Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.) Janner, Sir Barnett Ross, William
Bowles, Frank Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Royle, Charles (Salford, West)
Boyden, James Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Short, Edward
Brockway, A. Fenner Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Skeffington, Arthur
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Kelley, Richard Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Callaghan, James King, Dr. Horace Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Lee, Frederick (Newton) Snow, Julian
Chapman, Donald Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Sorensen, R. W.
Chetwynd, George Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Cliffe, Michael Lipton, Marcus Steele, Thomas
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Logan, David Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Crosland, Anthony Loughlin, Charles Stones, William
Grossman, R. H. S. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice McCann, John Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C)
Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery) MacColl, James Swain, Thomas
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Mclnnes, James Swingler, Stephen
Davies, Harold (Leek) McKay, John (Wallsend) Sylvester, George
Davies, Ifor (Cower) McLeavy, Frank Symonds, J. B.
Deer, George MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Delargy, Hugh Manuel, A. C. Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Diamond, John Mapp, Charles Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Driberg, Tom Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Edelman, Maurice Marsh, Richard Thornton, Ernest
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Mason, Roy Timmons, John
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Mellish, R. J. Tomney, Frank
Evans, Albert Mendelson, J. J. Wainwright, Edwin
Finch, Harold Mitchison, G. R. Warbey, William
Foot, Michael (Ebbw vale) Monslow, Walter Weitzman, David
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Moody, A. S. White, Mrs. Eirene
Galpern, Sir Myer Moyle, Arthur Whitlock, William
Ginsburg, David Mulley, Frederick Wilkins, W. A.
Greenwood, Anthony Neal, Harold Willey, Frederick
Grey, Charles Oliver, G. H. Williams, LI. (Abertillery)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Oram, A. E. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Grimond, J. Parker, John Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Parkin, B. T. Winterbottom, R. E.
Hannan, William Pavitt, Laurence Zilliacus, K.
Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur(Rwly Regis) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Herbison, Miss Margaret Peart, Frederick TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hill, J. (Midlothian) Pentland, Norman Mr. G. H. R. Rogers and
Hilton, A. V. Popplewell, Ernest Mr. Lawson.
Agnew, Sir Peter Bidgood, John c. Bryan, Paul
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.) Biggs-Davison, John Buck, Antony
Allason, James Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Bullard, Denys
Atkins, Humphrey Bishop, F. P. Bullus, Wing Commander Eric
Barlow, Sir John Bossom, Clive Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)
Barter, John Bourne-Arton, A. Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)
Batsford, Brian Box, Donald Carr, Compton (Barons Court)
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John Carr, Robert (Mitcham)
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Boyle, Sir Edward Channon, H. P. G.
Bell, Ronald Braine, Bernard Chataway, Christopher
Bennett, F. M, (Torquay) Brewis, John Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm) Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col.Sir Walter Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)
Berkeley, Humphry Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Browne, Percy (Torrington) Cleaver, Leonard
Cole, Norman Hulbert, Sir Norman Ridley, Hon. Nicholas
Cooke, Robert Hutchison, Michael Clark Ridsdale, Julian
Cooper, A. E. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Rippon, Geoffrey
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Jackson, John Robertson, Sir D.(C'thn's & S'th'ld)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. James, David Robson Brown, Sir William
Cordle, John Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Roots, William
Corfield, F. V. Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Craddock, Sir Beresford Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)
Critchley, Julian Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Scott-Hopkins, James
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green) Sharples, Richard
Cunningham, Knox Joseph, Sir Keith Shaw, M.
Dalkeith, Earl of Kaberry, Sir Donald Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir Jocelyn
Dance, James Kerans, Cdr, J. S. Skeet, T. H. H.
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Kerby, Capt. Henry Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)
Digby, Simon Wingfield Kerr, Sir Hamilton Smithers, Peter
Donaldson, Cmdr. c. E. M. Kitson, Timothy Spearman, Sir Alexander
Doughty, G. B. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Speir, Rupert
Duncan, Sir James Langford-Holt, J, Stanley, Hon. Richard
Duthie, Sir William Leavey, J. A. Stevens, Geoffrey
Eden, John Lilley, F. J. P. Stodart, J. A.
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Linstead, Sir Hugh Stoddart-Scott, col. Sir Malcolm
Elliott, R. W. (Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.) Litchfield, Capt. John Storey, Sir Samuel
Emery, Peter Longden, Gilbert Studholme, Sir Henry
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Loveys, Walter H. Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)
Farey-Jones, F. W. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn Sumner, Donald (Orpington)
Farr, John McAdden, Stephen Tapsell, Peter
Felt, Anthony MacArthur, Ian Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Finlay, Graeme McLaren, Martin Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)
Fisher, Nigel McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia Temple, John M.
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Maclean, SirFitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs.) Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Forrest, George McMaster, Stanley R. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Maddan, Martin Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Freeth, Denzil Markham, Major Sir Frank Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Gardner, Edward Marshall, Douglas Turner, Colin
Glover, Sir Douglas Marten, Neil Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Mathew, Robert (Honiton) Tweedsmuir, Lady
Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Mawby, Ray van Straubenzee, W. R.
Goodhew, Victor Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Gough, Frederick Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Vickers, Miss Joan
Cower, Raymond Mills, Stratton Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Grant, Rt. Hon. William More, Jasper (Ludlow) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. Morrison, John Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Gresham Cooke, R. Nabarro, Gerald Walter, David
Gurden, Harold Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Walker, Peter
Hall, John (Wycombe) Noble, Michael Wall, Patrick
Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Nugent, Sir Richard Ward, Dame Irene
Harris, Reader (Heston) Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Orr, capt. L. P. S. Whitelaw, William
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Maccleef'd) Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Harvie Anderson, Miss Page, Graham (Crosby) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Hastings, Stephen Panned, Norman (Kirkdale) Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Peel, John Wise, A. R.
Hicks Beach, Maj. W. Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe) Pilkington, Sir Richard Woodhouse, C. M.
Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Pitt, Miss Edith Woodnutt, Mark
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Pott, Percivall Woollam, John
Hirst, Geoffrey Price, David (Eastleigh) Worsley, Marcus
Holland, Philip Prior, J. M. L. Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Hopkins, Alan Pym, Francis
Hornby, R. P. Quennell, Miss J. M. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Colonel Sir H. Harrison and
Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives) Rees, Hugh Mr. Chichester-Clark.
Hughes-Young Michael Renton, David
Mrs. Butler

I beg to move, in page 4, line 45, at the end to insert: (d) provided by a local authority for housing elderly persons. The Amendment is designed to deal with an anomaly which became apparent in Committee upstairs. The anomaly is that if a local authority, which under the Bill is entitled to only £8 subsidy per dwelling, has an acute shortage of housing for elderly people, it will not be encouraged to meet that shortage by building dwellings for them.

The Amendment is designed once again, as was the previous Amendment, to ensure that where a local authority provides housing for elderly persons it will always be able to claim the subsidy of £24. I do not think that there is any need for me to argue the case for housing the elderly, because we have debated this question several times recently. It is this Bill which has changed the Minister's attitude towards housing for the elderly. Until the Bill was introduced, the Minister was so anxious to encourage housing for the elderly that he gave a special subsidy of £10 for one-bedroomed dwellings which were, in the main, provided for elderly people.

Under his new arrangement there is no special encouragement to provide housing for the elderly, despite the fact that this is an increasing need and despite the fact, as was mentioned on the previous Amendment, that as the overspill schemes develop, as we hope they will, although we recognise their limitations, large numbers of elderly persons will be left behind in some of our large and small cities. There are many people in that category in my own constituency in Tottenham and Wood Green. One of the great problems is that, as we build new towns and extend town development, increasing numbers of elderly people are left behind in very bad housing conditions in the older areas. Local authorities are desperately anxious to provide these people with good homes for the remainder of their lives.

The argument used by the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) on the previous Amendment does not apply here, because local authorities which want to do their best for elderly persons will not build multi-storey blocks for them. Local authorities which want to build the type of homes in which elderly people want to live will build lower buildings wherever they possibly can—even bungalows, when the land is available. They will do everything they can to provide the kind of housing which we all know elderly people enjoy living in. Therefore, they will not get the subsidies for multi-storey flats. They will get the ordinary housing subsidy only, which in some cases will be only £8. In some cases they may get the expensive-site subsidy.

This is an anomaly, particularly because the Minister's new arrangement of subsidy apparently has no relation to the age range of the population. He has said that if an authority has ample financial resources it is wrong that it should get a £24 subsidy for any of the dwellings it builds. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) pointed out that when the Minister talks about adequate financial resources he is applying a phrase to his own formula which in practice does not work out as the man in the street would expect it to work out. Some of the areas which are most hard-pressed as regards housing and resources are the very areas which will receive only the £8 subsidy.

The interesting thing about subsection (2) is that the third group in respect of which the Minister will in all cases give a subsidy of £24 is housing provided by a housing association in pursuance of authorised arrangements made with a local authority or special arrangements made with the Minister". This group will include a great many housing associations providing houses for elderly persons. Probably the majority of them will be houses provided for elderly persons.

If such houses are provided by a housing association, they will qualify for the £24 subsidy. It will be different if they are provided by the local authority in the same area where a housing association is providing them and receiving the £24 subsidy. If the local authority is entitled under the Minister's formula to the £8 subsidy only, the dwellings it provides for the elderly will qualify for only the £8 subsidy and not for the £24 subsidy which will be received by the housing association. I do not think that the Minister by any stretch of the imagination can say that this is fair, logical or right.

Housing associations are admittedly meeting the needs of the elderly in respect of housing. So are local authorities. The need is so great that many efforts are required to satisfy it. If a local authority is to receive only the £8 subsidy, it just will not do the job. It will turn to something else and look for an easier way of dealing with its problems.

When this point was briefly discussed in Committee, the Minister said that this was an argument about nothing very much. These were his words: If a local authority has proved by the test that it does not have substantial financial need on its housing account, it is true that it will receive a subsidy on its future old people's dwellngs reduced by 10d. a week. If, on the other hand, the test shows that it has financial need, and it qualifies for the £24, it will receive additional subsidy on every one of the future houses that it builds for the old people of 5s. 5d. a week. There is, therefore, no doubt that the general effect of the Bill will be to stimulate the building of houses for old people."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D; 2nd May. 1961, c. 376–377.] I do not see how the Minister can argue that. If the local authority is to receive £24 for any houses that it builds, there is no reason why it should build houses for elderly persons rather than houses for any other person. Conversely, if a local authority is to receive a subsidy of only £8 a house, it is very unlikely that it will provide very much housing at all, unless it is compelled to in the form of slum clearance or some other statutory need. The whole tenor of the Minister's new subsidy policy will mean that there will be no special provision for housing for the elderly. In areas of acute need and where the local authority receives only the £8 subsidy, rather than argue about whether it will get 10d. less or 5s. 5d. more per week, the local authority will say, "We cannot embark on this because the financial inducement is not sufficiently encouraging".

I therefore ask the Minister to look at this anomaly. He has had plenty of time to do so between the Committee stage and now. I ask him to accept the Amendment, which would bring housing for the elderly provided by local authorities into line with housing for the elderly provided by housing associations in the same area.

5.0 p.m.

Mr. Brooke

The Government are very anxious indeed to keep up the momentum of building by local authorities for elderly people. We have been successful so far. During the last ten years the percentage of all local authority dwellings that have been of a kind suitable to, and designed for, elderly people has risen from 7 per cent. to between 25 and 30 per cent. It is our view that the Bill will maintain that momentum and, we hope, increase it.

The hon. Lady the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Butler), who always speaks very sincerely about these matters—and I want to deal with her speech point by point—argued that local authorities are likely to neglect the needs of old people if they do not get a higher subsidy when building for the old than when building for others. My answer to that is twofold.

First, I believe that practically every housing authority is genuinely interested in the needs of the old and is disposed to assign a very high priority to that type of building. Secondly, on the purely materialistic level, I think that her speech failed to bring out the fact that a subsidy, whether £8 a year or £24 a year, is of greater value in relation to a house, or bungalow, or flat or flatlet built for elderly people, because these are always smaller than the ordinary house built for family purposes. Thus, the subsidy represents a proportionately larger contribution to the cost.

The reason why I believe that the Bill will sustain and, I hope, increase the momentum in the building of houses for elderly people is that, in a large number of cases, the local authority will find itself receiving not £10 a year, as hitherto, when it builds a flat or flatlet or bungalow for elderly people, but £24 a year. That, as she correctly concluded from my speech in Standing Committee, is a differential advantage of no less than 5s. 5d. a week.

The hon. Lady argues that the £24 subsidy should be made available to all local authorities for all their building for the elderly because they are building for the elderly, and regardless of whether they pass the test of resources or not. I want to deal for a moment with the question of the test of resources, because it was raised by the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) on the previous Amendment, and he may raise it again on this one. He sought to suggest that the test was not really fair because it looked as though great cities like Liverpool and Manchester, with big housing tasks, were, in the first instance, likely to qualify only for £8.

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will accept from me that, if such local authorities press on with their much needed housing work, they are likely to qualify in due course for £24, and may indeed qualify for £29 or £34 subsidies or even £40, because, for local authorities which have the heaviest tasks and the lowest resources, we are substantially increasing the total amount of subsidy they may receive under this Bill.

The point which I believe the hon. Gentleman failed to bring ++out was that the Cities of Liverpool and Manchester—which, I think, were the ones he mentioned—have potential resources in that they have hitherto been charging substantially lower rents to tenants than other areas. According to statistics published by the Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants, the average council rent in Liverpool in 1959–60 was 13s. 6d. a week and in Manchester 13s. 10d., whereas in rural districts in England and Wales it was 20s. 9d. I find it extraordinarily hard to accept that the rent paying capacity of the ordinary council tenant in a country village is 50 per cent. higher than the rent paying capacity of citizens of Liverpool and Manchester.

I want now to deal with the argument which was put forward so persuasively by the hon. Member for Wood Green. She is fearful that, if this Clause stands unamended, local authorities which have a substantial need for old people's houses, if they find they qualify only for the £8 subsidy, may sheer off that duty that stares them in the face and do other things which appear to be more attractive. I do not think that that will happen. The fact that they get the £8 subsidy and not the £24 subsidy proves of itself that they have greater resources, or greater potential resources, than the others. As I pointed out just now, they will be getting the flat £8 for all types of approved houses that they build, and, whatever the annual amount of the subsidy is, it will be proportionately a greater contribution in the cost of a small house or flat or flatlet built for old people than it will be in the case of a family house.

There is no disincentive to build for the old. As I judge the situation, all the authorities that she has in mind, which have a long-term housing task, will qualify for the £24 subsidy as they press on with their task, and will, at the £24 rate, get this material advantage over what they have been receiving hitherto.

The flat rate hitherto for a house suitable for elderly people has been £10 a year, and under this Bill, in the case of authorities which fail to pass the resources test, the subsidy will not be £10 but £24. For these reasons, and others which I could repeat from my speech on the previous Amendment—I think she recognised that some of the issues raised on both Amendments are the same—I cannot advise the Committee to accept the Amendment.

I end as I began—by stressing that it is the belief, and certainly the purpose, of the Government that this Bill should sustain and, if possible, increase the momentum of building for the elderly, which, in so many places, is so urgently needed.

Mr. A. Evans

Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Butler) about the different treatment which might, in some localities, be accorded the local authorities and housing associations?

Mr. Brooke

The reason for that is that a housing association cannot have the same financial resources as a local authority. In the ordinary case, a local authority which qualifies for only the £8 rate of subsidy is almost certain to have behind it a large pool of houses and flats built before the Second World War at considerably lower cost than today's. In any case, even if it were not for that factor, a local authority has implicitly much more substantial financial resources, or potential financial resources, than any housing association. Housing associations are doing a much needed work—if an association's work is not needed it will not get the subsidy—and could not be the subject of a resources test as a local authority can be.

I hope that the hon. Member for Islington, South West (Mr. A. Evans) will not envy a housing association because it receives a £24 subsidy, for I believe that it is most desirable to give opportunity to housing associations which are ready to take on these very onerous tasks, and certainly I can see no way in which the general principle of a resources test could be applied to a housing association. But there is no desire here whatever to discriminate one way or the other or to try to slap down the local authority in favour of a housing association. I come back to the point again; the only local authorities which will qualify for not more than £8 a year subsidy are those which pass the resources test and, therefore, have substantial or potentially substantial financial resources such as no housing association could possibly possess.

Mr. Herbert Butler (Hackney, Central)

I am grateful for this opportunity to speak about housing associations, because the Parliamentary Secretary is due to come to my constituency to look at a small housing association—the Bethnal Green and Hackney Housing Association, which is doing extremely useful work over a period of years, for which we are very grateful. I have known this association for perhaps, thirty years, during which time its contribution to our housing problem has been very small, due, no doubt, as the Minister indicated, to the nature of its organisation and the people associated with it.

I was amazed that it should have been necessary for my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. A. Evans) to press the Minister to tell the Committee why a housing association, which consists of people getting together because they want to mitigate the misery of all sorts of people, should automatically be given a position of advantage over the local authority.

Another factor which must be borne in mind is that if a local authority decides to build it has to adhere to standards that do not necessarily have to be observed either by private enterprise or housing associations. I do not think that we have yet had an acceptable explanation why local authorities who are providing houses for elderly persons cannot automatically get the £24. Once again, we ask the Minister to attend to that.

Mr. Frank Allaun

The Minister has just drawn attention, as he does on almost every speech he makes on housing, to the greatly increased proportion of houses for elderly people in which he takes great pride. There is not an hon. Member present who does not want to see more houses provided for old people, but if he regards this as one of the Government's housing achievements he is sorely mistaken. The Government's housing programme for local authorities has been halved since 1954 from 240,000 to 120,000 units last year, of which, according to the Minister's own words, a much higher proportion is in the form of one-bedroomed accommodation for elderly people.

In other words, as a result of the Government's policy of raising interest rates, local government building has not only been halved but has, in fact, been still further reduced 'because a considerable and increasing proportion of the accom- modation consists of one-bedroomed houses. Even if the Minister said that he would increase that accommodation by 100 per cent., it would really mean an even greater reduction in the number of houses available for those with families.

I would remind the right hon. Gentleman of what he said at the Conservative Party conference last year. Speaking to the wild men behind him, he said: Don't let us kid ourselves. There is no alternative for most people to local council housing if they are to get a house at all. The number of these houses has been cut, and cut even more because a large proportion of the housing accommodation consists of one-bedroomed houses.

5.15 p.m.

Mr. Graham Page

However much the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun) likes to juggle with percentages, my right hon. Friend deserves the congratulations of the Committee on the very substantial increase there has been in the last few years in the provision of housing for elderly people as a result of the encouragement given to local authorities to build one-bedroomed houses. I do not believe that the rearrangement of subsidies under this Bill will be any disincentive to the continuation of such building.

It has not been sufficiently stressed in this discussion that those local authorities which qualify for the higher subsidy are getting the subsidy for elderly people increased from £10 to £24. The subsidies are not given on the basis of the size of the building. There is, therefore, a great encouragement to build the one-bedroomed flats whether the local authority qualifies only for £8 or for £24, because the subsidy is so much more valuable to the authority in relation to the small dwelling—

Mr. H. Butler

How is it an encouragement if the local authority builds in accordance with the demands of its housing problem? If the demand is for so many three-bedroomed, two-bedroomed and one-bedroomed houses, where does the encouragement come in?

Mr. Page

There is encouragement financially, as all subsidies must be, but no local authority can supply housing for every type of demand on its waiting-list—

Mr. Butler

It aims to.

Mr. Page

Of course it does, but it would be a valiant local authority that could meet every demand there was on its waiting list.

There is also, in Clause 5—the flat subsidies—an encouragement to local authorities to build one-roomed dwellings on the ground floors and first floors of blocks of flats. As the hon. Lady the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Butler) has quite rightly pointed out, as this movement of the younger families out of the town continues, the elderly people will be left in the centres of the towns. The obvious development of the centres is dwellings in flats, and I should have thought that the right way to cope with the old people requiring dwellings was to design one-bedroomed dwellings on the ground floors and lower floors of blocks of flats. By building blocks of flats the local authorities will get the very much higher subsidies provided by Clause 5—

Mrs. Butler

Has the hon. Gentleman any idea of the management difficulties that arise when elderly people are housed on the ground floors of multi-storey blocks of flats? The difficulties are quite astronomical. Children playing round annoy the old people, so do the people living above them, and so it goes on.

Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)

I am still not quite satisfied that either the Minister or the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) has dealt seriously with the problem before the Committee. In the first place, I think that it is recognised on both sides that the provision of units of accommodation for elderly people is becoming more urgent than ever because of the increasing proportion of elderly people in the population. The Minister has made great play about the increasing numbers of this type of dwelling which have been made available in the past ten years. I believe that he said there was an increase from 7 per cent. to 25 per cent. or 30 per cent. If that reflected his personal view of the matter, I should have thought that he should have given far greater consideration to the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Butler).

One of the things I cannot understand is the argument advanced by the right hon. Gentleman that the value of the subsidy to the local authority is higher in the building of smaller properties whether it gets £8, £10 or more. He suggested that the value of the subsidy, whatever it may be, when related to old people's dwellings is higher than in relation to other dwellings because of the size of the old people's dwellings He seemed to imply that it would be inequitable to increase the subsidy. I should have thought that precisely the same argument would apply in the case of housing associations. If in resisting the Amendment he applies that type of argument to the request for help for local authorities, it is equally incumbent upon him to use the argument in relation to housing associations.

The Minister hoped that my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. A. Evans) did not envy housing associations. That is the type of smear tactic which the Minister was constantly using in Standing Committee with reference to hon. Members on this side of the Committee. There is no question of envy. The question which is being put is that, if the arguments advanced by the Minister in commending the subsidy for housing associations are valid, are they not equally valid for local authorities? I make no criticism, and have made none in my many contributions in Committee, of the housing associations. If the Minister argues that, irrespective of the type of dwelling they build, housing associations are entitled to the higher subsidy, he is seeking to argue for a change of emphasis of building. If housing associations set up specifically for the purpose of creating units of accommodation for elderly people can get an increased subsidy from the Government as envisaged by the Bill as it stands, that should stimulate them and tend to restrict the activities of local authorities.

The hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) said that local authorities cannot respond to every demand made on them through their waiting lists, but obviously they have to try to respond. Every local authority tries to balance its housing programme. If a housing association is in the area, there is the temptation to the local authority to see how many houses can be erected by the association to relieve the authority of some of its work.

It is incumbent on the Minister to say why he is prepared to give the higher subsidies in respect of old people's dwellings. Everyone in the Committee feels it essential to extend the provision of old people's dwellings. That is likely to become more necessary in future because of the ageing of the population. Why should the Minister apply a higher subsidy to housing associations and argue the case for that yet refuse to apply it to local authorities?

If his past remarks are a reflection of his real intention, when he says that he wants to see the various organisations, local authorities, housing associations and development corporations, all playing their full part in the provision of houses, it is necessary for him to play fair with the local authorities as well as with the housing associations.

Mr. J. B. Symonds (Whitehaven)

I have listened to the arguments of the Minister concerning the qualifications and smallness of the numbers of houses built by housing associations. I do not think that the Minister was very accurate in his statement. In the North there is the North-Eastern Housing Association. It owns many more houses than are owned by some local authorities in the North. If that association is qualified to obtain the £24 subsidy for every house it builds irrespective of need, surely the local authorities are entitled to the same treatment. Local authorities are being subjected to a means test because they have done good work. Probably the Minister would use the term "needs test".

The association has a number of properties for which it can charge reasonable rents for the purpose of meeting the needs of the housing situation. Is the Minister to say that, because of the smallness of the rent which was charged before the war, a local authority is to get only £8 and not £24 in subsidy? If such is the case I am very much afraid that there will be an outcry.

Why must the old people be attacked again? It is all very well for the Minister to say that a local authority can get the £8 subsidy, but we have to look at the cost of building houses. A house for an aged person may cost £1,000 or £1,200. If the authority has to pay interest at the rate of 6¼ per cent. and meet all the expenses which have to be added, the rent will work out at about 25s. or 28s. a week for those old people. If the authority is to get only the £8 subsidy many old people will have their rents increased. Probably the Minister will say that they can go to the National Assistance Board, but large numbers of people are too proud to go to the National Assistance Board although they cannot afford these rents.

Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)

Surely the hon. Member realises that it is within the power of the local authority to have a scheme whereby those people can be subsidised out of the rates and there is no need for them to go to the Assistance Board? It is usual to attack the Government and to say that the Government are driving people on to National Assistance when all the Government are doing is to say that there is a certain amount which should be paid out of Government grant and a certain amount by way of rent according to the local authority's scheme, and that the rest may be charged upon the rates.

Mr. Symonds

That is the most wonderful illustration of incompetence in local government affairs which I have encountered in thirty years' experience of local government. The hon. Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew) says that they can apply to the local authority to be subsidised. I wonder what the Minister would say to that. Hon. Members opposite have said that local authorities should not make any rate contribution to the rents of local authorities. Elderly people will have to pay full rent and rates, and it is not right that they should be penalised a second time.

5.30 p.m.

The hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) said that elderly people could be accomodated in ground floor one-bedroomed flats in blocks of flats. I wonder whether the hon. Member has ever lived in a 'one-bedroomed flat in a block of six or seven storeys. I wonder what he would say at seven o'clock in the evening, or at six o'clock in the morning. It would be bad enough for him, but for old people it would be absolutely intolerable.

If hon. Members on this side can melt your heart, Mr. Minister—I know that you are doing a difficult job, at least you say that you are—and there must be some turning point, because you have said that you have some sympathy for the old people for whom you have been pleading—

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. H. Hynd)

Order. The hon. Member must address the Chair.

Mr. Symonds

I am sorry, Sir Henry —I beg your pardon, Mr. Hynd.

I hope that the Minister will be sympathetic towards the payment of a subsidy of £24 in respect of the accommodation of old people by local authorities as well as by housing associations. The Minister has previously said that he has much sympathy for old people and that there is still a great deal to be done for them. I hope that he will accept the Amendment and give local authorities the consideration which is to be given to housing associations.

Mr. M. Stewart

I do not wish to delay the Committee, but the borough which I represent has the highest proportion of old people in its population of any locality in the Kingdom, and I should not like this Amendment to pass without saying a few words about it.

In this, as in the previous Amendment, we ask for special help to be given to a particular kind of local authority work. But there is a great difference between this and any similar Amendment which might be proposed. It is that if the housing of elderly persons is encouraged, not only those elderly people are benefited, because in a number of cases an elderly person is enabled to move out of accommodation which is too large for him, that accommodation then becoming available for a family. Thus, not only is the elderly person directly benefited, but others are benefited. In this Amendment we ask for special help for elderly people without its being suggested that that in any way will prejudice what local authorities might do for other classes of person in need of housing.

There has been much argument about the past progress which has or has not been made in the housing of elderly people, but at the end of the argument no one will dispute that the proportion of our total council housing effort devoted to elderly people has increased in recent years, as the Minister said, from 7 per cent. to 25 per cent. I remind the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page), who used the phrase "juggling with percentages", that it was the Minister who first introduced percentages into the argument and did not mention, of course, that the 25 per cent. is 25 per cent. of a very much smaller total than the 7 per cent. was at the beginning of the day.

Mr. Graham Page

Nevertheless, the hon. Member will agree that it is an absolute increase in figures.

Mr. Stewart

Certainly. There is an absolute increase, but it is substantially less than the percentage increase.

There is an absolute increase which in previous housing debates the Government have ascribed to their wisdom, as they claim, in their subsidy policy of giving a special differential in favour of the housing of the elderly. There has been a momentum in the housing of the elderly and the engine which provided that momentum, as the Government can rightly claim up to a point, has been the differentially favourable subsidy treatment for the housing of the elderly.

Whatever else we must say about the Bill, it cuts off that differential. At the beginning of his answer the Minister said that the Government were determined to keep up the momentum in the housing of the elderly and then went on to explain that they intended to keep up the momentum by switching off the engine. There is no doubt that the differential in favour of the housing of the elderly by local authorities is removed by the Bill if it is passed without this Amendment. Whatever else may be said about the Bill, there is no doubt about that.

I was not surprised that the Parliamentary Secretary was not here when we began to discuss the Amendment, because in his speeches on the housing problem invariably his most purple patch has been about the housing of the elderly. If any of my hon. Friends have failed in the course of a housing debate to mention housing of the elderly, it was the Parliamentary Secretary who reproached them with it and who emphasised how the Government's success in that respect was due to that very subsidy provision which is removed by the Bill and which, by this Amendment, we are trying to replace.

The Minister's argument was that we should consider the resources of the local authorities. He said that authorities with not very large resources would get the £24 subsidy anyway and that if an authority was to get only the £8 subsidy, that must be because it had quite splendid resources, but we are now discussing the provision by local authorities of housing for those of its citizens who usually have fewer resources. When a local authority increases the provision it makes for the housing of the elderly it usually takes an increasing burden upon itself. Although it would not be true to say that to be elderly and to be poor is the same thing, it is none the less true to say that poverty is a good deal commoner among the elderly than among other age groups.

The hon. Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew) made a very useful intervention. He suggested that local authorities should provide special help from the rates to those of their elderly citizens whom they rehoused.

Mr. Goodhew

I said that they had it in their power to adapt their rent policies so that people of the kind to which the hon. Member is referring should not be driven to National Assistance. That does not mean that it is needed for elderly people only. Local authorities should adapt their rent schemes.

Mr. Stewart

The hon. Member's re- marks must have been made in respect of elderly people, otherwise they would have been out of order.

Mr. Goodhew indicated assent.

Mr. Stewart

The hon. Member was saying that if elderly people have difficulty in paying their rents local authorities can help them by means of a rent rebate scheme or a differential rent scheme which will, in effect, put part of the burden of their rents on to the rates. That is clear enough. That means that we cannot talk all the time—as the Minister does—about the resources of local authorities, because every time a local authority adds one of these dwellings to its store of houses it adds a liability rather than an asset. The hon. Member was arguing particularly that these houses for the elderly ought to be regarded as a liability from the point of view of the ratepayers.

That is why we say that special help should come from the Exchequer. Local authorities vary in their proportion of elderly people. Mine has one of the highest proportions in the land. That is not due to any merit or demerit of the local authority. But what the Committee ought to say is that dealing with problems of the elderly is a national responsibility. It is not a proper answer to say "Shove it on the rates". Quite frequently an area containing a high proportion of elderly people is also an area where resources in general are not so high as they are in the rest of the United Kingdom.

What we are asking, therefore, is that part of the cost involved should be borne by subsidy, which means that it should be shared more fairly than rates will share it among the whole body of citizens. I should have thought that hon. Members opposite who are always arguing, on housing matters, that the burden should be placed on those shoulders that can bear it, and that help should be given where it is needed, would help us in this case and support the Amendment, thereby shifting some of the burden from the elderly people and the ratepayers in certain districts to its rightful place, where it is borne more generally by the whole body of citizens.

Finally, the Minister has not dealt adequately with the very telling point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mrs. Butler) about housing associations. It is true that we cannot apply the Minister's resources test to housing associations. It is true, in one sense, that we can say that they do not have the resources of local authorities, in that they do not normally possess large housing estates. But if the Minister brings that point into the argument he must remember that local authorities have obligations to fulfil which do not fall on housing associations.

We should, therefore, examine the whole problem of the income or potential income of local authorities and the many increasing duties which the central Government are imposing on them. We cannot justify the absurd situation in which, in the same locality, the provision of housing for the elderly is being carried on in part by the local authority and in part by a housing association and one is getting a higher rate of subsidy from the Government than the other. Still less can we justify it when we remember that in all the arguments that we have had about housing associations in our discussion of the Bill it has been generally assumed that, as a broad and general rule, a housing association caters for people who, although not by any stretch of the imagination wealthy people, are somewhat better off than the ordinary council tenant.

5.45 p.m.

We are then left with the situation in which, in the same area, the local authority may be providing housing accommodation for rather poorer and elderly people and getting a subsidy of only £8 per dwelling for doing so, while a local housing association may be providing accommodation for rather better-off elderly people and being provided with a subsidy of £24 per dwelling for doing so.

For all those reasons it seems right to press the Amendment. The Minister knows that it is absurd to suggest that we envy the housing associations. We are not suggesting that they should in any way be damaged. What we are saying is that local authorities, which have the heavier task and which are held more responsible by the public for such a problem as dealing with difficult tenants—which a housing association can get rid of—ought not to be put at

a disadvantage as compared with the housing association. I hope that my hon. Friend will press the Amendment.

Mr. Brooke

I want to correct one genuine misunderstanding. The hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) said that in the context of the Bill we were thinking of housing associations as providing for people who are perhaps a little better off than the ordinary local authority tenant. That is so in the context of Clause 7, but the Government are contemplating that housing associations may also be able to draw subsidies under the Bill when they are doing work exactly parallel to the work of the local authority and, one hopes, in concert and co-operation with that local authority. There are two different classes of work that housing associations may do, which may merge into each other.

Mr. Stewart

What I have said is a description of what is; what the Minister has said can only be a description of what may be in the future, if the Bill has the result which he hopes for. Further, I do not think that it makes sense if, with a housing association and a local authority providing dwellings for elderly people in very similar circumstances, one should receive a lower subsidy than the other. For all those reasons I hope that my hon. Friend will press the Amendment.

Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 174, Noes 240.

Division No. 221.] AYES [5.48 p.m.
Ainsley, William Crossman, R. H. S. Grey, Charles
Albu, Austen Cullen, Mrs, Alice Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery) Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)
Alien, Scholefield (Crewe) Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Grimond, J.
Awbery, Stan Davies, Harold (Leek) Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
Bacon, Miss Alice Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hamilton, William (West Fife)
Bence, Cyril Deer, George Hannan, William
Benson, Sir George de Freitas, Geoffrey Hayman, F. H.
Boardman, H. Delargy, Hugh Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (RwlyRegis)
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics. s.w.) Diamond, John Herbison, Miss Margaret
Bowles, Frank Dodds, Norman Hill, J. (Midlothian)
Boyden, James Donnelly, Desmond Holman, Percy
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Drlberg, Tom Holt, Arthur
Brockway, A. Fenner Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Houghton, Douglas
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Evans, Albert Hoy, James H.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Finch, Harold Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Fletcher, Eric Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Callaghan, James Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Hunter, A. E.
Chapman, Donald Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Irving, Sydney (Dartford)
Chetwynd, George Galpern, Sir Myer Janner, Sir Barnett
Cliffe, Michael George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Crmrthn) Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Ginsburg, David Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)
Crosland, Anthony Greenwood, Anthony Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) Stones, William
Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Parker, John Strachey, Rt. Hon. John
Kelley, Richard Parkin, B. T. Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)
Kenyon, Clifford Pavitt, Laurence Stross, Dr. Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Swain, Thomas
King, Dr. Horace Pentland, Norman Swingler, Stephen
Lee, Frederick (Newton) Popplewell, Ernest Sylvester, George
Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Prentice, R. E. Symonds, J. B.
Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Lipton, Marcus Probert, Arthur Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Logan, David Pursey, Cmdr. Harry Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Loughlin, Charles Randall, Harry Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Rankin, John
McCann, John Thornton, Ernest
Redhead, E. G. Timmons, John
MacColl, James Rhodes, H.
Mclnnes, James Tomney, Frank
McKay, John (Wallsend) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Wade, Donald
McLeavy, Frank Robertson, John (Paisley) Wainwright, Edwin
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Warbey, William
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.) Weitzman, David
Manuel, A. C. Ross, William White, Mrs. Eirene
Mapp Charles Royle, Charles (Salford, West) Whitlock, William
Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Wilkins, W. A.
Marsh, Richard Short, Edward Willey, Frederick
Mason, Roy Silverman, Julius (Aston) Williams, Li. (Abertillery)
Mendelson, J. J. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Mitchison, G. R. Skeffington, Arthur Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Monslow, Walter Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.) Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Moody, A. S. Slater, Joseph (Sedgefied) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Moyle, Arthur Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Winterbottom, R. E.
Mulley, Frederick Snow, Julian Zilliacus, K.
Neal, Harold Sorensen, R. W.
Oliver, G. H. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Oram, A. E. Steele, Thomas Mr. Lawson and
Padley, W. E. Stewart, Michael (Fulham) Mr. Charles A. Howell.
Agnew, Sir Peter Craddock, Sir Beresford Heald, Rt. Hon, Sir Lionel
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.) Critchley, Julian Henderson, John (Cathcart)
Allason, James Curran, Charles Henderson-Stewart, Sir James
Atkins, Humphrey Currie, G. B. H. Hicks Beach, Maj. W.
Barlow, Sir John Dalkeith, Earl of Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)
Barter, John Dance, James Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton de Ferranti, Basil Hirst, Geoffrey
Bell, Ronald Digby, Simon Wingfield Holland, Philip
Berkeley, Humphry Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Hopkins, Alan
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Doughty, Charles Hornby, R. P.
Bidgood, John C. du Cann. Edward Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia
Biggs-Davison, John Duncan, Sir James Howard, Hon. C. R. (St. Ives)
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Duthie, Sir William Hughes-Young, Michael
Bishop, F. P. Eden, John Hulbert, Sir Norman
Black, Sir Cyril Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Hutchison, Michael Clark
Bossom, Clive Elliott, R.w.(Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.) Iremonger, T. L.
Bourne-Arton, A. Emery, Peter Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Box, Donald Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Jackson, John
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John Farey-Jones, F. W. James, David
Boyle, Sir Edward Farr, John Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Brewis, John Fell, Anthony Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Finlay, Graeme Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Fisher, Nigel Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)
Browne, Percy (Torrington) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Joseph, Sir Keith
Bryan, Paul Forrest, George Kaberry, Sir Donald
Buck, Antony Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Kerans, Cdr. J. S.
Bullard, Denys Freeth, Denzil Kerby, Capt. Henry
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Gammans, Lady Kerr, Sir Hamilton
Burden, F. A. Gardner, Edward Kershaw, Anthony
Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.) Glover, Sir Douglas Kitson, Timothy
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Langford-Holt, J.
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Goodhew, Victor Leavey, J. A.
Cary, Sir Robert Cower, Raymond Lilley, F. J. P.
Channon, H. P. G. Grant, Rt. Hon. William Linstead, Sir Hugh
Chataway, Christopher Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. Litchfield, Capt. John
Chichester-Clark, R. Gresham Cooke, R. Longbottom, Charles
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Gurden, Harold Longden, Gilbert
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Hall, John (Wycombe) Loveys, Walter H.
Clarke, Brig Terence (Portsmth, W.) Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Cleaver, Leonard Harris, Reader (Heston) McAdden, Stephen
Cole, Norman Harrison, Brian (Maldon) MacArthur, Ian
Cooke, Robert Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) McLaren, Martin
Cooper, A. E. Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere(Macclesf'd) McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Maclean, SirFitzroy(Bute & N. Ayrs.)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Harvie Anderson, Miss MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)
Corfield. f. V. Hastings, Stephen McMaster, Stanley R.
Maddan, Martin Ramsden, James Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)
Markham, Major Sir Frank Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Temple, John M.
Marshall, Douglas Rees, Hugh Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Mawby, Ray Rees-Davies, W. R. Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Renton, David Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Turner, Colin
Mills, Stratton Ridsdale, Julian Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
More, Jasper (Ludlow) Rippon, Geoffrey Tweedsmuir, Lady
Morrison, John Robertson, Sir D. (C'thn's & S'th'ld) van Straubenzee, W. P.
Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.) Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Nabarro, Gerald Robson Brown, Sir William Vickers, Miss Joan
Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Roots, William Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Noble, Michael Ropner, Col, Sir Leonard Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Nugent, Sir Richard Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey) Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Scott-Hopkins, James Walder, David
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Sharples, Richard Walker, Peter
Orr-Ewing, C. Ian Shaw, M. Wall, Patrick
Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir Jocelyn Ward, Dame Irene
Page, John (Harrow, West) Skeet, T. H. H. Watkinson, Rt. Hon, Harold
Page, Graham (Crosby) Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick) Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Smithers, Peter Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Partridge, E. Spearman, Sir Alexander Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Peel, John Speir, Rupert Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Stanley, Hon. Richard Wise, A. R.
Pilkington, Sir Richard Stevens, Geotfrey Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Pitt, Miss Edith Stodart, J. A. Woodhouse, C. M.
Pott, Percivall Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm Woodnutt, Mark
Price, David (Eastleigh) Storey, Sir Samuel Woollam, John
Prior, J. M. L. Studholme, Sir Henry Worsley, Marcus
Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Proudfoot, Wilfred Sumner, Donald (Orpington)
Pym, Francis Tapsell, Peter TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Quennell, Miss J. M. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Mr. Whitelaw and Mr. F. Pearson.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.