HC Deb 22 July 1968 vol 769 cc205-20

11.48 p.m.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. James MacColl)

I beg to move, That the Housing Subsidies (Representative Rates of interest) Order 1968, a draft of which was laid before this House on 10th July, be approved.

Mr. Speaker

I suggest that we take at the same time the next Motion: That the Housing Subsidies (Representative Rates of Interest) (Scotland) Order 1968, a draft of which was laid before this House on 10th July, be approved. which deals with the same point for Scotland.

Mr. MacColl

These two Orders— [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker


Mr. MacColl

This Motion comes up under the Housing Subsidies Act, 1967, and the Housing (Financial Provisions, etc.) (Scotland) Act, 1967, and the Orders are essential for the working of the subsidies scheme because they fix the rate of interest at which subsidy is to be calculated. Similar Orders were laid last year, and they were the first to be made under the new Act. The present Orders follow very much the same pattern. I shall venture to deal with the one for England and Wales, and my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Scotland, who is to reply to the debate, will deal with any points which arise under the Scottish Order.

The representative rate is related to the rates of interest paid in the financial year immediately preceding that in which the houses are completed. There are two reasons for this. First, most expenditure on a house is incurred in the year before it is completed. Secondly, local authorities need to know the representative rate for any financial year as early as possible in that year.

The rates are fixed after consultations with the appropriate bodies, and there are really three groups of house building authorities with whom we are concerned. The first group consists of local authorities. Their rate of interest is fixed after there has been a rather complicated calculation of weighted average on long and short-term borrowing. The figure is reached and finally agreed with the associations.

The second group consists of the housing associations, and last year my right hon. Friend the present Minister of Public Building and Works said that he would look at the case for having a separate rate of interest for housing associations. We have discussed that and looked at all the available material there is about borrowing rates for the housing associations. We are satisfied—and I think the housing associations themselves are satisfied—that their rates are very much in line with the local authority rates.

The new towns are financed in a completely different way. They are wholly financed by Government loans which carry interest at the Government's lending rate.

The two rates of interest for England are 707 per cent. for the local authorities, and 7.13 per cent. for the new towns. These compare with 6.52 and 6 per cent., respectively last year. The House would probably like to have some idea of how these work out. The position is that last year when the rate was 6.52 the average cost of building a house, that is including the site, on the whole cost of which subsidy is paid, was £3,800. The equivalent figures for this year are 7.07 per cent. for the rate of interest, and £3,900 for the average cost. That means that on those average figures the basic subsidy this year will be £108. That is the difference between the 7.07 per cent. and the 4 per cent.

As for the cost of the new subsidies under the Act as a whole, the original estimate for last year was £11 million, but the outturn was £12 million. The estimate for this year is £27.2 million, which is an increase of £15 million over the outturn for last year. The total cost of all subsidies falling on the Exchequer —the new and the old subsidies—last year was £94 million; this year it is £110 million.

The Scottish Order is based on the same general principles as that for England and Wales and is acceptable to the representative bodies consulted by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. As last year, the Scottish rates are lower than those for England and Wales. Some differences are to be expected, since the source and amount of borrowing are not necessarily the same—for example, Scottish local authorities have been able to borrow a higher percentage of their requirements from the P.W.L.B. at rates of interest lower than the market rates than have authorities in England and Wales. My hon. the Minister of State will answer any detailed Scottish points which may arise.

11.57 p.m.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

The Government bring these draft Orders to the House in the form directed by the parent Act and we have no complaint about the form of the Orders or the necessity for bringing an Order in each year, as the Act directs. If I understand it correctly, the procedure under the Act and this Order is that local authorities apply to the Minister for subsidy approval for the houses and flats which they intend to erect during a period of time; they state the cost of the land and of the buildings; the Minister confirms that those houses and flats will rank for subsidy, and the local authorities add up the cost of all loan-approved houses built in any one year.

The local authorities then have to borrow money at current rates of interest in order to carry out that building. They then receive from the Exchequer a sum equal to the excess of interest so payable at those current rates over the amount of interest which would have been payable at the rate of 4 per cent., and the so-called current rate of interest is calculated and fixed annually by the Minister by an Order of the sort that we are now discussing. This is done after consultation with the recipient authorities or their representative bodies.

It is a very complicated calculation, which is discussed with those bodies, and it is not set out in the parent Act in any way. All that the Act says is that The rate shall be such as appears to the Minister … to be representative of the rates of interest paid on loans raised (including any sums borrowed by way of temporary loan) by recipient authorities … The Parliamentary Secretary takes the interest on the loans from various sources, averages them out and puts a weighting on the different types of loan. As I understand it, the interest rates taken for averaging out are those which apply to Public Works Loan Board mortgages; stock issues, negotiable bonds, mortgages on the open market, over-the-counter bonds and mortgages and, finally, temporary loans. I have rather stressed this calculation of interest because it is nowhere laid down in the Act. Although, by the consultations with the recipient authorities it is acceptable for this year, I would not have thought that either for those authorities or, certainly, for us on this side, this year's formula should be regarded as binding.

For example, the temporary loans are only taken as one-sixtieth of the requirements of the local authorities in house building. I cannot argue on the figures but my impression, through knowledge of some local authorities, is that a much greater amount than that of their house building capital is on temporary loan. We all know that interest rates over this year have been at rates as high as ten per cent., certainly from eight to ten per cent. If that proportion is wrong, or if it is wrong when we apply it in any future year, the rate of interest in the year will be too low and the local authorities will not get the subsidy which they should be getting under the Act.

The Order would fix the interest rates for 1968–69. It is an indictment of this Government's financial and economic policy to compare this Order with that which it replaces. We have had only one previous Order under the Housing Subsidies Act, 1967, but it set out three years' rates, because the Act was retrospective to 1965. For the year begining 1st April, 1965, the rate for all local authorities and housing associations was 6.19 per cent.; for 1966, it had risen to 6.35 per cent.; for 1967 it was 6.52 per cent.; and now, for 1968, it is up to 7.07 per cent., an increase of nearly one per cent. over those years, the rising interest rates being paid by local authorities.

For the development corporations and the New Towns Commission, the rate was 6 per cent. until this year, when it leaps to 7.13 per cent. There are only these two categories in the Order—all local authorities and housing associations, and the development corporations and the New Towns Commission. The Parliamentary Secretary said that it had been decided not to treat housing associations separately or to give them any different rate from that applying to local authorities generally. Again, I would not like to be bound by that as a precedent. It may be right this year— although I am a little doubtful—but it will not necessarily be right for every future year.

One sad aspect for the local authorities is that these interest rates—necessary, under the Act—are calculated on last year's figures, and I would have thought that the rate for actual borrowing today is much higher than the 707 per cent. in the Order. So, all through this year, local authorities will have to borrow at a much higher rate—I would have thought at eight to 8½ per cent.— and they will not be getting that full compensation. But that is according to the Act.

By increasing the rate, the Order will also, of course, increase the contribution from the taxpayer. We have heard by how much the total global subsidies are to be increased. The increase in the subsidies dealt with by the Order is from £12 million last year to £27.2 million this year. For all subsidies the increase is from £94 million last year to £110 million this year.

As the Parliamentary Secretary pointed out, the amount of subsidy depends not only on the interest rate, or the margin between 4 per cent. and the specific interest rate, but also on the cost of the house. He mentioned the increase in the cost of building a house —from £3,800 last year to £3,900 this year. But over the period of three years during which the subsidy has been in operation, the increase has been about £20 in every £100, so that a £4,000 house when the subsidy was started would now cost £4,800. If these increases in prices were not so disastrous to so many people, they would be rather funny set against the Prime Minister's famous Stevenage speech, made in September, 1964, only six months before these housing subsidies started. He said, We shall cheapen the cost of housing by our interest rate policy". If we set that against the present Order we see how the Government have failed to carry out their promises made to the electorate in 1964.

One might think that an increased subsidy of this sort would relieve the ratepayers, but during recent years the increased subsidy has meant no relief whatever to the ratepayers. Four years ago the ratepayer contributed 6s. 8d. to every £1 of subsidy. Now he has to pay £1 for £1. No relief is given to the ratepayer by the increase in subsidies.

The main point which emerges is that before they are given approval for this increase in subsidy under the Order, the Government ought to give the House a firm assurance that the subsidy will be used to the best advantage and will be properly used for housing those who are in need. Is it true that there are so few local authorities requiring the payment of economic rents, tempered by rebate schemes, that the average council house rent throughout the country is no more than £2 a week? Is it true that only one council tenant in 10 pays even as much as 2s. in the £ of this earnings in rent? May I quote from this morning'sDaily Mirror which wrote: If you live in a council house your rent on average will be £2 a week. It is kept at this artificially low level by the £140 million a year subsidy from rates and taxes, —I presume that that was for Scotland, too— despite the fact that 10 per cent. of council tenants and their wives jointly earn at least £30 a week. If that is so, it seems to show that not all local authorities are using the subsidy properly and that the Government ought to make more certain that economic rents are charged for council houses, that councils have proper rebate schemes and that they are subsidising those who are in need of subsidy, not those who are not in need of subsidy. Unless that sort of assurance can be given to the House, an Order such as this, increasing subsidies, is not justified.

Mr. John Brewis (Galloway)

The present rates of interest which a local authority would have to pay to borrow money from the Public Works Loan Board are approximately 8 per cent., slightly below or slightly above depending on how long the loan is asked for. But in the case of local authority borrowing for spending on houses after 16th May this year in Scotland, their subsidy is to be calculated at the rate of 6.78 per cent., which is roughly 6| per cent. Therefore, they are having to borrow at about 1¼ per cent. more than they are actually getting back from the Government.

It seems to me, therefore, that instead of the rate of interest for housing subsidies being brought down to a notional 4 per cent. this year the effect is going to be that local authorities in fact will be paying 5¼ per cent. To this extent the Scottish Act has not carried out the intentions the Government put before us when the Bill was passing through the Scottish Committee.

The second point I should like to make concerns the different rate for England and Wales, where it is 7.07 per cent., and Scotland, where it is 6.78 per cent. There is a difference there of well over a quarter of a per cent., and that on a house costing round about £4,000 means that in Scotland something like £16 more will have to come out of the pockets of the ratepayers.

I should like the Minister of State to say how this has come about, why the Scottish rate of interest is so much lower and whether Scotland will get any compensation for this position.

My third point is that one of the snags of this system of financing housing is that it really does not pay local authorities to borrow at low rates of interest, because if the notional rate which is in the Order is higher, the local authorities in fact get bigger subsidies. If this is the case and the local authorities get back more in subsidy, it is still costing the Government more in paying out the subsidies. I should have thought a much better system was for local authorities to endeavour to arrange interest at the lowest rates they possibly could.

I want to ask the Minister of State a question in connection with new towns. I know he will be very pleased with the number of houses which were built by local authorities in Scotland last year. The figures were well up, and indeed we are all pleased that this was so, but certainly some of the other figures are very disappointing.

I should like to ask him whether this rate of interest, which is higher for the development corporations, has in some way curbed the building of houses in Scotland in the last year. I notice that one or two of the figures for overspill are particularly disappointing. They are way down on 1963, 1964 and 1965. Have the Government in some way put a curb on the building of houses for overspill because of the high rates of interest?

Another category is the new towns mentioned in the Order. I was not aware that the new town development corporations get their money directly from the Government, but it seems that they have been paying a higher rate of interest than local authorities, and I should like this explained. Has this also curbed the number of houses which are being built in the new towns?

One notices that the number of houses under construction are going down and down. Comparing, for example, 1967 with 1965, they are down from 4,907 to 3,178. Very much the same thing is true of housing associations. Can the Minister of State give an assurance that the Government, through their economic restraints, are not cutting down on these three very desirable forms of building in Scotland?

12.15 a.m.

Mr. John H. Osborn (Sheffield, Hallam)

I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak on the subject of housing, and in debating the Order we have an opportunity to consider how present trends are affecting certain areas. I wish to comment on the effect that they are having on Sheffield.

There can be no doubt that the high rates of interest are playing havoc with many local authority housing accounts. This Order is based on the 1967 Act and the issue under discussion is non-controversial. Indeed, if the representative rate of interest is to be increased, this will be welcomed by all local authorities. I wish to raise a constituency matter and to deal with the experiences of the housing committee of the City Council of Sheffield.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)

Order. It is not in order in discussing this general Order to discuss the housing policy of a particular recipient authority.

Mr. Osborn

I do not intend to discuss Sheffield's housing policy as such. Like other hon. Members who represent Sheffield constituencies, I wish to be in a position to advise the city council of the current position under various Statutes, including this Order.

The Parliamentary Secretary said that the average subsidy per house is £108 and that the average building cost per local authority house has risen from £3,800 to £3,900. This is in contrast with the figures I have been given in respect of the position for Sheffield under the 1961 Act. There was an expensive sites subsidy under that Act; and had the level of that subsidy not altered, it has been calculated that Sheffield would have received an aggregate annual subsidy per dwelling under that Act of £63, comprised of a basic subsidy of £24, a special needs subsidy of £16 and a tall buildings expensive sites subsidy of £23. But by amending the basic subsidy, greater assistance would have been given to authorities with greater need. Under the 1967 Act this rose to £74. This is the contrast between the old method of subsidy and the new method.

This is of considerable interest to local authorities with slum clearance problems, and they consider that they are worse off, certainly under this Order than under the last Act, namely 1961 Act.

Sheffield has constructed 5,565 houses since the Act came into force on 25th November, 1965. It has a housing debt of about £92 million, of which about £20 million relates to new houses completed. A 4 per cent. interest rate on that total gives a figure of £800,000. If, under the Order, there is a rise to 7.07 per cent., the figure will be £1,414,000. I have discussed this matter with the chairman of my local housing committee and I trust that the Minister will correct these figures, perhaps by letter, if they are wrong.

It is interesting to note that Section 2(2) of the 1967 Act states: … the amount of the subsidy shall be twice the amount by which the amount of such an instalment calculated at that rate exceeds what the amount of that instalment would have been if calculated at the rate of four per cent. per annum. This is a very odd way of going about things, and to the layman it makes calculation difficult. As indicated the Parliamentary Secretary nationally the subsidy for all local authorities has risen from £12 million last year to £27.2 million. All subsidies have gone up from £94 million to £110 million. This is to be welcomed and, presumably, allowing for subsidy from rates, the figure is £140 million as was stated by my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page). It would be useful to hear how that figure is broken down between local authorities. In particular, I should be glad if the Parliamentary Secretary would break down the figure to show the effect in Sheffield. I am glad to see that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd) sitting opposite, because he has been looking into these matters, as they affect Sheffield, with me.

Sheffield, like many other cities, has a slum clearance problem. This weekend, two issues have arisen. The tenants association is very much concerned about the subsidies provided by the Minister of Housing to the local authority, and the headline in theMorning Telegraph is: Housing revenue books in chaos claim tenants. There was a meeting over the weekend. This weekend also I spoke to the Conservative leader of the housing committee, and the headlines in this evening'sStar is: Home building by city may have to stop. Sheffield may soon have to stop building houses unless it can get some satisfaction from the Minister of Housing and Local Government over interest rates and subsidies. The occasion of this Order seems appropriate for making a plea.

I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary is aware or has been told that a letter has been sent by the town clerk to Sheffield M.P.s asking for a meeting with the Minister of Housing. I forwarded details also on 18th June, and there has still been no reply. On 28th March a deputation from the Sheffield City Council asked for advice an balancing the housing account, but was unable to see the Minister because it was referred to the Prices and Incomes Board. The Sheffield housing account is now in deficit, but the increased subsidy under the Order will be of advantage to Sheffield even if this subsidy is still too insignificant.

Following the Report of the Prices and Incomes Board we have been told that if the subsidy is not increased it will be necessary either to increase the charge on the rates—and already the ratepayer is making a pound for pound contribution—or it will be necessary to increase rents. The Prices and Incomes Board has referred to a 7s. 6d. increase and no more in any one year, but can I take it that if the housing subsidy from the Minister by one way or another is not enough this is an invitation by the Government to have a 7s. 6d. increase in rent each year? If this is not so, it means inevitably that local authority housing accounts will continue to run into deficit. I therefore hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will raise Sheffield's particular circumstances with the Minister.

I am well aware that many other local authorities are faced with this same problem. Although the scope of the Order is limited because of the scope of the Act, it would be a very great pity if the subsidy was not in due course made larger. It is my hope that the Minister will later explain the position of Sheffield in particular, but the problem is not confined to the one city. The matter is urgent. Unless the increase in the subsidy is much larger, many local authorities will have to cut back on council housing.

12.25 a.m.

Mr. Gordon Campbell (Moray and Nairn)

I should like to put one or two points on the Scottish Order before the Minister of State, Scotland, replies to the debate. The Scottish grouping of bodies concerned and also the Scottish rates which have been determined as representative are different from those in the Order for England and Wales, but the principle on which the subsidy is applied is the same. I am very much aware of this as I think I am the only hon. Member in the House who was on both Committees, the Committee on the Scottish Bill and the Committee on the Bill in which the English subsidy system was provided for.

The representatives of the bodies concerned, local authorities and housing associations, have apparently agreed to the rates of interest which have been determined, but I wish to ask the Minister of State about the National Federation of Housing Societies. Last year it expressed doubts about being included in the same group as local authorities. The Minister of State acknowledged this. I should be glad if tonight he will say whether the societies still have doubts about this or are satisfied to be included in local authorities, because presumably the term "housing associations" covers housing societies.

We note that the method of calculation has been accepted by the bodies concerned, but provided that it is to be reviewed from time to time by the Government. Can the Minister tell us the Government's view about the future of the present method? I have armed myself with a copy of the memorandum which was placed in the Library and have followed the calculations on which the present rates were arrived at, but I note that the local authorities do not want to be wedded for ever to this particular form of calculation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) raised an important point when he referred to the difference between the rates of interest prescribed as representative for England and Wales and those for Scotland, pointing out that higher rates had been adopted for England and Wales. When I saw this I assumed that it was because a greater proportion of loans in Scot-and had been obtained from the Public Works Loan Board and therefore at lower rates of interest than in England and Wales, but we need an assurance from the Minister of State tonight that these rates have been arrived at because there have been lower interest rates in Scotland arising from more use of the Public Works Loan Board or for some other reason.

Last year the Government stated that local authorities in Scotland preferred not to use the provision in the Scottish Bill for different groups of local authorities to be treated separately and different rates of interest to be determined for them depending upon the rates at which those different types of local authority had borrowed in the previous year. Last year the Minister informed us that local authorities in Scotland preferred to be treated together as one group. Is this still the position? In this Order they have been treated as one group. Do they still prefer that rather than being treated differently as they could be under the Bill?

12.28 a.m.

Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

In view of the lateness of the hour, I do not propose to try to argue on what the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. J. H. Osborn) has said about the situation in Sheffield. He explained it fairly clearly. I assure the hon. Member that I was asked by some colleagues to conduct the correspondence with the Minister. I received a reply today in which he says that he is prepared to meet a deputation from the city council when he has considered and decided on the present new rent proposals of the city council. Until he has done so he considers that it is not possible for him to discuss the effect of the interest rates on these proposals.

I am concerned about the interpretation of the Order in relation to the situation in Sheffield. One would assume from reading the Order that the rate of interest for houses built in 1967–68 would have been 7.07 per cent., but when one turns to the Explanatory Note one finds that this appears not to be the case, and that through the operation of the subsidies the effective borrowing rate is 4 per cent. I find it more difficult to read that into the Order. I have hitherto been under the impression that the 4 per cent. rate effectively applied to new houses since before the Order, and that the difficulty has arisen in older houses which were not covered by the 4 per cent. arrangement.

I should be grateful if the Minister would explain precisely how these permutations work out, so that the matter can be made clear to the local authorities and those interested. As I say, anyone reading the Order would not come to the conclusion which is suggested in the Explanatory Note, and I hope the Minister will clarify this.

12.32 a.m.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Dr. J. Dickson Mabon)

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Hynd) for dealing with the point raised by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. J. H. Osborn). When the Minister has made a decision about the rent structure which is before him now at the request of the Sheffield City Coun- cil he will then be able to receive the deputation that the hon. Member for Hallam asked about. I should not like to commend to him a detailed reading of the memorandum, but that is the only way in which he will be able to work out the calculation. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. G. Campbell) for even attempting to read and understand the calculation. Suffice it to say that we will not necessarily stick to that calculation next year. It is a method of arriving at a decision agreeable to ourselves and the local authorities, and it is subject to review. One of the best parts of the Act is the flexibility of these formulae.

May I say in response to the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) that the rate for temporary borrowing fluctuates wildly, which is a point mentioned by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis). His first and third points seemed to answer themselves. This time last year, for example, it was below the rate for more permanent borrowings; at present it is above. In the former case authorities would prefer it to be ignored and in the latter case to be heavily weighted. I quite understand the position. We take the view that it is more a matter of swings and roundabouts, and this is the point the hon. Gentleman the Member for Galloway suggested in his third question to me. It is true that this year many borrowings will be above the rate for last year, but if interest rates fall next year the authorities will benefit from the higher rate for this year.

Mr. Graham Page

What an optimist.

Dr. Mabon

The hon. Gentleman must not heckle me like this. I am trying to answer the three questions which he put. I will not dwell for a moment on the assurances which he thought were necessary at the end, but I would commend to the electors of Sheffield a study of his speech.

I think we all recognise the importance of economic rents, and know the revolutionary rent structure propounded by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Crosby. It is certainly not the only part of the Conservative Party policy which we have heard. I would appreciate it if perhaps next week, if he is not speaking on some other party line, the hon. Member for Crosby will tell us if it is the intention of the party opposite to underline the system of effectively bringing down the rate of borrowing to 4 per cent.

Mr. J. H. Osborn

I thank the hon. Member for giving way. We are coming round to economic rents, and I will put not only the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) before the city council but both those from the Front Bench. I am glad to learn that there has been a letter from his Ministry to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. John Hynd) explaining the position.

Dr. Mabon

I am glad that the position in Sheffield has been somewhat resolved, and that the electors there will read the speeches which have been made tonight.

I turn, then, to the questions that I have been asked on one or two Scottish points. The hon. Member for Galloway asked about new towns. New towns in Scotland obtain funds from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, and those in England from my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government, out of issues from the National Loans Fund. I quite agree that overspill completions have been lower than we had hoped. There were 2,863 in 1965, 2,373 in 1966 and 2,557 in 1967. But approvals have been going up substantially, from 1,896 in 1965 to 3,322 in 1967. I take the point that an overspill programme needs great preparation to gain full momentum, and I regret that there was no momentum in the programme when we came to office.

The Government wish to encourage overspill, and there is a special subsidy for it in the Bill. The new concept of out-county estates is of great importance also in this respect. As for the total figures of completions, bearing in mind that many people who are not technically involved in the overspill programme go to new towns, in 1964 they were 2,608, and in 1967 they were 3,941. Approvals were 3,301 in 1964 and 4,149 in 1967. Those figures show the natural progression which I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be pleased to see.

As for housing societies, the Federation has accepted with some understandable reluctance the position as it is in the Order. It does not have complete information, and I am sure that it will want to return to the attack with Ministers, if the information that it gets shows that it has a case for such consideration. At the moment, it accepts that the rate for local authorities should apply also to its members, albeit reluctantly. However, the matter is not closed. It is open to the Federation to produce facts.

I was asked about the difference between the Scottish and English rates. The main reason for the Scottish local authority rate of 6.78 per cent. being lower than the comparable English rate of 707 per cent. lies in the difference between the borrowing patterns in the two countries. Mention has been made of the Public Works Loans Board, but it is worth recording that, in addition, Scottish authorities borrowed a larger proportion of their funds during the earlier part of the financial year when interest rates were low.

I do not think that there were any other matters raised in the debate. I am extremely glad that the House has received the Order in such a manner, and I hope that I have done justice to the questions asked of me.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Housing Subsidies (Representative Rates of Interest) Order 1968, a draft of which was laid before this House on 10th July, be approved.