HC Deb 24 July 1969 vol 787 cc2200-5

Lords Amendment No. 9: In page 27, line 19, leave out "January 1971" and insert "April 1970".

Mr. MacColl

I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

Mr. Speaker

It will be convenient to take, at the same time, the following two Lords Amendments: No. 10: In page 27, line 22, leave out "July 1971" and insert "October 1970".

No. 11: In page 27, line 26, leave out "January 1972" and insert "April 1971".

Mr. MacColl

This matter has been fully discussed on Second Reading, in Committee and on Report in this House and there is no doubt that there is a strong divergence of view. The Government—and, I hope and believe, the majority of the House—take the view that the arrangements we reached under the Bill were the fairest arrangements as between the two different points of view, the two views being that represented by some of my hon. Friends who thought that this whole procedure of bringing property in good condition into regulation was completely misconceived, and that represented by those who thought that we ought to make it easier and move more speedily.

Principally, it is a question not of policy but of administration. The main purpose of the Bill—one keeps repeating this—is to bring property into improved condition. It is a Housing Bill for that purpose. Therefore, that should be the first call on the time of rent officers, and they should not find themselves with a back-log of cases of dwellings already in the required state which floods them so much that they have no time to do the work which is intended under the Bill.

The other place has not challenged the principle of postponement; it has sought only to reduce the periods of time, inserting April, 1970, instead of January, 1971, October, 1970, instead of July, 1971, and April, 1971, instead of January, 1972.

The effect of trying to speed matters up in that way would not be wise. It would mean that, comparatively soon after the passing of the Bill, which we are anxious to see, there would be opportunity for these dwellings to be subject to application for registration. My advice is that we go back to the original view, which was no snap judgment but was the result of discussion, argument and vote at every stage. It was a considered view taken after a great deal of earnest discussion on both sides.

I invite the House to disagree with these three Amendments.

Mr. Graham Page

The principle of the part of the Bill in which Clause 50 falls is to give fair rents for fit premises. That principle was breached when the Government introduced the delaying Clause. We fought the whole proposal to delay conversion from controlled to regulated property when property had been improved, that is, when improvements had been installed before the commencement of the Bill. This delay is contrary to the principles of Part III, fair rents for well kept property. At this stage, unfortunately, we must with reluctance accept the proposal in general and try to bring some sort of justice and fairness into its application.

When I watch television plays and thriller serials, I always have difficulty in distinguishing between the "goodies" and the "baddies". I find myself cheering "baddies" and booing "goodies". The Government have fallen into the same error. Here, the "goodies" are the landlords who have put improvements into their properties, when they were receiving only controlled rents and only the low level of grants. The "baddies" are those who have waited for the Bill to become law, who receive the increased grants, and who allowed their property to go unimproved up to the present.

It is right, perhaps, that the Government should be a sort of father of the prodigal son and encourage what I call the "baddies", but they need not do it at the expense of the "goodies". They are doing it at the expense of landlords who have improved their properties, because they say that there are not enough rent officers to make the decisions and the rent officers must be reserved for those who will improve their properties in future. But, while saying that, they take full-page advertisements in national newspapers, telling people to go to their rent officers, with pictures of rent officers across the top of the advertisements, and so on.

According to Government figures, the estimate is that 200,000 houses are affected by the Clause, that is to say, 200,000 applicants for a fair rent. I do not think that they will all need very much time with the rent officers, but even if they take up the same time as the present cases before the rent officers the figures show that the rent officers can take on that number of cases.

There are at present 263 rent officers doing 44,000 cases a year. If my arithmetic is correct, that means that every rent officer does only three or four cases a week. I believe that they could deal with four or five times that number and cope with the 200,000 applicants over a shorter period of time.

The Parliamentary Secretary nearly "came clean" over this. It is not the fear of a revolt by rent officers that worries the Government, it is this extra-

ordinary fear of a revolt by the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) and his hon. Friends, who object to the whole principle of moving from "controlled" to "regulated". The Government should stand up to them and say that the rent officers can cope with this and so give justice to the landlords.

Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 194, Noes 144.

Division No. 345.] AYES [6.40 p.m.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Grey, Charles (Durham) Milne, Edward (Blyth)
Archer, Peter Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)
Armstrong, Ernest Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Molloy, William
Ashton, Joe (Bassetlaw) Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Moonman, Eric
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Barnes, Michael Harper, Joseph Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Beaney, Alan Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Morris, John (Aberavon)
Bidwell, Sydney Hattersley, Roy Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hazell, Bert Murray, Albert
Boston, Terence Heffer, Eric S. Neal, Harold
Boyden, James Henig, Stanley Newens, Stan
Bradley, Tom Hooley, Frank Norwood, Christopher
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Oakes, Gordon
Brooks, Edwin Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Ogden, Eric
Brown, Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Oram, Albert E.
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Hoy, Rt. Hn. James Orbach, Maurice
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Orme, Stanley
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Oswald, Thomas
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Hunter, Adam Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Cant, R. B. Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Carmichael, Neil Janner, Sir Barnett Palmer, Arthur
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Coleman, Donald Jeger, George (Goole) Park, Trevor
Concannon, J. D. Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Johnson,Carol (Lewisham, S.) Pavitt, Laurence
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Jones, Dan (Burnley) Pentland, Norman
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stratford) Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek) Kelley, Richard Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Kerr, Russell (Feltham)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lawson, George Price, William (Rugby)
Dell, Edmund Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Randall, Harry
Dewar, Donald Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Rees, Merlyn
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Lee, John (Reading) Richard, Ivor
Dobson, Ray Lestor, Miss Joan Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Doig, Peter Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Robinson, Rt.Hn.Kenneth (St.P'c'as)
Eadie, Alex Lomas, Kenneth Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Luard, Evan Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Rose, Paul
English, Michael McBride, Neil Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Ensor, David McCann, John Ryan John
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) MacColl, James Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Macdonald, A. H. Short,Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Mackenzie Gregor (Rutherglen) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Faulds, Andrew Mackintosh, John P. Silverman, Julius
Fernyhough, E. Maclennan, Robert Skeffington, Arthur
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) McNamara, J. Kevin Slater, Joseph
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Ford, Ben Manuel, Archie Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Forrester, John Marks, Kenneth Thomas, Rt. Hn. George
Fowler, Gerry Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Tinn, James
Fraser, John (Norwood) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Tomney, Frank
Gardner, Tony Mayhew, Christopher Tuck, Raphael
Garrett, W. E. Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Varley, Eric G.
Ginsburg, David Mendelson, John wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Gregory, Arnold Millan, Bruce Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Weitzman, David Willey, At. Hn. Frederick Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Wellbeloved, James Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.) Winnick, David
Wells, William (Walsall, N.) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch) Wyatt, Woodrow
Whitaker, Ben Williams, Cilfford (Aberttillery)
White, Mrs. Eirene Willis, Rt. Hn. George TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Watkins, David (Consett) Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton) Dr. M. S. Miller and Mr. Alan Fitch.
Whitlock, William
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Grieve, Percy Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Page, Graham (Crosby)
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Gurden, Harold Peel, John
Baker, Kenneth (Acton) Hall, John (Wycombe) Percival, Ian
Balniel, Lord Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Pink, R. Bonner
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Pounder, Rafton
Bell, Ronald Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Bessell, Peter Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Prior, J. M. L.
Blaker, Peter Harvie Anderson, Miss Pym, Francis
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Hawkins, Paul Quennell, Miss J. M.
Body, Richard Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Brinton, Sir Tatton Heseltine, Michael Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Higgins, Terence L. Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Hill, J. E. B. Royle, Anthony
Bullus, Sir Eric Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Russell, Sir Ronald
Burden, F. A. Hordern, Peter Scott, Nicholas
Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Hunt, John Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Silvester, Frederick
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Chataway, Christopher Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Smith, John (London & W' minster)
Chichester-Clark, R. Kaberry, Sir Donald Speed, Keith
Clark, Henry Kershaw, Anthony Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Clegg, Walter Kimball, Marcus Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Cooke, Robert King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Corfield, F. V. Kirk, Peter Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Costain, A. P. Kitson, Timothy van Straubenzee, W. R.
Crouch, David Knight, Mrs. Jill Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Dance, James Lane, David Vickers, Dame Joan
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Lawler, Wallace Waddington, David
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Drayson, G. B. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
du Cann Rt. Hn. Edward Longden, Gilbert Wall, Patrick
Lubbock, Eric Walters, Dennis
Eden, Sir John Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Weatherill, Bernard
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain Wells, John (Maidstone)
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) McMaster, Stanley Whitelaw, Rt. Hn, William
Eyre, Reginald Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Wiggin, A. W
Farr, John McNair-Wilson, Michael Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Fisher, Nigel Maginnis, John E. Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Fortescue, Tim Marten, Neil Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Foster, Sir John Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Worsley, Marcus
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Miscampbell, Norman Wright, Esmond
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Wylie, N. R.
Glover, Sir Douglas Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Younger, Hn. George
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Murton, Oscar
Goodhart, Philip Nabarro, Sir Gerald TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gower, Raymond Neave, Airey Mr. Jasper More and
Grant, Anthony Nott, John Mr. Hector Monro.
Gresham Cooke, R. Onslow, Cranley

Subsequent Lords Amendment disagreed to.

Lords Amendment No. 12: In page 27, line 28, after "elsewhere" insert "of a value"

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

I beg to move, That the House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

This Amendment remedies a printing omission.

Question put and agreed to.

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