HC Deb 10 November 1971 vol 825 cc1014-5
23. Mr. Sillars

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he has taken to assess the effect of Government policy in housing finance on Scottish wage rates.

Mr. Younger

Our policy on housing finance should not affect Scottish wage rates.

Mr. Sillars

Is the Minister aware that he is talking about a different group of trade unionists from those I know? Does not he accept that his Housing Finance Bill will substantially increase the rents of the miners and other workers? Does not he agree that it would be perfectly legitimate for all the workers in Scotland to insist in wage negotiations that they have an additional element to cover the increased cost of rents to protect their standard of living?

Mr. Younger

The hon. Gentleman needs to give a little more study to the proposals. He seems to ignore completely the fact that any increases will be limited by the Government in the Bill to an average of 50p in any week, which is not substantially different from the previous Government's approved maximum of 37½p in the week. He also seems to ignore the compulsory rent rebate scheme, which will protect many of the lower-paid workers from any effects of the proposals, and the substantial benefits to ratepayers from the progressive relief of their burdens which the policy will produce.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

When the hon. Gentleman talks about the Labour Government having doubled rents, does he realise that that was over a period of six years, from a lower base line, while the new proposals more than double rents over three years? The hon. Gentleman is living in Cloud-cuckoo-land if he imagines that there will be no effect on wage rates.

Mr. Younger

I am glad to hear the hon. Gentleman admit that his Government doubled rents. We would never have approved of doubling rents without introducing compulsory rent rebate schemes and rent allowances for private tenants.