HC Deb 24 April 1972 vol 835 cc1073-109


  1. (1) In the case of unfurnished tenancies, service charges shall be determined separately and shall be registered with the rent officer on application by the landlord;
  2. (2) the rent officer shall, either if he so wishes or if the tenant so requests, ask for professionally audited accounts in respect of the services to be provided and shall satisfy himself that such services are provided;
  3. (3) a right of appeal shall lie to the Rent Assesment Panel on the cost of services at the request of either the tenant or landlord and for this hearing audited accounts shall be produced;
  4. (4) no joint application for registration of service charges shall be permitted and it shall be illegal to charge more for services than the registered figure;
  5. (5) section 47 of the Rent Act 1968 shall be amended accordingly.—[Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

4.7 p.m.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg (Hampstead)

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

The Clause is a way of plugging one of the gaps left by the Labour Government in their Rent Acts of 1965 and 1968, which introduced the principle of fair rents. It falls into three main parts. First, we wish to establish the opportunity for tenants to see separate figures for services and for them to be audited. Secondly, the Clause seeks to ensure that appeal against service charges can be made to the rent assessment panel. Thirdly, it proposes that there shall be no joint registration in respect of service charges.

I contend that there is a great need for the registration of service charges. Tenants are coining under much pressure with regard to service charges, particularly in cases in which three-year or five-year leases, which were granted under the Act introduced by the Labour Government, are coming to an end. Many tenants wish to be able to contest the details of service charges. In Greater London, in particular, the control of rented unfurnished accommodation has passed from the hands of the large insurance companies, like the Prudential and the Pearl, and the large reputable property companies, like London County Freehold and Leasehold Properties, into the hands of other companies which are operating within the terms of the law passed when the Labour Party was in office. I wish to establish that the tenant has the opportunity of contesting not merely the fair rents but the service charges in detail.

Since I spoke on Second Reading I have had well over 100 letters, which I have passed on to my colleagues, from people, mainly in Greater London, who are very worried about what is happening about service charges. What the Clause seeks to do, therefore, is to make the rent officer put down in his register that proportion of fair rent which he attributes to service charges.

I have in mind a case in my own constituency, a tenant in a mansion block of flats who lived on the fourth floor; there was supposed to be a lift but she had no lift for a year. When she approached me I told her she should go to the rent officer and that this would be a fact that the rent officer might take into account in ordering a reduction of the rent. I may be told that the tenant has a remedy at law, but we do not always want to employ solicitors. By and large, the rent officer system established by the Labour Party is working fairly well, particularly if one has the court of appeal in the rent assessment panel beyond that.

I have in mind a second case of a rent fixed by the rent officer on the understanding that certain repairs would be carried out and certain services put in. They have not been, and yet the tenant is not in a position to ascertain what proportion of his fair rent is attributable to those services. I refer to services such as central heating, constant hot water, lifts, porterage, and stair carpets. I may be told by my hon. Friend on the Front Bench that certain powers already exist either in this Bill or in the Acts to enable the tenant to find this out. All I can say about that is that if these provisions exist they are unknown to the majority of tenants, certainly to the citizens' advice bureaux with which I have spoken.

In the Clause we ask for the service accounts to be audited if the tenant requests or if the rent officer wants; or, and this is more important, if the tenant or landlord contests the adjudication of the rent officer and takes the costs of the service charges to the rent assessment panel, we ask that as a matter of automatic form those service charges shall be in the form of audited accounts. I feel that if this were done it would be possible for the rent officer or the rent assessment panel to strike out some items which are likely to creep in. One is already hearing of certain landlords creating management companies and of substantial amounts of expenses being pushed into the management companies and those expenses then being passed on as a proportion of the service charges to the tenants.

I repeat, because it is necessary—because so much has been misrepresented about the Bill—that everything I am saying and all the evils about which I am talking stem from the last two Acts passed by the Labour Party when it was in power.

There are cases of long leases where services charges appear. I have in mind an instance where the annual charge in the lease was £106, and the tenant bought his head lease, and then within a month the figure went up to £250. There is no redress of any kind. Of course, the tenant will be told: caveat emptor: he should negotiate to make sure the right clause exists in the lease. Because of the abject failure of the last Government there is a shortage of rented accommodation in the major cities of this country, and, as a result of that, the position is still that the tenant cannot insist on the clauses he would like in his lease but must take the clauses which the landlord otters, whether the tenant is willing or not, or he will not be able to buy the property. This is a fact which nothing can gainsay, and, as I have said, it stems from the last Government's housing policies in the 1965 and 1968 Acts.

4.15 p.m.

The third prong of the Clause is that there should be no joint registration of the service charges. I wish it had been possible for new Clause 1 to have been selected; it sought to forbid joint application for the registration of fair rents, and to make consequential amendment of the Rent Act, 1968, but I appreciate that one must be very grateful for having had at least one new Clause selected.

I am very worried at the sort of information which is reaching some of us in London about unscrupulous agents acting with or without the knowledge of their landlords, agents who go along to tenants whose leases are coming to an end, and say "If you will agree with us that the fair rent should be"—say, £600—"we will register this jointly with the rent officer. If you do not, we shall have to ask for £700, and our information from comparable flats is that the rent officer is fixing about £650. So you will be worse off if you do not accept joint registration."

I gather that rent officers are confirming about 70 per cent. of joint registrations and overturning about 30 per cent. I am talking purely of Greater London. I have no figures for outside Greater London.

This sort of joint registration procedure is a worry, and it is unfair to the elderly tenant and the tenant who has no legal advice available to him or her. These problems are of particular interest and importance in central London, particularly places like Hampstead where I have heard of about 500 flats which have gone from what I call good landlords to various other forms of landlord, as a direct result of the housing legislation of the last Government.

I am extremely worried about the problems of these tenants and wish to see whether under the Bill they can be safeguarded, not merely by the rent allowances to which many of them will be entitled, but by registration of service charges so that they can see exactly what services are covered and can know instantly whether or not they are getting the services for which they have paid, and can go automatically to the rent officer and identify the elements making up that proportion of their charges.

Briefly, therefore, I appeal to the Minister and to the House to accept the Clause, even if in some respects it is a duplication of what may appear in the Bill or in previous legislation, even if it is considered by whoever will speak for the Government as not really necessary, even if he should say "It is all right; its provisions are there, and tenants can go to solicitors." In my submission, that is not what is wanted. What we have to try to do is to see that people know exactly what their rights are, and if they can be spelt out by separate registration of service charges then, psychologically, my right hon. and hon. Friends will be doing the right sort of thing in convincing private tenants that the Bill really is in their interests. Therefore, I urge acceptance of the Clause as an outward sign that the Government are now trying to repair the errors of the last Government.

Mr. Frank Allaun (Salford, East)

It would be a great mistake to believe that the Bill hits only council tenants. It severely hits controlled tenants of private landlords. Indeed, it will also hit those who want to buy their own houses, because, as a result of the Bill, so many will otherwise find themselves faced with higher rents, and, with nothing to show for paying them at the end of the period, that they will be forced into the market to try to buy houses, even if they cannot really afford to do so. The effect of this on house purchase prices is obvious; they will increase even faster than they did last year.

The Clause, which we support, concerns private landlords and particularly tenants living in service flats. These are mostly the more well-to-do tenants or tenants living in better quality property. If the rents of poorer properties are raised then rents for better quality property will in sympathy also be increased. These people will usually be unable to secure any rent rebate, and, if they are forced to buy, they will face much stiffer purchase prices.

All sorts of tricks, some outside the law and some just within it, are being practised on these tenants. The trick of service charges is a dominant one and arises from an obvious loophole in the Act. Property companies are not content with the increase given under the 1968 Act, which raised rents on average to two and a half times the previous controlled level, but are raising service charges as well. The landlords are not poor widows and men in a small way of business but vast and profitable finance companies. For instance The Times has exposed the First National Finance Corporation, one of whose tricks was a standard lease giving tenants no control over service charges. Other great property companies, such as Freshwater, have made £9 million out of tenants in a few years. The tenants are being squeezed by a variety of means until the pips squeak.

For instance, property companies buy up blocks of flats and then press the tenants to get out so that the flats can be converted into furnished dwellings or hotels or sold off. Another example is for a property company to make an agreement with one tenant for a rent of £1,000 a year when the other tenants are paying £500 a year and then to go to the rent officer and use the £1,000 rent as an argument for raising the rent of the other flats. Some big property companies do not observe the rents which have been registered, and often the new tenants do not know that they are being overcharged.

As a result of this we are seeing the revolt of the middle-class tenants in such places as Hampstead, Westminster, St. John's Wood, Chelsea and Paddington. They are forming lively tenants' associaations, and we welcome this. There have been angry meetings in Committee Rooms in this House, even angrier sometimes than those held by council tenants. The service charges are arousing great indignation. One tenants' association secretary says this: We are getting charged for cleaners whom we never see and whom we doubt exist. Another secretary says: Service charges in some places are more than the rents. We don't know how much we are being charged for services. Tenants are in a vulnerable position and cannot complain. Yet another tenants' association representative says: In service charges, under the heading of management charges, there is nothing to stop property companies including even the fees they are paying lawyers and surveyors to present their cases against us before the rent assessment committees. Service charges are sometimes doubled and even trebled. There is a block of flats at 20 Abbey Road, St. John's Wood, which is handled by Leslie Marsh and Co. There used to be 153 flats in the block; there are now only 24. What has happened to the remainder? They have been converted into furnished flats at rents up to 70 guineas a week. The service charge for tenants in these unfurnished flats has been more than doubled in four years. I have the accounts with me—not audited, of course—from which it can be seen that the service charges in four years have gone up from £12,500 to £29,500 a year. A typical example is that for a three-room flat in this block the service charge has been increased from £110 to £232 a year. There are no audited accounts. How can the rent officer or the rent assessment committee check the service charges?

These property companies employ highly-paid lawyers and surveyors. The new Clause contains some safeguard, but inside the Labour movement there is a growing feeling that the only effective safeguard against people who have such highly skilled legal advice as to be able to get round most of the rules is to permit and encourage local authorities to take over the properties and run them themselves.

In its statement on the part of the Bill dealing with private tenants the Trades Union Congress says: A transfer of private rented dwellings into the local authority sector would resolve the present difficulty of how to grant subsidies to tenants in private rented accommodation, without merely providing landlords with additional profits. The Clause contains the very least protection which should be given to tenants who are in this position. I hope that Conservative hon. Members opposite, many of whom, significantly, represent marginal seats—such as the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg)—will have the courage of their convictions and support the Clause. We shall support it in the Lobby. It will not compensate for all the misery which is being inflicted on tenants, but it will help to safeguard the victims from some of the dirtier tricks to which they are being subjected.

4.30 p.m.

Mr. Christopher Tugendhat (Cities of London and Westminster)

After the excellent introduction to the Clause given by my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg), there is little that can be said to expand on the problems which he put forward. It is significant that all the Conservative Members of Parliament representing central London constituencies—not all of which, I am happy to say, are marginal—have put their names to the Clause, for this is a problem which is causing great hardship in central London

My hon. Friend the Member for Hamp stead spoke about London as a whole As he has covered that aspect, I will con fine my remarks for the time being to the City of Westminster, which is the part of London I know best. I could give a great many examples, but I will give one typical example, by no means the most extreme, of a well-known block of flats in London where the service charge has risen by 48 per cent. in two years. Certainly we have had rising prices in the last two years, but they have not risen at the rate of 24 per cent per annum.

The block of flats which I have in mind is occupied by people who can seek and pay for extremely good and expensive legal advice, but one still finds unaccounted for items as large as £480. Tenants are unable to secure from the landlords any reasonable explanation for this expenditure. This is not an isolated case, but is a deep-rooted problem which affects the whole of the City of Westminster and much of Greater London This practice is of relatively recent origin, and this is why it must be pressed upon the Minister at this point. We look to him to explain the situation.

Within the last three or five years many of the very large blocks of flats in the middle of London have passed from the hands of well established landlords into the hands of a small group of very large and, I fear, not entirely responsible landlords. These sales have occurred only in the last three to five years. There are a great many tenants whose leases are coming up for renewal for the first time since the change of ownership took place. Consequently, the pressure is being felt particularly acutely at the moment. The problem will remain as acute as it for at least another three to five years. This is why the problem is so urgent.

Another reason for urgency is that as a result of earlier legislation there has been a change in the relationship between the tenants of these large blocks of flats and their landlords. When the great majority of tenants were on short leases there was a certain identity of interest between landlord and tenant. Both parties had very much the same kind of interest in maintaining the standard of services and in ensuring that services which were paid for were rendered. But at present a high proportion of the flats in these blocks are on 75 or 99-year leases and, therefore, the identity of interest between landlord and tenants has been broken. When the landlord has sold a great many flats in a block on a long lease, he is not necessarily concerned with maintaining the level and quality of services, but is much more concerned with gouging as much money as he can out of the unfortunate tenants. Not only is he frequently concerned with getting as much money as he can out of the tenants, but often he is unwilling to accept representations from the tenants.

The Times rendered a useful service in drawing attention to the situation in a block of flats in my constituency, Ashley Gardens, and pointing to the difficulties which tenants had been experiencing with the First National Finance Corporation. It is encouraging that as a result of the publicity in that story those tenants might well achieve a greater success in their representations in future than they did in the past. But not all tenants have the good fortune to have their problems taken up by The Times, and in any case not all tenants will be able to make use of the opportunities that arise in the efficient manner as did the tenants in Ashley Gardens.

The second problem relates to the fact that there is not an identity of interest between tenant and landlord. Furthermore, landlords frequently refuse to accept the legitimate aspirations of the tenants in regard to consultation, information and things of that nature.

The third point which must be made is that the activities of the agents are not always above suspicion. A year ago I had occasion in this House to raise the problems of some of my constituents in Warwick Square and neighbouring areas. They were not rich people, but were relatively poor people who were suffering at the hands of certain agents. I find that the same problem exists higher up the economic scale. Agents sometimes apparently increase their own remuneration without explanation, and tenants are unable to secure information about why this has been done. Landlords seem to take no great interest in the matter, and tenants find themselves having to pay. Furthermore, agents sometimes omit to inform purchasers that the service charge takes no account of external renovations. Tenants who have been in occupation of a flat for four or five years find themselves faced with a demand to pay a service charge four or five times the normal annual level.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead has said, it is all very well to say caveat emptor, but this is a problem ordinary people without legal and suspicious minds are not necessarily going to realise. It will be of great assistance if the Minister can say how he proposes to deal with this matter in the context of the present legislation and arrangements.

The familiar problem of gazumping also applies to service charges. Even after signing contracts, tenants may find themselves having to meet a substantial increase in service charge because they did not read the fine print—or, even if they did, they may have been so desperately anxious to get accommodation that they have had to accept the position.

In the City of Westminster we have experienced every sort of landlord. We have some landlords, such as the Grosvenor Estates, which have run their properties for generations, and indeed for centuries, with a high degree of responsibility, taking account of the interests of all sections of the community. But in recent years we have seen these new large financial groups, which are apparently devoid of social responsibility, moving into the area and causing great hardship and concern and worry to many people in the basic matter of housing. It is no part of our case to mount an attack on property companies or on landlords in general. We know that some property companies and some landlords—certainly this applies to Westminster—are highly responsible, decent people to whom the community is grateful and of whom it is not resentful. It is a small group of large companies which is engaging our attention.

We feel that the answer to this problem is by no means municipalisation of housing. The people who write letters to me complaining about service charges are concerned not with the municipalisation of houses but with securing their own rights. Therefore, rather than pursue the barren course of municipalisation, the Government would be well advised to look for ways of ensuring that tenants and residents are able to buy the blocks of flats themselves. If a situation arises in which one large financial group acquires a block of flats and then a month or even a year later re-sells at a great profits to another large financial group, what ought to happen is that before the sale is allowed to go through the tenants and residents should be given the opportunity to buy the blocks of flats, provided that they are able to raise the money.

This is the area at which we should be looking. We should consider allowing tenants to safeguard their own interests rather than move towards any form of municipalisation. Therefore, we need to know how the Government propose to ensure that tenants and residents know their rights with regard to service charges so that they appreciate that their rights are properly protected.

Sir Brandon Rhys Williams (Kensington, South)

I should like to take the opportunity of congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg) on introducing this important Clause, and I was pleased to hear the welcome given to it by the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) when speaking from the Opposition Front Bench.

This is particularly a central London problem, and from my own experience in South Kensington I fully endorse what my hon. Friend said. My hon. Friend the Member for the Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Tugendhat) has evidently had very much the same experience in his area of matters which are, unfortunately, all too common in the Borough of Kensington. It is necessary for the Government to act, and to act now.

Some existing service charges agreements are extremely one-sided and very adverse to tenants. What is more, a large number of new agreements are being entered into which are both adverse to the tenant and decidedly unacceptable as legal agreements. Many tenants are in such haste to avail themselves of the opportunity of purchasing their flats that they are all too ready to overlook the warnings of their solicitors, and sometimes they are chivvied into immediate acceptance of offers of unfurnished flats on the ground that the price will go up in a few days if they do not give their assent.

Sometimes repairs are to be carried out by an associated company of the landlord. Sometimes disputes are to be settled by a nominee of the landlord. Sometimes service charges can be made to cover substantial improvements. At first sight this may not seem an imposition on the tenants. But what often happens is that the tenants are obliged to pay for the block of flats in which they live to be transformed into a much more expensive type of accommodation. Then, when their leases fallin, they find themselves out of their depth, and they give vacant possession to the landlord, who therefore gets the improvements for nothing. In other cases the charges may be reasonable but the services are not being carried out. In other cases they are being carried out deliberately in such a way as to provoke tenants into giving landlords vacant possession. I can think of more than one case where almost certainly that is going on.

I urge my right hon. and hon. Friends to recognise that there is a serious need for legislation now about service charges. Whether the phraseology that my hon. Friend has chosen is ideal, I am not able to judge. If it is not, possibly the Department will be able to change it so as to achieve what both sides of the House would like to see.

My only regret is that the Clause does not cover flats when they are converted to furnished service rooms—what are called "creeping hotels" in my constituency. This is probably an inevitable omission since it is difficult to bite off such a large subject in one Clause. However, I draw attention to this problem. I hope that it is very much in the minds of my right hon. and hon. Friends.

Mr. Clinton Davis (Hackney, Central)

The hon. Member for the Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Tugendhat) said that not all the signatories to this Amendment represented marginal constituencies. I urge him to consider that they may find themselves in that position if this Bill is unamended.

The hon. Gentleman said that it was not part of his case to attack private landlordism in general. However, he made a significant indictment of the practices of many financial companies which are playing such a large part in private landlordism at present. I hope he will spare some compassion for council tenants when we come to debate other matters contained in the Bill.

The hon. Gentleman has underlined that, as the law stands at present, by giving a blank cheque to private land lords when it comes to determining ser vice charges——

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

Did the hon. Gentleman say "as the law stands at present", meaning the present law passed by his own Government?

Mr. Davis

Yes. I am not defending the situation. It is why we on this side support the Clause. I hope that the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg) will press it to a Division, because that is the only way to take effective action. A gigantic ramp is being practised by these companies, and something has to be done to stop it. I am only a little troubled lest the Clause may not be sufficiently forceful to do it.

Too much emphasis is placed upon the professional auditing of landlord's accounts. One knows that in inter-company transactions audited accounts may prevail, but these may not be a significant matter in determining the reasonableness of charges, and it is to that that a rent officer must address his mind. However, if the Government favour the Clause in principle, I have no doubt that this matter can be put right at a later stage.

In my view, the essence of the matter is how we can ensure that the charges imposed are reasonable, and the significance of profesionally audited accounts is not of major concern. I hope, therefore, that the Government will accept the Clause and that the law will be changed. Certainly something has to be done to stop these professional sharks who have made such a tremendous plucking from these unfortunate people.

4.45 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Reginald Eyre)

I am very glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg) was able to introduce his Clause. I know his serious concern and his great experience of problems of this kind which exist in his constituency. He has devoted a great deal of time to endeavouring to deal with them. I know, too, that his concern is shared strongly by other hon. Friends of mine who represent London constituencies, including my hon. Friends the Members for the Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Tugendhat) and Kensington, South (Sir B. Rhys Williams).

The debate gives me an opportunity to clear up a number of misunderstandings. I want to stress that for protected tenancies—that is, tenancies in the private sector with which this Bill is concerned—the provisions of the Rent Act meet the situation already. A fair rent registered by a rent officer includes service charges, and the rent officer fixes a rent which is fair for all that is provided under the tenancy. It is very important for thousands of small people in London and other parts of the country to realise this.

Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North)

Does not the hon. Gentleman appreciate that in fixing the fair rent the rent officer does not differentiate the amount in respect of services, and that that is the object of the Amendment?

Mr. Eyre

That is not entirely accurate. If the hon. and learned Gentleman will allow me, I shall come more specifically to that point in a few moments. It is of great importance that tenants in London and elsewhere should realise that the fair rent registered by the rent officer includes service charges, and that the rent officer must take account of all that is provided for under the tenancy.

The rent officer has to consider what rent, including the services and everything else, the tenancy would command in a reasonably balanced market. In practice, in order to gauge what amount should reasonably be added to the basic accommodation rent most rent officers like to see the landlord's accounts for the services.

Mr. Fank Allaun

How can the rent officer know whether those accounts are honest if they have not been audited? Clearly, some property companies have vivid imaginations in this direction.

Mr. Eyre

I am very much aware of that practical point. If the hon. Gentleman will bear with me, I shall consider it in some detail and come to a conclusion.

The position of the rent officer is that he wants to see the landlord's accounts for the services unless the landlord himself produces them. The rent officer is bound to consider them if they are produced by the landlord. However, I should stress that the rent officer is not bound to accept these costs as true and accurate. Nor does he have to accept that what the landlord is spending on services is necessarily being spent in a reasonable way. Rent officers can, and do, drastically prune a landlord's service cost schedules where they consider that the services provided by the landlord would not have commanded rentals of those amounts were there a well balanced market in privately rented dwellings. So, in fixing a fair rent the rent officer normally holds a consultation at which the tenant can bring out any feature of the service charges that he does not like.

Subsection (1) of the Clause requires the service charges to be separately determined and registered. The rent officer, when registering a fair rent, is required by Clause 25(5) to register the amount of that rent which is fairly attributable to the provision of those services. I think that is the point which concerned the hon. and learned Member for Stoke Newington and Hackney, North (Mr. Weitzman). It is that part of the rent which is attributable to the provision of services which do not count for rent allowances. Services of this kind include heating and hot water. Sometimes services will be provided of a type which it is not intended should qualify for rent allowances—for example, the. cost of lift services in high-rise blocks. I mention this because often difficulties are quoted about assessing the cost of the lift service.

Mr. Reginald Freeson (Willesden, East)

Did the hon. Gentleman refer to Section 25 of the 1968 Act?

Mr. Eyre

Clause 25(5) of the Bill. So those services, such as the lift, which are essential for the enjoyment of the tenancy will be included in the assessment of rent for which a rent allowance would be paid. But heating and lighting, and so on, will be shown separately in the register.

There is a leading High Court decision, referred to as the Lannon case—Metropolitan Properties Co. Ltd. v. Lannon, decided in 1968—to which the attention of all the rent officers has been drawn, encouraging rent officers to note in the register the amount attributed to the services provided. The Department has recently reminded rent officers of this decision, and it is confident that, where these other services are provided, the amount of the fair rent fairly attributable to them will continue to be indicated in the register.

Mr. Clinton Davis

If the story is as favourable as the Minister is seeking to depict, how does he explain the ramps to which his hon. Friends have alluded during the debate?

Mr. Eyre

I am trying to make clear the position as it is and as it will operate under the Bill. If a citizen is not securing his rights, I am extremely sorry. I am trying to spell out in detail those ways in which, under the strength of this Bill, he will be able to safeguard his position and deal with his particular problem.

I was referring to the Lannon case and stressing that the ruling in that case had been drawn to the attention of the officers. We are confident that, where these other services are provided, the amount of the fair rent fairly attributable to them will continue to be indicated in the register. Any tenant who is worried about his service charges but has not yet got a rent registered can apply to the rent officer at any time for registration of a fair rent.

Mr. Weitzman

Is the Minister saying that there is an obligation on a rent officer to make a note of the amount attributable to services? It is merely a recommendation that he should do so. There is no obligation.

Mr. Eyre

I am saying that when the rent officer makes a decision on the total rent payable for the premises, in making that decision and entry upon the register he should be aware of the High Court's decision and of the recommendation of the Department that that should be carried into effect. It will be seen that the rent officer has a duty to distinguish the entry in the register between that part of the tenancy where there is a rebatable rent and the other part of the tenancy where the provision of services is covered. That is the position that the tenant is entitled to rely upon, and that is the system that we are to operate.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

If the Department is so confident that this is being done, may I ask whether the Minister can tell us, having carried out the checks, how many rent officers are doing this in detail in their registers?

Mr. Eyre

I am explaining the system which applies. I am sorry to hear that cases have come to my hon. Friend's notice where it may be possible that there is a degree of misunderstanding and the proper drill has not been carried out. I know that he will co-operate with the Department in seeing that every possible step is taken to ensure that the proper procedure is carried out, because it is of great importance that the tenants should have the full protection available to them under the terms of the Bill.

Mr. A. W. Stallard (St. Pancras, North)

I am trying to follow the argument being presented by the Minister. I did not serve on the Committee, but the then Under-Secretary of State, according to the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Committee proceedings, made a similar point: The kind of non-optional service charges that might be allowed as rent are passenger and service lifts and their maintenance".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee E, 27th January, 1972; c. 1049.] He goes on to list some examples that seem to be in contradiction to what the Minister has just said, or seem to make for more misunderstanding, unless, he can clear it up.

Mr. Eyre

Like the hon. Gentleman, my only knowledge of the proceedings in Committee has been gained by reading great volumes of the OFFICIAL REPORT. Therefore, I think there is a possibility of misunderstanding. However, I want to make clear that what I have explained is the position. It may be that sometimes in the course of those long debates in Committee difficulties of communication arose in the late hours. I stress that what I have said is an accurate account of the proper position. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be reassured.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead referred to work which was specified but not carried out. The in- creased rent would not be properly chargeable unless the work specified was carried out.

Subsection (2) of the new Clause provides for professionally audited accounts to be provided at the instance of the rent officer or the tenant. The rent officer is entitled to make any inquiries he thinks fit to determine the fair rent. It is true that if the landlord refuses to provide audited accounts, he cannot be forced to do so; but the rent officer will then draw his own conclusion. The landlord will be damaging his case to the rent officer by non-production. If the tenant is dissatisfied with the rent officer's decision he can appeal to the assessments committee, which has power to require the parties to supply such further information as the committee may reasonably require.

Coming back to the rent officer stage, in some cases the rent officer may decide that the cost is not relevant; for example, where the heating is provided by an inefficient and expensive system whose cost will obviously be greater than the amount within the fair rent which is fairly attributable to the services. But, generally, proper accounts of the costs are made available by the landlord in rent officer proceedings, since it is in the landlord's interest to establish his case for those costs.

As regards the service charges of tenancies within the Bill—that is, within the £400 rateable value in London—the rights of the tenants are safeguarded, and I hope that all tenants will take full advantage of their rights and their protection under the Bill. If they do, it will be possible to deal with their difficulties.

5.0 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Latham (Paddington, North)

The hon. Gentleman has not appreciated the considerable significance of the earlier intervention of my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. Stallard). I urge the Minister to refer to column 1049 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Committee proceedings and remind himself that Clause 25(5), to which he has referred, opens with the words In order to assist the authority to give effect to this section". The assistance to the authority is concerned with the eligibility or otherwise of that element of the rent which is paid in respect of services for the purposes of rent rebate.

I urge the Minister to grasp firmly the point that one is here talking about two categories of service charges, those charges which could not reasonably be excluded from the rent—the Minister's predecessor gave as an example a lift in a multi-storey building—and those which the former Minister described as optional extras, which would be a different kind of service charge in respect of which rent allowance would not be expected to apply.

The point that I am trying to emphasise is that it is clearly the intention of the new Clause not simply to identify, as in Clause 25(5), that element in respect of which a rebate would not be payable, but to identify the whole of the service charge element within the total paid by the tenant. That is an important distinction, and it makes nonsense of the suggestion that what the new Clause requires is provided in the subsection to which reference has been made. That subsection is there for different purposes, and has a limited effect.

Mr. Eyre

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. I know that this is an important subject in London, and I want to try to reassure him. I cannot account for any detailed differences in the debate in Committee, but I want to try to reassure him about the situation.

The rent officer is concerned with the totality of the rent liability, the total terms of the tenancy, the services to be provided and the rent to be paid in the whole. It is the rent officer's duty to approve that. Secondly, within that the rent officer has to make an allocation as to one part of the tenancy where there are appended services, such as lifts, which should provide essential services to the tenancy and be available for rent rebate purposes.

The rent officer must then go on and make a distinction with regard to other services provided within the totality of the rent.

Mr. Latham

Where does it say that?

Mr. Eyre

I am explaining the procedure to be carried out by rent officers under the authority of the Bill. In the second part the rent officer's duty is to deal with the registration of those other services, the non-rebatable services. I stress that the total sum payable in respect of that which is offered under the tenancy comes under the purview of the rent officer.

I now come to subsection (3) of the new Clause.

Mr. Stallard

I am still not clear about the situation. I do not know whether what the Minister has just said contradicts what was said by his predecessor. In Committee the former Under-Secretary of State said: broadly, the definition is that which I gave earlier".—[Official Report, Standing Committee E, 27th January, 1972; c. 1050.) That is different from the definition which the Minister has just given. Would he check those two?

Mr. Eyre

The hon. Gentleman puts me in a difficulty in trying to enter a debate which took place some weeks ago.

Mr. James Hill (Southampton, Test)

May I help my hon. Friend? His predecessor said in Committee that he would have to make regulations about services, that these regulations would be subject to debate in the House, and that hon. Members would then be able to raise any issues they wished. Perhaps that is the way in which the debate should proceed?

Mr. Eyre

I am fortified by what my hon. Friend has said, but it is not only that. The words used by my hon. Friend in Committee were carefully considered before the explanation which I have given of the precise situation was decided to be delivered. I therefore ask the hon. Gentleman to accept that the position is a good one for tenants, provided they take advantage of their rights under the Bill.

Subsection (3) provides for a right of appeal to the rent assessment committee on the cost of services. There is, however, already a right of appeal to the rent assessment committee, which covers any matter relevant to the determination of the fair rent. If accounts were not already on the case papers and the rent assessment committee considered that it needed them—as it normally would—it would no doubt require the landlord to send them. The committee would give all such evidence a critical appraisal, and it would clearly be in the landlord's interest to ensure that his accounts were prepared in a way which stood up to this scrutiny.

Subsection (4) would prohibit joint applications for rent registration of such charges, and would make it illegal to charge more for services than the registered figure. Service charges cannot, however, be assessed by the rent officer except as part of the assessment of the whole rent. Any joint application by landlord and tenant would therefore have to be a joint application for a fair rent for the whole of what is provided under the tenancy. This confirms the point that I was making to the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Latham).

The Government appreciate that my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and others of my hon. Friends have sought, in the first new Clause to be debated, to abolish the joint application procedure. It is believed that one of the particular difficulties which my hon. Friends have in mind is the case where, on re-letting to a new tenant, the landlord asks the incoming tenant to join him in an application to the rent officer for the registration of a fair rent. This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, since the rent officer is precluded from registering any rent which he does not consider to be a fair rent, and, where there has been no previous registration, the registration of a rent is an assurance to the tenant that he is not being overcharged.

Again, the function of the rent officer is particularly important. One has the new, incoming tenant and the reference to the rent officer, but he can approve only what is a fair rent, so that the registration of that fair rent is an assurance to the tenant that he is not being overcharged.

There is some public misunderstanding about the rent officer's rôle. Some people have been heard to express the view, which is erroneous, that any rent agreed between landlord and tenant can be registered simply with the rent officer, whether or not the rent officer considered it to be a fair rent. I take this opportunity gladly to put it clearly on the record that the rent officer will not register any rent unless he is satisfied that it is fair within the statutory criteria.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead made the point that a little over 70 per cent. of joint applications are accepted by the rent officer. This is because over the seven years of operation this has become well established and understood as a procedure, and it is not difficult for landlords to know that, in these circumstances, the proposals coming forward will meet the approval, within the range of his experience, of the rent officer.

I very much appreciate the difficulties of which my hon. Friend the Member for the Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Tugendhat) and others spoke concerning tenants in the higher levels of rent. These are the long leases and other unprotected tenancies. In these cases the rent officer would have no jurisdiction to determine a fair rent for the tenancy. Any question therefore of scrutinising the amount of the rent attributable to service charges could only be a matter of deciding whether service charges provided for separately from the basic reserved rent were, in fact, properly and fairly charge able within the terms of the lease. This is quite different from the question rent officers have to decide for protected tenancies and would involve detailed examination of leases and accounts, which does not seem appropriate for rent officers.

Many leases make their own provision for arbitration of disputes as to service costs. To empower rent officers to decide these questions might cause confusion in cases of this sort. As regards long leases at ground rents, these are generally more akin to owner-occupation than to rack rent tenancies, and the terms and covenants should be properly settled, with proper legal advice, at the time of purchase.

Mr. Tugendhat

My hon. Friend should realise that we have raised the question with which the new Clause is concerned in conjunction with the substance of new Clause No. 5. He should also realise that in large blocks of flats in Central London one finds cheek by jowl flats with rateable values of just below and just over £400, some with long leases and some with short leases—all in the same block, indeed, on the same staircase. This is why we ask him to consider a more realistic level than the one proposed. If he were to meet us on this the sort of anomalies which he is now discussing would not arise.

Mr. Eyre

I appreciate the point my hon. Friend is making. He will appreciate that it is always difficult to draw the line at a point which will please everyone but it must be drawn somewhere. It is aggravating to live in a block of flats and to find that the rateable value of a nearby flat is more advantageous than one's own. I fear that this difficulty would be encountered wherever we drew the line, which means that I cannot meet my hon. Friend on this point.

In regard to these higher level tenancies and owner-occupier purchases, I stress the importance of taking legal advice at an early stage because the correct determination of the formula which governs the calculation and the service rent is vital to the purchaser or lessee under a high lease. As I listened to my hon. Friends discussing this subject I had the strong impression that the function of the solicitor in this respect was extremely worth while and that people would be well advised to pay his modest fee.

5.15 p.m.

On the question of audited accounts, it is often suggested that where an unprotected tenancy or long lease contains any provision for the rents to be varied in accordance with the cost of providing services, the landlord should be statutorily obliged to provide itemised and audited accounts of such costs at the tenant's request.

The hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Clinton Davis) who I regret is temporarily not in his place, asked a Question about this in January of this year and my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) has a similar Question on the Order Paper. The reply is that this is a matter of getting proper legal advice at the outset. It follows, therefore, that a proposal of the kind suggested is not included in the new Clause. However, I stress the importance of taking proper legal advice at a very early stage.

A lease may contain a provision to the effect that the certificate of the landlord's agent as to the amount expended on services shall be conclusive This does not oust the jurisdiction of the courts as to any questions of law relating to any covenant to pay any amount for service costs.

Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)

Most tenants are reluctant to go to court every time they disagree with an excess service charge submitted by the landlord. Would it not therefore be better to protect the tenant by putting the necessary provision in this legislation?

Mr. Eyre

The hon. Gentleman was not in his place when I dealt with this in detail. I explained that the tenancies within the Bill were protected by the functions of the rent officer. I was going beyond that to deal with the more difficult cases of higher rent levels and owner-occupiers in more expensive property than the hon. Gentleman has in mind.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

Would there not be a danger, if one did as my hon. Friend suggested and met the modest lees of those in his profession, that by the time one persuaded the landlord to change the offending clause in the lease the purchase price might have gone up by 20 times the amount of the fee one was having to meet?

Mr. Eyre

I appreciate that values are changing rapidly in London, but I feel that this fever is working itself out. It is partly accountable, of course, by the fact that private ownership took a set-back between 1968 and 1970. It is now recovering from that situation.

Returning to the question of amounts and costs, I stress that though the lease may contain a clause under which the landlord's agent can certify something, that is not conclusive and it can be questioned at law. If any provision of this nature were construed by the courts as ousting their jurisdiction on questions of law, it would be held to be void as contrary to public policy, so that that sort of restriction could not be properly enforced.

The question of audited accounts is continuing to be considered. Strong arguments have been adduced today for putting into the Bill any provision which could reasonably be added to strengthen the hands of tenants whose service charges were being increased and who wished to see the landlords' accounts showing how the service costs had been calculated.

Our study of this question will proceed urgently and it is my aim that such a provision, if found practicable, should be added to the Bill in the Lords. I cannot at this stage make any commitment that such a provision will prove to be practicable, but I shall in any event welcome an opportunity, either here or in the Lords, to report progress on this matter.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

In that undertaking, is my hon. Friend speaking of the protected or the unprotected tenant?

Mr. Eyre

I have tried to explain that, in my view, the situation of protected tenancies is wholly sound; they are completely protected by the rent officer procedure which I have described. [Hon. Members: "No."] Therefore, my remarks with regard to audited accounts relate in the main to tenancies at the higher rent levels and the owner-occupier lessees in respect of which other complaints have been made. [Hon. Members: "No."] However, I shall take into account the point which, I think, my hon. Friend has in mind and see whether the whole provision regarding audited accounts could be extended across the field.

As I say, it depends on whether this proposal can be made practicable. Urgent consideration is at present being given to what can be done on a practical basis. I hope that, if it does prove practicable, something can be done in the other place to meet many of the points which have been raised by my hon. Friends.

Mr. Marcus Worsley (Chelsea)

Could my hon. Friend go a little further with his assurance? Some of us who very much support the Bill still feel worried by what he has said, and we should like him to go a little further.

My hon. Friend has made clear that there is no obligation upon a rent officer to register service charges separately. Will he extend his assurance to say that, in looking into the matter again, he will look at that possibility as well? That would reassure me.

Mr. Eyre

I must emphasise that there is a duty on rent officers with regard to protected tenancies, but, to reassure him, I will say that the guidance—I use that word; I cannot put it as high as instructions—under which the rent officer operates will be looked at as regards the practice to be followed. I do not think that my hon. Friend need have any fear on that score. I shall certainly consider as sympathetically and as helpfully as possible the other point made on the wider issue of accounts.

Mr. Anthony Crosland (Grimsby)

We are working under a severe guillotine, and there are many other subjects which hon. Members on both sides want to come to, so I shall be brief. First, I welcome the Under-Secretary of State to our proceedings. He has made a judicious choice of the time at which to join us, with 57 sittings of the Committee behind him and only two days of Report in front of him. We are only sorry that he gave such a complacent and negative reply on this new Clause.

The hon. Gentleman pointed to the legal protection under existing law now open to the protected tenant, and, as for the unprotected tenant, he said that he could always consult his solicitor. But the position is not satisfactory, and it has been shown by speeches on both sides that it is not. We all know that considerable exploitation in this sector is going on. There is substantial evidence that that exploitation has been on the increase in the last two years, and some of it takes the form of either grossly inflated or, sometimes, patently dishonest service charges.

It is quite unsatisfactory to leave the matter where it is. The new Clause has practical drawbacks and limitations, but it would effect at least a marginal improvement in the situation, and, since a marginal improvement is better than none, I reaffirm that we on this side will vote for it.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

I noted the support given to the new Clause by the Opposition. I welcome it from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland). It is less welcome when it comes from the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun), who, we have noted, proposes to municipalise all private housing—which doubtless, will helpus, as it did in 1955.

Having heard what my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State had to say about unprotected tenants, I am grateful, and I happily accept his assurance that he will look again to see whether owner-occupiers and others at rateable values over £400 can be helped either in future legislation or when the Bill goes elsewhere.

I accept that the wording of the new Clause may not be satisfactory, but I fear that my hon. Friend's answer is equally unsatisfactory. With respect, I have heard it elsewhere. Its theory is excellent, but it does not work in practice. The addition of the new Clause would not bring the Government down, but I believe that it would be a piece of justice, even if more apparent than real, as my

Division No. 140. AYES 5.28 p.m.
Abse, Leo Delargy, H. J. Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Albu, Austen Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Hunter, Adam
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Dempsey, James Irvine,Rt.Hn.SirArthur (Edge Hill)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Doig, Peter Janner, Greville
Armstrong, Ernest Dormand, J. D. Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Ashley, Jack Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire. E.) Jeger, Mrs. Lena
Ashton, Joe Douglas-Mann, Bruce Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Atkinson, Norman Driberg, Tom Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Duffy, A. E. P. Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Barnes, Michael Dunn, James A. Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Dunnett, Jack Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Barnett, Joel (Heywood & Royton) Eadie, Alex Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Edelman, Maurice Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Kaufman, Gerald
Bidwell, Sydney Ellis, Tom Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine
Bishop, E. S. English, Michael Kelley, Richard
Blenkinsop, Arthur Evans, Fred Kerr, Russell
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Ewing, Henry Lamond, James
Booth, Albert Faulds, Andrew Latham, Arthur
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Leadbitter, Ted
Bradley, Tom Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham,Ladywood) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Broughton, Sir Alfred Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Leonard, Dick
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Lestor, Miss Joan
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold
Buchan, Norman Foley, Maurice Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham. N.)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Foot, Michael Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Ford, Ben Lipton, Marcus
Forrester, John Lomas, Kenneth
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Fraser, John (Norwood) Longden, Gilbert
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Freeson, Reginald Loughlin, Charles
Cant, R. B. Garrett, W. E. Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Carmichael, Neil Gilbert, Dr. John McBride, Neil
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Golding, John McCartney, Hugh
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. McElhone, Frank
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Gourlay, Harry McGuire, Michael
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Grant, George (Morpeth) Mackenzie, Gregor
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)
Cohen, Stanley Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Mackie, John
Concannon, J. D. Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Mackintosh, John P.
Conlan, Bernard Hamilton, James (Bothwell) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) McNamara, J. Kevin
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Hamling, William Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Cronin, John Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Marks, Kenneth
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Hardy, Peter Marquand, David
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Marsden, F.
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Marshall, Dr. Edmund
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Hattersley, Roy
Dalyell, Tam Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Heffer, Eric S. Meacher, Michael
Davidson, Arthur Horam, John Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Davies, Denzil (Lianelly) Hornsby-Smlth.Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia Mendelson, John
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Mikardo, Ian
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Millan, Bruce
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Huckfield, Leslie Miller, Dr. M. S.
Deakins, Eric Hughes, Mark (Durham) Milne, Edward
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)

hon. Friend said. The vital point is that each service charge on the registration of rent should be separately registered and separately visible.

For my part, therefore, I would press the new Clause. If the wording is unsatisfactory—my draftsmanship is not equal to that of the Department—I shall be perfectly happy if my hon. Friend wishes to amend it elsewhere, should the House accept it. However, in this rough and ready form, the new Clause should in my view, be accepted.

Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time:

The House divided Ayes 251 Noes 247.

Molloy, William Rhodes, Geoffrey Swain, Thomas
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Rhys Williams, sir Brandon Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Richard, Ivor Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Moyle, Roland Robertson, John (Paisley) Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Roper, John Tinn, James
Murray, Ronald King Rose, Paul B. Tomney, Frank
Oakes, Gordon Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock) Torney, Tom
O'Halloran, Michael Sandelson, Neville Tuck, Raphael
O'Malley, Brian Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne) Urwin, T. W.
Oram, Bert Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Varley, Eric G.
Orbach, Maurice Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Wainwright, Edwin
Orme, Stanley Short, Mrs. Rénee (W'hampton.N. E.) Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Oswald, Thomas Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Wallace, George
Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich) Watkins, David
Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Sillars, James Weitzman, David
Padley, Walter Silverman, Julius Wellbeloved, James
Paget, R. T. Skinner, Dennis Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Palmer, Arthur Small, William White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.) Whitlock, William
Pardoe, John Spearing, Nigel Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange) Spriggs, Leslie Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Pavitt, Laurie Stainton, Keith Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Pentland, Norman Stallard, A. W. Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Perry, Ernest G. Steel, David Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg. Stewart, Donald (Western Isles) Woof, Robert
Prescott, John Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Price, William (Rugby) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. Mr. Joseph Harper and
Rankin, John Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley Mr. Tom Pendry.
Reed, D. (Sedgefield)
Adley, Robert Crouch, David Hastings, Stephen
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Havers, Michael
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hawkins, Paul
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian d'Avigdor-Goldsmid.Maj.-Gen. James Hay, John
Astor, John Dean, Paul Hicks, Robert
Atkins, Humphrey Dlgby, Simon Wingfleld Higgins, Terence L.
Awdry, Daniel Dixon, Piers Hiley, Joseph
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Drayson, G. B. Hill, James (Southampton, Test)
Batsford, Brian du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Holland, Philip
Beamish, Col. Sir Tutton Dykes, Hugh Hordem, Peter
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Eden, Sir John Hornby, Richard
Benyon, W. Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)
Berry, Hn. Anthony Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Howell, David (Guildford)
Bitten, John Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne.N.) Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)
Biggs-Davison, John Emery, Peter Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Blaker, Peter Eyre, Reginald James, David
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Farr, John Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Body, Richard Fell, Anthony Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Boscawen, Robert Fanner, Mr. Peggy Jessel, Toby
Bossom, Sir Clive Fidler, Michael Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)
Bowden, Andrew Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Braine, Sir Bernard Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Kaberry, Sir Donald
Bray, Ronald Fookes, Miss Janet
Brinton, Sir Tatton Fowler, Norman King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Brocklebank-Fowlar, Christopher Fox, Marcus King, Tom (Bridgwater)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Fry, Peter Kinsey, J. F.
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Kitson, Timothy
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M) Gardner, Edward Knight, Mrs. Jill
Buck, Antony Gibson-Watt, David Knox, David
Bullus, Sir Eric Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Lane, David
Burden, F. A. Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Langford-Holt, Sir John
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn) Goodhart, Philip Le Merchant, Spencer
Goodhew, Victor Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Carlisle, Mark Gower, Raymond Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Loveridge, John
Cary, Sir Robert Gray, Hamish Luce, R. N.
Chapman, Sydney Green, Alan McAdden, Sir Stephen
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Grieve, Percy MacArthur, Ian
Chichester-Clark, R. Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) McCrindle, R. A.
Churchill, W. S. Grylls, Michael McLaren, Martin
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Gummer, J. Selwyn Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Macmillan.Rt.Hn.Maurice (Farnham)
Clegg, Walter Hall, John (Wycombe) McNair-Wilson, Michael
Cockeram, Eric Hall-Davis, A. G. F. McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Cooke, Robert Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Maddan, Martin
Coombs, Derek Hannam, John (Exeter) Madel, David
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest
Cormack, Patrick Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Marten, Neil
Costain, A. P. Haselhurst, Alan Mather, Carol
Maude, Angus Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Redmond, Robert Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Mawby, Ray Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.) Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Rees, Peter (Dover) Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon S.)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Rees-Davies, W. R. Tilney, John
Mills, Peter (Torrington) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C.(Aberdeenshire.W.) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Trew, Peter
Moate, Roger Ridsdale, Julian Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Monro, Hector Roberts, Wyn (Conway) van Straubenzee, W. R
Montgomery, Fergus Royle, Anthony Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
More, Jasper Russell, Sir Ronald Vickers, Came Joan
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. St. John-Stevas, Norman Waddington, David
Morrison, Charles Sharples, Richard
Mudd, David Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Murton, Oscar Shelton, William (Clapham) Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Nabarro, Sir Gerald Sinclair, Sir George Walker-Smith, Rt Hn. Sir Derek
Neave, Airey Skeet, T. H. H Walters, Dennis
Normanton, Tom Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) Warren, Kenneth
Nott, John Soref, Harold Weatherill, Bernard
Onslow, Cranley Speed, Keith Wells, John (Maidstone)
Oppenheim,Mrs. Sally Spence, John White, Roger (Gravesend)
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Wiggin, Jerry
Osborn, John Sproat, Iain Wilkinson, John
Page, Graham (Crosby) Stanbrook, Ivor Winterton, Nicholas
Page, John (Harrow, W.) Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Parkinson, Cecil Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh W) Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Pike, Miss Mervyn Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. Woodnutt, Mark
Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Stokes, John Worsley, Marcus
Price, David (Eastleigh) Stuttatord, Dr. Tom Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Prior,Rt. Hn. J. M. L Tapsell, Peter Younger. Hn. George
Proudfoot, Wilfred Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Quennell. Miss J. M. Tebbit, Norman Mr. Tim Fortescue and
Raison, Timothy Temple, John M Mr. Michael Jopling.

Question accordingly agreed to

Question put, That the Clause be added to the Bill:—

Division No. 141.] AYES [5.40 p.m
Abse, Leo Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.
Albu, Austen Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Gourlay, Harry
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Grant, George (Morpeth)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Dalyell, Tam Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)
Armstrong, Ernest Darling, Rt. Hn. George Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)
Ashley, Jack Davidson, Arthur Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.
Ashton, Joe Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Atkinson, Norman Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Hamling, William
Barnes, Michael Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Deakins, Eric Hardy, Peter
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Delargy, H. J.
Bennett. James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Hart. Rt. Hn. Judith
Bidwell, Sydney Dempsey, James Hattersley, Roy
Bishop, E. S. Doig, Peter Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis
Blenkinsop, Arthur Dormand, J. D. Heffer, Eric S.
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Douglas. Dick (Stirlingshire. E.) Horam, John
Booth, Albert Douglas-Mann, Bruce Hornsby-Smith.Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Driberg. Tom Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Bradley, Tom Duffy, A. E. P. Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
Broughton, Sir Alfred Dunn, James A. Huckfield, Leslie
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Eadie, Alex Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Edelman, Maurice Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)
Buchan, Norman Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Ellis, Tom Hunter, Adam
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) English, Michael Irvine,Rt. Hn. SirArthur(Edge Hill)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Evans, Fred Janner, Greville
Campbell, 1. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Ewing, Harry Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Faulds, Andrew Jeger, Mrs. Lena
Cant, R. B. Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Carmichael, Neil Fisher, Mrs. Doris(B'ham,Ladywood) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Fletcher. Raymond (Ilkeston) Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Foley, Maurice Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Foot, Michael Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)
Cohen, Stanley Ford, Ben Kaufman, Gerald
Concannon, J. D. Forrester, John Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine
Conlan, Bernard Fraser, John (Norwood) Kerr, Russell
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Garrett, W. E. Lamond, James
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Gilbert, Dr. John Latham, Arthur
Cronin, John Golding, John Leadbitter, Ted

The House divided: Ayes 242, Noes 245.

Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick O'Halloran, Michael Small, William
Leonard, Dick O'Malley, Brian Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
Lestor, Miss Joan Oram, Bert Spearing, Nigel
Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold Orbach, Maurice Spriggs, Leslie
Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Orme, Stanley Stallard, A. W.
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Oswald, Thomas Steel, David
Lipton, Marcus Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Lomas, Kenneth Padley, Walter Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Loughlin, Charles Paget, R. T. Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Palmer, Arthur Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
McBride, Neil Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
McCartney, Hugh Pardoe, John Swain, Thomas
McElhone, Frank Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
McGuire, Michael Pavitt, Laurie Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee. E.)
Mackenzie, Gregor Pentland, Norman Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Mackie, John Perry, Ernest G. Tinn, James
Mackintosh, John P. Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg Tomney, Frank
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Prescott, John Torney, Tom
McNamara, J. Kevin Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Tuck, Raphael
Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Price, William (Rugby) Urwin, T. W.
Marks, Kenneth Rankin, John Varley, Eric G.
Marquand, David Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Wainwright, Edwin
Marsden, F. Rhodes, Geoffrey Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints;
Marshall, Dr. Edmund Richard, Ivor Wallace, George
Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Roberts. Albert (Normanton) Watkins, David
Meacher, Michael Robertson, John (Paisley) Weitzman, David
Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Roper, John Wellbeloved, James
Mendelson, John Rose, Paul B. Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Mikardo, Ian Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Millan, Bruce Sandelson, Neville Whitlock, William
Miller, Dr. M. S. Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne) Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Milne, Edward Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Mitchel, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen) Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Molloy, William Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton.N.E.) Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich) Woof, Robert
Morris, Rt Hn. John (Aberavon) Sillars, James
Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Silverman, Julius TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Murray, Ronald King Skinner, Dennis Mr. Joseph Harper and
Oakes, Gordon Mr. Tom Pendry.
Adley, Robert Cockeram, Eric Goodhew, Victor
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Cooke, Robert Gower, Raymond
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Coombs, Derek Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick Gray, Hamish
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Cormack, Patrick Green, Alan
Astor, John Costain, A. P. Grieve, Percy
Atkins, Humphrey Crouch, David Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)
Awdry, Daniel Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Gummer, J. Selwyn
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord d'Avigdor-Goldsmid,Maj.-Gen.James Hall, John (Wycombe)
Batsford, Brian Dean, Paul Hall-Davis, A. G. F.
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Digby, Simon Wingfield Hannam, John (Exeter)
Benyon, W. Dixon, Piers Harrison, Brian (Maldon)
Berry, Hn. Anthony Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Haselhurst, Alan
Bitten, John Drayson, G. B. Hastings, Stephen
Biggs-Davison, John du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Havers, Michael
Blaker, Peter Dykes, Hugh Hawkins, Paul
Boscawen, Robert Eden, Sir John Hay, John
Bossom, Sir Clive Edwards. Nicholas (Pembroke) Heseltine, Michael
Bowden, Andrew Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Hicks, Robert
Bray, Ronald Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Higgins, Terence L.
Brinton, Sir Tatton Emery, Peter Hiley, Joseph
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Eyre, Reginald Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Farr, John Hill, James (Southampton, Test)
Bruce Gardyne, J. Fell, Anthony Holland, Philip
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M) Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Hordern, Peter
Buck, Antony Fidler, Michael Hornby, Richard
Bullus, Sir Eric Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)
Burden, F. A. Fletcher-Cooke. Charles Howell, Raiph (Norfolk, N.)
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Fookes, Miss Janet Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn) Fortescue, Tim James, David
Carlisle, Mark Fowler, Norman Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Fox, Marcus Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Cary, Sir Robert Fry, Peter Jessel, Toby
Chapman, Sydney Gardner, Edward Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Gibson-Watt, David Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Chichester-Clark, R Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Kaberry, Sir Donald
Churchill, W. S. Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Kimball, Marcus
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Goodhart, Philip King, Tom (Bridgwater)
Kinsey, J. R. Neave, Alrey Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Kitson, Timothy Normanton, Tom Stoddart-Scott, Col, Sir M.
Knight, Mrs. Jill Nott, John Stokes, John
Knox, David Onslow, Cranley Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Lane, David Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally Tapsell, Peter
Langford-Holt, Sir John Orr, Capt. L. P. S Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Osborn, John Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Le Merchant, Spencer Page, Graham (Crosby) Tebbit, Norman
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Page, John (Harrow, W.) Temple, John M.
Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Parkinson, Cecll Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Longden, Sir Gilbert Pike, Miss Mervyn Thomas, John Stradilng (Monmouth)
Loveridge, John Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Luce, R. N. Price, David (Eastleigh) Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon. S.)
McAdden, Sir Stephen Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L. Tilney, John
MacArthur, Ian Proudfoot, Wilfred Trafford, Dr. Anthony
McCrindle, R. A. Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Trew, Peter
McLaren, Martin Quennell, Miss J. M. Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Raison, Timothy van Straubenzee, W. R.
Macmillan. Rt. Hn. Maurice (Farnham) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
McNair-Wilson, Michael Redmond, Robert Vickers, Dame Joan
McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest) Reed, Laurance (Bolton. E.) Waddington, David
Maddan, Martin Rees, Peter (Dover) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Madel, David Rees-Davies, W. R. Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Marples, Rt Hn. Ernest Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir Davis Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Marten, Neil Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Walters, Dennis
Mather, Carol Ridsdale, Julian Warren, Kenneth
Maude, Angus Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Weatherill, Bernard
Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald Royle, Anthony Wells, John (Maidstone)
Mawby, Ray Russell, Sir Ronald White, Roger (Gravesend)
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. St. John-Stevas, Norman Wiggin, Perry
Meyer, Sir Anthony Sharples, Richard Wilkinson, John
Mills, Peter (Torrington) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Winterton, Nicholas
Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire,W.) Shelton, William (Clapham) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Moate, Roger Sinclair, Sir George Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Monro, Hector Skeet, T. H. H. Woodnutt, Mark
Montgomery, Fergus Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) Worsley, Marcus
More, Jasper Soref, Harold Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Speed, Keith Younger, Hon. George
Morrison, Charles Spence, John
Mudd, David Sproat, Iain TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Murton, Oscar Stanbrook, Ivor Mr. Joseph Harper and
Nabarro, Sir Gerald Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper) Mr. Michael Jopling

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Crosland

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This has been a very humiliating moment for the Government, a moment which has demonstrated that the Bill is becoming increasingly unpopular, even with their own back benchers.

I have two questions. First, is there no moral obligation of any kind on hon. Members opposite who voted in favour of the new Clause to have the courage to vote in favour of its incorporation in the Bill? Secondly, in view of the defeat for the Government on the first vote and the extraordinarily narrow victory on the second—the House expressed its clear view of the merits of the new Clause on the first vote—what is the Minister's intention for the future of the new Clause?

The Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr. Julian Amery)

The Government's intentions are clear. My hon. Friend made it clear that he was very much in sympathy with the intentions and the motivation of the new Clause, but was of the opinion that the position of protected tenants was already covered by the Bill, and he volunteered and offered to consider whether we might amend the Bill in another place to cover the position of unprotected tenants. Of course we shall not only fulfil that obligation, if it proves practicable, but, I hope and trust, take full account of the views expressed in the debate, notably by my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg), who moved the new Clause, and the first vote.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead went out of his way to say that he did not think that his new Clause was absolutely the last word on the matter, and he invited us to see whether we could improve it. In accordance with the undertaking given by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, we shall see whether we can meet the powerful arguments which have been put forward from both sides of the House when the Bill goes to another place.

Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall be as brief as I can. The House listened to an exposition of the new Clause by the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg), and it was then supported by hon. Members on both sides of the House.

After listening to the arguments, the House made up its mind and voted, and as a result the new Clause was read a Second time. We are now in the situation that the House has expressed an opinion on the validity of the new Clause, but has been refused the opportunity to add it to the Bill, because pressure has been applied to hon. Members opposite who voted in one sense in the first Division, but who did not maintain their courage in the second. That does not deny the fact that the House has expressed itself as having no confidence in the Minister, and we ought to have an opportunity to discuss that situation. The Minister's assurances did not satisfy his hon. Friends.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu)

There is no point of order to me. The Chair does not vote in any case, still less tell hon. Members how to vote.

Mr. Crosland

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. For the first time, the House has had the chance to express its collective view of an important part of the Bill, and it was frustrated in the second Division only by the machinations of the Government Whips. Therefore, will the Minister now, for the first time, recognise that there are strong feelings not only on this side of the House against the Bill, and will he show a much more compromising attitude during future stages?

Mr. Amery rose——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I do not think that I can hear any more points of order on this issue. This is a day when the guillotine is operating and every minute that is taken now is taken from the allotted time.