HC Deb 24 April 1972 vol 835 cc1109-29

  1. (1) The provisions of section 19 of this Act shall also apply to tenants under a contract (in this section called a 'furnished tenancy') to which section 70 of the Rent Act 1968 applies or would apply but for subsection (3) 1110 of that section but subject to the provisions of the following subsections and the expression 'private tenant' in section 19 of this Act shall be construed accordingly.
  2. (2) The date of bringing into operation of the allowance scheme shall be 1st April, 1973.
  3. (3) The Secretary of State may by regulation make provision for determining what portion of the rent payable under a furnished tenancy is attributable to the use of the premises (as distinct from the provision of services and the use of furniture) and which will qualify as the rent in respect of which rent allowance is payable.
  4. (4) Regulations under subsection (3) above shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.—[Mr. Douglas-Mann.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Bruce Douglas-Mann (Kensington, North)

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we are to consider new Clause No. 2—"The extension of rent allowances to furnished lettings".

Mr. Douglas-Mann

New Clause No. 6 would remove one of the worst anomalies of a Bill bristling with anomalies. It would ensure that rent allowances were payable to furnished as well as unfurnished tenants.

The effect of the Bill as it stands will be that rents and prices will be substantially increased throughout the country. Rents of properties to let privately in central city areas will escalate sharply. Many tenants who now have some degree of security, some degree of control over rents, controlled tenants, will become decontrolled, for many premises will become vacant as a result of the Bill and will become available to let furnished as a result. Rents will escalate.

The people in the worst position to bear the effects of the Bill will be furnished tenants, who are to receive no assistance to meet increased rents. Both sides of the House will acknowledge that the present situation isimmensely unsatisfactory, particularly in the stress areas of our cities. No one can dispute that furnished tenants in the private sector are suffering the greatest hardship.

I hope that the Minister will be able to report on the outcome of the working party that he mentioned when we discussed this matter in Committee. I hope that he will be able to go further than he did earlier this afternoon in responding to pressure and urgings from both sides of the House, and there were urgings from both sides when the matter was considered in Committee. I know that he has received many representations from many authorities and organisations, particularly Shelter, that the new Clause is urgently required to defeat the worst anomalies of the Bill, and I trust that he will accept it.

There are 500,000 tenants in furnished accommodation and they are suffering the worst housing hardship. We have a great deal of information about the situation in the furnished sector from the surveys carried out by the Francis Committee and from the appendices to its report. We know that in the stress areas of the cities furnished tenants spend on average about one third of their pay on rent, that the average income of furnished tenants is about £870 a year, and that their average rent is about £290 a year. We know that they occupy the worst accommodation and suffer more from overcrowding and pay more rent per room and that the average furnished tenant in the stress areas pays four times the gross value of his accommodation whereas only a minute proportion of unfurnished tenants pay anything like that figure. We know that a high proportion of furnished tenants, unlike the sterotyped image of them frequently presented—foot-loose characters who want accommodation for merely a short time—are long-term tenants, and that, in London at any rate, 49 per cent. of them have families. We know that a minority of persons occupying furnished accommodation in the stress areas wanted furnished accommodation. The majority would have preferred unfurnished accommodation. We know that this is where the greatest hardship exists. We know from the Francis Committee conclusions that In the search for housing in the private sector, at least half suffered from some form of potential handicap (being a lone parent, unemployed, sick, coloured, having a low income, having three or more children, or not being fully conversant with the English language). It is these people—[Interruption.]—who are least able to help themselves—[Interruption.]—who find themselves in furnished accommodation—

6.0 p.m.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I would remind hon. Members who are talking in that group of what Mr. Speaker Coke said in 1593: It is not the manner of the House that any should whisper or talk secretly, for here only public speeches are to be used.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

It is these people who are forced into furnished accommodation and who receive no assistance from the Bill. They are the only people who do not. Owner-occupiers get £300 million in tax relief and council and private tenants will receive some means-tested assistance. No matter how poor the furnished tenant is he will get no assistance.

In Committee we discussed this issue and the Government put forward a totally inadequate case in response to the plea that rent allowances should be extended to furnished tenancies and the ill-effects of the Bill thereby mitigated. The Minister said in Committee that one of the points against extending rent allowances to furnished tenants was that it would be difficult to ascertain what proportion of such tenants were long or short term. It is irrelevant whether the proportion is high or low. What is relevant is that a high proportion will be suffering considerable hardship. It is said that it is difficult to sort out what proportion of rent is attributable to furniture and what proportion attributable to premises. As the Minister said, a furnished tenancy is not just an unfurnished tenancy with furniture.

The reason for the enormous differences between the levels of rent in the furnished and unfurnished sectors is that there is no effective Rent Act protection, there is no control by the rent officer to ensure that the scarcity factor is excluded with furnished tenancies. As there is no security from eviction most furnished tenants dare not go to the rent tribunal to claim protection which they may get, because they would be evicted shortly afterwards, as we know from the survey carried out by the Francis Committee. As it stands, the Bill will do an immense amount of harm. It will bring about an increase in the level of prices, already rising alarmingly. The Government could mitigate this and ensure that those who are least able to bear hardship will be helped.

I am thinking of families such as I saw at my surgery on Monday. This is a family living in one room in North Kensington with three children who have to play, eat, sleep and live generally in that one room, cooking on the staircase and with the lavatory downstairs. This is in a redevelopment area and this family will not even be rehoused, because Kensington Council does not rehouse furnished tenants. The husband earns £26 a week, which is just over £20 after stoppages and travel. He is paying £7 per week for the rent of that single room, for those appalling living conditions. That family has no hope. Although the man has been in steady work for four years he cannot save a penny because all his money is going on rent and on keeping his family. He is earning a sum which might in other parts of the country enable him to save but he can make no provision whatever. His standard of living is abysmally low, keeping a wife and three children with what is left from £13 a week.

This Clause would ensure that in such circumstances rent allowances could be paid. The Government's case as presented during the fourteenth Sitting of the Committee was that it would be difficult to distinguish these cases. That is irrelevant. It was also said that it would involve over-burdening rent officers but that too is irrelevant when we consider that 5½ million council house tenants are to have their rent re-assessed. Surely the furnished tenants' rents could be assessed? Although it is true that in the absence of security any such provision will be only a partial benefit, these allowances will nevertheless relieve immense hardship. I hope that the House will accept the Clause.

Mr. James Allason (Hemel Hempstead)

It is unacceptable that furnished tenants should be left outside the scheme. I do not always go all the way with the hon. Member for Kensington, North (Mr. Douglas-Mann) who frequently exaggerates and always produces the worst case as opposed to what is the general case In consequence, he tends to be misleading. He made it clear today that these are the tenants who have the heaviest burden, and it is wrong that they should not be helped. There are certainly those who are long-term tenants awaiting cheaper housing. This is typical nowadays. When a young couple marry they tend to go first into furnished accommodation before they are able to move to some other form of accommodation.

The arguments we have heard against including furnished tenants in the Bill are, first, that they are fleeting tenancies and, secondly, that there is a difficulty in finding a formula. I accept that there are a number of fleeting tenancies but that problem can be solved by imposing a six-month residential qualification. That would mean that no allowance would be paid until aperson had been in residence for six months. That would deal with those who were there for three months and then moved—the holiday lettings and that type of thing.

The more serious objection is over the difficulty of finding a formula. I produced a formula, the only one produced in Committee. It was uncriticised except by my hon. Friend the then Under-secretary who said that it needed further examination. The great merit of my scheme was that it avoided the apportionment which bedevils all others. Everyone seems to think that it is possible to say, "This is the unfurnished rent, this is the services element, this is the cost of the furniture, add them together and that is the furnished rent." That gives an entirely different figure. My system moves away from the furnished rent. It takes the accommodation as it is to be let, treating it as if it was unfurnished and then it is taken to the rent officer who assesses what would be a fair rent if the premises were unfurnished, and the rent allowance is granted on that formula. I cannot see what the objection is to that, except that it possibly does not give the tenant the amount of rent allowance which the Clause would give. But it would achieve a rent allowance which was fair because it would be on all fours with that of the unfurnished tenant. It must be reasonable to go at least as far as that. We want to ensure that the furnished tenant is treated at least as fairly as the unfurnished tenant. I therefore hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will move considerably from the position which he has so far taken.

Mr. John Horam (Gateshead, West)

I support the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington, North (Mr. Douglas-Mann). He made the point very strongly—and it is the central point—that the most and worst cases of hardship come within the category we are discussing. He was quite right to give the example which he did. I take exception to the comment of the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason) about my hon. Friend citing extreme cases. When we are talking about cases of hardship such as these, it is absurd to say that they are few and that the average is slightly better. Of course it is slightly better. But the fact is that these terrible cases exist and they should have the highest priority in our attempts to improve the housing situation.

The situation of furnished tenants in need is worsening. I am chairman of a housing association operating in North Islington—one of the classic stress areas. Many people working in that area tell me that the situation now is worse than it was six or nine months or a year ago because house prices are going up and because, with the improvement grant situation as it is, landlords are keener than ever to get out tenants and to sell their houses and make a profit.

For that reason, any help which can be given to furnished tenants in this category should be given. The Government claim that by the Bill they will help those who most need it. This is the most needy category and any help which they can give is more desperately wanted than ever before. That is borne out by a quote which I saw in The Guardian the other day from the chairman of the social services committee in Islington, who said: Pressure on tenants in private property in Inner London is increasing. In Islington, which has more homeless families in council care than any other London borough, complaints to the town hall of harassment and unlawful eviction rose by a third in the first three months of this year, compared with the same period in 1971 Not all the 500,000 or so tenants in furnished tenancies are facing this situation, but a high proportion of them in London and the central areas and the big conurbations are facing it. That is why the Government must do something quickly and urgently.

I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington, North, said about rent rebates. I am glad that the Labour Party has pledged itself to look at the question of security of tenure, which is an absolutely necessary element in any plan for dealing with the situation. Rent rebates will only help to mitigate the problem. The solution lies in other and far more urgent and comprehensive attempts at planning.

6.15 p.m.

I commend to the Minister in particular two things which it is in his power to influence and which are being done by one or two progressive councils in inner London. They are in addition to any scheme of rent rebates or allowances for furnished tenants. First, one of the best things which a council can do to help to solve the problem is to make a systematic effort to ensure that as much as possible of the multi-occupied, run-down property is bought directly by the council or by a housing association vetted by the council. It must make systematic attempts to round up this property, to designate particular areas—perhaps a couple of streets or so—and say to the landlords in that area, "Improve your property to a reasonable level at reasonable rents in, say, a year's time or we will buy you out and compulsorily purchase your property". The Minister could help by urging local authorities compulsorily to purchase property for improvement on the same footing as has happened for some time in the case of total redevelopment. He should make his views unequivocally clear about that matter.

Secondly, the Minister could help the process by not baulking at the large sums which councils sometimes have to pay to acquire property which they wish to improve. The Secretary of State turned down the Camden council's application to buy a large block of property and carry out improvement work which would have saved it for occupation for working class people. Six months later it was sold for double the price, or something like that.

The Minister must adopt a flexible policy. Local authorities should be careful about the kind of planning permission they give when it comes to giving improvement grants. I should like them, as the Islington Council is trying to do, not automatically to give planning permission for splitting houses into very small units. By refusing permission for breaking a house into small units and instead encouraging the development of the house into two large units, larger families could be accommodated.

That is the sort of thing which is being done by some councils in inner London. The Minister could help by changing the system of improvement grant. He should relate the grant not to the number of flats in a conversion, but to the number of people. If he made that change in the administrative structure, he would remove the bias towards splitting a house or block of flats into the largest number of flats, which means that many working class families lose the possibility of having a home and the accommodation goes to single people or couples rather than to families who are in a desperate plight.

As I have said, the situation in this sector of housing has worsened since the Minister took charge, partly as a result of his omissions and partly because of house prices in inner London. He can do something to help to solve the problem, and he should do something.

Sir B. Rhys Williams

With new Clause No. 6, you, Mr. Speaker, were kind enough to select for discussion new Clause No. 2 which stands in the names of a number of my hon. Friends representing London constituencies and my own. New Clause No. 6 contains some controversial matter, and I do not know that I should be willing to support it. However, I support the principle that tenants of furnished accommodation should be allowed to benefit from this important Bill. I would go further; I should like to find a way of including the occupants of mixed residential and commercial premises—for instance, self-employed people with their own small shops.

It is not necessary to obscure the issue by considering questions of security of tenure or rent control. We should consider the much bigger picture of who we should try to help by means of housing allowances. As time is very short I will not develop this theme to any very great extent, but it is important to point to the fact that there is what one might call a nascent housing allowance already included in the provisions for pensioners where the single pensioner is to get a pension of more than £6 a week, whereas two pensioners living together do not receive twice as much. One also finds in the tax allow- ances that a married couple's allowance is not equal to twice the single person's tax allowance. Thus one can only recognise that there is included in our longstanding provisions both in regard to pensioners and in regard to tax allowances a hidden subsidy or allowance to the householder.

Since the Government are coming forward with a Green Paper on the whole question of positive tax credits I am sure that this is a matter which must have received their attention.

There are, naturally enough, serious administrative difficulties in assessing the level of rent which might be deemed to be paid by the tenant in furnished accommodation for the purposes of this Bill. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason) made an extremely sensible and workmanlike suggestion for dealing with it, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will take it into account. I hope he will make to the House today a commitment in principle to examine again the position of furnished tenants and will let us know how he proposes to tackle this problem. It has been recognised in all parts of the House as one which ought to be dealt with.

Mr. Nicholas Scott (Paddington, South)

I shall be very brief because so far we have had unanimity on this matter. Perhaps I should preface my remarks by saying that those of us who felt unable to support my right hon. Friend in the last Division felt so not, as was suggested by the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland), because they have any basic doubts about the nature of this Bill or about the quality of this Bill but because we think it is so fine a structure that we are reluctant to see it pass with even the smallest blemish upon it. Thus we took our view last time and thus we hope that this time we may find that my right hon. Friend is able to meet us when he comes to the Dispatch Box. For a moment I thought that the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) had also been promoted to the Front Bench and was to reply to the debate, but I see that my dreams are not being fulfilled. I hope that my right hon. Friend will say that in view of the unanimity of the House on this matter and the strength of feeling which has been expressed he can meet us on this point.

The hon. Member for Kensington, North (Mr. Douglas-Mann) was eloquent about the situation of the tenants of furnished tenancies in his constituency. We are parliamentary neighbours, and to all intents and purposes my constituency and his have exactly the same problem. In Committee I spoke of the number of people I have coming to my surgery who are in furnished accommodation, and I spoke of their problems.

Mr. Eddie Griffiths (Sheffield, Brightside)

I am rather taken by that point the hon. Member is making, that he and my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington, North (Mr. Douglas-Mann) have exactly the same constituency problems. It was noticeable in Committee that the hon. Member and my hon. Friend voted on opposite sides frequently. Therefore I cannot see how the same problems exist.

Mr. Scott

We may have taken different ways on some matters, but not on this subject, and in so far as we voted on opposite sides at other times on other parts of the Bill, then obviously it is for our colleagues to decide whose were the better judgments in how our votes were cast. However, as I said, I want to be brief.

I want to reiterate the particular aspect of the furnished tenancies as brought up by the hon. Member for Kensington, North, and that is the fact that the vast majority of people living in furnished accommodation—in my constituency, but I believe that this applies to inner London as a whole—are not there because they have chosen to go into furnished accommodation. They are there because there is no alternative for them. Many of them, as many as 50 per cent., and I think, even more in my own constituency, are family units, many of them fatherless families, single-parent families, certainly. Therefore, they are the families in most need of support. There is no case for turning down the principle embodied in these two new Clauses on the ground that we are dealing with a transient population, with a population which has opted to go into this type of accommodation. We are not. They are forced into these circumstances; they are families, in many cases some of the poorest families and the most under-privileged families, many of them paying inflated rents. I hope that my right hon. Friend may at least concede that these are tenants who ought to be helped by this Bill.

I acknowledge the problem of the administrative burden of introducing this proposal at the same time as the general scheme for allowances to other private tenants. Nevertheless, I believe that we ought to take the opportunity at some stage of this Bill of widening its provisions. If that cannot be done at this stage, let us at least have an undertaking that it shall be done in the immediate future and that we shall have a universal system of rebates and allowances to apply to everybody in furnished accommodation. My right hon. Friend, I know, draws large inspiration from Disraelian concepts and will have noted the remark of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister about the need to create one nation. I believe that the Government will have done more by their legislative programme to make one nation than has ever been done by all the waffle of hon. and right hon. Members opposite, and that this will be seen when this Parliament has run its term. My right hon. Friend has a splendid opportunity this afternoon, with these new Clauses, to translate an admirable principle into practice.

Mr. Freeson

I was about to put a direct question to the Minister. In view of the general unanimity which there was in Committee on this aspect of the matter, however the voting may have gone eventually on particular Amendments which were tabled on party lines, the Minister indicated that he would make a considered statement, bearing in mind all the views which were expressed, and in view of the unanimity on both sides of the House this afternoon I wonder whether the Minister is prepared to give us a declaration of Government intentions now. We hope that they will be effective intentions on this matter.

6.30 p.m.

Mr. Amery

When the hon. Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Freeson) rose I was about torise to reply. I delayed doing so before because I wanted to give time for hon. Members who have put their names to these two Clauses to make their speeches.

First let me offer my congratulations to my hon. Friend the new Under-Secretary of State on his first appearance at this Box today. The outcome of his first debate in his new capacity was rather a close run thing. But I believe that all those who heard him will agree with me that his grasp of the issues underlying the subject before us, like the grasp shown by his predecessor, went a good deal further than that of his right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction.

Next let me say how glad I am to see the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) in his place. When I saw that he had left for the Far East I had doubts whether he would be with us for the concluding stages of these debates on the Bill—and they increased when I saw the reasons why he came back. Indeed——

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

I sent for him.

Mr. Amery

—I thought for a moment that the Labour Party would stand by the old Biblical injunction, "If thy foot offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee". I think the right hon. Gentleman may have translated that as meaning to catch the floating vote. The fact that he is there now convinces me that providence is a Tory force and that the right hon. Gentleman will live to fight another day.

Mr. Speaker

What is the relevance of all this to these new Clauses?

Mr. Amery

The only relevance, Mr. Speaker, is the delight I was expressing at seeing the right hon. Gentleman in his place for this discussion which, I think, is of considerable importance.

Mr. Skinner

Get on with it then.

Mr. Amery

Yes, indeed.

Ever since the publication of the White Paper a number of my hon. Friends and a number of hon. Members opposite have been urging us to extend the rent allowances to tenants of furnished accommodation in the private sector. In this they have had the support of many—I think most—of the distinguished students of housing problems outside. This issue was debated at considerable length in Committee, when I undertook to make a further statement on Report. This I now do.

I have all along accepted that many of the tenants who are most in need of help are to be found in the furnished sector. We recognise their plight and we want to help them. But practical problems cannot be solved by sympathy alone.

It would be generally accepted that any scheme for operating rent allowances for tenants in the furnished sector would have to be operated by the local authorities. But before a Government places a new and difficult statutory duty on local authorities they must be satisfied that the duty can be effectively discharged and they must discuss any scheme in detail with the local authority associations.

In Committee I said that there were basically two difficulties in the way of producing an effective scheme. At the risk of some repetition, perhaps I should go back to those grounds because there are a number of hon. Members in the House who were not present in Committee and may not have had time to read the voluminous Committee proceedings in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

There is, first, the difficulty of valuation. What is the rent on which a rent allowance is to be based? My hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason) has proposed that it should simply relate to what would be the fair rent of the dwelling if let unfurnished, excluding any element in the rent attributable to furniture or services for which the rent rebate or allowance would not be available to tenants of unfurnished accommodation. Even after deducting the element of rent attributable to furniture and services, what is called the reasonable rent of a furnished dwelling as determined by a rent tribunal is higher than the fair rent would be for the same dwelling unfurnished.

There are several reasons for this, to which the hon. Member for Kensington, North (Mr. Douglas-Mann) referred. Letting a furnished property involves more work; the landlord provides more services, accepts more responsibility for repair and decoration and bears more risk of a bad debt. The dwelling is more often empty because lettings are of shorter duration. My hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead said that it would be reasonable to go as far as he suggested but, in equity, if we are to find a scheme, I am not sure that we may not have to go rather further.

The other difficulty is that of identifying those furnished tenants who have made their homes in furnished dwellings and whose claim for help is at least as good as that of the family who have made their home in unfurnished accommodation.

As I told the Committee on 20th January, as long ago as last October I set up a working party to consider how these practical and administrative difficulties might be overcome. It consisted of officials of my Department and others with experience of local government and rent tribunals who were invited to serve in a personal capacity. Much useful preliminary work has been done by the working party and we now have ideas which could serve as a basis in discussion with the local authority associations.

Meanwhile, quite spontaneously, the Association of Municipal Corporations and the London Boroughs Association—the two local authority associations whose members would have the main responsibility for operating a scheme of rent allowances for furnished tenants—have formally called on the Government to extend rent allowances to furnished tenants. The Urban District Councils Association and the Rural District Councils Association—the other two associations also concerned—have said that they are in principle in favour of such an extension.

In these circumstances, the Government consider that we are now in a position to embark on formal consultations with the local authority associations. These will begin this week. Their purpose is to work out a practical and effective scheme. It if can be worked out—and I am confident that it can—the Government will make it the duty of local authorities to operate such a scheme. The House, I am sure, will understand that I cannot forecast details of the scheme which will emerge from the consultations. I would not want to raise false hopes and it would in any case be wrong for me to anticipate the views of the local authority associations, but perhaps I could say this.

The working party thinks that it may well be possible to base the rent allowance on what would be the fair rent for the dwelling if it were let unfurnished but with some adjustment to take account of the fact that the furnished and unfurnished markets are different. The working party also believes that ways can be found of distinguishing between those tenants who have made their homes in furnished dwellings—I have in mind families with children and pensioners—and the substantial migratory population which occupy a large number of furnished tenancies at any one time.

Mr. Frank Marsden (Liverpool Scotland)

In Committee the Minister suggested that the people who live in furnished accommodation are always moving about—he almost suggested that they did moonlight flits. My information is that there is no greater amount of movement among tenants of furnished accommodation than there is amongst tenants of unfurnished accommodation. In my constituency, for example, a fairly constant number of people live the best part of their lives in furnished accommodation.

Mr. Amery

Out of the half million people in furnished tenancies a number have made their permanent homes in furnished accommodation. These are the people for whom hon. Members on both sides of the House, in bringing them into the ambit of the allowance scheme, feel that they have a direct responsibility. Perhaps half the people occupying furnished tenancies throughout the country go to another town for a short time on a particular job or on a research project, or they are foreign visitors to this country, and they are in a different category.

The working party thinks that it sees a solution to these two major problems, but there are still many detailed problems which have to be solved before a scheme can be introduced. It would be wrong to try to set a date at this stage. As the Opposition recognised in the new Clause, 1st April, 1973 is probably about the earliest date by which local authorities can be expected to make a start on granting rent allowances to furnished tenants. The authorities must first have time to cope with the introduction of rent allowances for unfurnished tenants, which they have to do by 1st January, 1973. I do not think that 1st April, 1973, is an unreasonable date if a proper scheme can be worked out.

We shall, therefore, enter upon thorough, and I trust successful, discussions with the local authority associations. When these have been completed I shall report again to the House so that the House can comment on any scheme which I can put before it.

Mr. Clinton Davis

A few moments ago the right hon. Gentleman quoted an estimated 500,000 people in furnished tenancies. When was that figure first estimated, and is there not evidence to show that it is out-dated and that the number of furnished tenancies has subsequently increased, particularly in stress areas such as my constituency?

Mr. Amery

I shall be in a position to give the hon. Member a much more authoritative answer when the final figures for the current housing survey are in my hand. I am beginning to get the first figures. I do not have the figure of unfurnished tenancies, but I am advised that it could be nearer 600,000 than 500,000 and that there has probably been no greater expansion than that.

In view of what I have said, I hope that my hon. Friends and right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will not press the new Clauses. I assure them that the Government are determined, with the help of the local authorities, to solve the problem of extending allowances to furnished tenants and to do so as speedily and effectively as we can.

Mr. Crosland

I began to be extremely encouraged during the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech since he sounded forthcoming, and I thought that some action was about to be announced. There has been only one change since the debate in Standing Committee on 20th January, and that is the change in the attitude of the local authority associations. Not only have they declared their unanimous support, but the AMC and the LBA have publicly said that they would take responsibility for administering the scheme.

In the light of all that—and the strength of the arguments has grown stronger every month—I thought the Minister was about to say, "The Government have definitely decided to implement a system of rent allowances for furnished tenants." Instead, the phrases he used were on lines that he hoped to work something out in terms of a scheme, or that he trusted that the new formal consultations would be successful. All that has changed between his speech on 20th January and that today is that in both cases he has been hoping and trusting that things would come to a successful outcome but the only difference is that the working party is now to be replaced by consultations with the local authority associations.

Mr. Amery

The right hon. Gentleman is doing a little less than justice to what has happened. Two things have happened. First, we have had statements from the four local authority associations concerned that they would like to cooperate in administering such a scheme. Secondly, the working party has now taken its internal deliberations as far as it can without discussions with the local authority associations. When the right hon. Gentleman cavils at my saying that I am confident that a scheme can be evolved, or even that I trust that this will take place, I am sure that he will be the first to agree, from his experience of local government, that it would be wrong for me to declare that something was to be evolved before consultations had taken place with the local authority associations. If we are to operate the scheme, it must be with their co-operation and consent—perhaps I should not say with their consent, but certainly with their co-operation after very detailed consultations with them. It would be a very great mistake for me in the House today to anticipate those discussions.

Mr. Crosland

The Minister's reluctance to move a step without the full agreement of the local authority world is well known, and we appreciate it. Nevertheless, I repeat that I was hoping for something stronger than the phrases he used this afternoon. I accept his assurances that he personally is determined to bring his consultations to a successful conclusion. If only to encourage him in his new endeavours, we shall not withdraw the new Clause. We shall vote for it.

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

Division No. 142.] AYES [6.45 p.m.
Abse, Leo Foot, Michael Milne, Edward
Albu, Austen Ford, Ben Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Forrester, John Molloy, William
Archer, Peler (Rowley Regis) Fraser, John (Norwood) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Armstrong, Ernest Galpern, Sir Myer Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Ashley, Jack Garrett, W. E. Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)
Ashton, Joe Gilbert, Dr. John Moyle, Roland
Atkinson, Norman Golding, John Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Murray, Ronald King
Barnes, Michael Gourlay, Harry Oakes, Gordon
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Grant, George (Morpeth) Ogden, Eric
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) O'Halloran, Michael
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) O'Malley, Brian
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Oram, Bert
Bidwell, Sydney Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Orbach, Maurice
Bishop, E. S. Hannan, Wlliam (G'gow, Maryhill) Orme, Stanley
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hardy, Peter Oswald, Thomas
Boardman. H. (Leigh) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)
Booth, Albert Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Padley, Walter
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Hattersley, Roy Paget, R. T.
Bradley, Tom Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Palmer, Arthur
Broughton, Sir Alfred Heffer, Eric S. Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Horam, John Pardoe, John
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Buchan, Norman Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Pavitt, Laurie
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Huckfield, Leslie Pendry, Tom
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Hughes, Mark (Durham) Pentland, Norman
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Perry, Ernest G.
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Cant, R. B. Hunter, Adam Prescott, John
Carmichael, Neil Irvine, Rt. Hn. SirArthur (Edge Hill) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Janner, Greville Price, William (Rugby)
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Rankin, John
Castle, Rt. Hni. Barbara Jeger, Mrs. Lena Reed, D. (Sedgefield)
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Cohen, Stanley Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Concannon, J. D. Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Roper, John
Conlan, Bernard Jones, Dan (Burnley) Rose, Paul B.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W.Ham,S.) Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Sandelson, Neville
Cronin, John Kaufman, Gerald Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Kelley, Richard Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Kerr, Russell Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Lamond, James Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N.E.)
Dalyell, Tam Latham, Arthur Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Leadbitter, Ted Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Davidson, Arthur Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick Sillars, James
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Leonard, Dick
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lestor, Miss Joan Silverman, Julius
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold Skinner, Dennis
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Small, William
Deakins, Eric Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
de Freitas. Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Lipton, Marcus Spearing, Nigel
Delargy, H. J. Lomas, Kenneth Spriggs, Leslie
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Loughlin, Charles Stallard, A. W.
Dempsey, James Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Steel, David
Doig, Peter McBride, Neil Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Dormand, J. D. McCartney, Hugh Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) McElhone, Frank Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Douglas-Mann, Bruce McGuire, Michael Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Dutty, A. E. P. Mackenzie, Gregor Swain, Thomas
Dunn, James, A. Mackie, John Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Dunnett, Jack Mackintosh, John P. Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Eadie, Alex McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Edelman, Maurice McNamara, J. Kevin Tinn, James
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Tomney, Frank
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Marks, Kenneth Torney, Tom
Ellis, Tom Marquand, David Tuck, Raphael
English, Michael Marsden, F. Urwin, T. W.
Marshall, Dr. Edmund Varley, Eric G.
Evans, Fred Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Wainwright, Edwin
Ewing, Henry Mayhew, Christopher Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Faulds, Andrew Meacher, Michael Wallace, George
Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham,Ladywood) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Watkins, David
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mendelson, John Weitzman, David
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Mikardo, Ian Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Millan, Bruce White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Foley, Maurice Miller, Dr. M. S Whitlock, William

The House divided: Ayes 239. Noes 270.

Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton) TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.) Wilson William (Coventry, S.) Mr. Joseph Harper and
Williams, W. T. (Warrington) Woof, Robert Mr. James Wellbeloved
Adley, Robert Fookes, Miss Janet McLaren, Martin
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Fortescue, Tim Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Fowler, Norman Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Maurice (Farnham)
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Fry, Peter McNair-Wilson, Michael
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Galbraith, Hn. T. G McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Astor, John Gardner, Edward Maddan, Martin
Atkins, Humphrey Gibson-Watt, David Madel, David
Awdry, Daniel Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Marten, Neil
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Gilmour, Sir John (Fife. E.) Mather, Carol
Balniel, Lord Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Maude, Angus
Balsford, Brian Goodhart, Philip Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
Beamish, Col. Sir Tutton Goodhew, Victor Mawby, Ray
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Gower, Raymond Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J
Benyon, W. Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Berry, Hn. Anthony Gray, Hamish Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Biffen, John Green, Alan Miscampbell, Norman
Biggs-Davison, John Grieve, Percy Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire.W)
Blaker, Peter Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds) Moate, Roger
Boardman, Tom (Leicester. S.W.) Grylls, Michael Monks, Mrs. Connie
Body, Richard Gummer, J. Selwyn Monro, Hector
Boscawen, Robert Gurden, Harold Montgomery, Fergus
Bossom, Sir Clive Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) More, Jasper
Bowden, Andrew Hall, John (Wycombe) Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm
Bray, Ronald Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Morrison, Charles
Brinton, Sir Tatton Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mudd, David
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Hannam, John (Exeter) Murton, Oscar
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Neave, Airey
Bryan, Paul Haselhurst, Alan Normanton, Tom
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M) Hastings, Stephen Onslow, Cranley
Buck, Antony Havers, Michael Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally
Bullus, Sir Eric Hawkins, Paul Osborn, John
Burden, F. A. Hay, John Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Hayhoe, Barney Page, Graham (Crosby)
Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn) Heseltine, Michael Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Carlisle, Mark Hicks, Robert Parkinson, Cecil
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Higgins, Terence L Pike, Miss Mervyn
Cary, Sir Robert Hiley, Joseph Pink, R. Bonner
Chapman, Sydney Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Chichester-Clark, R. Holland, Philip Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L
Churchill, W. S. Holt, Miss Mary Proudfoot, Wilfred
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Hordern, Peter Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hornby, Richard Quennell, Miss J. M
Clegg, Walter Hornsby-Smith. Rt. Hn.Dame Patricia Raison, Timothy
Cooke, Robert Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Coombs, Derek Howell, David (Guildford) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Cooper, A. E. Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Redmond, Robert
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick Hunt, John Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Cormack, Patrick Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Rees, Peter (Dover)
James, David Rees-Davies, W. R.
Costain, A. P. Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Critchley, Julian, Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Crouch, David Jessel, Toby Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Crowder, F. P Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Ridsdale, Julian
Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutstord) Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Jopling, Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmild.MaJ.-Gen.James Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith
Dean, Paul Kaberry, Sir Donald Rost, Peter
Deedes. Rt. Hn. W. F. Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Russell, Sir Ronald
Digby, Simon Wingfield Kershaw, Anthony St. John-Stevas, Norman
Dixon, Piers Kimball, Marcus Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Scott, Nicholas
Drayson, G. B. King, Tom (Bridgwater) Sharples, Richard
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Kinsey, J. R. Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh a Whitby)
Dykes, Hugh Kitson, Timothy Shelton, William (Clapham)
Eden, Sir John Knight, Mrs. Jill Sinclair, Sir George
Knox, David Skeet, T. H. H.
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Lane, David Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Langford-Holt, Sir John Soref, Harold
Emery, Peter Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Speed, Keith
Eyre, Reginald Le Marchant, Spencer Spence, John
Farr, John Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Sproat, Iain
Fell, Anthony Longden, Sir Gilbert Stainton, Keith
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Loveridge, John Stanbrook, Ivor
Fidler, Michael Luce, R. N. Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Filnsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) McAdden, Sir Stephen Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) MacArthur, Ian Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Fletcher-Cooke, Charler McCrindle. R. A. Stokes, John
Stuttaford, Dr. Tom Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin White, Roger (Gravesend)
Tapsell, Peter van Straubenzee, W. R. Wiggin, Jerry
Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Vaughan, Dr. Gerard Wilkinson, John
Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Vickers, Dame Joan Winterton, Nicholas
Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.) Waddington, David Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Tebbit, Norman Walder, David (Clitheroe) Woodnutt, Mark
Temple, John M. Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester) Worsley, Marcus
Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.) Walters, Dennis Younger, Hn. George
Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.) Ward, Dame Irene
Tilney, John Warren, Kenneth TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Traftord, Dr. Anthony Weatherill, Bernard Mr. Marcus Fox and
Trew, Peter Wells, John (Maidstone) Mr. John Stradling Thomas.
Tugendhat, Christopher

Question accordingly negatived.

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