HC Deb 06 June 1972 vol 838 cc360-94
Mr. Hugh D. Brown (Glasgow, Provan)

I beg to move Amendment No. 92, in page 26, line 29, leave out 'October 1972' and insert 'January 1973'.

Would it be convenient, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to take at the same time the following three Amendments:

No. 93, in page 26, line 33, leave out '£24' and insert '£8'.

No. 94, in page 26, line 39, leave out '£50' and insert '£34'.

No. 95, in page 26, line 44, at end insert— (1A) The Secretary of State may at the request of a local authority or on his own initiative in respect of any or all local authorities empower them by order to treat the provisions of subsection (1) of this section—

  1. (a) as having effect with such modifications, exceptions and adaptations as may be specified in the order;
  2. (b) as not having effect.
They are all related, and we could have one debate.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

If that is agreeable to the House, I have no objection.

Mr. Brown

This is a fairly important group of Amendments, but we will probably have to settle for one Division because of the shortage of time. I shall begin with a personal word to the Under-secretary. I do not say it in any sense of recrimination but I believe that we have been conned in the Business Committee in the timetable to which we have agreed. I will be generous and say that I do not think the Under-Secretary realised, any more than we did, what we were agreeing to.

As it has worked out, the bulk of the Amendments were for discussion in the first part of the time allocated and this was totally inadequate. Obviously I cannot criticise Mr. Speaker but I have certainly learned something the hard way. I agreed to a business timetable without knowing the enormous number of Amendments that the Government were putting down or that the new Clauses would take up the whole of the afternoon to deal with the Government's failures in Committee. I admit my share of the guilt or responsibility in agreeing to the proposal but I hope that the Undersecretary will do likewise.

Mr. Doig

He took advantage of it.

Mr. Brown

I will let the matter go at that. I have recorded my share of the blame.

These Amendments are very important. Amendment No. 92, which would change the date of operation of the first increase from 1st October this year until 1st January, 1973, and the consequential Amendments would scale down the amounts that are required under the provisions of the Bill. I am quite sure that the Minister and all hon. Members have understood the point and therefore I must argue for the general principle of delay in bringing the Bill into operation.

I would not presume to speak for Glasgow but the Amendments are linked to the general mood of many local authorities about the non-implementation of the Bill. They are absolutely right in saying that they intend doing nothing until the Bill becomes an Act. I do not believe that is an unreasonable attitude and I do not believe that even the Minister could fault them for it. The unfortunate consequence of it, however, is that local authorities will presumably be compelled by October at the latest, under the Bill as drafted, to find the additional £24 income and that is one of the things we are seeking to change in our Amendments.

I should like the Under-Secretary to listen to some of the reasons why local authorities have adopted the attitude they have. I am sure he will recognise that the attitude in Glasgow is not unreasonable, especially in the light of the other resentments that have been built up against the Government and which I do not have the time to discuss now. Because of them it is not unreasonable for local authorities which feel strongly about their loss of power to express their determination not to anticipate the Bill becoming an Act of Parliament. When will it become an Act of Parliament? Not before July at the earliest, I suspect. Perhaps the Minister will say whether that is a fair guess.

Does the Minister understand the situation in a large local authority such as Glasgow? July is a holiday month. There are no meetings and very little is done. Staff are away and officials are extremely busy. It has been a regular annual source of complaint that, because of the arrangements for the financial year in local government, officials are tied up with accounts and estimates during the holiday month of July in order to prepare for August and September. There is, therefore, a genuine difficulty of administration in a large local authority in getting down to the job of seeing how the Bill will operate.

If a circular is issued, presumably it will go out in July. In addition to their normal pressure of business at this time of year, therefore, officials will have to work out the implications, arrange publicity and do all the work necessary for transferring from the existing rebate system to the Government's rebate system on 1st October. What is more, they will have to prepare for and organise the introduction of the rent allowance scheme in January. All in all, they will be very busy.

On top of that, there is a general feeling that the Government are asking the big authorities to do too much too soon. Glasgow has 150,000 council houses. There are eight amenity groups—I support this idea—and in just one group there are 29 different sizes and types of house, while in the other seven there are 95 different sizes and types.

The Minister knows what has happened in the past when a big authority—even Saltcoats can do it, and that is not a big authority—has gone through the motions of reviewing rents from time to time, in accordance with the classic phrase. When there are 150,000 council houses it is easy to put up schemes, for the committee to take them away for examination, to remit them back to officials for further consideration and so on. Anyone in democratic government, local or national, knows the opportunities for delay if one wants to find reasons for it. The present Government are as good at it as any other.

There is, therefore, a mixture of genuine reasons and other opportunities which will lead to local authorities finding themselves in real difficulty by 1st October and still not being in a position to implement the Bill.

What will the Minister do? I do not wish to anticipate Clause 71 and the default powers. I have to watch what I am saying here because I think that, if I had been a member of Glasgow Corporation, I should not have made any declarations about what I would do regarding implementation or non- implementation. My position would have simply been "Until the Bill becomes an Act, I shall say nothing".

There will be three months, or even less perhaps, to do all that the Bill requires, and I reckon that it will be impossible for a big authority to do justice to the job and keep within reason its efforts to ensure that no individual rent goes over the permitted maximum.

9.0 p.m.

There is a real difficulty here which such local authorities will have to face. The Minister might say that it is of their own choosing but that is unreasonable, bearing in mind the principle, which I think is right, that we do nothing until this Bill becomes an Act. It seems to place at least some obligation on the Minister to attempt to understand the dilemma of a local authority like Glasgow.

The temptation, if the Act is to be adhered to in the time suggested, is to put on the £24 per house right across the board. I am sure that the Minister is with me. In other words, there will not be time to examine the 100-odd sizes and types of houses. To get the additional £24 per house, the additional income the Bill requires, though we are suggesting that should be amended, the temptation will be to slap on a straight increase of the same amount on every tenant. That would not be desirable. It is right, given the amenity groups and the various considerations that are to be taken into account, that local authorities should try and work out whether it is right or fair that the same increase should be put on to the tenants in Easter house, Castle milk or Chapeltown. Perhaps we should, as we have done in the past, put more on to some of the high amenity groups that everyone wants to get into.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I know there are genuine and practical difficulties facing an authority like Glasgow. First, I want an indication from the Minister whether it is reasonable, if the Bill goes through in July, to send out a circular to local authorities saying, "Do this, that or the other." We are now dealing with the practicalities of the situation. When does the Minister expect the Bill to receive Royal Assent? How soon after that will he send out his circulars?

By 1st October such authorities will be in breach of the law. What will the Minister do? I know that this is related to Clause 71 but it is relevant to the Amendment which I have moved. We are entitled to get some kind of major concession. The Minister referred to the fact that I was successful in getting an Amendment accepted in Committee. I am not too confident that he will accept any of these Amendments. At least he had better realise—this is as near a threat as I shall get—that he is on a sticky wicket.

I am not criticising my colleagues in the Glasgow Corporation. They have shown their hand. They have said in advance "We will not implement the Bill." There will be a lot of talking about that, but if I had been in charge of the political tactics of any of the big authorities I should have approached the matter like this: "What is the way we can get round this? What is the way in which we can challenge the Government?" Without taking the argument on to the nonsense about law and order, I would not reckon to expect a local authority of Glasgow's size with such a complex rent structure to do all this work and rent rebates and rent allowances in a matter of a few months at the busiest time of the year in local government. It is quite unreasonable.

I hope the Minister recognises that there will be many of us in Glasgow who are genuinely arguing that the postponement of the date as suggested in the Amendment is not unreasonable. It is on these matters that I hope the Minister will at least give us an indication of some understanding of the problems facing particularly the big authorities.

Mr. Baxter

When is my hon. Friend coming to the threat that he said he intended to make?

Mr. Brown

The Under-Secretary has the message even if my hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Baxter) will not read the reports of our debates in Standing Committee. I thought I had made the point well enough. I do not wish to cast any reflection on the ability of my hon. Friend to absorb my argument, but I am sure that Glasgow and the Under-Secretary have got the message.

Mr. Strang

I am glad to have the opportunity to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown). We have a rather interesting situation in Edinburgh. Prior to May, the local authority was hell bent on implementing the Bill at once. In fact, it wanted to introduce a similar scheme in May. But there was a change at the local elections, and I am pleased to say that the new town council, although not controlled by Labour, is sufficiently dominated by Labour to have been able to decide, although the decision has still to be ratified, to scrap the rent scheme with the increases which the previous council had intended. We all got a great deal of pleasure from that in Edinburgh not only because it will protect the tenants from hardship but because we see the implementation of policies in which we believe and because we can show those who say that voting at local elections does not matter what can be achieved.

The Edinburgh City Labour Party and the Labour group on the town council have done precisely what my hon. Friend the Member for Provan recommended. They propose not to implement the Bill until it has been passed and only then to decide on action. That leaves open the possibility of their telling the Government that if the Government are to give virtually no freedom about how councils fixrents and implement rebate schemes the Government can put in their own people and operate the scheme themselves.

My hon. Friend mentioned the massive build-up of municipal officers required to operate this cumbersome and socially vindictive rebate scheme. There are two local authorities in my constituency. Edinburgh has some experience in this respect, having operated supplementary charges for working sons and daughters for a number of years and having adopted all sorts of dodges and methods to try to extract additional rent from council tenants.

But the other authority, Musselburgh, is a more typical Scottish local authority and it has no experience of such rebate schemes. It will have to impose additional charges on working sons and daughters and even find out the incomes of sons or wives in the house in order to see whether they should be made tenants so as to decide the rent to be paid. This means finding out whether the son or wife earns more than the present tenant.

Mr. Younger

indicated dissent.

Mr. Strang

I am surprised that the Under-Secretary should shake his head. What else is the point of providing that a local authority may say to a son "You are earning more than your father, and we will therefore calculate the rent or rebate on the basis of your income"? It follows that the authority will have to find out whether anyone in the household is earning more than the present tenant. I hope that the Under-Secretary will tell us what the point of this provision is and how it will be operated, unless it is to find out whether someone in the household is earning more than the current tenant.

The main point is that we are trying to stave off these increases, or to modify them in the short term, because they impose real hardship on many people. We are living at a time of unprecedented price inflation. Every day we see prices rocketing. We know that they are rising at the rate of about 10 per cent, per year. They have been doing so for about 18 months, and there is no sign of this process abating. It is anonsense for the Government to talk about trying to contain inflation and to ask groups of workers to modify their wage demands while, at the same time, they are imposing these rent increases so soon and so sharply.

No doubt the Minister will say "It is true that prices have risen and that rents are rising, but people's wages are rising, too." With this housing rent rebate scheme and some of the other means-tested benefits that have been introduced we are moving towards a situation—in some cases we have reached it, and the Bill will certainly exacerbate it—in which wage increases actually make their recipients worse off.

The most recent figures that I have take into account the new national insurance contribution in October, 1972. Let us take the example of a man with three children, aged between 5 and 11, who was earning £18 a week and who receives an increase bringing his wage up to £22 a week. He loses £2.10 family income supplement; his national insurance contribution is increased by 19p; his rate rebate falls by 41p; his rent is increased from 75p to £1.15; he loses his school meals exemption, and has to pay £1.80. He does not pay tax, and is exempt from health charges, but his loss of benefit is £5.90, making a net loss of £1.90. He is that much worse off than he was before. That is the most appalling and socially vindictive aspect of the Government s approach to this issue, and they have not faced that fact yet. That is why I support the Amendments.

I hope that even at this late date the Government will show a little reasonableness. There is a limit to the degree to which people can be pushed, especially by somebody in the minority. The situation in Scotland, as everybody knows, is that the Government are decisively in the minority both in parliamentary seats and in the control of local authorities. No one says that the Labour Party in Scotland should be able to dictate Government policy, but if democracy means anything it means that a Government which are so much in the minority in a certain country should at least pay some attention to the views of the Opposition and not ride roughshod over them.

We ask the Government, merely as a gesture, to pay some attention to the views of the Scottish people. We ask them not to impose this alien approach, and to accept the Amendments.

Mr. Ewing

I support the Amendments. I compliment my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) on explaining in such graphic terms the effect of a £4 a week increase in a person's weekly wage; namely, a reduction of about £2 a week. That is a relevant point in our discussions. These Amendments give the Government the opportunity for a deathbed repentance—the opportunity to reduce the impact that the Bill will have upon rents in Scotland.

I make no apology for attacking hon. Members opposite who earlier this afternoon spoke for 25 or 30 minutes but now, when we are discussing the level of municipal rents and the protection to people's standards of living, are not even present in the Chamber. The Secretary of State now has as much support from his back benches as his parly has in Scotland. It is a disgrace to the Government and an insult to the people of Scotland.

9.15 p.m.

It ought also to be pointed out that the average standard rent in Scotland is £79. The Government seek through this Bill to impose, with effect from 1st October, an increase of a little more than 30 per cent. in one fell swoop. All the appeals for wage restraint, for heeding the public interest, for protecting the less well-off, the weaker sections of the community, will as a result fall on deaf ears. I appeal to the Government in the same terms as my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East. We believe that we are the people representing the electorate in Scotland, not the Government. We are much closer to the electorate who will be affected by this Measure than any Scottish Tory Member.

Mr. Ross

Where are they?

Mr. Ewing

If my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown) was not stern enough in his warning, I amplify what he has said. I warn the Government that they are heading for serious trouble if they tread this path. I want the Under-Secretary to give serious thought to what is being said and to take the opportunity presented by these Amendments of reducing the impact of the Bill on the people of Scotland.

Mr. James Sillars (South Ayrshire)

I find Amendment No. 92 extremely attractive and I would have thought that the Government would find it equally attractive. It seeks to postpone a certain event from October, 1972, until January, 1973, which is a date coinciding with our projected entry to the European Community. I say "projected" because we are not there yet. The Government will remember, because they made a contribution to the European movement, that the workers of this country were promised £7 a week in their pay packet after entering the Common Market. It would be the Government backing their hunch if they decided to postpone the implementation of this from October, 1972, until January, 1973. What better guarantee is there to the workers that all that propaganda that poured out from the Government and from European movement sources was the truth and not a pack of lies, as many in the Labour Party said?

With £7 a week extra in their pay packets the people I represent might be prepared to consider further increases in rents from January, 1973, although by then with the price of beef and other things rising they may want to reconsider their attitude. The Minister should have no problem in bouncing up to the Despatch Box and telling us that Amendment No. 92 is quite acceptable.

I am not entirely happy with the Amendments because I do not like any rent increases, but, given that we are not discussing the principle, simply trying to amend an exceptionally bad Bill, I will support the Amendments. May I suggest that the Government think seriously about accepting them? They would at least enable them to honour one promise, which was that they would reduce rent increases at a stroke. In a sense, coming at this time, they are sensible Amendments. The Government will have to be much more sensible in the next two years than they have been in the period between June, 1970, and now.

The Prime Minister at Question Time this afternoon was decidedly shaky. [Interruption.]We accept that the Government Whip makes those sorts of noises; we appreciate that he has to do so to keep his job. The question of keeping his seat arises later. I thought the Prime Minister was decidedly shaky, and he had good reasons for being so because the Government are running into trouble. Even Conservative economists tell us that we are heading for a balance of payments problem within the next six to nine months. We are already facing massive price increases in certain basic commodities, and we shall continue with exceptionally high unemployment. No one knows better than the Under-secretary that Scottish unemployment will not fall below 100,000 this year or next year. He knows that as well as I do, but he is not in a position to admit it this evening.

We shall face further price inflation because of our entry to the EEC. We have been given a clear indication that British steel will have to rise by about 15 per cent. That will give a tremendous impetus to inflation. In these circumstances the Government will need the co-operation of the working people to get themselves and the country out of the economic and social difficulties facing us. Since June, 1970, the Government have been waging war on the working people, industrially and socially. There is a clear division now and it is civil war, with the kid gloves on, between the Government and the working people. This is entirely the Government's responsibility. The Bill is yet a further weapon to be used against the working people.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), being a schoolmaster, has done his sums extremely well and has come up with the information that within a short time Scottish tenants will have to produce £50 million more in rents. If this is not waging war on the working people, what is? The Government are waging war on the people from whom they will require co-operation. If they accept these Amendments they will to some extent alleviate the position. If they reject them—and I confidently expect the Government to recommend their supporters to reject them—they will have to be prepared to face the consequences. If they are ready to take £50 million out of the pockets of the Scottish working people they can expect those people and their representatives, both social and political, to use every means at their disposal to put that money back in their pockets through wage increases. There is no other way that the workers can do it.

The Under-Secretary of State represents Ayr, which to some extent is a railway constituency. Is he prepared to tell the railwaymen that they must forgo the 14 per cent. increase while at the same time he is prepared to add 50p a week on their rents every year between now and 1975? Does he honestly think that men labouring under the financial constraints of the moment will be in a responsive mood to that sort of invitation from the Government? If the Government had any sense they would accept these Amendments, but they do not have sense, and by rejecting the Amendments they will be signing their own political death warrant at the next General Election.

Mr. Buchan

I intend to be very brief. So far, this is my only contribution to the Bill. I want to emphasise the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars). I do not think the Government should be under any misapprehension as to what they are doing to the people and how the people are reacting. My hon. Friend spoke of a "declaration of war" on the workers. That is how the Government's action has been taken.

Just as they are doing in industrial relations, the Government are using the law to provoke a conflict with the locally elected representatives of the people. They are deliberately picking a quarrel, known in advance. The Bill writes in the expectation of a conflict with the local authorities. This is being done against a rapidly rising cost inflation. We are almost at the stage when people will be asking themselves whether they can afford to pay their rent increase or buy a pound of meat. We are getting to the stage where we shall be paying £1 per lb for meat—and £1 is precisely the figure the Government are suggesting for a rent increase Perhaps they assume that the rate of inflation will be so great that the £50 per annum rent increase will not be seen.

Yet rents are precisely where the Government have some control. Elsewhere, costs have gone market mad—not just Common Market mad but "market" mad with a small "m". If they are serious about fighting inflation, the biggest single thing they can do at a stroke is to accept these Amendments, which would immediately relieve the situation.

If they continue on this highly dangerous course, as they are doing in other ways, they will, firstly, create a conflict between Government and people, consciously picking a fight between Government and people, which does no good to democracy, and, secondly, they will be bringing in the law when people resist. When we reach a situation in which the Government find themselves opposed by the local authority representatives, who are saying, as the majority are beginning to say, "We will resist this Bill", it is destructive not only of democracy but of the law itself. The law is brought into contempt in such a situation, which is challenging not only the nature of government but the law itself. We are on a very dangerous course.

Apparently, the hon. Gentleman is ignorant of the proposals in the Bill allied to rents and rebates. Because of the increased rents, he is turning members of family against each other. This was precisely the worst aspect of the means test in the 1930s. Young sons and daughters had to leave home then in order to protect their parents' wellbeing. That is what is happening under this Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) quoted the example of the £18 to £22 increase in wages, leaving a man £1.50 less well off, involving the necessity for a rebate. Hundreds of thousands of families will need rebates. This is increasing the depth of the poverty trap.

In our social welfare the Government have brought back the Speenhamland system of the eighteenth century; in agriculture they have brought back the Corn Laws of the nineteeth century; now they are bringing back the means test of the 1930s. The effect is to create a permanent pool of stagnant poverty.

I ask the Government to consider three things: first the conflict between Government and people, between the Government and the elected representatives of the people; secondly, the law being brought into contempt; thirdly, the hardship being brought to families in the lower income groups. The hon. Gentleman has a means of solving these things at a stroke. One of my hon. Friends used the term "threat", which turned out to mean that the Minister was batting on a sticky wicket. Batsmen on a sticky wicket usually get run out. The Government are going to go out, and damn quick.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. Younger

This has really been like old times this evening. Here we are back to the same arguments which we had presented in Committee. Sometimes in Committee I was consoling myself with the thought that hon. Gentlemen opposite in Committee were a very nice bunch of chaps but probably not the best chaps at opposition, and that when we were on the Floor of the House we should hear from hon. Members, even on that side, who would understand the Bill and make some really worth while contributions to the debate. This has been a very amiable debate, but I have rarely heard such a marvellous load of concentrated balderdash as that to which we have been treated on this Bill this evening.

In all sincerity I wonder whether some hon. Gentlemen who have spoken have even read the Bill. I made some notes, quotations of things they said. That is one of the bad habits which the right hon. Gentleman for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) was always talking about in Committee—all this writing down of what is said by the other side. The right hon. Gentleman always refers to it as a bad habit of his. Perhaps it is a good habit when I do it—I do not know—but I made some notes of things said to see whether I might refer to them and what might be done about them.

There was the hon. Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) who introduced us to the permanent pool of stagnant poverty.

Mr. Buchan

I said a stagnant pool of permanent poverty.

Mr. Younger

I beg the hon. Member's pardon. That transforms the entire meaning of the whole sentence! I really wonder what country he is living in and where he has been that he can make such over-stated remarks about the Bill.

The hon. Member for Renfrew, West, who was in splendid form this evening, talked about setting family against family and going back to the days of the means test, and all that sort of stuff, and we had the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) talking in a similar vein. Really, what sort of country are they living in? What year are they living in? 1972? I wonder what on earth they have been doing all these past years if they think that this is the sort of country we are living in that measures of that sort could be produced by this Bill or any other Bill of today.

Let us look at what is being done. I am not going to answer the general Second Reading debate speeches—

Hon. Members

Why not?

Mr. Younger

I think it would be wrong of me to answer Second Reading type speeches, but I will answer points made about the Amendments.

Mr. Sillars

On a point of order. You have just heard the Under-Secretary say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that he will not answer general Second Reading speeches on these Amendments. Is not that statement a reflection both on the Chair and on hon. Members on this side who were speaking directly relevantly to the Amendments? Are we not entitled to replies to the points we made?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I took the phrase "Second Reading speeches" as a figure of speech. When speeches are longer than sometimes one may wish them to be one is inclined to refer to them as Second Reading speeches, but I have heard nothing out of order.

Mr. Younger

I enjoyed the speech by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) very much. I did not mean to imply that I did not enjoy any of the speeches, but I just thought that they were irrelevant.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown) made the least irrelevant of the speeches. He actually referred to the Amendments on two or three occasions. I heard him do so. He asked about the timetable for the Bill. It would be unwise for me to forecast now when Parliament will finally complete work on the Bill and ask Her Majesty to give it her Royal Assent. All I can say is that I am confident that the Bill will be passed in good time for all the necessary measures to be taken under the Bill, and I will do all I can to see that it is passed in good time so that everybody concerned can have proper time to do the necessary work involved by it.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned that local authorities are talking about not anticipating the Bill. I am not going to anticipate other debates we may have, even during this stage of the Bill, but I will say that of course it is the case that till a Bill is the law of this land we are, none of us, obliged to obey it. If a Bill to change the law is introduced on any subject I do not have to obey it till it is passed and becomes the law of the land. That does not mean that people cannot anticipate, in terms of preparations, in terms of thought and planning, what they will do on the supposition that the Bill will become law.

During the discussions we have had with the local authority associations about this Bill we have been specifically asked on several occasions to introduce various measures under the Bill to make it easier for them to carry out the provisions of the Bill. Many specific points were put to us. One request, an obvious one, which was made to us was, that local authorities which made increases by 1st October last year, 1971, might count them towards increases they will make after the Bill is law. We were asked to do that, and we have done it. They can use it if they want to, and many are doing so. This is a reasonable way to proceed, and it is helping local authorities to prepare, if they wish to do so, for the application of the Bill.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East said that Edinburgh had changed its plans. I would not presume to comment on what Edinburgh plans to do. It is its area and not mine. Nor have matters been finally ratified. It is all for the Edinburgh Corporation to consider.

Having said that, I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman has really considered what this change is likely to mean to his constituents, remembering that his view of the Bill is a very one-sided one. It is his view alone—

Mr. Strang

By no means alone.

Mr. Younger

—and, while no doubt he has managed to persuade some of his constituents to adopt his view, it may interest him to know that not all the people of Edinburgh take that view.

Certain figures have been quoted in the Press. On the one hand we are told that the new arrangements will cause hardship. It appears, on the other, that 8,500 of Edinburgh's tenants will under the Bill and new arrangements find themselves paying less rent than before.

Mr. Ross

Deal with the debate.

Mr. Younger

I am replying to the points raised in the debate. The right hon. Gentleman is always telling me to stick to the point. That is what I am doing.

Has the hon. Member told the 8,500 Edinburgh tenants who will be paying less rent that the new arrangements are bad for them? Does he want them to return to paying more rent? A large number of them will be paying less than £1 a week and a considerable number will be paying nothing at all.

Mr. Michael Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, South)

I take it that they all live in South Edinburgh.

Mr. Younger

Perhaps that is why the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East has not made this point. I am sure that my hon. Friend's constituents will be glad to hear this. These people must be worried about the change which is proposed in Edinburgh.

The figures also tell us that 39,000 of Edinburgh's tenants will have to pay more rent, but that 10,000 of them are supplementary benefit recipients. The change is, therefore, immaterial to them because their rent will be paid in full by various means. This leaves the remaining 29,000, and about three-quarters of them will be paying increases of not more than 50p a week.

Mr. Buchan

That is a lot.

Mr. Younger

I have said repeatedly that in my view that is not an unreasonable increase to ask. In any event, it is fundamental to the Bill. We shall not agree about it, but that is the position.

I simply ask the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East whether he is certain that all his constituents, some of whom will be paying no rent, will be thrilled to bits about the intention of the Edinburgh Corporation to go back on the proposals.

The hon. Gentleman then talked about this business of son against father, father against son and family against family.

Mr. Strang

I did not say that.

Mr. Younger

The provisions in this context are specific and clear. I said in Committee that they would be used only in the most exceptional circumstances. The Amendments which we passed earlier but which, unfortunately, we did not have time to discuss make it even clearer that they are to be used only exceptionally. I have said many times that if any local authority were, as a matter of practice, to use means-testing on anyone other than the householder, I would disapprove of it and do all I could to prevent it.

The object of this proposal is not new. Most rent rebate schemes contain a provision whereby if a local authority thinks that abuse can take place from the point of view of a high earner taking advantage of the rent rebate scheme action can be taken. Is it fair that when two people are living alongside each other, in the same house, one of them should get a small rent rebate and have to struggle along with difficulty while the other, who has perhaps someone in his family earning very much money, £40 to £50 a week or something like that, should perhaps get a rent rebate as well? Is it fair that those two people should have exactly the same help? Is that equity? I do not think so. It is most unfair. The people concerned consider it unfair. The hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Doig) put it most eloquently in Committee, and the hon. Gentleman ought to address himself to this problem.

Mr. Strang

I should like to answer many of the points made by the Minister but I confine myself to one question. The hon. Gentleman has admitted that under the Bill in certain circumstances a local authority will be charging an increased rent not on the basis of the normal tenant but on the basis of someone else, perhaps a son or a wife. In order to do that, it has to get the information. If everyone were asked to complete a form about this, that would at least be an objective and fair way of doing it.

If the hon. Gentleman is saying that that is not so, is he saying that the authority will have to rely upon someone along the street saying "Look, that son is earning a phenomenal amount of money" and that the corporation will check that? Is he saying that there is a subjective way of doing this that will enable the local authority to get information on every household? The hon. Gentleman must face the issue. At every meeting at which I have explained this issue there has been an absolute uproar. The hon. Gentleman must face the fact that if this is to happen, the authority must get the information. How will it get it?

Mr. Younger

I know exactly why there has been an uproar. If I were a member of the audience and the hon. Member explained it to me in that way, I, too, would be in an uproar, because that is not the position. The hon. Gentle man knows that. There is a fall-back provision in the Bill that where there is an outstanding case of abuse the local authority—

Mr. Strang

How does it find out?

Mr. Younger

—will be able to take action. It is not expected or intended, and is totally misleading to suggest, that it will be necessary to take evidence from families or to get anyone to fill in a form. One of the whole points of the rent rebate scheme and the way it is designed is that it will not be necessary to means-test the whole family. That is one of the things about which we are proud.

I do not expect the hon. Gentleman to agree with me but he could at least ponder upon this. He is quite wrong in thinking that this will happen on any scale. It is only a fall-back and safeguard provision that can be used in cases of outstanding abuse. The support for that is not only on this side of the House. The hon. Member for Dundee, West was very much more eloquent than I am about it. He told us that people jolly well resent this inequity when it happens, and it is time that someone did something about it.

Mr. Eadie

The hon. Gentleman is appearing to make a concession to the House. In the light of what he has said about the extraordinary circumstances, although it is specific in the Bill, may I take it that he will circularise every local authority in Scotland, new towns and the SSHA on precisely the point he has made, that the Clause is to be operated only in exceptional circumstances?

Mr. Younger

Yes, certainly that will be included in the circulars that will be sent out when the Bill is passed.

Mr. Strang

In the same circular, will the hon. Gentleman give local authorities guidance about how they are to locate the cases of abuse? He has not answered that question.

Mr. Younger

I would not commit myself to doing that in the same circular. I can, however, undertake that local authorities will be clearly told how they should implement this and will get every possible advice on the lines of what I have been saying. I have said it in Committee, too, and I hope that hon. Gentlemen will look that up as well.

9.45 p.m.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

The Under-secretary fails to appreciate the concern which is felt about this. The major rebate schemes at present—either SSHA or Glasgow Corporation—have a standard allowance for an adult earning any amount. In other words, only if one wants to claim something is it necessary to provide information about full earnings. Under the Minister's proposals, the gross earnings of every person—[Interuption.] The hon. Gentleman will need to be specific about this. How will he know whether a non-dependent adult is even working unless he asks the question or asks what wages he is receiving? Is the hon. Gentleman saying that there will not be such a question on the relevant form?

Mr. Younger

Yes, I am saying that. The hon. Gentleman must have been in the audiences which the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East has been turning into uproar by his descriptions of what he thinks will happen. One of the whole points of the scheme, on which we have taken the recommendations of the Brownlie Report, is that it will not be necessary to means-test other members of the family, and there is to be a flat-rate deduction irrespective of their earnings. That is the most important part of the scheme. That is why there will not need to be a declaration of earnings by the son or daughter or anyone else living in the household. I hope that next time the hon. Member for Provan goes to a meeting addressed by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East he will take a pair of rose-tinted spectacles with him and listen very carefully indeed.

The hon. Member for Stirling and Fal-kirk Burghs (Mr. Ewing) said that there was no protection in the Bill for the lower paid. I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman has ever read the Bill through. The Bill is wholly designed to concentrate help on those who earn the smallest amounts of money. That is the whole purpose of the subsidies, as the hon. Gentleman should know by now.

Mr. Ewing

The Under-Secretary has misquoted me. He should write everything down and then perhaps he would get it right. I did not say that. I said that the appeal to trade unionists to have regard to the lower paid would fall on deaf ears because of the need they had to protect themselves against the measures which were being inflicted on them by the Under-Secretary. Has he got that clear now before I sit down?

Mr. Younger

It is about as clear as mud to me. Any trade unionist who is in the lower earning bracket is protected by the rent rebate scheme. If he is in the higher earning bracket his increase is limited to 50p per week. If the hon. Gentleman can tell me how many of his friends who are trade unionists have had increases of less than 50p a week every year for the last 10 years, I should be interested to know who they are.

I will leave aside the marvellous electoral survey of Scotland as seen by the hon. Members for South Ayrshire and for Renfrew, West. The hon. Member for South Ayrshire has brought his dusty old speech out several times. It is a good hardy annual. It entertains us each time. However, he never gets time to finish it. Perhaps he has lost the last page of it, because that is the page where he goes on to explain that one of the reasons for the number of seats that this side of the House holds in Scotland is that the constituencies were so brilliantly gerrymandered before the last General Election that there are, therefore, deliberately by the hand of his own party less than there should be, as everyone well knows.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will look for that last page of his speech because I am sure it will be a good one and that he will be able to put it across very well with his usual energy.

Mr. Sillars

As we are moving into new electoral boundaries, what about a wager between the Under-Secretary and myself about the respective returns as between the Labour and Tory Parties?

Mr. Younger

It would probably be out of order for hon. Members to bet across the Floor of the House. I should not like to have to make a personal statement tomorrow excusing myself, so I will resist the hon. Member's blandishments.

We are discussing a group of Amendments, although from some of the points which have been made it might be wondered whether we have been discussing the Amendments. The points raised by the Amendments, some of which were covered in Committee, are, first, as to Amendment No. 92, to defer the date of the Bill coming into operation. I could not accept that. I accept that there are administrative difficulties to overcome. I was interested in what the hon. Member for Provan said in describing these and I will read his remarks carefully in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Although undoubtedly there will be a great deal of work to be done, I am certain that it can and will be done, as in the past similar changes have so often been carried out. I am certain that local authority officials will be able to cope with the work.

There is also the point that a delay in the start of the Bill's operations would delay the benefits to be secured under the Bill. There are the ratepayers to be thought of as well. Are we to postpone the benefits to the ratepayers for three months? Is that a popular cry? Of course it is not. The ratepayers want the benefits that will arise under the Bill. They are waiting for the rate burden to be more than halved. I will not be party to delaying that for more than three months.

Then on Amendment No. 93 there is the question of the attempt to reduce £24 to £8. The object of the Amendment is to make a difference in the effect on the ratepayers in the early months. This does not work altogether in the way that the proponents of the Amendment thought, because in some ways this will ensure that local authorities which increase their rents before 1st October will be given credit for so doing—that is the retrospective part of it—but the amounts required to be got in in the next year or two would again have the benefit of delay.

There are two sets of people to consider here, ratepayers and rent payers. They are to some extent the same people, but they are to some extent not the same people. We have the benefits to both to consider as well as their problems which hon. Members opposite are always harping on.

There is, finally, the suggestion in Amendment No. 95 that there should be power for the Secretary of State to exercise a wider measure of discretion. I do not think this will be necessary. I think that the provisions in the Bill are clear and workable. Local authorities concerned will get ample advice and help in implementing these in the normal way. When the full benefits are achieved, it will be simple for local authorities to see, in preparing to implement the Bill, whether they do it immediately or after a little heart-searching, as the hon. Member for Provan described, that it is much to the benefit of the ratepayers and it will give them as local authorities much scope for doing things which they have not been able to do previously and which they will be very glad to be able to do now. I must ask the House to reject the Amendments.

Mr. Ross

We have to hand it to the Minister. He has a wonderful tactic: seize something which is irrelevant, spend a great deal of time on it and spend as little time as possible on matters which are in order. I have seldom heard—and I hope that you are listening, Mr. Deputy Speaker—a speech more out of order than the right hon. Gentleman's speech.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman, strictly speaking, can say that. I do not think he means his words to have the effect which they have in my ears.

Mr. Ross

I am saying that I have not heard a speech which was more out of order.

The hon. Gentleman dealt with the question of the rent rebate scheme. He dealt with Amendment No. 35 which, although it is on the Notice Paper, was not debated because of the guillotine. We would have liked to vote on Amendment No. 35, but we had to give up the chance of doing so because of the time which would have been involved. The hon. Gentleman spent exactly four minutes dealing with the four Amendments under discussion. This is an insult to Parliament.

I know that the hon. Gentleman is a fairly young Minister and that this is his first Bill, but the habit which he is acquiring is bad.

Mr. Younger


Mr. Ross

I cannot give way because we are working against time. The guillotine falls again at 11 o'clock and, whether we like it or not, the debate has been cut by virtue of the hon. Gentleman's speech.

I wish to deal as quickly as possible with the Amendments. We sought to save the Government from themselves. Many changes have taken place in Government policy since they first thought of the Bill and introduced their White Paper, but they have not departed in any way from their proposals for the timing of the Bill.

The first Amendment deals with timing—the imposition of the rent increases on or before 1st October, 1972. The increases must be imposed, and the calculation is related to the amount of money—£24 per house—for the whole of the year 1972–73. But for the local authorities the year 1972–73 starts in May. This Bill is not yet law, and we are in June. The Minister could not say when it will become law, nor can I. But I can tell him that it does not become law when it is passed by this House. According to the last Clause, it becomes law one month after its passing. Therefore, Glasgow and other cities will probably not be functioning as local legislative bodies when it becomes law

I hope that the Minister appreciates the administrative difficulties, of which he made light. They will not be his. All that the Government do is introduce legislation and expect the local authorities to comply. When we suggest "Do not make it run from 1st October; make it 1st January" we are inviting the Government to be fair to the local authorities.

I come to the question of the figure or £24. This concerns the dubious probity of the Government's proposals. The Bill is not yet law and is not likely to become law until, at the earliest, July or August. Between October this year and May next year—six or seven months—local authorities must, by law, collect £24 per house for the whole year, which means an increase of virtually £1 a week because it is concentrated into those months after the Bill becomes law.

If the Minister thinks that that is fair and right, then he stands alone. This is why we sought to change the figures. I suggested in Committee that the Government were creating more difficulties for themselves by this proposal than by anything else in the Bill—and we do not agree with anything else in the Bill. I say to my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) that if we had been in the position to do it we would have voted against the principle Clause by Clause. As I have said, we sought to save the Government from themselves and from the difficulties which they are creating for themselves and local authorities.

10.0 p.m.

How can any Government hope to appeal, on the one hand, for co-operation, saying to the people "We are trying to hold down the price of this, that and the next", while, on the other, by their own decision they put up rents to the very maximum at a time when unemployment will again be rising?

It is no good the Minister referring to the rent rebates. Does he know anything about ordinary Scots people and their attitude to means tests? If he is inclined to scoff at that, let him read the speech of the present Prime Minister delivered, I think, on Scottish television in September, 1969, when he said "What do you want—a means test society in a means test economy?". Yet now we have means test after means test with every piece of legislation they bring in, and the Government glory in it.

Amendment No. 95—incidentally, my name heads the list against the others as well as this—is a sort of last ditch attempt at the last minute to give power to the Secretary of State, on his own initiative or at the request of a local authority with particular problems, to vary the provisions of the Clause.

The words are impeccable. I think that there has been a transposition of one or two words, but anyone interested can find them on page 56 of the Bill. It is a power which the Government use when they take over responsibilities in respect of certain local authorities in default.

The Secretary of State would be wise to have this power. He cannot foresee the timetable for the Bill. He cannot even foresee the difficulties he will run into. He would be far better advised to take this power to set aside or modify all the increases in the first two years. I am not a great one for giving powers to a Secretary of State of this sort, but I am prepared to entrust such a power to him so that he may, either on his own initiative or at the request of a local authority, do what is necessary.

What is wrong with that? If the Secretary of State were a wise man, he would accept it. It commits him to nothing. If, on the other hand, he does not accept it—I gather from the Under-Secretary of State that he will not—it means that, come what may, he will steamroller these rent increases through on people who rejected him and his policies at the General Election and who rejected his party at the municipal elections.

I think that we should now vote on Amendment No. 92, and then vote also on No. 95, if the Government have not changed their mind.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 238, Noes 259

Division No. 203.] AYES [10.5 p.m.
Abse, Leo Carmichael, Neil Eadie, Alex
Albu, Austen Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Edwards, Robert (Bilston)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Edwards, William (Merioneth)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Ellis, Tom
Armstrong, Ernest Clark, David (Colne Valley) English, Michael
Ashley, Jack Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Evans, Fred
Ashton, Joe Cohen, Stanley Ewing, Harry
Atkinson, Norman Concannon, J. D. Faulds, Andrew
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Conlan, Bernard Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Barnes, Michael Corbet, Mrs. Freda Foot, Michael
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Ford Ben
Baxter, William Crawshaw, Richard Forrester, John
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Cronin, John Fraser, John (Norwood)
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Freeson, Reginald
Bidwell, Sydney Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Galpern, Sir Myer
Bishop, E. S. Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Garrett, W. E.
Blenkinsop, Arthur Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Gilbert. Dr. John
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Dalyell, Tam Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)
Booth, Albert Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Gourlay, Harry
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Davies, Ifor (Gower) Grant, George (Morpeth)
Bradley, Tom Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Grant, John D. (Islington, E.
Broughton, Sir Alfred Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Deakins, Eric Griffiths. Will (Exchange)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Hamling, William
Buchan, Norman Dempsey, James Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhll)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Doig, Peter Hardy, Peter
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Dormand, J. D. Harrison, Walter (Wakefleld)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Douglas-Mann, Bruce Hattersley, Roy
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Driberg, Tom Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis
Cant, R. B. Dunn, James A. Heffer. Eric S.
Horam, John Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Rowlands, Ted
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Mayhew, Christopher Sandelson, Neville
Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Meacher, Michael Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Huckfield, Leslie Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Mendelson, John Short,Rt.Hn.Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Mikardo, Ian Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton.N.E.)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Millan, Bruce Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Miller, Dr. M. S. Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Hunter, Adam Milne, Edward Sillars, James
Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen) Silverman, Julius
Janner, Greville Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Skinner, Dennis
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
John, Brynmor Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Spearing, Nigel
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Spriggs, Leslie
Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.) Moyle, Roland Steel, David
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Murray, Ronald King Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Oakes, Gordon Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Ogden, Eric Strang, Gavin
Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) O'Halloran, Michael Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Kaufman, Gerald O'Malley, Brian Swain, Thomas
Kelley, Richard Oram, Bert Taverne, Dick
Kinnock, Neil Orbach, Maurice Thomas,Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff,W.)
Lambie, David Oswald, Thomas Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Lamborn, Harry Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Lamond, James Padley, Walter Tinn, James
Latham, Arthur Paget, R. T. Torney, Tom
Lawson, George Palmer, Arthur Urwin, T. W.
Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Varley, Eric G.
Leonard, Dick Parker, John (Dagenham) Wainwright, Edwin
Lestor, Miss Joan Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange) Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold Pavitt, Laurie Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Pendry, Tom Wallace, George
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Pentland, Norman Watkins, David
Lipton, Marcus Perry, Ernest G. Weitzman, David
Lomas, Kenneth Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg. Wellbeloved, James
Loughlin, Charles Prescott, John Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Price, William (Rugby) Whitehead, Phillip
Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Probert, Arthur Whitlock, William
McBride, Neil Rankin, John Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
McCartney, Hugh Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
McElhone, Frank Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.) Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
McGuire, Michael Rhodes, Geoffrey Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Mackenzie, Gregor Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Woof, Robert
Mackintosh, John P. Roberts,Rt.Hn.Goronwy(Caernarvon)
Maclennan, Robert Robertson, John (Paisley) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n&R'dnor) Mr. Joseph Harper and
Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Roper, John Mr. James Hamilton.
Marks, Kenneth Rose, Paul B.
Marsden, F. Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Marshall, Dr. Edmund
Adley, Robert Buck, Antony Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Burden, F. A. Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn) Emery, Peter
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Carlisle, Mark Eyre, Reginald
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Chapman, Sydney Farr, John
Astor, John Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Fell, Anthony
Atkins, Humphrey Chichester-Clark, R. Fenner, Mrs. Peggy
Awdry, Daniel Churchill, W. S. Fidler, Michael
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)
Batsford, Brian Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Clegg, Walter Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Bell, Ronald Cockeram, Eric Fookes, Miss Janet
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Cooke, Robert Fortescue, Tim
Benyon, W. Coombs, Derek Fowler, Norman
Berry, Hn. Anthony Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick Fry, Peter
Biffen, John Cormack, Patrick Galbraith, Hn. T. G.
Biggs-Davison, John Costain, A. P. Gardner, Edward
Blaker, Peter Crouch, David Gibson-Watt, David
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Crowder, F. P. Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)
Body, Richard Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)
Boscawen, Robert d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.
Bowden, Andrew d'Avigdor-Goldsmid.Maj.-Gen.James Goodhart, Philip
Bray, Ronald Dean, Paul Goodhew, Victor
Brewis, John Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Gorst, John
Brinton, Sir Tatton Dixon, Piers Gower, Raymond
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Drayson, G. B. Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Green, Alan
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Dykes, Hugh Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)
Bryan, Sir Paul Eden, Sir John Grylls, Michael
Buchanan-Smith,Alick(Angus,N&M) Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Gummer, J. Selwyn
Gurden, Harold Maddan, Martin Sharples, Richard
Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Madel, David Shaw, Michael (Sc'rb'gh & Whitby)
Hall, John (Wycombe) Marten, Neil Shelton, William (Clapham)
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Mather, Carol Simeons, Charles
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Maude, Angus Sinclair, Sir George
Hannam, John (Exeter) Mawby, Ray Skeet, T. H. H.
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Haselhurst, Alan Meyer, Sir Anthony Soref, Harold
Havers, Michael Mills, Peter (Torrington) Speed, Keith
Hawkins, Paul Miscampbell, Norman Spence, John
Hayhoe, Barney Mitchell, Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W) Sproat, Iain
Heath, Rt. Hn Edward Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Stainton, Keith
Hicks, Robert Moate, Roger Stanbrook, Ivor
Hiley, Joseph Molyneaux, James Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Money, Ernie Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Holland, Philip Monks, Mrs. Connie Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Holt, Miss Mary Monro, Hector Stokes, John
Hordern, Peter Montgomery, Fergus Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Hornby, Richard More, Jasper Sutcliffe, John
Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)
Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate) Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Morrison, Charles Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
Hunt, John Mudd, David Tebbit, Norman
Hutchison, Michael Clark Murton, Oscar Temple, John M.
Iremonger, T. L. Nabarro, Sir Gerald Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Neave, Airey Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
James, David Nicholls, Sir Harmar Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon. S.)
Jessel, Toby Normanton, Tom Tilney, John
Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Onslow, Cranley Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Jopling, Michael Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Trew, Peter
Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby) Tugendhat, Christopher
Kaberry, Sir Donald Page, John (Harrow, W.) Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Parkinson, Cecil van Straubenzee, W. R.
Kershaw, Anthony Percival, Ian Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Kilfedder, James Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Waddington, David
Kimball, Marcus Pike, Miss Mervyn Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Pink, R. Bonner Ward, Dame Irene
King, Tom (Bridgwater) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Warren, Kenneth
Kinsey, J. R. Price, David (Eastleigh) Weatherill, Bernard
Kitson, Timothy Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L. Wells, John (Maidstone)
Knox, David Proudfoot, Wilfred White, Roger (Gravesend)
Lambton, Lord Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Wiggin, Jerry
Lamont, Norman Quennell, Miss J. M. Wilkinson, John
Lane, David Raison, Timothy Winterton. Nicholas
Langford-Holt, Sir John Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Redmond, Robert Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Le Marchant, Spencer Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.) Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Rees, Peter (Dover) Woodnutt, Mark
Longden, Sir Gilbert Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Worsley, Marcus
Loveridge, John Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Luce, R. N. Ridsdale, Julian Younger, Hn. George
McAdden, Sir Stephen Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)
MacArthur, Ian Roberts, Wyn (Conway) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
McCrindle, R. A. Rost, Peter Mr. Hamish Gray and
McLaren, Martin Russell, Sir Ronald Mr. Marcus Fox.
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy St. John-Stevas, Norman
McNair-Wilson, Michael Scott, Nicholas
McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment proposed: No. 95, in page 26, line 44, at end insert: (1A) The Secretary of State may at the request of a local authority or on his own initiative in respect of any or all local authorities empower them by order to treat the provisions of subsection (1) of this section—

(a) as having effect with such modifications, exceptions and adaptations as may be specified in the order;

(b) as not having effect.—[Mr. Ross.]

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 237, Noes 262.

Division No. 204.] AYES [10.12.p.m.
Abse, Leo Bagier, Gordon A.T Blenkinsop, Arthur
Albu, Austen Barnes, Michael Boardman, H. (Leigh)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Booth, Albert
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Baxter, William Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur
Armstrong, Ernest Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Bradley, Tom
Ashley, Jack Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Broughton, Sir Alfred
Ashton, Joe Bidwell, Sydney Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)
Atkinson, Norman Bishop, E.S Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Palmer, Arthur
Buchan, Norman Hughes, Roy (Newport) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn Hunter, Adam Parker, John (Dagenham)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Irvine,Rt.Hn.SirArthur(Edge Hill) Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Janner, Greville Pavitt, Laurie
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Pendry, Tom
Cant, R. B. John, Brynmor Pentland, Norman
Carmichael, Neil Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Perry, Ernest G.
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.) Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Prescott, John
Castle, Rt. Hon. Barbara Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Price, William (Rugby)
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Probert, Arthur
Cohen, Stanley Kaufman, Gerald Rankin, John
Concannon, J. D. Kelley, Richard Reed, D. (Sedgefield)
Conlan, Bernard Kinnock, Neil Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Lambie, David Rhodes, Geoffrey
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Lamborn, Harry Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Crawshaw, Richard Lamond, James Roberts, Rt.Hn.Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Cronin, John Latham, Arthur Robertson, John (Paisley)
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Lawson, George Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n&R'dnor)
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick Roper, John
Dalyell, Tam Leonard, Dick Rose, Paul B.
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Lestor, Miss Joan Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold Rowlands, Ted
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Sandelson, Neville
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Deskins, Eric Lipton, Marcus Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Lomas, Kenneth Short, Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Loughlin, Charles Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.)
Dempsey, James Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Doig, Peter Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Dormand, J. D. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Sillars, James
Douglas-Mann, Bruce McBride, Neil Silverman, Julius
Driberg, Tom McCartney, Hugh Skinner, Dennis
Dunn, James A. McElhone, Frank Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
Eadie, Alex McGuire, Michael Spearing, Nigel
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Mackenzie, Gregor Spriggs, Leslie
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Mackintosh, John P. Steel, David
Ellis, Tom Maclennan, Robert Stoddart, David (Swindon)
English, Michael McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Evans, Fred Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Strang, Gavin
Ewing, Harry Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Faulds, Andrew Marks, Kenneth Swain, Thomas
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Marsden, F. Taverne, Dick
Foot, Michael Marshall, Dr. Edmund Thomas,Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff,W.)
Ford, Ben Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Forrester, John Mayhew, Christopher Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Fraser, John (Norwood) Meacher, Michael Tinn, James
Freeson, Reginald Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Torney, Tom
Galpern, Sir Myer Mendelson, John Urwin, T. W.
Garrett, W. E. Mikardo, Ian Varley, Eric G.
Gilbert, Dr. John Millan, Bruce Wainwright, Edwin
Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Miller, Dr. M. S. Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Gourlay, Harry Milne, Edward Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Grant, George (Morpeth) Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen) Wallace, George
Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Watkins, David
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshaw) Weitzman, David
Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Wellbeloved, James
Hamilton, William (Fife. W.) Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Hamling, William Moyle, Roland White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Murray, Ronald King Whitehead, Phillip
Hardy, Peter Oakes, Gordon Whitlock, William
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Ogden, Eric Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Hattersley, Roy O'Halloran. Michael Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis O'Malley, Brian Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Heffer, Eric S. Oram, Bert Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Horam, John Orbach, Maurice Woof, Robert
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Oswald, Thomas
Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Huckfield, Leslie Padley, Walter Mr. Joseph Harper and
Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Paget, R. T. Mr. James Hamilton.
Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Adley, Robert Batsford, Brian Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)
Alison. Michael (Barkston Ash) Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Body, Richard
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Bell, Ronald Boscawen, Hn. Robert
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Bowden, Andrew
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Benyon, W. Bray, Ronald
Astor, John Berry, Hn. Anthony Brawis, John
Atkins, Humphrey Biffen, John Brinton, Sir Tatton
Awdry, Daniel Biggs-Davison, John Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Blaker, Peter Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Holt, Miss Mary Pike, Miss Mervyn
Bryan, Sir Paul Hordern, Peter Pink, R. Bonner
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M) Hornby, Richard Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Buck, Antony Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia Price, David (Eastleigh)
Burden, F. A. Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate) Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Campbell, Rt.Hn.G. (Moray & Nairn) Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Proudfoot, Wilfred
Carlisle, Mark Hunt, John Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis
Chapman, Sydney Hutchison, Michael Clark Quennell, Miss J. M.
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Iremonger, T. L. Raison, Timothy
Chichester-Clark, R. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Churchill, W. S. James, David Redmond, Robert
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Rees, Peter (Dover)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Jessel, Toby Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Clegg, Walter Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Cockeram, Eric Jopling, Michael Ridsdale, Julian
Cooke, Robert Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)
Coombs, Derek Kaberry, Sir Donald Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Cooper, A. E. Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Rost, Peter
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick Kershaw, Anthony Russell, Sir Ronald
Cormack, Patrick Kilfedder, James St. John-Stevas, Norman
Costain, A. P. Kimball, Marcus Scott, Nicholas
Crouch, David King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Sharples, Richard
Crowder, F. P. King, Tom (Bridgwater) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Kinsey, J. R. Shelton, William (Clapham)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Kitson, Timothy Simeons, Charles
d'Avigdor-Goldsmld,Maj.-Gen.James Knox, David Sinclair, Sir George
Dean, Paul Lambton, Lord Skeet, T. H. H.
Deedes, Rl. Hn. W. F. Lamont, Norman Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Dixon, Piers Lane, David Soref, Harold
Drayson, G. B. Langford-Holt, Sir John Speed, Keith
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Spence, John
Dykes, Hugh Le Merchant, Spencer Sproat, Iain
Eden, Sir John Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Stainton, Keith
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Longden, Sir Gilbert Stanbrook, Ivor
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Loveridge, John Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Luce, R. N. Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Emery, Peter McAdden, Sir Stephen Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Eyre, Reginald MacArthur, Ian Stokes, John
Farr, John McCrindle, R. A. Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Fell, Anthony McLaren, Martin Sutcliffe, John
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Tapsell, Peter
Fidler, Michael McNair-Wilson, Michael Taylor,Edward M. (G'gow.Cathcart)
Finsberg. Geoffrey (Hampstead) McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Maddan, Martin Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Madel, David Tebbit, Norman
Fookes, Miss Janet Marten, Neil Temple, John M.
Fortescue, Tim Mather, Carol Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Fowler, Norman Maude, Angus Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Fraser.Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Mawby, Ray Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Fry, Peter Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon,S.)
Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Meyer, Sir Anthony Tilney, John
Gardner, Edward Mills, Peter (Torrington) Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Gibson-Watt, David Miscampbell, Norman Trew, Peter
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Mitchell,Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W) Tugendhat, Christopher
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Moate, Roger van Straubenzee, W. R.
Goodhart, Philip Molyneaux, James Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Goodhew, Victor Money, Ernie Waddington, David
Gorst, John Monks, Mrs. Connie Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Gower, Raymond Monro, Hector Ward, Dame Irene
Green, Alan Montgomery, Fergus Warren, Kenneth
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) More, Jasper Weatherill, Bernard
Grylls, Michael Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Gummer, J Selwyn Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. White, Roger (Gravesend)
Gurden, Harold Morrison, Charles Wiggin, Jerry
Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Mudd, David Wilkinson, John
Hall, John (Wycombe) Murton, Oscar Winterton, Nicholas
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Nabarro, Sir Gerald Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Neave, Airey Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Hannam, John (Exeter) Nicholls, Sir Harmar Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Woodnutt, Mark
Haselhurst, Alan Normanton, Tom Worsley, Marcus
Havers, Michael Onslow, Cranley Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Hawkins, Paul Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Younger, Hn. George
Hayhoe, Barney Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)
Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Page, John (Harrow, W.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hicks, Robert Parkinson, Cecil Mr. Hamish Gray and
Hiley, Joseph Percival, Ian Mr. Marcus Fox.
Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Peyton, Rt. Hn. John
Holland, Philip

Question accordingly negatived.

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