HC Deb 07 June 1972 vol 838 cc587-610

Question again proposed, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Mr. Doig

The only excuse that has been put forward by the Government for allowing rents of old, privately owned houses to be increased substantially is that the necessary repairs cannot be done unless these increases are made. Yet when we pressed in Committee for the Government to make it a condition of allowing these increases in rent that landlords should have to do the necessary repairs or bring these houses up to the accepted tolerable standard, the Government refused to accept the proposition. So it is just eyewash that the reason for the increase is to enable repairs to be carried out. It is the same kind of eyewash that we got on the Rent Act, 1957, from the Tory Government, who gave as an excuse for allowing considerable increases in rent that it would make the provision of new accommodation by private owners for rent a feasible proposition.

I asked a long time afterwards how many ordinary houses had been built as a result of that Act. The answer was one solitary house in the four cities of Scotland. That is how successful it was. The only other new houses built for rent as a result of the Act were luxury houses at exorbitant rents certainly not intended for working people. The same result will come from this Bill. It will substantially increase rents; it will get no more repairs done; at the end of the day no more houses will be built under it. It will be as big a flop as the 1957 Act and the next Labour Goverenment will have to clear the mess up. These rent increases will be imposed whether repairs are carried out or not, and as long as there is such a situation there is no incentive to owners of these properties to bring them up to a tolerable standard.

The Under-Secretary of State argued that it was ridiculous to expect any owner of private property to do repairs on a rent of £16 a year. I have pointed out time and again that local authorities have been doing just that for a considerable number of years. When I asked him for the figures earlier, I did not get them, so I went out to find out for myself. While I was out of the Chamber, apparently he gave an answer, stating £34 per house as the cost of repairs to local authorities in Scotland—last year, presumably. I do not know where he got that figure because the figures given by the Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants do not come anywhere near it. The Institute's figures show an average for the cities of £27.9, for the large burghs of £20.16, and an even smaller sum for the small burghs. The hon. Gentleman's figure was a bit out.

I give a few examples, since the hon. Gentleman claims that it is impossible to keep a house in good repair on £16 a year. Dundee managed to do it on £17.99; Arbroath, represented by the hon. Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne), did it on £14.82; Ayr, represented by the Under-Secretary of State, did it on £12.99; Falkirk did it on £14.25; Greenock did it on £1643; Perth did it for £12.39. Does anyone suggest that any of these local authorities are not keeping their houses in a good state of repair?



Mr. Doig

I have already said that I will not give way again. It is unfair to others who want to speak.

Let us consider the state of the corporation houses in each of these places, comparing them with the accommodation owned by private owners and factored by private factors. Does anyone deny that the corporation houses are far better repaired and maintained? My experience over many years is that councils are much better at carrying out repairs and doing what is necessary than is any private factor. So long as we allow increases in rent to private factors without strings attached—and factors are, after all, out to make a profit—this situation will continue. We know that the private factors contributed very generously to the Tory Party and perhaps this Bill is their pay off.

The idea that the Bill is a godsend to local authorities is moonshine. The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave it away when he told us how much the Bill would save the country as a whole—£200 million. The idea that at the end of the day the local authorities and the ratepayers will be better off is moonshine. The people who will be better off are the owners of the private tenemented property who will be allowed to get increases without doing any repairs. The Exchequer will be better off. Those who will not be better off are the council tenants, the private tenants, the local authorities and the ratepayers.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

The hon. Gentleman has made what is perhaps an understandable misunderstanding of what my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said. My right hon. Friend said that this legislation would lead not to a diminution in expenditure by the central Government but to a substantial increase, although a less substantial increase than would have been expected to occur under previous provisions. There was no reduction at all—very much the reverse.

10.10 p.m.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

The Third Reading of a Bill such as this is often like the last rehearsal of a play. All the arguments have been rehearsed, and I imagine that my hon. Friend the Under-secretary of State knows them all in his sleep. Very few of the arguments and very few of the attitudes have changed.

To a certain extent I agree with the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Doig). I think people get the kind of housing they are prepared to pay for. That is a rather unpopular view among hon. Members opposite. To the Opposition, housing is very much a sacred cow, but like the only other sacred cow of which I know, which lives in India, it is in poor condition. If we go in for cheap housing, we shall only get cheap houses, and we have an abundance of cheap houses at the moment. To listen to some speeches one would gain the impression that our housing is first rate, but it is not.

Mr. Baxter


Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

I will not give way because many hon. Members wish to speak.

There must be a great improvement in the standards of housing. I respect the general attitude of the Labour Party towards the way the Bill treats tenants. It has a natural and justified concern, to a certain extent, but I hope hon. Members opposite will accept that there is good reason for the Bill. There is a lot more to it than the introduction of further air rent structures and general rent rebate schemes, as well as subsidies, which everyone tends to overlook completely. We need a massive redirection of our efforts in housing if our people are to have decent homes in the places where they want them, and the Bill is a brave effort to provide that redirection.

10.13 p.m.

Mr. Ian Campbell (Dunbartonshire, West)

Great play has been made, particularly by Conservative Members here and in the country, attacking our campaign against the Bill which they said misrepresented its intentions.

It is difficult to know what to say in addressing constituents on this subject. First, one must tell them that all the local authority and SSHA tenants will have rent increases this year, next year and so on until the housing revenue account is all square. Through the good offices of Institute of Municipal Treasurers and Accountants it is easy to work out approximately what the tenants' rents will be. In Dumbarton people can discover, for example, that their rents will go up to £3.50 or £4 a week.

One could also tell them that there will be a rent rebate. But they are not concerned about this. They know that they are faced with an increased rent and they are not concerned with working out whether they earn £25 per week or whether they have ten children. They believe that the increased rent is what they must aim for and they can only see the prospect of having to pay it.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Ronald King Murray) mentioned that there were good things in the Bill as well as bad things. But one of its worst aspects relates to the allocation of housing subsidies. Local authorities have entered into these freely with successive Governments and the provisions in the Bill deserve the name awarded to them by my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) who said in Committee that it was the "welshing" Clause. This is the black mark in the Bill because this Government are welshing on their commitments to the local authorities.

Any new housing programme attracted by the excellent subsidies paid under the 1969 Act will have to be financed by local authority tenants with perhaps a small contribution from the ratepayers. The SSHA tenants will contribute in a different way. The Secretary of State said that the subsidy would be paid for five to ten years, but this depends upon the base line. There is a residual period of phasing out over the years. In many cases this period should be completely ignored and the Bill should be treated on the basis of how it will operate after the subsidies have been phased out.

This is quite different from the days of the Wheatley Act, which laid upon the community as a whole the idea that housing was a social concern with the costs borne by the general body of ratepayers. Now this is being changed.

We can tell the private tenant that the Government are introducing a rent allowance, which is a good thing. I am sure that if the Labour Party had been returned and we were introducing a housing Act my right hon. Friend would be including the same sort of thing. It was something we missed before, and I am sure we would have picked it up. The private tenant receives this allowance only when he moves from rent control to rent regulation, after a dramatic increase in rent.

Yesterday we discussed the letter which should be sent to private tenants, and there were some figures banded about dealing with the effect of the rent assessment committees.

The Under-Secretary gave some figures which he said he had received at the last moment. He said that in 1971 of the rents which went before the assessment tribunal 41 per cent. were reduced, 15 per cent. were not altered and 34 per cent. were increased. I have some figures from a survey dealing with 1st April to 10th November, 1971. From this survey it will be seen that 17 per cent. of the rents were reduced, 16 per cent. were not changed and 67 per cent. were increased. That was over a period of eight months, but no doubt another four months would not change the figures to bring them anywhere near those quoted by the Under-secretary.

The only change in the Bill in Committee was brought about through an Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) which sought to give the subsidy which should have been given to places like Helens burgh and other small towns but which, because the principle of the Bill was that the housing revenue account was to go into balance, would have meant that they would have been in surplus. The Under-Secretary was prepared to accept this and to alter that part of the Bill. There is only one local authority as far as I can find out which is losing out by the overspill agreement and that is Dunbartonshire. When the Bill goes to another place perhaps this can be dealt with.

This is a clever Bill. Because of the transitional arrangements its effects will not be felt for a long time. The effects of the rate reductions are already being seen as certain local authorities produce figures, assuming that rent increases are taking place and that they will be able to make rate reductions. The full effect of the Bill has not yet been felt. When the subsidy has phased out and the housing revenue accounts have been balanced, the difference will really impinge on the local authority and SSHA tenant.

This Bill should have added to the title the phrase "Part 1"because there is no doubt that Part II will be along in 1975–6 when we have reached the state in which England is now. We shall move on to fair rents and then to surplus in the housing expenditure account. This will mean higher rents, and this will really shock the people of Scotland.

10.22 p.m.

Mr. Galbraith

Right hon. and hon. Members may be surprised to hear that, in a way, I am sorry that the Bill has reached this stage. For nearly 24 years I have been able to make the same speech deploring the housing situation in Scotland. After this, I shall not be able to do that. I shall have to think of a new one.

I am sorry that the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Ronald King Murray) is no longer with us. He seemed to be satisfied with what he called consensus politics with regard to housing. I made a few quick calculations and discovered that in the last 26 years the Socialist Party has been in power for 11 and the Conservative Party for 15. Between us, working the so-called consensus method of dealing with housing, we have made a pretty poor job. We have not succeeded, and it has become clear from every speech that we have heard from the benches opposite that housing in Scotland is in a disgraceful state. However, hon. Members opposite did nothing in their 11 years to alter that position. We are now intent on altering it and improving it.

The hon. and learned Gentleman talked awful nonsense when he spoke about a breach of faith. It is astonishing to hear that coming from a member of the Labour Party. It is impossible to make any arrangement with regard to one's private or business affairs with any reliance that it will last from one Chancellor of the Exchequer to the next when the Labour Party is in power. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite are the last people to talk about a breach of faith with local authorities. However, the faith that we want to keep is not with the local authorities. It is with ordinary people, so that they will be treated fairly and with justice.

I was also horrified to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman—who I am sure has ambitions to become a Law Officer, though they will not be fulfilled—talking about a "confrontation". He almost encouraged people to go in for "demos" and other types of anti-democratic behaviour. I hope that we shall not hear the same sort of remark from the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). I am sure that he believes in the sovereignty of Parliament. He was in the House when one of his right hon. Friends said "We are the masters now." By God, we on this side are the masters now, and that is why we have this Bill.

It is a Bill which introduces fairness. It ends the privilege of people who happen to be fortunate enough to live in council houses. It introduces uniformity, which is what the Labour Party likes, so that there can be movement of labour to where industry is. It is also a Bill which should appeal to a Socialist Party, because those who have the ability to pay will pay and those who need help will get it, whether they live in council houses or in private houses.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on having the guts to introduce the Bill. I wish it well in its further stages.

10.26 p.m.

Mr. Ross

We were all delighted with the rumbustious speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith). He said that he had been making it for 24 years. May I remind him that his father made it before him and, if anything, did it rather better? In those days, whenever our proceedings got at all dull, we used to say "Let us make Tommy Galbraith lose his temper." It was always very easy.

The hon. Gentleman spoke awful nonsense. He said that we had done nothing. However, it was the hon. Gentleman who was getting on to us the other day for building far too many houses. We built far more houses—

Mr. Brace-Gardyne

In the wrong places.

Mr. Ross

That may be the opinion of the hon. Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne), but I do not agree. However, I remind the hon. Member for Hillhead that the nadir in respect of house building was reached in 1963. Will he reveal to the House who was in charge of Scottish house building at that time? The hon. Member for Hillhead piloted through the 1962 Act. Thereafter, house building fell to a rate far lower than it had ever sunk before.

The hon. Member for Hillhead then said what nonsense it was to talk about a breach of faith. This is one of the most serious aspects of the Bill. It is probably the one factor to have troubled local authorities more than any other and created such a measure of uncertainty about their financial position. I am glad that at least the hon. Member for South Angus put the record straight. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was concerned about the growth of the Government's financial liabilities under past and prospective building. Inevitably, the financial responsibility of the Government increases as they build more houses. Housing subsidies normally run at the same rate for 60 years. Because of that, there is a natural accumulation. It was because the Government saw in the middle of this decade a bill that they were not prepared to support that they decided to change the formula. What they did was what they usually do: they started with the answer and then worked out a formula to achieve that answer. They had to do something about the built-up liability over the past 20, 30 or 40 years with every passing Act of Parliament.

It was interesting that the Secretary of State did not mention the credit, if there was any credit to be taken, for the residual subsidy. Where do the Government take the present liability about all the pledges and promises that they have given about subsidies? Remember that every time a Government introduce a new subsidy that subsidy is only for housing that will be built. But they carried on the liability of the last Government. That has always been considered sacrosanct as a contractual responsibility upon which local authorities finance their houses. One can change the subsidy; that has been done. That subsidy has been whittled away over a few years but the liability of the local authority, which borrowed the money over 60 years, continues and that has to be met. The Government have welshed from their responsibility.

It is nonsense for the hon. Member for Hillhead to talk about breach of faith. I will quote him. What is being done in the Bill was foreshadowed in 1962 when the Government took power to reduce the subsidies. The hon. Gentleman said that it was usual to do it for 60 years. But they gave notice to local authorities that they might reduce the subsidies after 10 years. Then he said: Although this new power is, as I fully admit, a radical departure from past practice, and is, indeed, without direct precedent, it may well be suggested that it does not go far enough. Those were the thoughts of his hon. Friends. He went on: No power is being sought to touch the £14 million or so already being paid out annually to local authorities, of which £3 million is payable in respect of the cheap pre-war houses…The earlier subsidy Acts provided quite categorically, however, that contributions are to be made at the specified rate for 40 or 60 years, so that the Government would be exposing themselves to a charge of breaking faith if they invited Parliament to make retrospective changes."—[Official Report, Scottish Standing Committee, 15th March, 1962, col. 798.] This is a man who talks about breach of faith. That is nonsense. To do it would be a breach of faith. That is the first thing. I hope that we shall hear no more about that, especially from the hon. Member for Hillhead.

One sure thing as a result of the residual subsidy is that those who managed to get in before 1st December and have a large house building programme will be better off in the overlapping period. But, with the residual subsidy, that drops away. So there may be a temptation for local authorities to think that they can reduce their rates. But they had better consult their chamberlain and see what will happen if they continue their housing programme after that because they will find that they will have to put up their rates again when that prospective saving looking back after 1975 takes proper toll.

There is no doubt at all—this is the second serious point we come to—that it is welshing on local authorities and is a breach of faith. It will ultimately place greater financial responsibility on them. When eventually the residual subsidy disappears, there are other subsidies in the Bill that were never mentioned. The high cost subsidy, which we heard so much about on Second Reading, will affect possibly only one local authority. Nobody else will get the benefit. We had better tell the Secretary of State what is in the Bill and what the results will be.

Eventually local authorities will be left with only the housing expenditure subsidy. I should not be surprised if the figures for that are already out of date. The Secretary of State has power to change them to reduce the benefit to a local authority. The figures relating to rent allowances and rent rebates had to be changed to bring them up to date. Many other figures are already out of date, so it will be difficult to make a calculation as to what will happen. However, I predict that when the residual subsidy has gone we shall not see an increase or the maintenance of the high level of house building which we have had over the past four years. There will be a rundown—a deliberate rundown—of the level of building.

Meantime, local authorities will be left with the distasteful task of dealing with the rent increases which are mandatory under the Bill. One thing that is absolutely certain and that no Minister can deny is that in both the private tenement and the public authority sectors rents and rent income must go up. The figure is quantifiable in the public sector at the rate of about £50 million, though within a year after the introduction of the Bill I think it will have a considerable inflationary effect.

Somebody suggested recently that that £50 million, which is a fair amount of money, is nothing compared with the increase in the price of beef. It may be—we do not know—that we shall get a beef rebate subsidy allowance before long if things go on as they are. Mr. David Newton, of Boston, Lincolnshire, is quoted in The Times today as saying: prices are certainly higher than I have ever seen them. But this is simply the result of this country's coming into line with others in the Common Market. Everything is going up—petrol, bingo, and other food—so why not beef? This is illustrative of what is happening. The Government will probably plead consistency, that what they are doing for housing they are doing for everything else.

There will be increases in rents in the private sector. We have asked for the figure, but we have not got it. We do not know how many houses will be affected. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have been delighted that there will be a tremendous improvement by landlords in the standard of Scottish private tenemented property. Will there be such an improvement? There is no qualification that they must spend the increased rents on repairs, maintenance, or anything else. The one great protection which was included in the 1969 Act, that there had to be a tolerable standard and standard amenities before a local authority would give a qualifying certificate, has gone.

Even when we come to the number of houses involved, we get no answer. I have asked for the answer all along. It is not good enough for the Under-secretary to say "We told you we could not give you the answer, and that is the answer." That was the kind of logic we got. However, the hon. Gentleman did quite a good job for the Secretary of State on the Bill. Having heard the right hon. Gentleman, we are grateful that the Under-Secretary of State was in charge of the Bill. Sincerely, I want to pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman. Under-Secretaries of State at the Scottish Office probably have the most difficult jobs of the lot. A Scottish Standing Committee is not the easiest of Committees, because the Opposition tend to know their stuff. The hon. Gentleman had no help from the Lord Advocate or anyone else. I cannot say that the silent senator from Dumfries was any help to him. On the whole, the hon. Gentleman did a first-class job.

The Secretary of State reminded us that the Bill probably took longer in Committee than any other. The last one which could approach it was the 1957 Housing (Scotland) Bill. I should know. I practically wrote the report myself—at least, Arthur Woodburn once told me that. The Secretary of State, the Law Officer, and the junior Minister were on the Standing Committee which considered that Bill. I do not want to worry the Under-Secretary, but the mortality rate of Under-Secretaries is high compared with that of Secretaries of State. However, the Under-Secretary did pretty well, and we are grateful to him.

The Under-Secretary was obviously under the Diktat not to accept any Amendments. So we cannot say that he gave us much return for the work that was involved. The hon. Gentleman had a difficult task. He had a considerable number of reluctant revolutionaries behind him. They were not always behind him, mark you. Often they were out in the corridor. The Under-Secretary was not sure whether "Corporal" Gray would get them in in time if it came to a Division.

Of the 1,800,000 houses in Scotland, more than 1 million are local authority houses. There are probably between 80,000 and 100,000 private tenement properties covered by the Bill. The Bill covers practically every family in Scotland. In fact, the Bill is about three Bills in one, as is evident from Schedules 2 and 3. There are 78Clauses and 11 Schedules. Two of the Schedules are equivalent in themselves to a Bill. Instead of this huge Bill being considered by the largest Committee that we could have had, we had the smallest one.

Mr. Sproat

It was a very good Committee.

Mr. Ross

It was an excellent Committee, despite the fact that the hon. Gentleman was there. From the point of view of representation, it was unfair to the major party in Scotland. Of the 71 Members from Scotland, there are 44 on the Labour side and only 23 on the other side.

Mr. MacArthur


Mr. Ross

Let us wait and see. Let us have a General Election now and see exactly what happens.

The speeches made by my hon. Friends and the way they sustained the strength of the opposition in Committee were a true reflection of the feelings of the majority of the people of Scotland. Whether hon. Members opposite like it or not, the people of Scotland do not like the Bill, as they showed at the municipal elections. It was not a question of propaganda. The Government had every opportunity to make their case, but they failed to convince the people of all the benefits that are supposedly in the Bill. The fact that there will be an increase in rents cannot be denied.

Over 90 per cent, of local authority houses are covered by rent rebate schemes, so all that the Bill introduces is an extra 10 per cent. We welcome that, as far as it goes. This is not the perfect rent rebate scheme. I quoted the schemes which operate in my constituency and in Ayr and cited case after case where people will be worse off. Even with the operation of this rebate scheme, once the rent increases take place even those who are paying rebated rents will be paying higher rents.

The one good point in the Bill is the provision regarding rent allowances. Hon. Members opposite have been in great difficulty about whether to compliment us on introducing the fair rent system with all its protection as regards rent phasing or attack us for not introducing an allowance for private tenants. We had the Francis Committee report and following that we would have taken action in respect of some of the things they said. We would not necessarily have taken this action, but the interesting thing that the Committee reported was an average increase in Scotland of about £12. In Glasgow it was £11, a matter of about 4s. a week.

What developments have there been since then? We get a fairer indication from what is in the Bill of what the Government are expecting as to the maximum they are prepared to pay. We do not think it is high enough in view of what is happening. It is a flat £6 that the Government are prepared to pay in respect of rent allowance. There is no guarantee within that that the high rent is going to be used in respect of repairing or maintaining that house.

Then we come to the staggering figure given by the Secretary of State that there are 215,000 houses in Scotland that have not reached tolerable standard. He did not break it up. I wish he had. If the Government have got the total surely they must know the constituent parts of it. We have been denied the information.

Local authorities have a duty placed on them by the 1969 Act to bring these houses up to standard or close them. What is being done about that? If the houses are not of that standard, how many of them are going to get increased rent? If any of them get it, it will be a denial of all that has been said about maintaining or raising standards. What we insisted on was that the standard would be there. Improvements would be there before the rent increase came. That is how to approach fair rents—fair rents for fair houses. The danger is that we shall get higher rents without getting the improvements for which people are prepared to pay.

The Secretary of State spoke about the new Culling worth Report. I did not want to interrupt him, but it is a rule of this House that we do not refer to reports unless they have been placed on the Table. It is not published yet. That is not helpful. He tells us he is going to publish it.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

I did not quote from the report. It is when one quotes that one lays the report. I merely gave notice that it had been received and is about to be published. It is an important event in housing in Scotland.

Mr. Ross

Of course it is.

The right hon. Gentleman did more than that. He tells us there will be a new assessment of need, and that we were to thank Professor Culling worth for that. How can we thank him if we have not seen the report?

The Secretary of State said that this was a great new approach. It would have been much fairer if he had seen fit to publish the report and let us read it rather than on the Third Reading on a Bill, when one is limited to debating what is in the Bill, bringing in something which he thinks is important. We may think it is important when we see it.

I am glad that the Government have discovered the importance of the Scottish Housing Advisory Committee. The Tories abolished it. We revived it. This body did all the basic work in relation to improvement and rent rebate schemes. [Interruption.] It is not only the guillotine, for which the hon. Gentleman voted. I faced two interruptions. Interruptions have come from the other side of the House, too. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was here earlier, or whether he was one of the Epsom absentees, when we had the spectacle of the Under-Secretary speaking for 26 minutes.

Mr. MacArthur

A very good speech.

Mr. Ross

The Under-Secretary's speech was not always relevant to the Amendments which were supposed to be under discussion.

The Bill represents the most radical change in housing finance for more than 50 years. It is a breach of faith. It will not bring to house building that impetus over a sustained period which Scotland needs. It will lead eventually to a diminution in the building of houses, and that was foreshadowed in the speech of the Secretary of State when he said that it was not numbers that the Government were thinking of but quality.

The suggestion that there is hope and scope for choice in owner-occupation for the great mass of the people of Scotland is a denial of the facts. Anyone who knows what is happening to the price of privately built houses in Scotland knows that the majority of people for whom the local authorities have to cater cannot afford and will not be granted mortgages because of, first, their low wages and, secondly, the lack of stability and continuity of employment. Those have been the main reasons over the years for owner-occupation in Scotland not moving forward as it has done in England.

During 1962, 1963 and 1964 more than 100,000 people in Scotland were unemployed, and there was considerable broken employment. The unemployment figure now is 135,000, and I assure the House that the outlook for people in Scotland is grim if they try to get a mortgage from a building society. A house which a year ago was selling for £5,000 is now going for £7,000. People just cannot get mortgages.

By deciding to adopt a policy of letting things rip, a policy which has been outmoded by the facts of the situation, the right hon. Gentleman has let Scotland down. There will be an increase in rents. That may suit hon. Gentlemen opposite. They may for a time kid the Scottish people that rates will be reduced. I can think of another way in which rates can be reduced. In England industry pays 100 per cent. rates. In Scotland it pays only 50 per cent., and the other ratepayers have to bear the burden of the remainder.

Let the Government not think—[Interruption.] If the hon. Gentleman wishes to intervene I shall be glad to give way if he rises to his feet to do so.

Mr. Galbraith

Fair shares.

Mr. Ross

What about the fair shares that we received earlier in the day? The Under-Secretary spoke for 26 minutes when we had only two hours in which to debate four Amendments. Having dished it out, hon. Gentlemen opposite had better learn to take it.

Mr. MacArthur

It is a disgracefully long speech on Third Reading.

Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman was also part of the plot. He had no intention of taking part in the debate. We saw hon. Gentlemen opposite coming in one after the other. The hon. Gentleman for South Angus broke his customary silence. We are accustomed to hearing only coughs and sneezes from him.

The Secretary of State said that this was a new era of opportunities. If he can see it as that, he is seeing more than anybody else who knows anything about housing in Scotland can. Some local authorities which are opposed to the Bill have said quite openly that they will not apply it, that they will leave it to the right hon. Gentleman to carry out its provisions. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that they know nothing about housing?

The fact that the right hon. Gentleman failed today to tell us just what he intended to do was another indication of the Government's failure to be frank with the people of Scotland. People there are angry with the Government over their employment policies. They will be even angrier by the end of the year when they are forced to pay a continuing series of rent increases for the same houses, all in order to save the face of the Chancellor of the Exchequer who is not prepared to meet the growing burden that arises out of meeting the needs of the people of Scotland.

Hon. Gentlemen opposite have in the past shown that they are not prepared to trust the local authorities. They fought the last General Election saying they believed in the local authorities, that they wanted freedom for the local authorities. One thing which local authorities in Scotland have valued more than anything else has been their right to get on, properly supported by Government, with meeting the housing needs of the people of Scotland. Now the Government say "We do not trust them". They are saying they do not trust the way they are going to fix rents. I do not know where the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Housing and Construction was earlier today. He might have known just exactly what happened to our first Amendments when hon. Gentlemen opposite made speech after speech, monopolising time when we wanted to get through the Bill, and when the Under-Secretary himself spoke for 26 minutes to something which should have taken about five minutes. The guillotine is not ours: it is theirs. Now if they discover they suffer under that guillotine, that is just too bad. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor), too, is one of the people who have a lot to answer for.

Mr. MacArthur


Mr. Ross

I can assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that this Bill has not been widely welcomed in Scotland—except by the private landlords.

Mr. MacArthur


Mr. Ross

We heard the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead talking about the storm damage. That was the greatest lesson about the neglects and failures of private landlords. The hon. Member spoke of the number of local authority houses lying empty. Does he know how many privately tenemented properties are lying empty, not for the purpose of letting, but for selling, and not for the purpose of meeting the needs of the people of Scotland?

This is one of the most disastrous Bills we have ever had, and it comes from one of the most disastrous Governments we are ever likely to have.

10.58 p.m.

Mr. Younger

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) has, as usual, let the cat out of the bag. It is clear that he was scared to let us finish the debate in the customary way with a reply from this side. That is one of the reasons why the Opposition have been such an utter flop from start to finish on this Bill. They have never come to terms with what is in the Bill. They have never realised what is in the Bill. They have been able to attack the Bill only by picking out one or two things they believed to be bad and they have ignored all the good things in it.

I have some good news for my hon. Friends, though. It has all been worth while. We have made some progress. The right hon. Gentleman himself admitted that rent allowances are a good thing. He has admitted that this evening. On Second Reading he said the Bill was means test mania. That was all over the papers. We have learned something tonight: we have learned that we have taught him something.

This Bill is a Bill which will provide more money for Scottish housing, not less. This is a Bill which will introduce for the first time a comprehensive rent rebate scheme to protect people who cannot afford the rents which will have to be paid. This is a Bill which for the first time introduces allowances for private tenants whose rents have gone up year after year. That is still happening under the right hon. Gentleman's Acts, under which those tenants had no protection at all. It is a Bill which introduces a new slum clearance subsidy far and away more generous than anything the right hon. Gentleman was ever able to produce during his time in office. It is a Bill which introduces the housing expenditure subsidy. It is a Bill which looks after the needs of people, and not only that but assists housing management and repairs.

The right hon. Gentleman has to face the fact that we have taken action on all the things he failed to do during his time as Secretary of State. The people of Scotland should feel ashamed at the fact that he is standing here now pretending

to be their champion. This Bill has put him off his stroke, because he never believed that a Tory Government would produce a Bill which would be more generous to the people of Scotland than anything else he and his party produced. The right hon. Gentleman has been proved wrong from start to finish on this Bill. He has not a leg to stand on, and he had not the guts to let the Government wind up the debate properly. At the time of Second Reading I said I thought the Scottish Labour Party never had looked more irrelevant to the needs of Scotland. Now, if anything, it has become more irrelevant—ever since the Bill was first introduced. This is a Bill which will transform the housing scene in Scotland. It will bring a change in the system. The right hon. Gentleman's message to the people on the waiting lists is simple. He does not want a change in the system. If that is his message to the people of Scotland, they will reject him.

I hope that this Bill will be warmly supported by the House.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third Time: —

The House divided: Ayes 266, Noes 239.

Division No. 210.] AYES [11.0 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Carlisle, Mark Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Chapman, Sydney Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Fookes, Miss Janet
Astor, John Chichester-Clark, R. Fortescue, Tim
Atkins, Humphrey Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Fowler, Norman
Awdry, Daniel Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Fox, Marcus
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Cockeram, Eric Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Cooke, Robert Fry, Peter
Batsford, Brian Coombs, Derek Galbraith, Hn. T. G
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Cooper, A. E. Gardner, Edward
Bell, Ronald Cordle, John Gibson-Watt, David
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Cormack, Patrick Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)
Benyon, W. Costain, A. P. Goodhart, Philip
Berry, Hn. Anthony Crouch, David Goodhew, Victor
Biffen, John Crowder, F. P. Gorst, John
Biggs-Davison, John Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Gower, Raymond
Blaker, Peter d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)
Boardman, Tom (Leicester. S.W.) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid. Maj.-Gen. James Gray, Hamish
Body, Richard Dean, Paul Green, Alan
Boscawen, Robert Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Grylls, Michael
Bossom, Sir Clive Dixon, Piers Gummer, Selwyn
Bowden, Andrew Drayson, G. B. Gurden, Harold
Braine, Sir Bernard du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)
Bray, Ronald Dykes, Hugh Hall, John (Wycombe)
Brewis, John Eden, Sir John Hall-Davis, A. G. F.
Brinton, Sir Tatton Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Brocklebank-Fowler. Christopher Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Hannam, John (Exeter)
Bruce-Gardyne, J Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Bryan, Paul Emery, Peter Haselhurst, Alan
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M) Eyre, Reginald Havers, Michael
Buck, Antony Farr, John Hawkins, Paul
Bullus, Sir Eric Fell, Anthony Hayhoe, Barney
Burden, F. A. Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Hicks, Robert
Campbell, Rt.Hn.G. (Moray&Nairn) Fidler, Michael Higgins. Terence L
Hiley, Joseph Mills, Peter (Torrington) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Miscampbell, Norman Shelton, William (Clapham)
Holland, Philip Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C.(Aberdeenshire, W) Simeons, Charles
Holt, Miss Mary Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Sinclair, Sir George
Hordern, Peter Moate, Roger Skeet, T. H. H.
Hornby, Richard Molyneaux, James Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia Money, Ernle Soref, Harold
Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate) Monks, Mrs. Connie Speed, Keith
Howell, David (Guildford) Monro, Hector Spence, John
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Montgomery, Fergus Sproat, Iain
Hunt, John More, Jasper Stainton, Keith
Hutchison, Michael Clark Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Stanbrook, Ivor
Iremonger, T. L. Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Morrison, Charles Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
James, David Mudd, David Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Murton, Oscar Stokes, John
Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Nabarro, Sir Gerald Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Jessel, Toby Neave, Airey Sutcliffe, John
Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Nicholls, Sir Harmar Tapsell, Peter
Jopling, Michael Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Taylor,Edward M. (G'gow,Cathcart)
Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Normanton, Tom Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Kaberry, Sir Donald Nott, John Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Onslow, Cranley Tebbit, Norman
Kilfedder, James Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Temple, John M.
Kimball, Marcus Page, Graham (Crosby) Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Page, John (Harrow, W.) Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
King, Tom (Bridgwater) Parkinson, Cecil Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Kinsey, J. R. Percival, Ian Tilney, John
Knight, Mrs. Jill Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Knox, David Pike, Miss Mervyn Trew, Peter
Lamont, Norman Pink, R. Bonner Tugendhat, Christopher
Lane, David Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Langford-Holt, Sir John Price, David (Eastleigh) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L. Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Le Marchant, Spencer Proudfoot, Wilfred Waddington, David
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Longden, Sir Gilbert Quennell, Miss J. M. Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Loveridge, John Raison, Timothy Ward, Dame Irene
Luce, R. N. Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Warren, Kenneth
MacArthur, Ian Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Wells, John (Maidstone)
McCrindle, R. A. Redmond, Robert White, Roger (Gravesend)
McLaren, Martin Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.) Wiggin, Jerry
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Rees, Peler (Dover) Wilkinson, John
McMaster, Stanley Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Winterton, Nicholas
McNair-wilson, Michael Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Ridsdale, Julian Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Maddan, Martin Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.) Woodnutt, Mark
Madel, David Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Worsley, Marcus
Marten, Neil Rost, Peter Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Mather, Carol Russell, Sir Ronald Younger, Hn. George
Maude, Angus St. John-Stevas, Norman TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Scott, Nicholas Mr. Bernard Weatherill and
Mawby, Ray Sharples, Richard Mr. Walter Clegg.
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Meyer, Sir Anthony
Abse, Leo Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Deakins, Eric
Albu, Austen Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Dempsey, James
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Cant, R. B. Doig, Peter
Armstrong, Ernest Carmichael, Neil Dormand, J. D.
Ashley, Jack Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Douglas-Mann, Bruce
Ashton, Joe Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Driberg, Tom
Atkinson, Norman Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Dunn, James A.
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Clark, David (Colne Valley) Eadie, Alex
Barnes, Michael Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Edwards, Robert (Bilston)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Cohen, Stanley Edwards, William (Merioneth)
Barnett, Joel (Haywood and Royton) Concannon, J. D. Ellis, Tom
Baxter, William Conlan, Bernard English, Michael
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Corbet, Mrs. Freda Evans, Fred
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Ewing, Harry
Bidwell, Sydney Crawshaw, Richard Faulds, Andrew
Bishop, E. S. Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Fitch, Alan (Wigan)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Booth, Albert Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Foley, Maurice
Broughton, Sir Alfred Dalyell, Tam Foot, Michael
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Ford, Ben
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Davies, Ifor (Gower) Forrester, John
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Fraser, John (Norwood)
Buchan, Norman Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Freeson, Reginald
Galpern, Sir Myer Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Gilbert, Dr. John Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Robertson, John (Paisley)
Gourlay, Harry McBride, Neil Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n&R'dnor)
Grant, George (Morpeth) McCartney, Hugh Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) McElhone, Frank Roper, John
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) McGuire, Michael Rose, Paul B.
Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Mackenzie, Gregor Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Mackie, John Rowlands, Ted
Hamling, William Mackintosh, John P. Sandelson, Neville
Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Maclennan, Robert Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Hardy, Peter McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Harper, Joseph Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N.E.)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Marks, Kenneth Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Hattersley, Roy Marsden, F. Sillars, James
Heffer, Eric S. Marshall, Dr. Edmund Silverman, Julius
Hooson, Emlyn Mayhew, Christopher Skinner, Dennis
Horam, John Meacher, Michael Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Spearing, Nigel
Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Mendelson, John Spriggs, Leslie
Huckfield, Leslie Mikardo, Ian Steel, David
Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Millan, Bruce Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Miller, Dr. M. S. Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Milne, Edward Strang, Gavin
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Hunter, Adam Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Swain, Thomas
Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Taverne, Dick
Janner, Greville Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff,W.)
Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Jeger, Mrs. Lena Moyle, Roland Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Murray, Ronald King Tinn, James
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Oakes, Gordon Torney, Tom
John, Brynmor Ogden, Eric Urwin, T. W.
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) O'Halloran, Michael Varley, Eric G.
Jones, Dan (Burnley) O'Malley, Brian Wainwright, Edwin
Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W. Ham, S.) Oram, Bert Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Orbach, Maurice Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Oswald, Thomas Wallace, George
Kaufman, Gerald Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) Watkins, David
Kelley, Richard Padley, Walter Weitzman, David
Kinnock, Neil Paget, R. T. Wellbeloved, James
Lambie, David Palmer, Arthur Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Lamborn, Harry Parker, John (Dagenham) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Lambton, Antony Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange) Whitehead, Phillip
Lamond, James Pavitt, Laurie Whitlock, William
Latham, Arthur Pentland, Norman Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Lawson, George Perry, Ernest G. Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Leadbitter, Ted Prentice, Rt.Hn. Reg. Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick Prescott, John Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Leonard, Dick Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Lestor, Miss Joan Price, William (Rugby) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold Probert, Arthur Woof, Robert
Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Rankin, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Lipton, Marcus Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Mr. James Hamilton and
Loughlin, Charles Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.) Mr. Tom Pendry

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.