HC Deb 28 February 1973 vol 851 cc1601-34

8.30 p.m.

The Minister for Local Government and Development (Mr. Graham Page)

I beg to move Amendment No. 11, in page 9, line 32 after 'order', insert 'made before 1st April 1974'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)

With this we can also discuss Government Amendments Nos. 12 and 13, and Amendment No. 44, in page 10, line 43 leave out subsections (6) and (7) and Government Amendment No. 53.

Mr. Page

These are amendments providing for a rating authority or precepting authority to furnish the Secretary of State, in this case the Secretary of State for the Environment, with information relative to a rate or precept recently made or issued or proposed to be made or issued.

The purpose of the Government amendments is to limit the operation of Clause 13 to approximately one year except for matters arising from the operation of the clause within that period. This will enable the rates and precepts for the financial year 1973–74 and the following financial year to be monitored. This monitoring procedure is not being brought into operation by the Bill when it becomes an Act. It has to be activated by an order under Clause 13, although it can be done, and indeed is being done, by voluntary arrangements.

I make it absolutely clear that neither Clause 13 nor any of the amendments gives the Secretary of State the power to fix a rate or precept or to tell a local authority what rate or precept it should require. An order made tinder the clause will be merely an order to provide information, To have any validity, it will, if the amendments are accepted, have to be made before 1st April, 1974. If it is made and the information is not forthcoming, the follow-up is a default order under subsection (8), which can be made before or after 1st April, 1974, and is enforceable under subsection (9).

Those are the ultimate legal sanctions attached to the monitoring process. The more the 99.9 per cent. of the 1,400 rating and precepting authorities co-operate, as I have good proof that they will, the more is it fair and just to have teeth in the clause so that it may bite on the 0.1 per cent. of the defaulters, if there are any.

I did not have the privilege of hearing the interesting debate on Clause 13 in Committee, but I have studied the OFFICIAL REPORT and it is evident that the permanent character of the clause as originally drafted caused great apprehension. It certainly caused me great apprehension when I read to what villainous uses right hon. and hon. Members in Committee thought the Government might put the powers in the clause. I had visions of the Minister for Local Government and Development in the dual rôle of a Machiavellian Mussolini with a bit of Dracula thrown in. I was not impressed by such visions.

The Government have no intention by the clause of creating either a permanent or a temporary relationship of "Big Brother" and "Little Brother" between central Government and local government.

Mr. Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)

Did my hon. Friend say that it is the Government's intention to monitor the rate for 1974–75?

Mr. Page

Yes. The Secretary of State will be able to take power under the clause, with the amendments, to monitor the rate for 1974–75.

As I say, we have no intention of acting as "Big Brother" over the local authorities. Although we frequently argue ferociously, there is a spirit of co-operation between my Department and the local authority associations. Because of that, it did not occur to me that the clause, as drafted, could be interpreted as such a vicious or mischievous clause as some hon. and right hon. Members thought in Committee.

In the debate in Committee my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Civil Service Department sought to give an assurance as to the intended co-operative and temporary use of Clause 13, and he hinted that the powers in Clause 13 might not need to remain in perpetuity or until repealed and might march in step with the powers in Part II of the Bill.

In the amendment we have gone further than that in toning down the clause. We have restricted the powers under the clause to two rating years by allowing only one order-making year. In other words, if the orders made under the clause are to have validity, they must be made before 1st April 1974.

I think that that is as far as we can go or should go, for two reasons. One is set out in the White Paper, in paragraph 22, where it is pointed out that rates take such a large amount of household expenditure that they are an item which, if we have a counter-inflation policy as set out in this Bill, we should not leave out of that altogether. The other reason is that in local government finance central Government are a partner with local government, and not merely a sleeping partner: central Government contribute 60 per cent. of the expenditure of local government. In normal times we trust our partners, the local authorities, to spend it wisely. In times such as the present we have a duty to have a closer partnership in considering the expenditure. So this system of monitoring has been adopted.

Fortunately, we shall not, under the Bill when it becomes an Act, start off with no experience of monitoring. The actual operation has already started—since the announcement in the White Paper that we would be doing it.

Mr. Gordon Oakes (Widnes)

Under what authority is this being done at the moment?

Mr. Page

I would not have thought that any central Government needs authority to discuss matters with or obtain information from local authorities. This, indeed, is the whole basis of the relationship between central Government and local authorities. We are continually meeting the local authority associations. They provide information; we provide information. As I said just now, we sometimes argue furiously. I think the phrase used in Standing Committee was that the Government would be twisting the arm of the local authorities. I can assure the House that the local authorities frequently twist the arm of the Government, and this so-called arm twisting is done in a spirit of co-operation between central Government and local government. It is in order for information to be given from each to each.

As I was saying, we have started monitoring. The White Paper was published on 17th January and on the same day a letter was written to the local authority associations by my Department pointing out the paragraph in the White Paper which related to the local authorities. On 22nd January we sent the local authority associations a draft of the circular and the form which might be used and be appropriate for the monitoring procedure. The Bill was published on 23rd January. We had a further long conference with the local authority associations on 24th January. Then was settled the circular and form on which information would be collected. As a result of that consultation on 24th January we redrafted the circular and the form, and showed it again to the local authority associations on 26th January. So there was continuous consultation with them during that period of time. The circular was finally dispatched to them on 2nd February. A letter and the form for collection of the information were dispatched on 7th February.

I can assure the House that it is a very simple form—a short letter on the form and about half a dozen notes—but it will enable us to be provided with the necessary information. Within three weeks of their receipt of that form 1,000 local authorities out of the 1,400 have replied. We have had only about a dozen staff working on this. Written replies have been given to 650 of those whose forms have been received. Where their finance committees were about to meet, answers were made by telephone. One hundred and ten have been asked to review their expenditure proposals, and as a result, so far, 16 authorities have responded by a reduction of the rate which they were intending to charge, those including one county and one London borough. In that short period reductions have emerged of £1½ million. That is a reasonable figure over that short period and shows that monitoring is worth while. How many more local authorities have made a reduction before sending in the form, having been made to think twice before completing the form, I cannot say. I saw reported in the newspapers today that another county had reduced its rate by about £1 million.

8.45 p.m.

It is fair to ask: if the system is going well voluntarily, why put it in a statute? It is fair upon those who co-operate voluntarily that those who are bloody-minded and do not provide the information should be obliged to comply. The more local authorities there are which co-operate, the more reason there is to apply statutory force to those which do not.

It might be asked why we should have this system for only two rate-fixing periods. The need to counter inflation has come at a time when rate-fixing is of considerable complexity. This year there is revaluation, and the local authorities are looking forward in the coming year to reorganisation. In the next rate-fixing year 1974–75, local authorities will be in the throes of reorganisation, with the transfer of assets and liabilities, and so on. These are two complex years for rate-fixing. When that situation is coupled with inflation, central Government owe a duty to the public, who subsidise local authority expenditure by 60 per cent., to exercise a restraining influence.

When those situations are passed, we shall have sufficient co-operation and opportunity for discussion with local authorities under the rate support grant procedure to rely on the democratically elected local authorities to take such voluntary action as seems best in whatever inflationary circumstances may then exist.

It is right to take these powers, although the statutory force behind the present voluntary arrangement with the local authorities is exercised only by an order on an individual authority which must do what all the others are doing. The order does not apply over the whole local government area but applies specifically to one authority which fails to do what the others are doing.

In those general statements I have covered Amendments Nos. 11, 12 and 13. Amendment No. 53 is consequential on Amendment No. 13. Having set out in the amendments those two rating years, 1973–74 and 1974–75, it was necessary to make the proviso concerning Scotland which appears at the end of subsection (6).

The Opposition Amendment No. 44 seeks to remove subsections (6) and (7), which are largely machinery subsections. When a rate is made there is power in law to make and issue a supplementary rate, but no such power to reduce it. It may well be that between the time of making a rate, which is the passing of the resolution and publishing the amount of the rate, to 1st April when it conies into operation, monitoring may have had the result of the local authority deciding that it wishes to reduce the rate. Without the present power it could not do so.

Subsection (6) provides the power to reduce the rate even after 1st April, and then subsection (7) comes into operation, dealing with the announcing and making certain that people know that there is that reduction in the rate. I look on these subsections as machinery which I trust will never need to be used. I am quite sure that the whole arrangement of monitoring can be carried out on a voluntary basis, and that the statutory power behind it is needed only as a longstop.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell (Southampton, Itchen)

Where local authorities have been asked to reduce their expenditure and have found it very difficult to do so, would the Minister be prepared to meet delegations from those local authorities and advise them on how they should cut expenditure?

Mr. Page

The officials of the Department are always available to discuss that sort of thing with officials of a local authority. I cannot give an undertaking to see every local authority which might wish to discuss this subject, but if an hon. Member wished to see me and brought with him a member of the local authority I would not refuse to see him.

Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath)

The Minister will know that it is to this clause that local authorities and we on this side take the greatest possible objection. Even though the Government amendments represent a step backwards from the even more objectionable pro- posals contained in the Bill as drafted, they still remain thoroughly objectionable to us all.

The whole of the right hon. Gentleman's speech proved positively that the clause is not necessary at all and that there is no reason whatever for this indignity being imposed on local authorities. We can only compare this monstrous interference with the freedom of our local authorities with everything the Government said at the last election about that same complete freedom of local authorities—"We shall remove the hand of Whitehall from local authorities", and so on. This present step demonstrates the measure of the deterioration of the Government's position, and I do not need to weary the House by reading large chunks of extracts from the Conservative Party manifesto at the last election and from speeches made in support of it.

The essence is that for the first time in the history of local government the Government propose to take powers to intervene directly in the making of the rate. That is a most serious matter. Such powers have not been taken by the central Government even in times of war and should not be taken except in circumstances of national calamity or dire emergency. What we now have presented to us is the measure of the economic difficulties which the Government have got themselves into and the crisis that presumably faces us.

As the Minister has said, these are powers to demand information, but the Government step back, having got the information, from directing authorities about what they should then do. The Government do not wish to take that responsibility. It could be argued that if the Government want this information in order to make a judgment about the rate to be levied in an area, they should accept the responsibility of saying what rate should properly be levied—and, indeed, how such a rate can effectively be levied. The powers amount to intimidation of certain local authorities.

Local authorities have conflicting duties during a period of inflation. On the one hand no local authority of the kind on which I have ever served wishes to levy a rate greater than that which is necessary to enable it to carry out its functions. On the other hand, however, it has a duty to provide adequate services. A local authority has to provide for welfare services, the old and the sick, police services, education, housing and the rest. Each local authority is answerable to the electorate and it is the electors who have the final sanction, but a local authority must balance the need for the services demanded by residents against what it believes local residents can afford to pay to provide those services.

No judgment can be made about the rate to be levied by a local authority unless four questions are examined: first, the standard of services already provided by the local authority; secondly, the standard of services desired to be provided in future; thirdly, the question of national wage negotiations, which for all practical purposes are outside a local authority's control; and, fourthly, the consequences of cutting back on any service. Those four criteria need to be examined before we can make any judgment about the rate to be levied by a local authority.

It follows that certain questions must he asked about these powers. First, what Government machinery exists to conduct these examinations? Does the Ministry intend in detail to go through the estimates of every local authority and the information supplied to it? How does it propose to examine them and to relate what a local authority asks for this year as against what it asked for last year? Finally, how do the Government propose to relate both those matters to the standard of service provided? We have had no information whatever at any stage about any of these questions.

Even more important is the question whether the Government intend to accept public responsibility for the advice given to local authorities. In other words, if a local authority intends to proceed with its original proposals—and some Tory local authorities intend to proceed with their plans—where do the Government stand? Will they spell out what authority exists for what they propose? These are serious questions which must be answered.

I should like to illustrate how a local authority arrives at its rate and to show that when a local authority determines the rate that is to be levied, 99 per cent. of the amount which it asks ratepayers to provide is totally outside the control of the local authority. It is almost totally determined by Government policy. If the Government wish to control the amount being levied, they have the power in their hands in terms of interest rates, wages, negotiations and standards of services and unless they involve themselves in these matters our local authorities are quite unable to control the situation on behalf of their ratepayers.

9.0 p.m.

To illustrate what I mean, I hope I may be allowed to cite the city of Birmingham which I represent and know very well. I have today gone in detail through its estimates to prove my point. In any event, I am sure that the illustration applies to most other local authorities.

The great city of Birmingham has decided that next year, after the most severe pruning, it must have an additional £18.5 million if it is to maintain existing services. That sum is made up largely of items which are wholly within the Government's control. The first item and one of the most important is interest rates. On debt charges alone, as a result of the increase in interest rates and the inescapable additions for matters which Birmingham is already committed, next year it has to find an additional £3 million.

The second item concerns pay awards, including the salaries of teachers, which are almost completely in the control of the Government since they have the casting vote on the Burnham Committee, and pay awards to policemen, firemen and other local authority employees as a result of salary increases already granted. Next year the Birmingham authority will have to find an additional £10.75 million here.

The Housing Finance Act is imposing additional administrative burdens on every local authority. If the Government really wanted to cut down the rates they would scrap the Housing Finance Act tomorrow and thereby make substantial savings. The cost to Birmingham of administering the Housing Finance Act will be £1 million. That is the size of the imposition upon Birmingham's ratepayers.

There are other inflationary increases. In terms of education, apart from salaries, there is an additional £500,000. On aid to pupils in schools and grants to people going to universities and technical colleges, there is another £500,000. New superannuation regulations have been approved by the Government affecting local authority employees. They have come into force and represent an additional £370,000 which is totally inescapable to Birmingham and to every other local authority.

Urban renewal is a matter of great importance which has been urged upon the city by the appropriate Ministers. Next year that represents another £350,000.

Every one of those items is inescapable and necessary. Adding the lot up, the total comes to £18.25 million. Out of £18.5 million extra which Birmingham has to find next year, £18.25 million is totally inescapable and attributable to matters directly in the control of the Government.

The local authorities will take it badly from the Minister when he says that in normal times we trust our partners to spend wisely. Whether times are normal or abnormal, local authorities always spend very responsibly. Local councillors have to seek re-election. Every single one of them is up for re-election this year. That is the great saving grace of democracy in this country. They are not wasteful spenders of public money. This is not the year in which local authorities will spend unwisely. The case for Government intervention has not been made out.

I now turn to what the Government are doing. The Minister said that he was sending out a simple letter. How right he is. It could not be more simple. The letter tells local authorities that the Secretary of State does not like what they are proposing to do. It is a duplicated circular in which there are two empty spaces. In the first space will be filled in the percentage increase of rate expenditure, excluding housing, of the local authority to which it is sent. In the second space some genius in the Department, after a process which we know not but which we hope to learn today, will fill in an amount by which he expects that local authority to cut its estimates.

This letter is being sent to a number of selected authorities. Perhaps the Minister will tell us how many.

Mr. Graham Page

I told the hon. Gentleman that 110 local authorities have been asked to reconsider their rates.

Mr. Howell

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that information. Compared with the number of local authorities in the country as a whole, 110 is a very small proportion indeed, and immediately the point is conceded that the overwhelming number of local authorities are responsible people who cannot be reproached by the Government about their rate fixing.

I now turn to the 110 unfortunate recipients of this letter. We know of one or two of them from leaks in newspapers—Derbyshire, Hampshire, Teesside, Southampton, Bournemouth, Wirral and Denbighshire. They are not all great Labour authorities. The first question that I have to ask is on what authority the letter was sent out. The Minister is acting totally outside the law. His action is ultra vires. There is no authority for the Minister to make such an imposition on any responsible local authority. The power to act in this way will be available only when the Bill is passed, yet here we have the Minister taking administrative action on a Bill which has not gone through the House and which, when it reaches the other place, if the Law Lords are up to the standard of performance that we expect of them, might be there for a long time.

After the Bill has left this House, and while it is being discussed in detail in another place, it will be too late for it to have any effect on any rate levied by any local authority. The practicality of the situation is that even now treasurers are doing their work and finance committees are deciding what rate to levy. Indeed, the letter cannot be sent out until decisions have been taken on what rates to levy.

The Minister is behaving totally outside the law. If a trade union were to behave half as illegally as the right hon. Gentleman is doing, one can imagine the howl that would go up from the Conservative benches.

Mr. Graham Page

Come off it!

Mr. Howell

It is no good the Minister laughing and saying "Come off it". He is the great constitutional lawyer of the Conservative Party when it comes to matters of local government. On many occasions we have heard the right lion. Gentleman say that local authorities should obey the law and how trade unions were behaving disgracefully by acting illegally. Yet here we have an illegal action by the Minister on the basis of a power which does not exist. This is an extraordinary and ludicrous procedure.

The Government do not need this power, because the Minister has conceded that every local authority has already voluntarily sent him the information lie wants. Will the Minister tell us one authority which has refused? I do not believe that there is one authority which would not voluntarily provide this information. That being so, the clause is an impertinence and an unwarranted reflection upon the good quality and the spirit of co-operation which exists in local authorities.

Not only will local authorities want the sort of information contained in the letter about how much they should chop off their estimates: they will pin back on the Government the responsibility for telling them how this is to be achieved. Which services are to be cut back? Who are the people to be sacked in order to produce savings of this magnitude? Such savings as are specified in the letter cannot be achieved without a cutback on local authority staffs. In the case of Birmingham and the other authorities, the Government will have to say whether it is policemen or local authority doctors, for example, who will be sacked. Which section of employees is to be disposed of to bring about these substantial savings?

Hampshire County Council, which has a Conservative majority—the county is overflowing with Socialists—has received about £12 million extra from the Government this year. It is an extraordinary commentary on our present rating and financial aid system that such a situation has been developed. The large towns, which have all the difficulties and problems, are getting far less than the counties. I do not blame that entirely on the Government, but if it is a matter which concerns them they should deal with it this year and not in any future year. The problem is now; the economic crisis, inflation and the prices and incomes policy are now. They are not in the future, but now.

When told that Hampshire proposed to transfer £3 million of this money to a contingency fund, the Government wrote to tell the council that it should not do so. The Conservative council has written back to tell the Minister—if I may express myself in polite parliamentary terms—that he should take more parsley and thyme with the turkey he eats. I do not blame Hampshire for expressing itself like that. What the Minister is proposing is a gross interference with Hampshire's autonomy and its local government obligations.

As I have said, the present formula for assistance to local government is totally obsolete. The Government have made much of the fact that they are giving 60 per cent. of the money required this year to each local authority, but we all know that there is a tremendous maldistribution in that 60 per cent., that some authorities are getting far more than 60 per cent. and that others, largely the big cities, are getting far less—in the 40 per cent. to 50 per cent. bracket. Birmingham, for example, will get 51 per cent. The difference for Birmingham alone between that 51 per cent. of Government help towards the rates next year and the 60 per cent. on which Ministers take their stand is £10 million. That is the hard cash difference for Birmingham alone.

9.15 p.m.

This is not a question that we can discuss in isolation. There are other matters. There is the question of revaluation, on which I should be out of order to proceed this evening—although perhaps I am entitled, as the Minister mentioned it, to ask when we shall have the promised statement on revaluation. Three or four weeks have passed since the Prime Minister met representatives of the large cities. We have had three or four weeks of Government inertia at a time when treasurers and finance committees have to make up their minds what rate should be levied. They cannot do that until they know what help the Government are to give them.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

The Cabinet have spat on them.

Mr. Howell

My hon. Friend may be right. The Government recognise the problem and they want to do something about it. But they do not have any money. They have got themselves into a financial jam. The ludicrous thing is that from this Dispatch Box we have repeatedly told the Government how to help and we have offered them help in order to solve the problem. But we have been totally rejected.

The whole of this exercise of Clause 13 is a piece of meaningless window dressing. In terms of aid to ratepayers it will be virtually useless. The clause is designed to camouflage the bankruptcy of Government policy and to transfer the responsibility for the increased burdens which ratepayers will have to face away from the Government, where it ought to lie, on to the backs of local authorities which are totally innocent in this matter. It is because this is a piece of political deception that we shall divide the House on the amendment.

Mr. Ridsdale

I have previously asked my right hon. Friend the Minister whether the monitoring would take place in the year 1974–75. I had hoped that that might give an indication of the Government's policy and intention to reform local government finance, and to do that in the way that I had hoped and not to continue with the policy of subsidy which is disguising so much the real cost of education and national charges and, because of the disguising of costs, causing us not to face up to the reality of Government spending.

It is for that reason and because of the urgency of the problem that I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to give a promise soon, or give some indication of when we can expect something more in the reform of local government finance particularly in the form of taking some of the education burden off some of the authorities. I am sure that the Government could help on this matter.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) spoke about the problems of Birmingham. I can assure him that the problems of the county of Essex, where we face an increased rate of 24 per cent., are very considerable, particularly when one knows that the increase will have to be paid by 25,000 old-age pensioners in my con- stituency in a total of 100,000 constituents.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)

And by others.

Mr. Ridsdale

And by others on small fixed incomes and low wages. That is why I challenge whether the direction in which the Government are moving in subsidisation, although it will help them in the short term, is right in the long term, for which we need to see something more. That is why I find the clause such a disappointment. It shows nothing of the willingness to reform local government finance, but rather to continue along the lines on which we have been moving during the last five or six years, which has led us to the present extent of spending and the present burdens placed on so many people.

Therefore, I hope to hear from the Minister that something much more concrete in the long term will be done, although in the immediate future I realise that further help will have to be given through the rate subsidy if an unbearable burden is not to be placed on many of the people about whom I have spoken.

Mr. Geoffrey Rhodes (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)

I certainly agree with the major point raised by the hon. Member for Harwich (Mr. Ridsdale). For a brief time I worked in a humble capacity in the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, as it then was, and I constantly urged upon the Minister the need for a radical transformation of the way in which we financed local government. I had spent the previous 10 years lecturing on the subject urging the same thing and I suspect that 20 years from now, if God is willing and I am still here, and I suppose if the electorate is willing, I will still be arguing the same principle. But I do not think that this argument is particularly relevant or useful in discussion of the amendment.

The Minister will know perfectly well that under Section 11, I think, of the Transport Act, which created the passenger transport authorities, these authorities have the power to levy a precept on the local authorities in their area. I think that was in 1968 and the unanimous decision was taken, including Conservative representatives from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, to accept the principle of free fares during certain periods of the day and on certain days of the week for the elderly and the disabled of that city. The number of people who would benefit can be judged from the fact that in my constituency of 47,000 people there are nearly 14,000 who are over 60.

It was a unanimous decision but before very long the Conservatives on the Newcastle Council—I am sorry I am being parochial but the principle will emerge in a minute—decided to fight the scheme because the precept would cause too big a levy to be put on the local authority. They were also accompanied by representatives of the Castle ward of the rural district council, which is in the constituency of the Secretary of State for the Environment. They thought it was a burden that the working classes of the city could carry. Probably they in Castle ward could carry it because they are quite wealthy in that particular area.

The Secretary of State on his own initiative then wrote to the Tyneside Passenger Transport Authority requesting that the precept be reduced or abandoned for at least a year because of the rising cost of local government during the present financial year. This was interference with local government and it was interfering with the right of the mass of the local representatives of the area to determine what was socially desirable in their area. On Monday evening the Tyneside Passenger Transport Authority wrote back and told him, in its own local government style of language, "to get lost". It told him that it was going ahead with the scheme.

I should like to ask the Minister whether before 1st April it is the intention, under the clause, for the Secretary of State to interfere even further with local government in the area and order the Tyneside Passenger Transport Authority to succumb to the minority of the Conservatives who are opposed to the scheme. In Newcastle there are more Labour councillors than Conservative councillors but it merely happens that all 20 aldermen are members of the Conservative Party.

What will the Secretary of State do now? Will he beat a hasty retreat having done his duty by his local constituents? I spoke about cuts in local government expenditure in the House a fortnight ago when I mentioned the other cut that it was rumoured was to be made. I am sorry that the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment is not in his place because I intend to refer to a letter he sent me today. I refer to the rumour that the smoke control scheme in the city of Newcastle, where the air is filthy and the rate of bronchitis stands among the highest in the country, was to be cut back as one of the cuts to be made in local government.

I told the Under-Secretary that I had organised 200 people, some of them members of his own party, who were prepared to go into the ward represented by the chairman of the finance committee and put him in his place in a few months' time if he went ahead with such a scheme. I am told that this morning Newcastle changed its mind. I am told that it no longer intends to abandon its smoke-control scheme, that it does not intend to leave the air on the eastern side of the city, which I represent, in its present filthy condition. Again, the Conservatives retreat.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) said, every time we return to the question of over-spending we have a right to ask what the Conservatives will cut back. They will not cut back on smoke control. Are they going to cut back on concessionary fares for the aged? If not, what will they do? If they will not do anything, why do they want the amendment?

During the 1970 General Election campaign we heard a great deal about interfering with local government and the rights of local people to make their own decisions. Nearly all the local authorities were then controlled by the Conservatives. Now, when nearly ail of them are controlled by the Labour Party and even more will be so controlled after April and May, the local authorities' freedom to spend suddenly becomes a sin that is ruining the national economy. I have put this simple question in parochial terms, because it is in that way that the principles can be seen.

The other tactic was to blame everything on the council tenants. A blazing headline in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle the other night said: Massive Blow to Ratepayers—Subsidies to Council Tenants to Spiral". That made it look as though the Labour Party had forced upon the Conservative Council the abominable sin of making the owner-occupiers subsidise the council tenants, but it was an Act of the present Government that forced the situation upon the Newcastle-upon-Tyne City Council.

The Conservatives' tactics are simple. They blow up a storm over cutting back on smoke control and then say "We shall not do that. We are too kind". Next there is the fuss over concessionary fares for the old people. I think that the Conservatives will crawl down on that and say that they are helping the old people, but I should like to know the answer. Then they create a stir about council tenants, saying that rates must increase because the owner-occupiers have been made to finance people worse off than themselves.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Small Heath said, the increased cost of local government has little to do with the three points I have mentioned. It is a reflection of the breakdown of the Government's ability to carry out their pledge in 1970 to cut prices and hold back inflation. Having failed to cut back the cost of local government, they are using diversionary tactics to impress upon the public that it is not that they are bad but that they have so many wonderful services to pay for and that it is the Labour Party that is out to spend the ratepayers' money. That is a dirty tactic that has rightly been exposed by the Opposition.

I again pose my question. It has been said that 100,000 old and disabled people on Tyneside will gain free fares under the present legislation. Will the Secretary of State before 1st April force the Tyneside Passenger Transport Authority to cut back on that? Let him come clean before polling day. Let us have a bit of honesty in local government politics.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. Cant

I agree with those who hope that before too long we shall have a discussion of local government finance reform. In my 21 years as a member of a local authority I have never been more reminded of the dictum of Lord Keynes that it is the short run that matters because in the long run we are all dead. Local government is in a state of crisis.

If my Deputy Chief Whip had not just entered the Chamber, I should have liked to become involved in a long ideological discussion with the Minister. In all the years I have been a member of a local authority I have never felt so affronted by a Government. Yet the Government were supposed to be giving freedom to local authorites. But they did the same sort of thing in 1958 when the then Conservative Government introduced the new financial system, although they had previously said that they would dismantle all controls. This time the Conservative Party said that it would give local authorities a new freedom. But now the Government have the audacity to monitor local government finance. This is a consequence not of local government extravagance but of the Government's own massive incompetence. In fact, they have put us in such a mess that they must, I suppose, resort to almost any expedient.

It all reminds me of the Brazilian dictator who, when he came to office, said "We found the country on the edge of an abyss. Since then we have moved forward." No wonder the Government are monitoring local government finance. I have the greatest respect for the right hon. Gentleman, and had any other member of the Government come here to try to defend this situation I suspect that, lacking the respect we hold for the right hon. Gentleman, that Minister would have been hounded out of the Chamber.

We have had a brilliant analysis of the cause of the increases in local government spending. Of course some local authorities spend more per head than others. Some spend a good deal less. The crux of local government financial problems is simple—that many local authorities are spending more because of the reasons mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell). But what is producing the crisis is not local government expenditure; that is just something seen in the context of the Bill.

The real crisis in local government expenditure is that two geographically contiguous local authorities can be faced with the same inflation, with the same growth in services, and yet one can have no increase in the rates and the other can have a 25 per cent. increase. I would like to develop this point, although the Deputy Chief Whip wants me to sit down.

Many cities are losing a great deal of their central Government rate support grant to the counties. That is the first problem. The second is our old friend, revaluation. I merely ask the right hon. Gentleman when he will make a statement to the House about how much he is going to give local authorities like Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham which are in difficulty because they have been adversely affected by these factors.

Mr. Kenneth Marks (Manchester, Gorton)

It was significant that when the Secretary of State for Employment moved the Second Reading of the Bill he went from Clause 12 to Clause 14 and had to be reminded that there was also a Clause 13. We have heard a great deal of what the clause is not. We are told that it is not to cut local authority rates, not to tell local authorities what to do. What, then, is Clause 13 supposed to do?

Local authorities are only too pleased to tell the Government about their problems with rates and how much will be needed to tackle those problems. The big city representatives have been trying for 10 weeks to tell the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for the Environment and other Ministers precisely what the problems are. They have still had no repily. Treasiurers and councillors have worked for months preparing their estimates, knowing what inflation was taking place, knowing what they would have to tackle the next year. Now a staff of 12 in the Department of the Environment is to tell 1,400 local authorities what it thinks their rates ought to be. Will they understand the problems or will they just think of a number?

Liverpool was criticised by one Minister because it did not take account in last year's estimates of the likely inflation. What inflation has Liverpool to take account of next year? What about the duty which Ministers of Education, the Social Services and the Home Office have placed upon local authorities in the last 12 months? Are they not to go ahead with their nursery school plans? Manchester was criticised because last year it increased its social services budget by 37 per cent. Will the Government say that it is too much and that it should not be any more this year? Is Manchester to cut its police and fire service expenditure?

What about revaluation? We have argued about it for weeks in this House. Will the Government do anything about the imposition on many domestic ratepayers which will be caused by revaluation? If they do, who will pay? Will the Government or the ratepayers pay? When will the Prime Minister make the statement that he said he would make after consulting the big cities? The clause is quite unnecessary. The local authorities are prepared to give the information and they want to know what the Government think about it.

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Ardwick)

Will my hon. Friend emphasise the point that the big cities are in terrible trouble at the moment? Bristol has had to abandon fixing its rate because the Government have not told it what it will be. Manchester is fixing its rate on Friday without any information from the Government. Will my hon. Friend emphasise that speed is essential?

Mr. Marks

We have had six debates on this matter since December. If the Minister does not know, he has not been listening very hard. The fact is that Ministers have not been listening very hard. They have been trying to think of a political way out that will help their party.

Mr. John Roper (Farnworth)

My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Marks) referred to the problem of the big cities. It is sometimes misleading if it is assumed that the problems of rating are confined to the big cities. Urban district councils in my constituency and throughout the country are facing considerable difficulties. They are getting no information to give them an idea of when they may get some assistance. The Minister has given us no indication of the sort of help that can he given. It is no use producing a Counter-Inflation Bill unless something is clearly brought forward to deal with the substantial inflation which will be caused by the increase in rates in the near future.

One of the authorities in my constituency is now in a desperate position because, in spite of having written to the Secretary of State for the Environment on 9th February, it has still had no clear reply about its position. The Kearsley Urban District Council is not increasing its expenditure by any extravagant amount. Its increase in net expenditure this year will be less than 2 per cent., yet I was told in a Written Answer yesterday that the average increase for domestic ratepayers in the Kearsley urban district on the proposals which have been returned by the council on the form FLA2 RM1 will mean an increase for the domestic ratepayers on average of 22 per cent.

That is a serious situation because the ratepayers of Kearsley do not understand the reason for the increase. They think that it is the fault of the Kearsley Urban District Council, which has increased its expenditure by only 2 per cent. The ratepayers, however, will be faced with a rate bill which will go up by 22 per cent. I hope that before we vote we will be given a clear indication of what the Minister intends to do to assist not only the big cities but the small authorities like the Kearsley Urban District Council.

Mr. Oakes

We have heard tonight from my hon. Friends that local authorities and local authority associations regard this clause, rightly, as an insult. The speech by the Minister for Local Government and Development, in which he said that even without statutory authority of any kind over 1,000 authorities out of 1,400 had already replied with the information required is proof positive that this clause is not needed. We have heard of the level of the insult from speeches on both sides of the House, in particular from my hon. Friends the Members for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Rhodes), Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Marks), Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Cant) and Farnworth (Mr. Roper). The attitude of local authorities to this clause goes right across the board.

I want to speak not just about the insults of this clause but about the injury added to it by subsections (6) and (7). In opening the debate the right hon. Gentleman gave no indication why these subsections were needed. They remain in the Bill only as a result of the casting vote of the Chairman in Committee. Why do the Government insist upon them remaining in the Bill? Our Amendment No. 44, on which we will divide the House, is designed to remove these injurious subsections. As the right hon. Gentleman has not explained why they are in the Bill I can only assume that they are in some way designed to facilitate some policy envisaged by the Prime Minister in connection with revaluation and helping local authorities. If this is so the right hon. Gentleman, who has vast experience of local government, must know that this is the worst possible way in which to attempt to deal with the problem.

What these subsections say is that where a local authority has struck a precept or rate it can subsequently change its mind, and, having done so, must repay to the ratepayers or the authority which paid the original sum the amount of the excess charged. This is in contradiction of what happens under the General Rate Act 1967. I can see no reason for these two subsections unless the Government intend to intervene, once a local authority has struck a rate, to twist the arm of that authority and demand that it in some way repays the ratepayer. If the Government wish to help local authorities they should do so by direct grant either to them or to the ratepayers. This method is the worst possible way of intervening and bears no relation to local government practice.

How can this clause work? Local authorities depend not only upon Government grants and rates but upon the investment of the public. That investment depends on the amount of the rate that is struck, so that investors know what the rate is. This clause allows a local authority to strike a rate and then change its mind. It must then repay the ratepayers. Do the Government realise the difficulties involved? Suppose a county council or a transport authority issues a precept. It then finds that too much money has been collected; but instead of putting that into a balance for the benefit of future ratepayers it has to repay that money. To whom is it repaid? To the ratepayers or the rating authority? On this the clause is silent. It merely says in subsection (7): to ensure that any resulting overpayment made to the authority is refunded". It does not say to whom. But we presume that it means that it is refunded to the ratepayers. Do the Government realise how difficult a job that will be for the accounting departments of local authorities, which are already hopelessly overburdened with the work of local government reorganisation as well as water reorganisation and the many other functions they must undertake?

9.45 p.m.

Under the clause the authorities must find the ratepayer who has paid the rate and repay him so many pennies because, according to the clause, or the Government's arm-twisting, they had overestimated the rate. As the Minister more than anyone else in the House knows, the difficulty is accentuated by the fact that the repaying authorities may well not be the authorities which levied the rate, because we are at the crucial time of local government reorganisation and the new authority might involve several of the rating authorities which made the original rate.

Clearly, the clause cannot work, and I am at a loss to know why the Government have put it in the Bill, unless it is designed to deal with a future scheme for helping local authorities designed by the Prime Minister for which local authorities have been waiting for three weeks or a month. No decision has yet been made by the Government at this crucial time for local authorities.

This has been an interesting debate. I note, and I think hon. Members on both sides of the House will note, that the much-vaunted attention of members of the Liberal Party to local government problems has been evidenced by the fact that not one Liberal Member has been present throughout this debate.

The Minister said, perhaps in some sense of shame in view of his experience of local government matters, that the clause is a machinery clause. We hope to have subsections (6) and (7) deleted from what the Minister euphemistically described as a machinery clause. It will do tremendous injury to the future of local government. If it is a machinery clause, we seek, by our amendment, to remove the spanner from the works. I ask not only my right hon. and hon. Friends but hon. Members opposite who respect their colleagues in local government to reject the stupid subsections of this unnecessary clause.

Mr. Graham Page

With your leave, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, may I answer the points which have been made, particularly on the amendment proposing the removal of subsections (6) and (7) to which the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. Oakes) addressed his remarks?

I still say that this is mainly a machinery clause. There is no impossibility about the return of part of a rate paid. It is done by claims for voids every day. There is provision in subsection (7) for those who are entitled to reclaim to make their claims. If the central Government and local government get together to consider the amount of the rate and the discussions take place at the eleventh hour before the rate is fixed, or even after the rate is made and before it is levied after 1st April, it is necessary that there should be opportunity to reconsider the rate fixed.

I repeat that the Government do not intend to deprive local authorities of the right to fix and levy a rate. The clause and the amendment do not give the Government the right to fix a rate or to tell a local authority what rate should be fixed. Nor does it give them any right to examine or cross-examine local authorities in the way described by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell). The hon. Gentleman asked: would the Government take public responsibility for the advice given to local authorities? Of course. They always do. He asked: where is the authority in this matter for asking these questions of local authorities? In fact, he waxed very warm on the question of my carrying out some illegal operation. Perhaps that is not quite the right phrase to use, but to use his own words, it was an extraordinary and ludicrous speech—to accuse a Minister of some illegal operation by writing a letter to a local authority asking about the rates which the local authority was fixing. Is he really suggesting that a Minister needs the authority of Parliament to write a letter such as that? It really is ludicrous.

Mr. Denis Howell

If the Minister does not need the authority of Parliament to do it, what is this clause here for? What is it all about? What we were objecting to was the writing to local authorities telling them by how much to reduce their rates. What the Government are seeking is power without responsibility—as a former Tory Prime Minister once said, the prerogative of the harlot down the ages.

Mr. Page

I am sure the hon. Gentleman would object strongly if we took the responsibility of fixing the local authorities' rates. That is exactly what we are not doing. If I may read the phrase in that letter which the hon. Gentleman says I was issuing illegally, I will quote it: The council are accordingly asked to review their proposals with the objective of reducing expenditure by an amount— and the figure is given in the letter. Is it really an illegal act to write a letter like that to a council? The hon. Gentleman might have got a better case than that on which to base his argument, instead of spending at least 10 minutes accusing of me of an illegal act.

The hon. Gentleman then recited various items of expenditure by Birmingham, and, quite rightly, pointed out that for much of this Birmingham is not directly responsible and that it arises from financial obligations placed on local authorities by the central Government, and for which a local authority has little discretion in fixing the amounts. Of course, in any local authority's rate bill one finds those items, but in the circular relating to the form on which information was to be collected we made a specific point of this fact, that what we were concerned with in the completion of the form were factors over which the local authorities themselves have "direct control"—that phrase comes into the circular which was sent out—making it perfectly clear to a local authority that it could come back and say to us "You, the central Government, are responsible for these items, we are responsible for expenditure on those items, and now let us discuss the latter"—because it is on those that there might be some saving. The very fact that there has been a saving out of this process already, in the first three weeks, of £1½ million shows that discussion in this way with the local authorities and co-operation between the central Government and local government are capable of saving the ratepayers money.

My hon. Friend the Member for Harwich (Mr. Ridsdale) asked about local government finance reform and when it would be announced. We announced that we would in due course be bringing in a local government finance Bill and that if it were delayed there would be a White Paper describing the intentions of the Bill.

The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Rhodes) asked whether it was our intention under this Bill to interfere with the precept of the PTA in Newcastle. My answer is that there is no power in this Bill to make any such order or interference in a case of that sort.

Mr. Rhodes

The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that under the Transport Act 1968 he has power to instruct a local authority to reduce the precept upon the local authority if he considers it to be excessive, or to delay the precept if he considers it to be bad in that year. That may not come under this clause, but it would be honest if he were to explain to the local authorities whether his right hon. Friend is intending to use that power and will tell them before the local elections.

Mr. Page

I am not discussing the Transport Act. If I branched off into a debate on the Transport Act I should be ruled out of order.

The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Cant) made the valid point that under the present rate support grant formula where there are two towns with the same sort of growth one town may recover a great deal from the resources element and the other may not. With revaluation this has shown up more than previously. For example, Bristol has had a resources element grant for the first time. Sheffield and Leeds have had their resources element grant increased. It is not one-sided.

The hon. Member for Small Heath did not address his mind to Clause 13. It does not allow the Secretary of State to make an order fixing a rate. It allows him to make a specific order if a local authority fails to provide information for which it is asked. I hope that orders will not be necessary. I do not mind hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition benches saying that this provision may be unnecessary. It may well be unnecessary, but for the sake of the local authorities which co-operate it is right to have statutory backing.

There has been criticism of the central Government for failing to provide money for local government. I remind the House that in the rate support grant this year the Government contributed to local government expenditure £400 million more than last year. The domestic element was increased by 50 per cent. and next year, by reason of Bills going through Parliament, £350 million will be removed from rate expenditure. I have said that we shall be carrying the reform of local government finance further in a future Bill dealing with that subject.

I hope that the House will accept the Government amendments and reject Amendment No. 44.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 12, in page 9, line 36, leave out from beginning to end of line 39 and insert:

  1. '(a) any rate made, or precept or requisition issued, by the authority for the financial year 1973–74 or any part of that year, or
  2. (b) any rate, precept or requisition which they propose to make or issue for the financial year 1973–74 or 1974–75 or any part of either of those years'.—[Mr. Graham Page.]

Amendment proposed: No. 44, in page 10, line 43, leave out subsections (6) and (7).—[Mr. Denis Howell.]

Question put, That the amendment made:

The House divided: Ayes 205, Noes 274.

Division No. 73.] AYES [9.58 p.m.
Abse, Leo Ellis, Tom Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Allaun, Frank (Saltord, E.) English, Michael Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Evans, Fred Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Ashley, Jack Fisher, Mrs. Doris(B'ham,Ladywood) McBride, Neil
Atkinson, Norman Fitch, Alan (Wigan) McGuire, Michael
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Beaney, Alan Foot, Michael Marks, Kenneth
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Ford, Ben Marquand, David
Bidwell, Sydney Forrester, John Marshall, Dr. Edmund
Blenkinsop, Arthur Fraser, John (Norwood) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Freeson, Reginald Meacher, Michael
Booth, Albert Galpern, Sir Myer Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Gilbert, Dr. John Mendelson, John
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Mikardo, Ian
Bradley, Tom Millan, Bruce
Broughton, Sir Alfred Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) Miller, Dr. M. S.
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Milne, Edward
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)
Buchan, Norman Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Molloy, William
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Hardy, Peter Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Cant, R. B. Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Carmichael, Nell Hattersley, Roy Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Heifer, Eric S. Murray, Ronald King
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Hooson, Emlyn Oakes, Gordon
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Ogden, Eric
Cohen, Stanley Howell, Denis (Small Heath) O'Halloran, Michael
Coleman, Donald Huckfield, Leslie O'Malley, Brian
Concannon, J. D. Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Oram, Bert
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hughes, Roy (Newport) Orbach, Maurice
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Hunter, Adam Orme, Stanley
Crawshaw, Richard Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sulton)
Cronin, John Janner, Greville Palmer, Arthur
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Pardoe, John
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Jenkins, Hugh (putney) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Dalyell, Tarn John, Brynmor Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Davies, Denzll (Llaneliy) Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Pavitt, Laurie
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Jones, Barry (Flint, E.) Perry, Ernest G.
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Deakins, Eric Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Eiwyn(W.Ham,S.) Probert, Arthur
de Freltas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoftrey Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Judd, Frank Richard, Ivor
Delargy, Hugh Kaufman, Gerald Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Kelley, Richard Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Dempsey, James Kerr, Russell Robertson, John (Paisley)
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Kinnock, Neil Roderick, Caerwyn E.Brc'n&R'dnor)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Lambie, David Roper, John
Driberg, Tom Lamborn, Harry Rose, Paul B.
Duffy, A. E. P. Latham, Arthur Rowlands, Ted
Dunn, James A. Lawson, George Sheldon. Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Eadie, Alex Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Edelman, Maurice Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton.N.E.)
Edwards, Robert (Bllston) Lipton, Marcus Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Lomas, Kenneth Silkin. Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Sillars, James Swain, Thomas Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Silverman, Julius Thomas,Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff,W.) Whitehead, Phillip
Skinner, Dennis Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Whitlock, William
Small, William Tomney, Frank Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.) Tope, Graham Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Spearing, Nigel Torney, Tom Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Spriggs, Leslie Tuck, Raphael Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Stallard, A. W. Varley, Eric G. Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham) Wainwright, Edwin
Stoddart, David (Swindon) Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John Walker, Harold (Doncaster) Mr. Michael Cocks and
Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. Wallace, George Mr. Tom Pendry
Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley Weitzman, David
Adley, Robert Fidler, Michael Kimball, Marcus
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) King, Tom (Bridgwater)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Kinsey, J. R.
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Kitson, Timothy
Astor, John Fookes, Miss Janet Knight, Mrs. Jill
Atkins, Humphrey Fortescue, Tim Knox, David
Awdry, Daniel Foster, Sir John Lamont, Norman
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Fowler, Norman Langford-Holt, Sir John
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Fox, Marcus Le Marchant, Spencer
Batsford, Brian Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Fry, Peter Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D. Longden, Sir Gilbert
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Gardner, Edward Loveridge, John
Benyon, W. Gibson-Watt, David Luce, R. N.
Berry, Hn. Anthony Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) McAdden, Sir Stephen
Biffen, John Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) MacArthur, Ian
Biggs-Davison, John Glyn, Dr. Alan McCrindle, R. A.
Blaker, Peter Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. McLaren, Martin
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Goodh[...]t, Philip Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Body, Richard Goodhew, Victor McMaster, Stanley
Boscawen, Hn. Robert Gorst, John Macmillan, Rt.Hn.Maurice (Farnham)
Bossom, Sir Clive Gower, Raymond McNair-Wilson, Michael
Braine, Sir Bernard Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Maddan, Martin
Bray, Ronald Gray, Hamish Madel, David
Brewis, John Green, Alan Maginnis, John E.
Brinton, Sir Tatton Grieve,Percy Marten Neil
Brockiebank-Fowler, Christopher Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Mather, Carol
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Grylls, Michael Maude, Angus
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Gummer, J. Selwyn Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
Bryan, Sir Paul Gurden, Harold Mawby, Ray
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus,N&M) Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Buck, Antony Hall, John (Wycombe) Miscampbell, Norman
Bullus, Sir Eric Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Mitchell, Lt.-Col.C. (Aberdeenshire, W)
Burden, F. A. Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Hannam, John (Exeter) Moate, Roger
Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn) Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Molyneaux, James
Carlisle, Mark Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Money, Ernie
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Haselhurst, Alan Monks, Mrs. Connie
Channon, Paul Hastings, Stephen Montgomery, Fergus
Chapman, Sydney Havers, Sir Michael More, Jasper
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Hawkins, Paul Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Hayhoe, Barney Morrison, Charles
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Heseltine, Michael Mudd, David
Clegg, Walter Hicks, Robert Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Cockeram, Eric Higgins, Terence L. Neave, Airey
Cooke, Robert Hiley, Joseph Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Coombs, Derek Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.) Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Corfleld, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick Hill, S. James A.(Southampton, Test) Normanton, Tom
Costain, A. P. Holland, Philip Nott, John
Critchley, Julian Holt, Miss Mary Onslow, Cranley
Crowder, F. P. Hordern, Peter Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally
Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Hornby, Richard Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia Osborn, John
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid,Maj.-Gen.Jack Howe, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)
Dean, Paul Howell, David (Guildford) Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Hunt, John Parkinson, Cecil
Dixon, Piers Hutchison, Michael Clark Peel, Sir John
Dodds-Parker, Sir Douglas Iremonger, T. L. Percival, Ian
Drayson, G. B. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Peyton, Rt. Hn. John
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward James, David Pink, R. Bonner
Dykes, Hugh Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Jessel, Toby Proudfoot, Wilfred
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis
Emery, Peter Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Raison, Timothy
Eyre, Reginald Kaberry, Sir Donald Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Farr, John Keilett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Kilfedder, James Redmond, Robert
Reed, Laurence (Bolton, E.) Stainton, Keith Waddington, David
Rees, Peter (Dover) Stanbrook, Ivor Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Rees-Davies, W. R. Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper) Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. Wall, Patrick
Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Stokes, John Ward, Dame Irene
Ridsdale, Julian Stuttaford, Dr. Tom Warren, Kenneth
Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.) Sutcliffe, John Weatherill, Bernard
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Tapsell, Peter Wells, John (Maldstone)
Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) White, Roger (Gravesend)
Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart) Wiggin, Jerry
Rost, Peter Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Wilkinson, John
Russell, Sir Ronald Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.) Winterton, Nicholas
Sandys, Rt. Hn. D. Tebbit, Norman Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Scott, Nicholas Temple, John M. Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret Woodnutt, Mark
Shelton, William (Clapham) Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.) Worsley, Marcus
Shersby, Michael Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.) Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Simeons, Charles Tilney, John Younger, Hn. George
Sinclair, Sir George Trew, Peter
Skeet, T. H. H. Tugendhat, Christopher TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Soref, Harold Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin Mr. Michael Jopling and
Speed, Keith van Straubenzee, W. R. Mr. Oscar Murton.
Spence, John Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Sproat, Iain Vickers, Dame Joan
Question accordingly negatived.
It being after Ten o'clock, further consideration of the Bill, as amended, stood adjourned.