§ 3.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Brown (Shoreditch and Finsbury)
I beg to move,That this House censures Her Majesty' Government for allowing the essential public services of the capital city to deteriorate to the point where they are now reaching breakdown and are causing grave hardship to the population of Greater London.The Government must be aware that in raising this matter we are reflecting the view of every responsible person in London, whether employer or employee, working in public or private enterprise, and of all shades of political opinion. Seldom has there been such agreement on what is wrong in London.
Our charge against the Government is that they have been fully aware of what has been happening over the past three years. They have been continually pressed to assist in taking action to correct the situation but, like Nero, they have fiddled while London was being virtually brought to a standstill. Our problems were manifest long before phase 3. Life was being made utterly impossible before then.
The aspirations of people who live in London are not absurdly high. First, they seek homes of the right size for their families, in a fit state, with modern amenities and at a price they can afford. Second, they want job opportunities which match their skills, thereby allowing for improvement of their wages and living standards. Third, they want good public transport facilities which will enable them to move about freely and at will.
Fourth, they want an education system and service which satisfies the needs of their children and young people. Fifth, they are looking for adequate hospital and social services. Sixth, they want the knowledge that an efficient police force exists to protect them from the wrongdoer and to maintain law and order in London. Last, they want a happy environment established to allow them to enjoy a full life.
1134 These are broadly their needs, and they are not unreasonable. But what is the reality? In housing, the position gets worse daily. Not only are fewer houses being built, in accordance with Government policy, but those which are being built are costing a fortune—a major factor being the price of land, which the Government have done absolutely nothing about; on the contrary, they have encouraged land speculators. It is now impossible to buy a house in London for under £12,000, either new or second hand, which rules out anyone earning less than about £5,000 a year.
At the same time, the number of homeless people is growing daily, resulting in local authorities having to house people in hotels, because the law places an obligation on the authorities to provide accommodation for any homeless people in their area. The result is a staggering rise in costs, which further depletes the financial resources of local authorities. Only this morning I read in the South London Press that the London borough of Southwark, perhaps one of the premier authorities of the country, which is still building 2,000 homes annually, is having to pay £138,000 for accommodating homeless families in hotels. That is a staggering situation.
Furthermore, a large proportion of London' housing stock is old and is deteriorating far more rapidly than part of it is being improved. The Government sit back and do nothing. They do plenty of talking but we get no action. The housing lists get longer. We have the paradoxical situation that the population of London becomes smaller while housing lists become longer.
What of job opportunities in London? We have lost about 500,000 manufacturing jobs. This means that large numbers of people are unable to find any suitable employment at a rate of pay which is commensurate with the high costs in London and at a location which is near to their homes. Not only is the cost of living in terms of food and services much higher in London but over the last two years the Government have deliberately added a further £1.50 the rent bill just to satisfy a doctrinaire party-political whim.
The result is that few people are now available for manning essential services 1135 in London because the younger families are being forced out of the centre, thereby leaving an ageing population, which in turn is more demanding of the public services, which are deteriorating.
It is now virtually impossible to recruit and to maintain staff for public services in London. The staff shortage of London Transport is now at a crisis point. The number of vacancies for bus drivers is more than 2,000, or 15 per cent. of the establishment. There is a shortage of more than 1,000 conductors, or 12 per cent. We are short of 290 guards on the Underground, or 10 per cent., and 350 short in station staff generally, or 33 per cent. In addition, there are serious shortages of engineers for the permanent way and signalling departments. British Rail is 644 guards and more than 2,000 station and depôt staff short in London alone.
As a result of these shortages the services are becoming very unsatisfactory, resulting in an increased use of private cars in peak periods. This in turn creates even further difficulties for the bus services in running to schedule. The result of that cycle is the all-too-familiar experience of traffic being brought to a standstill.
The Prime Minister thought he could solve the problem by making a telephone call to Tokyo. He was apparently told, in no uncertain terms, by Sir Desmond Plummer that Government policy was the root cause of the trouble. That was over a year ago. The problem simply became worse. Yet the Prime Minister can only be rude and offensive to Sir Reginald Goodwin, instead of agreeing to meet him to discuss solutions. Unless and until the London Transport Executive is able not only to pay its staff sufficient to compensate for the high cost of living in London but to give additional incentives to attract people who have to suffer the added pressures involved in working for London Transport, transport services must break down.
Although I know that the Chairman of the London Transport Executive does not wish to over-dramatise the situation, there can be little doubt in anyone' mind that the reduced services being provided are causing great hardship to Londoners and call for urgent Government action. It is no good for the Minister to keep repeating 1136 "Phase 3" There was a crisis before phase 3.
§ Mr. Norman Tebbit (Epping)
Would the hon. Gentleman care to tell us for how long the unions were obstructing the recruitment of women as bus drivers? Is it not only in the past few weeks that the unions have given way?
§ Mr. Brown
—but it does not into the argument I am making. The Minister may have the answer for the hon. Gentleman. Indeed, I am pleading for the Minister to answer it in depth.
The education services in London are close to breakdown. In some areas, in mine for example, they have almost broken down. Generally, there is a shortfall of about 250 full-time and 275 part-time teachers in London. Translated into real terms, this means that the educational standards of about 26 London schools have been reduced by more than 20,000 pupil-hours a week.
§ Mr. Brown
My hon. Friend is right. It is absolutely disgraceful. These study hours can never be recovered, and this will prejudice the chances of students in examinations.
This has been the situation since September. With only normal wastage with which to contend, it is expected that the number of schools going on to part-time education will be increased by a further 10. This will affect more than 28,000 children in London. Yet the Government have done nothing to help them.
Mr. Toby Jesse (Twickenham)
§ Mr. Brown
The ILEA is satisfied, as are local education authorities in London, that unless it can offer substantial financial increases the run down in the education service will continue and at an even greater rate. We have the absurd situation of the Secretary of State sitting on the sidelines wringing her hands and 1137 saying "Woe is me", but at the same time she makes quite sure that her representative on the Burnham Committee blocks every attempt that is made to resolve the situation. That is little short of a scandal.
In September I met the Secretary of State to discuss a school in my area where children are out of school for up to two half days a week. As a result, she asked for a report from her inspector, which could only confirm what I had told her. She also sent her Under-Secretary to the school. His contribution was unique. On leaving the school, having seen the disgraceful state of affairs, he is reported in The Times as sayingThank God for public schoolsStill nothing is done.
Perhaps the more frightening aspect of this situation is that it is already known that next term, due to additional shortages arising from resignations, some schools may well collapse. The teachers themselves are fed up with being forced to give second-class education to the children of London and they find no job satisfaction in working in London, quite apart from the absurdly low wages that are paid for the job. It is now impossible for teachers, either single or married, to find accommodation in London at rents which they can afford. The London weighting in no way reflects the increase in the cost of living, and for the Secretary of State and the Cabinet to authorise an extra 36p a week borders upon lunacy.
What the teachers in London want is a fair deal—no more and no less. Teaching in stress areas is an obstacle to recruitment of staff. Therefore, a positive approach is necessary from the Government. They should recognise that the term "London weighting" is now an outmoded concept. Their disastrous economic policy has destroyed its meaning. What we require is a London allowance made up of two parts, the first relating to the increased costs imposed on people working in London, and the second relating to a financial incentive, to reward people who are prepared to sacrifice themselves by working for a public service in London under the stress conditions about which I have been speaking.
Another area that is reaching breaking point in London, particularly in the centre of London, is the hospital service. 1138 For some time now it has been increasingly difficult to recruit staff over a wide range of skills. For example, resident junior doctors are working very long hours, which is quite unacceptable, particularly having regard to the disaster which may occur because of a poor diagnosis being made by a tired doctor. In any event, when the present hours are rationalised there will be a serious shortage of junior medical staff. This will have an immediate effect on the 24-hour commitment of hospitals throughout the year. There is an acute shortage of staff such as radiographers, pharmacists and physiotherapists. That means that the back-up staff of the medical team are just not available, while those who are in post suffer overwork and stress and are finally forced to apply for jobs in other areas. That only adds to the crisis. All this is at a time when the exhortation is being made to hospitals in central London to extend their rehabilitation service.
It is interesting to note that physiotherapists and staff nurses with three years' training earn less than a traffic warden who trains for three weeks. There is a serious shortage of ancillary staff such as cooks, catering and domestic supervisors, porters, orderlies, ambulance drivers, carpenters, electricians and maintenance fitters. Since 1st April 1973 foreign ancillary staffs are no longer required to work in hospitals in order to obtain work permits. It is a losing battle to attract and retain these key personnel.
Who could blame a man for not becoming a hospital porter when his wages in central London for a 40-hour week would be £21.88 for the lowest grade and £23.50 for the highest. If he were to work seven days a week on shift he would still not reach the average level of wages for the nation. It is impossible for junior medical staff, ancillary workers and nurses to obtain housing in central London near their hospital because of the massive office development taking place. The rental of flats is far too high for their low wages.
At the beginning of this year I raised with the Secretary of State for the Environment the fact that the GLC—at that time Conservative controlled—was offering homes for sale in London close to the central hospitals. It said then that 1139 it would require total gross monthly earnings to be at least five times the monthly mortgage repayments. For example, to obtain a loan of £8,000 repayable over 25 years on which the monthly repayments would amount to £50.60, proof of income of around £250 a month, or £58.50 a week, would be required. What chance would any junior medical staff nurses or ancillary workers have of obtaining the council property then being offered for sale?
Consequently, it is becoming more and more difficult to main a 24-hour staffing in all hospitals in central London. This is a vitally important issue for the people of London. Hospitals in the central area are now having seriously to consider closing down some of their operating theatres and cutting back on some of their specialties unless urgent action is taken to recruit staff. The hospital service is relying entirely on the good will and sense of vocation of the staff making them stay at their posts, but there is increasing evidence of the mushrooming of agencies.
Staff are now being supplied to the hospitals at a cost far in excess of anything the hospital service can afford. Yet the Government are prepared to pay an outrageous price to the agencies rather than give the staff directly a few pounds extra. In addition, hospitals are now busy putting up the price of meals—in some cases by 30 per cent. It is little wonder that staffs are becoming cynical at this unacceptable face of Government policy.
Local government in London is facing similar problems. While the rest of the country is only 5 per cent. down on its establishment of public health inspectors, in London the figure is 22 per cent. More than 17 per cent. of weights and measures inspectors' posts are vacant. The figure for valuers is 30 per cent., for planners 28 per cent. and for architects 23 per cent. There is an annual turnover of 25 per cent. among social workers, and building inspectors are in short supply, which has an immediate impact on public safety. I am advised that in many cases London is failing to meet its statutory obligations in this respect and is at risk to legal action.
This situation can only get worse since after 1st April 1974 all employees of local authorities in London will be able 1140 to apply for jobs in other parts of the country where they will obtain more money for the same work in much more congenial surroundings with a home and garden. The future, therefore, looks very bleak for London in this respect.
I could go on cataloguing the disgraceful state the Government have allowed to develop in London. The police establishment is down by 5,000—20 per cent. of the total—and is still falling. The Post Office is 3,500 down on its establishment for postmen—30 per cent. of the staff—and that, too, is still falling. The only things that are going up under the Tory Government are food and other prices, land and house prices, rents and interest charges, crime figures, the number of spivs and property speculators and their empty office blocks.
So much could have been done. Why did not the Government bring in a Minister with the responsibility of co-ordinating affairs in Greater London and building up a master plan with the responsible authorities in order to analyse the effects and determine action? Why did they not recognise the effects of the continual rundown of industry in London? Why did the various Ministers keep hiding behind pathetic excuses rather than take action on the facts as they knew them to be? Why have the Government refused to listen to the complaints made month after month and year after year in this House by hon. Members on both sides? Why have they chosen deliberately to stir up trouble in every major group of public workers in London, including their own civil servants, rather than getting down to seeking a solution to the urgent problems facing public services in London? Why did they not evaluate the cost to industry and commerce in general of running down the public services and use that figure as a back-cloth to the cost of solution?
Why did the Government not undertake their own review of London pay differentials, of the direct effect on housing and travel costs, of travel time and of the increasing pressures of working in London? I submit that we have made out a substantial case against the Government which fully warrants the vote of censure. We can only hope that the Minister will deal with these specific issues and will tell the House what is 1141 intended to be done. It will be unacceptable to have a dirge about phase 3, the Pay Board and all that razzamatazz. The present Home Secretary successfully persuaded the people of London against any argument based on phase 3, the Pay Board and the rest. The House will recall that back in 1968 the right hon. Gentleman said:One of the hallmarks of freedom is surely the right of people to determine their own earnings without State intervention or direction, whether they do so by collective bargaining or by individual negotiation.In the same speech the right hon. Gentleman said:What we reject is the altogether excessive weight which the Government have placed on incomes policy which they have not been able to bear over the last three years and which they will not be able to bear in future. What we also reject is the use of statutory control, of legal compulsion. We reject legal compulsion on the grounds both of practicability and principleHe went on:To all those who have come to believe in the essential need for a statutory incomes policy as a centrepiece of economic policy we say, look at the facts, because we genuinely do not believe that the facts have ever been properly looked at by the Government."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st May 1968 Vol. 765 c 315–24.]The people in London bought that story. It is no good the Minister now giving us a lot of arguments about statutory prices and incomes policies, because his right hon. Friend destroyed those arguments for a long time.
Therefore, we require positive proposals today and a programme with a time scale. The people of London are just about fed up with the way the Government have allowed the public services to run down, and they are demanding action, as every London Member here on both sides of the House is aware. But the tragedy is that it will take time to halt the slide that has been allowed to develop and to produce circumstances wherein London can once again become a thriving city for those who live there, and for that we will never forgive or forget this Tory Government.
§ Mr. Speaker
Before I call the hon. Gentleman, I should like to say that there are well over 20 hon. Members who want to speak in this debate. It is only a 1142 3-hour debate, so I hope that hon. Members will have regard to that fact.
§ Mr. Lipton
My point of order is this, Mr. Speaker. There are two London Members who ought to be here to answer the devastating indictment to which you, Mr. Speaker, have just listened. One is the Prime Minister, who is a London Member, and the other is the Secretary of State for Education and Science, who is also a London Member.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman has been a Member of this House for a very long time. He knows that that is not a point of order.
§ 4.1 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Dudley Smith)
In answer to the hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton), inadequate as I may be compared with some of my colleagues, I have employment responsibilities—and there is a wide area of employment responsibilities here—and I can claim to have been a London Member once. The electorate of Brentford and Chiswick showed great ingratitude in 1966, but I am glad to say that in another part of the country the electorate put me in. But I am well aware of London's problems. Like many other hon. Members, I live in London.
There are two ways of approaching a short debate such as this: one is to accuse the Opposition of political opportunism and to respond in kind; the other is to recognise that there is a serious problem here, and attempt to analyse it and put it into perspective, even allowing for the exaggerations of the Opposition. I make no complaint about exaggerations; all Oppositions tend at times to exaggerate—this one more than most. But I should like to analyse and put this matter into perspective, and try to raise it a little above the ordinary level of superficial political debate. My hon. Friends and I will listen to the ideas put forward by hon. Members, such as those which the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Ronald Brown) has put forward, so that we can get an appreciation of what hon. Members in the London area think about this problem.
I would say straight away that the essential services in London and elsewhere are facing real and pressing problems, and that this is a matter for considerable concern. I do not want to 1143 minimise the problems at all. I want instead to bring out the real issues, which are not, as some people might suggest, easy, short-term and capable of instant answers. I want, too, to give the House a just appreciation of the situation, which the terms of the motion signally fail to do. We are here talking about a number of different services, and the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury has gone through a long list, as he is fully entitled to do.
We are talking about 55,000 London Transport workers, nearly 60,000 teachers, 20,000 policemen, 5,000 firemen, 100,000 health staff—the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury devoted a good deal of time to health—and 140,000 civil servants, of whom 40 per cent. provide essential over-the-counter social services within the metropolitan area. We are also talking about postmen, British Rail staff and some local government officers. All of these services are currently facing staffing difficulties, not only in London but in many other large cities and in the great conurbations the world over. This is an endemic problem. In New York and Tokyo it is a big problem, as it is in places such as Glasgow and Liverpool. It is not just a short-term problem; it has much longer-term aspects, and I shall return to them in a moment.
It is worth reminding ourselves that in many cases others are far behind us in the standards of service that we continue to take for granted in a place such as London. Earlier this year the Layfield Report was able to refer to London's services as "the envy of the world", and to point out that many growing cities are still investing large sums of money in an attempt to catch up with them. They have been doing that and, with great respect to the hon. Gentleman, they still are. The current difficulties are concerned not only with the recruitment of new staff but with increasing wastage and increasing turnover of experienced staff—sometimes, as matters have turned out, staff that has been expensively trained to no great purpose.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that point, he must be entirely unaware of the catastrophic decline every day and every 1144 week during the last few months, which has made the situation worse. It is no use the hon. Gentleman referring to the position of London Transport as it was at the time of the Layfield Report. The problem is getting worse day by day, and we want to know what he will do about it.
§ Mr. Smith
I said at the beginning of my speech that I do not minimise the problem, and that I am well aware that the situation is deteriorating. But we must try to get it into perspective. Without wishing to weary the House with too many figures, I should like to mention a few. London Transport is short of some 6,500 staff, or about 1 per cent.; the London Fire Brigade is more than 8 per cent. below strength; the ambulance staff is about the same; and vacancies for postmen in London are around 13 per cent. of existing staff.
§ Mr. Smith
I am coming to that.
But equivalent shortages exist in many large provincial cities. In Glasgow and Liverpool the bus services are more than 10 per cent. under-staffed; in Coventry and Birmingham shortages of postmen are between 13 per cent. and 15 per cent. Examples could be multiplied. In one of the main towns that I represent, Leamington Spa, there is a chronic shortage of postmen—the numbers are 15 per cent. down—while in rural Warwickshire the refuse is not properly collected because there is a shortage of drivers. It is a problem that extends well beyond London. In all these cases, except for the schools, the situation is worse, and in some cases substantially worse, than it was a year ago, and in some areas the pressures are more acute than in others.
But, despite what the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury has said, the situation in the schools is rather different. While inner London schools are now about 11 per cent. below the quota of teachers as a group, the outer London boroughs are above the quota by about the same percentage. But certain schools in both inner and outer London are experiencing staffing difficulties, largely because the raising of the school leaving age has increased the demand for teachers 1145 and accentuated the shortages of specialised teachers. A few schools are providing less than normal school hours at the present time. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science is concerned that pupils should not lose any of their schooling, and that problems of distribution of teachers should be overcome as soon as possible. This matter is very much in the forefront of her mind.
All the public services are, therefore, under considerable strain in varying degrees.
§ Mr. Robert Mellish (Bermondsey)
The London allowance for teachers was agreed by the Burnham Committee and accepted in principle by the employer—the ILEA. Why did the Minister turn it down if the problems and shortages were recognised, and why did she create even more problems and shortages by her direct action?
§ Mr. Smith
The hon. Gentleman is anticipating me on the question of pay, but, if I am permitted, I shall come to that. But it does not at all help these public services or the public, and it does not contribute to a proper understanding of the situation, to suggest that these services are virtually on the verge of breakdown. They are not on the verge of breakdown. Nevertheless, since the services are fundamental and every other activity depends in some degree on their continued efficiency and their improvement, we must take their difficulties very seriously.
§ Mr. Smith
No, I cannot give way again. I must not go on for too long, or I shall keep other speakers out of the debate. I did, in deference, give way to the right hon. Gentleman the Opposition Chief Whip.
As the House knows, if it is honest, there is nothing new about shortages in manpower in public services in the major cities. As long ago as 1964 the Phelps Brown Committee referred to shortages of busmen, which had been persistent and acute since 1952. I remember myself as a former London Member giving evidence to that committee about deterioration in bus services in West London. The current number of notified unfilled vacancies for road passenger transport workers 1146 in London is still much less than the number notified in July 1966; the vacancies notified to my Department for British Rail staff remain lower than they were in 1966.
To some extent—perhaps to a large extent—the difficulties in the public services are cyclical. They recur in all periods when unemployment is low, or reducing—as it is today in London. They are shared in varying degrees with other sectors of employment. It is not unusual at times of high demand for labour for employers to be operating 10 per cent. below optimum need. If we take all employments together, there are now two notified vacancies in the London area to every unemployed person.
I was very interested to hear the Chairman of the London Transport Executive acknowledge, in a recent television programme, that London Transport was no more short of staff than most large employers in the public as well as in the private sector. That is broadly correct, according to the expert advice I have received.
In one sector for which I have a special departmental responsibility, the hotel and catering trades, there are as many notified vacancies as there were in 1966 when unemployment was even lower. This is the price of growth. This is the price of getting unemployment down to the level where the labour market is under strain. I ask Labour members which is the kind of problem they would sooner live with—a million unemployed, or else the strains and inconveniences of growth? Growth is bound to bring about labour supply problems, and the only way to keep growth going is to get more productivity. There are now fewer unemployed in London than at any time since 1966, when the Labour Government clapped on their controls and wage freeze.
The Labour Party should sometimes remember these things. I have stood at this Dispatch Box on occasions in the last 18 months and been assailed by Labour Members about the unacceptable figure of 1 million unemployed. Among those who assailed me were Opposition Members representing London constituencies. But here they are in a different situation. There is now a figure of only 1.1 unemployed and far more 1147 jobs are chasing people who are unemployed.
§ Mr. Smith
No, I am not windy, but I am conscious of the time factor since there are many hon. Members who wish to take part in this debate.
What is the right attitude in such circumstances? Is it right to bleat and posture about the difficulties, or else to look for ways—and there are ways—of using available manpower more effectively?
§ Mr. Smith
I shall tell the House. For example, London Transport has made a great deal of progress already in one-man operation on its buses and still has some of its programme to carry out. It is pressing for the much greater use of bus lanes to speed buses and thereby increase capacity. There is also one-man operation of trains, and London Transport is discussing with the unions scope for more extensive employment of women. I have been interested in and heartened by the progress made in the employment of women bus drivers. That is the kind of co-operation we need—and in present circumstances are entitled to ask for—from employers, unions and the people concerned.
§ Mr. Cunningham
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that London Transport in the light of its experience has decided not to proceed with one-man buses in the centre of town? They only hold up the traffic and lose all the advantages gained by the provision of bus lanes. The only alternative is to pay more so that one can get the staff.
§ Mr. Smith
London Transport is proceeding with this proposal in the outer areas. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment will deal with that point when he replies to the debate.
I turn to pay and incomes policy, which is an important issue. I have not 1148 responded to the invitations of the Opposition to deal with nothing else, because these matters have to be seen in perspective.
§ Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson (Walthamstow, East)
Before my hon. Friend leaves the point about London Transport, is he aware that the Victoria to Walthamstow line has a train which does not require a driver at all, but there is a person who sits there basically for public relations purposes?
§ Mr. Smith
My hon. Friend puts his finger on the situation. This shows what can be achieved with rationalisation and better productivity. It behoves us all—employers, unions and everybody else—to use the best resources in this situation.
On pay and incomes, I do not believe that even if pay in these services could be raised above the levels prevailing in other employments it would be easy, or even possible, to get all the staff that are wanted. I am convinced that one of the biggest stumbling blocks to recruitment in many of the services is the unsocial and difficult hours involved and the need to work to schedule. If other job opportunities are easily available, people will shun jobs which have these conditions attached to them. This is a matter of vital importance. It is a growing problem which affects us all, and it is something of which the country must take heed as the years go by. But this does not apply only to London. It applies over a whole spectrum of cities.
§ Mr. Smith
I have already given way on a number of occasions.
The main source of the difficulty in which the public services and other employers in London now find themselves lies in the limited supply of labour in London in relation to the demands placed upon it. If in these circumstances there were no pay policy, rates would simply be bid up all round in a general scramble. Experience does not suggest that in these circumstances public employees would fare the best or even as well as others. Employers generally would not gain because the extra employees are not to be had. Employees generally would not gain at all because the inflationary consequences would soon swallow up their 1149 bigger pay packets. That is something that cannot be allowed to happen.
§ Mr. Smith
I will make clear to the right hon. Gentleman that the Government will not give way to special cases in stage 3. There is no end to special cases. In the end everybody and everything becomes a special case.
Over one-fifth of all the jobs in London are in the government, medical and transport sectors, and most of them are providing essential services to London. On top of that there are public utilities, and there are endless groups of workers who can lay claim to special treatment. London services experienced considerable staffing problems in 1966 when the Labour Party instituted its brand of incomes policy squeeze and freeze. Is that the formula which the Opposition want to put into operation now? What an incomes policy that was! It involved special cases and bogus productivity deals galore and resulted in the earnings for all industries rising between 1966 and 1970 by 30.6 per cent. Earnings of London road and rail workers rose by 23 per cent. and 21 per cent. respectively, and the earnings of teachers rose by 21 per cent.
We intend that the present incomes policy should be fairer than the previous Government's policy.
§ Mr. Smith
No. With great respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I shall cut him out of the debate if I give way any further.
If special treatment were accorded to the London services we might find Labour hon. Members showing the acute concern which they are demonstrating today whilst pressing the claims of those who would be regarded as being neglected. I do not need to lecture Labour hon. Members about the difficulties of running an incomes policy. They know all about it. They knew about it when they ran away in 1970. They failed to secure re-election.
The only practicable course is the one which the Government have taken. We believe that it is in the interests of the 1150 public services and of everyone else to take such a course. We are now moving into a stage of the incomes policy which is flexible within limits, in which the maxima allow room for negotiation and within which account can be taken of such special factors as the working of unsocial hours.
In the meantime, the stage 3 code allows improvements to the London allowance. That is the point about which the right hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) has been shouting. It does so on the NBPI formula, though the Government readily appreciate that the improvements are likely to be small. The special emphasis which we have placed on better compensation for the working of unsocial hours should help. I hope that it will help materially some of the services which are under the greatest strain.
§ Mr. Smith
Arrangements for the new efficiency schemes can be applied to employees in service industries as in manufacturing industries. The Pay Board has also been asked to consider London allowances. I can assure the House that the Pay Board has been asked to make as much speed as possible with the consideration of that matter.
§ Mr. Smith
I am trying to explain that under stage 3 any changes, if we are to have a counter-inflation policy, must take place within a certain framework. If that is not so a sector becomes a special case and subsequently everybody becomes a special case. If that happens there is no gain in the long term, and improvements, as we have seen under the previous Government, are overtaken by events.
I believe that in the short term there can be assistance through stage 3 and through the greater flexibility which has been allowed. Further, we must consider the long-term considerations, as a Government and as a nation, particularly those which affect the availability 1151 of manpower in the public services in the inner city areas and especially in London. Such considerations are the movements in population within and out of our major cities, the influence of housing and other policies, and the likely competing demands on manpower. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Department of the Environment will be dealing further with the link between housing policy and the problems of the London services when he replies.
Beyond the short term complex questions are involved. I can tell the House that officials have been asked to consider urgently how far it is possible to take a view on the available evidence and what action might follow. If Labour hon. Members do not recognise that we face a long-term problem they are living in cloud-cuckoo-land. Opposition hon. Members with all their speciousness cannot solve the problem at a stroke. If they were elected tomorrow they would find exactly the same situation as we now find.
The House generally has a debt of appreciation to the many loyal people who work in the London services in difficult and arduous conditions. The public should be grateful to them. This is not a matter only for Government. It is not in the short term just a matter of pay, although I recognise that that is important. It is a matter of conditions, of morale and of using people effectively and economically. While the Government are prepared to play their part within the limits of the present inflationary situation, the responsibility in the first place and over the onger term is with the public bodies which are concerned as employers and with the trade unions.
We must recognise that to run the economy at the high level which is being achieved by the present administration brings its own problems. They are the problems of success. They have not arisen, as Labour hon. Members pretend, because of the counter-inflation policy. The problems cannot be resolved by making exceptions to the counter-inflation policy.
There is a general shortage of labour in the service industries. Many outside public services are crying out for labour. 1152 That applies not to London only but throughout the country. Pay is not the only consideration. We must also recognise the unsocial hours and the unacceptability of some jobs.
I grant that housing raises problems, but there are a number of other factors which, when combined, make it extremely difficult to get and retain people in the public services. I think that in the short term flexibility can help to remedy certain anomalies and improve pay structures. In the longer term we must improve the utilisation of manpower and resources. That can be done by better training, better productivity, better conditions in due course, and fringe benefits. There can be staggered hours and the speedier implementation of the Greater London development plan. The Government do not bear sole responsibility for these matters. They are also the responsibility of the GLC. It is about time that the GLC stopped playing politics and got on with the job by co-operating with the Government. We are willing to co-operate with it.
The motion deals in hysterical terms with the problems which I have mentioned. It shows that the Opposition have failed to grasp the wider nature of the problems and the fact that there is a joint responsibility for them. Consequently, I ask the House to reject the motion.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Cox (Wandsworth, Central)
The Minister's remarks were as pathetic as the Prime Minister's comments whenever he talks about London. He has shown his appalling ignorance of London's problems.
Everyone knows that the housing problem is worsening month by month. That is not theory but fact. That is demonstrated by the number of people on council housing lists, the number of homeless families, the number of families which councils are having to put in bed-and-breakfast accommodation, the number of evictions taking place by county court orders, the number of landlords seeking rent increases throughout London. Against that background the number of houses which are being built—and council houses in particular, which for many people are the only hope of being able to find somewhere decent to live at a rent which they can afford—is going down month by 1153 month. It has done so ever since the Tories have been in power.
The only hope for Londoners rests with the Minister. Throughout London, and especially in inner London, the scarcity of available land means that London boroughs often come up against the spiv developers who are able to pay far more than the boroughs are allowed to pay by the Government for it. That is land which the London boroughs would buy and build on. Such a situation exists in Wandsworth.
The only hope for the London boroughs is the willingness of outer London boroughs to offer help. We know only too well, however, that they are not interested in doing so. Why not? It is my belief that they do not want the kind of tenants who would go to their areas to live—namely, council tenants.
If any local authority in inner London were to say to one of the outer boroughs "How about coming to some agreement with us about luxury flats or town house developments?" it would be welcomed with open arms. But, because it is the people of London whom we want to see housed on the land available in outer London, they put up every conceivable excuse why this should not be done. It is about time that the Minister started to force these authorities into action and into discussions so that land can be made available for building houses for the people in London who live in the most deplorable conditions.
I turn to the question of the 100,000 empty properties in London. It is time that we stopped talking—as the Minister does when he answers questions on environmental matters—about seeking the co-operation of these landlords. There is no co-operation because in many cases the landlords do not want to bring any of their properties into use. I am sure that many hon. Members have people who come to see them week after week at their surgeries who are living in the most deplorable accommodation. Certainly I do.
How do we justify to those people the fact that down the road there are two or three empty properties which have remained empty not for weeks or months but in some cases for years at a time? When will the Minister set up a department within the Housing Department which will give speedy approval to those 1154 local authorities which want to put compulsory purchase orders on vacant properties? It is a national disgrace that there are thousands of people in London trying to bring up their families in the most deplorable conditions while there are thousands of empty houses. As Members of Parliament we should do everything we can to end this appalling suffering.
The people most at risk are those in furnished tenancies. I have had cases, as no doubt other hon. Members have, of people who have lived in supposedly furnished accommodation in some cases for as long as 15 years. There have been no complaints about them. They have been good tenants who have paid their rent regularly. Then the property is sold, invariably to some "spiv" developer, the likes of whom we in inner London know well.
§ Mr. Cox
Yes, they are. Certainly anyone else who broke the law as they do would find themselves inside Wandsworth Prison in my constituency. By God, I wish there were many of them in there, because they are more criminal in their activities towards society than many who are at present serving sentences.
These tenants find that the property has been sold. Often they have forgotten that they were furnished tenants. They are given notice to quit. They are on no council housing list. What is greatly overdue is the introduction of legislation which would ensure that a person who has lived in accommodation for a certain period of time is given security.
What is being done is creating social problems for local authorities. In my constituency estate agents are circulating areas with leaflets saying "We will buy property empty, part-possession or fully let for cash". Why are they buying properties fully let for cash—we know that hundreds of thousands of people cannot even raise a mortgage, let alone buy property for cash—unless at the back of their mind there is the hope that they will get the tenants out and then be able to sell the property?
§ Mr. Cox
Yes, criminal private enterprise. This is what we should be tackling. When will the courts be made 1155 fully aware of their powers for dealing with harassment, lack of rent book, lack of housing repairs? It is no good Ministers standing at the Dispatch Box and saying "We have the laws" when we know that the courts are not imposing proper penalties. Pathetic fines are imposed upon some of the individuals who are responsible. I ask any hon. Member to go into an area where some of these landlords have been taken to court and had pathetic fines imposed on them.
The people ask, "What is the good of complaining? We shall not get anywhere". At the same time, a local authority which tries to do something loses heart. It is not prepared to spend the time, effort and cash in taking cases to court when pathetic fines such as those cited a week or two ago in the House by my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. Stallard) are imposed. When shall we take action and make the courts impose the kind of fines which could be imposed and which would stop much of the harassment now taking place in London? There are other penalties which could be imposed, too.
Two things need to be done. First, action is needed by the Government on the points that I have been making. Next, massive financial help should be given to city areas, and not only London. The Minister must not get up and say that the Government do not have the money. In recent weeks we have discussed such projects as the Channel Tunnel and Maplin. Does the Minister believe that it is any good telling the people living in such appalling conditions that we cannot afford the money when they read in the Press, or see on television that this House is approving the expenditure of millions of pounds on such projects? When are we to give the same kind of priority to the needs of London as we seem to be giving to these other schemes which I do not believe will benefit the country, let alone London?
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ Mr. William Shelton (Clapham)
All London Members share the concern which has been expressed in this debate. We all know that in our constituencies there is a general shortage in the service industries which is causing great difficulty to many of our constituents.
1156 Like many other Members, I have received a deputation from NALGO. I remind the House that in April the ban upon local government officers applying for posts outside the London area comes to an end. As a result, in my view, the local government service in London will deteriorate even more swiftly than it is deteriorating now. I hope that this is taken on board by Ministers. I ask for a close look at some of the varying situations.
I do not think that "crisis" is the right word to use here. Following the point made by the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Ronald Brown) I would like to draw the attention of the House to the position regarding teachers in the Inner London Education Authority area. I understand that we shall be lobbied by the teachers some time early in December. The figures that I have on the teaching staff situation in inner London give the lie to any suggestion of a crisis. If hon. Members can correct me or give me other figures I shall be happy to listen. My understanding of the situation is this.
The ILEA claims to be short of 500 or so full-time and part-time teachers. If we look at the pupil-teacher ratio in inner London and compare it with the national average we see an odd situation. In January 1973 the London primary average was one teacher to 22 pupils. The national average was one teacher to 25 pupils. In secondary schools it was one teacher to 14.6 pupils in London and nationally one teacher to 17 pupils. We have 8,000 teachers in London teaching 115,000 pupils. If we applied the national average to this figure we would need only 6,500 teachers, making a surplus, on the national figures, of 1,200 teachers rather than a shortage of 500. I am not criticising the ILEA for aspiring to an excellent teacher-pupil ratio. What I am saying is that if these figures are correct we are not in a crisis situation.
§ Mr. Spearing
The hon. Gentleman has asked whether any hon. Member can correct him. Is he not aware that these figures include many teachers not in the schools at all, but providing support services, who happen to be qualified teachers? Is he not also aware that the figures include many people who are only temporarily in the staff room and in some cases are of very marginal use? Is he not 1157 further aware that most of the staffing timetables were drawn up six to eight months ago, when it was thought that teachers were available, but that, because of a miscalculation by the Department of Education and Science, they are not now available after all?
§ Mr. Shelton
But the same is true of the national average and, therefore, the comparison is fair for both cases. I thought that the hon. Gentleman was going to draw my attention to the raising of the school leaving age. That makes an increase of 7 per cent. in the number of pupils in the London area. But, even applying the national average, after the increase of 7 per cent. there is about a break-even situation in the staff-pupil ratio in London—perhaps a shortage of some 40 or 50 teachers. So again I do not think that there is any crisis here.
The hon. Member for Wandsworth, Central (Mr. Thomas Cox) mentioned the half-time, half-clay problem. The reason is clear. Earlier this year, before the summer, schools were given the option of choosing either more staff or more equipment. Many schools chose to have more staff on their books and prepared their timetables accordingly. Unfortunately, throughout the summer and by the time autumn came that staffing was not available.
In the schools with which I am connected my experience is that there has been no problem in overcoming this difficulty and that in re-timetabling we have had the full-hearted co-operation of the staff. I understand that that is not so in other schools, but in my constituency we do not have the problem.
There is a difficulty about high turnover, certainly among senior staff, and this has been a problem for some time. I suggest that it is due to three factors. The first is the lack of a career structure—in other words, the more senior teachers should be paid considerably more than they are. The second factor is lack of discipline. The third factor is the size and difficulty of some of our inner London schools.
Of course we have a problem at the moment in London, but anyone who believes that it can be cured by breaching phase 3 is being naïve. History has shown over the last five or 10 years that whenever we have a free-for-all in wage 1158 bargaining, whenever there is a bidding-up in order to draw staff who are employed in other jobs, it is always the lowest-paid who suffer most. Again and again this has happened.
If phase 3 were breached for London, there is no doubt that it would be breached as well in many other parts of the country in many other industries in many other ways, so that the people who would suffer most would be those we are trying to help—the people working in low-paid industries in London—and the final situation within a year or two would be far worse than it is. The best protection we have for people in the lower-paid service industries is precisely a successful prices and incomes phase 3 which has provision for the lower-paid workers.
§ Mr. Ronald Brown
How does the hon. Gentleman apply that idea to my constituency? There, children are out of school on two half-days a week. The authority cannot get the teachers. In any case, the majority are first appointments. They have no homes locally because they cannot buy homes or rent them. These teachers are finally going to get exasperated and leave London's service. How does the hon. Gentleman suggest that his argument will apply to that situation?
§ Mr. Shelton
The hon. Gentleman has asked a question which I am about to try to answer. There are three ways in which something could be done. Two of them would take a little while and the third would be fairly rapid. The first is the better use of the work force. Women's place in the situation has been mentioned, and I am delighted that the trade unions have agreed that women, if they wish, can drive buses—although I would not like to be in front of one. The more we can use women in part-time work, if they wish to do so the better.
Secondly, I am convinced that the moment is coming in our full employment situation when we must look again at the wage-stop provision applying to retirement pensioners. The situation in which many pensioners who would like to do a useful part-time job cannot do so because of the tax situation should be changed. I would like this point to be taken on board by the Government.
1159 Thirdly, there is the question of housing, which is of vital importance. I understand that over the last seven years nearly half the houses built by the GLC under both Tory and Labour control have been built in the expanding towns—too far away for people to commute, and in any case the policy is that they should live and work in those towns. Surely it is more sensible to build as many houses as we can in London rather than take out of London precisely the people we need to man the services of London. I ask the GLC to build more houses in London, if it can, and fewer houses outside it.
§ Mr. Harry Lamborn (Southwark)
How would the hon. Gentleman propose to deal with the overspill from places like Southwark if the GLC were to stop the rippling-out process from the centre, which is what has been happening and which still needs to happen if we are to conquer the slum problem in inner London? That conquest can be achieved only by the new and expanding town policy which has been so successful in making progress with slum clearance.
§ Mr. Shelton
I would not suggest that it should be stopped. I am suggesting that the balance should be changed. Nearly half the houses of the major planning authority of London are built outside London and the balance surely must be varied. If the GLC and the boroughs claim that there is a crisis, they must be prepared to use their powers to make housing available to some of the staff in the more critical areas. As we have seen, the ILEA is moving towards this for teachers, and I welcome it.
Again, I would like to see owner-occupiers exempted from the Rent Act 1965. I believe that this would make available many more small furnished rooms and flats in houses where the owners live. Many of these people are afraid to put such accommodation on the market because of the legal ramifications which would come into force as soon as they did so.
Most important of all is the London allowance. The present formula was established by the Prices and Incomes Board in 1967. It is now out-dated and unrealistic and must be brought up to date. I welcome the initiative of the 1160 Government in referring it to the Pay Board for review and bringing up to date. In that review I would like to see included two additional aspects, the social costs of working in London—we all know what they mean—and one that was not included in the 1967 formula, that of attracting staff to work in London, which means not just holding them but being able to attract them in a shortage situation. I hope that this will be included in the terms of reference under review, although I fear that it will not be.
I understand that the Pay Board does not plan to report until June. That is much too late. If it is quite impossible for it to report before then, it must produce an interim report, and we must have that by January or February. I view the situation in local government in April as potentially very difficult, and I hope very much that the board's report can be brought forward to the beginning of next year.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Deakins (Walthamstow, West)
I want to take up the first point made by the hon. Member for Clapham (Mr. William Shelton) about staff shortages in local authorities in the London area. My own borough of Waltham Forest is currently between 20 per cent. and 30 per cent. under-staffed in valuers, engineers, building surveyors, weights and measures inspectors, health visitors, social workers and clinic nurses. It is 30 per cent. under-staffed in dental staff, 43 per cent. under-staffed in chiropodists, and 55 per cent. under-staffed in public health inspectors. The Minister spoke about productivity improvements. Is not that a tremendous improvement in productivity, with fewer and fewer staff having to keep essential services going? What more can flesh and blood do?
These reduced services are well below what councils in London want to provide. What is more, they are well below what people living in London have a right to expect, especially in view of the high rate burden in London. The House may not be aware that in terms of the expenditure of local authorities, net of grant, the current rate burden in London per head this year is £85.96. The Minister said that other boroughs, including Birmingham and Manchester, had comparable problems. It is interesting to note that the equivalent figure for 1161 county boroughs outside London is £49.07 and for county districts £38.02, So much for these trite and unreal comparisons between the problem in London and that in other areas of the country, even places like Birmingham and Manchester.
Staff shortages are endemic. In public transport in London we all know the inconvenience to the public caused by delays in services, over-crowding and unreliability. Basically it is a problem of wages. A couple of days ago I received a letter from a busman in my local garage in Walthamstow giving some figures and enclosing two pay slips showing a busman's earnings and not statistics supplied by the Department of Employment showing average earnings of £40 a week. The net take-home pay of an unskilled worker is £22, that of a semi-skilled worker is £25.50, and that of a skilled worker such as a fitter or a bodymaker is £30 for a 40-hour week.
Low pay is not the only problem in London, of course, and certainly it is not the only reason for our declining public services. My hon. Friend the Member for Wandsworth, Central (Mr. Thomas Cox) referred to housing. What do the Government intend to do about improving council building in London, where local councils are hindered by land shortages? It is impossible for them to build without land. They are also hindered by the shortage of building tradesmen, which will be made even worse if and when the Maplin project ever gets off the ground.
§ Mr. Jessel
Why is the Greater London Council delaying in the proposal to build a great deal of housing on the former London Docks land?
§ Mr. Deakins
It is not, and I hope that the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel) will be prepared to support any proposal of the Greater London Council to build council homes in constituencies like his own.
Local councils are also hindered by the inadequate housing cost yardsticks—a subtle means whereby the Government make sure that council building in urban areas is restricted.
Privately rented accommodation is drying up, because there is more profit in selling than in renting. The largest accommodation bureau for the supply of rented 1162 accommodation in London, the London Accommodation Bureau, has closed recently. That is a sign of the times.
Then there is home ownership. What about the cost of housing? It is all very well to say that housing costs are only marginally more than outside London. The chief executive of my own local authority tells me:From the experience of my personnel officers new recruits from outside the London area find the cost of buying houses near to Waltham Forest to be between £5,000 and £10,000 greater than the value of the houses they are selling.Any local government officer coming to London has to find a mortgage, and that means annual repayments, net of tax relief, of between £400 and £800 a year. Does not that put in perspective the present scale of weighting allowances of between £100 and £150 a year? How can local authorities hope to attract staff in this situation?
What needs to be done? First, we must have special treatment for London's public services. The London weighting allowances must have a substantial and immediate increase. I agree with the hon. Member for Clapham that we cannot afford to wait until next April. What is more, those allowances should be extended to all categories of public servants in London.
On the housing situation generally, I hope that the Minister will have some good news for us. How are we to increase council building? This is not just a matter for the GLC, as the Secretary of State for Employment told a recent deputation from the GLC, adding that it was up to the GLC to build more homes. It is up to the Government to pave the way for the GLC to do so.
What are the Government proposing to do? It appears so far—and I suspect that at the end of the debate we shall find that this is the real story—that the Government are prepared to do precisely nothing about housing and that on pay their action will be too little and too late. Their complacent attitude mocks not only the plight of the 7,000 people on the waiting list in Waltham Forest and the many others in Hackney and other London boroughs, but the plight of people living in London in these conditions.
1163 Ministers do not really care about the problems of London. They do not use public transport. They do not send their children to State schools. They do not have to live in unsatisfactory rented accommodation.
We shall not get anywhere with this Government. That is a reason for supporting the Opposition motion. It is also a reason for putting into power a Government who will really act to solve the problems of Greater London.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
The Opposition motion is a typical Labour motion. It blames the Government for not doing someone else's job. If the Government are responsible for services in London, obviously they are responsible for services in every other big city. That is quite absurd. The Government can help, of course, but it is the Greater London Council which is responsible for services in the city.
In the motion we find words such as "breakdown" and "grave hardship". I expect that hon. Members on both sides of the House received a copy of the statement on behalf of the Greater London Council. If that is not a political document, one has grave doubts about the ability of the people in charge of the Greater London Council. It is difficult to believe that a document of this kind really represents their views.
It appears from the document that London is run down and decrepit, that there are acute job shortages and terrible traffic conditions, and that there is grave risk of epidemics. It is just as well that certain Members of the Opposition are not on the Tourist Board. If they were, we should not get 10 million people coming annually to London to savour the delights that they find there.
In fact, of course, London is booming. It is a healthy place in which to live. Certainly people in the rest of the country do not believe that unemployment is a severe problem in London. For years they have been complaining about the centralisation in London of employment of all kinds. Traffic moves faster than before the war. It is much easier to get in and out of London today than it was before the war. London's public transport is the best and most efficient in the world. In 1164 my experience, it is better in London than in any other capital city. Perhaps Opposition Members would care to comment on that.
I am delighted to see someone with so famous a name as the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Ronald Brown) on the Opposition Front Bench, and I hope he will stay there. If I did not know his ebullient nature I would have thought that he was probably the gloomiest man in the Opposition, but I know he is not. He referred to the shortage of police. We learnt recently that there are now more police in the Metropolitan force than there were in 1970, though, admittedly, the trend is downwards, which is worrying.
The hon. Gentleman also referred to teachers, but the teacher/pupil ratio in the inner London education area is better than the national average. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science said recently, the shortage is in various specialised categories.
§ Mr. Spearing
I am a governor of a school in East London which has over a thousand pupils but has only two specialised mathematics teachers, one of whom is leaving shortly. Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman not agree that the phrase he used sounds good but that in cases such as the one I have quoted, education in London is near to breakdown, as my hon. Friends have said?
§ Captain Elliot
The shortage of specialised teachers is serious. I do not belittle the problem for a moment, but the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury did not say that. He gave the impression that the Inner London Education Authority was gravely short of teachers. He should have given the true picture, as I am giving it.
§ Mr. Ronald Brown
I gave accurate figures. I spoke of a short-fall of 250 full-time staff and 275 part-time staff.
§ Captain Elliot
I know those figures, too; I do not deny them. But I will not dwell on the point any longer.
In the screed from the GLC there is a reference to a decline in privately rented accommodation. There is a decline, but it lies ill in the months of Socialists to remark on it. They are largely responsible for the shortage, for the blackguarding of 1165 good landlords who have done a good job for a small return but have now ceased to do it because they would not stand the political attacks from the Opposition.
The problems of staffing the London services are a serious matter, but they have not arisen with the advent of phases 1, 2 or 3, as is implied by the GLC. They are long-standing problems. Every great city needs to be properly staffed, and in a mighty city like London the problems are that much more difficult.
As my hon. Friend has mentioned, the staff in London services must have some priority in certain aspects. I shall illustrate this point. Many businessmen, shopkeepers and people employed in, or running, service industries may not wish to move from London, but they could. I do not say they should, but they could. [An HON. MEMBER: "Where would they move?"] A London road sweeper could sweep the roads in Glasgow, but this would mean that London roads would be unswept unless the road sweeper was replaced.
Of course, pay and salaries are important. I mention salaries because the problem of the London services is not confined to manual workers. It also includes white collar workers. Experience has shown that pay increases, although welcome, do not affect the relative position of various groups of London services workers in the pay league. These workers are rapidly overtaken in the pay league and there is leap-frogging. Everyone preserves the differentials, and in the end no one is better off than he was previously—and inflation has been given a further twist. At the same time, the GLC should examine much more carefully than it seems to have done the flexibilities allowed in the Government's phase 3, of which we have seen some examples. The GLC does not seem to have explored all the possibilities.
The main trouble is housing—a house near the job at the right price. That affects practically every category of worker, up to those with quite high incomes. The hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Tope) was on a radio programme with me, and we were contacted by a postman who said that his gross earnings were £36 a week, his take-home pay was naturally smaller, and he had to pay £4.50 to travel to his work.
1166 That is a big sum out of his take-home pay. That example could be extended almost ad infinitum to cover many workers in the London services.
Why do not the GLC and the boroughs get on with providing living accommodation? [An HON. MEMBER: "Where from?"] They have the power. They have houses at their disposal, and they can, and should, give priority to some categories of worker. Not everybody can be provided with a house, but a certain number could be provided, perhaps on the basis of seniority, family commitments and so on. We are told that one of the problems is to retain fairly senior staff. A house after a certain period would be a strong inducement to staff to stay on.
There are other possibilities. I do not know whether consideration has been given to hostels for young unmarrieds. Does the GLC keep a landladies' list? When a school is rebuilt, is consideration given to whether it is possible to provide a certain amount of living accommodation in the precincts or nearby?
The document talks about the turnover of teachers, and I can well understand the difficulties. It refers to some of the schools losing a third of their staffs, which is obviously a serious problem. It gives what it believes to be the reason at page 7, where talking about the London allowance, it says:It is difficult to overstress the importance and urgency of a major change of policy and practice on this issue. Public services in London will be in danger of collapse unless rapid and effective action can be taken specifically under this heading to improve the manpower situation.I wonder whether that is so. It seems to me rather a superficial answer to the problem.
I read recently that because of indiscipline and violence in some schools some teachers have refused to go to classes. I have read reports of violence before, and perhaps there is something in them. In those circumstances, what teacher will remain, whatever his pay? He will, naturally, leave, and that must account for some of the turnover. What is the education authority doing about that?
I emphasise that immediate action is necessary in two areas. First, instead of wasting time marching over Westminster Bridge, the GLC should examine the 1167 flexible arrangements allowed under phase 3 to see what can be done about pay and allowances. Secondly, it should get busy at once on a careful study of the provision of priority houses near the place of work, particularly for more senior staff.
Thirdly, it should stop coming to the Government to ask for its nose to be blown and its nappies to be put on, and should get on with the job.
§ 5.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Graham Tope (Sutton and Cheam)
I am pleased to follow the hon. and gallant Member for Carshalton (Captain W. Elliot) because, as events in the past 12 months have shown, his views are not shared by all those in the borough of Sutton.
I should like to take the hon. and gallant Gentleman up on two points. I welcome what he said about the need for much greater housing priority. I only hope that he has greater success with his colleagues on Sutton council than I have had in urging that need upon them.
Secondly, I refer to the teacher-pupil ratio. Here I must declare an interest, because my wife is a teacher in the hon. and gallant Gentleman's constituency, for better or worse. Whatever the statistics, the problem lies not in recruiting teachers straight from college but in retaining them when they reach the age at which they want to get married, buy a house, set up a home and start a family. They find that they cannot afford to do so in London. The teacher problem in London is mainly that of teachers between, say, the ages of 25 and 40 who are at the peak of their energy and have some experience. Statistics about the teacher-pupil ratio are meaningless in that respect.
The debate is really about what sort of London we want to live in—indeed, about whether we want to continue living in London. The stresses and strains of life in London are so great, with the financial rewards non-existent, that more and more people are saying that they no longer want to live in London, and are moving out, with a consequent decline in the public services.
I think that it is generally accepted in the House, despite what the Minister 1168 said, that manpower shortages in London are reaching a crisis point. There is no doubt about that. We can swap figures, but anyone who travels on London Transport, for example, knows that it is stretching to breaking point. The Evening News recently published an excellent series entitled "Let London Live", which highlighted the problem.
Most of us now believe that the answer to urban transportation problems lies with public transport, that if we are to remain mobile in an urban centre we must do so with public transport. I believe passionately in its expansion. There is a great deal of talk about bus lanes and other measures to improve public transport, but if we do not have the people to drive the buses all our plans for expansion of public transport go by the board.
That is just the problem of transport. We have already listed the problems of staff shortages in local authorities, the health service and so on.
I do not want hon. Members to think that the problems exist only in inner London. They are acute there, but there are problems in outer London as well. Time is short, and I promised to be brief, but I should like to give one example to illustrate the kind of problem from which we suffer in outer London. Sutton's head postmaster told me yesterday that he has 14 vacancies out of a total complement of 346. That is a shortfall of 11.2 per cent.
That is bad enough. But the retention problem is even greater. This year Sutton post office has recruited 78 new postmen but it has lost 44. That is a retention rate of about 45 per cent., which is not good enough. I continually receive complaints about the poor postal service, and I am sure that many other hon. Members receive such complaints. Yet we have a postal service at all only because the postmen are working ridiculous hours of overtime, doing double shifts to get the mail out.
That is just one example. There are many others. Even a traditional part of British suburban life, the daily milk delivery, has gone by the board in Sutton I have a milk delivery at home every other day. I cannot have milk delivered every day because of staff shortages.
1169 Hon. Members have touched on the reasons for these problems, and they are twofold.
§ Captain W. Elliot
I intervene only because of my earlier remarks in praise of London. Does the hon. Gentleman realise that only in England is milk delivered? That service does not obtain anywhere else in the world.
§ Mr. Tope
I am not sure that that is strictly accurate. Nevertheless, our standards or way of life should not decline because in other parts of the world people have a different way of life.
Hon. Members have already referred to the reasons for these problems, and they are twofold: pay and housing. The two are obviously clearly interrelated.
Housing costs in London have soared during the last five years. In 1967 the price of a house in London was on average about £1,000 more than in other parts of the country. Now the difference is £4,000. The hon. Member for Waltham-stow, West (Mr. Deakins) quoted figures in his constituency which showed an even greater difference. I am referring to average figures.
I turn now to rents. Most of the people about whom we are talking have no hope of ever buying a house in London, so rented accommodation is important. Privately rented accommodation in London is fast disappearing. Rents for the accommodation that is left are soaring possibly faster than house prices. The Notting Hill Housing Trust shows that the average rent in North Kensington in 1967 was £4.50 a week. In 1972 it was £14.50 a week. These are the rises in cost about which we are talking, and no one can pretend that pay increases in the public services have anywhere near kept pace with those increases.
Many people in the public services have been prepared, perhaps with varying degrees of grace, to accept some restrictions on their pay increases this year to allow the Government to try to solve our inflation problems. But now we have come to stage 3, and that offers them no hope at all of any effective solution to their pay and housing problems. Many people are saying that there is no end in sight to this problem and are moving out.
1170 We have talked about police manpower. No one would dispute that many policemen are leaving the Metropolitan Police Force. But they are not leaving the police service; they are moving to police forces in other parts of the country where they can get a better standard of living for much the same pay.
The motion censures the Government for allowing the deterioration of services in London. I think that is right. Services in London have deteriorated markedly in the last few months. For that reason, the Liberal Party will support the motion. But, in all honesty, it would be less than fair—
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
The hon. Gentleman has referred to a number of matters. I agree about the shortages of milkmen, postmen, and others. But is he saying that the categories that he has quoted should be regarded as special cases? Where would he stop regarding special cases for exemptions from stage 3?
§ Mr. Tope
That is not what I said. If we want London to be a living city, a capital city worth living in, a city to be preserved and of which to be proud, which will attract and encourage the tourists whom a previous speaker admired, we must start tackling the problem now. In a brief speech there is no point in listing the various categories.
My next point might please hon. Members opposite. I was going on to say that, whilst we are right to censure the Government, it would be less than fair not to point out that, although the problem has got worse in recent months, it has been building up for 20 years or more. During most of those 20 years the government of London has been in Labour hands, many London boroughs have been Labour-controlled, and, indeed, for part of those 20 years we had a Labour Government.
Frankly, I do not think that Londoners are interested in hearing one party blaming the other. All parties are to blame for this problem, except perhaps my own—and that through no fault of ours. The GLC should stop blaming the Government, the Government should stop blaming the GLC, the Prime Minister should stop being rude about the Leader of the GLC, and so on. We 1171 ought to recognise that we have a serious problem in London and that we need to get on and tackle it.
It is essential to have a rational assessment of the extra costs of living and working in London, and this should be reflected in a rational level of London allowances. I use the word "allowances" deliberately. The last report on London weighting was in 1967. I echo the plea made by the hon. Member for Clapham (Mr. William Shelton): please let the Pay Board report much earlier than next June on what we are all agreed is an urgent problem. I hope that its report will take into account not only the extra travel and housing costs but the social and environmental costs of living in London. These are very much part of the problem. We must also recognise and accept that a London allowance is a vital element in recruitment.
Time does not permit a lengthy speech on what we should do about housing. We need a crash building programme. Certainly we need to allow local authorities to make much better use of the derelict and disused land within their areas, which in many instances they cannot afford to do.
I should like to highlight one instance relating to empty properties. The London Boroughs Association's survey showed that if all the empty properties in London indexed by local authorities were put to use, London's housing lists would be reduced by a third. That would not solve the problem, but it would go a long way towards solving it and would show a much greater declaration of intent to get to grips with London's serious housing problem.
Housing accommodation is the main reason for people on low and middle incomes being driven away from London. They simply cannot afford to live here. It is not that they do not want to live here but that they cannot afford to do so.
It is time to stop blaming each other for what has happened and to get on with the job of making London a city fit to live in. The message from this debate should be: pay up before we seize up.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Toby Jessel (Twickenham)
I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the debate.
1172 First, I should like to take up a point made by the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Ronald Brown), who, early in the debate, said that crime in London was increasing. I do not know whether he is aware that this year, for the first time since the war, the amount of serious crime in the Metropolitan Police area has declined. True, it has not declined by very much, but it is the first time that this has happened. Let us hope that this is the beginning of a trend. I hope that hon. Gentlemen opposite will wish to rise to the level of a great event and welcome it as warmly as it should be welcomed.
§ Mr. Ronald Brown
I said that crime had increased. The hon. Gentleman is talking of one element, about which we all rejoice; namely, that the serious part has reduced. However, crime as a whole has increased.
§ Mr. Jessel
It may be that the number of parking offences, or whatever, has gone up. But serious crime—violence, burglaries, assaults and matters of that kind that worry people most—has begun to decline. This is very important and should be greeted enthusiastically by Her Majesty's Opposition.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned transport, but in other speeches that subject has received relatively little attention. I intend to devote most of my speech to that problem.
My constituency is not far from London Airport. It feels the consequences of the boom in West London, which largely depends on the booming Heathrow Airport, most acutely. This is part of a national problem. If we want full employment and demand of the Government that they create full employment conditions, we should not be surprised if it transpires that there is a general shortage of labour in many sectors, including the vital public services. In a word, one cannot have one without the other.
For all that, I believe that the White Paper on phase 3, in recognising that public transport employees, such as bus and underground train drivers, have an element of unsocial hours in their work, was right, and that ought to be recognised. I hope, therefore, that when the time comes—which I believe will be next April, only four or five months away—bus and Tube train drivers will be treated as 1173 generously as possible. They have a strong case, as has been said by the Chairman of London Transport, by their union, by the GLC, and by others.
At the same time, and in order to get the matter in perspective, one has to recognise that the Chairman of London Transport, the GLC, the unions, and so on, are bound to look at the problem from the point of view of their own internal set-up. They have no particular duty to consider the secondary effects of anything that they recommend, or the indirect effects of it upon the national economy, and, in particular, upon the counter-inflation policy. On the other hand, any Government must, and would, consider the secondary effects and attach importance to them. No Government could agree to destroy the basis of the counter-inflation policy by considering one industry purely on its own merits and without reference to the side effects of any policy that is adopted towards it.
I believe, too, that we should see the current shortage of bus and Tube drivers in its proper perspective, in that it is not exceptional. We are told by the GLC that there is a shortage of one driver in five, but in May 1970 there was an 18 per cent. shortage of drivers and a 15.7 per cent. shortage of conductors. Those figures are not very different from the present ones. That is no excuse for any complacency, but I suggest that we should not get the facts out of perspective.
§ Mr. Deakins
Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that over the years there has been a decline in London Transport's services, and, therefore, in the establishment against which one measures shortages? There may have been a 10 per cent. shortage 10 years ago, but the problem is much more serious now when 10 per cent. represents a much more drastic part of the reduced service.
§ Mr. Jessel
I do not think that that is relevant, because the figures are given as percentages of the establishment, and presumably those figures represent the number of drivers needed in any given circumstances.
London Transport will have a deficit in 1974 of £55 million, assuming the present level of wages and fares. The Chairman of London Transport says that he wants 4,000 extra staff. To achieve 1174 that increase, he says that he needs to raise salaries of the whole staff, including those extra 4,000, by a total of £45 million. That would mean a deficit of £100 million, which in turn would mean that the cost of each extra man would be £11,000. A deficit of £100 million shared among the 2 million households in Greater London amounts to £50 per year. As London Transport has said that it does not intend to increase fares—or the GLC will not allow it to increase them—a sum of £1 per household per week would inevitably fall upon the rates.
That figure might be acceptable in North London where there is a good Tube network, but it would not be acceptable in the southern half of London where there is nothing, or very little, in the way of Underground services, and it would be wrong for a community which has to rely for commuter services on British Railways to have to subsidise other parts of London where there is a better network of Underground railways.
There is also the question of the extent to which a wage increase for London bus and Underground drivers would be effective in attracting a sufficiently large number of extra staff to cope with the shortage. I suggest that if in conditions of full employment staff are attracted from industry into London Transport, that will worsen the shortage in industry, which will then be tempted to press for higher wages and so attract its staff back again. We are in the situation where full employment is bound to lead to some shortages, and I believe that wages, though important, are only part of the answer. We should, therefore, ask what else can be done.
§ Mr. Ronald Brown
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in many London boroughs the unemployment rate is running at 7–8 per cent.?
§ Mr. Jessel
I was not aware of that, and I shall be interested to see the figures. It is not running at anything like that figure in the borough of which my constituency comprises a part, and I shall be surprised to find that that figure applies anywhere in greater London. However, if the hon. Gentleman could provide figures to prove it, that would be a different matter.
1175 What else can be done to improve London's transport, apart from increasing wages? First, now that the union is coming to accept the idea, we should go full steam ahead with the recruitment of women drivers. Secondly, the GLC should make some council houses available specifically to bus drivers within reach of those areas where there is a great shortage of staff. The GLC is in a unique position, because it is ultimately responsible for London Transport and it is at the same time a major housing authority.
I spent some years on the housing committee of the former Greater London Council and it seems to me in a sense almost anathema to suggest giving house tenancies on any basis other than housing need, but if London Transport is in such a crisis, as hon. Gentlemen opposite maintain it is, those crisis conditions should be regarded as exercising a compelling social need, and there is no reason why, in principle, the GLC should not offer tied tenancies to bus drivers.
Thirdly, on the productivity side, I think that the GLC should be congratulated on its progress with bus-only lanes, and there should be many more of them. Although petrol shortage is a disadvantage to the country in many ways, it may have one good effect, in that if it can reduce the amount of car traffic in London by 10 per cent. or thereabouts there may be an opportunity to improve the efficiency of bus services. I have heard the Chairman of London Transport speak forcefully of how the efficiency of London's bus services is undermined by the concentration of cars in London.
Fourthly, London Transport should sell books of tickets, as happens in Paris. That would save time, especially on one-man buses. Fifthly, London Transport should devote more attention to getting buses to leave bus stations at regular intervals and not bunch along the route. I am not satisfied with the reasons given by London Transport for not introducing that idea.
Sixthly, London Transport should give better information, both at Underground stations and on bus routes, about which buses are not running. Members of the public often have to wait unnecessarily, when they could go away and do their shopping, for example, because they are 1176 not given sufficient information about which buses are not running. The same criticism applies to British Railways.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ Mr. A. W. Stallard (St. Pancras, North)
I fully support the motion. Some Conservative Members, including the Minister, make me think of a reported remark of a mayor of Lincoln about the housing shortage some years ago—that there was no such thing, that it was only a dirty rumour put about by thousands of people with nowhere to live. The Conservatives are saying that there is no London problem, that it is only a dirty rumour being put around by 7 million people who are sick and tired of this Government's complacency about all their problems.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
The hon. Gentleman must be fair. I said that there was a crisis, not a breakdown.
§ Mr. Stallard
Perhaps when the hon. Member's hon. Friend replies he will define the difference. There is very little difference in my constituency between crisis and breakdown.
I have spoken at some length recently about the housing problem, so I will deal with it now only briefly. People still do not realise the full extent of the problem in inner London. Conservative Members still do not accept that a two-bed roomed flat in an old converted house in my constituency costs between £12,500 and £17,000. They do not realise that no postman or bus driver in my constituency could buy such a flat.
They talk of the flats available for rent, but the few that have been left by the spivs and speculators are averaging £12 to £15 a week unfurnished to £25 furnished. Even the town clerk would have difficulty in paying that kind of rent—and no public service worker could.
Council rents are higher in London than in other parts of the country. I hope in a debate in the near future to be able to go into the argument about subsidies, rebates and allowances.
No one has touched on the problem of the homeless. I am not speaking about the man and wife and six children living in one room—although I would say that they are homeless—and there are thousands of such cases. I am speaking of the "dossers", of people whom we know are 1177 homeless—a minimum of 15,000 in London, with a further 2,000 sleeping rough. Anyone who does not believe that can come with me tonight. I challenge the Minister and his right hon. and hon. Friends to come and see the problems of London's homeless, of squatters in my borough. Then the Minister might not speak with such complacency about London's problems.
I am much more afraid than the Minister apparently is about this breakdown, or what he calls "this crisis". Town halls, which are responsible for many of these services, are themselves beginning to break down. Staff are disappearing fast, and will disappear even faster after next April unless something is done quickly about the London weighting and London allowances. In my own area, according to a rough but nevertheless fairly accurate survey, there are 6,000 vacancies in the town hall. That is a large number of people, and it does not include those who cannot get to work because of the shocking transport services.
In that same town hall, more than 1,100 people have to travel more than 10 miles to work, more than 150 travel between 40 and 50 miles. Yet the Minister says that there is not a crisis, there is not even a breakdown, there is nothing for which we can blame the Government.
§ Mr. Pavitt
Is my hon. Friend aware that someone in my town hall travels to and from Northampton every day?
§ Mr. Stallard
I can believe that. I can remember another Conservative spokesman saying that when they had built their motorways people would be able to travel from Lincoln and Leicester to work in Islington. That was their proud boast then. So I am not surprised at the way things are going.
I feel sorry for those who have to travel long distances. As one who travelled long distances to work for some years, I know the frustrations and expense. One of my earliest actions in this House was an attempt to get an income tax rebate or allowance for a worker's travelling expenses. I did not get much support, certainly from Conservative Members. One hon. Member opposite quoted a case in his constituency of someone paying £4.10 a week travelling expenses. Only a worker has to pay that kind of sum without 1178 any allowance. Self-employed people would get a car or travel allowance.
Perhaps the Minister will reply, if not to me, at least to the Chairman of London Transport, who said recently:If the Government refuses to budge on phase 3, bus and tube services might have to be cut to a lower level than most Londoners have ever known.Would the Minister also consider something said by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry—not a notoriously Socialist body? That was:Employees cannot give of their best if they arrive late after extended delays awaiting inadequate bus services or already overcrowded underground trains. Nor can business function efficiently if important letters cannot be sorted out or delivered on time because there are not enough staff to do the work. The Chamber recognises that the origins of these difficulties do not lie solely in the Government's Phase III proposals; nevertheless, the implications for the public service industries inherent in the Government's counter inflation policy ale contributing to creating a situation with grave consequences for the business life of London.It went on:The Chamber also believes that the lack of suitable housing for service workers, who need to be able to live fairly close to their work, is a major factor in the problem of the recruitment and retention of staff.I would ask the Minister to reply to that statement from a body which is far more a supporter of his than I am.
I hope that the Minister will drop the complacency and ill-informed talk that we have heard week after week in this House over the last three years and give positive and constructive replies about what the Government intend to do about London's problems.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Cecil Parkinson (Enfield, West)
I would agree with the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. Stallard) that if anyone were complacent about the problems of London and our great cities he would fully deserve the censure of the House. But neither the hon. Member nor any of his hon. Friends has proved that there is any complacency or any lack of awareness of the problem. There is another danger which is almost as bad, possibly worse—that of exaggerating, screaming about problems, making things sound worse and creating a feeling of hopelessness. That can be as damaging as complacency.
§ Mr. Parkinson
No one is saying it is only a rumour and no one denies that there are problems. But I thought that the hon. Member for Wandsworth, Central (Mr. Thomas Cox) in particular, made a disgraceful speech. He did not name names but he alleged that the law was being broken that people were being harassed, that the courts and the police were not interested. If he has evidence of that sort of thing, it is his duty as a Member of Parliament to name names to the police, to say which laws he thinks are being broken—
§ Mr. Parkinson
—and if the police do not act, he should come to the House and say so.
To parade across the stage a procession of the usual Labour demons—the Rachmans, the property spivs—not naming anyone, but just making people feel that a small group is causing all their problems and that rooting it out will solve them is grossly to mislead the people about whom the hon. Member obviously and passionately cares. It is not enough to care and to smear. The hon. Member for Wandsworth, Central is doing his constituents a disservice in creating in them the feeling that there is a gigantic conspiracy in society against them. That is not true, and he knows it.
§ Mr. Parkinson
I have surgeries too, in my constituency, and I have problems. I do not pretend that they do not exist, but I do not try to exaggerate them for my own ends.
The hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Ronald Brown) made a speech to which I listened with great interest. He, too, left the tremendous feeling that he cares and is vitally concerned. I was reminded of a remark of the leader of the Liberal Party when the Labour Party was in power. The leader of the Liberal Party said that the trouble with the Labour Party was that it was all heart and no head. The speech of the hon. Member for Shoreditch and 1180 Finsbury was a classic demonstration of that problem. We had such remarks asFive hundred thousand jobs have been lost in London, and this is to be deplored.The next thing we heard, immediately afterwards, wasThere is a shortage of employees for the public services because there is too much choice of jobs.How would 500,000 more jobs in London help the public services? It seemed that there was the heart of the Labour Party's problem about London. It does not want people to move out but complains about the problems their presence causes.
At the world cities conference in Tokyo, the then deputy-leader of the GLC made some remarks which I shall read. He said:The city which is going to survive is one which decentralises. It is important to curb central growth and to limit commuting.It is that type of thinking with which I entirely agree. We cannot talk of the problems of London only in the context of the Greater London area. We can do that only in the context of the South-East regional study. That is why that study was undertaken. It was backed by both major parties. In places such as Milton Keynes, Peterborough and Harlow, homes for 600,000, 700,000 or 800,000 people will be built in the next few years. I am astonished that we hear talk of the problems of London and the hopelessness of the housing situation without reference to homes for 800,000 people within 50 or 60 miles of London.
Governments of both major parties have put forward policies which they recognised as the only answer to London's problems. If we have a demand which we cannot satisfy, the only answer is to cream off that demand as much as possible. In doing so we are not offering people a second-rate existence. I was the chairman of the Conservative Party's Hemel Hempstead division. Hemel Hempstead is a superb new town, into which people moved from areas of London which were not good. They moved into good houses and work in modern factories in well-planned communities. I admire that town. The standard of living of its people has immensely improved. When hon. Members talk about people having to leave London, they should not pretend that people are being dispersed 1181 to caravan sites in appalling out-of-the-way places. The new towns were intended to help with London's problems.
In listening to the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Tope), I got the impression that the problems arose only when he found them and the Liberal Party found him. He did not seem to have heard of the new towns policy or the South-East regional study. He gave the impression that he had discovered the problem and asked why someone did not do something about it.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
On a point of order. Will you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, draw the attention of the House to the long-established custom that a Member of Parliament who has made his speech should at least have the courtesy to wait to hear the other side before walking out of the Chamber? In this debate, as with all major debates, hon. Members from the Liberal Party are absent. I apologise for interrupting the hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Parkinson), but it ought to be put on record that the Liberal Party does not attend debates in the House of Commons.
§ Mr. Parkinson
We are not surprised that members of the Liberal Party make speeches and leave early. We are surprised at their effrontery in coming into the Chamber at all to make the sort of speeches they make. I have seldom heard a more naïve and ingenuous speech than that of the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam today. If his biggest problem is that his milkman is delivering milk only every other day, he is a very lucky young man. I am only sorry that I cannot say the same for Sutton and Cheam.
I was talking about the concept of the new towns and of getting people out of London wherever possible. If I may make a party point, I sometimes wonder whether the Labour Party is not torn two ways when thinking of the new towns. The late Lord Morrison made a remark, to the then hon. Member for Putney, which has become famous. He saidWe are going to build you out.He was as good as his word, and it was done.
1182 I sometimes wonder whether one of the things which worry the Labour Party when talking about the new towns and taking jobs and inessential industry from London, thus lessening the pressure on London, is the fact that we would be taking people out of areas which are traditionally regarded as a Labour province, as a result of which overcrowding will be reduced and the standards of the area will rise. Voters may then not find the Labour Party quite so attractive and a Putney situation in reverse would come about. I can well understand that this causes the Labour Party some heart-searching. However, I ask Labour Members on this one occasion to put their party interests second and to put the good of the citizens first.
It will not be rooting out a few spiv landlords or killing some of those demons which the Labour Party loves to parade across the parliamentary stage that will solve London's problems. It will be decentralising and reducing the pressure on London. There is no other way. Anyone who makes this sound as though what is being offered to people is a second-class opportunity is doing those living in poor conditions in London a great disservice.
When we have debates about the problems of London in the future, I hope we shall not be quite so parochial. I hope that we shall talk about the Hardman Report, about regional policy and about preventing the South East becoming too great a draw in the country. That is where these problems could be solved. We may enjoy bashing each other on a party-political basis and ranting about landlords—
§ Mr. Parkinson
—but that has very little to do with solving the long-term problems of the people about whom we all care.
I want to make two or three additional comments. The first is about the outer London boroughs having the key to the inner London areas. I remind Labour Members of the remark made in Tokyo. We do not want to increase the pressure on London's commuter services. What is the point of moving people out and putting further strains on London's services? We do not adopt a convincing posture in the House if we are complaining about 1183 the pressure on London's services and explaining how we intend to increase it.
The outer London boroughs have become another easy way out for the Labour Party. As a Member who has in his constituency no fewer than 10 different housing authorities, including three absentee GLC borough landlords, I know that it is not a very satisfactory answer for the tenants of inner London boroughs to be living in outer London boroughs. They have a second-class citizen status. They are of minor interest to the housing managers, who are a long way away. They are unrepresented on the council which is their landlord. It is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs. I have seen this at first hand in my constituency. It may be an answer, but it is a most unsatisfactory answer and it creates problems in addition to those which it may appear to be solving.
There is a growing feeling that one of the ways out is to attack the green belt. In Potters Bar, which forms part of my constituency, 260 acres out of the 1,380 acres of green belt are under attack at this moment. The green belt is as vital to London now as it was in the 1930s. Taking it will not help Londoners but will damage their interests. I hope that, when the appeals come before my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment about the 260 acres, he will take a cool look, will reject them and will thus reinforce the green belt policy. I do not see why my constituency, which contains one five-hundredth of London's green belt, should be expected to provide one-eighth of the green belt land which my right hon. and learned Friend intends to release. I hope that he will not develop the pattern which has become familiar of, for example, scheduling 200,000 acres of green belt somewhere in the direction of Royston and slipping in planning permission for 80 or 90 acres on the fringes of London. That is not satisfactory and my constituents are no longer prepared to put up with it.
I have tried to talk briefly about the long-term problems of London. I accept the genuineness of the feelings expressed by Labour Members. However, London's problems are big problems which will be solved only by long-term strategies. The South-East strategy, I believe, provides the opportunity for a better life for the vast 1184 majority of the people in London and anybody who pretends that there is a short-term answer is cruelly raising the hopes of the people he claims to care most about.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Atkinson (Tottenham)
I would say in response to some of the points made by the hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Parkinson) that I and many of my hon. and right hon. Friends believe that London in future should aim for a population of about 7 million. We believe that the Government should announce that figure as part of its policy as soon as possible and that the future planning of London should be based upon it. We believe, too, that London could provide for 7 million people conditions which are decent, of good standard and comparable with anything in the country as long as the future planning of London is clear and precise and based upon that predetermined population.
However, the problems of London are, I believe, connected with the bad distribution of workers throughout the capital and with the imbalance between job and wage opportunities. The answer to the problem lies in the level of wages. I hope therefore that the Government will look at wages in London in advance of the report about London allowances, which we believe might be published about next April.
There is one point I must make about the allocation of houses and the relationship of that to the recruitment of workers for priority jobs. It has been argued, particularly by the Tories, that certain people should have priority in housing if they are willing to work in sections of the public services. The Labour Party and the TUC have always rejected this view by and large on the basis that we have never supported the idea of a tied cottage. Recent experience shows that the idea does not work anyway.
Whether or not an applicant remains in the job on the basis of which he claimed priority housing depends on how much he is paid. Londoners who move to new towns and development areas and are allocated housing there on the basis of their job soon leave that job if they are paid less than average wages. It is only workers who are paid above-average wages who stay in the job which gets them the house. This particularly 1185 applies to railway and public service workers in some of the new towns and development areas.
The problems created by wages in London have developed over a number of years. Successive Governments have tried to pursue wage restraint policies and have thus created an artificial imbalance in the rates paid for different jobs. The differentials between pay for jobs in London have now been distorted out of all recognition with the result that bus, railway and various other service workers who were at the top of the wage table before the war have now been pushed into bottom position. The whole process of job change in London has been completely reversed and the days when London was in the happy position of having long queues of applicants for jobs in the public services have gone. That has happened because of the wage rates.
It was the experience of the Labour Government that the pursuit of a wage-restraint policy which so distorted wage arrangements began to starve the public services of their labour supply. That was partly why some of us ultimately won our battle against this sort of wages policy. It is why the Labour Party has now turned its face against wages restraint of this sort, against compulsory wages agreements determined by a Government criterion. So I hope the Government in phase 3 may learn something from the Labour Party's experience in government and start to think seriously about the whole business of paying the wage for the job and creating differentials which will keep on attracting labour into the essential services of the capital.
Other difficulties have arisen in recent times to put London at a disadvantage. Nowhere is it more noticeable than in the production industries. It is time we told the country honestly that London is no longer paved with gold. By coming to work in London workers from the rest of the country are likely to suffer a serious drop in living standards. It is estimated that to maintain the same living standard in London as is enjoyed elsewhere in the country a worker must earn about £400 more a year within a salary ceiling of £2,000. Unless a worker coming to London maintains that sort of differential over and above the salary 1186 attainable elsewhere he will suffer a drop in his living standards.
Londoners work at least 15 per cent. harder than workers anywhere else in the country. They do so for a combination of reasons, connected not least with regional grants which subsidise industry everywhere except in London, high rating values in the city, and London costs generally—all of which are far higher than elsewhere in the country.
Giant companies which have manufacturing plants both inside and outside the GLC area and are, therefore, able to make precise comparisons have discovered that labour costs per unit of output are about 15 per cent. higher in London than elsewhere. The poor Londoner is now having to work at least 15 per cent. harder than anyone else in the country, and is getting nothing in terms of a higher living standard.
If we are to solve the problems from which the capital suffers, something must be done not to restore the differentials as they were 20 years ago but to ensure a realistic London allowance which takes into account stress and the greater amount of shift work. That will produce a figure very much higher than anything we have talked about. But if the Government are not willing to look seriously at this suggestion, we shall never solve London's problems. The Greater London Council alone cannot start to attract people into the right places, and that is why I believe that the motion is absolutely right in criticising central Government and not London's government for our present situation. The Government are responsible for making available the resources which will solve our problems, but the policy under phase 3, which means that the services cannot obtain adequate resources with which to pay proper wages, is worsening the differentials.
I do not believe that the trade union movement is so avaricious as to think that differentials should be pushed up unreasonably. I believe that the trade union movement would take a different view from that if the essential services were paying the sort of wages which would attract the necessary workers, so that the balance could be restored. I do not believe that wage agreements of that 1187 kind would lead to a multiplicity of differentials such as exist at the moment, and I know of no trade union which would argue for the maintenance of differentials if people in public services were paid at a proper level.
Finally, there is the question of the price of the product. If people are all the time having to push against ceilings they will not be able to demand the maintenance of high differentials. So I hope the Government will not use those arguments as reasons for doing nothing about London's wages, and will not say that phase 3 is sufficiently flexible to offer wage agreements which are capable of solving Londons problems. Something much more realistic and quite dramatic must be done if the workers are to be provided.
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Tebbit (Epping)
I hope that the House will acquit me of discourtesy if I have to leave shortly after I have spoken, because I have to receive a deputation of constituents concerning the Abortion Act.
§ Mr. Tebbit
I shall receive a deputation. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I shall be here to vote.
If opposition is to be anything except some sort of belly-aching irrelevance, such as we sometimes hear from the second bench below the Gangway opposite, then it has to represent itself as an alternative government, but if it is to do that it has to offer credible alternative policies. So I shall be a little hard on the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Ronald Brown) and judge what he said in that light. That is being a little hard on him, because I am conscious very much of agreeing with what my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Parkinson) said about the disposition of head and heart.
Flexibility seemed to be almost the key word—although he did not mention it—in the speech of the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury about solving London's problems of labour shortage. One way and another, hon. Members have this afternoon mentioned a few of the vacant jobs—6,500 London 1188 transport workers, 5,000 police, 3,500 postmen, 2,700 British Rail workers, 500 teachers, 500 firemen and 2,450 gas and electricity workers. That list adds up to 21,150, and we have not yet come to the hospital services. It is curious if anyone believes that merely by "upping" wages 21,000-odd people will suddenly be produced to fill these jobs.
The hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury talked about unemployment rates of 7 and 8 per cent. in London boroughs. He knows perfectly well that those 21,150 jobs are open, and if he walks down to the Tea Room and picks up a copy of the Evening Standard he will find very nearly 20,000 more jobs advertised. It is absolute nonsense to make the sort of speech which deplores the loss of 500,000 jobs, which deplores the fact that there are 20,000 and more jobs vacant, and which deplores the fact that there is also unemployment in London. Good God! The hon. Member cannot have it all ways. It does very little service to anyone to exaggerate and make these asinine suggestions.
The hon. Member said, quite rightly, that housing prices in London are much too high, and who would disagree with him on that? But he went on to say that one could not get a house anywhere in London for under £12,000. I picked up a copy of my own London paper and marked off just a few of the advertisements offering houses at less than £12,000. They are not palaces by any means, and most of them are the sort of houses in which I was born and brought up, but they are still available for less than £12,000.
§ Mr. Tebbit
I shall pass a copy of the paper to the hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Clinton Davis) later on.
But it cannot be the right answer to jack up wages to entice 21,000 or 121,000 people from one job to another. We shall have hon. Members in this House grumbling about the fact that there are no waiters in the restaurants or no staff in the hotels. After all, we had a big hotel building boom which was perhaps set off by a certain amount of intervention in that market of hon. Gentlemen opposite. So we have to look at something more positive than that.
1189 Of course, we should think about wages in London relative to the rest of the country. Wages in London should be higher than in the rest of the country, as we all recognise. We also recognise that London is an expensive place in which to live. But, in general, we all feel that it is a place worth living in, because it offers a great deal more than the rest of the country. If we are to solve the problem, it will be done not merely by raising wages. Certainly housing is part of the answer, and it is absurd that the GLC should be dissipating energy and money in buying existing houses, instead of getting on with building on dockland to which it has access right now, and dragging its feet for purely political reasons.
It is absurd that the trade unions should for years have tried to prevent women coming into jobs which they can well undertake—and the trade unions have contributed to this shortage. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Hackney, Central has a long memory, he will remember that I spoke on behalf of women airline pilots. I believe that it is right that people should be judged not by virtue of their sex, colour or creed, but by their capabilities. It is a pity that the hon. Gentleman's constituents do not take that view; then we might be rid of him.
We have to consider a problem, the broad lines of which were set out by my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West. I refer to the new towns. I have the privilege of being both a London Member and also a Member for one of the new towns. I want to see that new town expand. I want to see people move from relatively bad housing conditions in London into the good conditions which we have in our new town. But we must also move jobs out of London. We must face the fact that it is no good just moving people and not their jobs. This may have some effect on the enormous flow of commuters and all the grumbling about the problems they cause.
We would do ourselves a good service if we stoped the great game of inflating council waiting lists by taking on to lists as homeless everyone who turns up at Euston or King's Cross from wherever they come. Of course local government is spending a great deal of money on 1190 accommodation—local authorities are giving it away to all comers. If one opened a banana stall at King's Cross station and gave away bananas, there would be a very high bill at the end of the day for bananas. Therefore, local authorities which give away accommodation will also have a great bill.
§ Mr. Tebbit
The hon. Member for Hackney, Central says "Absurd." Perhaps I should draw to his attention a complaint made about the number of squatters in Somers Town:Few were really homeless and most were mixed-up kiddies acting out their middle-class guilt. Council tenants have suffered a barrage of intense noise, music, nudity, fires, vermin and more defiant behaviour than anyone could legally publish a book on.This was described by the speaker concerned as "intense provocation" and also as a "violent street confrontation". That was not said by some diehard; it was said by a gentleman called Mr. Kazantzis, a Labour GLC member from Somers Town, who believed that those squatters were not homeless at all but were troublemakers. This is what will happen all the time if local authorities open up their housing lists to all comers.
If we are to solve London's problems we must in the long run pay higher wages in London—considerably higher than in the rest of the country. I accept this. But I wonder whether the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) is right to say that the trade unions would not take advantage of the situation by leapfrogging somewhere else. I wonder about this, as I am sure do most other people.
We must disperse jobs, homes and people. We must get more women workers into industry in London and into the jobs they could do. We must also get rid of many jobs. For example, there is no reason why there should be guards on Underground trains; there is no reason for there to be drivers at all on many trains.
We must also stop panicking ourselves and agree among ourselves that the real crisis in London at the moment is that the Labour Party in the GLC need a crisis and will make one. That would not be so bad, but, a crisis having been created, we know full well that those who governed London for 30 years and let 1191 it slide into these problems have not a single constructive idea how to solve them. There are the problems with which they left us with, and there are the problems which they are trying to create for us now.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
The speech made by the Under-Secretary of State for Employment was unsatisfactory and disturbing. Unlike many of his hon. Friends he did not deny that the situation in London was black, but he said that we had no right to complain to the Government because conditions were equally black in other parts of the country. This, as HANSARD will show, was the Minister's basic argument.
That argument is nonsensical. We have every right to blame the Government, even though there may be similar problems in other parts of the country. It is right that we should blame the Government because these problems are worse in London than they are in other parts of the country. To handle these problems we must discriminate in favour of London. This is something which the whole tenor of the Minister's speech attempted to deny, and that is a disturbing new feature of Government policy.
Even the hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Tebbit) agreed that there must be discrimination in favour of London workers in terms of wages. I wish that the Minister had shown some appreciation of the fact that London is a special case and recognised that we shall never get on top of any of these problems until the Government realise that London is a special case and that there must be positive discrimination in favour of London.
Many of my hon. Friends asked the Minister to come to the point of explaining what the Government intended to do about the situation. He replied that he was about to come to that part of his remarks. He then stopped his impromptu remarks and got down to reading his brief. The assurance he gave the House, as HANSARD will show, was that he had instructed officials to survey the facts to see whether anything could be done. This was the best part of the Minister's speech. It was so important that he could not trust himself to speak 1192 impromptu. He had to give the right emphasis to every word. He could well have said straight out that the Government had decided to do nothing at all about the situation.
I promised to speak for only five minutes and I shall concentrate on one single subject. In my constituency the whole of the public services are threatened. There is a desperate shortage of teachers, local government officers, police and hospital workers. I have no time to discuss any of those matters in detail tonight, but I make one simple but important point. My constituents are plagued and exasperated by bus queues which, instead of shortening as time goes on, get longer and longer. I, as their representative, feel frustrated and ashamed that I have been able to do so little to help them on this question. It is ludicrous in our so-called affluent society—a society which, we are told, is going through a period of growth—that we should still condemn thousands of citizens at the end of a day's work to stand in a queue, in the cold, for a bus that may not come for half an hour, three-quarters of an hour or even more.
I used to complain to London Transport on these matters and from time to time I still complain on specific matters. Sometimes I complain to the Greater London Council. Now I am convinced that the person to blame is the Minister, together with the Conservative Government. I believe that the Government are to blame for the fact that we are short of 4,500 drivers and conductors. We have 1,250 fewer drivers and conductors today than we had a year ago. In my experience it is the Government who should be blamed for this basic disregard for the comfort of my constituents and for the fact that buses are off the road today for lack of maintenance workers.
The situation is getting worse. Our economy is in a state of growth which will approach 3½ per cent. next year—but the queues are getting longer.
The problem can be solved. Some suggestions have been made from both sides of the House which, if implemented, would make a great difference to the problem. For example, I believe that London allowances should be brought up to date. At present they are hopelessly unrealistic. We cannot wait until June.
§ Mr. Mayhew
My hon. Friend says April. We need a review now.
The subject of wages was raised by a number of Conservative Members and also by my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson). I wish to direct the Minister's attention to the nine-point plan put out by London Transport. These are moderate and sensible suggestions. I know of none which is not practicable and which would not help my constituents. I ask the Government to pay careful attention to them.
I have taken my five minutes. I end by saying that I should like to see the entire Cabinet come to Woolwich when its day's work is over and to stand in Woolwich New Road to wait for the 192 bus. They would get cold—
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Laurie Pavitt (Willesden, West)
I take up immediately the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) was making. However, I will not be so rash as to invite the entire Cabinet. From time to time we invite the Prime Minister to visit our constituencies, and if he visited my constituency I should invite him to come by the No. 52 bus. After he had waited three-quarters of an hour—
§ Mr. Timothy Raison (Aylesbury)
The trouble with this sort of debate is that everybody thinks only about London. May I point out that in many of the villages in Buckinghamshire there are no buses. I am lucky enough to have one bus in my village. Furthermore, the cost of housing is at least as high as it is in London. What about our problems?
§ Mr. Pavitt
I accept the hon. Gentleman's point. The fact is that the Government have failed just as much in the rural areas as in the London area. The hon. Gentleman's point makes no difference to the fact that we want to concentrate in this debate upon the London area. As the hon. Gentleman represents not a London constituency but a rural 1194 area he is not talking about a bus service for 7½ million people. That makes a difference to the argument.
I agree very much with the opinion of my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East about the Minister's speech. It was the last word in irrelevancy and complacency. The only other time I have ever heard anything quite so far from reality was in 1931 when the Economist blamed the slump on sunspots.
My colleagues and I hoped for something solid at the end of the Minister's speech. We did not get it. I ask the Minister to look again at the letter which he received from the London borough of Brent on 14th November urging the Government to tackle the transport problems of its citizens. In addition to the points which have already been made, Sir Richard Way wrote to me on 20th August with his nine-point plan. Like other hon. Members I have a heavy correspondence with Sir Richard because regularly there are fresh matters to put to him. Sir Richard's nine-point plan struck me as offering a possibility of some immediate action and relief. I immediately put down Questions to the Minister. All the answers which I have received have been fobbing-off answers. I have received no reply which has indicated whether there is any intention to operate any of the matters contained in Sir Richard's letter.
It is no good the Government shifting the responsibility on to the GLC. The only way in which the GLC is able to operate is governed by Government action such as phase 3. My hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Ronald Brown) referred to teachers. The problem does not rest with the Inner London Education Authority but with the Secretary of State for Education and Science, who granted the rather derisory additional sum of £4 to an inadequate London Weighting. The hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Tebbit) has been able to find houses in his constituency costing £12,000. In my area there are no houses costing less than £14,000. How can any teacher, busman or others in similar capacities pay such prices? In my constituency a three-room flat in a high-rise block costs £14,500.
The hon. Member for Epping referred to a few squatters somewhere in London. Of course, there is such a minority in most places. I ask Conservative hon. Members 1195 to come to my Saturday morning advisory bureau. They will there see families from broken homes who have no roof over their heads. They will see the heartbreak of young couples who are split up because they are living with mother and cannot get out. When I see people in such circumstances and when I hear the sort of comments that were made by the hon. Member for Epping, I wonder whether we are living in the same world.
With the present situation on the Bakerloo line there could, on health grounds, be a major tragedy this winter. If there were a recurrence of the arrival in Britain of a new influenza strain, such as the Hong Kong flu we had a few years ago, even with only 100 infected people using the Bakerloo line during the rush hour, we should have a major epidemic. It would cost the health service far more than the cost of transport improvements. Something must be done to improve travelling conditions on that line. People should not have to travel as sardines in a tin on the Bakerloo line at five o'clock in the London area.
I invite the Prime Minister, when he visits my constituency, to travel on the Bakerloo line. When he gets to Queens Park he will find that he will be lucky to get out of Queens Park within 40 minutes. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that he will accept my invitation, because if he did he might well try to remedy these problems.
I have some positive suggestions to put to the Minister. I do not expect him to answer me now but I hope he will write. We were able to keep open the Broad Street—Richmond overhead line a few years ago when it was threatened with closure. Is it not possible to experiment with new methods to achieve a syphoning of people from the Underground in North London and transferring them to this overhead line which covers the whole of North London? My suggestion is this. For six months we could have free travel on that line, and if we advertised it the practical result of overall cost benefit might well be achieved.
Last year 31 per cent. of the teachers left the London borough of Brent. As the hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Parkinson) said, who can blame them? They were not able to get housing in 1196 London and they had no alternative but to go somewhere else if they wanted a normal family life. In my constituency there are 7,500 people on the waiting list, 294 statutory overcrowded families and at least 300 people for whom the local authority provides temporary accommodation or pays board and lodging in hotels because they have no roofs over their heads. It is impossible that at the top of the list of housing priority of families who have been on the waiting list for years we should then put the essential people whom we need in the town halls, the social service departments and the hospitals.
The housing situation for teachers and town hall staff is difficult, but one way in which the problem may be solved is if the Government will use their powers through the Housing Corporation to establish housing co-operatives and housing associations whereby the capital would be provided by the Government. There would then be a halfway stage between council housing and private housing. Very often in local government service the way to achieve promotion is for a person to move from one authority to another. Therefore, there is a need for all authorities to be in a position to provide housing for such people and although the house would not be tied to one incumbent, a pool would always be available. The local authorities must, of course, give housing priority to those in greatest housing need, but they must make some provision for the people who maintain the essential services. We need to provide for those who serve in local government. This would mean a massive increase in Government finance.
Incidentally, had I more time I should have liked to have spoken about the impact of Government policy upon the National Health Service in London. I urge the House to read the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury, who covered all the ancillary services in a most formidable way. I do not want to repeat those matters.
There has emerged during the debate the tremendous complacency that is offered by Conservative Members, and not least from the Minister. There has been an attempt to divert attention elsewhere and to excuse and to provide other reasons. The height of this was reached when the Minister spoke about refuse 1197 collecting in Warwickshire, a service and area far from the motion that we are debating.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith
I was saying that there was a great shortage of service industry workers throughout the country. Surely the hon. Gentleman will not deny that.
§ Mr. Pavitt
I do not deny that. I am objecting to the idea that, because there is a shortage of labour in the service industries, conditions and standards of pay can be less good than in commercial and industrial enterprises. The inevitable social consequence is that people are turned away from working in the hospitals, the social services and the town halls and are attracted to jobs which are not so socially useful but more highly paid. It is that question which the Minister has dodged and to which I hope that his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment will address himself.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Shersby (Uxbridge)
It is unsatisfactory for Labour Members to blame the Government for every problem which faces public service in the Greater London area. As a London Member representing Uxbridge in the periphery of western London, I know about the difficult and intractable problems facing public service in my constituency. The only solution to the problem will be a fresh, careful and considered approach by the London borough councils, the Greater London Council and the Government. It is no good blaming the Government for every problem facing London service workers. A co-operative effort is required.
We have heard that more pay is required for public service workers. Few of us would disagree that public service workers in London find that pay is one of their major problems. We know that the question of the London weighting allowance is going to the Pay Board. I add my voice to those who have expressed the hope that the reference will indeed be a speedy one. We cannot afford to wait for months while the board makes up its mind. In talking about pay we have to recognise that there are tremendous counter-attractions from other employment in the London area and it is this other employment which is siphoning 1198 off those who have traditionally worked in London Transport.
In my constituency of Uxbridge the attraction of highly-paid employment at London Airport is one of the difficulties to be faced. It is not hard for the kind of people who traditionally worked in London Transport to find extremely highly-paid employment in the airport hotels and in the firms providing ancillary services. Discussing these matters will not make those people go back to London Transport. Neither will higher pay or a higher London weighting allowance.
These things are all-important but one of the key factors, which has to be dealt with by the Greater London Council and the London boroughs, is that of housing for key public service employees, for those working in transport, teachers, local government officials and so on. The hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) referred to his objection to the tied cottage. We are all ready quickly to object to the tied cottage principle. It is instinctive. However, we have to take a completely fresh look at this question of providing accommodation for key service personnel.
For example, I do not believe that it would be impossible for the London borough councils or the GLC to provide a greater amount of accommodation for those key workers. I am talking in terms of rented accommodation, houses built for sale and encouragement to private developers to build houses in the outer London areas. There has to be a combination of all three approaches to make more housing available. The hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) referred to the difficulty of finding accommodation for those without a roof over their heads. I share his concern. Equally the London boroughs and the GLC have for too long dodged this problem of dealing with key service workers in London.
I served on a London borough council for 12 years and I know that when we discussed this problem of providing accommodation for teachers, transport workers, local government officials or anyone else, everyone pointed to the difficulty involved in drawing a demarcation line and deciding who should have the houses. We cannot go on saying that it is too difficult and that we cannot define the problem. The London boroughs and the GLC have 1199 to get to grips with this and provide rented accommodation and houses for sale for clearly defined categories of key workers. They have a responsibility towards them in the same way as they have a responsibility towards, for example, engaged couples who are waiting to marry and wanting their own home. We need a balanced approach to the problem of providing houses for the community and providing houses for those who make the wheels in our community go round.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I very much want to call one more hon. Member who has been here throughout the whole of the debate. There are about five minutes left before the Minister replies. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will bear this in mind.
§ Mr. Shersby
I take note of what you say, Mr. Speaker. I will make only one further point. I would have hoped very much that the GLC would decide to put more money into modernising the transport system instead of planning to spend something in the region of £100 million on the acquisition of privately rented accommodation.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North)
In listening to this debate I have the feeling that the Government—particularly the Prime Minister and the Under-Secretary of State—are living in a different world. I listened last week to the Prime Minister on television optimistically protesting to the country that all was well, that there was no crisis and that we were on the crest of success. I heard the criticism by the hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Parkinson) that we had exaggerated the position. Anyone living or working in London will see little relationship between the Prime Minister's words and the situation in the metropolis.
London is supposed to be the centre of Britain, its great financial centre. We have seen how its pride has been lowered, how it has been humiliated because of lack of housing, overcrowding, homelessness, high prices and traffic congestion. All these things speak for themselves. Yet we have had the complacency of the Under-Secretary who simply says that we have got full employment and, therefore, we ought to expect a breakdown. Or 1200 he says that London was not so good when a Labour Government was in power and, therefore, it ought not to be so good under the Conservatives. That was what he said. May I put the matter simply because of the accusation of exaggeration.
We all know that people who live and work in London have special problems. They have to incur considerable expense. They suffer much discomfort. They travel long distances to work. There is congestion, inadequacy and a high cost of public transport and of living. Their cost of living is higher than anywhere else in the country. People have to pay large sums for accommodation, if it is available. Every London Member who holds a surgery must suffer heartbreak when he is asked to deal with the housing difficulties of his constituents. The long council-house waiting lists make many despair—and not only the young married couple—who seek to purchase a house.
The Government boast of their desire to encourage home ownership, yet to buy a house in London, even the older type, means being asked to pay an average price of £12,000. The renting of property often costs £14 a week. How can the average person with an income of £3,000 a year secure a mortgage and bear the interest rates involved? The rate of remuneration in public transport is such that few people are attracted to it. We have heard that London Transport is short of 4,500 bus drivers and conductors. There are 400 buses off the road because of the shortage of engineering and maintenance staff. In the London area British Railways are short of over 600 railway guards and over 200 station and vehicle staff.
The Minister ought to recognise that there is not only a serious problem but an appalling situation. Phase 3 offers increases of what? Only 7 per cent. of the average pay bill, with a maximum of £350 a year or £2.25 per week. How can these workers, with all the expense of living and travelling to work, be attracted to these forms of employment when there is such a low reward for their services? Sir Desmond Plummer has prescribed the remedy of offering houses to them. Where from?
Look at the position with regard to education. It is not only the teachers 1201 who are suffering in the present situation, but thousands of London children. There is a shortage of nearly 300 full-time teachers and over 200 part-time teachers. About 15,000 schoolchildren in inner London are affected. Everyone must recognise the vital importance of continuity in education and what it means to the nation if education on this scale is neglected.
How do the Government deal with education? They even—at first—sought to impose restrictions on heating in schools. The Minister has probably read the Press release issued by ILEA on 15th November dealing with the ridiculous salary increase that was offered. How can teachers be attracted by such a derisory award? How can they possibly be expected to continue with their services at that rate of pay?
What is needed is a true realisation of the position. Instead of that we have the pig-headed obstinacy of the Prime Minister. He still thinks that he is in the Whips' Office. He talks about the Leader of the GLC posturing. Let the Prime Minister cease his own posturing and come down to earth. After all, the GLC is the governing body for London. The Labour Party was elected to govern the GLC by a large majority. Unless the Prime Minister wants a complete breakdown of the services, let him meet the leader of the council and discuss the situation frankly and fully. Let him abandon his obstinacy and deal realistically with the pay problem so that the services can be made attractive to the people they need.
The motion censures the Government in no uncertain terms. Such censure, to any thinking and unbiased person, is well deserved.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Keith Speed)
This debate has been a somewhat curious mixture. We have had excellent contributions, and I do not deny the passions and strong feelings that London Members who have spoken have shown. But from time to time I felt that there was far too much doom and gloom and almost an air of self-induced neurosis in some of the speeches. That will not help London or its problems. I immediately rebut some of the things which have been said. 1202 Neither my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Employment nor the Government as a whole are complacent about the situation. We acknowledge that in certain areas the situation is very serious.
I take up first the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Parkinson) because one wants to look at slightly wider horizons before dealing with some of the more specific problems. The population of London is 7,300,000. It is falling and on present trends it will be less than 7 million by 1981. The Layfield Panel commented that this should not bring major social problems and, indeed, would result in a better environment for those remaining in London. The net outflow in recent years is estimated at about 100,000 people a year. This has been encouraged by Governments of both parties by the development of places like Harlow, Milton Keynes, Basildon and the rest.
A lot has been said in the debate about transport problems and commuters but, overall, commuter traffic into central London is beginning to decline. About 1,100,000 people travel into central London on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., returning home between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. It might be of interest to break down that figure. About 40 per cent. come in by rail, about 34 per cent. by Underground, about 13 per cent. by bus and about 12 per cent. by car. Some rail routes are operating very much to capacity, with all the discomfort that this means to the passengers. This is particularly true of the Southern Region. On the other hand other lines, particularly those coming into the northern termini, still have considerable capacity available.
It is also a fact that new Underground lines like the Victoria Line and the Fleet Line, now being built, do not mean that more peak hour travellers are carried but that the load is spread. The newly-generated traffic for the Underground is off-peak. This is a good thing, because there is ample capacity off-peak and in the longer term this helps in the matter of finance. In fact, these two new lines spread the load rather than increase the number of travellers coming into London.
Increasingly also there is clear evidence of a great deal of commuting from suburb to suburb across London or orbitally 1203 around it rather than from the outskirts into the centre. The problems posed are real enough. Increasingly the situation is one in which cars are used because of the greater flexibility they offer in getting from home to factory or office and in returning in the outer suburbs. It is a matter which the GLC will have to look at when it considers improvements to roads orbitally in the outer London areas because the Government's responsibility largely ends with the radial major schemes into the centre.
The debate has brought out many conflicts and problems in trying to tackle a serious situation. For example, as my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West pointed out, it would be easy and possible to solve the housing problem if we completely scrapped the green belt. But I am sure that none of us wants to do that, not least because it is important for Londoners as well as in the national interest. Although clearly I cannot comment on the specific points my hon. Friend raised, since the normal planning procedures have to be gone through, I assure him that we are strongly committed to preserving an effective green belt round London.
I recognise the passion and strength of feeling of the hon. Member for Shore-ditch and Finsbury (Mr. Ronald Brown) as a London Member and a Londoner, but he painted an increasingly gloomy picture and did not pay tribute to some of the things the Government have done to try to ease the situation, not least in transport but also in other matters.
No doubt the hon. Member for Wandsworth, Central (Mr. Thomas Cox) got his headlines with his attacks on spivs and gangsters, but I must remind him that it is not for Ministers of the Crown to tell the courts how they should or should not operate. Once one starts on that course, one is on a very slippery slope.
But I accept what many hon. Members have said about the housing problem in London. There is a genuine dilemma here as between those who favour the tied cottage principle and those—the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) among them—who would have nothing to do with it. I recall the hon. Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Freeson) in a housing debate putting a specific suggestion 1204 to me that we should look at the possibility of building houses for transport workers on land around Underground stations.
The hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. Stallard) referred to the problems of workers in transport in London, because they really need to be living near to their bus, rail or tube depots. It is particularly important for them to be able to do so because they often work difficult shifts, and if one is turning out early in the morning to take out a train or bus or tube one does not want a long ride in order to get to the depot.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment announced on 6th November that he had invited the public service bodies to consider, with the Chairman of the Housing Corporation, ways in which redundant or under-utilised land they own in London could be used to help their employees and at the same time to increase the overall housing stock. This should ensure full use of land in their ownership, both to their own benefit and to the wider public good.
My hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction has now written to the chairmen of all these bodies suggesting urgent action on these lines. I hope that the Corporation will play a key rôle in this, because involved are various public service bodies, including British Rail, London Transport, the electricity board, the hospital boards and the rest, together with the local authorities. I can pledge on behalf of the Government that whatever help is needed from the Department, it will be given.
I believe that this will be an early and effective way, as it were, to meet those who have argued from the tied cottage point of view, although here I cannot anticipate the final form of the arrangements, and there are local difficulties in trying to establish a house clearly just for a person in a particular job, which the hon. Member for Tottenham recognised and which I know the Chairman of the Housing Corporation recognises. But we are pressing on with this as a matter of urgency.
Much has been said about the Dockland Study. Last year 177 acres were released from the main study area to 1205 provide for early housing development, and new homes for 5,000 people will be starting next year. This is in advance of the main scheme. Discussions are shortly to take place at a further meeting between the Department, the GLC and the various London boroughs concerned.
Hon. Members also mentioned the empty houses in London. I remind them that the Government have advised local authorities in the White Paper "Better Homes: The Next Priorities", published a few months ago, to make compulsory purchase orders when they find owners blatantly disregarding their obligations to bring housing into use. At the same time, proposals now before the House in the Local Government Bill will mean that empty properties will be able to be charged 100 per cent. rates instead of the present 50 per cent. and this will also help.
My hon. Friend the Member for Clapham (Mr. William Shelton) had interesting things to say about the teaching situation, as did other hon. Members. I have two points to make on that. First, the standards of staffing in London are higher than anywhere else in the country, and the figures have to be looked at in that light. Secondly, never before in this country have schools been so well staffed numerically as they are in inner London—that was the report of the ILEA only two or three months ago. I will not say any more about education, therefore, except that there are specific problems in specific schools. I do not think that money is the complete answer. There are other problems of long-standing nature and duration which are not capable of easy solution.
My hon. Friend the Member for Clap-ham and other hon. Members pressed the matter of the London allowances being examined by the Pay Board. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment has explained to the chairman of the board the real urgency of the problem and the need for a report to be made at the earliest possible moment. The chairman has accepted the need and has promised to do all that he and his staff can—
§ Mr. Speed
That is a matter for them. They have to do it. I am sure that the 1206 hon. Member for Wandsworth, Central would like it to be a good report because virtually every category of employee mentioned today could benefit from it. It must be a comprehensive and good report, and for that reason it will take a little time. However, I shall pass on to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State all that was said in the debate.
My hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel) made a very good speech about the problems of London Transport. It was echoed by various other hon. Members including the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury and the hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Deakins). What was not said and what did not come out in the debate was the real cash help which the present Government have given to rail and bus services in London and the South East. Since June 1970 the Government have committed nearly £130 million in capital investment grant to the gross cost of some £200 million of improvements to London's rail transport, including £75 million on Underground projects like the Fleet Line, stage 1, the Heathrow link, the new Piccadilly Line rolling stock, the Great Northern surburban electrification, London Bridge resignalling, Feltham resignalling and other new rolling stock. It is a very major list.
When I say that up to the end of the last financial year London and the South East have received 87 per cent. of all infrastructure grant, leaving only 13 per cent. for the rest of the country, it is hardly right to argue that London is not getting its fair share. If hon. Members representing constituencies in other parts of the country said that they were not getting their fair share, I should have more sympathy with them. However, this imbalance has to be redressed and it is being redressed.
As for buses, the new bus grant means that since the Government came into office we have paid London Transport Executive more than £7 million. That compares with less than £1.5 million paid by the previous administration between 1968 and 1970. We are also pressing ahead on the conversion of the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines to one-man operation for which again the Government are paying 75 per cent. grant. It is hoped that they will come into operation within a year or so.
§ Mr. Ronald Brown
May I remind the hon. Gentleman that the Labour administration wrote off the whole London Transport debt in 1969?
§ Mr. Speed
They may have written off the debt but a great deal of investment was required, and it is now coming from the Government in hard cash.
What is quite breath-taking is that apparently every group is now to be regarded as a special one. They have only to put in a wage claim and in the eyes of the Opposition they become a special group, whether they are miners, London Transport workers or anyone else. However, if stage 3 of the Government's policy is to work it is ridiculous to argue that everyone is a special case.
The problems with public services in London are not new. They have been exacerbated by the success of the Government's
§ growth policy, the way that the economy has grown and the demands on labour. But the record of the Government in backing London Transport with hard cash and in taking the measures on housing that we are taking is one of which we can be proud. It is not reflected in the Opposition motion, which is ungracious and ignores the dedicated work of tens of thousands of men and women to keep going London's services, which are still the best in the world.
§ I confidently recommend the House to reject the motion.
§ Question put,
§ That this House censures Her Majesty's Government for allowing the essential public services of the capital city to deteriorate to the point where they are now reaching breakdown and are causing grave hardship to the population of Greater London.
§ The House divided: Ayes 268, Noes 280.1211
|Division No. 10.]||AYES||[7.0 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Albu, Austen||Dalyell, Tam||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Hamling, William|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Davidson, Arthur||Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)|
|Ashley, Jack||Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Hardy, Peter|
|Ashton, Joe||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Harper, Joseph|
|Atkinson, Norman||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)|
|Austick, David||Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Hattersley, Roy|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Deakins, Eric||Hatton, F.|
|Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)||de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis|
|Baxter, William||Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Beaney, Alan||Dempsey, James||Hooson, Emlyn|
|Beith, Alan||Doig, Peter||Horam, John|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Dormand, J. D.||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Huckfield, Leslie|
|Bishop, E. S.||Driberg, Tom||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Dunn, James A.||Hughes, Mark (Durham)|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Dunnett, Jack||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Booth, Albert||Eadie, Alex||Hunter, Adam|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Edelman, Maurice||Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Janner, Greville|
|Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)||Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Bradley, Tom||Ellis, Tom||Jeger, Mrs. Lena|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||English, Michael||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Brown, Robert C. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne, W.)||Evans, Fred||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Ewing, Harry||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Faulds, Andrew||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)|
|Buchan, Norman||Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||Johnston, Walter (Derby, S.)|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood)||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Foot, Michael||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)|
|Cant, R. B.||Ford, Ben||Judd, Frank|
|Carmichael, Neil||Forrester, John||Kaufman, Gerald|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Fraser, John (Norwood)||Kelley, Richard|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Freeson, Reginald||Kerr, Russell|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Galpern, Sir Myer||Kinnock, Neil|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Garrett, W. E.||Lambie, David|
|Coleman, Donald||Gilber, Dr. John||Lamborn, Harry|
|Conlan, Bernard||Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)||Lambond, James|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Golding, John||Latham, Arthur|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||Lawson, George|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Gourlay, Harry||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Cronin, John||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Leonard, Dick|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Griffths, Eddie (Brightside)||Lestor, Miss Joan|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S. W.)||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold|
|Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||O'Malley, Brian||Stallard, A. W.|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Oram, Bert||Steel, David|
|Lipton, Marcus||Orbach, Maurice||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Orme, Stanley||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Loughlin, Charles||Oswald, Thomas||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)||Stott, Roger|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Padley, Walter||Strang, Gavin|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Paget, R. T.||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|McBride, Neil||Palmer, Arthur||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|McCartney, Hugh||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Swain, Thomas|
|McElhone, Frank||Pardoe, John||Taverne, Dick|
|McGuire, Michael||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Machin, George||Pavitt, Laurie||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Mackenzie, Gregor||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Mackie, John||Price, William (Rugby)||Tinn, James|
|Mackintosh, John P.||Probert, Arthur||Tope, Graham|
|Maclennan, Robert||Radice, Giles||Torney, Tom|
|McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)||Tuck, Raphael|
|McNamara, J. Kevin||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Varley, Eric G.|
|Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Richard, Ivor||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Robert, Albert (Normanton)||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)|
|Marks, Kenneth||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Marquand, David||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Wallace, George|
|Marsden, F.||Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Brc'n & R'dnor)||Watkins, David|
|Marshall, Dr. Edmund||Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)||Weitzman, David|
|Mayhew, Christopher||Rose, Paul B.||Wellbeloved, James|
|Meacher, Michael||Ross Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Rowlands, Ted||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Millan, Bruce||Sandelson, Neville||Whitlock, William|
|Miller, Dr. M. S.||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Willey Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Milne, Edward||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Molloy, William||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)||Sillars, James||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Moyle, Roland||Silverman, Julius||Woof, Robert|
|Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Skinner, Dennis|
|Murray, Ronald King||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Oakes, Gordon||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)||Mr. Ernest G. Perry and|
|Ogden, Eric||Spearing, Nigel||Mr. Michael Cocks.|
|O'Halloran, Michael||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Adley, Robert||Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn)||Foster, Sir John|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Carlisle, Mark||Fowler, Norman|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Fox, Marcus|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Cary, Sir Robert||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Channon, Paul||Fry, Peter|
|Astor, John||Chapman, Sydney||Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Gardner, Edward|
|Awdry, Daniel||Chichester-Clark, R.||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Baker, Kenneth, (St. Marylebone)||Churchill, W. S.||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)|
|Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord||Cockeram, Eric||Glyn, Dr. Alan|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Cooke, Robert||Goodhart, Philip|
|Batsford, Brian||Cooper, A. E.||Goodhew, Victor|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick||Gorst, John|
|Bell, Ronald||Cormack, Patrick||Gower, Raymond|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Costain, A. P.||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Crowder, F. P.||Gray, Hamish|
|Benyon, W.||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Green, Alan|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. Jack||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Biffen, John||Dean, Paul||Gummer, J. Selwyn|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Gurden, Harold|
|Blaker, Peter||Dixon, Piers||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)||Drayson, Burnaby||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Body, Richard||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)|
|Boscawen, Hn. Robert||Dykes, Hugh||Hannam, John (Exeter)|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Bowden, Andrew||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Harvie Anderson, Miss|
|Bray, Ronald||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Brewis, John||Emery, Peter||Hastings, Stephen|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Eyre, Reginald||Havers, Sir Michael|
|Brocklebank-Flower, Christopher||Fell, Anthony||Hawkins, Paul|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Hay, John|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Fidler, Michael||Hayhoe, Barney|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Heseltine, Michael|
|Buck, Antony||Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh North)||Hicks, Robert|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Higgins, Terence L.|
|Burden, F. A.||Fookes, Miss Janet||Hiley, Joseph|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Fortescue, Tim||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)|
|Holland, Philip||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Holt, Miss Mary||Miscampbell, Norman||Shersby, Michael|
|Hordern, Peter||Michell, Lt-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W)||Simeons, Charles|
|Hornby, Richard||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame (Patricia)||Moate, Roger||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Howe, Rt. Hn. Sir Gregory (Reigate)||Money, Ernie||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Monks, Mrs. Connie||Soref, Harold|
|Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Monro, Hector||Speed, Keith|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Montgomery, Fergus||Spence, John|
|Iremonger, T. L.||More, Jasper||Sproat, Iain|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Stainton, Keith|
|James, David||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Jenkin, Rt. Hn. Patrick (Woodford)||Morrison, Charles||Stewart-Smith, Geoffey (Belper)|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Mudd, David||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Jessel, Toby||Neave, Airey||Stokes, John|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Sutcliffe, John|
|Jopling, Michael||Normanton, Tom||Tapsell, Peter|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Nott, John||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Onslow, Cranley||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Oppenhelm, Mrs. Sally||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N. W.)|
|Kimball, Marcus||Parkinson, Cecil||Tebbit, Norman|
|King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Percival, Ian||Temple, John M.|
|King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Peyton, Rt. Hn. John||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Kinsey, J. R.||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Kirk, Peter||Pink, R. Bonner||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Knigth, Mrs. Jill||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Tilney, Sir John|
|Knox, David||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Trafford, Dr. Anthony|
|Lamont, Norman||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.||Trew, Peter|
|Lane, David||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin|
|Le, Marchant, Spencer||Quennell, Miss J. M.||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Raison, Timothy||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'n C'field)||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Waddington, David|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Longden, Sir Gilbert||Redmond, Robert||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|Loveridge, John||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Luce, R. N.||Rees, Peter (Dover)||Walters, Dennis|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Ward, Dame Irene|
|MacArthur, Ian||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|McCrindle, R. A.||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Wiggin, Jerry|
|McLaren, Martin||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Wilkinson, John|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Maurice (Farnham)||Ridsdale, Julian||Winterton, Nicholas|
|McNair-Wilson, Michael||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Madel, David||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Rost, Peter||Worsley, Marcus|
|Marten, Neil||Royle, Anthony||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Mather, Carol||Russell, Sir Ronald||Younger, Hn. George|
|Maude, Angus||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Sainsbury, Tim||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mawby, Ray||Scott, Nicholas||Mr. Walter Clegg and|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Scott-Hopkins, James||Mr. Bernard Weatherill.|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
§ Question accordingly negatived.