HC Deb 14 June 1976 vol 913 cc100-62

(By Order)

Order for Second Reading read.

Mr. Speaker

I understand that it will be for the general convenience of the House to take the Second Reading formally and to get on with the Instructions.

Mr. John Cartwright (Woolwich, East)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I understood that we were to have a brief debate on Second Reading.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Cartwright.

Mr. Cartwright

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

I do not see many veterans of previous Greater London Council (Money) Bills here, so I should explain that, due to the complexities of the London Government Act, the capital spending of the Greater London Council has to be regulated by an annual Money Bill which has to cover not only the current financial year but the subsequent six months as well. Therefore, this Bill covers the estimated loan and capital spending of the GLC for the current financial year and the six months ending 30th September 1977 and provision for the Inner London Education Authority.

When one looks at the Bill, one is struck first by the sheer size of the figures—£510 million for the current financial year alone. That is just about equal to the total capital spending of all other local authorities in the country and about four times as great as that of all the local authorities in Wales. It represents about one-fifth of the capital spending of all local authorities in England. This underlines the impact of the GLC on the local government scene and the comment, which I have heard more than once in my brief membership of this House, that, compared with our Welsh and Scottish colleagues, those of us representing London constituencies have scant opportunity to debate and question Greater London local government issues.

In the present financial climate, and bearing in mind the present attitude towards local government, hon. Members will be particularly concerned to known what trends in GLC capital spending are revealed by the Bill. The internal capital programmes show an increase compared with 1975–76 of just under £27 million. This is mainly due to the impact of inflation, particularly on materials and on building and construction work. On the other hand, loans by the GLC are planned to fall by £50.5 million compared with last year and, therefore, there is an overall reduction in the current financial year compared with last year of over £23 million. If one takes the whole 18-month period covered by the Bill the reduction is about £53 million, which, I suggest, is a substantial contribution both to the attack on inflation and on to need to hold down public spending.

If we look at detailed comparisons, we find that reductions are taking place in seven areas of capital expenditure. There are small reductions in the spending on museums, on staff offices—which I am sure will commend itself to hon. Members on both sides—on Thames landing stages and on the grants to London Transport and British Rail. Larger cuts are shown for road schemes—this is Item 5 in Part I of the schedule—which are down by £9 million, due in part to a higher rate of Government grant and in part to a reduction in the roads programme. There is a reduction of £3.5 million due to a lower rate of school building and site acquisition. Planning spending is proposed to go down by £2.5 million, basically due to a slow-down of provisional redevelopment schemes.

Increases are proposed in three areas. In refuse disposal, the increase is £1.5 million compared with last year. This is basically due to acquisition of a site for the new solid waste transfer station at Hammersmith and associated spending on other transfer stations. Flood prevention shows an increase of £2 million compared with last year, basically due to continuing work on the Thames barrier and associated flood prevention works. Those of us who represent low-lying constituencies near the river will be glad to know that that scheme is continuing.

The main item of increased spending comes under Item 10, housing. Here we find that the GLC's capital schemes show an increase of almost £39 million. On the other hand housing loans, under Part II of the schedule, show a reduction of £50 million compared with the revised 1975–76 figure, which is after reductions made during the passage of the Money Bill last year. Housing is the largest element in the Bill. As I presume that it will loom fairly large in the debate, it is reasonable to make one or two comments about the GLC's housing policy.

First, the GLC, like all housing authorities, has to operate now within a nil growth situation inside local government, and the new building programme for 1976–77 therefore remains the same as for 1975–76, at a rate of 5,000 new starts per annum; and improvement and rehabilitation will be continued within the limits of central Government control.

I recall that in our debate on the Money Bill last year I referred to the emergence of the strategic housing plan, something which many of us and the GLC have wanted to see for a very long time. I am glad to be able to report that discussions between the GLC and the London Boroughs Association have proceeded on the basis of the strategic housing plan and on the five main elements within it.

The first of those elements is that there should be targets for new building, conversions, demolition and rehabilitation. These targets have been agreed between the GLC and the London boroughs. Even more important, it is agreed that the implementation of these targets should be very closely monitored.

The second clement is that whilst the rôle of the boroughs as the primary housing authorities is recognised, the plan is based on the recognition of the essential nature of the GLC's back-up rôle to ensure new housing schemes throughout the Greater London area.

The third element in the plan aims at an ambitious co-ordinated allocation system for all local authority housing in the Greater London area, to be followed possibly by the transfer of the GLC's 180,000 houses to the boroughs—something which many of us welcome because we believe housing management to be an essentially local responsibility. The fourth element is that there is to be the largest possible increase in rehabilitation and conversion of unsatisfactory houses and flats.

The fifth and final main element of the strategic housing plan is the aim to coordinate policies to get the maximum benefit from housing association activity and from municipalisation, because these are seen as the best means of tackling the problems of neglect, overcrowding, harassment and obsolescence in the private rented sector. Discussions are continuing on the basis of the strategic housing plan, and it is hoped that agreement will be reached very soon.

I relate these aims to the Bill. In the details of the housing policy, site acquisition shows an increase from the 1975–76 revised figure from £14 million to £23 million. This is mainly for continuing acquisition of sites already approved. These sites, together with others already acquired, will provide the bulk of the land needed for the current five-year programme up to 1981.

Secondly, the purchase of existing dwellings shows a reduction from last year's revised figure of £15 million down to £10 million. The actual spending last year was about £11 million, and that produced 1,450 homes. I think we have to recognise that the reduced level of spending on this sector will mean that it will make only a comparatively small contribution to London's overall housing needs in the coming year and that there will be a further deterioration in the condition of property in the private sector and, therefore, in the living conditions of many private sector tenants.

In the acquisition of dwellings under construction, there is a reduction from £21 million in 1975–76, to £13 million. This programme supplements the number of new lettings available to families in need and makes a substantial contribution to the GLC's programme of providing to retired tenants cottages and homes at the seaside or in country towns. I am advised that the £13 million provided will produce 900 extra homes, mainly outside Greater London.

Next, the heading for new building, which is the largest element in the increased spending on housing, shows the figure going up in gross terms from £76 million to £120.5 million in this financial year. This is due to increased tender prices of contracts let in 1974 and to the increasing impact on wages and materials prices, but it represents a continuation of the programme of 5,000 housing starts a year.

On improvements and rehabilitation, the spending is up slightly from £19.5 million last year to £20.5 million this year. It covers improvements to estate dwellings and acquired properties subject to the approval of the Government under Section 105. It also covers spending in general improvement areas and housing action areas. There are also proposals for the general improvement of amenities on certain older GLC estates.

The estates programme provides for full modernisation of flats and cottages which still do not have separate bathrooms. It also covers the range of improvements on a package basis to 2,250 flats with separate bathrooms but which fall below modem standards in other amenities.

Under Part II—loans—of the schedule the total housing spending is reduced from £125 million to £75 million. Home loans are subject to Government allocation. Last year provision was made for £95 million. As a result of Government cuts, the figure was actually held down at £55 million. Provision is again made at £55 million, although we understand that Government approval will limit advances to £52 million. It is reasonable to point out that this compares with actual spending in 1974–75 of £110 million. That shows how far the GLC's home loans scheme has been curtailed.

Many of us welcome the somewhat happier situation of the building societies regarding home loans. Nevertheless, we recognise the continuing need for the GLC to assist families for which building societies do not cater because those families do not have an adequate income level or because the properties that they seek to buy do not come up to building society standards.

Finally, I turn to loans to housing associations. The figure of £20 million advanced in 1975–76 has been retained in this year's provision. In fact, few new schemes will be processed—only those basically already in hand. However, the GLC hopes to make loans available for a limited number of schemes aimed at encouraging co-operative housing ventures. For example, in housing action areas it is hoped to provide loans to private sector tenants seeking to set up their own housing co-operatives. In one or two cases it is hoped to provide new loans for housing co-operative building ventures.

I hope that those remarks will be of assistance to the House in considering the Bill. I commend it to the House.

7.14 p.m.

Mr. Kenneth Baker (Marylebone)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Cartwright) on the way he has introduced the Bill. It is a tradition that Back Benchers introduce Private Bills of this nature.

I am a little surprised that there is no Minister on the Government Front Bench. Although this is a Private Bill, it involves the expenditure of £268 million of public money. The fact that there is no Minister from the Department of the Environment on the Front Bench shows the Government's casual regard towards major blocks of Government expenditure. One of the Whips, who has been trying to get the Minister for the last quarter of an hour, is looking very sheepish about it.

Mr. Ronald Brown (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman does not wish to do my right hon. Friend an injustice. A few moments ago my right hon. Friend told me that he had been working at his departmental desk, that he was going to get a bite of something to eat, and that he would be in the House and proposed to take part in the following debate.

Mr. Baker

How very touching that the appetites of Ministers should take precedence over their ministerial duties. There are enough Ministers in the Department of the Environment for at least a junior Minister to be here. We are discussing real money—£268 million—and there is no Minister on the Front Bench.

I want to speak about item 7 of the Schedule. The hon. Member for Woolwich, East rightly spent a good deal of time on housing, but I should like to reiterate what I have said before on many occasions—that the GLC is not an efficient or a particularly effective housing authority. I should like the London boroughs to be made individually responsible for all housing within their areas and for the management of GLC housing estates.

From my experience of representing two London seats, I know that the GLC estates are not as well managed as are the local borough estates, and that there is a feeling of remoteness. In London we get to know the housing directors of our boroughs and some of their staff when dealing with cases. The GLC's staff always seems that much more distant and remote and, indeed, infinitely slower than the staff of the local boroughs. I believe that the overall housing authority should be removed from the GLC.

Members may say that that would mean that the poorer boroughs would suffer. I believe that it would be possible, through the London Boroughs Association, which is growing in effectiveness, to arrange for the swap of tenants, which is done now, and for the allocation and rehousing of tenants from the deprived inner areas to the outer suburbs.

I appreciate that much of the debate will be about housing. Therefore, I want to turn to Item 7—the capital expenditure of the Inner London Education Authority. That amounts to £23 million next year. I think that all London Members will appreciate that this is only a small part of the total ILEA expenditure. By far the largest amount—over £400 million£is on revenue account. Therefore, ILEA will be spending £426 million in the course of the year, of which over £23 million is on capital account. Compared with the spend six years ago, it is a staggering increase. In 1970 ILEA's capital expenditure was £16 million, with £95 million on revenue account, making a total of £111 million. Today, six years later, it is £426 million—a massive fourfold increase. I am talking in cash terms, but it is infinitely larger than the fall in the value of money.

During that time there were 35,000 fewer boys and girls at school in the Inner London Education Authority area, because there has been a rapidly declining school population. In 1970—the year that I quoted—there were 250,000 boys and girls at primary schools and 164,000 at secondary schools. This year the figures are 199,000 at primary schools and 180,000 at secondary schools. There has been a drop of about 10,000 pupils a year in primary schools in the ILEA area. No other education authority can possibly be experiencing that kind of drop in numbers of pupils at school. At secondary school level the drop between now and 1980 will run at about 2,000 pupils a year. Despite that, the ILEA is still spending increasingly large amounts of money each year. As I said, in the six years from 1970 to 1976, there was an increase from £111 million to £426 million and a drop of 35,000 pupils.

I wrote to Sir Ashley Bramall, the Chairman of ILEA, and asked what the pupil estimates were for the next five years. He told me what they were. I then asked what the expenditure proposals were for the next five years, which I think was a reasonable question, and he told me in his letter that it was not possible to forecast ILEA's expenditure over the next five years. I think that he should have a word with the Secretary of State for Education and Science, who is asked to do precisely that—to forecast educational expenditure over the next five years—because included in that forecast is ILEA's expenditure.

All that I can deduce from this is that ILEA is reluctant to specify where it will make substantial expenditure cuts. If the number of primary school pupils is dropping at the rate of 10,000 a year and the number of secondary school pupils is dropping at the rate of 2,000 a year, inevitably there must be substantial expenditure cuts to match the drop. So far, ILEA has not made these expenditure cuts. The increase in capital expenditure in the last six years has been from £16 million to £24 million and in overall expenditure from £111 million to £426 million.

I am concerned about the whole constitutional position of ILEA. It is a constitutional hybrid. It has all the trappings of local democracy, with elected members, but even hon. Members would be hard put to name more than two members. One might recall the name of the chairman and the leader of the opposition. I and many Londoners have the feeling that ILEA is literally out of democratic control. It is a remarkably remote institution. Once again, the London boroughs would be much better left to run their own education, without ILEA.

ILEA pops above the horizon only when something has gone dramatically wrong. At 8 o'clock tonight "Panorama" is to be devoted to the William Tyndale affair. Vast sums of money are spent on experiments of that sort, which have more to do with social engineering than with educational improvement.

My constituency is affected, because part of the capital programme this year is the merger of St. Marylebone Grammar School with a local secondary modern school. That merger has been opposed for over 10 years. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition rejected the scheme in 1972, but it has been resurrected by Sir Ashley Bramall, the Chairman of ILEA, who gave it such a high degree of priority that he became chairman of the governors to put paid for good to St. Marylebone Grammar School.

The proposals have been laid before and approved by the Minister, but the parents have taken the governors to court. They want an injunction delaying the merger, because of certain clauses in the charter, which goes back 200 years. The Government have decided not to go through the courts but to cease to maintain the school. That is a further example of the use by the Government of administrative methods to overthrow entrenched legal rights. The parents clearly would have obtained the injunction, but the Government impatiently said "Enough is enough, we want the end of this school so we shall stop signing the cheques for it." That is a use of administrative methods to achieve political ends—a use that overrides individual personal rights. If anything has characterised the last six months of our political and constitutional history it is the scant regard that the Labour Party has shown for entrenched legal rights.

I am disinclined to support the provisions contained in the Bill for the expenditure of ILEA. The expenditure of ILEA is literally and physically out of control, as I believe ILEA is out of control. The officials, not the elected members, run ILEA. It is time we made constitutional changes to ensure that ILEA and the education services of London are run in the interests of the people who elect ILEA.

7.24 p.m.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

The hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Baker) used some characteristically broad phrases in describing what he believes to be the lack of democracy in the Inner London Education Authority. I remind the House that every member of the Greater London Council is a member of ILEA. In addition, each London borough has one nominated member on that authority. No doubt Paddington also has a member. I cannot, therefore, follow the hon. Gentleman's assertion that there is no democracy in ILEA.

There is always argument—indeed, there is argument between this place and Whitehall—whether the democratically elected representatives are in control. Part of our task is to see that the House is in control. If the hon. Gentleman feels that that is not true of ILEA, he has a vote to enable him to do something about it.

Mr. Ronald Brown

Does my hon. Friend agree that the City of London is hardly a fine example of a bastion of democracy? We know through ILEA who are the GLC members, but who are the members of the Common Council?

Mr. Spearing

My hon. Friend has an important point there. The hon. Member for St. Marylebone might know the answer.

According to Item 13, capital grants to London Transport Executive and British Railways Board amount to £22 million for the year ending 31st March 1977. I support the Bill, and this payment, but I suggest that the House and the citizens of London might look at the value they will get for this substantial sum of money.

In 1933 the House passed the London Transport Act. Subsequently the income from all the buses, London Transport railways and the four private main line railway companies was pooled. That meant that fares in the London area were equalised and there was no direct competition for money between the agencies involved. I do not think that this system operates today, but it might have advantages for the travelling public

The Greater London Council and the Department of the Environment have considered the co-ordination of rail services in London. The Barron Report, which was published some time ago, recommended the setting up of a co-ordinating committee to deal with rail services in London. The committee has not yet been appointed, although the GLC and the Government believe in principle that it should go ahead. I have asked several Questions of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. I have written to him asking why there is a delay, and he has replied courteously. I hope that the Government will shortly appoint the committee so that the £22 million can be spent in the best way and the London travelling public get good value for their money.

A great deal of the money goes on the replacement of equipment, and I do not want to go into the merits of the question whether that money is wisely or unwisely spent. I wish to draw attention to the amount of money involved and the possibilities for dockland. East London is under various pressures, of which the House will be aware. The resuscitation of Dockland depends on its transport links. We have the port, and the river is the first and most important means of transport. We have certain roads, some of which could be improved, and we have railways.

In my constituency there is an ancient railway, quite well used industrially, which has a passenger service, but the links between that service and London Transport are not good. The Barron Report suggests the building of additional platforms at West Ham to enable passengers to move from the District Line to the North Woolwich/Tottenham Line. That could have been done at the end of the last century. It should have been done after 1947 when both railways became publicly owned, but it has not been done. I have requested the GLC to get it done by Christmas. The people of East London are fed up with hearing about the plans, many of which were abortive, introduced by the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) when he was Secretary of State for the Environment. There is no reason why the construction of a relatively small platform, which need be no longer than the Chamber, and the realignment of a few railway lines, should not be completed soon.

I support the expenditure of £22 million for next year, and I confidently expect that the GLC, preferably before Christmas, will be able to afford a few pounds for a new railway platform at West Ham. That will be the first visible sign to the people in my constituency and in East London as a whole that the powers that be have a realistic attitude to Dockland redevelopment. This simple interchange, recommended two or three years ago by the Barron Report, would be a sign that those who have the power know what the people want and are willing to make sure that small sums are spent. In this case it would be a small sum compared to £22 million, but for East London it would be a sign of hope.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Stephen Ross (Isle of Wight)

I do not wish to delay the House for many minutes as I understand that the Front Benches wish to give the Bill a Second Reading and discuss the Instructions.

This debate gives me an opportunity to raise one matter which I would not normally raise, not being a London Member, but I think I have every right so to do and I wish to follow the hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Baker) who spoke of ILEA and item 7 of the schedule. Some of the £23,200,000, I assume, will be allocated to the St. Paul's field site at Hammersmith. If it is not included under that heading, I presume that it is referred to under another heading dealing with housing.

I believe that this site should not be developed as proposed. It was never intended that it should be so developed when it was under the control of the old LCC. About 4¾ acres were intended for housing and the remaining 10 acres were to be open space. Unfortunately, all this has been overruled, and the local Members of Parliament have not thought fit to support the 11,320 people, many of them well known in all walks of life and all of them respected people, who have signed a petition asking for this development not to take place.

It is not that they are against improved housing. Of course not. They, like myself, have seen many thousands of houses in the City of London and the boroughs standing empty for up to 10 years. I try to play some part in remedying this situation by being involved in a housing association. The objectors say that this scheme is completely unnecessary and that there is a perfectly adequate alternative site which can be adopted if in fact it is needed at all.

One wonders about this Bill, in view of the cuts which have already been announced in education and particularly in teacher training. The old LCC, when it bought the 14¾ acres some years ago, decided that 4¾ acres should be allocated for housing and that the remaining 10 acres should be retained as a public open space, but the GLC now plans a large new ILEA building for West London's further education college. I do not know why such action is proceeding when these cutbacks are going on. A further 8½acres is to be used for 296 flats. Even Labour-controlled Hammersmith has called this gross over-development, and local councillors have opposed it.

I ask that this matter be given further consideration when the Bill goes into Committee. Although it would be wrong to put down an Instruction to reduce that amount of money, because it would not have the desired effect, I think this matter ought to be reconsidered by the GLC, by ILEA and by the local Hammersmith Borough Council. I ask hon. Members to consider this in greater detail in Committee.

This matter comes somewhat ironically when we have this measure before us on the very day after the Secretary of State has thought fit to see Labour councillors at Transport House and tell them how concerned he is about the additional expenditure of local authorities in the London areas in this financial year. Here is an area where a decision could be taken, even at this late hour, to make some savings by the use of alternative sites. The housing is not needed on this site. It is much more important that the public open space remains. Hammersmith is a borough which has a vast need for more open space.

I know that the Secretary of State has decided not to intervene. I know that the protesters have tried to fight this matter through the courts but, unfortunately, have run out of money, so that they have not been able to pursue it very far. I ask that those hon. Members present will give some consideration to what I have said.

7.35 p.m.

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)

As the hon. Member for the Fulham constituency in the borough of Hammersmith, I should like to make a few comments on what has just been said.

The need for housing, and for council housing, which is the only way nowadays by which rented accommodation can be provided at moderate rents, is very serious. The need for the college has been demonstrated on several occasions over a period of years. The plan now put forward is not substantially different from the one which was approved by the GLC when it was under the control of a different political party from that which now controls it, and under a Tory Secretary of State.

Over the years there has been much argument about this matter. At one time, when the borough of Hammersmith for three years had the misfortune to be ruled by a Tory council, the council's idea was that the site should be used for private housing and an hotel. What shocks me is that the people who now claim to be so concerned about the site made no protest at all about that proposal. It is apparently only when it is to be used for housing some of their poorer fellow citizens that we get these petitions and parades. The borough of Hammersmith, as has been pointed out, raised some objection, but that objection was met by the GLC by reducing the density, and the proposal now has the support of the GLC and of the borough of Hammersmith.

A real injury will be caused to the people in the borough, and particularly those on the housing list desperately waiting for housing, if this plan is interfered with now. It is all very well for people whose own housing situation is well provided for to sign petitions to prevent those who are less fortunate from becoming well housed.

In a situation like this, those who complain, those who, to put it bluntly, do not want council housing too near where they live, can of course, be identified. One cannot identify the people who will ultimately benefit from the building of this accommodation, but, although they cannot be individually identified, they are none the less real people with real needs. After the long years that we have waited for this project I am glad that the Secretary of State has given his approval, and I trust that this scheme will be carried into operation as soon as possible.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time and committed.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)

Mr. Speaker has selected the two Instructions which appear on the Order Paper, and it is proposed that they should be debated together. I call the hon. Member for Ravensbourne (Mr. Hunt).

7.38 p.m.

Mr. John Hunt (Ravensbourne)

I beg to move That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to reduce the total sum of '£403,715,000' on page 6 (Part I) of the Schedule by:— reducing the sums mentioned in Part I of the Schedule as follows: Item 10, in column 3, by leaving out '£178,650,000' and inserting '£177,400,000', Item 10, in column 4, by leaving out '£89,000,000' and inserting £88,000,000', in column 3 (carried forward total on page 5) by leaving out £235,470,000' and inserting £234,220,000'. in column 4 (carried forward total on page 5) by leaving out '£117,190,000' and inserting '£116,190,000', in column 3 (brought forward total on page 6) by leaving out '£235,470.000' and inserting '£234,220,000', in column 4 (brought forward total on page 6) by leaving out '£l17,190,000' and inserting '£116,190,000', in column 3 (total on page 6) by leaving out '£268,000,000' and inserting '£266,750,000', in column 4 (total on page 6) by leaving out '£135,715,000' and inserting '£134,715,000'. I understand that it will be convenient to the House if at the sane time we debate the next motion, That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to reduce the total sum of '£96,000,000' mentioned on page 8 (Part III) of the Schedule by £45,000,000 by— reducing the sums mentioned in Item 24 of Part III of the Schedule as follows: in column 2, by leaving out '£60,000,000' and inserting '£30,000,000', in column 3, by leaving out, '£30,000,000' and inserting '£415,000,000'. The first Instruction deals with item 10 in Part I of the schedule and refers to the acquisition of property, while the second Instruction, dealing with item 24 of Part III of the schedule, refers to contingencies, where our aim is to reduce the requirement from £60 million to £30 million.

For the convenience of the House I shall deal with the Instructions in reverse order, as I feel that the Instruction on contingencies may prove to be less contentious than that dealing with municipalisation. Although this is not a matter of party political debate, we believe that provision of £60 million for contingencies or "other purposes", as described in the schedule, is both excessive and unreasonable.

It is alarming to find that the amount earmarked for contingencies by the GLC has grown over the years from £10 million in 1965–66 to the present high figure of £60 million. Even five years ago the amount stood at only £12 million, and at no time in the past 10 years has the amount actually drawn exceeded £15.6 million. Indeed, in the two years 1971–72 and 1972–73 the amount drawn was less than £1 million. There is still some discussion on the precise figure drawn last year 1975–76, but at the highest estimate it is unlikely to be more than £20 million.

We are told that a contingency provision of that size is required to provide statutory authority for any unforeseen event, to allow for inflation and to reflect possible changes in Government and GLC policy during the year. I am dubious about those points. Unless one anticipates that the present Government's anti-inflation policy will face total collapse, it is fair to assume that the inflationary pressures facing the economy during the next 12 months will not be significantly greater than in the past 12 months.

On any changes in Government or GLC policy one must equally assume, particularly in the light of the speech by the Secretary of State for the Environment last night, that any changes in the next 12 months are more likely to take the form of cuts than increases in expenditure. Halving the contingency item along the lines that we propose would act as a salutary financial discipline upon those in charge of GLC policies at a time when it is more important than ever that local government should operate within strict guidelines and strict financial targets.

We maintain that a contingency item of that size is unnecessary and undesirable and that a reduction to £30 million would not only be more appropriate and realistic but would reflect the needs of the moment to contain and curtail local government spending. In saying that, I hope that I shall carry at least some hon. Members on the Government side with me. I am not as hopeful of carrying them with me in the next part of my speech as I turn to the other Instruction, which deals with housing acquisition or municipalisation.

In proposing the revised figures and suggesting fairly modest reductions, I stress that we are acting responsibly and realistically. We are informed that of the total amount in item 10—it is a large figure—about £13 million relates to the proposed acquisition of dwellings under construction by private developers. Of that £13 million, about £9 million is already fully committed and a further £2½ million is morally committed by agreement of terms with developers. For that reason, we propose to cut Item 10 by £1,250,000.

Our basic objection to municipalisation is that it does not add a single new home to London's housing stock. Where the houses acquired by the GLC would otherwise have been sold on the open market, the GLC's intervention sometimes helps to keep house prices artificially high. Where the houses acquired would otherwise be available for letting, the GLC's action further restricts the amount of rented accommodation in the private sector.

All hon. Members know of countless cases of young people, in particular students, single people and newly marrieds, who can never accumulate sufficient housing points to he housed from a council's waiting lists, although they are in desperate need of accommodation. In the past, the private sector predominantly met the needs of such people. Today, however, largely because of the 1974 Act, that type of accommodation has virtually dried up.

Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)

The hon. Member for Ravensbourne (Mr. Hunt) has made an interesting speech, much of which I can agree with so far. But it is a bit thick to say that the reason why local authorities have had to try to provide homes in London and the boroughs is the huge success of private enterprise in supplying them. The contrary is true. The GLC and other local authorities have had to provide as many homes as possible because the private sector has lamentably failed.

Mr. Hunt

The hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) has missed the point. Many categories of people, because of the operation of the points allocation system, will never qualify for a council house. For that reason, they can never look, either through ordinary council development or through municipalisation, for rehousing by local councils. Therefore, the private sector has a rôle to play, but that rôle has been undermined by the 1974 Act, which has virtually dried up the supply of accommodation upon which those people previously depended. One has only to look at the advertisement in the London evening newspapers today and compare them with those of four or five years ago to see the extent by which the amount of furnished accommodation available for letting has slumped dramatically since the passing of that Act.

A survey published in February this year by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors showed that the number of furnished properties available in the inner urban areas and in London in particular 20 per cent. since the introduction of the 1974 Act. That understimates the position in Greater London.

I beg the Government and the Labour leaders of the GLC to recognise the heartbreak and anguish caused to so many people because of the shrinking market in private rented accommodation. The GLC should hesitate before it accentuates the problems by its policy of municipalisation. It has already acquired more than 6,000 properties at a cost of about £46 million. The majority of those houses were already occupied, so that no contribution has been made to the reduction of housing lists. The time has come to call a halt to the expensive and dubious municipalisation exercise.

The GLC's excursions into what is euphemistically called social ownership have been none too happy. I give just one example, the Cardigan Estate in Enfield, where in February 1975 132 houses were acquired. Nine months later 20 stood vacant, and many were said to be unsuitable for reletting because of rising damp and defective flooring and roofs—not exactly a triumph for municipalisation or Socialist planning.

Therefore, we are bound to ask why the GLC is so eager to pursue its municipalisation programme. It already holds land sufficient to build 38,000 dwellings, which, on the basis of the current completion of 5,000 dwellings a year, as we were told on Second Reading, represents enough for at least the next seven years One would expect financial prudence, apart from any broader policy considerations, to make the GLC hesitate before going ahead with the acquisition of private developments in preference to development of its own acres which are lying unused.

In the supplementary statement which we received from the GLC's Solicitor and Parliamentary Officer—and I gladly pay tribute to the helpful notes and information which are sent to us on all these occasions—we were told that the GLC's acquisition programme makes a major contribution to the Council's scheme of providing homes for retired tenants at the seaside or country towns. I am sure we all agree that it is sensible for the GLC to enable retired people to move out of London and thus free the council accommodation which they occupy for younger applicants with families. As Conservatives, we welcome and support that policy.

But the GLC does not stop there. I understand that it is currently committed to spend no less than £97 million on general housing activities outside its own area, mainly in the Home Counties. The young as well as the elderly are being encouraged to move out of central London, thus accelerating the population decline in our inner areas. If only a fraction of the money spent on this out-of-London development had been used to make a start on the redevelopment of Dockland, we should by now be seeing a beginning of the restoration and rejuvenation of those neglected areas of inner London which stand as a decaying monument to the drift, delay and indecision at County Hall on this matter.

Our debate on the Instructions has been invested with great relevance and topicality by the speech last night of the Secretary of State for the Environment, in which he warned representatives of Labour-controlled local authorities, including the GLC, about their present levels of expenditure and said that overspending could not be tolerated. I understand that Mr. Tony Banks, Chairman of the GLC's General Purposes Committee, and Mr. Richard Balfe, Chairman of its Housing Development Committee, have today both expressed some doubts about whether further cuts can be made. I hope that the Secretary of State will make it clear to them that he means business. Our Instructions provide him with a ready-made weapon to do this. They call for a modest but significant reduction in GLC spending.

In the light of yesterday's ministerial speech, it will be interesting to see whether our Instructions are to be challenged by Labour Members in the Division Lobby. If the Secretary of State meant what he said—and he is an inner London Member—he should be using all his efforts and influence tonight to persuade his colleagues to support our Instruction on municipalisation. If he fails to do that, and if it is opposed, we can only conclude that, like so many speeches from this Government on public expenditure, the Secretary of State's words are all wind and waffle.

The test will come later tonight. We shall wait and see what happens. In the meantime, I commend the Instructions to the House in the hope that they will receive widespread support.

7.57 p.m.

Mrs. Millie Miller (Ilford, North)

It is easy to see how we could fall into the trap of accepting the Instructions put forward by the Opposition. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has made a serious appeal to local authorities to consider the expenditure in which they are involved, to consider the national needs, and to look ahead to the coming year and make decisions about priorities. In effect, that is what the GLC is doing in advancing its recommendations tonight.

We on the Labour Benches are naturally very concerned about the situation in inner London. We are very concerned about the housing position for many central London families. It is interesting that in talking about the needs of central London the hon. Member for Ravens-bourne (Mr. Hunt) said that both old and young were being encouraged to leave the centre of London, leaving a vacuum which is not to be filled. Properties now standing empty in their hundreds of thousands are to remain empty, because it seems that there are not enough people in the lower income bracket to purchase them.

If the housing problem in London could be solved through the vacant houses being purchased by those in housing need, if money were available from the building societies for those young families who are anxious, willing and intending to live in central London because of their family, social and work ties, there would be no need for the GLC to make this kind of provision. Instead, we have the picture of not just council-owned but privately-owned properties not in the rented sector standing empty for many years. It is no wonder that eminent housing experts talk about the British housing failure, which is the failure of all sectors to make the right kind of provision to meet housing needs.

If we look across the spectrum at those young people with families, desperately saving up in the face of rising costs to obtain their deposits and qualify for mortgages, we see that they are unable to enter the housing market. If they were, there would not be hundreds and hundreds of potential owner-occupied properties with "For Sale" notices outside them.

In the privately-rented sector there are vast estates, some of which have been the subject of property speculators over the years. From time to time those estates have been occupied by furnished tenants, or have been deliberately kept unoccupied in the hope of a private sale. One often sees such properties standing empty. We also have experience of families, elderly people, and transient workers, all in desperate need of housing and with few people—and here I criticise the Government, the local authorities and the private landlords'—taking anything near the action required to cope with the situation.

The Greater London Council has been making a great effort to take into public ownership privately-rented accommodation and also formerly owner-occupied properties that are standing empty. The tragedy is that the authority has not made satisfactory arrangements for those properties to be reoccupied. Therefore, in the past two years people have taken the law into their own hands and have seized control of many of these properties.

The hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Baker), in deploying his arguments, had a great deal of reason on his side. Nevertheless, the power rests with the GLC as a strategic housing authority. So long as that is the case, the GLC has not only the power but the duty to look after London's strategic housing needs.

I believe that we shall fail in our duty if we do not insist on the council taking a greater initiative in trying to do something to deal with the scandalous housing position. It will be of no avail if we refuse to proceed with the GLC's request for funds tonight on the pretext that we shall hand the powers to the London boroughs and leave them to deal with the problem. However, in the long term that course may have to be considered.

Mr. Cartwright

I am sure that my hon. Friend is aware of the long discussions that have taken place between the Greater London Council and the London Boroughs Association in working out a joint strategic housing plan, as a result of which the GLC will transfer 180,000 houses back to the London boroughs. Is not that the best way to share these problems?

Mrs. Miller

We are still moving at a snail's pace in these matters—indeed, that was the case that when I left the London Boroughs Association some years ago. Nevertheless, the GLC, because of its strategic powers, must taken on the responsibility for provision in the first instance, and then the London boroughs can begin to take up the slack as a management task. In the meantime, faced as we are with vacant properties in various housing areas, we must apply pressure to make sure that these powers are properly used.

The problem for those who want to own houses is that building societies are not taking a hand to make sure that people at the lower end of the housing market have the opportunity to become owner-occupiers. Although I admit that there have been some moves on that score, I believe that far too little has been done to date to make such properties the homes they should be for younger families.

It is all very well to talk about the problems of ILEA and to say that the authority is costing London residents more for a deteriorating service. The fact is that the imbalance of London's population makes it more expensive to cater for everybody because so many families left in central London are in a sense social casualties who are more expensive in terms of care. That argument applies to the elderly who are left behind and who make great social service demands, and it also applies to immigrant groups who are newly arrived in this country and who are more costly to maintain in central London.

All these factors mean that in central London living expenses are far greater than they should be. This creates a total picture in which the GLC, ILEA and all the local authorities in central London are carrying a heavier burden of cost in proportion to the numbers of population. As people look back over the post-war years at the London scene, following reorganisation of London government, they remember the disruption of communities in the London area. Therefore, we must consider not only the question of the profligacy of present local authorities or of the authorities as they existed following the introduction of the Housing Act 1974, which was aimed at preventing evictions of families from furnished properties; we must also consider uprooted communities who have been taken away from their settled jobs and settled ways of life. It would be most unfortunate if the GLC's request in trying to cope with the problems that face the area today were to be rejected by the House. We must not deprive the GLC of the opportunity to do something practical to assist in the present situation.

There is one other matter that is relevant to the situation in London today. I refer to the subject of rents for council properties and the approach that might be taken following the proposals to review housing finance in the future. In recent weeks there has been much comment about the higher rents proposed for council properties. I should like to take this opportunity to mention a site that has received a great deal of adverse publicity.

I refer to the Branch Hill Estate in the borough of Camden. That estate has provided a bonanza for the media in seeking to show how local authorities waste public expenditure. As chairman of a committee in the London borough of Camden, I was involved in the acquisition of that site—one of the finest sites in London. The Branch Hill Estate, in Hampstead, consists of 10 acres of land and was purchased in 1965 for a sum of £464,000. For those people who are acquainted with land values in the London area, I do not need to say that that was a modest figure indeed. That site was purchased from the family who had resided there for many years. It is a very beautiful estate on the outskirts of Hampstead and is almost a wing of Hampstead Heath. The family had lived in a beautiful house on that site for many years, surrounded by those 10 acres of land.

The property was purchased with the object of providing an old people's home, a residential school and local authority housing. I well remember one of the local Members, my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. Stallard), who is present tonight—arguing for the purchase of this property so that the people of the densely-packed areas of Kentish Town could be allowed to breathe the clean air of Hampstead and enjoy the amenities of that beautiful area.

Unfortunately, during the period from 1965 to 1968, while the plans for development were being undertaken, it was discovered that there were many covenants on the use of the land that that these would necessarily delay development. Meantime, the old people's home was provided at a cost of about £35,000. Part of the land was used for the council's nursery. It was decided that there would not need to be a children's home. Eventually, the Conservatives took control of Camden Council. One of their first acts was to try to sell the Branch Hill Estate to private speculators. There was a tremendous campaign in the area to prevent this.

No suitable purchaser was forthcoming, despite great efforts on the part of the Conservatives. The land stood fallow for another three years, until 1971, when a Labour council was returned. Owing to the problem of the covenants, which had not been resolved by going to the Lands Tribunal in the intervening years, it was not possible to develop more than a small part of the site. At present, a small fraction of the site, about 1.65 acres, is being developed for housing. It is an expensive development. It would be possible to criticise the borough of Camden for the style of housing being developed there, but this is essential until the covenants on the land are cleared.

I want to draw attention not merely to the historic situation but to what has happened to the cost of the land in the meantime. I have already told the House that the land—10.3 acres in all—was purchased in 1965 for £464,000. The cost being charged to the housing account today in respect of the 1.65 acres is £1,025,000. That is an indication of the way to which our housing finance is being handled, so that we are able to get headlines in every newspaper and reports in the media about the profligacy of a council which bought five times as much land for approximately half as much money—and that to include a number of other facilities.

That position contrasts strangely with another current situation. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction has been pressed about cut-price housing, namely, the sale of council houses to tenants. He has said that he accepts that the house cost should be reduced by about 17 per cent. as long as it does not go below the historic cost of provision. Perhaps the Under-Secretary, in replying, will be able to reconcile these opposing points of view. If council houses are sold to tenants they may be sold at historic cost. When a council is charging rent to its tenants it has to do so on the basis of current market value. May I know how this equation is worked out? Can we reconsider the justice of the way in which we organise our housing finance?

8.15 p.m.

Mr. Toby Jessel (Twickenham)

The hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mrs. Miller) began her speech by saying that she was concerned about the housing shortage. I do not doubt the genuineness of her concern. The problem is that Labour Members will never face up to the long-term policies needed to relieve the housing shortage. Time and again I have heard them—this includes several Labour Members who are present tonight, such as the hon. Members for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) and Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Brown)—say that nothing must be done to remove any more industry from the London area but, on the contrary, industry must, as far as possible, be retained and even augmented

The more we do to retain and augment industry, and hence employment in London, the more the area will act as a magnet to those living outside it. It is inevitable, as night follows day, that if we promote employment in Greater London we shall never solve the terrible housing shortage from which London has suffered since the Second World War. The former London County Council recognised this and systematically worked to reduce the amount of industry and employment in London, largely with a reduction of the housing shortage in mind. Yet Labour Members now argue against this and advocate policies that will perpetuate the housing shortage.

I do not doubt the concern of Labour Members on social matters, but they will not face up, logically and honestly, to making a choice between two contrary policies.

Mr. Ronald Brown

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that what he is saying is only partially true? In my constituency many artisans have lost their jobs because industry has moved out of the area. We are asking not that people should be brought in but that there should be jobs for those who are there.

Mr. Jessel

If industry comes into the area, or remains in it, some of the jobs will be offered to people who are living there already, but others will be offered to those who are attracted from outside, who come to London speculatively and take up accommodation in the hope of finding work. It is not possible at the same time to seek to relieve the housing shortage and to encourage industry to remain in London for the sake of employment.

I support the Instruction. I have no wish to be wholly critical of the GLC. Much of what it has done is useful and valuable. I have especially in mind its work on flood prevention, for which many of my constituents are most grateful—both the local flood prevention works and the Thames Barrier, which is due to be completed in 1979 and which will at long last remove the growing danger to Londoners of flooding, with consequent risk to life because of the increasing likelihood of larger North Sea surges.

I wish to criticise the GLC on three scores. The first concerns its handling of the traffic problems on the A316, the Great Chertsey Road, following completion of the M3 Motorway into London. The GLC has improved three roundabouts along the A316, one at Hospital Bridge Road in my constituency and two at Richmond, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Surrey (Sir A. Royle). However, the GLC has left three other roundabouts unimproved. The result is that there are the most appalling traffic jams. Every day, thousands of my constituents and tens of thousands of other people who live elsewhere are held up for between 20 and 25 minutes by these jams at St. Margaret's roundabout, because the GLC has failed to improve the traffic-carrying capacity of that roundabout to match the newly completed M3 and its own short dual carriageway link from the end of the motorway at Sunbury Cross to the Hope and Anchor roundabout at Hanworth.

The failure to complete work on these roundabouts, coinciding with completion of the motorway, has resulted in a great deal of traffic spilling over into residential side roads in Whitton and Twickenham. For example, the inadequate capacity of the thresholds of the Whitton Road and London Road roundabouts has resulted in traffic spilling over into Redway Drive, in Whitton, and many other roads in that area. It is appalling that the GLC, by lack of forethought, has not prevented these problems from arising.

There is inordinate delay in dealing with planning applications and traffic management schemes at County Hall. They never take less than from six to eight months to be considered, and they usually take a year or 15 months. There is a vast bureaucratic machine, which fails to handle these matters with efficiency. The result is that London boroughs and the general public are kept waiting when they put these matters to County Hall.

In my constituency we have been waiting for three years for traffic lights to be installed at the junction of Hampton Hill High Street and the Uxbridge Road, Hampton Hill. We have been waiting as long for small roadworks costing £40,000 to take place at a dangerous bend on the Uxbridge Road. The GLC seems able to find between £7 million and £10 million for the link between the M3 and the A316, yet unable to find £40,000 to iron out a dangerous bend. These small roadworks have been put off year after year, but I hope that the work will commence next year. I hope that it is not to be further delayed because of cuts in public expenditure.

At the same time, there is thoroughly wasteful expenditure. I have in mind the magistrates' court at Richmond, where some of my constituents are tried for offences that they are alleged to have committed. There may be many people in such a position, but there are nothing like enough to justify the colossal white elephant that was constructed and opened with great ceremony a few months ago by the Lord Chancellor.

It is unbelievable that the GLC, which is responsible for magistrates' courts and which employs so many skilled architects—indeed, it is famous for its architects' department—should fail to allow for the fact that the new magistrates' court is directly underneath the flight path of the aircraft landing at London Airport. The GLC installed glass roofs without double glazing. It did so in an area in which there are about 600 aircraft movements per day. At times the aircraft noise is so great and so frequent that I am told by justices of the peace, criminals and barristers that the court works at only 50 per cent. efficiency. The building cost more than £1 million. It is a piece of unnecessary and extravagant incompetence. Labour Members need not wonder that I support the Instruction.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)

I was not quite clear about the point that the hon. Gentleman was making about the magistrates' court. Is he suggesting that the court should be removed, or is he asking for the removal of Heathrow Airport? Which of those things does he think is the fault of the GLC?

Mr. Jessel

The magistrates' court is the direct responsibility of the GLC. It built the court under the approach route to London Airport, used by the planes that overfly the constituency of the hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart). The court was built without adequate soundproofing, at a cost of about £1 million.

The siting of London Airport at Heathrow was due to the lack of forethought of a Labour Government about 25 years ago. In the late 1940s a Labour Government decided to site one of the greatest airports in the world close to the built-up area of London. The alignment of the runways meant that planes had to fly over built-up areas. People have been suffering from that because of the lack of forethought shown in the late 1940s. I should like to see the Maplin scheme reinstated, with all the noisiest planes made to go through Maplin and only the quiet planes permitted to go through Heathrow.

8.24 p.m.

Mr. Norman Tebbit (Chingford)

It will not come as any surprise to my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel) when I say that I disagree with him about airport policy. It may come as a bit more of a surprise to him and to the hon. Members for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) and Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Brown) when I say that I disagree with my hon. Friend's criticism of those hon. Members' views about jobs in London.

I take the same view as those two hon. Members. I believe that there is a serious job problem in London. There is the especially serious problem of manufacturing jobs and non-office jobs. The shortage of that sort of employment is causing growing problems and will cause severe problems before many years have elapsed. The situation is especially serious when there are no jobs of the sort that can be done by the non-academic stream of lads leaving school. There should be jobs for those people in London without their having to uproot themselves and move away to Peterborough or Milton Keynes, for example.

If I were a youngster leaving school in inner London, or in many other parts of London, I should deeply resent the long-standing policy of successive Governments gradually to force manufacturing industry out of London. If London is to remain a great city, and a decent city in which to live, somewhere along the line we must put a stop to the progress to which I have referred. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad that I carry with me Labour Members. I know that I do so, because I know that they see the problem as I do.

As much of what I say will be about housing, I should declare an interest. I am the Assistant Director of Information of the National Federation of Building Trades Employers. Some of what I have to say may not suit its book. Indeed, some of my comments will militate against the short-term interests of some builders. However, because I work for the federation for part of the time I do not have to stick all the time to what is necessarily good for it. My first concern is for my constituents and my second concern is for London. Indeed, London is my particular concern this evening.

Mr. Ernest G. Perry (Battersea, South)

Where is your halo, Norman?

Mr. Tebbit

I had to put it in hock. I am a bit hard up this week.

I am a fortunate Member of Parliament to represent a constituency such as Chingford. There is little substandard housing in the constituency. Although I shall criticise some aspects of the GLC, the largest GLC estate in my constituency, Friday Hill, is generally a very well-liked area. It is popular with its tenants. There are almost no vandalism problems. The houses are well cared for and the estate is a credit to all those who have anything to do with it. The worst housing problem in my constituency involves a large and more modern estate, built by the borough. However, that has nothing to do with this evening's proceedings.

It is wrong for Labour Members and for some of my hon. Friends to believe that only municipal ownership can provide the rented accommodation that is needed in our great cities.

The hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mrs. Miller) missed the point when she referred to the problems of unsold homes which would-be purchasers could not afford. She made two errors. First, she forgot that the remedy of municipalising such properties keeps the price above what it would otherwise be and therefore pushes the property out of the reach of more people. Possibly that will hurt some developers, who have been happy to get much better prices by selling to local authorities half-completed estates which they could not sell on the open market. We had such an example in my constituency. A developer paid too much for the land, and he built too expensively. I should have loved to see him suffer the proper penalty for his misjudgments, but unfortunately the local authority bailed him out; it got him out of trouble, which kept up the price of the houses beyond what it would otherwise have been. This is a marginal but real effect. Therefore, the hon. Lady was slightly wrong in that respect.

Secondly, the hon. Lady was wrong to assume that those houses had to be bought by the local authority or by the GLC in a municipalisation programme before they could be rented. Sooner or later, we shall be forced once again to concede that there is a case for privately rented housing. If we were to concede that property coming on to the market for the first time—new property, which has never been rented—could be derestricted, it would be of great assistance to builders, who could carry on building through troughs in demand knowing that their houses would not remain empty.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

They will not do it.

Mr. Tebbit

Of course they will not do it while there is a strong likelihood that, even if they were granted by a Conservative Government the legislation that is needed to promote it, it would be reversed subsequently and they would lose badly.

If we could get it out of our heads that there must be a polarisation and a total schism between the owner-occupier and the municipal tenant, and could consider the matter more flexibly in terms of different forms of tenure—100 per cent. equity-linked mortgages, and so on—we would do a great deal more to solve London's housing problems than by indulging in almost mindless municipalisation.

Tenants in London should be able to decide matters much more freely than they do. I am not talking about tenants who can afford expensive places such as Dolphin Square and the Barbican. I live in the Barbican, and many hon. Members live in Dolphin Square. We can make our decisions about how much we want to spend on housing. We can decide whether we want to spend the maximum and buy the maximum, or spend the minimum and buy the minimum. However, most tenants in London, who are council tenants, have no choice about what they will buy with their money. The transfer system does not work. Once they are in, they are stuck.

We know how many people plead with us at our advice bureaux because they cannot get a transfer. They have to account to clerks in offices in great detail about their family problems merely because they want to leave their parents or take a job on the other side of London. The machinery does not work.

What is more, such tenants cannot say "I am a bit better off. I should like somewhere nicer to live and to spend more of my money on it." If they have accommodation that is costing them more than they want to pay, they have difficulty in moving down market so that they can dispose of more of their income on something else. There is a restriction of choice, because there is no market.

Hon. Members on the Government Benches may say "You cannot have a market when there is a shortage." But until there is a market, there will be a shortage.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

The tenants of the GLC are much more mobile than other residents. Many transfers take place every day. It is easier for people to move from building to building if they are housed by the GLC than it is for them to go through the procedure of selling their houses and buying others.

Mr. Tebbit

The hon. Gentleman must deal with a different GLC from the one with which I deal, or his tenants must get different treatment from the treatment that mine receive. Some of his hon. Friends are nodding in agreement with me. We should try to deal in realities and not in imaginings.

The famous case of the £90,000 flats in Camden has been played up as being something quite extraordinary. It is quite extraordinary. None the less, it establishes that municipal housing is not cheap housing. It will not be economical housing. The subsidy on those flats will be huge, whoever owns them and whoever lives in them.

I agree that if we are to keep people in central London doing the more humble and lower-paid jobs that we need done in central London we shall have to subsidise their housing under any form of tenure conceivable in a mixed economy. However, I feel that paying that subsidy through the sort of organisations that the GLC is, is the least efficient way that we could devise of doing the job. I am sure that there are much more efficient ways of doing it and that they would be no less humane than the GLC. However hard the GLC tries to be humane, it is just too big.

A few weeks ago I had a letter from a junior official in the GLC's housing management department which came after some correspondence that I had had, sticking up for what I thought was a reasonable demand by a GLC tenant in my constituency for some work to be done in his house. Eventually, I received a very offhand letter from a junior official who told me that I had my priorities wrong and that the work was at much too low a priority to be carried out for some time. Of course, he put it slightly more gently than that, but not sufficiently so for me. His boss got a sharp letter back from me with the suggestion that he might have taken the trouble to write to a Member of Parliament in the way that Ministers, however busy they are and however much they think Members are mucking them about, still write back polite letters and sign them themselves—

Mr. Arthur Lewis (Newham, North-West)

Some Ministers do.

Mr. Tebbit

Most do, if not all.

Mr. Lewis

Not the Home Secretary.

Mr. Tebbit

I am feeling benevolent tonight, so I shall not argue with the hon. Gentleman.

Interestingly enough, it eventually emerged that at the time the junior official was writing to me saying that my priorities were wrong and that the work was at much too low a priority to be done, it had already been carried out, a few days before. That sort of inefficiency, which grows up in these large, highly bureaucratic organizations—certainly they are not customer-oriented or marketoriented—is a prime cause of the escalation of Government expenditure in recent years.

We would do well, on those grounds alone, to fire a warning shot across the bows of the GLC about municipalisation by clipping its wings to the tune of the couple of million pounds that we are discussing on this Instruction—to remind it to think, to remind it that this House and those hon. Members who represent Londoners will not indefinitely tolerate inefficiency and bureaucracy merely because it exists in the GLC.

If that was not a good enough reason for doing this, we had an even more pressing reason put to us in the newspapers yesterday. I say that because we were not invited to that less-than-cosy occasion when the Secretary of State saw fit to call together the leaders of Labour authorities to tell them not merely that the party was over but that he would not pick up the tab for any more drinks.

I think that we would be less than loyal and less than fair to a Secretary of State who is trying as hard as he can to hold back local government expenditure in the general public interest if we did not back this device of my hon. Friends and myself to clip that couple of million pounds off the housing vote, and clip the contingency allowance by half, to remind the GLC of its responsibility towards its citizens and the country at large.

8.42 p.m.

Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)

If the House were to accept the recommendations of the two Instructions we would be placing the GLC in a very difficult situation. I am bound to say, as is always the case with these debates, that I agree with very much of what hon. Gentlemen on the Opposite side have said on certain aspects of GLC administration. I certainly agree with the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) about the petty officials at all levels, who are getting more and more bumptious and insolent in the manner in which they deal with some of our correspondence. At times it is almost impossible to get any official in the higher or middle ranks in the London boroughs or the GLC, yet it takes only a few minutes to get hold of the Home Secretary or any other Cabinet Minister. This is becoming increasingly irritating, and on these points I can agree with all that has been said.

However, all these points have not really made a case for supporting these Instructions. If there is a demonstration, beyond peradventure, of the real quality of the Conservative case, it has been made by the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel). He scraped the bottom of the barrel by pleading for more justice for the criminal classes in his constituency. He said that they could not hear the charges read against them because of aircraft noise. I know that the hon. Member has waged a strong campaign against aircraft noise, and it seems that he has to involve everybody in that. This is proof that the Opposition case is scraping the barrel. At the same time the hon. Member argued that we could not ask for a reduction in unemployment because that would mean that London would be a magnet again, more people would come here, and then the housing situation would be even more serious than it is now.

Mr. Jessel

Is the hon. Member aware that my point was that hon. Members will have to choose between the two conflicting desirable ends? Which one does he choose?

Mr. Molloy

The hon. Member's submission is this: do I want a high degree of unemployment or do I want a high degree of housing problems? This is an absurd situation to put to a Socialist. It is a dilemma for a Tory, but quite absurd for me. As a Socialist I do not want either. I am trying to find ways and means of achieving a situation in which everyone in London has a decent job and a decent home. What is particularly pernicious about that? If the hon. Member argues that at all times there must be a degree of unemployment and homelessness he must then nominate who shall be without a home and who shall be without a job. That is the problem in Twickenham. In my constituency of Ealing, North the answer is simple. No one shall be without a job or without a home, so I do not have the hon. Member's problem.

It would by myopic to support both Instructions. I am committed to the creation of a Greater London plan. I believe that we could have achieved much more if we had had the old LCC and the destroyed for party political motives by the Conservatives. Those boroughs were 28 metropolitan boroughs which were small. I do not think that anyone in Fulham lived more than a twopenny bus ride, as it was then, from the old town hall. Now in the London borough of Ealing the people who live in Northolt have immense problems getting to the town hall, whereas those who live in Southall or Acton do not have such difficulties. When there were three town halls it was much easier for everyone. We can, therefore, blame the remoteness of local government on the Conservatives who tore up the old system.

Mr. Ronald Brown

My hon. Friend and I gave evidence at a public inquiry in 1962 in Lambeth Town Hall. Does he recall that we made then the very point that he is making now, but that we were overridden by the Conservative Government?

Mr. Molloy

Not merely was the evidence overridden, but arguments were produced to try to prove how wrong we were. Now, however, every time one of these GLC Bills is introduced the Conservatives put forward the same argument, but for a different reason. It would be only politically honest for the House tonight to pass an emergency motion condemning the Conservatives for their handling of this whole issue because the monster they created still remains.

The present administrators and the present leadership and, to a degree, the Conservative administration, have done their best to humanise our local government, but they face a tough job. We are concerned not merely with industry having been enticed under both Governments to leave Greater London. It is about time Governments realized—I hope the Labour Government will—that Greater London, though not officially a region, happens to be the home of one-fifth of the population of this country. Unemployment is a serious problem and it is growing. One can suffer anguish, pain and frustration by being a Greater Londoner just as much as one can in Liverpool, South Wales or Scotland. It is about time this was appreciated. I believe that Back Benchers on both sides of the House now realise this more than hon. Members who sit on the Front Benches.

Mr. John Hunt

I am, as the hon. Gentleman knows, only a temporary Front Bencher. Would he join with me in my call for a Minister for London specifically to deal with London's affairs?

Mr. Molloy

The answer to the last part of the question is "Yes". I certainly agree. As to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's remarks, I wish he remained on the Front Bench. I would go further and hope that all successive Conservative Shadow Ministers will always remain on the Opposition Front Bench.

My submission is a serious one. It is not merely a question of the growth of unemployment in Greater London. It is not only a question of industry moving out of Greater London as it has been encouraged to do under both Governments in a laudable endeavour to try to relieve the high unemployment which existed in the so-called regions. We must ensure that one does not simply transfer the problem and that, by trying to resolve the scourge of unemployment in one area, we simply create it in another. The danger is much more serious in Greater London. We can see what has happened in many of the Inner London boroughs and Outer London boroughs where industry has moved out.

Of course, one could argue that we should press for their return or the creation of new industries, but how does one do that when we are now seeing the mushrooming of warehouses on the sites where those factories existed? On sites which at one time employed 500 or 600 people, perhaps even 2,000, we are now seeing the construction of warehouses which employ half a dozen clerks and four or five forklift drivers. That is the problem we have to face when trying to resolve the problem of Greater London.

It has been inferred, and I agree, that this is bound to have an effect on the education of young Londoners. In my own constituency education, under both Tory and Labour local administrations, had, to a degree, been geared to the skilled artisans required for the industries of the London borough of Ealing. Some of them were very skilled, like glassblowers and people working in the glass container industry. Special courses were run for young people about to leave school, but now they have been disbanded. They are no longer required because there are no factories where glass containers are made both for this country and for export. This happens all over London.

Many of us, on both sides of the House, have pleaded with both Administrations to take cognisance of this fact. I think that we should all repeat it till we get an acknowledgment of the situation from the Government. We should not have to wait till we can say "Now you must do something because there is as much unemployment in Greater London as in any other part of Great Britain. That would be an absurd situation.

Mr. Tebbit

The GLC could help far more in the provision of small, low-cost sites for small firms out of which, one hopes, larger firms will grow in due course. Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that, as redevelopment goes on on a vast scale across London, it becomes more and more difficult for the small chap to start a small firm?

Mr. Molloy

I have a great deal of sympathy with that submission. I believe that we should resort to an idea which I put some time ago and have repeated several times. There should be a Greater London plan, involving representatives of the trade unions, the employers, industrialists and the London boroughs, brought together by the GLC.

I believe that the GLC should take over sites, as the old London County Council used to do. It could arrange them properly, with sensible planning. One has to be careful where one is putting a factory or a warehouse because one must have consideration for people living nearby. That was, indeed, the policy of the LCC, but it seems to have been forgotten. I believe that the GLC could show the Government an example of Greater London planning and achieve the sort of objective that the hon. Member for Chingford and I want in purchasing small or large sites. The ramifications would be enormous. For example, such a scheme would help refurbish artisan training in the schools in London. But I remind the hon. Gentleman that it cannot be done if the House passes this Instruction, because the money will not be there.

There have throughout history been calls for reductions in public expenditure, but how often have we Known an increase in expenditure as the only way to relieve the scourge and misery of unemployment. The only remedy has been to increase rather than to curtail public expenditure. We saw that process succeeding under Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States, and there have been other examples in Europe. The paradox is that if there had not been mass unemployment in Britain before the war many of the schools, town halls and roads which were constructed to help relieve it would not have been built. What would have happened in 1940 if there had been demands for great reductions in public expenditure? Let us all be wary of what we are told by all these brilliant economists who advise us. I am justified in drawing the conclusion that if all the economists in the world were placed end to end they would never reach a conclusion.

Mr. Ronald Brown

Would my hon. Friend bear in mind that the Government have made some concession to the pressure which he and I and others have put on them, in that, from 1st May, the IDC figure has been increased from 10,000 to 12,500? That is a major step forward.

Mr. Molloy

I agree, but my hon. Friend will also acknowledge that it was not offered: we had to fight for it. That is what hurts me. If we had been one of the great regions we would have been summoned to be told of this wonderful new proposal by the Government. We would not have needed to fight for it. We had to fight to get our case heard, and we then gained some of the welcome concessions mentioned by my hon. Friend.

I cannot agree that public housing is the terribly wicked thing which it is made out to be. I should like to make one point which I ask hon. Members on both sides of the House to consider. What would be the position in Greater London today if all the London boroughs and the GLC had not got involved in building homes for ordinary people? The revolution would have taken place years ago.

It is amazing that, when we talk of cuts in public expenditure, people both inside and outside this House will submit that we can cut everything except education, housing, defence, new roads and so on. Everybody has a special feeling for some subject—whether it be edu- cation or housing—which in no circumstances should be cut.

We cannot operate like that. It would not make sense. We must have priorities. The provision of housing by local authorities, and particularly by the GLC, is a major feature in bringing about contentment for ordinary people in Greater London. I repeat, what if the London boroughs and the GLC had never built houses? I think that hon. Gentlemen opposite acknowledge that there may be things wrong with the administration of some aspects of GLC housing, but we have never heard an outright condemnation of the principle of public housing. Without public housing the story of Greater London would be very sad, because literally millions of people would not have homes.

Mr. Ronald Brown

My hon. Friend may recall that public housing came into being only at the turn of the century. George Peabody came from America to build homes for the working class of this country because he was so horrified at the situation under private enterprise. The Suttons, the Guinnesses and the Rowntrees were motivated because Tory Governments of those times refused to accept that there was any necessity to house the people of this country.

Mr. Molloy

My hon. Friend is saying that the people he mentioned found repugnant the attitude of private opulence and public squalor.

Mr. Ronald Brown


Mr. Molloy

The people mentioned by my hon. Friend wanted to do something about it. We have decided to maintain that principle by trying to eradicate private opulence and public squalor. We have moved a great way towards that aim in the past quarter of a century, but the problem has not yet been resolved.

With the best will in the world, we cannot leave it to private entrepreneurs to build houses. There are many people in the private sector whose firms and industries build schools, roads and public housing. They are not with the Conservative Party in wanting to reduce public expenditure in those areas. Many well-known firms shudder at the thought of a Tory Government in power. Dramatic cuts in public expenditure on education worries those who print books, make pencils and build schools. Other dramatic cuts would cause worry to people who build houses, from the carpenter and bricklayer up to the director.

The Conservatives must not think that we all believe that the answer to our ills is to stop doing anything in the public sector. We have to maintain the principle of providing homes. We must not think that because the nation is going through a difficult period everything should stop. We have never adopted that attitude.

One of the most audacious debates in the House of Commons was in 1943 when we discussed what form education should take when the war was over. That debate resulted in the Education Act 1944. Our enemies thought that we were a bunch of lunatics to be discussing education at such a parlous time. Let us say that we shall continue to build homes as best we can, and that we shall continue to maintain a high standard of education.

If the GLC is faced with more difficulties in the future it will have to have the right to spend more money. I understand the problem which the GLC faces. It has to make precepts on local authorities, and they in turn have to impose a rate burden on the ratepayers. That is the system. I think we all agree that there is an urgent need to do something about the rating system.

Because times are difficult, we must not abandon the principle of continuing great public works. Despite its many problems, the GLC has done a remarkable job in Greater London.

Mr. Arnold Shaw (Ilford, South)

Does not my hon. Friend agree that the Government are with the GLC in promoting housing in London and urge the GLC to build houses? A question that has been much in the air lately is local democracy. The Opposition have criticised the Government for attacking local democracy, but does my hon. Friend agree that tonight the Opposition are attacking local democracy by denying the GLC the power to build houses?

Mr. Molloy

There is a great deal in what my hon. Friend says. Far too often we fall into the trap of criticising the GLC and the London boroughs for the manner in which they operate within the terms of reference of an Act of Parliament. That is grossly unfair.

The GLC has shown courage in continuing to build. The day will come when our economic circumstances improve and the country will be back on its feet. The Government have achieved great success, particularly in industrial relations. We surely have enough confidence in the administration of the GLC to say that we appreciate its difficulties, we acknowledge its money problems and we shall have no part in adding to those difficulties by supporting these Instructions.

9.9 p.m.

Mr. Michael Stewart

The House is being asked by these Instructions to reduce the provision that the GLC should be able to make to provide for the housing needs of its citizens. The first reason for such a suggestion advanced from the Opposition Front Bench is that housing needs could be met if only private landlords were not interfered with by Rent Restrictions Acts and by making provision for the security of tenants. It is extraordinary how people can go on believing that year after year in face of all the evidence to the contrary.

The Rent Act 1974 has been blamed. I think there were some Divisions on the amendments to the 1974 Act, but I do not recollect anybody voting against the Second Reading or Third Reading of the Bill. Opposition Members knew, whatever their theories about rents and private enterprise, that in our position it was essential to provide security of tenure.

We are told that since that Act was passed there have been fewer advertisements of furnished property in the newspapers. What did so many of those advertisements mean? They meant that tenants had been pushed out of their property. The advertisements did not reflect the amount of accommodation. They reflected the frequency with which tenants came in and were bundled out again.

Before that, the Rent Act 1957 was heralded with the argument "We shall get rid of rent control, and there will be plenty of housing for all." After that had produced the evils of Rachmanism, the Government who introduced it had slowly to retreat. There seems to be a belief in some quarters that somewhere or some day there either was or will be a real market in housing, that housing was provided at rents that people could afford and that they had plenty of choice of the kind of house they should have and where they should live. That sort of situation never has existed and there is not the slightest evidence to suggest that it will. The supply of private rented accommodation, as has been pointed out more than once in the House, has steadily declined over the years, whether the trend of legislation has been towards greater or less rent control.

There is, therefore, no point in suggesting that the GLC does not need these powers and this money because if only all the Rent Restrictions Acts were scrapped the problem would solve itself. That has been tried before and it has failed. It is not only a stupid experiment. It can be a very cruel experiment in view of the effect it has on tenants while the experiment is carried through.

The second suggestion why we should agree to these Instructions is that even if we have to have houses provided by a public authority it should not be done by the GLC. The hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) said that the GLC is too large and remote. But who created this monster? My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) has given the answer. We all know the history of this matter. The old London County Council was an authority of admirable size and it did a very good job for housing. It was destroyed because the Conservative Party was unable to win a majority on it. Now that the Conservatives find it difficult to win a majority on the Greater London Council, they want to destroy that.

If we could wave a wand and go back to the LCC and the old boroughs, I would rejoice. We all know what a fearful thing any attempt to do that by legislation would be for the officials. We really cannot carve up London government again once every few years to meet the electoral needs of the Tory Party. Therefore we have got to accept the GLC, at any rate for some time.

Mr. Tebbit

I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is being altogether fair. I think he will agree that it is very likely that whichever Government had been in power we would have found the impetus towards the GLC overwhelming. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members say "No", but our experience is that it would have been. Our experience is that we ought to reform the GLC at least to make it a strategic planning authority—we need a strategic planning authority—but to get it out of the business of trying to be a council in the conventional sense.

Mr. Stewart

There is no evidence for supposing that everybody was enamoured of the idea of the GLC. The case was fully argued in the House, and I am certain that if the matter had rested with us we would never have done anything so silly. Clearly, there is an unanswerable case for the existence in London of something larger than the London boroughs. There is a case for the LCC, and there are certain functions that could only be properly performed by an authority larger than the London boroughs.

The hon. Gentleman made a helpful proposal on how to promote small industrial enterprises in London, but one would need something larger than a borough organisation to do that. The same is true of certain aspects of housing. London is so compact that people frequently want to move from one borough to another. There are also the special problems of a capital. Many students come here from abroad. The country is proud that people come here to study, and in the long run it is of great advantage to have people all over the world who obtained their further education here.

Several other problems, including housing, require something larger than a borough to solve them. The Opposition suggest that the problem could be solved by agreement between the boroughs through the London Boroughs Association. Having all the boroughs sitting together in conclave trying to sort out the need for transfers and the possibilities of each borough would be more difficult than going to the London authority whether it he the size of the old LCC or the present GLC.

The issue of the debate revolves round the present housing powers.

Mr. Ronald Brown

I am in sympathy with the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart). The London Boroughs Association arranged for a London housing office to enable the 32 boroughs to come together. The problem was that boroughs such as Bromley, among others, remained intransigent about taking their share of the burden. As a result, the GLC cannot build in that area. Bromley is operating on a silly, low-density concept of building. Even the GLC is not big enough to build in the area unless the Government allow it to do so.

Mr. Stewart

I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Brown) did not think I was speaking contemptuously of the London Boroughs Association. It is a valuable organisation, but it is only a conference, not an authority in the full sense of the word. Authority is needed. There is no dodging that.

It is a fallacy to say that the problem will be solved by allowing private enterprise to charge what rents it likes, and it does not lie in the mouths of those who created the GLC to say that the GLC is not the body to solve the problem.

I now turn to the problem of population and industry in London. I was among those who urged that action should be taken to ensure that the population of Greater London was reduced and that industry be sent elsewhere—or that the continued multiplication of industry and more commercial jobs should be stopped. I am sure that that was right.

Before the war, the area which now comprises my constituency had twice as many people living in it as it has now. One wonders how those people managed, but one realises that people's standards were then much lower and that they simply put up with conditions. It was understood that when one got married one must live with one's in-laws, perhaps indefinitely.

It was essential, if London's housing and traffic problems were to be brought anywhere near to being under control, that the total population of the area should be reduced. If everything had gone smoothly, as it never does in this world, the number of jobs available in London and the population seeking them would have declined evenly over the years. But it would defy the wit of any planner to get that to happen. The decline in jobs, particularly industrial jobs, has been running faster than the movement of population, and we have the general difficulty about employment that is affecting the country as a whole.

The remedy is not to take action to try to sweep more and more people back into London. I should welcome anything, whether on the lines suggested by the hon. Member for Chingford or anything else, that would secure more industrial employment in London. However, where are the people doing the less-well-paid jobs to live? The policy of the Conservatives in my constituency is simple. Their attitude is "If we can help it, they will not live round here". That was the object of the agitation over the St. Paul's School site mentioned by the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross).

Mr. Stephen Ross

I have written the right hon. Gentleman a note, because I had not intended to raise that matter until a quarter of an hour before the debate started. I apologise to him because I was probably discourteous. It is not just people living in the area who are concerned. About 200 teachers have petitioned the Secretary of State against the ILEA development at Hammersmith. They are not against housing but are against a development they do not believe in.

Mr. Stewart

I have received numerous petitions, not only from teachers but from other people interested in education of all kinds, including adult and adolescent, who note the need for that college and the desperately inadequate premises in which it is now working.

But that is by the way. I was emphasising that all too often it is the policy of London Conservatives to try to push people doing the less-well-paid jobs out of what the estate agents will call the nice areas. The only way to prevent that kind of development, with all the social evils that it involves, is for there to be an effective element of public housing in London. That is what we are discussing. That is why the House should resist these Instructions.

9.23 p.m.

Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)

I must first apologise for not having been here at the beginning of the debate. I felt it my duty to support an old parliamentary colleague, the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson), who was being installed in a new position in a scene of brilliant pageantry and national grandeur. I felt that it was a parliamentary gesture to do that. Except for a few peers, I did not see many Labour Members standing shoulder to shoulder with their old leader on this occasion of pomp and ceremony, which perhaps they felt might be embarrassing for them, in view of the egalitarian stand that he has always taken.

However, occasionally it is appropriate to make a speech untrammelled by having listened to arguments from either Front Bench. It gives a certain freshness, naivety and insouciance to one's remarks, and saves the embarrassment of using an argument of which neither Front Bench has heard.

Mr. John Hunt

We have so far had arguments from only one Front Bench. We are still awaiting with great anticipation the argument from the other.

Mr. Page

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Ravensbourne (Mr. Hunt) for making the situation clear. Fortunately, I shall be able to place the final straw in the balance, which will persuade the Government spokesman to accept the sensible view that I am sure was put forward by my hon. Friend.

I wish to put forward four important but not particularly intellectual reasons for supporting the Instruction in respect of Part I of the schedule. First, I oppose the spending of this large sum of money, because surely the under-occupation of much of the GLC-owned municipal housing could be solved immediately by a shuffling round of the occupants. I do not believe enough effort has been made by the GLC to persuade those who occupy three or four bedroom flats to move to smaller accommodation and to allow those who live in overcrowded conditions to move into the larger units.

Secondly, I believe that the time has come for many of the GLC houses to be sold off. In this way the funds in the GLC exchequer can be increased. It is also a way of giving those who have lived in council accommodation for a long time the opportunity to own their own houses and therefore to make this vast new expenditure requirement unnecessary.

My third reason for opposing the provision in the Bill is that I believe, as do many others, that the building that has been carried out by the GLC, and by its predecessor, the LCC has been on the wrong lines. For the past 25 years I have been a member of the Bethnal Green East London Housing Association. We have insisted on trying to retain single-storey dwelling houses, even though we have modernised and improved them. I do not think that we have pulled down any single-storey dwelling when it has been necessary to build flats, and only in one or two cases have those new units of accommodation been more than two storeys high. I believe that the London tower block has been a social disaster.

Mrs. Lena Jeger (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will agree that tower blocks have been built in places other than London and that they have not been very acceptable in those other areas, either.

Mr. Page

I am grateful to the hon. Lady. I am, however, desperately trying to keep within the rules of order. I do not want to stray and receive a rebuke. The serious thing is that the experts—the architects—have perpetrated these monstrosities all over. Even now, one sees in parts of Hackney some of the old squares that have been partly demolished. This is tragic when one thinks of what lovely homes could have existed there.

I have received an amazing amount of ecumenical support for what I have said. I wonder whether my last point will be similarly received. The extra money that we are discussing should not be spent on housing until the Government accept the view that for that present, and for the next three to five years, no further immigration for settlement from any source should be allowed. Thus, we would be reducing the demand for homes—and if the demand is reduced the amount of money set out here will not be required. The right hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish), now that he has hung his whip in the hall and put on the poacher's uniform again, was very wise, and was speaking for many people all over Lon-London, when he said recently "Enough is enough." Let us accept the Instruction and by doing so demonstrate that we believe that enough is enough.

9.32 p.m.

Mr. William Shelton (Streatham)

We have had a wide-ranging debate on the two Instructions tabled by my colleagues and I. What a difficulty we London Members find ourselves in when we have to use pretexts such as this to debate our capital city. I hope that the Under-Secretary will convey that remark to his right hon. and hon. Friends. More time for debating the affairs of London would be most acceptable to all those present this evening. There are two Instructions, the second of which has received very short shrift from the House. It was referred to by practically no one. I can only deduce that there is general acceptance for the proposition put forward in it, although I agree that the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) said that its acceptance would create a difficult situation.

We are suggesting in that Instruction that the contingency reserves should be reduced from £600 million to £300 million, for the good reason that never in the past, to the best of my knowledge, has more than £15½ million been spent out of the contingency reserve. We would not have thought that this would create great hardship. The matter was not dwelt on by anyone who spoke, although the Under-Secretary may wish to give us his views upon it.

Most of the discussion—when it related to the Instructions—dealt with the first Instruction, which concerns municipalisation, which Labour Members know we do not very much like. It was suggested by the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. Stewart) that we had more or less advocated an end to public housing. We have done no such thing. We are advocating striking a balance. We believe that the GLC has gone much too far in one direction. We believe that the GLC should be a strategic planning authority. That is why I was extremely interested in an interjection by the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Cartwright). I believe he said that in housing matters the GLC should be strategic and not management. I am pleased to see that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Jeger) and some of her hon. Friends nod in agreement. We believe that the original intention that management should be undertaken by the boroughs is devoutly to be wished.

Mr. Cartwright

I was trying to indicate that the aim of the discussions on the strategic housing plan is that there should be a clear differentiation and a clear understanding between the GLC and the boroughs as to who does what.

Mr. Shelton

No doubt if the hon. Gentleman catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, he will have a chance to elaborate.

It is with some surprise that we must question whether it is the intention of the members and officers of the GLC that the council should wither away in housing management terms. That is especially so when I hear from my hon. Friend the Member for Ravensbourne (Mr. Hunt) that it has acquired about 6,000 new houses in recent years and is proposing to acquire more should the Money Bill go through unamended.

The right hon. Member for Fulham spoke of the GLC as a monster. His reason for doing nothing about the monster seemed to be that it was created by Conservatives. It has always seemed to me that one of the least acceptable arguments is to say that something was done by someone else and that therefore one need not do anything about it.

Mr. Michael Stewart

That is not the reason I gave. I said that we cannot carve up local government authorities every so often because the present set-up does not suit the Conservatives electorally. Is the hon. Gentleman prepared to say that it is now Conservative policy to rearrange the government of London?

Mr. Shelton

The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that it always has been and always will be the policy under local government legislation that the GLC should be a strategic planning authority and not involved in housing management. I think he will agree with that.

Mr. Michael Stewart

That is hardly an answer to my question.

Mr. Shelton

I continue to refer to the problem of municipalisation—[Interruption.] Does the Minister wish to intervene?

The Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr. Reginald Freeson)

If the hon. Gentleman reads the Act that his predecessors passed, he will find that it suggests no such thing as he has been putting to the House.

Mr. Shelton

If the Minister is suggesting that the GLC is not a strategic planning authority, perhaps at some other time he will tell us what he believes it to be.

I continue with the problem of municipalisation relating to the second Instruction. Is the House aware of the level of home ownership in London a couple of years ago? These are the latest figures in my possession. London came ninth in a list of 11 regions. Only 46 per cent. of homes in London were privately owned. The London figure headed only Scotland and the Northern Region. Of the areas surrounding London, there was 61 per cent. home ownership in the South-West and 60 per cent. in the South-East. That gives some force to our disinclination to see increasing municipalisation in the capital. We should very much prefer to see an increase in home ownership.

I now turn to some of the remarks made by my hon. Friends the Members for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) and Ravens-bourne. My hon. Friends discussed the inefficiency and the bureaucracy of the Greater London Council. I have always found its officers courteous and helpful, but it cannot be claimed that it is always an outstandingly good landlord. My hon. Friend the Member for Ravens-bourne mentioned the situation at the Cardigan Estate, Enfield and I refer to the situation at Mulberry Close, Chelsea, SW3, which was acquired by the GLC in 1975. A covenant exists between the landlords, the freeholders and the GLC. Many of those living in Mulberry Close have a leasehold. The covenant entails certain legal obligations, which I am advised the GLC is not proposing to honour, or at least at present is not honouring.

I understand that the same situation is occurring at the Hereford House Estate, Chelsea. Not long ago the estate was acquired by the GLC. It is difficult to believe that the GLC is ignoring its legal obligations, but such is the information that I have been given.

The hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mrs. Miller) spoke of the problem of empty properties. The House must agree with what she said. The right hon. Member for Fulham spoke of homelessness. One of the most bitter sights for the homeless must be empty properties.

I cannot avoid the thought that the continuing large numbers of empty properties owned by the GLC and by local councils, such as Lambeth, must be due to the inability of the housing officers to cope with those large numbers. I propose to read an excerpt from a letter from the GLC—I shall not say from which officer—in answer to a query that I raised about a GLC property that had been empty for some time. He confirmed that the house had been converted into two flats and was purchased by the GLC in 1975. Various work was carried out and the house had been handed to the GLC for letting late in 1975. He said that in this regard notification that the property was ready for letting went astray…and it was not until the flooding was reported … that we realised that the house had not been let". He went on: Perhaps I should conclude by saying that this 'losing' of a property is one of our nightmares and something which we spend a good deal of time over to try and prevent". When the GLC discovered that it had the house, it was repaired. In the flood, water had poured into the street and neighbours had said "Who owns this house?" I wonder how many other houses have been "lost" by the GLC. That is a sobering thought, which may explain a few of the empty properties in London.

Mrs. Millie Miller

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's point about the lack of local authority care in these matters, but it is more than paralleled in the vast numbers of privately rented properties that stand empty for years, with nobody being aware of the floods going on in them and nobody doing anything about them. What the hon. Gentleman says about the letter from the GLC official is indicative of the nightmarish situation which the officials foresee. They care enough to be concerned that they should not "lose" properties when dealing with such vast numbers.

Mr. Shelton

The hon. Lady is right. I am not saying that the officers do not care; of course they care. It is a nightmarish situation. The hon. Lady is supporting my point. The GLC owns so many properties that the problem has become a nightmare for it. Is it for the House to persuade the GLC to own more properties?

I wish to say a few words about the cost of municipalisation. Mr. Richard Balfe said, after the famous meeting yesterday, to which the Conservative leaders were not invited—perhaps, unlike their Labour colleagues, they are not overspending—that the GLC was overspending by only 1 one per cent. He went on to mention an over-spending of £15 million.

The net average GLC rent is £5.50 a week. If this had been tied to the London earnings index since 1973, it would now be £7.30—an increase of 30 per cent., more or less equivalent to a penny rate. If GLC rents had increased according to the earnings index, we could perhaps be charging the ratepayer a penny less. This is a sobering thought if we are proposing to increase rather than reduce its stock of houses. I shall not go into the argument about the comparative prosperity of the GLC tenant and the comparative prosperity of the tenant in privately rented accommodation, but most hon. Members will acknowledge that there is no longer much difference between them. It is not impossible that the family of the private tenant has a smaller income than that of the GLC tenant.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ravensbourne quoted the remark of Mr. Tony Banks, the Chairman of the GLC General Purposes Committee, that the council had cut its spending to the bone. He went on: We are prepared to look again, but the fact is that we are down to the bone, and when you take away the bone, everything else collapses. After this debate, the word "nerve" might be more in keeping when it is suggested that the GLC is down to the bone.

We have before us two Instructions, the first of which reduces contingency reserves by £30 million—

Mr. Molloy

There is no support for the hon. Gentleman's argument.

Mr. Shelton

I was waiting for some argument in rebuttal, but none was forthcoming. The second Instruction is to reduce the estimate permitted for municipalisation. I urge the House to support both Instructions.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Mr. Cartwright.

Mr. Cartwright


Mr. John Hunt

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not unprecedented, in a debate on a major Bill of this kind, for the Minister to remain silent? Especially in view of the speech yesterday from the Secretary of State, ought not we to have the benefit of a ministerial view about the cutting of public expenditure that these Instructions would implement?

Mr. Speaker

It is not a matter for me who seeks to catch my eye.

9.46 p.m.

Mr. Cartwright

As the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Shelton) said, this debate has gone somewhat wide of the Instructions in some of the issues which have been raised. I make no complaint, because they are genuine London issues which should be debated in this House. However, it was unfortunate that immigration should have been dragged in right at the end of the debate.

I turn first to the contingency provision. The Instruction was moved very beguilingly by the hon. Member for Ravensbourne (Mr Hunt), although it is a somewhat novel Conservative financial concept not to make sensible provision for the unexpected. It seems to be suggested that this is an unusually large provision for contingencies. However, I notice that the figure proposed in the Bill is the same as that proposed in last year's Bill. It compares with a figure of £52 million in 1974–75. If we go back to much less inflationary days, in 1967–68 it was £22 million. In proportion, £64 million in this Bill is nothing out of the way.

Mr. John Hunt

Do not the figures which the hon. Gentleman is quoting indicate that the pattern shows that over the years the contingency allocation has been consistently too high? He referred to the year 1974–75, in which £52 million was sought whereas only £14.4 million was spent. Taking the record of those years, does not the hon. Gentleman agree that this year's request is excessive?

Mr. Cartwright

The hon. Gentleman interrupted me a little too soon. I was about to underline the reasons given by the GLC for this level of provision. However, before doing that it is reasonable to make a point which has not come out in any reference so far to the contingency provision. It is that it it not the case that, if we vote this sum to the GLC, it can spend it happily at any time. It is subject to Treasury approval. Therefore, there is a very substantial safeguard for that provision.

Perhaps I might refer to the reasons given by the GLC for requiring a contingency provision at this level. It points out that the figures of expenditure in Part I of the Bill are prepared broadly on November 1975 price levels. It goes on to say that subsequently higher expenditure imposed by inflation could have an impact. Even, for example, when inflation operates at the rate of 7 per cent., the sum needed to cover that inflation would form a very substantial part of the contingency provision.

Secondly, if there are changes in Government policy to stimulate demand, to get the building industry moving, for example, as the upturn in the economy occurs, the only way in which the GLC can take advantage of that is by drawing on the contingency provision. Thirdly, any stimulation of the house purchase scheme would again have to come from the contingency provision, and I am advised that even a 10 per cent. increase would involve, over a 12-month period, an additional £8 million to be drawn from the contingency sums.

There is also a technical problem about the possible need to treat the sum of £20 million of revenue expenditure for capital purposes. If that were to occur—there is a real risk of it—and if the Instruction were carried, it would leave the GLC with only £10 million for any other problems which might arise. I do not suggest that it would be quite impossible for the GLC to operate if the Instruction were carried, but the GLC's financial advisers, who are sober people and like all local council treasurers, not given to wild exaggeration, take the view that it would be very difficult and that there would be a number of worries involved if the contingency provision were halved as the Instruction suggests.

On the housing question, the hon. Member for Ravensbourne said that municipalisation itself did not add one new home to the housing stock. If one talks about homes in terms of bricks and mortar, clearly it does not add an additional house or flat. On the other hand, municipalisation enables us and gives us the opportunity to use the existing housing stock to better advantage. All of us have in our constituencies tenants in private rented accommodation who say that their present houses or flats are too big for their needs. However, they point out that, unfortunately, there is no way in which they local authority can house them because they are not in housing need in the accepted sense. There are also many other who are in accommodation which is not suitable, but because they are tenants of private landlords and are not in desperate need there is no way in which the local authority can house the

Mr. John Page

Over-occupation and under-occupation are considerable problems, and the GLC housing authority is the worst in the world in this respect. Therefore, to give it a greater housing stock would merely be to give it more houses for its housing managers to make a mess of.

Mr. Cartwright

I was coming to that point later, but as it has been raised now I shall deal with it now. I accept, and all of us on this side accept, that the GLC is not the easiest organisation in the world out of which to extract a transfer. In my view, this is an argument for devolving powers of management to the borough councils rather than the GLC.

Nevertheless, I do not understand how the ability of tenants to move flexibly and freely from one accommodation to another is improved by maintaining a privately-rented system. Some local authorities, having purchased properties for municipalisation, keep those properties empty for too long. None of us on this side of the House would defend that. Local councils in London understand that problem and are making strenuous efforts to ensure that they do not keep property standing empty.

The hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) argued the need for differing forms of ownership. I accept that completely, but I challenge whether differing forms of ownership should include a retreat back to private landlordism. What we want to see is the development of housing co-operatives of all sorts to give tenants a greater stake in their own homes. If we had more experiments in turning over to tenants the responsibility for managing their own properties as housing co-operatives this would give tremendous scope and opportunity for development. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction for what he has done in this respect.

Mr. Molloy

Does my hon. Friend agree that, although municipal and GLC housing has its faults, some of the housing estates stand where some of the vilest slums in history existed before? Although there is a chance for this sort of co-operative to operate on the new estates, one could hardly expect such a co-operative to have been formed in those former days among slum dwellers to take care of the filth in which they lived.

Mr. Cartwright

I accept that the problems of urban renewal in many of our cities could not be, and never have been, tackled by private enterprise. The job has always been left to the municipal authorities.

Nevertheless, many of us are worried about the "them and us" relationship which is developing between some tenants and some housing departments. The cooperative approach is one way of trying to bridge that gap. One aspect singled out for attack by the Conservatives was the acquisition by the GLC of properties

under construction. The £13 million provided under this heading will enable the council to provide some 900 new homes outside the London area, many of them under the scheme allocating seaside and country homes for elderly tenants. There are 5,000 people on the waiting list for this scheme, and they are occupying family houses which could be put to better use. The scheme therefore offers a substantial gain both in housing and in social terms.

Some hon. Members have sought to attack what they regard as unlimited GLC spending, but it should be remembered that there are substantial reductions in this Money Bill compared with that of last year. For example, spending on education is down by £3.5 million compared with last year, which hardly bears out the statement by the hon. Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Baker) that ILEA spending is totally out of control. Spending on roads is down by £9.5 million and on planning schemes it is down by £2.5 million. There are substantial reductions under the various headings for the GLC housing programme. All this underlines the point made by many of my hon. Friends that the GLC is playing its part in holding down local government spending to a reasonable level.

Perhaps I may recall just one figure which I quoted on Second Reading of a £53 million saving over the 18-month period under this Bill as compared with the 18 months of the previous Money Bill. That is a substantial contribution by the GLC to holding down spending and attacking inflation. For those reasons, I hope that the House will reject both Instructions.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 243, Noes 277.

Division No 178.] AYES [9.58 p.m.
Adley, Robert Biffen, John Budgen, Nick
Aitken, Jonathan Biggs-Davison, John Bulmer, Esmond
Alison, Michael Body, Richard Burden, F. A.
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Boscawen, Hon Robert Butler, Adam (Bosworth)
Arnold, Tom Bottomley, Peter Carlisle, Mark
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Chalker, Mrs Lynda
Awdry, Daniel Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Channon, Paul
Baker, Kenneth Braine, Sir Bernard Churchill, W. S.
Banks, Robert Brittan, Leon Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)
Beith, A. J. Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Clark, William (Croydon S)
Bell, Ronald Brotherton, Michael Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Clegg, Walter
Benyon, W. Buchanan-Smith, Alick Cockcroft, John
Berry, Hon Anthony Buck, Antony Cooke. Robert (Bristol W)
Cope, John Jessel, Toby Price, David (Eastleigh)
Cordle, John H. Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Prior, Rt Hon James
Cormack, Patrick Jones, Arthur (Deventry) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Corrie, John Jopling, Michael Raison, Timothy
Costain, A. P. Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Rathbone, Tim
Crouch, David Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Kimball, Marcus Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) King, Tom (Bridgwater) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Kitson, Sir Timorthy Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Knox, David Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Drayson, Burnaby Lamont, Norman Ridley, Hon Nicholas
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Lane, David Ridsdale, Julian
Durant, Tony Langford-Holt, Sir John Rifkind, Malcolm
Dykes, Hugh Latham, Michael (Melton) Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Lawrence, Ivan Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Lawson, Nigel Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Emery, Peter Le Marchant, Spencer Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Eyre, Reginald Lester, Jim (Beeston) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Fairgrieve, Russell Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Farr, John Lloyd, Ian Royle, Sir Anthony
Fell, Anthony Loveridge, John Scott, Nicholas
Fisher, Sir Nigel Luce, Richard Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) McCrindle, Robert Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Macfarlane, Neil Shelton, William (Streatham)
Fookes, Miss Janet MacGregor, John Shepherd, Colin
Forman, Nigel Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Silvester, Fred
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Sims, Roger
Fox, Marcus McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Sinclair, Sir George
Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) Madel, David Skeet, T. H. H.
Freud, Clement Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Fry, Peter Marten, Neil Speed, Keith
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Mates, Michael Spence, John
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Mather, Carol Sproat, Iain
Glyn, Dr. Alan Maude, Angus Stanbrook, Ivor
Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald Stanley, John
Goodhew, Victor Mawby, Ray Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Goodlad, Alastair Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Gorst, John Mayhew, Patrick Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Meyer, Sir Anthony Stradling, Thomas J.
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Tapsell, Peter
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Mills, Peter Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Gray, Hamish Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Griffiths, Eldon Moate, Roger Tebbit, Norman
Grist, Ian Monro, Hector Temple-Morris, Peter
Grylls, Michael Moore, John (Croydon C) Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Hall, Sir John More, Jasper (Ludlow) Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Morgan, Geraint Townsend, Cyril D.
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral Trotter, Neville
Hampson, Dr Keith Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Tugendhat, Christopher
Hannam, John Morrison, Charles (Devizes) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Hastings, Stephen Mudd, David Viggers, Peter
Havers, Sir Michael Neave, Airey Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Hayhoe, Barney Neubert, Michael Wakeham, John
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Newton, Tony Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Heseltine, Michael Normanton, Tom Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Hicks, Robert Nott, John Wall, Patrick
Higgins, Terence L. Onslow, Cranley Walters, Dennis
Holland, Philip Oppenheim, Mrs Sally Weatherill, Bernard
Hordern, Peter Osborn, John Wells, John
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Page, John (Harrow West) Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Wiggin, Jerry
Hunt, David (Wirral) Parkinson, Cecil Winterton, Nicholas
Hunt, John Pattie, Geoffrey Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Hurd, Douglas Penhaligon, David
Hutchison, Michael Clark Percival, Ian TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Peyton, Rt Hon John Mr. Michael Shersby and
James, David Pink, R. Bonner Sir George Young.
Jenkin, Rt Hn P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd)
Abse, Leo Bean, R. E. Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)
Allaun, Frank Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Buchan, Norman
Anderson, Donald Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Buchanan, Richard
Archer, Peter Bidwell, Sydney Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)
Armstrong, Ernest Bishop, E. S. Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)
Ashley, Jack Blenkinsop, Arthur Campbell, Ian
Ashton, Joe Booth, Rt Hon Albert Canavan, Dennis
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Boothroyd, Miss Betty Cant, R. B.
Atkinson, Norman Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Carter, Ray
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Bradley, Tom Carter-Jones, Lewis
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Bray, Dr Jeremy Cartwright, John
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Castle, Rt Hon Barbara
Bates, Alf Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Clemitson, Ivor
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Hunter, Adam Phipps, Dr Colin
Cohen, Stanley Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Coleman, Donald Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Price, William (Rugby)
Concannon, J. D. Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Radice, Giles
Corbett, Robin Janner, Greville Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Richardson, Miss Jo
Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill) Jeger, Mrs. Lena Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Crawshaw, Richard Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Cronin, John John, Brynmor Robertson, John (Paisley)
Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony Johnson, James (Hull West) Robinson, Geoffrey
Cryer, Bob Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Roderick, Caerwyn
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Jones, Barry (East Flint) Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Dalyell, Tam Kaufman, Gerald Rooker, J. W.
Davidson, Arthur Kerr, Russell Roper, John
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Kilroy-Silk, Robert Rose, Paul B.
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Kinnock, Neil Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Lambie, David Rowlands, Ted
Deakins, Eric Lamborn, Harry Sandelson, Neville
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Lamond, James Sedgemore, Brian
de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Selby, Harry
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Leadbitter, Ted Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)
Dempsey, James Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Doig, Peter Lewis, Arthur (Newham N) Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
Dormand, J. D. Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Lipton, Marcus Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Duffy, A. E. P. Lomas, Kenneth Sillars, James
Dunn, James A. Loyden, Eddie Silverman, Julius
Dunnett, Jack Luard, Evan Skinner, Dennis
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Small, William
Eadie, Alex McCartney, Hugh Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Edge, Geoff McElhone, Frank Snape, Peter
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) MacFarquhar, Roderick Spearing, Nigel
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) McGuire, Michael (Ince) Stallard, A. W.
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Mackenzie, Gregor Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
English, Michael Maclennan, Robert Stoddart, David
Ennals, David McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Strang, Gavin
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) McNamara, Kevin Strauss, Rt Hn G. R.
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Madden, Max Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Magee, Bryan Swain, Thomas
Evans John (Newton) Mahon, Simon Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Mallalleu, J. P. W. Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Marks, Kenneth Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Marquand, David Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Flannery, Martin Marshall, Dr. Edmund (Goole) Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Tierney, Sydney
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Maynard, Miss Joan Tinn, James
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Meacher, Michael Tomlinson, John
Ford, Ben Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Tomney, Frank
Forrester, John Mendelson, John Torney, Tom
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Mikardo, Ian Tuck, Raphael
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Millan, Bruce Urwin, T. W.
Freeson, Reginald Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Molloy, William Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Moonman, Eric Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
George, Bruce Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Ginsburg, David Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Ward, Michael
Golding, John Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Watkins, David
Gould, Bryan Moyle, Roland Watkinson, John
Gourlay, Harry Weetch, Ken
Graham, Ted Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Weitzman, David
Grant, George (Morpeth) Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Wellbeloved, James
Grant, John (Islington C) Newens, Stanley White, Frank R. (Bury)
Grocott, Bruce Noble, Mike White, James (Pollok)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Oakes, Gordon Whitehead, Phillip
Hardy, Peter Ogden, Eric Whitlock, William
Harper, Joseph O'Halloran, Michael Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Orbach, Maurice Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Hart, Rt Hon Judith Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Williams, Sir Thomas
Hatton, Frank Ovenden, John Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Hayman, Mrs Helene Owen, Dr David Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Heffer, Eric S. Padley, Walter Wise, Mrs Audrey
Hooley, Frank Palmer, Arthur Woodall, Alec
Horam, John Park, George Woof, Robert
Howell, Rt Hon Denis Parker, John Wrigglesworth, Ian
Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Parry, Robert Young, David (Bolton E)
Huckfield, Les Pavitt, Laurie
Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Peart, Rt Hon Fred TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Pendry, Tom Mrs. Millie Miller and
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Perry, Ernest Mr. Arnold Shaw.

Question accordingly negatived.