HC Deb 28 February 1978 vol 945 cc334-67
Mr. David Lambie (Central Ayrshire)

I beg to move Amendment No. 16, in page 12, line 3, to leave out Clause 15.

The aim of the amendment is to delete the clause and to reinstate Section 2 of the Housing (Rents and Subsidies) (Scotland) Act 1975 which gave the Secretary of State reserve powers to limit rents to £39 a year or 75p a week as a maximum.

Clause 15 was introduced in Committee without any notice during the last sitting of the Committee when every other vital matter had been dealt with and debated fully. There was no consultation by the Under-Secretary when he decided to introduce the clause. During an earlier sitting of the Committee, the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) raised this specific matter when he said that, taking into account the increase in the cost of living since 1975—in fact, he went back to 1972–75p a week maximum should by right be increased to £1.50. I remember asking the hon. Member whether this was Tory Party policy and whether he was suggesting that the maximum should be increased from 75p to £1.50 He denied that it was Tory Party policy. However, we all know that he was not being strictly truthful—

Mr. Teddy Taylor

That is ridiculous.

Mr. Younger

I do not think that the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) can really mean that. If he thinks that I was being untruthful, he must substantiate that. I was being completely straightforward about it.

Mr. Lambie

I can substantiate it completely in that I know the previous background of the hon. Member when he was Under-Secretary with responsibility for housing. When I first came to this House, the Tory Party was the Government, and it was the hon. Member for Ayr who put through the vicious Tory rent Act and kept us up night after night and day after day debating it.

Mr. Teddy Taylor rose

Mr. Lambie

The hon. Member for Ayr can answer for himself. He does not need any help. He is being led too much by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor). I used to think that the hon. Member for Ayr was a decent man, but I suspect that he is falling into the very bad habits of the hon. Member for Cathcart. If the hon. Member for Ayr wishes to speak, let him speak.

I was saying that it was the hon. Member for Ayr who introduced the vicious Tory rent Act. In fact, it was one of the two pieces of legislation which put his Government out of office in 1974, the other being the Industrial Relations Act. They were the two arms of the attack by the Tory Party on working-class people between 1970 and 1974.

Therefore, I was surprised that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, after that debate in Committee, did not tell us that he was considering introducing this clause, and that was why I may have reacted rather violently when representatives of the Scottish Press contacted me wanting to know my attitude to it. I hope tonight that the Minister will accept that the clause should be deleted.

Mr. Teddy Taylor rose

Mr. Lambie

No. I shall not give way to the hon. Member.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Will the hon. Member give way before he leaves that aspect of his argument?

Mr. Lambie

No. I have finished with that one.

Clause 2(1) of the Bill gives the Secretary of State power to limit or restrict increases in the standard rent of any house. As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) said earlier, if we could be guaranteed that my hon. Friend would remain Under-Secretary with responsibility for housing and if we could be assured that the Labour Government would not be defeated at the next General Election, we could accept the clause in question because the Bill gives the Secretary of State power to intervene if any local authority puts up its rents in an unreasonable manner. During the Committee stage those Government supporters who opposed the principles of the Bill always argued that the Bill was a good one as long as a Labour Government and a Labour Secretary of State for Scotland were administering it, but that we would not always have Labour Governments and Labour Secretaries of State. Democracy works in such a way that parties come into office and go out of office. I do not want to find myself in a position where, following a General Election, the Labour Government are thrown out of office and, what is even worse, the hon. Member for Cathcart is in control of the Tory administration in Scotland. What help can council tenants in my area hope to get from the hon. Member for Cathcart if he is Secretary of State for Scotland? That is the worst possible thing that could happen to working people in Scotland.

8.0 p.m.

That is why we cannot allow the principle of giving full power to the Secretary of State in dealing with rents to stay in the Bill. That is why I hope that we shall divide the House. We can be sure that the Tory Opposition will not vote for this amendment. They would not embarrass the Government by voting for it.

Mr. Robin F. Cook

The Tory Opposition on the Committee welcomed the particular change that my hon Friend is now proposing.

Mr. Lambie

That is right. Anyone who reads the Hansard report of the Committee stage will see my hon. Friend is correct.

I know that the Minister has said that he introduced the clause because of representations by Scottish local authorities, in an effort to rationalise the various rent structures in the various district councils. They want to equalise rent in the new local government areas and they say that they need greater flexibility. Let us have that flexibility by all means, but let us keep the maximum at the £39 limit.

Unfortunately, in my area at the last election the Labour council at Cunningham was defeated and we now have the Scottish National Party in control. The SNP with its Tory allies has carried out housing policies against people living in council houses in order to rationalise and equalise rents in my area. The SNP has increased rents in former Labour areas like my home town of Saltcoats to the maximum and has said that it is sorry that it cannot increase them further. If it had been allowed to, it would have doubled rent increases to £1.50 a week.

In areas such as Dairy, Kilwinning, Kilbirnie, Dreghorn, Beith, Girdle Toll and Springside—all Labour areas—the rent has increased up to the maximum allowed under the 1975 Act in order to safeguard the position of Tory people who are now part of the new district council area. The authorities want people in Labour areas to subsidise them. If this Bill becomes an Act the Tory-SNP alliance in Cunningham will further attack the people who have continually voted Labour and who live mainly in council houses.

At present the Government are trying to get the trade union movement to agree to a maximum increase in wages of 10 per cent. They have succeeded surprisingly well up to now. However, at a time when the Government are asking people to go easy on wages it is wrong for the Secretary of State to take away the guidelines contained in the 1975 Act on rent increases. Surely if a limit is desirable on wages in order to support the counter-inflation policy, a limit is also desirable on rent increases.

We all know that the counter-inflation policy of the Government has succeeded. Inflation is down to single figures and everything that the Chancellor predicted 18 months ago has been proved correct. The Government's financial policies have been successful. Interest rates have been halved in the past 18 months and people have benefited from this, not only in the shops but in the housing market. The owner-occupier has had his mortgage rate halved in the last year. Very few of these people have been Labour voters in the past but I hope that because of the success of Labour policies more will support Labour candidates at the next election. Because of the tremendous reduction in interest rates and in the cost of living generally, there has been very little increase in the cost of housing. This has been a real bonanza for the owner-occupier, who has benefited very greatly from the actions of this Government.

Mr. Younger

I thought that the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire said that there had been a reduction in the cost of living. How can he mean that with inflation running at 10 per cent., if not more?

Mr. Lambie

There has been a reduction in the rate of increase. At the end of the day we have reversed the trend. We are on the road back and very soon we shall he able to say—we hope before the next election—that not only have we reversed the increase, but that we have stabilised the cost of living. That will be a sensible policy on which to go to the electorate.

If the private sector has had benefit from Government financial policies, surely the public sector also should benefit. Instead of removing the £39 a year maximum we should bring it down to £26 a year.

Further evidence to support my case came out last week when Regional Surveys Limited published its cost-of-living report. In that report it tried to determine the increase of the cost of living, and it worked out the pay rise necessary to maintain living standards. It gave some good figures to substantiate the success of Government policy and my argument. The February 1978 report showed that from January 1977 to January 1978 the average increase in income that was needed for all family types in Britain as a whole to maintain living standards was 1.4 per cent. Families that were typical council house tenants needed an increase of 3.9 per cent. In other words, the owner-occupier needed a 1.4 per cent. wage increase to maintain his living standard while the corresponding figure for a council tenant was 3.9 per cent. The difference between the two groups was mainly caused by differences in the housing sections.

The report stated that in the private housing sector the largest element of housing cost was the mortgage payment. There has been a substantial drop in mortgage rates over the past year and this, combined with only a modest increase in house prices, has resulted in the large drop in the measure of mortgage costs used for the average family in determining the standard of living. Against that, the overall housing costs for council house families, for whom council rents are the main element, rose by 13.5 per cent. The standard of living of council tenants was severely attacked last year because of the policy of annual rent increases.

The majority of people in Scotland live in council houses and they give the Labour Party the majority of its votes in Scotland. We cannot go to them and say that in a period of Government restraint on wages, their standard of living is to decrease while owner-occupiers benefit from the success of the Government's financial policies.

I hope that the Minister will accept my amendment and will arrange for a Government amendment to be introduced in another place to reduce substantially the maximum allowable increase. I hope that the Minister realises that the principle of the Bill is bad and that the principle of Clause 15 is bad because it allows the Secretary of State to determine annually the maximum level of rents and the level of the housing support grants given to local authorities. My amendment is a move back towards Socialist principles in housing and an attempt to be fair to public sector housing. I hope that my hon. Friends will support me.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) used to annoy and anger me with his rantings and ravings. No hon. Member has done more to try to poison class relations in Scotland. He seems to have committed his whole political life to trying to set class against class and, in particular, council tenant against owner-occupier.

The hon. Gentleman gives the impression that, in some secret way, all council tenants are Socialists and, in some nasty way, all owner-occupiers are Tories and anti-council tenants. I probably represent as many council tenants as does the hon. Gentleman, and I know that he is wrong. It is shameful of him to give the impression that Scotland has a deep and bitter class divide which is related to housing.

No one has been more fraudulent than the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire who, after moaning, groaning, shouting and complaining about house building and unemployment when the Conservatives were in power, is now propping up the present Government who have created the largest unemployment figure in Scotland since the 1930s and the lowest house building figures for many years.

Mr. Lambie

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Taylor

I would not think of giving way to the hon. Gentleman, who was so shamefully rude to me when making references to the Conservatives.

Mr. Lambie

I shall be voting against the Government. The hon. Gentleman will be voting with them.

Mr. Taylor

There is no need for us to get annoyed with the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire. He is no more than a pathetic figure of fun. He is trying to keep faith with his Left-wing Socialist friends. The hon. Gentleman said that he had been quoted in the Press and I saw a story in the Sunday Mail in which the hon. Gentleman was quoted as saying that he and his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McMillan) would walk out of the Scottish Standing Committee on 7th February in protest against the shameful Government decision to abolish rent control. I am sure that all his friends and acquaintances—the sort of people who go along with his class hatred—said "Good old David Lambie. He is going to walk out of the Committee."

What those people did not know was that the Committee had finished its work on the previous Thursday and had unanimously passed the Government's new clause in his absence. I hope that all the Left-wing Socialists and those who promote class hatred will note that the hon. Gentleman was not there to say a word for council tenants. I hope every voter and council tenant in Central Ayrshire will look at Hansard and ask where the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire was. He did not speak, he did not vote, he did not even attend.

What about the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central, who was also going to walk out? We do not see him here often. He did not walk out of the Committee. Indeed, he would have had great difficulty in walking out because he was never a member of the Committee.

I am sure these two great Socialist Trojans would march from Jarrow to London and back to Central Ayrshire in the columns of the Sunday Mail, but when it came to the crunch of standing up for tenants they were not even there.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. Gourlay

I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman. He seems to be attacking my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) without having ascertained the reason for his absence from the Committee. My hon. Friend had to determine which was of great importance—protecting the jobs of the steel workers in his constituency, or fighting against rent levels, which he is doing today.

Mr. Taylor

Unfortunately, because of the scandalous mismanagement of the nationalised steel industry, many employees at Glengarnock steel works are to be deprived of their jobs. The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire is always saying "I am different. I am always there." I hope the voters will get the message that it is all cant, hypocrisy and humbug. It is intended to promote class hatred and division. The Government have created mass unemployment and slumping housing figures, and when it comes to the crunch of protesting on behalf of the council tenants the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire is there in the headlines of the Sunday Mail, but is not there when it comes to doing something about it.

The other thing to which I strongly object is the belief of the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire that all council tenants are poor and all private tenants and owner-occupiers are wealthy. There are poor and wealthy council tenants and poor and wealthy private tenants and owner-occupiers.

In the hon. Gentleman we are seeing the death knell of the old red-blooded Socialist party which I hope we shall see the end of soon. Happily, there is now some common sense in the Labour Party. It is beginning to look at issues objectively, though it is still reaching the wrong conclusions. It is working out of its system the policy, which was not a policy, of trying to keep the Labour Party going on the basis of setting class against class and group against group.

It is not an issue on which my party should intervene. It is something going on in the Labour Party and I hope that soon we shall not have people such as the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire trying to poison class relations in Scotland. Let us get down to solving Scotland's problems instead of promoting hatred between classes.

Mr. Canavan

I support the amendment. I was not present when the new clause was introduced in Committee for the simple reason that I was not a member of the Committee. I suspect the motives of those who decide these things, but my opposition to certain aspects of the Bill was well known.

I see the new clause as an attack on the living standards of council tenants. If it goes through this House and another place—and it will undoubtedly go through another place because it does not know the first thing about council housing—it will give carte blanche to local authorities to push up council rents by as much as they wish and it will give carte blanche to Tory, SNP and other Right-wing controlled authorities who wish to act against the best interests of council house tenants in Scotland.

I am sure that the Under-Secretary will say that the new clause would do no such thing and that the Secretary of State will still be left with some discretion to decide on maximum levels. That point has been made by others during the debate.

There is the fear that too much is being left to the discretion of the Secretary of State. I should like to see a maximum arithmetical limit written into the Bill in the same way as it was written into the 1975 Act. That is why I support the amendment. As long as we have my right hon. Friend as Secretary of State for Scotland, he may put a fair limit of £39 a year, or something similar, on rent increases, he being an honest and fair man. However, I can imagine what would happen—it might be an unlikely eventuality but it has to be taken into consideration—if at the next General Election the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) managed to defeat John Maxton, returned to this place and the right hon. Lady the present Leader of the Opposition made the gauleiter sitting on the Tory Front Bench the Secretary of State for Scotland.

The hon. Gentleman is well known for his class divisive philosophy. For example, he is a man who exploited overseas workers over the "Globtik" business. We know the sort of class divisive policies that the hon. Gentleman would introduce if he were Secretary of State for Scotland. We can well imagine his housing policy. Indeed, we have seen it already. There was the Housing Finance Act 1972. The Tories dictated to local authorities the amount by which rents should be increased. We can easily imagine those jackboot tactics being reintroduced if Scotland ever had the misfortune to have the hon. Gentleman as Secretary of State.

That is why I say that it is not enough merely to leave matters to the discretion of the Secretary of State in the Bill. There is far too much being left to him. A clearly defined numerical limit should be written into the Bill.

In 1975 I was a member of the Committee that considered the Housing Rents and Subsidies (Scotland) Bill. I can remember when the clause was debated that referred to the £39 limit. The Government put forward a strong case that there should be a limit as part of their counter-inflation policy at that time. We agreed that any local authority that increased a rent by more than 75p per week, or £39 a year, would be acting in an unfair manner towards the tenant. It was unfortunate that some exceptions were made—for example, for new tenancies, or renovated or modernised houses, the increase could be over £39 per year. I did not agree with that.

Since 1975 we have seen inflation increasing rapidly and then decreasing. It is now down to 9.9 per cent. It is worth remembering that despite the success, in some respects, of the Government's anti-inflation policy, it is true to say that most workers and most council house tenants have suffered a deterioration in their living standards. That is for the simple reason that prices have been rising faster than wages.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Hear, hear.

Mr. Canavan

The Government are now imposing a strict and rigid wages policy by the direct imposition of the 10 per cent. limit in the public sector. It is a limit that was never accepted by the TUC, despite the trade union movement having been mainly responsible for the success of reducing inflation to single figures. It does not show much gratitude to it when the Government do not pay heed to resolutions that are accepted at the TUC conference.

In the private sector the Government are using sanctions to try to impose the 10 per cent. limit on workers. We have reached the ludicrous stage when a Labour Government are threatening to use sanctions against employers, including multinational companies, who are accused of the crime of paying their workers too much. It is about time that the Government took more action on matters such as prices and rents.

It would not be so bad if the Government used sanctions against private enterprise for excessive price increases. However, we do not see the same imposition of sanctions in respect of price increases, or threatened price increases. I accept that it is difficult for the Government to control prices in the private sector, especially when we bear in mind that they have little in the way of general control over the private sector of industry.

There does not exist the same difficulty in the public sector. The Government are smart enough at using their powers in the public sector to impose a strict numerical limit on wages. Surely they can do that in imposing a price structure. Surely they can do that in controlling the rents of local authority tenants. That is why I think that there is an inherent unfairness in the Bill.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) said, it is partly due to Government policy that there has been a reduction in the mortgate rate, from which owner-occupiers in the private sector have benefited. That applies to those who have still to pay off their mortgage. I do not think that my hon. Friend was trying to set local authority tenant against owner-occupier in the way that the hon. Member for Cathcart claimed. We are entitled to be fair both to those in the public sector and in the private sector.

Mr. Lambie

Does my hon. Friend recognise that during the period when the hon. Members for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) and Ayr (Mr. Younger) had control of housing policy in Scotland the division between owner-occupiers and council tenants amounted to 75 houses being built for the council tenant against 25 being built for the owner-occupier, and that now, because of the success of the Labour Government's financial policy for every one house built for the owner-occupier there is another house built for the council tenant. There is now a fifty-fifty arrangement. Labour Party housing policy has helped the owner-occupier. It has placed him in a better position than that which he held during the Tory Administration.

Mr. Canavan

My hon. Friend is right—

Mr. Younger


Mr. Canavan

If the hon. Gentleman would belt up and listen for a couple of minutes, he might learn something. My hon. Friend was right in saying that part of the tradition of Toryism in both central and local government is to discriminate unfairly against council house tenants. If the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) disputes that proposition, he can come to my constituency and talk to some of the Tories in Cambusbarron who are against council houses being built because they "do not like council houses being built on our doorstep." That is the kind of snobbish attitude adopted by many Tories in local government. That to my mind is discriminatory and unfair to council house tenants.

Many young couples come to my surgeries asking, even begging, to be given the chance of a council house tenancy. When the local authority comes forward with plans to build houses, we get local Tory councillors opposing them.

Mr. Younger

Has not the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) answered that point for the hon. Gentleman? He recounted how, under the Conservative Government, of all houses built 75 per cent. were for council tenants and 25 per cent. were for owner-occupiers. Surely that denies what the hon. Gentleman has been saying.

Mr. Canavan

I am supporting my hon. Friend's main proposition: that it is the job of a Labour Government positively to discriminate in favour of lower income groups. Most people in lower income groups are council house tenants. It would be a sad day if a Labour Government copied what the Tories did by discriminating against council house tenants in an unfair manner. It is the Government's job to be reasonably fair to council house tenants and owner-occupiers.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) has not yet spoken to Amendment No. 18. If Amendment No. 16 is defeated, I think that Amendment No. 18 is a good second best proposing, as it does, a maximum average of £39 per house. I think that a numerical limit must be written into the Bill. If necessary, I shall support my Lion Friend in dividing the House to ensure that such a numerical limit is written into the Bill.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Gourlay

First, I should like to comment on the remarks made by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor), who tried to open up the class war by attacking my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie). In fact, my hon. Friend merely postulated the argument against giving power to local authorities for unlimited rent increases as distinct from the usual method adopted by the hon. Member for Cathcart of stirring up strife among people in Scotland by concentrating on the lack of law and order. The hon. Gentleman continually incites the people of this country, through sentiment and by other methods, to bring back capital punishment.

Mr. Robin F. Cook

Only for council house tenants.

Mr. Gourlay

That, to me, is as bad as, if not more unscrupulous than, the old class war. The hon. Gentleman accused my hon. Friend of propping up a Government who have created employment. This Government have not created unemployment. The hon. Gentleman fails to observe that other capitalist countries have a far higher percentage of unemployment than Socialist Britain.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Can the hon. Gentleman name any comparable country where unemployment has more than doubled in three years?

Mr. Gourlay

It is not a question of the period over which it has doubled. The fact is that there are higher percentages of unemployment in other capitalist countries. We as a trading nation are at the mercy of the economies of those other world powers.

I do not support Amendment No. 16, which seeks to delete Clause 15, for several reasons. I prefer to support Amendment No. 18, which stands in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook).

Mr. Robin F. Cook

Who is still waiting to speak.

Mr. Gourlay

My hon. Friend will get his chance.

Section 2 of the 1975 Act is more restrictive than my hon. Friend's amendment. One of the differences between Clause 15 of the Bill and Section 2 of the 1975 Act is that, whereas the limit of £39 applies only to a certain section of the housing pool of any local authority, the amendment, restricting it to an average of £39 per house, applies to the whole of the housing pool. The section of the housing pool which is restricted to £39 under Section 2 of the 1975 Act is a diminishing number of houses, because as people transfer from one local authority house to another, the changes of tenancy lower the number of houses to which the restriction in the 1975 Act applies.

By the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central the £39 restriction would apply to every house in the housing pool. Furthermore, the restriction under Section 2 of the 1975 Act has no limit. An order can apply for as long as the Secretary of State is prepared to let it stand. Under Clause 15 of the Bill an order making any limitation or restriction on increases in the standard rent is legitimate for only 12 months unless the Secretary of State introduces a further order. I am inclined to support my hon. Friend's amendment on that basis.

My main reason for objecting to Clause 15 as it stands is that it opens a door to any future Tory Secretary of State. Heaven forbid that the hon. Member for Cathcart should ever rise to that office, because he certainly would not introduce an order to restrict the income from the standard rent so long as he had pressure from the Tory councils in Scotland for higher increases than are allowed at present.

In some ways I subscribe to the theory of my hon. Friend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) that there should be an arithmetical limit set in Clause 15. But I am inclined to support the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central unless the Minister can assure us that he will introduce an arithmetical limit, not tonight but in the House of Lords. In that way, we would be assured that no future Tory Secretary of State could allow unrestricted increases in local authority rent levels without coming to the House for an order.

I now await the observations of the Minister on the two amendments before deciding which way I shall vote.

Mr. Robin F. Cook

I had the opportunity of attending the Committee sitting when this matter was debated. I spoke for half an hour on the Government's proposed new clause. That enables me to abbreviate my comments tonight. Before I reach the burden of my observations, perhaps I might be allowed to say that I approach this matter with a certain amount of objectivity—more than that expressed by some hon. Members who have participated in the debate.

In my constituency 60 per cent. of householders are owner-occupiers. I can say with some confidence that some of that 60 per cent. must have voted for me in the last two elections. I know that my hon. Friends the Members for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) and Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) are anxious to ensure my re-election to the House. They do not necessarily do me a service in achieving that objective by some of the observations that they make, in particular by putting all owner-occupiers in the same category.

The trouble with many owner-occupiers in my constituency is that they have not benefited from the reductions in mortgage rates. That is because, in order to get into the low-cost, inner city areas, they have had to take local authority mortgages, the interest rates of which have not come down. They find themselves caught in an unfair trap in that, because they have a low income, they are obliged to buy low-cost housing. Being obliged to buy low-cost housing, they are obliged to go to the local authority for a loan. That means that they have to pay higher rates of interest than people who go to the outskirts of Barnton and Blackhall and buy higher priced housing. This is an iniquity which the House has overlooked and to which we shall have to turn our attention before the building society interest rates fall any further.

That issue goes wider than the amendment before us, however. In this debate a divide has been opened up between the hon. Member for Glagsow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) and my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire which is irrelevant to the circumstances in which we are holding the debate. We are faced with a decision by the Government in the run-up to a by-election in a constituency in which 90 per cent. of the houses are council houses to remove the limit on council house rents. Any Government who can take a decision like that must have reached an ethereal level of impartiality which goes far beyond considering from where they get their electoral support. We can therefore put behind us any idea that owner-occupiers support the Opposition and council tenants support us.

The new clause was introduced by the Government at a late stage in the proceedings. Had the provision been in the Bill when we had the Second Reading debate, that debate might have taken a different form. I do not blame my hon. Friend the Minister for its having been introduced at a late stage. As he ex-explained, it arose because he wanted to consult COSLA before its terms were formulated. It was not his fault that the consultations took so long. But he recognises that the effect was unfair in that many members of the Committee were unaware until the day they were debated of the provisions that were coming before them. This applies particularly to my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire, who by the time the clause appeared on the Notice Paper had made other arrangements for the day. This unfortunate effect of making a substantial alteration to the Bill at such a late stage must be borne in mind.

What worries me most about the change is that it fits in very nicely with the general trend of the Bill, which is to take powers away from Parliament and leave them for the Government of the day to use at their discretion. My hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire indicated that the Opposition will not be supporting him in seeking to oppose the change. In Standing Committee they welcomed the change because they could see that it provides the kind of discretion that they wish they had had in 1972.

Let me share with the House one of the observations by the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger). He said: The second confession I should like to make"— the House will note that he regarded it as a confession— is that, if it were to be that I took over the hon. Gentleman's position, which I held at one time, I would be very pleased to have the Bill, as it stands, behind me because I would be able to call the shots."—[Official Report, First Scottish Standing Committee, 17th January 1978; c. 42.] I see the hon. Member for Ayr nodding vigorously. If the hon. Gentleman had had the Bill behind him in 1972 and had had this discretion in the disbursement of the housing support grant and over the limitation on any rent increases he would not have had to pass the 1972 legislation. He would have been able to achieve the effect of that legislation simply by bringing an order before the House for a one-and-a-half-hour debate once in the course of a full year.

As has already been said, if my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary were to hold his post permanently many of our fears would disappear. I hope that if these debates have done nothing else they have at least reassured the Government that we have complete faith in my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary and that it would be difficult for them to drop him from his present position. But my hon. Friend will not be eternally at that Dispatch Box with this brief. It is possible to trust him so long as he remains there. It is most unfair to suggest that he would favour an increase in cost of £39. Only this week he introduced an order to increase the SSHA limit to £26 in any one year. Public expenditure figures do not envisage council house rents increasing by anything like 75p. But he has been pushed into tabling the amendment by COSLA and particularly by the Conservative and independently controlled councils in COSLA which have asked for the amendment to which request my hon. Friend has acceded.

8.45 p.m.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkaldy (Mr. Gourlay) said, I have tabled an amendment, on which I hope that it will be possible to have a separate vote if necessary. My amendment is characteristically more moderate than that of my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire. It is intended to meet the problems outlined by my hon. Friend the Minister, namely, that some local authorities, because of the fixed figure of £39 on every house, have had difficulty in achieving a new rent structure.

I have, therefore, tabled an amendment which would change the present situation in which the £39 is a fixed figure per house to its being an average across the entire housing stock. It would not prevent a local authority, if it so decided, from restructuring its rent arrangements and increasing the figure in some indi- vidual cases by more than £39, but would create a similar limit across council houses as a whole in the housing revenue account pool.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy has already said, this would have one advantage. It would bring within the restriction every local authority house, whereas at present anything up to a quarter of them escape the limitation either because they are relet houses or because they have been modernised.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) passed to me a particularly distressing case in Aberdeen in which the tenant died, the house was transferred to the widow and she was immediately faced with a rent increase of well in excess of £39. When the matter was drawn to the attention of the housing committee, it immediately went back on that decision and took account of the individual merits of the case. Nevertheless, it is true that within the present terms of the law such a case can ocur. The amendment would have the effect of making much less likely such an increase for any individual, because it would still have an effect on the overall average limitation.

I am attempting to throw out a lifeline to my hon. Friend the Minister. I hope that he will find it possible to grasp it so that we can pull him ashore. I think that he will recognise that this is as far as he could reasonably expect many of us who have been concerned with the proposed change to go. I hope that it is possible for him to go part of the way to meet us.

Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)

I am at a loss to understand why my hon. Friend the Minister has dropped the existing £39 rental increase limit under the present legislation and is proposing more or less a carte blanche. It is difficult to explain his action. Most of us who fought the last election can remember that one of our slogans at the time was that we would freeze all rent increases.

When we won the election, the rent increases were frozen and the then Prime Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) was insistent that some form of control should be included in housing legislation. So we had the inclusion in the 1975 Act of a permitted maximum of £39 on local authority rented houses. As far as I am aware, there has been no departure from the circumstances that led to that decision applying at present. It is alarming to think, therefore, that a colleague of mine on the Government Front Bench would introduce such a provision, because he should know full well that in the exigencies of the political climate we could have a Conservative Government and they would use it in defence of unlimited rent increases. They would accuse this Labour Government of placing that legislation on the statute book. It would not be the first time or the last. It may be argued that it is tactical politics on the part of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor)—

Mr. Teddy Taylor

The hon. Gentleman is scaremongering.

Mr. Dempsey

I am not in the least scaremongering. There is no doubt that the Conservative Party believes in unlimited rent increases. I have always believed in fair rent increases.

Mr. Younger

If the hon. Gentleman contends that the Conservative Party has always been in favour of unlimited rent increases, will he explain why we introduced into the 1972 Act for the first time the concept of a limit on an individual rent increase, which this Government have now removed?

Mr. Dempsey

I should like to answer that question by asking another. Why are the hon. Gentleman and his party not opposing the clause? If they are to be consistent, they are duty bound to oppose the provision, which means the right for any Secretary of State and any Government to regulate unlimited rent increases.

I say to the Conservatives "If you do not believe in unlimited rent increases, for goodness sake agree to the £39 limit on possible rent increases in a year." That is the one way for them to defend what they say is their conviction. We are certainly opposed to unlimited rent increases. That is what the debate is all about.

Council tenants have been paying considerable rent increases throughout the years. I was asked to do some research into rent arrangements for local authority houses, and I discovered in the course of preparing a document on the subject that in the town of Coatbridge a three-apartment cottage house rented in 1960 at £26 a year is now rented at £171 a year. The rent has gone up by nearly seven times. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will not try to argue that workers' wages have gone up by seven times since 1960. They have not. Those figures indicate the contribution that council rent payers are making towards the housing account and the rent of their own home.

I regard it as grossly unfair to refer to owner-occupation and to imply that one is dividing housing communities. I cannot be accused of that. I am in the midst of a stand-up battle with certain buliding societies which have refused to lend to home owners after a site has been fully serviced in Airdrie for the erection of private homes, in spite of the most professional technological expertise which assures the societies that the ground is perfectly safe. I have been negotiating with the societies since last July in an attempt to persuade them to lend funds to enable those who wish to own their own homes on that site in Airdrie to do so. That is not the activity of a reactionary or of someone who is opposed to home ownership.

I believe that we in the Labour movement should encourage people to own their own homes and if they cannot afford to do so to rent their own homes. It is all right to say "If people wish to own a home, good luck to them", but let us give them every encouragement, and do likewise if they wish to rent a home.

There is quite a lot of nonsense talked about this matter. I have heard that the council tenant is heavily subsidised and, of course, that the owner-occupier is not—but that does not work out.

In my exercise I have managed to reveal some very interesting figures. For example, taking the cost of a council house today at £12,000 and looking at the rates subsidy towards the annual maintenance of that house, on the basis of present Exchequer grants and existing loan charges, one finds that rates contribute towards the annual housing account on that council house to the extent of £159 a year. These figures were extracted by the director of finance and not by me.

On the other hand, I have also done research into the question of owner-occupation. On average over the country, an owner-occupier is receiving a tax subsidy of £37 a year per £1,000 of borrowing. If one accepts the owner-occupier, therefore, as borrowing £12,000 to pay for the cost of his house, one finds that that is a similar sum to the cost of a council house. Twelve times 37 indicates that the owner-occupier is getting £444 a year in tax subsidy, whereas the council tenant is getting a rates subsidy of £159 a year towards the cost of his house.

Incidentally, when one has regard to the fact that in a constituency such as mine 80 per cent. of tenants live in council houses, one appreciates that they are paying towards that £159 and so they, as individuals, are getting very much less than that at the end of the day.

This is indicative of the way in which we have oriented policies in favour of owner-occupation. I have no objection to that at all, but we must give similar consideration to council tenants. They are electors, taxpayers and citizens.

It is for these reasons that I have always felt that it is not unreasonable to have a fixed rental maximum each year beyond which council house rents cannot be increased. Surely that is quite a moderate approach. I hope that I shall not be accused of the sort of things of which my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) has been accused this evening, because I am trying to take an objective view of the situation.

However, after listening to the hon. Member for Cathcart, I must say that I should have thought that his interventions this evening should be sufficient to prevail upon my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary to review his attitude towards this legislation. Obviously, it suits the hon. Member for Cathcart. I am sure that the Conservative Party welcomes it. One can understand that, because the Conservatives believe in that type of philosophy. But frankly, we do not.

I am convinced that by returning to a fixed maximum rent increase per year beyond which rents shall not go is not unreasonable. It is very fair. After all, it is working out at about 75p a week. Surely with the present standard of ordinary council tenants—my goodness, some of them do a great job and fulfil a great obligation for the local authority by the very fine standards to which they keep their homes—it is not unreasonable to curb rent increases up to a fixed maximum, to give them every help to improve their homes and to allow them extra in order to introduce finesse into them.

By doing this, we shall be pursuing the real aims of our Labour movement. When one joins our movement, one has to commit oneself to an ideal. The ideal is not cheap rents. We have never believed in cheap rents. I do not think that rents are low at the moment when we have regard to all the items of expenditure incurred by tenants.

Having regard to all that has been said, to the expressions of conviction from Labour Members, to our sincere belief in operating a housing system whereby there are fair rents for council tenants and fair tax subsidies and opportunities for home owners, it cannot be said that we are deliberately antagonising decent members of the community. That is a lot of poppycock and silly propaganda. It has no foundation in truth. By taking the decision which has been proposed we shall be living up to the ideals which we were sent to this House to fulfil.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. Welsh

The Government fixed and accepted the £39 figure and are now trapped by it. Thus we have the Back-Bench revolt facing us tonight. Why should there be a £39 limit, or any limit? The Government accepted such a limit and produced a logical case for introducing it at a time of economic crisis. The circumstances which led to that judgment have not changed. Why are they now deciding to take the brakes off? I would like the Government to argue that case. Logically, the Government should be arguing on their own economic policy lines.

The Government should be arguing that the best of all situations would be one in which any rent rises would be in line with their own pay norms. In other words, they should be arguing for rent increases pegged to 10 per cent. or whatever is the figure. If they did so they would be following their economic policy. But they are not being logical and are not looking at the reasons which made them introduce some safeguards for people at times of economic crisis. The Government are trapped by their past economic failures and by current pay policy. They are asking the ratepayer to pay the price for their failure.

If the £39 barrier is heavily breached Scots families will be asked to pay more money at a time when incomes are restricted. If we add to this the past record of economic neglect and decline in certain areas, the Government responsibility becomes even clearer. It is unfair to tenants and ratepayers to restrict incomes at a time when costs are rising. I ask the Government to pick up their financial responsibilities in housing and, in present circumstances, to shoulder a greater portion of housing finance. In many ways the present housing finance system seems to be breaking down. Ratepayers are continually being asked to shoulder an increasing burden of housing finance. In Glasgow, interest payments alone are over the £20 million mark. There they are running to stand still. This should be a national financial burden. In the meantime the Government should protect Scots families until they have got the Scots economy on the move.

I am worried about the reasons behind the Government seeking to change the position. Amendment No. 18 takes us back to the 1972 situation whereas Amendment No. 16 seeks to preserve the status quo. Anomalies do exist within district authorities and these have created problems which must be met. I would be happier with Amendment No. 18 because it provides flexibility to deal with the anomalies. I hope that the amendment will be moved.

If local authorities are operating within the £39 limit they can well, with appropriate Government assistance, continue to do so. From the figures produced by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) in Committee it was obvious that very few local authorities had made use of their ability to impose the maximum rises. Most seem to be happy to operate within the stringencies of Government policy. Amendment No. 18 presents the most acceptable option. I would support it because it combines the qualities of a fail-safe system with flexibility, enabling local authorities to meet specific problems.

Mr. Canavan

What does the hon. Gentleman mean by flexibility? Does he support the statement of the SNP provost of Falkirk District Council, a housing authority covering my constituency, that rent paid per house should be based on the household income? Is that what he means by flexibility?

Mr. Welsh

The hon. Gentleman should know about flexibility and the anomalies which face district authorities. Due to reorganisation, there were people living in the same sort of house side by side and paying vastly different rents. There is an element of justice in allowing a readjustment. The rent paid should be related to the quality of service received. The economic situation in 1978 is more akin to that of 1975 than to that of 1972. The reasons for supporting the limits up to this point are surely very much in operation at a time of pay restraint.

I agree with the Government in principle that the £39 limit is not a permanent situation, but at a time when mortgage rates are coming down it would not be fair to single out council house tenants, in view of the Government's own pay restraint policy. The £39 limit will have to go but I believe that this is not the time for it.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

The hon. Member for South Angus (Mr. Welsh) still has not told me what is the policy of the SNP councillors in this matter. Is do not know what my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mr. Dempsey) is worrying about. His is, I regret to say, one of the few Labour-controlled authorities in Scotland. Is there any intention on the part of the Labour group to increase rents by even £26? I have a great respect for my hon. Friend and I do not mind giving him copy for the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser, but I wish he would act a little more responsibly towards his own colleagues in the Labour Party in Monk-lands, who are doing an excellent job. I have no evidence that they are thinking of introducing rent increases of £26 a year, never mind £39 a year.

Mr. Dempsey

I am very surprised at my hon. Friend, after all his experience, being so naive. Is he not aware that a Conservative Secretary of State could compel even a Labour-controlled authority to increase rents by the adjustment of a rate support grant and by other similar manoeuvres, so that a Labour-controlled council would lose the authority to fix its own rents? It happened in the past when I was a councillor and it will happen again.

Mr. Brown

On the contrary. There was never a limit, as the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) said, until 1972. In fact, in the past the problem has been that authorities were not putting up rents. We are dealing only with housing legislation when there has been some effort to limit rent increases consistent with giving local authorities freedom of action.

The reason that the Tories introduced the £39 limit was that they were writing into legislation a specific requirement to increase rents by £26, and we warned them at the time that it was the wrong way to solve the housing problem in Scotland. We said that it was wrong to get specific rent increases by legislation. I must admit that I am amazed at the appeal made to me as a Socialist. If I had thought for a minute that the interpretation or understanding of Socialism depended on whether we wanted a limit of £39 per house increase, an average increase of £39, or no limit at all, I would not be in the Socialist movement. We are surely not going to use exaggerated language or to suggest that one is a better Socialist than another in arguing on such a narrow point as this. Does my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) wish to intervene?

Mr. Robin F. Cook

I was merely drawing my hon. Friend's attention to the loud "Hear, hears" emanating from the Conservative Dispatch Box with regard to his comment about the Socialist movement. It would appear that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) shares my hon. Friend's concern that the particular division we are talking about tonight has nothing to do with Socialism.

Mr. Brown

I was just making a few remarks because I am still confused about whether some of my hon. Friends want to get me the sack or whether they think I am the best housing Minister there has been and that as long as I am here we have nothing to worry about. I wish that they would make up their minds.

I cannot give a categorical assurance that in some way this Government, the Secretary of State or myself can write into housing legislation some kind of assurance that will last for all time, even if we lose the next General Election. No Government can give such an assurance. All future Governments have the right to change legislation if they can get away with it or if they think they have a mandate from the people.

It is deluding even our own supporters if hon. Members suggest that there is some way in which we can make that more difficult. We could perhaps ensure that it would take more time. We could ensure that there will be adequate public discussion. But some of my hon. Friends have suggested that if there were savage rent increases they would go through in their stocking soles. Life is not like that. We must deal with the facts of the situation.

I repeat that we are not abandoning the power to limit rent increases. A power is included in the new clause under which an order can be made by the Secretary of State to limit increases on any individual house or, indeed, average increases on local authority houses in general.

Therefore, I repeat that if we were merely to update the limit it would amount to £85 a year instead of the £39 first introduced in 1972. If it was related to the December 1974 figure, that £39 would now be £63. Is that what my hon. Friends are asking us to do? I am sure it is not.

I warn my hon. Friends that if precise limits are decided it will be seen as an instruction to local authorities to increase rents up to that limit. We have had that situation before, even in the notable circumstances of the 1974–75 Bill. It was not our Tory opponents but our so-called friends outside who opposed us, and who said that we encouraged local authorities to increase rents by £39.

The sooner we get shot of any fixed limit the better. If any authority abuses its power there are plenty of checks that can be made. I pay particular tribute to the ability of some of my hon. Friends to raise all sorts of matters that are not the direct responsibility of the Secretary of State.

I am satisfied that there will always be enough public discussion about rents or rent increases. We do not hide the fact that there will be rent increases in line with increased earnings. We have made no secret of that. It is in the Green Paper. But here we are talking about excessive increases either in rent on an individual house or on average rents.

We are talking about reasonable rent increases of about 50p a week. That is an assumption. We are not dictating to local authorities. If any local authority abuses its powers and treats council tenants harshly, I can give the assurance that we shall have no hesitation in introducing an order to curb such an authority in the use of its powers in such an abusive way.

I hope that I have given the House and my hon. Friends the assurance that they seek. In the light of what I have said I hope that my hon. Friends will be prepared to withdraw their amendments.

9.15 p.m.

Mr. Lambie

Despite the remarks of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary—[HON. MEMBERS: "With the leave of the House."] Mr. Deputy Speaker, I was assured that I did not require the leave of the House in order to speak again.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)

Standing Order No. 55 provides: When a bill has been committed to a standing committee, or has been so committed in respect of some of its provisions, then, on consideration on report of the bill or such of its provisions as were so committed, the rule against speaking more than once shall not apply to the Member in charge of the bill or to the mover of any amendment or new clause in respect of that amendment or clause.

Mr. Lambie

I am grateful for your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Gourlay), who is an expert in these matters, had already consulted your predecessor in the Chair who said that I should be in order in speaking again.

Despite the assurance of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, I intend to press the amendment to a Division. I accept what my hon. Friend said and that, in certain conditions, with Labour local authorities, a Labour Secretary of State and a Labour Government in power, our fears might be unfounded. But I do not want to be in the position where, following a General Election—and no one knows what will be the result of the next General Election—a Tory Secretary of State announces his intention to implement the Bill and, when Labour Members challenge him, he answers us by saying "It was the Labour Government's Bill. The Conservative Government are not to blame. We are only implementing a Labour Government Bill." On that ground alone, I hope that those of my hon. Friends who share my point of view will continue to support my amendment.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) made great play of the fact that I had not attended the final sitting of the Committee when this clause was discussed. I accept that. I only knew at 11.0 p.m. on the Wednesday evening preceding that sitting that the Undersecretary was to introduce a new clause. That was the first indication that I had.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

I have already apologised for the short notice that was given, but I should make it clear that the clause appeared on the Order Paper the day before.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

On the Tuesday.

Mr. Lambie

It was drawn to my attention by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook).

At that time, I had already agreed to attend a meeting of steel workers in my constituency. At the Glengarrock steel works, 1,200 jobs were at stake. Members of Parliament have to decide their priorities, and my priority at that time was to do all that I could to safeguard those 1,200 jobs.

I have always pointed out to the Chief Whip and to the Scottish Whip that no one in the Gallery of the House of Commons votes for me. There is no one from Central Ayrshire in the Gallery tonight. But there were 1,200 steel workers in my constituency whose jobs were at stake, and I was interested in their future. They all have votes. Therefore, my priority was to represent those 1,200 workers and, if it came to a choice, it was to safeguard those jobs.

The hon. Member for Cathcart said that I was being hypocritical and that I was an old-time Socialist. I accept that I am an old-time Socialist. Anyone who sticks to principles sometimes becomes old-time. But what is wrong with politics today is that too many people have been diverted from their principles. I believe strongly that, if we all went back to first principles, we would get better government and better recognition of good government by the people.

If there is any hypocrite in Scotland, the hon. Member for Cathcart is the biggest of the lot. He is a hypocrite and a political chancer. He is known as a two-faced politician. He goes to Labour areas and he sounds like Keir Hardie. Then he goes to Tory areas, puts on his top hat and tells people that he will deal with the council tenants by increasing their rents. He is the best example in Scotland of a political hypocrite and chancer.

Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)

My hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) is being very restrained.

Mr. Lambie

The hon. Member for Cathcart also said that I am being politically divisive. Yet he is the person who supported the Government who introduced the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Bill which attacked the standard of living of council tenants. He was a member of a Government who was prepared to gaol councillors. Has he forgotten about the Clay Cross councillors? Has he forgotten about Clyde-bank, Saltcoats and Dumbarton? How can he attack me as being politically divisive when he was a member of the Government who introduced the Industrial Relations Act, setting worker against worker and the trade union movement against employers. That was a Government who tried to put trade unionists in gaol. If I want a lesson in being politically

divisive I shall follow the example of the hon. Member and his Government during the period up to 1974.

The Labour Government with their housing policy have united people for the first time. They have taken away the division between the owner-occupier and the tenant. Young owner-occupiers should be grateful to this Government because they are now able to buy their homes at half the expense that they would have faced if the Conservatives had still been in power.

Mr. Younger

Is the hon. Member really saying that young couples are buying their houses at half the expense that they were in 1974? I find that very hard to believe.

Mr. Lambie

They are buying them at half the mortgage payments. The hon. Member can check that in his own area.

I congratulate the Government on their housing policy. I also congratulate them on getting interest rates down, which has benefited owner-occupiers. The reason why I moved this amendment is that I want that fairness to owner-occupiers extended to council tenants. I want the Government to retain the restrictions on the maximum rent increases allowable according to the 1975 Act.

I certainly recognise the point put forward by the Minister, and as I have stated often in the course of the Committee stage, the Bill could be a good one. However, it leaves itself open to a tremendous increase in the powers of the Secretary of State and fears of what a future Conservative Government would do. I ask my hon. Friends to support the amendment.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 11, Noes 128.

Division No. 129] AYES [9.25 p.m.
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Maynard, Miss Joan Wise, Mrs Audrey
Flannery, Martin Newens, Stanley
Lamond, James Skinner, Dennis TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Litterick, Tom Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW) Mr. Dennis Canavan and
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Wigley, Dafydd Mr. David Lambie.
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Bean, R. E. Booth, Rt Hon Albert
Armstrong, Ernest Belth, A. J. Boothroyd, Miss Betty
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Bray, Dr Jeremy
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Blenkinsop, Arthur Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)
Bates, Alf Boardman, H. Buchan, Norman
Buchanan, Richard Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Park, George
Campbell, Ian Hooley, Frank Parry, Robert
Carmichael, Neil Hooson, Emlyn Pavitt, Laurie
Clemitson, Ivor Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Price, William (Rugby)
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Conlan, Bernard Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Cowans, Harry Hunter, Adam Rooker, J. W.
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Roper, John
Crawshaw, Richard Janner, Greville Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Cryer, Bob Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Jessel, Toby Ryman, John
Dalyell, Tam John, Brynmor Sever, John
Davidson, Arthur Johnson, James (Hull West) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Jones, Barry (East Flint) Snape, Peter
Deakins, Eric Jones, Dan (Burnley) Spiggs, Leslie
Doig, Peter Leadbitter, Ted Stallard, A. W.
Dormand, J. D. Lewis, Arthur (Newham N) Stott, Roger
Dunn, James A. Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Strang, Gavin
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Loyden, Eddie Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Eadie, Alex Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) McCartney, Hugh Torney, Tom
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) McDonald, Dr Oonagh Urwln, T. W.
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Mackintosh, John P. Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Madden, Max Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Ford, Ben Magee, Bryan Ward, Michael
Forrester, John Marks, Kenneth Watkins, David
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) White, James (Pollok)
Freud, Clement Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Whitlock, William
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Golding, John Molloy, William Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Gourlay, Harry Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Woodall, Alec
Graham, Ted Moyle, Roland Woof, Robert
Grant, George (Morpeth) Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Wrigglesworth, Ian
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Noble, Mike
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hardy Peter Palmer, Arthur Mr. Frank R. White and
Harper, Joseph Pardoe, John Mr. James Tinn.

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment proposed: No. 18, in page 12, line 9, at end insert: 'but a local authority shall not increase the income so receivable by more than an average

of £39 for each such house in any period of 12 months'.—[Mr. Robin F. Cook.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 25, Noes 119.

Division No. 130] AYES [9.36 p.m.
Bain, Mrs Margaret Litterick, Tom Thompson, George
Bennett, Andrew (Stochport N) Loyden, Eddie Welsh, Andrew
Buchan, Norman McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Wigley, Dafydd
Buchanan, Richard Madden, Max Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Maynard, Miss Joan Wise, Mrs Audrey
Dempsey, James Newens, Stanley
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Rooker, J. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Flannery, Martin Skinner, Dennis Mr. Dennis Canavan and
Gourlay, Harry Stewart, Rt Hon Donald Mr. David Lambie.
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Cowans, Harry Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Armstrong, Ernest Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Freud, Clement
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Crawshaw, Richard Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)
Bates, Alf Cryer, Bob Goldlng, John
Bean, R. E. Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Graham, Ted
Beith, A. J. Dalyell, Tam Grant, George (Morpeth)
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Davidson, Arthur Grimond, Rt Hon J.
Blenkinsop, Arthur Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Boardman, H. Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Hardy, Peter
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Deakins, Eric Harper, Joseph
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Dolg, Peter Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Bottomley, Peter Dormand, J. D. Hooley, Frank
Bradford, Rev Robert Dunlop, John Hooson, Emlyn
Bray, Dr Jeremy Dunn, James A. Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)
Campbell, Ian Eadle, Alex Hunter, Adam
Carmichael, Neil Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)
Clemitson, Ivor Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Janner, Greville
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Conlan, Bernard Forrester, John Jessel, Toby
John, Brynmor Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Johnson, James (Hull West) Palmer, Arthur Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Pardoe, John Torney, Tom
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Park, George Urwin, T. W.
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Parry, Robert Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Lewis, Arthur (Newham N) Pavitt, Laurie Wainwright, Richard (Coine V)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Price, William (Rugby) Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Ward, Michael
McCartney, Hugh Rodgers, George (Chorley) Watkins, David
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Roper, John White, Frank R. (Bury)
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) White, James (Pollok)
Mackintosh, John P. Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock) Whitlock, William
Magee, Bryan Ryman, John Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Marks, Kenneth Sever, John Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Shore, Rt Hon Peter Woodali, Alec
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Smith, John (N Lanarkshire) Woof, Robert
Molloy, William Snape, Peter Wrigglesworth, Ian
Morris, Rt Hon Charles R. Spriggs, Leslie
Moyle, Roland Stallard, A. W. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Stott, Roger Mr. James Tinn and
Noble, Mike Strang, Gavin Mr. Jim Marshall.

Question accordingly negatived.

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