HC Deb 11 June 1980 vol 986 cc630-61
Mr. Cook

I beg to move amendment No. 46, in page 5, line 19, leave out "2" and insert "3".

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, we may take Government amendment No. 47.

Mr. Cook

My right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) has already drawn my attention to the fact that my amendment is technically defective because it would result in a redundant two-line passage in the Bill. When I tabled the amendment I did not anticipate that the deletion of "2" and its replacement by "3" could be defective, but I recognise that it would result in a redundant passage in the Bill. I shall therefore be pleased to withdraw the amendment, following an undertaking by the Under-Secretary that he will introduce an amendment in another place to give effect to my intention.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. Gentleman wish not to move his amendment, or does he intend to ask leave to withdraw it?

Mr. Cook

I said that I shall be pleased to ask leave to withdraw the amendment following an assurance from the Under-Secretary that the Government will address themselves to the matter in another place. I am sorry if I misled the Chair. I am sure that the Chair is as eager as I am to hear the Minister's assurance.

The intention of the amendment is to draw attention to the narrow timetable within which local authorities will have to respond to an offer to buy by a tenant. An authority will be obliged to make a response within three months during the first year of the legislation and within two months in subsequent years.

My amendment is grouped with a Government amendment of which I was not aware when I tabled my amendment. The Government amendment seeks to extend, in a qualified way, the period within which the applicant can make an objection if he regards a condition attached to the offer of sale as onerous or unacceptable. The period within which an applicant can exercise his right to apply to the Lands Tribunal is extended from one month to two months.

6.45 pm

The applicant has only himself and his immediate family to consider when turning over in his mind the conditions attached to an offer. The area of consultation and the possible area of dispute are much narrower than in the matters that have to be considered when a local authority is responding to an offer to purchase.

In responding to an offer, a local authority has to make four separate deci- sions, which are detailed in clause 2 (2). It has to determine the market value, the discount, the price—though that will follow naturally from the first two decisions—and whether it wishes to attach any conditions. Finally, it has to draw up the legal offer of sale to the applicant.

In Committee, the Under-Secretary defended the two-month period on the ground that he had been advised by the district valuers that they would be able to produce a valuation within six weeks. He therefore proposed a limit that was only two weeks in excess of that six-week period.

In Committee we obviously failed to impress upon the hon. Gentleman that much more is involved in a local authority's response than the sending of the district valuer to look at a house. Even after the authority has received a valuation it has to prepare a legal offer of sale.

The Under-Secretary is an advocate and not a solicitor, and therefore he has no firsthand experience of conveyancing. I assure him that when I have brushed against conveyancing I have found that problems sometimes arise that could not be readily resolved in the two-week gap that he is allowing. On top of the straght-forward matters of legal process, a local authority, carrying out a proper and responsible democratic check on what its officials are doing, may wish to submit the offers to purchase to the full democratic scrutiny of its councillors before the offer of sale is submitted to the applicant.

I served on a local authority when it was customary to circulate to members a list of the houses that we were prepared to sell in any one month. As most local authorities have a four- or five-week cycle of meetings, it will be impossible to feed such matters through the democratic process in less than five weeks.

For all those reasons, the period of two months appears to be unrealistically short. This is not a party point ; it has been raised by a number of local authority officials and councillors who do not necessarily share the Opposition's political views or prejudices about the Bill.

The Government received representations from COSLA on the matter when the convention was not dominated by the Labour Party. COSLA said that if the period of two months was to be retained it should be confined to the serving on an applicant of a notice detailing the valuation and the discount but that local authorities should not be required to submit the formal offer to sell, because that would require further time, both so that it could be put in a legal form and so that the formal approval of the authority could be obtained. That seemed a reasonable and responsible compromise, and it is unfortunate that the Government did not accept it.

If the Under-Secretary is unable to distinguish between a simple notice setting out the terms of a sale and a formal offer to sell, he must take on board the fact that the period of two months provided in the clause is far too short.

What we are discussing is not simply the timetable within which an efficient, effective and well-manned local authority could carry out the calculations necessary and make an offer to sell. We are discussing a period of time the expiry of which gives rise to a fresh legal right, namely, the right to submit a case to the Lands Tribunal for Scotland. I should not have thought that it would be unreasonable to allow a three-month period before that legal right was triggered, even if it were anticipated that most local authorities would, in most cases, be capable of making a formal offer to sell within a period of two rather than three months.

If the Minister is unable to accept the amendment and confines local authorities to the timetable set out in the Bill he will place two bodies in great difficulty. He will place the Lands Tribunal in great difficulty, because it will receive a substantial number of cases that it otherwise might not have received. It is only fair to point out that the Lands Tribunal for Scotland is a small body with a full-time complement of five, and clearly it will not relish the prospect of having unnecessary cases brought before it because the timetable set out in the Bill is unrealistically tight.

The other group that will be placed in difficulty consists of the local authorities. They will be faced with the task of meeting an unrealistically tight schedule at the very time when the very same Minister is encouraging them to lay off staff, particularly in the administrative sections. This will necessarily handicap their ability to respond in terms of the timetable in the Bill.

I therefore earnestly ask the Minister to think again about the matter and to consider whether he is not placing too onerous a burden on local authorities. I ask him to recognise that if he seeks to press through a Bill that is highly contentious, and if, in addition, he makes procedural points that are highly unrealistic, he cannot complain if he fails to get the collaboration and co-operation of local authorities.

Mr. Donald Dewar (Glasgow, Garscadden)

I support my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook), who has made a very powerful case in terms of the Minister's own approach and self-interest.

If there is one thing that is clear it is that there will be an enormous amount of trouble over the workings of the measure. The Minister will find his position almost untenable if he tries to enforce a timetable that is totally unrealistic. That is the clear implication of the two months' time limit set out in the clause.

I have been a solicitor employed in local government. I know the pressures, and I am aware that at the moment they are being greatly increased as a result of Government policy. Even today we have had rumblings from the Government Back Benches about the number of people employed in local government. This is a recurrent theme. It is totally unrealistic for the Minister to try to impose this enormously tight strait-jacket of a timetable at the same time as he incites local authorities to lay off staff and insists that there should be a very strict limitation on any increase of staff.

Legal staff are quite hard to recruit, and they also come expensive, if I may put it in that way. It is nonsense to insist on a timetable that will give those who are opposed to the Bill every good cause for saying that it is not only doctrinally wrong, misguided and misconceived but also practically impossible to implement in the terms in which the Government have set it out.

I entirely agree with the point made about the Lands Tribunal for Scotland. To put into legislation a situation in which, after only two months in the second or the third year, a person is in statutory breach if he has not concluded the quite complicated series of operations envisaged in clause 2(2), is to invite trouble. It may greatly increase the work load of the Lands Tribunal, which at the moment is no doubt an admirable but somewhat sleepy organisation, which every now and then is called upon to adjudicate on a matter concerning crofting tenure or agriculture tenancy, or to consider a dispute about a condition in a deed dating back to the early nineteenth century. Suddenly it will be faced with a flood of applications and allegations that local authorities are in statutory breach when in fact the local authorities will be in that position only because they have been faced with an unrealistic timetable and have been prevented from taking on the staff required to meet it.

It may have been suggested that market values can be set by district valuers within six weeks of application, but as a solicitor in private practice and one who has worked for local authorities, that seems to me to be an almost totally unbelievable claim. From my experience I suggest that it will be a totally new departure in terms of the service given by district valuers, who are overworked and take a very long time to reach a decision. I do not believe that district valuers will be able, within six weeks, to do what is required of them.

The whole scheme, therefore, is based on a totally false premise. Unless the Minister is able to say that he expects an enormous expansion of the staff in district valuers' departments we shall be in great difficulty. Whether or not he has lived for too long in the cloistered calm of the Faculty of Advocates, he must at least have heard the distant rumblings of reality. He must know that what he is suggestig is deeply mistaken.

I suggest to the Minister that we should not invite additional irritations by having an unrealistic timetable. We have enough to argue about in terms of principle without having this sort of pettifogging nonsense. Let the Minister at least accept the very modest proposal that the period of two months be extended to three months. Even that may cause practical difficulties, but I suppose that we must all compromise on occasions. I hope that the Minister will be sensible and will accept this very modest step towards making the system workable.

Mr. Rifkind

I am not sure when the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Cenral (Mr. Cook) and the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) last spoke to the local authorities or consulted them for their views on this matter. They may or may not be aware that the local authorities indicated that the orginal period of two months would create difficulties for them, particularly in the first year, because of the expected flood of applications from tenants interested in purchasing their own homes. The huge number of local authorities were expecting was thought likely to create the difficulty. It was because the Government acknowledged that the tremendous response of council tenants might create a difficulty in the short term that an amendment was moved in Committee, providing that in the first year a period of three months would be permitted for the purpose and that only after that would a period of two months be regarded as appropriate.

In our discussions with local authorities since then they have given us every reason to believe that they are quite satisfied that a period of three months will be sufficient for the first year and two months sufficient thereafter. COSLA is quite content with the existing proposal, as is the chief valuer. No one—apart from the two hon. Gentlemen—has suggested otherwise.

I suspect that we may be seeing the first fruits of a recent meeting that took place beween Labour councillors and Labour Members to try to devise a means of suggesting that it is impossible, with the best will in the world, for local authorities to seek to implement their statutory responsibilities. I have to tell the two hon. Gentlemen that they have picked the wrong one if they think that this is an example to prove their point. COSLA is quite satisfied with the Bill in its present form. The amendment made in Committee was at the request of COSLA. The Government responded to its request. The hon. Gentleman may not be satisfied, but the local authorities certainly are.

Government amendment No. 47 deals with the situation in which both the tenant and the landlord seek an extension in terms of the matters dealt with in the amendment that should be permitted. It seems quite appropriate that where there is agreement between the parties the matter should not automatically go to the Lands Tribunal if a little more time will prevent the need for that. If the local authority is able to satisfy the applicant that it needs a little more than three months in the first year or two months in the second year there is no obligation on the tenant to go to the Lands Tribunal. Only where there is disagreement should the tenant exercise his statutory right.

The local authorities are quite happy with the Bill, and on that basis I commend the Government amendment to the House.

Mr. O'Neill

In the past I have had occasion to castigate the Falkirk district council, which, when under Scottish nationalist control, was very enthusiastic about the sale of council houses, but in the dealings that I had with the council, it was at pains to point out that the burden that would be placed upon it as a result of the proposed legislation—this was prior to the local government elections—was such that it would not be able to undertake it. It pointed out that problems would arise, in the form of extra staffing, which it could not afford to finance.

I am surprised that the Minister is so complacent about the likely results of the Bill. I think that he is living in cloud-cuckoo-land.

7 pm

Mr. Cook

Only the passing of time will tell us whether COSLA is satisfied with the present form of the Bill. I suspect that as we discuss these matters over the months between Royal Assent and the Government's demise we may discover that COSLA is not so satisfied with the present shape of the Bill as the Minister is trying to suggest.

The issue is not whether most local authorities believe that they can accomplish the two-month schedule. I entirely share the reservation of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar). What local authorities think that they can do and what they subsequently achieve are often at variance. The point is that if they fail to meet the two-month schedule a legal remedy may be conferred on the applicant. It is all very well for the Minister to say that that legal right does not have to be exercised. The fact remains that the Secretary of State has the legal right. It is created by the clause.

As I indicated earlier, my amendment is defective. I do not wish to distress my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) by inviting him to support a defective amendment. In any event, I do not wish to leave the Minister with the impression that the Opposition will be happier if we achieve a more workmanlike and realistic procedure, in which councils are obliged to sell off their council houses. The hon. Gentleman should be concerned to ensure that every procedure in the Bill is realistic, practicable and pragmatic, so that there can be no doubt that any failure to achieve the timetable is the result of wilful neglect or deliberate delay on the part of the local authority. I am sorry that the Minister has not grasped that. He is creating a timetable that is unrealistic. Many of the local authorities that will seek to implement the Bill will not be capable of meeting that timetable. It is inevitable that there will be a state of great confusion in Scotland for the two or three years that the Bill remains on the statute book.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: No. 47, in page 6, line 19, after ' month ', insert 'or, with the consent of the landlord given in writing before the expiry of the said period of one month, witin two months'.—[Mr. Rifkind.]

Mr. Rifkind

I beg to move amendment No. 49, in page 7, line 16, leave out from ' the ' to ' for ' in line 18 and insert 'application of regulations made under section 5(3) of this Act to obtain a loan of the amount'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments :

Government amendment No. 50.

No. 74, in Clause 5, page 10, line 19, after ' applicant ' insert— '(iv) such other information as may be prescribed to allow the landlord or other body to consider whether the applicant is a suitable person to receive a loan under this section'. No. 75, in page 10, line 24, at end insert— '(2A) The Secretary of State shall specify by regulations made by statutory instrument the methods to be used for calculating the maximum amount of loan which might be granted in respect of any loan application under this section and the circumstances in which no loan shall be granted. (2B) The order made under subsection (2A) above shall not come into effect unless a draft thereof has been laid before Parliament and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament'. Government amendments Nos. 76 and 77.

No. 78, in page 10, line 30, leave out from ' correct ' to end of line 35 and insert ' either (a)'.

No. 79, in page 10, line 38, leave out from beginning to ' or ' in lane 43 and insert ' subsection (2A) above'.

Government amendment No. 81

No. 82, in page 10, line 44, leave out from ' that ' to end of line 45 and insert—

  1. '(i) subsection (3A) above is not complied with, or
  2. (ii) that in accordance with subsection (2A) above no loan can be granted or
  3. (iii) that in the opinion of the landlord or other body the applicant is not a suitable person to receive a loan under this section.'.
No. 84, in page 11, line 16, leave out ' (4)(b) ' and insert (3).

Mr. Rifkind

The main Government amendment in the group is No. 77, which removes the reference to a minimum requirement relating to the net income of the applicant for a mortgage. The effect of the clause in its present form would mean that even if a tenant were seeking not a full loan but a partial loan, he would not be able to be provided with it if his income was below the minimum requirement imposed by the Secretary of State.

On reflection, it has been recognised that that provision might have undesirable results if the applicant is seeking only a small loan. It seems appropriate for the Government to introduce the amendment. When this issue was discussed in Committee the Opposition expressed support for the proposal but emphasised that they considered it to be acceptable only if it were part of a wider package, which clearly it is not.

Government amendment No. 81 is a direct consequence of the change in clause 5(3). It restricts an authority's ability to refuse loan applications on the ground of inaccurate information by providing that the inaccuracy must be of material consequence. If there is a small, trivial inaccuracy, it seems reasonable that that should not be justification for refusing a mortgage.

The remaining two Government amendments are consequential. Reference is made to the minimum net income requirement as the reason for a sufficient loan not being granted. As a consequence of the change which I have explained, it is now necessary to refer to the application of regulations made under clause 5(3).

The effect of Government amendment No. 76 is to give a tenant the right to have any inaccurate information in his application for a loan pointed out to him by the landlord and the right to correct such information. It is clearly appropriate that these matters should be facilitated as the amendments propose, and I commend the amendments to the House.

Mr. Millan

We are utterly opposed to clause 5 in its present form. It will compel local authorities to offer loans in circumstances in which it would not be reasonable for anyone to offer a loan and in circumstances in which the applicant has been unable to obtain a sufficient building society loan, or any such loan. The clause will compel a local authority to lend money to an applicant to buy a house that the local authority probably does not want to sell to him, and, in some instances, to do it in circumstances in which no building society in its right mind would want to offer a loan. I consider this to be one of the worst clauses, and an abuse of public accountability.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that he does not believe it to be right for a local authority to offer a loan at a rate lower than the current rate set by the building society? Does he mean that it is not proper for an authority to offer a differential rate?

Mr. Millan

Is the hon. Gentleman asking about the rate of interest?

Mr. Johnston


Mr. Millan

Clause 5 has nothing to do with the rate of interest. There is another clause that provides that the rate must be higher, not lower. Nothing that I have said so far has anything to do with rates of interest

Local authorities will be compelled to grant a loan in circumstances in which the applicant has not been able to obtain a loan from a building society. Presumably the building society will withhold loans for good reasons. The local authority will have no discretion.

The Secretary of State will introduce regulations. When we asked in Committee to see what might be included in the draft regulations we were given a document that could be described only as laughable. It contained elementary errors. There were omissions, mistypes and misquotations. Practically every error that one could think of was contained within it. The Minister had to admit that the document was not a serious contribution to the discussion on the clause. However, we have seen nothing else.

I said in Committee that the document did not even mention the applicant's net income, although that happened to be in the clause. The Minister has overcome that deficiency by removing the reference. That will be done by amendment No. 77. We do not even know whether that is sensible, because we do not know whether the draft regulations will impose these obligations on the local authority. The Government will be in considerable trouble in another place unless the regulations are available in draft form so that the impact of the clause is known.

An extraordinary feature is that in every case an offer of a loan will be made to the applicant, even if it is only 2½p. If the conditions are met there will be nothing in the clause that will allow a local authority not to offer a loan. Provided the information that has been provided to the local authority is in order, the regulations will provide that some sort of loan will be offered. If that is not so, the clause is remarkably ill-drafted.

The way in which the clause now reads, with the omission of subsection (3)(b)—that is, the effect of amendment No. 77—means that the local authority will have to give the applicant some form of loan. That is ludicrous. In Committee it was pointed out theoretically—and as far as I can see now, practically—that even people who receive supplementary benefit will be offered some sort of loan to enable them to buy their council houses. As any building society will say, there axe many people who would love to buy their homes but who do not have the income or other circumstances that would make that sensible. Building societies would not offer a loan to people in such circumstances. Under this clause, people will be offered loans and the local authority will have no discretion in respect of the suitability of the applicants in the offer or refusal of a loan.

Amendment No. 74 adds a little to the information that the applicant must provide to the local authority— and such other information as may be prescribed"— so that the Secretary of State will be able to make a decision at the end of the day—to enable the landlord or the local authority to consider whether the applicant is a suitable person to receive a loan.

The gross income of some people may be satisfactory to a building society, but they may have a record of other debts, and perhaps current debts, which make them unsuitable for loans. Moreover, we must remember that the application for the loan need not merely be in the name of the tenant. It can be in the name of the tenant and other members of his family, because under another provision of the Bill an application to buy may be in the name of the tenant and other members of his family. As far as we understand from the document that was circulated to us the income of a 16-year-old, who may not live in the house very long after the date of the application, will be taken into account in determining eligibility for a loan.

It is inevitable, therefore, that local authorities will spend the ratepayers' money, and that they will be compelled to do so, even against their better judgment. Amendment No. 74 gives a certain amount of discretion to local authorities, but only in circumstances in which the Secretary of State has so prescribed. That is a minimal provision.

Amendment No. 75 would allow the regulations that are to be made by statutory instrument—we do not like this way of proceeding, but the procedure is laid down in the Bill—not only to explain the maximum amount of loan but to lay out the circumstances in which a loan should not be granted. Whether or not we refer to net income in the clause, or the regulations it is indispensable for a provision to be included whereby below a certain limit a loan should not be granted. That is a standard provision of the building societies. If amendment No. 75 is not included, some sort of loan, even though it may be a minimum loan, will be granted.

7.15 pm

Amendment No. 82 would allow the local authority to refuse a loan on the basis that the information had not been accurately supplied by the applicant or that, according to the regulations, a loan could not be granted under the legislation, or that in the opinion of the local authority the applicant was not a suitable person to receive a loan. I hope that the Minister will not say that this would give carte blance to local authorities to turn down applicants on the basis that they are not suitable. There are other provisions in the Bill which allow the applicant, if he is aggrieved by a refusal to take certain actions—for instance, to apply to the sheriff.

I am not averse to there being certain rights for the applicant who is turned down in a cavalier way, and I hope that the Minister will not see that as a serious objection to amendments Nos. 75 and 82. I strongly believe that it is monstrous to tell local authorities that they will have no discretion or judgment in the question whether an applicant is suitable. The applicant may be a tenant who is constantly in arrears with his rent and who has had to be taken to court, and yet, as I understand, the local authority will have no discretion to turn down an application for a loan from him if he meets certain requirements—so far, not completely disclosed—that the Secretary of State may determine by statutory instrument.

That is the sort of ridiculous obligation that will be placed on local authorities under clause 5, and under the regulations. We discussed this matter in Committee. We received many unsatisfactory answers to our questions then, but this was the most unsatisfactory. The Government amendments will not take the matter further in any satisfactory way. I shall therefore press our amendments strongly.

Mr. Dewar

I rise to support my right hon. Friend with enthusiasm. I was not a member of the Committee, and therefore I did not take part in the detailed arguments on this matter. The provision for the granting of loans by the local authorities under the clause is one of the most startling of many startling aspects of the Bill. If the Government were to tell the building societies that they intended to lay down a simple financial requirement on income, and that if that requirement was met they must lend, there would be a deafening scream of pain. But that is what the Government are telling local authorities.

My right hon. Friend is correct in saying that there should be some element of flexibility, and that there should be a provision that would allow an element of discretion. It is extraordinary. If, for instance, the eldest child of one of the tenants who might use this provision were to make an offer for a flat in the private sector and were to ask the district council for a loan, a different provision would apply. As I understand it, in those situations a loan would be entirely discretionary.

Therefore, we would have the ludicrous situation in which we had obligatory lending for a house in the public sector but if someone was trying to raise a loan from the district council for a house in the private sector, a different set of rules would apply. The incentive to use discretion to refuse a loan in the private sector will be particularly strong given the enormous demands on local authority time and the tremendous artificial loading of loans which will result from these extraordinary proposals.

There is another anomaly. In the private sector, if, as very often happens, a landlord decides that he does not wish to continue as a landlord but wishes to sell, an offer may well be made to the sitting tenant at, in effect, a discount. I have been familiar with this many times in Glasgow, where a trust may own a tenement property and is anxious to get out because of continuing administrative problems. It comes along with an extremely attractive offer to the sitting tenant. The tenant wishes to take it up and asks the local authority for a loan. The chances are that when that person discovers that the loan is discretionary and may well be refused because of pressure on the loans department arising from the provisions under this Bill, he will feel extremely bitter about the inequitable treatment he is receiving. The whole thing is riddled with anomalies and injustices. I dislike the clause, but if we are to be landed with it, as we are, my right hon. Friend's amendments are only common sense.

The whole area will be fraught with discontent. In Glasgow the district council is now offering loans at 11¾ per cent. interest. Under the Bill, it will be forced to raise the rate of interest to a minimum of at least the going rate with building societies, which is 15 per cent. That, presumably, would apply not only to people who are borrowing under this Bill to buy a council house but to all district council loans in the private sector. If Conservative Members think that they will be thanked for that piece of Conservative social engineering, they have another thought coming.

I should like to enter a very strong protest about that side effect, which will hit thousands of people at the bottom end of the owner-occupier scale. That is the vicious thing about it. Conservatives are constantly saying that they want to help those who are marginal potential owner-occupiers, who are trying to get into home ownership. These are very often the people who will be borrowing from local authorities. The effect of all this package of deals on loans is that local authorities will be forced to raise interest rates for these people very substantially indeed, at least in the city of Glasgow. If that is the Conservatives' philosophy, I like it not.

Mr. Cook

My hon. Friend has put his linger on one of the most iniquitous provisions in the Bill, which will hit hard those people to whom the Secretary of State would refer—no doubt on the lines that he did last night—as the small, local people, people with low incomes buying small houses, who will find that because they cannot get a building society mortgage they will have to pay through the nose to a local authority, on which they will now have to rely.

I draw my hon. Friend's attention to the fact that it is not simply that the effect of the Bill will be to increase the rate of interest on local authority home loans to the present building society rate, but if on a future occasion—as was frequently the case during the 1970s—the building society rate falls below the local authority rates, on this occasion they will not follow that building society rate. They follow the building society rate only when it is higher than that required by the local authority, but one does not get the advantageof following the building society rate when it is less than is required by the local authority.

Mr. Dewar

I absolutely agree. The whole thing is oppressive. It is oppressive on a section of potential home owners who can least afford it. I get extremely angry about the hypocrisy which is built into this provision. It is this advantage to the public sector as against the private sector which worries me most. The Minister will be aware that Glasgow district council, if we are to believe press reports, is about to restrict all loans in the private sector to 75 per cent. of the purchase price. Here again, not only will the loan be discretionary and not only will Conservative policy deliberately force up the cost of the loan for people borrowing from the district council in the private sector, but the total available for loans is likely to be much lower than for those who are taking the option of buying their houses under this legislation.

In strongly supporting my right hon. Friend's point about the need to be a little more selective in terms of the previous record of the tenant and so on—it is only prudent at least to establish machinery that allows that to be taken into account—I enter my strong protest about the effects of all these policies on those who borrow from district councils in the private sector. My strong impression is that when inevitably they come up against the consequences of these manoeuvrings of the Conservative Party, they will be very angry about this very oppressive and unfair legislation.

Mr. Rifkind

Opposition Members have quite correctly pointed out that the conditions under the Bill for those buying their council houses are quite different, not only from the granting of a mortgage by a building society, but from a local authority mortgage for a person wishing to buy a house in the private sector. They are quite right to make the distinction. It is right and proper that there should be a distinction, for what I would have thought were very obvious reasons. The major difference is that where a local authority is providing a mortgage for a person wishing to buy a house in the private sector, the local authority has to find the cash to give it to the applicant. It has to do this in that way. Therefore, it is right and proper that it should be a discretionary matter.

But we are dealing with something quite different. We are talking about the local authority that is selling a house to the tenant where the tenant will get the mortgage from the local authority to which he is presently paying rent. Therefore, there is no public expenditure implication. There is no need for the local authority to find a single penny in order to do this. The local authority has the house as security for the loan. In effect, all that is happening is a bookkeeping transaction. Instead of paying rent to one account of the local authority, the tenant, as mortgagor, will be paying his mortgage repayment to the other account of the local authority.

Mr. Cook

The Minister is distinguishing between loans for the purpose of purchasing a council house and loans for the purpose of purchasing a house in the private sector. He will not dispute the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) that in one regard they are identical, and that is the effect of the working of clause 29. Both those borrowing to buy council houses and those borrowing to buy small tenement flats will pay a substantially higher percentage interest than they do at present.

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. Gentleman is right concerning the rate of interest. But it does not arise within the amendments. Therefore, I shall not dwell on the matter at this stage.

Mr. Cook

It is true.

Mr. Rifkind

I do not dispute it, and at the appropriate time the hon. Gentleman can comment on that matter. But what we are concerned with now in these amendments is mortgage entitlement. I was indicating what I thought was a perfectly obvious reason why the circumstances are total different when a local authority is selling its own houses to tenants who are already paying it rent and instead will be paying it in mortgage repayments.

Mr. Millan

The two things are closely connected. This is where the fact that we do not have even a draft of what will be in the regulations is deplorable. The Minister must be intending to provide in the regulations, presumably, that the maximum amount of loan that can be offered to a local authority tenant will involve him in a weekly or monthly obligation in mortgage repayment which is significantly higher than the rent that he is paying now. If the Minister is not suggesting that, the amount of loan that will be offered to the tenants concerned will be absolutely derisory with the current rates of interest. Is it or is it not a fact that it will be the Government's intention to compel local authorities to offer loans which will involve repayment obligations on the part of the tenants concerned very much greater than anything that they are paying in rent now?

Mr. Rifkind

The extent to which a mortgage repayment will compare with the rent will obviously vary from tenant to tenant. It will depend on the rent that they have been paying, and on the proportion of the house for which they are paying out of savings as opposed to through the mortgage. It will depend on a series of factors. I am quite willing to concede that in a very substantial proportion of cases, the mortgage repayment will be greater than the rent payment. However, that will not apply automatically. In a significant proportion of the houses that have been sold, tenants have required only a part mortgage from the local authority. They have met the remainder from their savings. It therefore does not follow automatically.

7.30 pm
Mr. Millan

I did not ask whether it followed automatically. What view will the Government take when they set out the maximum amount of loan to be offered under the terms of the regulations? Maximum amounts will be laid down. The Government must have an opinion. Will the average wage earner, paying an average rent, pay significantly more under the terms laid down in the regulations? Why does not the Minister let us see the draft regulations so that we can make a proper judgment?

Mr. Rifkind

The right hon. Gentleman's question would have been reasonable if rents bore some relation to income. Irrespective of whether a tenant is on supplementary benefit or a salary of £15,000 a year, he pays the same amount of rent. It is therefore impossible to reach a conclusion about whether tenants will pay more in rent than in mortgage repayments or vice versa.

Mr. Millan

I am asking a specific question. The Under-Secretary of State continues to dodge it. I shall ask that question more specifically. Will the average wage earner, paying the average local authority rent be entitled to a loan—under the regulations—that will involve him in weekly or monthly mortgage repayments that are significantly higher than the average rent for a council house? Will he give a straight answer?

Mr. Rifkind

I could have given the right hon. Gentleman a specific answer if he had given me some notice. I cannot be expected to give an immediate answer, based on a certain set of assumptions. I shall ensure that the matter is considered and will write to the right hon. Gentleman, telling him the answer. However, he cannot expect an immediate answer to such a complex question.

Mr. Millan

The issues were raised in Committee. With great difficulty we obtained a draft document from the Government during the Committee stage. As I recollect, it appeared during discussion of this clause. The document was utterly laughable. As the Minister subsequently confessed in Committee, it was full of inaccuracies. Several weeks have passed since then. Why is a draft document not available? When will it become available?

Mr. Rifkind

I cannot give a specific date. However, those issues will be included in the draft document. The right hon. Gentleman can then make his comments. Our dispute does not relate to the details of the draft document. Opposition Members wish to frustrate the possibility of tenants buying their own homes by denying them the right to a mortgage.

Mr. Barry Henderson (Fife, East)

In Committee, the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) said that we were giving tenants too good a deal. He now claims that we are not giving the tenant a good enough deal. Does not my hon. Friend conclude that on balance it is the right deal?

Mr. Rifkind

That is a reasonable conclusion. I accept that the Opposition wish to frustrate our policy. They wish to deny mortgages to as many tenants as possible. Their points would have some subtance if local authorities were expected to find huge amounts of cash for mortgages. However, local authorities will not have to find a single penny to finance the purchase of their property. Instead of paying rent, those who wish to buy their homes will pay a mortgage. If the mortgagor defaults on his payments, the local authority has a council house as security. In the event of a default in mortgage repayments, the local authority will be able to recover its council house. The local authority therefore has security. It will not have to fork out a single penny.

Local authority tenants will be able to exercise their rights under the law. Opposition Members would have been the first to complain if the Government had provided a right but had not provided the means for council tenants to take advantage of it I therefore cannot accept the Opposition amendment.

Mr. Millan

Will the Minister confirm my point and let me know whether I am right? As the clause is drafted, is it not a fact that every applicant, regardless of income, will get an offer of a loan?

Mr. Rifkind

It is true that an applicant could not be refused a loan. However, the maximum to which he would be entitled would depend on his income. In practice, a tenant on a low income, or on supplementary benefit, would be entitled only to a very small amount. Unless mat applicant had other savings or an alternative source of income, he would be unlikely to be able to purchase the property. Although the right hon. Gentleman is technically correct, a maximum will apply to the multiplier on the loan. The public interest is therefore suitably protected.

Mr. Millan

It is not a question of whether I am technically right.

Mr. Rifkind

The right hon. Gentleman is right.

Mr. Millan

I wish that the Minister had said that instead of embroidering his speech with words that are not particularly relevant. He has said that regardless of income a tenant, even if he is on supplementary benefit, will get an offer of a loan. Is that right?

Mr. Rifkind

That is right. However, I am obliged to add the rider that that will not enable the applicant to purchase the house unless the loan is sufficient to cover the cost or he is in possession of savings to cover the remainder. Subject to those points, the right hon. Gentleman is correct.

Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)

I have been in contact with the hon. Gentleman on behalf of Monklands district council. He knows that that council complains bitterly that, as a result of cuts in its housing allocations, it does not have any resources to lend. If the council goes ahead with the programme of modernisation to which it is committed, it will not be able to build houses or lend money to anyone, tenant or not, to buy any type of house.

I do not seek to frustrate the sale of houses. The hon. Gentleman knows that that is so, as I have corresponded with him on this subject. How can Monk-lands district council give loans to tenants to buy their houses when there is no money in the kitty? Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will advise me.

Mr. Rifkind

I shall give the hon. Gentleman an answer that he will be delighted to hear. We have made clear to local authorities—in Scotland and elsewhere—that loans to council tenants need not come from existing housing allocations to local authorities. There is no ceiling on the amount of loan that a local authority can give to a tenant who wishes to purchase a council house.

A local authority which provides such a loan will not have to find any cash. There are no public expenditure implications. Monklands district council can happily grant as many loans as it wishes for that purpose—[Interruption.] I hope that Opposition Members will allow me to answer a question asked by one of their colleagues. Monklands district council can give as many mortgages as it wishes to council tenants wishing to puchase their homes. It will not have one penny's effect on its housing revenue account or on its non-housing revenue account allocations.

Mr. Dempsey

Where will the money come from?

Mr. Rifkind

I have been trying to point out that local authorities will not have to find cash. The tenant is already paying rent. Instead of paying rent to one account, he will pay a mortgage repayment to another account. It is unnecessary for the local authority to find cash for that purpose.

Mr. Cook

Will the hon. Gentleman explain whether this peculiar loan—which does not involve the transference of cash—will increase M3?

Mr. Rifkind

The loans will not have public expenditure implications. Given the vast number of tenants who will exercise this right, the Government would have been concerned if the loans had done so. I am happy to reassure the hon. Gentleman on that point.

Mr. Millan

I give notice, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that when we come to the appropriate point in the Amendment Paper I should like the House to divide on amendment No. 74. I hope that that will be noted.

Amendments made: No. 49, in page 7, line 16, leave out from ' the ' to ' for ' in line 18 and insert 'application of regulations made under section 5(3) of this Act to obtain a loan of the amount'.

No. 50, in page 7, line 20, leave out from beginning to second ' or'.—[Mr. Rifkind.]

Mr. Rifkind

I beg to move amendment No. 51, in page 7, line 25, leave out from ' £100 ' to ' and ' in line 28.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may take the following amendments :

No. 52, in page 7, line 27, leave out ' 2 years ' and insert ' six months'.

Government amendment No. 53.

No. 54, in page 7, line 30, leave out ' 2 years ' and insert ' six months'.

Government amendment No. 55.

No. 56, in page 7, line 31, at end insert— '8A. Subsection (8) of this section shall not apply where the dwelling-house is one of a group on which the landlord has proposals for, or the houses are in the process of, improvements, alterations, or major structural repair.'. Government amendment No. 59.

Mr. Rifkind

I wish to speak to all the Government amendments included in this series. No. 59 provides that the existence of a fixed price option shall not prevent an authority from recovering possession of the house, and when it does so the fixed price option is terminated. Without this amendment there would be no point in a landlord recovering possession of a house, subject to a fixed price option, because even if the new tenants were put in the tenants holding the option would retain their right to buy until the option had expired.

Government amendments Nos. 51 and 55 deal with the circumstances in which the £100 deposit required of a tenant shall be returned to him. Those circumstances include the tenant's death when his successors would be entitled to repayment of the amount, and the termination of the tenancy by virtue of the new subsection (10), when the fixed price option also terminates.

Amendment No. 51 affects the existing provisions and amendment No. 55 implements the effect that I have just described. Government amendment No. 53 is purely drafting, and I can go into that in detail if the House wishes me to do so. The remaining amendments in this category are Opposition amendments, and I shall reserve my comments until after they have been discussed.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

On this matter we had a long session in Committee, and I do not propose to take too much time now, in view of the Minister's remarks in Committee, when he said : In no way would the Government wish to limit or withdraw this right provided in the Bill. It applies only in limited circumstances."—[Official Report, First Scottish Standing Committee, 26 February 1980, c. 7541. In the light of the Government's "no-compromise" attitude, I know that I would be wasting my time on drawing on my extensive eloquence. I do not share the view that every amendment that we table is an obstruction aimed at making life more difficult for the Government. Having read the report of the whole of the proceedings of this part of the Bill in Committee, and being as charitable as I can, I still cannot find one reason for the Government's approach. I found good reasons, from the Minister's arguments, for disagreeing with my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson), who thought that this was a wicked plot to bind a future Government for two years, or with my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) who thought that it was a ploy to enable people to take their income at the date of application in order to obtain beneficial terms as a result of the rise in house prices over the two-year period. I accept what the Minister said against these two arguments, but I really cannot find one point of substance to convince me that there is merit in his proposal.

7.45 pm

I do not think that there will be dramatic changes in people's incomes over a two-year period, unless they become worse off. I cannot see the logic in the proposal. Therefore, I suggest that the Government reduce this period to six months. That seems more realistic.

Amendment No. 56 raises a new principle. Because of the amount of money involved in modernisation work being done or to be done, the occupier of one of these houses should not attract the beneficial right to buy by putting down £100 for the great concession that will be given to him in two years' time.

Mr. Dewar

I rise to support my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Brown) in his plea for substituting six months for two years. The two-year provision is a surprising piece of machinery. If someone applies for a loan and is refused because he has not met the minimum criteria on income, he has the right to put £100 down, and that will preserve his right to buy for two years at the price that existed when he paid the £100. This is a remarkable and enormous advantage for someone who is buying a council house over anyone else who is trying to become a home owner.

In Glasgow, house prices have increased violently over the last two years. I do not have the figures at my fingertips, but I am aware that in every sector of the housing market, whether it be the substantial west-end terraced house, which now commonly fetches well over £60,000 or a house at the bottom end of the market, where escalation is probably even faster, that trend has continued. The right to preserve the option to buy for two years would be very valuable, as it amounts to a two-year price freeze.

I wish to press the point made by my lion. Friend the Member for Provan. Presumably the Government believe that someone who unfortunately cannot meet the financial criteria at present will at some time in the two-year period be able to do so. However, it seems unlikely that circumstances will change so dramatically. Perhaps families will grow up and working children will appear in the house. Another interesting concession is that apparently the total income of the family is taken into account rather than that of the applicant alone. That kind of situation may influence the ability of the family to qualify during the two-year period, but that would be exceptional, and I believe that in most cases the six months' period would be much fairer and much more reasonable, given the fierce escalation in house prices in the West of Scotland and, indeed, in Scotland generally under the aegis of Conservative economic policies.

We now have the new Government amendment No. 55, which sets out the machinery for reclaiming the £100 if the option is not taken up. Will interest be payable on the money in that period? Under the remarkable financial policy of this Administration, interest rates are a matter of some importance. At the going rate of 21 per cent., clearly that £100 would be a valuable investment in its own right—it would grow to about £140 or £150 in two years. As we are giving away everything gift-wrapped to people who wish to exercise their rights under the Bill, I wonder whether we will go as far as paying interest on the £100 deposit.

Mr. Rifkind

There is certainly no statutory obligation on a local authority to pay interest. Should it wish to do so I do not think that it would necessarily be prohibited, but that is certainly not the Government's intention.

The first purpose of the Opposition amendment is to reduce the option period to six months. I accept that Labour Members would prefer that there was no option period at all, but if there is to be one it must be meaningful if it is to be of any real benefit to prospective purchasers. It is not just a matter of a person's income increasing over the two-year period ; it may be a question of savings. Perhaps the person is able to accumulate a sufficient amount to enable him to pay part of the purchase price, thereby reducing the mortgage repayments to a figure that he can afford. A period of six months would have no real effect one way or the other and would mean that the option would rarely be of any benefit. For that reason, the two-year period is thought to be appropriate.

The second purpose of the amendment is to say that there should be no right to a fixed price option where the landlord has proposals for the improvement or the repair of the house and is actually carrying out the work. If an applicant wishes to exercise his right to an option there is no basic reason why, in its offer to sell, a local authority should not seek to impose conditions relating to repayment for any works done in the two-year period. If the tenant disputed that it would be a matter for the Lands Tribunal to resolve. If a local authority seriously contemplated improvements in that two-year period it would simply impose the conditions relating to the repayment of any costs incurred over that period and it would be for the applicant to consider whether that was acceptable, if the Lands Tribunal held that the conditions were reasonable. There is already a mechanism to cover that point. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will find that acceptable.

Mr. Millan

The option is merely a ramp. It is ludicrous, in view of the rate of inflation, to say that by paying £100 today a person can buy a house in two years' time at the same price. The mechanism should be removed. Unfortunately, the amendment that would have done that was not selected.

In the absence of an amendment to remove the monstrous provision, we should try to reduce the damage in the option by voting for amendment No. 54.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made : No. 53, in page 7, line 29, leave out from beginning to ' at ' in line 30 and insert serve a notice of acceptance on the landlord '—[Mr. Rifkind.]

Amendment proposed : No. 54, in page 7, line 30, leave out ' 2 years ' and insert ' six months'.—[Mr. Millan.]

Question put, That the amendment be made :—

The House divided : Ayes 211, Noes 264.

Division No. 357] AYES [7.50 pm
Abse, Leo Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Adams, Allen Foot, Rt Hon Michael Ogden, Eric
Anderson, Donald Ford, Ben O'Halloran, Michael
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Forrester, John O'Neill, Martin
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ernest Foster, Derek Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Foulkes, George Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Ashton, Joe Fraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood) Palmer, Arthur
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham) Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Park, George
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Garrett, John (Norwich S) Parker, John
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) George, Bruce Parry, Robert
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Pavitt, Laurie
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Ginsburg, David Pendry, Tom
Bidwell, Sydney Graham, Ted Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Grant, George (Morpeth) Prescott, John
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Grant, John (Islington C) Race, Reg
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur (M'brough) Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Radice, Giles
Bradley, Tom Hardy, Peter Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds South)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Richardson, Jo
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Haynes, Frank Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh, Leith) Healey, Rt Hon Denis Roberts, Ernest (Hackney North)
Buchan, Norman Heffer, Eric S. Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Hogg, Norman (E Dunbartonshire) Robertson, George
Campbell, Ian Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhall) Robinson, Peter (Belfast East)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Home Robertson, John Rodgers, Rt Hon William
Cant, R. B. Homewood, William Rooker, J. W.
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hooley, Frank Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Cartwright, John Horam, John Sandelson, Neville
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Sever, John
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen North) Sheerman, Barry
Cohen, Stanley Hughes, Roy (Newport) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert (A'ton-u-L)
Coleman, Donald Janner, Hon Greville Shore, Rt Hon Peter (Step and Pop)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Short, Mrs Renée
Conlan, Bernard John, Brynmor Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Cook, Robin F. Johnson, James (Hull West) Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Cowans, Harry Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rhondda) Silverman, Julius
Cox, Tom (Wandsworth, Tooting) Jones, Barry (East Flint) Skinner, Dennis
Crowther, J. S. Jones, Dan (Burnley) Smith, Rt Hon J. (North Lanarkshire)
Cryer, Bob Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Snape, Peter
Cunliffe, Lawrence Kerr, Russell Soley, Clive
Cunningham, George (Islington S) Kilroy-Silk, Robert Spearing, Nigel
Cunningham, Dr John (Whitehaven) Kinnock, Neil Spriggs, Leslie
Dalyell, Tam Lambie, David Strang, Gavin
Davidson, Arthur Lamborn, Harry Straw, Jack
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Leadbitter, Ted Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton West)
Davis, Clinton, (Hackney Central) Lofthouse, Geoffrey Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford) Lyon, Alexander (York) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle East)
Deakins, Eric Lyons, Edward (Bradford West) Thomas, Dr Roger (Carmarthen)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Dempsey, James McCartney, Hugh Tilley, John
Dewar, Donald McDonald, Dr Oonagh Tinn, James
Dixon, Donald McKay, Allen (Penistone) Watkins, David
Dobson, Frank McKelvey, William Weetch, Ken
Dormand, Jack Maclennan, Robert Wellbeloved, James
Douglas, Dick McQuade, John Welsh, Michael
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Magee, Bryan White, Frank R.(Bury & Radcliffe)
Dubs, Alfred Marks, Kenneth White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Duffy, A. E. P. Marshall, Jim (Leicester South) Whitlock, William
Dunn, James A. (Liverpool, Kirkdale) Mason, Rt Hon Roy Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Dunnett, Jack Maxton, John Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Meacher, Michael Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Eastham, Ken Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Winnick, David
Ellis, Raymond (NE Derbyshire) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Woodall, Alec
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Miller, Dr M. S. (East Kilbride) Woolmer, Kenneth
English, Michael Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Ennals, Rt Hon David Mitchell, R. C. (Solon, Itchen) Wright, Shella
Evans, loan (Aberdare) Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wythenshawe) Young, David (Bolton East)
Ewing, Harry Field, Frank Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Onenertaw) Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon) TELLERS FOR THE AYES :
Fitch, Alan Morton, George Mr. Walter Harrison and
Fitt, Gerard Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Mr. James Hamilton.
Flannery, Martin Newens, Stanley
Adley, Robert Alexander, Richard Amery, Rt Hon Julian
Aitken, Jonathan Alton, David Ancram, Michael
Arnold, Tom Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds) Neale, Gerrard
Aspinwall, Jack Grimond, Rt Hon J. Needham, Richard
Atkins, Robert (Preston North) Grist, Ian Nelson, Anthony
Atkinson, David (B'mouth, East) Grylls, Michael Neubert, Michael
Baker, Nicholas (North Oorset) Gummer, John Selwyn Newton, Tony
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Hamilton, Hon Archie (Eps'm&Ew'll) Normanton, Tom
Beith, A. J. Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Nott, Rt Hon John
Bendall, Vivian Hampson, Dr Keith Onslow, Cranley
Benyon, Thomas (Abingdon) Hannam, John Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs Sally
Benyon, w. (Buckingham) Haselhurst, Alan Page, John (Harrow, West)
Berry, Hon Anthony Hastings, Stephen Page, Rt Hon Sir R. Graham
Best, Keith Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Page, Richard (SW Hertfordshire)
Bevan, David Gilroy Hawksley, Warren Parkinson, Cecil
Blackburn, John Hayhoe, Barney Parris, Mathew
Blaker, Peter Heddle, John Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Henderson, Barry Patten, John (Oxford)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L Pattle, Geoffrey
Bottomley, Peter (Woolwich West) Hogg, Hon Douglas (Grantham) Pawsey, James
Bowden, Andrew Holland, Philip (Carlton) Pollock, Alexander
Braine, Sir Bernard Hooson, Tom Porter, George
Bright, Graham Hordem, Peter Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Brinton, Tim Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Price, David (Eastleigh)
Brittan, Leon Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildford) Proctor, K. Harvey
Brooke, Hon Peter Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe) Howells, Geraint Ralson, Timothy
Bruce-Gardyne, John Hunt, David (Wirral) Rathbone, Tim
Bryan, Sir Paul Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Buck, Antony Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Rhodes James, Robert
Budgen, Nick Jessel, Toby Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Bulmer, Esmond Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Ridsdale, Julian
Burden, F. A. Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Rifkind, Malcolm
Butcher, John Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Butler, Hon Adam Kilfedder, James A. Rossi, Hugh
Cadbury, Jocelyn Kimball, Marcus Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Carlisle, John (Luton West) King, Rt Hon Tom Scott, Nicholas
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Kitson, Sir Timothy Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Carlisle, Rt Hon Mark (Runcorn) Knox, David Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Lamont, Norman Shelton, William (Streatham)
Channon, Paul Lang, Ian Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Chapman, Sydney Lawrence, Ivan Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge-Br'hills)
Churchill, W. S. Lawson, Nigel Silvester Fred
Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Lee, John Sims, Roger
Clark, Sir William (Croydon South) Le Marchant, Spencer Skeet, T. H. H.
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Smith, Dudley (War, and Leam'ton)
Clegg, Sir Walter Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Speller, Tony
Cockeram, Eric Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire)
Colvin, Michael Loveridge, John Squire, Robin
Cope, John Lyell, Nicholas Stanley, John
Cormack, Patrick McCrindle, Robert Steel, Rt Hon David
Cerne, John Macfarlane, Neil Steen, Anthony
Costain, A. P. MacGregor, John Stevens, Martin
Cranborne, Viscount MacKay, John (Argyll) Stewart, Rt Hon Donald (W Isles)
Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Dickens, Geoffrey McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury) Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire)
Dorrell, Stephen McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Stradling Thomas, J.
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James McQuarrie, Albert Tapsell, Peter
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Madel, David Taylor, Teddy (Southend East)
Durant, Tony Major, John Tebbit, Norman
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Mariand, Paul Temple-Morris, Peter
Eggar, Timothy Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Thomas, Rt Hon Peter (Hendon S)
Emery, Peter Marten, Neil (Banbury) Thompson, Donald
Eyre, Reginald Mates, Michael Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Maude, Rt Hon Angus Thornton, Malcolm
Fairgrleve, Russell Mawby, Ray Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexleyheath)
Faith, Mrs Shella Mawhinney, Dr Brian Trippier, David
Farr, John Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Trotter, Neville
Finsberg, Geoffrey Mellor, David Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Fisher, Sir Nigel Meyer, Sir Anthony Viggers, Peter
Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh N) Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch) Wakeham, John
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Mills, lain (Merlden) Waldegrave, Hon William
Fookes, Miss Janet Mills, Peter (West Devon) Walker, Rt Hon Peter (Worcester)
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Miscampbell, Norman Walker, Bill (Perth & Perthshire)
Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Moate, Roger Wall, Patrick
Fry, Peter Molyneaux, James Walters, Dennis
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Monro, Hector Ward, John
Gardner, Edward (South Fylde) Montgomery, Fergus Warren, Ken nth
Goodhew, Victor Moore, John Wells, John (Maidstone)
Gower, Sir Raymond Morris, Michael (Northampton, Srh) Wells, Bowen (Hert'rd & Stev'nage)
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes) Wheeler, John
Gray, Hamish Morrison, Hon Peter (City ol Chester) Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Greenway, Harry Mudd, David Wickenden, Keith
Grieve, Percy Myles, David Wilkinson, John
Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery) Wolfson, Mark TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Wilson, Gordon (Dundee East) Young, Sir George (Acton) Mr. Carol Mather and
Winterton, Nicholas Younger, Rt Hon George Mr. David Waddington.

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment made : No. 55, in page 7, line 31, at end add— '(8A) The payment of £100 mentioned in subsection (8) above shall be recoverable—

  1. (a) by the tenant, when he purchases the dwelling-house in accordance with that subsection or, if he does not, at the expiry of the period of two years mentioned therein; or
  2. (b) by the tenant, when the landlord recovers possession of the dwelling-house under subsection (10) below ;
  3. (c) by his personal representatives, if he dies without purchasing the dwelling-house in accordance with that subsection.'.—[Mr. Rifkind.]

Mr. Rifkind

I beg to move amendment No. 57, in page 7, line 32, leave out from ' has ' to ' he ' in line 33 and insert 'made an application to purchase under subsection (1) above.'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may discuss Government amendment No. 58.

Mr. Rifkind

The amendments make it clear that a tenant who has taken out a fixed price option and has not exercised his right to purchase by the end of the two-year period is barred from submitting a new application under the right-to-buy provisions for 12 months. That was always intended, but a drafting error made the amendment necessary.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 58, in page 7, line 35, leave out from ' until ' to end of line 38 and insert 'the last date on which he would be entitled to serve a notice of acceptance in order to comply with subsection (6) above or with subsection (8) above'.

No. 59, in page 7, line 38, at end add— '(10) The existence of a fixed price option under subsection (8) above shall not prevent the landlord from recovering possession of the property in any manner which may be lawful, and in that event the option shall be terminated.'.—[Mr. Rifkind.]

Back to
Forward to