HC Deb 11 June 1980 vol 986 cc575-630 4.10 pm
The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind)

I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 13, at end add— '(1A) Where the spouse of a tenant or, where there is a joint tenancy, the spouse of a joint tenant, occupies the dwelling-house as his only or principal home but is not himself a joint tenant, the right to purchase the dwelling-house under subsection (1) above shall not be exercised without the consent of such spouse.'. The amendment would give spouses a right of veto over their partner's right of purchase and so provide protection for a wife who might otherwise risk having the roof sold over her head. It is especially relevant in view of the new ground for eviction being introduced in schedule 2. The matter was discussed in Committee, and the Government undertook to bring forward an amendment at this stage.

I recommend the amendment to the House.

Mr. Bruce Millan (Glasgow, Craigton)

I welcome the amendment. The way in which the Government have dealt with the problem is in line with a suggestion that I made in Committee. I am grateful for the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Martin J. O'Neill (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)

I beg to move amendment No. 2, in page 2, line 1, leave out ' subsection (9) ' and insert ' subsections (9) and (9A)'.

Mr. Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to take the following amendments :

No. 40, in page 4, line 21, at end, insert— '(9A) This section does not apply to tenancies where the tenant is an employee of the landlord, or of any local authority or development corporation and his contract of employ- ment requires him to occupy the dwelling-house for the better performance of his duties.'. No. 45, in page 4, line 45, at end insert— '"contract of employment" means a contract of service or of apprenticeship, whether express or implied, and (if it is express) whether it is oral or in writing'. Government amendments Nos. 256 and 257.

No. 189, in schedule 1, page 47, line 8, leave out paragraph 2.

No. 190, in page 47, leave out lines 8 to 15.

No. 193, in schedule 2, page 49, line 20, at end insert— '4A. The tenant is the employee of the landlord and his contract of employment requires him to occupy the dwelling-house for the better performance of his duties, and he has been in that employment for less than two years and he has ceased to be in that employment, and the landlord requires the dwelling-house for necessary occupation as a residence by some person engaged in the landlord's employment.'. No. 197, in page 49, line 22, at end insert— '5A(1) The tenant (or any one of joint tenants) was but no longer is an employee of the landlord, or of any local authority or development corporation and his contract of employment requires him to occupy the dwelling house for the better performance of his duties and the landlord requires the dwelling house for a similar contract of employment in respect of another employee. (2) In this paragraph "contract of employment" means a contract of service in an apprenticeship, whether express or in practice, and (if it is express) whether it is oral or in writing.'. No. 206, in page 50, line 19, at end insert— '13. The tenant is the employee of the landlord and his contract of employment requires him to occupy the dwelling-house for the better performance of his duties, and he has been in that employment for a continuous period of not less than two years and he has ceased to be in that employment and the landlord requires the dwelling-house for necessary occupation as a residence by some person engaged in the landlord's employment.'.

Mr. O'Neill

This series of amendments relates to the question of tied homes. While there is a fair measure of disagreement between both sides of the House in respect of the sale of council houses, there is a fair measure of agreement in respect of the tenants' charter provisions in the Bill. The amendments seek to draw attention to questions that we raised in Committee and with which we are still unhappy. We have been approached by organisations such as the General and Municipal Workers Union, which has many members who will be affected by some of the provisions in the Bill.

We seek to fill a gap in the charter in two specific areas. First, tenants who have been offered tied houses for sale but have chosen not to buy them do not have security of tenure. We recognise that that involves a relatively small number. But if the Government make a moral case out of affording people the opportunity to buy their houses, equally it is incumbent upon them to provide for those who choose not to exercise that option the opportunity to remain in that house for as long as is reasonably possible.

Secondly, a larger number of people—we are advised that it could be as many as 11,000—have no guarantee of security of tenure because their houses are deemed essential for the furtherance of a certain occupation. Into that group we would place janitors and policemen. They are often required to live near their place of employment, and spend perhaps 30 years in one police house or school house. They devote a considerable period of their lives to their jobs. The nature of their employment is such that they often have to work long hours, in many instances without adequate overtime remuneration. We are not here to discuss the terms and conditions of employment, but I point out that fact because it is part of the whole question when they have to live "over the shop".

Because they live in that way, they often build up associations with an area. We seek to secure for them the opportunity to remain in their houses, provided that the employers do not have another use for them. For example, if a schoolmaster retires and asks to stay in the school house, permission may be granted because the replacement schoolmaster already has a house in the area and is prepared to commute. There is a reasonable turnover in schoolmasters in country areas, because they tend to move from smaller to larger schools. Such instances will become less frequent as the number of jobs in those areas contracts. The problem that I am trying to highlight is the case of a teacher who retires and finds that his replacement does not have a house and is not prepared to commute. In that instance the retired teacher would be required to leave the house.

I do not wish to make heavy weather out of the issue, but it affects a substantial number of people. I do not see this as a matter of great controversy. I think that the Minister will concede that, over a period of time, if council houses sales expand at even a modest rate the flexibility of local authorities, especially in rural areas—we had an interesting debate on that subject yesterday—to provide additional accommodation will become more difficult. It is essential that we highlight that difficulty and seek from the Minister firmer assurances than those that we nave received to date.

In some amendments the Minister has gone some way towards meeting our concern. However, if the amendments are acceptable to him we could resolve a painful problem for a relatively small number of people, in the most extreme sense—although in a wider context it could affect many more. If the amendments are rejected, we suggest that the Minister finds better amendments and introduces them, at the appropriate time, in another place. If we do not obtain satisfaction today, some of our friends in another place will seek to exercise that privilege.

I wish to reiterate that we have heard some passionate pleas from Ministers—Conservative Members tend not to speak frequently, and if they do it is with a singular lack of passion—when they laid great stress on the right of individual tenants to purchase their houses. Although we disagree with that, we point out to the Minister that those who choose not to buy their houses, or whose houses are never available for purchase because of the nature of their employment, should be guaranteed a degree of security of tenure, which the present legislation does not offer.

We are not dealing with a particularly controversial issue or a matter of great principle, but it is one on which a charitable approach by the Government would go some way to allay the fears of the GMWU and the plethora of organisations that are concerned about individuals who have to five "over the shop" in tied cottages. There are examples of parallel legislation in England which could be used as a model by the Government.

There is no need for a crisis of conscience by the Government, or one of the U-turns that we are looking for in their other policies. The Government could solve the problem quite easily. If our amendments are not adequate, the Minister should seek, in justice and fairness, to provide the appropriate amendments in another place.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown (Glasgow, Provan)

I am glad to see that my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) has entered the Chamber, because I cannot even find the amendments on the Amendment Paper, let alone understand what they are about. However, I think that I remember the gist of our case. We are trying to elicit a statement of policy from the Government about how they propose to deal with the omnibus description of tied houses.

On the technical point, we are probably wrong in trying to give security of tenure to people in tied houses. That is probably technically impossible and wrong in principle, because I do not think that there can be any security of tenure, in the accepted sense, in a tied house. However, in the new circumstances of the sale of council houses, the Government must make an effort to meet the legitimate fears that we expressed in Committee.

The Bill will be as big a shambles as the Secretary of State's previous effort in 1972. The amendments deal with one of the practical points that the Government have not considered. What will be the effect of an awkward, bloody-minded local authority saying, within the law, that it will not continue to give preferential treatment to janitors, agricultural workers, health board workers, prison officers and others who have received generous treatment from, for instance, Glasgow district council?

Does the Minister believe that Glasgow district council will give such favourable treatment to those groups when they can move into high amenity houses in high amenity areas and buy them the next day?

The Government have a majority and can push through what they like, but they have not thought out the problem. The amendments are an attempt to write in security of tenure for groups to whom it is not possible to give security. If we accept the necessity for some groups to have tied houses, we must realise that security of tenure cannot apply to them in the same way as it applies to someone in a house that is not related to his job.

Unless the Government have something up their sleeve of which I am not aware, I cannot see how they will be able to meet that difficulty. I am not a threatening person, but some of my colleagues in local Government are getting to the stage where if hon. Members do not start threatening everybody they will lose influence in the party.

It is no use the Secretary of State raising his eyebrows. Does he realise what he is doing? Does he have no constituents in tied houses? Does he think that the Labour-controlled Kyle and Carrick council, which was worse under the Conservatives, should give sympathetic consideration to those leaving tied houses, with the result that they could buy the best houses in the council stock?

The Government have created new circumstances. Perhaps I am not expressing clearly what I am after. The Under-Secretary is raising his eyebrows now. We are dealing with a matter of great concern and I am apprehensive, because local authorities can be compelled to deal with homeless persons and I do not believe that that is the way that we should treat those who, through no fault of their own, are flung out of a tied house after having given years of service. However, the consequences of the Government's legislation is that the only statutory protection for those people will be the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act.

The amendments are an attempt to air the problem and to give greater security of tenure to people in jobs that carry with them tied accommodation.

Mr. Robin F. Cook (Edinburgh, Central)

I am glad to have the opportunity to participate in the debate and I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. O'Neill) for moving the amendment.

We debated the matter in Committee, when it emerged that the amendments that I had tabled were defective and did not commend themselves to the Government. I have sought to put together a workmanlike set of amendments to meet the Minister's objections.

Basically, we seek to meet the objection that, because of the way that the Bill is drafted, if one confers full security of tenure on a tied tenant he automatically has the right to buy his property. The local authority has no discretion to refuse, which could result in the unsatisfactory situation that the tied houses of some district council tenants who are in that accommodation because they are caretakers, janitors or in similar jobs could be sold into private owner-occupation. I have take on board the Minister's objection on that point and I have drafted amendments that would have the effect of not conferring on a tied tenant the automatic right to purchase his property. That frees us to confer security of tenure on those tenants.

My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Brown) said that it is not possible to extend to tied tenants the same security of tenure that applies to other tenants. I accept that. I do not think that we can say that tied tenants will be able to enjoy the same absolute right of security of tenure as other tenants.

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That is not to say that we cannot confer on them a meaningful degree of security of tenure which recognises their distinctive position as private tenants.

The way in which I have sought to do this is the way that was pursued by the House when it passed the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976. That measure was hotly contested in the House but is no longer a matter of party political controversy. In the areas in which it has been in operation—primarily rural areas under Conservative control—it has met with consensus support and seems to have been a successful solution to a difficult problem. That solution is to place on the landlord a dual obligation with the local housing authority to find suitable alternative acommodation for the tenant when he ceases to be an employee of the landlord.

I should like to take up another point raised, prefectly fairly, by my hon. Friend the Member for Provan. It is not satisfactory to allow tied tenants to rely on the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977 when they cease to be in employment, because that Act does not lay a strict obligation on the landlord to find suitable alternative accommodation for the employee. It lays such an obligation only on the housing authority. The accommodation that is furnished under the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act may well not be suitable alternative accommodation to that which has been left by the tied tenant.

I should not want anyone to think that we are talking about a de minimis provision. A substantial number of households in Scotland are affected. Over 10,000 households are tied to authorities, either island or regional authorities. Although the great majority of local authorities behave responsibly and reasonably when tied tenants cease to be employees and retire, nevertheless some local authorities do not behave with the same generosity to employees who may have given them years of service.

The returns from the Shelter housing aid centres show that 18 per cent. of those coming to Shelter for assistance because of eviction from tied accommodation come from the local authority sector. There is, therefore, a limited number of cases in which eviction, at the end of a period of employment with the local authority, gives rise to housing stress. It is not right that this group of tenants should be denied the rights that we are conferring on other tenants in this part of the Bill. I do not think that the Minister accepts that it is right. I think that he would be anxious that the rights should be shared as widely as possible among different categories of local authority tenants.

I hope that the amendment has found a way of achieving what is required, by this group of tenants, but without conferring on them the right to purchase, which was the Minister's reason for rejecting the amendment in Committee. Having sought to meet his objection, I hope that he will accept the amendment and enable a modest but real and progressive improvement to be made in the terms and conditions on which tied tenants hold their accommodation from their landlords.

Mr. George Foulkes (South Ayrshire)

Seeing the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland on the Government Front Bench reminds me that some of us on the Opposition Benches also face him every Tuesday and Thursday in Committee on the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill. The provision before us might be regarded as being somewhat parallel with some provisions included in the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill. Yesterday, for example, we dealt in Committee with a clear manifesto commitment of the Conservatives at the last general election concerning the recommendation of a minimum sentence for murder. But the Government spokesman said quite clearly that, although this was one of their manifesto commitments, they had decided, after careful and mature consideration, that it was not right to press it any further.

As I have already indicated, the provision now before us is to some extent along similar lines. What has been suggested by the Government may sound great in theory but there are problems which arise in practice, just as there were in regard to the recommendation concerning a minimum sentence for murder. It sounds great in theory to offer every tenant the opportunity to purchase his council house. No doubt the Under Secretary of State will say that he has a mandate to implement that provision. Indeed, he has said so on several occasions. But my colleagues who served on the Standing Committee have shown some of the problems that arise in practice. Yesterday, for example, we discussed the problems that will arise in rural areas, where people will snap up desirable houses. The same will happen in the seaside areas. Such houses could well be sold off later as holiday homes.

We have also seen the problems which arise in practice concerning waiting lists, and the inevitability of waiting lists increasing in size. The suggested provision will also create problems for employers who need the houses concerned in order to be able to attract people to carry out particular jobs.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) on drafting his amendment so carefully as to enable the legislation to achieve what is necessary. He told me earlier—and he has said it in the Chamber—that he drafted his amendment to achieve a balance between the interests concerned. He has borne in mind the difficulty of the employer who needs to be able to make a house available for a future employee.

In these cases it is implicit that the house goes with the job. In many cases the house is provided for the job. I shall give some examples in a moment. Indeed, there are some in the constituency of the Under-Secretary of State, and he may care to refer to them later.

On the one hand, there are the interests of the employer. On the other hand, there are the interests of the employee. As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central said, what we are suggesting is that, rather than there being the right to purchase a house which the employer will need subsequently because of the nature of the employment, the employee should have the right to suitable alternative accommodation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. O'Neill) mentioned schoolteachers in country areas. I have this problem in my constituency. The house provided for the schoolteacher is often next door to the school. If the teacher occupying the house purchases it and then subsequently retires, obviously the house is no longer available for the next schoolteacher who is selected to fill the vacancy.

The same problem often arises with policemen, particularly in rural areas. It is the rural areas that will suffer most under the proposed legislation. Police houses are usually close to police stations, and it would be inappropriate for policemen to purchase such houses and be able to continue to occupy them when they retire from the police force.

Mention has also been made of prison officers' houses. There are such houses associated with Saughton prison in the Under-Secretary of State's constituency in Edinburgh. What happens when the prison officers move, retire, or are transferred, if they have had the right to purchase their houses? There are practical problems involved.

If the Secretary of State thinks that, after six months' tenancy of Bute House, he will be able to purchase it, he is quite mistaken, because we have another tenant waiting in the wings who will take over that house at the earliest possible opportunity.

Mr. George Robertson (Hamilton)

We have had a short but important debate in which some of the complexities of the issue have been raised. We shall be interested to hear the Minister's response. The hon. Gentleman made a protestation of principle in Committee. He made his view known and expressed his clear sympathy with the arguments that were being advanced on behalf of the many public sector tied tenants in Scotland. On 6 March the Minister said : There is clearly an area where the Bill in its present form can be improved. He later said : I undertake to give the fullest consideration to ways in which the Bill could be improved to meet the sorts of problems which have been referred to by the hon. Gentleman this morning."—[Official Report, First Scottish Standing Committee, 6 March 1980 ; c. 960.] In response, and presumably after careful consideration by the Scottish Office, the Government have come up with two amendments, one of which is technical. Amendment No. 258 is the Government's only response to the principle that the Minister articulated. To our eyes it is a totally inadequate response to the arguments advanced in Committee to which the hon. Gentleman attached his sympathy. The Government's amendments are clearly inadequate in dealing with the problem that we have identified.

We are talking about a tenants' charter and security for tenants in the public sector in Scotland. Much of the Conservative Party's manifesto during the election was designed, it said, to give tenants not only the right to buy but to ensure that tenants who chose not to buy their homes, or were not in a position to buy them, would have the same degree of security that the enviable home owners have in the eyes of the Conservative Party.

Tenants' rights have stopped short of the 10,000 who live in tied accommodation in Scotland that is owned by the public sector. Although the Government's amendments extend some aspects of the tenants' charter to some tied tenants in the public sector, they do not extend the most fundamental tenants' rights that the Government are conferring. The arbitrary judgment of the landlord is retained, whoever the landlord is.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) said that there are more than 10,000 tenants in regional council employment in Scotland who live in tied houses by virtue of their contracts of employment, and that more than 1,000 employees of district councils also live in tied accommodation. Although it is not a part of our argument, it is a fact that a higher proportion of tied tenants have children than those who live in property that is not attached to a job. It is a problem that goes way beyond the number of tenants who are in tied properties at any one time.

The Minister gave an assurance in Committee that he would reconsider the Government's position. He said that he agreed with the principle of our arguments. However, there is still a large defect in the arrangements that the Government will provide after Report.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Brown) said, the issue of security is not confined to security of tenure while the individual is in the house. Of course, that is one of the major principles on which we are concentrating our attention today. The other side of the coin concerns those who are obliged by virtue of their jobs to live in certain accommodation irrespective of whether they wish to do so.

Where accommodation for policemen is attached to police stations, clearly no other members of the community can inhabit those houses. It is often necessary for policemen to live in the accommodation that is close to police stations. I spent a large part of my early life in accommodation that was either attached to or part of police stations in Scotland. That will not change over night, however much the Government want to get rid of the accommodation that exists in the public sector.

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By virtue of their job, school janitors must live in houses that are often part and parcel of the schools. The job is not confined to hourly paid employment during the day. They have a total responsibility for the security and maintenance of the schools. They do not have the choice of buying other accommodation or renting other accommodation during the period in their working life when such a choice might be open to them. It is not within their power to accrue the service that in many local authorities is necessary to enable them to progress up the ladder of quality in housing.

At the end of a lengthy career—never mind about an interruption in the middle of it that might arise because of loss of employment through, for example, ill health or misconduct—an individual, be he a school janitor, a policeman, a teacher, a park keeper or a caretaker in a block of flats, will have to find alternative accommodation.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Provan said, in the past those in that position have sought accommodation from local authorities. By and large—there have been few exceptions—they have been able to get the type of accommodation that they consider appropriate at the end of a career devoted to the public service. However, as my hon. Friend said, what local authority in its right mind, given absolute discretion and a legal right, will continue to give that privilege to those who have accrued the maximum discount qualification for buying a house but have not paid a penny in rent to the district council involved?

It seems that the Government have considered the problem even outside the Committee and the House. A letter was sent to Mr. James Morrell, the regional secretary of the General and Municipal Workers Union in Scotland, who represents many people in tied accommodation in the public sector. The Government made a number of bland statements of total complacency about the position in which such employees will find themselves.

Mrs. J. M. Clemie, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Scotland, said : The provision which is made for such needs and the methods by which it is organised to minimise uncertainty and distress for those leaving tied accommodation are, of course, matters for the local authorities concerned in which the Secretary of State has no power to intervene. The Bill is an assault on the rights and the authority of local authorities throughout Scotland. The totality of the package is an assault on their rights and discretion. The Government say in a letter that was sent to an organisation representing 120,000 workers in Scotland that this is a matter that will be left solely to the local authorities. The letter continues on the precise issue raised with the Secretary of State in the original correspondence. It states : No doubt the position varies to some extent from area to area but, in general I understand that at present housing authorities, as you recognise, give special priority to applications for housing for those who are losing tied accommodation because of a change of occupation or through retirement"— that is a statement of the present realities— and I see no reason why they should not continue to do so in future. If the Minister has learnt anything in Committee and from the debate, it must surely be that there will be widespread resentment at the assault on local government discretion that comes about through the Bill. Local authorities in Scotland will have no motivation to give preexisting privileges to those who leave tied accommodation. They may, within the letter of the law, decide that they can no longer give those privileges to those who are employed within their own sector.

Mr. Albert McQuarrie (Aberdeenshire, East)

Surely the hon. Gentleman accepts that there are many local authorities in Scotland which, even at this time before the Bill is passed, have a system whereby when a person who is living in a tied house retires the local authority gives him the option of having another local authority house. Failing that, the person continues to live in the tied house, and the local authority makes another house available. I am thinking particularly of police officers who wish to remain in their houses, where the local authority makes other houses available, and of prison officers. The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Foulkes) referred to Saughton prison. In my constituency, when a prison officer retires from Peterhead prison, the local authority makes a house available to him and gives him preferential treatment.

Mr. Robertson

The hon. Member makes precisely the point that I am making. Until the Bill reaches the statute book, that is the arrangement. As the Scottish Office has said, and as we have said during the debate, to date local authorities have, without any obligation, or any legal requirement on them to do so, made sure that the human problems that are caused by people leaving tied accommodation are remedied and that they are found other accommodation. The Opposition are drawing the attention of the House and the country to the fact that, following this legislation, local authorities will have good reasons for not continuing with those favourable provisions. They will be starved by the right-to-buy provisions of a large amount of their best housing stock. They will have no obligation to house people who are not in their employment and who have no direct relationship with them. Many people are apprehensive, including the Scottish Police Federation, which wrote to hon. members expressing its anxiety, the teacher in Huntley who wrote on behalf of his colleagues in rural schools, and the General and Municipal Workers Union which wrote to all hon. Members on 27 May expressing its anxiety. In its letter it said : District councils who do not themselves employ the tied housing employee may be understandably reluctant to rehouse such people who may well qualify for the maximum purchasing discount for a council house through their previous tenancy, but who may never once have paid rent to the housing authority. If that reluctance does manifest itself, the priority previously accorded to our members in tied accommodation and to tied employees throughout Scotland, may well disappear. Those apprehensions cannot be completely unfounded There is much resentment by a large number of local authorities in Scotland which know that the pre-existing conditions of favourable treatment for tied employees may disappear overnight. Those problems will continue to exist. Houses that were previously available will no longer be available. There will be no preference, because employees will be able to buy, probably at the maximum discount, the day after they take up the accommodation. Local authorities may feel that they have a moral obligation to rehouse, but tied employees throughout Scotland fear that they will be offered only the worst houses or the unlettable stock. That fear is more genuine than is imagined, and it is time that Conservative Members took it on board.

I conclude by drawing the attention of the House to the Government amendments in this selection. They represent the response of the Government to the points put to them in Committee. Those amendments would provide for certain parts of the tenants' charter to apply to those people who would have been excluded under paragraph 2 of schedule 1. They would allow those tied tenants a number of the rights that would have been conferred upon them had the section of the Bill covering the tenants' charter been operable in their case. However, they fall back from the one fundamental point that is of concern to the majority of tied tenants—security of tenure.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central said, we have attempted to devise a series of amendments that would reflect the concern of people in tied accommodation as well as the reasonable anxieties of employees who must be accommodated in tied houses. We feel that that balance has been struck because the obligations, rights and duties of tenants are fairly balanced in our amendments.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. O'Neill) said, if because of some technicality the amendments that we have put forward in good faith are defective, we ask the Minister not to hide behind those technicalities. The technicalities are only one feature of the Bill. More than 260 amendments have been put forward since we discussed the Bill in Committee. If the Minister really believes the protestations of principle and sympathy that he expressed in Committee, and if the amendments are technically deficient, we hope that he will reintroduce technically competent amendments that will give security of tenure to employees. The Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976—a long and complicated piece of legislation—did what was previously considered to be impossible. It gave security of tenure to people who lived in tied cottages in England and Wales. It has worked effectively and well, and it has been welcomed by the National Farmers Union in England and Wales, It is not beyond the wit of man or of the Scottish Office to devise a series of amendments that will provide the same form of security of tenure that is enjoyed by a large number of people who live in tied accommodation throughout Scotland.

We trust that the Minister will give a favourable response to our amendments, despite the fact that the Government amendments give us no hope that he will.

Mr. Rifkind

I was interested in the concluding remarks of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Foulkes). He observed that, despite the terms of the Bill, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State would not have the right to buy his residence in Edinburgh. The possibility that under the Opposition amendments he would at least have security of tenure gives the amendments a certain attraction, but I am not allowed to take that into account in determining my response to them.

Mr. Cook

The Secretary of State will have the right to suitable alternative accommodation only when his period in office ends.

Mr. Rifkind

That eventuality is so hypothetical that I do not think we need to take the matter further.

The position of tenants in tied housing is a matter of concern. There was a wide-ranging debate in Committee on the issue. I indicated then—I have no desire to withdraw my remarks—that the Government are concerned, and that they will give those tied tenants all the rights that are possible, consistent with the nature of the tied housing in which they live.

Clearly the House recognises—and the hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Brown) who had responsibility for these matters, recognises—that those people in tied housing—housing that is tied because of the nature of their job—cannot have the same security of tenure that public sector tenants generally have been given by the tenants' charter. It is the Government's intention—so far as we can influence the matter—that the existence of tied housing should be reviewed by local authorities in order to determine whether it is necessary for it to remain tied and whether it is possible for a good proportion of that housing to be released, given that it no longer requires the connection between the person who lives in it and the job that he does.

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We would certainly hope, and we would ensure so far as it was within our power, that those houses which are presently classed as tied housing but which are not required for that purpose would first be offered for sale to the sitting tenants if they wish to purchase. If they do not wish to purchase and that housing need not be tied, the most sensible course of action is that that housing should be transferred to the local housing authority. That is the proper recipient for housing no longer required to be tied but where the tenant does not wish to purchase the house. Transference to the local housing authority would automatically give these persons security of tenure and all the other rights that automatically will apply to tenants in local authority housing.

Therefore, I hope that all those houses which need not be tied at present or in the future, if the tenant does not wish to purchase them, can be simply transferred to the housing authority, and the Government will do all within their power to facilitate that move.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

The Minister has just made an important statement. Is he suggesting that, after a review, a prison house which the tenant does not want to buy will, because it is surplus to requirements for efficiency in the department, be offered to the district council free, or will he expect a price, knowing the arguments that take place about compensation and so on?

Mr. Rifkind

Using the example of prison officers' houses, as the hon. Gentleman probably knows, a review is taking place as to what proportion of prison houses is required for operational reasons. Those that are required must be retained for that purpose. It would be the Government's intention to offer other houses to the sitting tenants—prison officers living in them. If they wish to purchase, they may do so. If If they do not wish to purchase or are unable to purchase, we would then have to consider whether it was appropriate that these be retained as prison officer houses. But as a general objective—and clearly one would have to look at the financial aspects if there was any change of ownership—the principle is that if housing is not required by a non-housing authority for tied accommodation purposes, there seems no sensible reason why it should continue to hold on to that accommodation.

Mr. Cook


Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline)

Go on!

Mr. Cook

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline (Mr. Douglas) for his encouragement. These days one looks for encouragement in whatever corner of the party one can find it.

I should like to press the Minister a little further to clarify what he has just said. A note of unease comes into his description of the position with a house which ought not to be a tied house and which is not required for operational reasons and which the tenant does not wish to purchase or is not able to take up the offer of sale made to him. The Minister indicated that he would have to consider whether the house should continue to be a tied house. I hope that the Minister will make it clear that the Government would not contemplate disposing of such a house on the market so long as the tenant within it was working with the prison department.

Mr. Rifkind

I give an absolute assurance to that effect. There is not the slightest question of jeopardising the interests of any existing tenant in any housing of that kind. I am happy to give that assurance, both to the hon. Gentleman and to such of his colleagues who appear to be interested in the point.

That is the general position that I would take concerning accommodation that need not be tied and where the authority that has the housing does not wish to continue to have it for that purpose.

In relation to the Opposition amendments, the question arises as to what should be the position about tied accommodation which must remain tied accommodation for reasons that are agreed in each particular case. The basic Opposition amendment seeks to require that the matter can be investigated by the sheriff and, indeed, to impose an obligation to offer alternative accommodation for the individual concerned.

Reluctantly, the Government do not feel able to support the proposition put forward in the amendment because it would be giving a statutory right to a tenant who was not a tenant of the district authority to be automatically allocated, thereby perhaps giving priority over people who have been on the waiting list of the local authority perhaps for a longer period. That does not seem appropriate.

Opposition Members have emphasised that, in their view—it has been supported by no evidence—because of the right-to-buy provisions of the Bill, local authorities in future will not continue the policy that they have pursued until now of acting in a responsible way in terms of allocation of housing to persons who are no longer able to occupy tied accommodation. If they believe that argument—I have no doubt that they do—it is nevertheless interesting that no one has yet, either during the Committee stage or today, given evidence of one local authority that has indicated that it intends to change its policy if the Bill becomes law.

Mr. O'Neill

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Rifkind

No, not at present.

We have heard of a number of allegations made by various people, in particular the trade unions, and among the Opposition and no doubt elsewhere, who think that this is what local authorities will do. But we do not need to speculate about these matters. If this were something that local authorities had already decided they would do, or if COSLA believed on behalf of the local authorities that it would happen, presumably there would be not speculation but hard evidence to back up the claim. I am delighted to say—and I have not heard the slightest evidence to the contrary—that no local authority, nor COSLA, has stated that it would either expect or wish to see this happening if the Bill becomes law.

I cannot guarantee that an individual authority may not act in this way. I am not suggesting that it is a conclusive matter. But what the Opposition have referred to is speculation, and no more than that, in a situation in which if there was evidence it could easily have been made available. The local authorities have made their views well known on many matters affected by the Bill, but so far as I am aware no local authority—we have certainly not heard any suggestion of it today—has stated that this is what it will do if the Bill becomes law.

Mr. George Robertson

How often do we have to try to drum it into the Minister's head that at present, until the Bill reaches the statute book—if it does—local authorities have total control over their housing stock and, therefore, they are in a position to be magnanimous in the way in which the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. McQuarrie) has put forward, as they have been in the past? But why should they continue to do so when there is a wholesale assault on their rights as housing authorities coming forward in the Bill? There is no evidence, but the worries of the Scottish Police Federation, the General and Municipal Workers Union and the teachers who have written to us are evidence that there is a fear that that is what will happen.

Mr. Rifkind

Individual local authorities which are opposed to the Bill have not hesitated to give us on many other parts of the Bill their intentions and their views, to say what they intend to do and what they will not be able to do, and what they will have to change as a result of the Bill. If there is any evidence to support the fact that individual authorities will change the way in which they deal with previous tenants of tied accommodation, it is astonishing that at this very late stage in the consideration of the Bill they have not given us that view or indicated it to us either individually or through COSLA. Therefore, what Opposition Members are talking about is speculation, and I am afraid that it is little else other than speculation.

Mr. Foulkes

How will local authorities be able to provide adequate alternative accommodation when it has been bought by those who are living in it?

Mr. Rifkind

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is opening up the whole issue of the right to buy. We have had many debates on that matter. The local authority will continue as it has done in the past to consider a resident of its locality who is leaving tied accommodation as being a person whose needs and requirements are similar to those of anyone else on the waiting list. If local authorities intend to change their policy and practice, it is interesting and revealing that at this very late stage in the consideration of the Bill none of them has declared it, and Opposition Members have not been able to give one iota of evidence to back up their speculation. I shall be delighted—and I am sure that Opposition Members will be pleased—if their speculation turns out to be unfounded.

Reference has been made to the Government amendments before us. Whatever the Opposition's views about the adequacy of these amendments, they will certainly find them acceptable. They give to tenants all the rights that a public sector tenant has, apart from the security of tenure factor and the right to succession because clearly succession is incompatible with tied accommodation. They give to the tenant of tied accommodation the right to a written tenancy agreement and the right to challenge unreasonable tenancy conditions. They give to tenants the right to improve their accommodation, and the possibility of being reimbursed, at the discretion of the authority, when they move. They also give to such tenants the right to take lodgers and to sublet in exactly the same way as would be available to other public sector tenants.

Therefore, in these amendments the Government have sought to give all the rights feasible consistent with the nature of the tied accommodation. Opposition Members, particularly the hon. Member for Provan, who was a Minister responsible for housing and has obviously had experience of this problem, recognise that to go significantly beyond that and to provide a full measure of security of tenure would clearly be incompatible with the nature of that accommodation.

I therefore recommend the Government amendments to the House, but I sadly say that I cannot recommend the other amendments, for the reasons I have given.

Mr. O'Neill

The Minister has once again given us a series of anguished statements in which he has expressed his good will and good intentions, but at the end of the day he has come up with precious little. The extent to which he seeks to defend his case would appear to be that, because no local authority has written to him, he is not aware that a problem will exist in the future.

Had this Bill been brought forward for its Second Reading today, the very different climate in local government in Scotland would be applied to it. As a result of the local elections, there is a different controlling group in the housing committee of COSLA, and there is a different spirit abroad in local government housing in Scotland. As a result of the Labour Party's local election victories, people are acutely aware that the sale of houses will give rise to many dangers. We must share responsibility for the fact that some of our local government colleagues are not aware of the detailed implications of the relatively obscure questions that we have asked.

If the Bill is enacted, local authorities will become aware of the problems that we have sought to discuss. The Minister's complacency will be seen to have been

completely unfounded. Indeed, he will discover that he has opened a can of worms that will excite the anxieties of many of those who have contributed over the years to the common good and well-being of the Scottish people. We are not prepared to accept the excuses that he has offered. We shall, therefore, press our amendment to a Division.

Question put, That the amendment be made :—

The House divided : Ayes 214, Noes 262.

Division No. 354] AYES [5.15 pm
Abse, Leo English, Michael McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Adams, Allen Ennals, Rt Hon David McKelvey, William
Alton, David Evans, loan (Abordare) Maclennan, Robert
Anderson, Donald Ewing, Harry McQuade, John
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Field, Frank Magee, Bryan
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ernest Fitch, Alan Marks, Kenneth
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Flannery, Martin Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Ashton, Joe Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Maxton, John
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham) Foot, Rt Hon Michael Meacher, Michael
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Ford, Ben Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Forrester, John Miller, Dr M. S. (East Kilbride)
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Foster, Derek Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)
Beith, A. J. Foulkes, George Mitchell, R. C. (Soton. Itchen)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Freud, Clement Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Bidwell, Sydney Garrett, John (Norwich S) Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Booth, Rt Hon Albert George, Bruce Newens, Stanley
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur (M'brough) Ginsburg, David Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Bradley, Tom Graham, Ted Ogden, Eric
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Grant, George (Morpeth) O'Halloran, Michael
Brown, Ronald W. (Hackney S) Grant, John (Islington C) O'Neill, Martin
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh, Leith) Grimond, Rt Hon J. Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Buchan, Norman Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Palmer, Arthur
Campbell, Ian Hardy, Peter Park, George
Campbell-Savours, Dale Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Parker, John
Cant, R. B. Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Parry, Robert
Carter-Jones, Lewis Haynes, Frank Pavitt, Laurie
Cartwright, John Healey, Rt Hon Denis Pendry, Tom
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Heffer, Eric S. Penhallgon, David
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Hogg, Normen (E Dunbartonshire) Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhall) Prescott, John
Conlan, Bernard Home Robertson, John Race, Reg
Cook, Robin F. Homewood, William Radice, Giles
Cowans, Harry Hooley, Frank Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds South)
Cox, Tom (Wandsworth, Tooting) Horam, John Richardson, Jo
Crowther, J. S. Howells, Geraint Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Cryer, Bob Huckfield, Let Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Cunlfffe, Lawrence Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen Noith) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Cunningham, George (Islington S) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Robertson, George
Cunningham, Dr John (Whitehaven) Janner, Hon Greville Robinson, Peter (Belfast East)
Dalyell, Tam Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Rodgers, Rt Hon William
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) John, Brynmor Rooker, J. W.
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Johnson, James (Hull West) Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Davis, Clinton, (Hackney Central) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford) Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rhondda) Sever, John
Deakins, Eric Jones, Barry (East Flint) Sheerman, Barry
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert (A'ton-u-L)
Dempsey, James Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Shore, Rt Hon Peter (Step and Pop)
Dewar, Donald Kerr, Russell Short, Mrs Renée
Dixon, Donald Kilfedder, James A. Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Dobson, Frank Kilroy-Silk, Robert Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Dormand, Jack Kinnock, Neil Silverman, Julius
Douglas, Dick Lambie, David Skinner, Dennis
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Lamborn, Harry Smith, Rt Hon J. (North Lanarkshire)
Dubs, Alfred Leadbitter, Ted Soley, Clive
Duffy, A. E. P. Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Spearing, Nigel
Dunn, James A. (Liverpool, Kirkdale) Lofthouse, Geoffrey Springs, Leslie
Dunnett, Jack Lyon, Alexander (York) Steel, Rt Hon David
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Lyons, Edward (Bradford West) Stewart, Rt Hon Donald (W Isles)
Eastham, Ken Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Strang, Gavin
Ellis, Raymond (NE Derbyshire) McCartney, Hugh Straw, Jack
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) McDonald, Dr Oonagh Surrmerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton West) Welsh, Michael Woodall, Alec
Thomas, Mike (Newcastle East) White, Frank R.(Bury & Radcliffe) Woolmer, Kenneth
Thomas, Dr Roger (Carmarthen) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Thorne, Stan (Preston South) Whitehead, Phillip Wright, Shella
Tilley, John Whitlock, William Young, David (Bolton East)
Tinn, James Wigley, Dafydd
Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley) Willey, Rt Hon Frederick TELLERS FOR THE AYES :
Watkins, David Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W) Mr. Donald Coleman and
Weetch, Ken Wilson, Gordon (Dundee East) Mr. George Morton.
Wellbeloved, James Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Adley, Robert Fanner, Mrs Peggy McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury)
Alexander, Richard Finsberg, Geoffrey McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Ancram, Michael Fisher, Sir Nigel McQuarrie, Albert
Arnold, Tom Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh N) Madel, David
Aspinwall, Jack Fletcher-Cooka, Charles Major, John
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Fookes, Miss Janet Marland, Paul
Atkinson, David (B'mouth, East) Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Marlow, Tony
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Fry, Peter Marten, Neil (Banbury)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Gardiner, George (Reigate) Mather, Carol
Bell, Sir Ronald Gardner, Edward (South Fylde) Maude, Rt Hon Angus
Bendall, Vivian Garel-Jones, Tristan Mawby, Ray
Bonyon, Thomas (Abingdon) Glyn, Dr Alan Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Goodhew, Victor Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Best, Keith Gow, Ian Mellor, David
Bevan, David Gilroy Gower, Sir Raymond Meyer, Sir Anthony
Biggs-Davison, John Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Mills, lain (Meriden)
Blackburn, John Gray, Hamish Mills, Peter (West Devon)
Blaker, Peter Greenway, Harry Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Grieve, Percy Moate, Roger
Boscawen, Hon Robert Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds) Montgomery, Fergus
Bottomley, Peter (Woolwich West) Grist, Ian Moore, John
Bowden, Andrew Grylls, Michael Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes)
Bright, Graham Gummer, John Selwyn Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester)
Brinton, Tim Hamilton, Hon Archie (Eps'm&Ew'll) Mudd, David
Brittan, Leon Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Murphy, Christopher
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Hampson, Dr Keith Myles, David
Brooke, Hon Peter Hannam, John Neale, Gerrard
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe) Haselhurst, Alan Needham, Richard
Bruce-Gardyne, John Hastings, Stephen Nelson, Anthony
Bryan, Sir Paul Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Neubert, Michael
Buck, Antony Hawksley, Warren Newton, Tony
Budgen, Nick Hayhoe, Barney Normanton, Tom
Bulmer, Esmond Heddle, John Nott, Rt Hon John
Burden, F. A. Henderson, Barry Onslow, Cranley
Butcher, John Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs Sally
Butler, Hon Adam Hill, James Page, John (Harrow, West)
Cadbury, Jocelyn Holland, Philip (Carlton) Page, Rt Hon Sir R. Graham
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Hooson, Tom Page, Richard (SW Hertfordshire)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hordern, Peter Parkinson, Cecil
Carlisle, Rt Hon Mark (Runcorn) Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Parris, Matthew
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildford) Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Channon, Paul Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Patten, John (Oxford)
Chapman, Sydney Hunt, David (Wirral) Pawsey, James
Churchill, W. S. Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Peyton, Rt Hon John
Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Hurd, Hon Douglas Pollock, Alexander
Clark, Sir William (Croydon South) Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Porter, George
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushclifte) Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Clegg, Sir Walter Jessel, Toby Price, David (Eastleigh)
Cockeram, Eric Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Prior, Rt Hon James
Colvin, Michael Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Proctor, K. Harvey
Cope, John Kaberry, Sir Donald Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Cormack, Patrick Kershaw, Anthony Ralson, Timothy
Corrie, John Kimball, Marcus Rathbone, Tim
Costain, A. P. Kitson, Sir Timothy Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Cranborne, Viscount Knox, David Rees-Davies, W. R.
Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Lamont, Norman Renton, Tim
Dickens, Geoffrey Lang, Ian Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Dorrell, Stephen Langford-Holt, Sir John Ridsdale, Julian
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lawrence, Ivan Rifkind, Malcolm
Dover, Denshore Lawson, Nigel Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Lee, John Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Durant, Tony Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Rossi, Hugh
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Royle, Sir Anthony
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (Pembroke) Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Eggar, Timothy Loveridge, John Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Emery, Peter Lyell, Nicholas Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Eyre, Reginald McCrindle, Robert Shelton, William (Streatham)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Macfarlane, Neil Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Fairgrieve, Russell MacGregor, John Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge-Br'hills)
Faith, Mrs Shella Mackay, John (Argyll) Silvester Fred
Farr, John Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Sims, Roger
Skeet, T. H. H. Thorne, Neil (Ilford South) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Smith, Dudley (War, and Leam'ton) Thornton, Malcolm Wells, Bowen (Hert'rd & Stev'nage)
Speller, Tony Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexleyheath) Wheeler, John
Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire) Trippier, David Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Squire, Robin Trotter, Neville Whitney, Raymond
Stanbrook, Ivor Vaughan, Dr Gerard Wickenden, Keith
Stanley, John Viggers, Peter Wilkinson, John
Steen, Anthony Waddington, David Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery)
Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Wakeham, John Winterton, Nicholas
Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire) Waldegrave, Hon William Wolfson, Mark
Stradling Thomas, J. Walker, Rt Hon Peter (Worcester) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Tapsell, Peter Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire) Younger, Rt Hon George
Taylor, Teddy (Southend East) Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Tebbit, Norman Wall, Patrick TELLERS FOR THE NOES :
Temple-Morris, Peter Waller, Gary Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter (Handen S) Ward, John Mr. Anthony Berry.
Thompson, Donald Warren, Kennth

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Douglas

I beg to move amendment No. 3, in page 2, line 4, after ' Act ', insert ' or subsection 8(k) below'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)

With this we may take amendment No. 32, in page 4, line 17, at end insert— '(k) the Secretary of State for the Environment and the Secretary of State for Defence.'

Mr. Douglas

Having listened attentively to the Government's spokesmen on this Bill throughout the Report Stage, I am intrigued by their method of approach. The Under-Secretary, who is a very competent advocate, addressed the Bill as if it were a form of declaration of independence. It was as if he were saying that all men and women had equal, inalienable rights—to life, liberty and to buying a council house. But he did not rest his case on council tenants only. The Secretary of State, in replying last night—Hansard is not yet available, so I cannot say how many times he used the words "public sector" said that this was a charter not for council tenants or for SSHA tenants but for the public sector.

My amendment relates to a number of people in my constituency, in an area of Dunfermline and an area of Crombie. Most of my remarks relate to residents of Brucefield, Dunfermline, who are, par excellence, in the public sector. I will not burden the House with the history of this area and the developments that have taken place there since 1939–40, but I must point out that these individuals came to Dunfermline at the outbreak of the Second World War because of a national need—the need to re-establish the dockyard in Rosyth. I do not claim that they were, in effect, conscripted to the constituency, but they responded to a national need of that time and the houses in this area resulted from that response and from the need to re-equip the dockyard for strategic naval purposes.

There is no doubt at all that these houses are in the public sector. I see that the Minister concedes that. Therefore, as an advocate, if he excludes this category of individuals from the so-called benefits of the Bill he must have a very good case for such exclusion.

The Under-Secretary and others have made a great play of the liberties of individuals who are queuing up to buy local authority houses. The Property Services Agency, acting on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, gave an indication about the houses in the Brucefield area as long ago as 1977. The PSA wrote a letter to the tenants. I am grateful to M. W. A. Sayers, the chairman of an organisation of tenants in the area, who sent me a copy of the letter of 12 October 1977 which says : When all the tenants of the MD Brucefield houses were written to earlier this year about the sale of houses, you replied intimating an interest about buying the house that you occupy. The houses have since been valued and in the case of your own house the sale price to yourself as the sitting tenant would be £2,800. I would therefore be pleased to hear from you as soon as possible if you are prepared to acquire the property at this figure. If I do not hear from you by the end of October it will be asumed that you are no longer interested. This letter is not intended to be a formal offer or commitment to sell, but merely a means of discovering which tenants are able and willing to buy their houses in order to assist the Department'. There is a clear case here of the Government being "willing" to sell. Subsequent correspondence indicated that a change of Government had brought about reexamination of the issue. Another letter to Mr. Sayers, dated 17 January 1980, from the Scottish Office said : Dear Mr. Sayers, I am replying to your letters of 16 December to the Prime Minister and Geoffrey Finsberg about your wish to purchase your house, since housing matters in Scotland are the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The legislation recently introduced into Parliament giving most public sector tenants— note the word "most"— the right to buy the houses in which they live will be directed principally at houses let by district councils, new town development corporations and the Scottish Special Housing Association in their role as housing authorities meeting general accommodation needs. Consideration is being given, however, to the policy regarding sales to sitting tenants as it is to be applied to Government Departments and agencies. 5.30 pm

I understand that a substantial number of tenants—I surmise between 15 and 25 per cent.—are willing to buy, which is far in excess of the average number of those indicating their willingness to buy local authority houses. What proposals does the Department of Environment, acting for the Ministry of Defence, have? Does it propose to sell to individual tenants or give them the same rights as other public sector tenants? No. The proposal is that the 370 houses will be sold as a job lot. The Government are failing in their responsibility to these tenants, bearing in mind the reason why many of them came to the area. If these proposals are carried through, their security of tenure may be undermined. About 60 houses are at present vacant. A speculative builder may buy the houses, refurbish some of them and start jacking up the rents of the rest, which will disrupt the social and economic fabric of the area. The tenants met last night. They are incensed by the Government's proposals. They do not see why they should be treated differently from other public sector tenants.

The tenants have an excellent case. I shall not go into the argument over the sale of local authority housing, which is not germane to this issue. The Government have a responsibility to these tenants. How do they intend to protect their security of tenure?

In the previous amendment the hon. Gentleman sought to secure the tenancies of such people as police officers in the public sector. It is a difficult problem. I have come late to the Bill with this case, and my amendments may not be technically correct. However, that can be remedied in another place. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will remove the anxiety experienced by these important individuals in this important area.

Mr. Rifkind

I recognise the sense of uncertainty that the constituents of the hon. Member for Dunfermline (Mr. Douglas) must be experiencing, given the indefinite future of their accommodation. The amendments would give the right to buy to all tenants of houses owned by the Ministry of Defence or the Department of the Environment, including those required for operational reasons. They therefore go far beyond the problems that the hon. Gentleman mentions.

The detailed administration and development of Brucefield is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. I shall put the hon. Gentleman's points to him. I recognise the force with which he puts them.

I was interested in his assessment that up to 25 per cent. of the tenants are interested in purchasing their homes, if given the opportunity. I understood that the figure was far less. I shall refer that matter to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, as that is a significant proportion.

If these houses are sold by the Property Services Agency, there is not the slightest risk to the security of tenure of existing residents. If the houses were sold, they would be sold with sitting tenants, who would have the full protection of the Rent Acts.

I understand that there is the possibility of a tenants' co-operative in the area seeking to purchase a group of houses as a single unit. That is an attractive option, which may resolve the difficulty in a straightforward manner. I also understand that, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, the Department of the Environment approached the local authority to see whether it would be prepared to take over the houses. That, equally, would resolve the problem. It would ensure that those who wished to purchase their homes could do so, and would give full security to the other tenants. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I do not go into details. It is a matter for the Department of the Environment. I have no locus to concern myself with the details.

Mr. Douglas

The hon. Gentleman has been forthcoming. Will he consider meeting me and representatives of the tenants, who are forming themselves into a loose association, to discuss the implications?

Mr. Rifkind

I shall consider whether that is appropriate. I am not certain whether it is, as it is a matter more for the Department of the Environment. I shall write to the hon. Gentleman to let him know whether I consider such a meeting helpful or possible. I shall ensure that the uncertainty that his constituents are facing is brought to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will therefore feel able to assure his constituents that we understand and appreciate their concern.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

I am not trying to embarrass the Minister. I support the idea that surplus public authority houses should at least be offered to the local authority. I do not want to raise the question of compensation. Although the hon. Gentleman does not always value it, he would have our support if the offer was made to the public authority. To that extent he has a locus. He would have to provide the funds or capital permissions to the district authority.

Mr. Douglas

In view of the hon. Gentleman's assurances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Rifkind

I beg to move amendment No. 5, in page 2, line 5, after ' tenant ', insert 'or, where there are joint tenants, any one of them'. The amendment provides that, where there is a joint tenancy, only one of the joint tenants need have been occupying publicly-owned housing for three years prior to their application to purchase for all of them to have the right to buy. That was always the intended effect of the Bill and it is already provided for in the Housing Bill for England and Wales. The need for the amendment arises as a result of an oversight in drafting.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Rifkind

I beg to move amendment No. 7, in page 2, line 12, leave out ' they ' and insert ' such members'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may discuss Government amendment No. 8.

Mr. Rifkind

Amendment No. 7 does not alter the effect of the Bill but is for clarification purposes. Questions arose in Committee about whether it was intended that the requirement of six months' residence in the house to be purchased should attach to the tenant as well as to members of his family. It is appropriate that it should attach simply to members of the family, as the requirement for the tenant is provided for elsewhere in the Bill.

Amendment No. 8 changes the effect of the Bill by providing that no member of a tenant's family who is residing with him in breach of a tenancy obligation may be included as of right as a joint purchaser, regardless of the length of time for which they have resided in the house in question. The amendment fulfils an undertaking to the Opposition in Committee.

Mr. Millan

I thank the Minister for tabling amendment No. 8 which arises from a suggestion of mine.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made, No. 8, in page 2, line 15, after ' months ', insert 'and their residence in the dwelling-house is not a breach of any obligation of the tenancy'.

Mr. Rifkind

I beg to move amendment No. 12, in page 2, line 26, after ' a ', insert ' qualified'.

The effect of the amendment is to prescribe that where an authority proposes a valuer other than the district valuer, that person must be qualified to do the job. It was always intended that that should be so but anxiety was expressed in Committee by the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson). The amendment is a response to his anxiety.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Rifkind

I beg to move amendment No. 16, in page 2, line 38, after ' occupation ', insert 'by the tenant or by any one of the joint tenants or by his spouse'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may discuss Government amendment No. 41.

Mr. Rifkind

The amendments deal with the meaning of the word "occupation" but in different contexts. Amendment No. 41 gives landlords discretion to count towards discount and qualifying time for the right to buy time spent living with parents by a person who has succeeded them to the tenancy of a publicly-owned house. A person might live with aged parents and might not technically be the tenant but, over a period of years, that person might have been paying the rent. For example, a single woman might be supporting her parents but never have become the tenant of the property. If such a person can satisfy the local authority, it is right that her support should be recognised.

Similar discretion is provided to local authorities selling under the present general consent provisions. Authorities which wish to use the power are required to seek the Secretary of State's specific consent.

5.45 pm
Mr. Cook

Can the Minister explain the meaning of the word "occupation" in this context? It is not defined in the interpretation clause. I have not been able to find another definition of "occupation" in the Bill.

The Government amendments refer to a period of occupation rather than a period of tenancy. Amendment No. 16 throws wide open the term "occupation" not only to the tenant but to a spouse who might have been married to another tenant. Will it be legitimate for a tenant to found the calculation of discount on a period which his spouse has spent in occupation of another council house, perhaps while being married to another tenant?

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

The Minister referred to single daughters or sons who have been responsible for paying their parents' rent for some years. Such occurrences are frequent in Scotland and are often the subject of discussion and anxiety. If a local authority refuses to exercise its discretion will that be the end of the road? Are the Gov- ernment thinking of laying a concrete obligation on local authorities, or do they intend to leave the matter open?

Mr. Rifkind

The Government considered whether a statutory right would be appropriate. The difficulty is that the cases involved are somewhat vague. Reluctantly, and sadly, we concluded that it would be difficult to put that right in legislative form in a way that could not be abused. Under the present system local authorities have acted flexibly and with understanding. The evidence suggests that they will continue to do so.

Perhaps I did not explain that amendment No. 16 is slightly different from amendment No. 41. Amendment No. 16 deals with a drafting ambiguity which provides that the discount above the basic 33 per cent. is to be reckoned on the basis of occupation. It has bean pointed out that it does not, however, specify whose occupation is referred to and that it might be interpreted as embracing members of a tenant's family who are included as joint purchasers. The amendment ensures that, when determining the rate of discount, the tenant's own occupation of the accommodation should be used and not any longer occupation by a member of his family or anybody else who is a joint purchaser. The tenant's length of occupation will be the only criterion in determining the discount.

Mr. Cook

The amendment states : by the tenant or by any one of the joint tenants or by his spouse".

Clause 1(10) provides the definition of occupation. Reading that part of the Bill with amendment No. 16, it appears that the tenant will be able to found the calculation of discount for additional years in respect of a period of occupation by his spouse, perhaps when married to another tenant. That would be extraordinary. Perhaps the Minister should reconsider the matter.

Mr. Rifkind

It is not intended that that should be the outcome of the amendment. The purpose of the amendment is the reverse. It is to ensure that the length of occupation by the tenant will be taken into account when determining discount entitlement. However, I shall look into the matter and, if there is an effect which is contrary to that which is intended, there will be an opportunity to deal with it.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Gordon Wilson (Dundee, East)

I beg to move amendment No. 18, in page 3, line 9, leave out ' (a)'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may discuss the following amendments : No. 19, in page 3, line 9, leave out ' outstanding debt ' and insert ' cost'.

No. 20, in page 3, line 10, leave out from ' house ' to end of line 15 and insert 'but where the market value of the dwelling-house determined under subsection (4)(a) above is less than the outstanding debt as above, the landlord, when failing the tenant, may seek the consent of the Secretary of State to the sale at the lesser of the two standards.'. Government amendment No. 21.

No. 22, in page 3, line 16, leave out ' outstanding debt ' and insert ' cost'.

No. 23, in page 3, line 16, leave out from ' means ' to end of line 17.

Government amendment No. 24.

Mr. Wilson

Amendment No. 18 is a paving amendment for amendment No. 20. The object of amendment No. 20 is to provide a new formula for dealing with houses, the market value of which is less than the book value. Where a house is valued at under book value, its disposal at that price, which is permissible under the subsection, could leave an outstanding debt unpaid from the funds generated by the sale. That outstanding debt in turn would fall upon the ratepayers or the housing account. It could lead to higher rates and rents to service a debt where an asset has been disposed of at a loss.

COSLA expressed reservations about the impact of the subsection as drafted. It pointed out that the Scottish Office has adopted a phrasing and a formula different from that in the English Bill. That is not necessarily wrong. But COSLA points out that it may be faced with a more difficult financial position because of the wording employed by the Government. I should be grateful if the Minister could explain what representations have been made by COSLA. Has he managed to persuade COSLA that there is no such difficulty? If so, much worry will be avoided.

The Government, I understand, have taken the view that when a house is sold at the lower of the two prices—at a price below book value—the loss sustained by the local authority will be met out of profits gained from the sale of other houses of higher value. I doubt whether that is correct. The costs of housing built in recent years have been high. If these houses were sold and the large discount applied, some difficulty could result. If one takes into account historic levels of inflation, even allowing for the fact that properties tend to have gone up in value to a greater extent than would normally be the case and have more than kept place with inflation, the discount will reduce any real profit that might have been made. It is not unreasonable to say that, if a loss is caused to local authorities, the Government, in pushing a policy of sales, should be expected, to shoulder any of the capital losses that might occur.

The Government will probably refuse to adopt that course. Amendment No. 20 does not seek that end. It seeks to make a general rule that no house will be sold at less than its book value—its market value—unless and until the consent of the Secretary of State has been obtained. This would allow the local authority to make representations to the Secretary of State if a number of houses fell into that category. I cannot imagine local authorities seeking Government permission to deal with a small number of houses ; but they would have no protection if a large number of houses could be sold, leaving a high book debt that would have to be borne in the manner I have mentioned. The local authorities should have an opportunity to put their arguments, in given circumstances, to the Secretary of State and to seek his permission. Some local authorities might use this arrangement to stop sales.

I have, therefore, put into amendment No. 20 the right of the tenant to seek such permission from the Secretary of State if he or she runs into any blocking difficulties of a technical nature from the local authority. The tenant, in turn, will be able to put reasons to the Secretary of State. This might provide a better formula than at present contained in the Bill.

Mr. Millan

I should like to say a word about amendments Nos. 19, 22 and 23, in my name.

The Minister is aware that the Opposition do not like this subsection, but I do not wish to go back over the arguments that took place in Committee. The subsection is complicated. It contains three negatives. One is never sure whether one is finishing up with a negative or a positive. The Minister has been at pains to demonstrate that what is contained in the Bill is the same as that which is in the English Bill, although the wording is different. It is difficult to accept his argument.

The appropriate wording in the Scottish Bill is "outstanding debt" whereas the word used in Clause 7(2) of the English Bill is "cost". The outstanding debt should be less than the cost. Presumably, if it means something different from cost, it means the cost incurred but not paid off. That is what the subsection says— ' outstanding debt ' means any undischarged debt arising from— and then lists costs.

It seems that this is different form the English Bill, which simply talks of the costs. My amendments would remove the words "outstanding debt" and substitute the word "cost" to place the Bill on all fours with the English Bill. If there is a difference—the Minister can perhaps explain—the Scottish Bill would be less favourable because the outstanding debt would be less than the cost. The cost is the gross cost. The outstanding debt is the gross cost less anything that has been paid off.

I am not persuaded that the Bills are the same. I am not arguing that Scottish Bills and English Bills should be drafted in the same way, but it seems a pity that, on such a matter as we are discussing, we should have entirely different wordings that have already raised considerable apprehensions, whether justified or not, among Scottish authorities that they are being treated less favourably than English authorities.

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. Member for Dundee East (Mr. Wilson) will recall that the provisions relating to outstanding debt were introduced by the Government in acknowledgment of the concern of local authorities that a house that had recently been constructed might be sold, because of the discount, at a significant loss to them. It was thought appropriate that the outstanding debt factor should be taken into account.

It seems to the Government that it should be a question of outstanding debt, or market value, whichever is the less. If the market value is lower than the outstanding debt, it seems inappropriate that a tenant should be obliged to pay more for his house than it would cost on the open market. That seems a reasonable proposition. Equally, if the reverse is the case and the outstanding debt is lower, it is right that the tenant should be able to take into account his discount entitlement when considering the question of his right to buy.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the views of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. Councillor Kirkpatrick of the housing committee of COSLA has pursued a long campaign to try to convince the Government that the Scottish Bill is significantly different from the English Bill. I hoped to write to Councillor Kirkpatrick, but, unfortunately, he ceased to be a councillor—I hasten to add that he was an independent—as a result of the local elections. However, I wrote to the convention indicating why we took the view that Councillor Kirkpatrick's belief was inaccurate. The secretary of the convention, Mr. Spiers, his written to me indicating that his preliminary view is that the Government are correct in coming to that conclusion. He is looking into the matter in greater detail.

The right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) raised the question of the difference between "cost" and "outstanding debt". Cost is a term used in the English Bill. The effect of the change proposed by the Opposition would be minimal. In the first few years after a housing debt is incurred, repayment of capital is so small that there is little variation between outstanding debt and cost. The concept of outstanding debt has been used in Scottish local government finance for many years. The right hon. Gentleman may recall that the Opposition, when in Government, used the term in their circulars on house sales. Any sales that were permitted had to be at prices not less than the outstanding debt. This is a Scottish concept. The practical consequences are minimal. We have followed the previous Government in using this approach.

Mr. Millan

There is, then, a difference between the "English and the Scottish legislation. The hon. Gentleman says it is minimal and that there is no need to bother about it. but there is a difference. Cost is higher than the outstanding debt. The Minister has been at great pains throughout the proceedings on the Bill to say that the two pieces of legislation are on all fours.

Mr. Rifkind

The right hon. Gentleman is misunderstanding the situation. The point which COSLA was at one stage making——

6 pm

Mr. Millan

I am not concerned about COSLA.

Mr. Rifkind

Until recently the point at issue was that, because the Scottish Bill refers to outstanding debt or market value, whichever is the lesser, it was different from the English Bill, which does not make such alternative provision. I think that it has now been cleared up. The right hon. Gentleman says that he is not concerned with that. However, I have never sought to suggest that outstanding debt is exactly the same as cost. There is a minimal distinction. We have used the term "outstanding debt" because it is a concept which has been traditionally used in Scottish local government finance. It was the concept used by the Labour Administration with regard to the sale of council houses in the few cases where it was permitted. Therefore, there seemed no reason to depart from that concept.

Mr. Millan

With respect, I was not raising the point about COSLA. That matter may well be settled to the satisfaction of COSLA. However, in the letter which the Minister sent to COSLA and which was issued to the press—it was written in rather arrogant and indignant terms—he took great pains to say that the two Bills were absolutely identical That is not the case, because cost is greater than outstanding debt.

I do not care what COSLA thinks about this. Perhaps the Minister will turn his attention to what I think about it, because COSLA is not present. It is un- fortunate that the two Bills are not exactly the same. I shall not press this amendment to a Division, but I think that the hon. Gentleman ought to look at the matter before the Bill eventually reaches the statute book.

Mr. Rifkind

I am quite happy to look at it. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the letter which I had written to COSLA. COSLA raised a particular point, in that it claimed that there was a difference between the Scottish and English Bills. It was in relation to that point that I replied that there was no distinction. COSLA is satisfied with that, and that is all that I need to explain in regard to the letter to COSLA to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. However, I shall certainly look at the point that he has made.

Mr. Millan

What about the Government amendments?

Mr. Rifkind

The right hon. Gentleman has correctly reminded me that I have not yet commented on the Government amendments which are included in this group. I am grateful to him.

Government amendment No. 21 is a technical amendment to ensure that in cases where the Secretary of State wishes to depart from the normal practice the statutory instrument should be subject to the scrutiny of the House. Government amendment No. 24 meets a point raised by COSLA, that occasionally with newly built houses an estimate only can be given as to what the outstanding debt is. The amendment enables that to be done.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments made: No. 21, in page 3, line 14, after ' instrument ', insert 'subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament'.

No. 24, in page 3, line 25, at end add— '(7A) Where at the date of service of an offer to sell under section 2 of this Act any of the costs referred to in subsection (7) above are not known, the landlord shall make an estimate of such unknown costs for the purposes of the said subsection.'.—[Mr. Rifkind.]

Mr. Rifkind

I beg to move amendment No. 27, in page 3,line 31 at the end add 'or the common good of any such council, or any trust under the control of any such council ;'

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may take the following amendments :

Government amendments Nos. 28 to 30.

No. 31, in page 4, line 17 at end insert— '(k) the Forestry Commission'.

Mr. Rifkind

Amendments Nos. 27, 28 and 29 simply correct oversights in drafting. Amendment No. 30 is a drafting amendment, which replaces an Opposition amendment that was accepted in Committee. The House will recall that the Government accepted an amendment relating to area health boards, but that was defective, in that area health board houses are technically owned by the Secretary of State and not by the boards themselves. This drafting amendment clarifies that situation.

I should briefly like to comment on Opposition amendment No. 31. I say "briefly", if only because it is my intention to recommend acceptance of the amendment. Perhaps that will indicate to the Opposition that if amendments are accepted without their being moved it is something that they should consider in the future. I am happy to recommend acceptance of that amendment, which relates to the Forestry Commission. I hope that the House will approve it.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

Can the Minister indicate which bodies are covered by these amendments, and whether there are any trusts under the control of any such council? Would that include a whisky benefactor who has trust houses in Perth?

Mr. Rifkind

I am not sure about that example. However, amendment No. 27 provides that the time spent in a house, where a landlord was the common good of or a trust under the control of a regional islands or district council, will count towards discount and qualify time for the right to buy. That is consistent with clauses 1(2) and 10(2), which provide that tenants of houses let by common goods or trusts of islands and district councils should have security of tenure and the right to buy. Therefore, if a person comes within the criteria of a common good or a trust under a local authority, the consequences will be as I have indicated. I am sorry that that has not answered the hon. Gentleman's specific question, but I would need to look into the detailed circumstances of any whisky trust of the kind to which he referred.

Mr. Brown

That does not really answer the question. All that the Minister has done is to read his brief. The answer is that he does not know. I presume that this is not an imaginary situation and that such houses must exist, although I am unaware of them. I am a little apprehensive about whether or not we know what we are doing, as we have no information.

Mr. George Robertson

I do not intend to take too long on this matter. It would be fortuitous both for the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Walker) and for the Gannochy trust and others if the amendment embraced the new schedule——

Mr. Rifkind

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman. I should make clear that amendment No. 27 is a purely drafting amendment. There are no policy changes compared with the Bill as it left Committee.

Mr. Robertson

We accept the Minister's assurance. We are grateful that the Government have accepted amendment No. 31. There was considerable disappointment when it was not among the 260 or so amendments that appeared on the Amendment Paper. I believe that many people who at present live in Forestry Commission houses will be more than pleased to know that they, too, will share in this great privilege of qualifying for these extravagant discounts that the Government are making available to sitting tenants.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made : No. 28, in page 3, line 31 at end add— '(aa) the Commission for the New Towns ;'.

No. 29, in page 3, line 38 at end add— '(cc) a housing co-operative within the meaning of section 5 of the Housing Rents and Subsidies (Scotland) Act 1975 or of paragraph 9 of Schedule 1 to the Housing Rents and Subsidies Act 1975 ; (ccc) the Development Board for Rural Wales ; '

No. 30,in page 4, leave out line 17 and insert— '(j) the Secretary of State, where the house is used for the purposes of a health board constituted under section 2 of the National Health Services (Scotland) Act 1978 or for the purposes of a corresponding board in England and Wales ; or the Department of Health and Social Services for Northern Ireland, where the house is used for the purposes of a Health and Personal Services Board in Northern Ireland ; and the statutory predecessors of any such board.'.—[Mr. Rifkind.]

Amendment made : No. 31, in page 4, line 17 at end insert— '(k) the Forestry Commission'.—[Mr. George Robertson.]

Amendment made : No. 34, in page 4, line 18, after ' apply ', insert—

  1. '(a) where a landlord mentioned in any of paragraphs (a), (b) or (c) of section 10(2) of this Act is not the heritable proprietor of a dwelling-house ;
  2. (b) where a landlord of a dwelling-house is a housing co-operation within the meaning of section 5 of the Housing Rents and Subsidies (Scotland) Act 1975 and neither it nor a body mentioned in the said paragraph (a) of section 10(2) of this Act is the heritable proprietor of the dwelling-house ; nor
  3. (c)'.—[Mr. Rifkind.]

Mr. Rifkind

I beg to move amendment No. 35, in page 4, line 20, after ' system ', insert 'and the services of a warden'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may take amendment No. 36, in page 4, line 21, at end insert 'or where a dwelling-house has features which are substantially different from those of ordinary dwelling houses and which are designed to make it suitable for occupation by physically disabled persons'.

Mr. Rifkind

Amendment No. 35 is in-intended to clarify the effect of subsection (9), which deals with exclusion from the right to buy of sheltered housing of the elderly or the disabled. Uncertainty has been expressed by local authorities—it was also expressed in Committee—about the precise meaning of this subsection. The amendment clarifies it by indicating that where a warden is in existence the housing is excluded from the right to buy. We are also discussing an Opposition amendment, but I shall reserve my comments on that until Opposition Members have spoken on it.

Mr. George Robertson

Either there is confusion in my mind, and in the minds of a number of others, or the Government are doing something very peculiar. Government amendment No. 35 makes a certain change to the existing provisions in the Bill by qualifying the word "system". Of course, it does nothing to the exclusion of the right to buy, which is what the Opposition amendment is about. The odd thing is that the Opposition amendment is a faithful reflection of the wording in the English Housing Bill, which has virtually completed all its stages.

There is no doubt that paragraph 4 of schedule 1 of the English Housing Bill excludes a dwelling-house that is one of a group of dwelling-houses which it is the practice of the landlord to let for occupation by persons of pensionable age and a social service or special facilities are provided in close proximity to the group of dwelling-houses for the only or main purpose of assisting those persons. In the English Housing Bill, under that definition, there is a total exclusion of sheltered housing from the right to buy in England and Wales.

It will be interesting to see why the limited amount of sheltered accommodation in Scotland will not be excluded from the right to buy. There is the prospect of sheltered housing being bought and the only protection that is apparent in the Bill is a pre-emption right under clause 4.

There is a limited amount of sheltered accommodation in Scotland and it is recognised by most parties in the House that it is inadequate even to meet the criterion laid down by successive Governments. The bulk of the sheltered accommodation coming on to the housing market consists, by and large, of expensive conversions on individual houses by individual local authorities. Anything that will deter local authorities from converting further houses into sheltered accommodation or into houses with specific provision for the disabled would be deeply regrettable. It may be that I am confused——

Mr. Rifkind

indicated assent.

Mr. Robertson

The Minister indicates that I am confused about that. The Opposition amendment would bring the law in Scotland into line with the admirable law, in this respect, south of the border. That would be welcome, and we await with interest the explanation of the Government.

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. Gentleman is confused. It is the Government's intention that sheltered housing will be excluded from the right to buy. The hon. Gentleman will recall that in Committee the provision that applied originally only to sheltered housing for the elderly was extended to include sheltered housing for the disabled. The hon. Gentleman's concern is for housing that, though it may not be sheltered, has been specifically adapted or designed to meet the needs of the elderly and the disabled.

In our view it is appropriate that the right of pre-emption should exist in respect of that housing. Many disabled persons may be young people, who may live in a house for many years. It seems unfair that because they are disabled they should be excluded from the right to buy enjoyed by other people. The opportunity for a local authorinty to include a right of pre-emption meets a legitimate need. If the house is alienated within a certain period of time, the local authority can reacquire the property. That seems to be a proper approach to the subject.

6.15 pm
Mr. Millan

We are not at all happy with the answers given by the Minister. The amendment that he moved makes the subsection more restricted. It adds another qualification to the question of facilities and provides that there must be the services of a warden as well as a call system. That potentially limits the subsection even further.

There are substantial differences in wording between the Scottish Bill and the English Bill. The English Bill is couched in more expansive terms in dealing with exclusions. We have discussed this matter on a number of occasions, but we have not yet reached a satisfactory conclusion. I had hoped that the Minister would say that he would be willing to consider the wording here and also the wording in relation to the pre-emption clause, and that he would then put down any necessary amendments in another place.

The Minister has not given that undertaking and we shall wish to return to the matter in another place. Unless we receive such an undertaking we shall press amendment No. 36 to a Division. However, if the Minister is genuinely forthcoming—I do not wish him to say that he will look at the matter in order to avoid a Division—we will not press the matter to a Division. The Minister must know that there is considerable concern that in this context we are not being treated as favourably as England, and unless I receive a firm assurance from the Minister, which we can follow up in another place, I shall press the issue to a Division.

Mr. Rifkind

The Government recognise that the position of elderly and disabled people in specific types of housing deserves special treatment. For that reason we made amendments in Committee to meet that point. I accept that there is a particular difference between the amendment before us and the provision in the English Housing Bill, but the right hon. Gentleman is aware that there are many differences. He approves of some and disapproves of others. It has been recognised for many years that the position in Scotland is different from that in England. There is, for example, a much larger public housing sector in Scotland.

I acknowledge the concern that is felt on the matter and I am genuinely prepared to consider it again. It is not a matter of great dogma in relation to the elderly and the disabled. I cannot give the right hon. Gentleman an undertaking that we shall reach a different conclusion, but I can assure him that I shall genuinely consider this point to see whether the provision in the Bill as it now stands is appropriate, or whether further amendment is justified.

Mr. Millan

That is helpful. Of course there are provisions in the Bill that differ from the English legislation. I do not necessarily object to that. The needs of disabled people, however, are not substantially different north ond south of the border. If anything, the provision for the elderly and the disabled in Scotland is somewhat inferior to the provision in England. For that reason the provisions in the Bill should be more favourable to the elderly and the disabled in Scotland in the matter of sheltered housing and other facilities than they are in England.

Since the Minister is genuinely prepared to consider the matter again I shall not advise my hon. Friends to divide on amendment No. 36. I have no doubt that this matter will be pursued in another place.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment proposed : No. 39, in page 4, line 21, at end insert : '(9A) This section shall not apply to dwelling-houses in an area which is designated a reserved area by the islands or district council within whose area it is situated where the Secretary of State, on the application of the islands or district council concerned, makes an order, which shall be made by statutory instrument, to that effect.

(9B) An order under subsection (9A) above may be applied for where in the opinion of the islands or district council concerned further sales in the reserved area would be unduly detrimental to the interests of applicants on its housing list or of tenants of the council who are seeking transfers to other houses belonging to the council or would upset the balance of housing stock belonging to the council.'—[Mr. Millan.]

Question put, That the amendment be made :—

The House divided : Ayes 221, Noes 266.

Division No. 355] AYES [6.20 pm
Abse, Leo Dunnett, Jack Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Adams, Allen Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Alton, David Eastham, Ken Lyons, Edward (Bradford West)
Anderson, Donald Ellis, Raymond (NE Derbyshire) Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) McCartney, Hugh
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ernest English, Michael McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Ennals, Rt Hon David McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Ashton, Joe Evans, loan (Aberdare) McKelvey, William
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham) Ewing, Harry Maclennan, Robert
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Field, Frank Magee, Bryan
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Fitch, Alan Marks, Kenneth
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Fitt, Gerard Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Beith, A. J. Flannery, Martin Maxton, John
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Foot, Rt Hon Michael Meacher, Michael
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Ford, Ben Mellish, Rt Hon Robert
Bidwell, Sydney Forrester, John Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Foster, Derek Miller, Dr M. S. (Eas Kilbride)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Foulkes, George Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur (M'brough) Fraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood) Mitchell, R. C. (Solon, Itchen)
Bradley, Tom Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Freud, Clement Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Garrett, John (Norwich S) Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Brown, Ronald w. (Hackney S) George, Bruce Morton, George
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh, Leith) Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Buchan, Norman Ginsburg, David Newens, Stanley
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Graham, Ted Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Campbell, Ian Grant, George (Morpeth) Ogden, Eric
Campbell-Savours, Dale Grant, John (Islington C) O'Halloran, Michael
Cant, R. B. Grimond, Rt Hon J. O'Neill, Martin
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Cartwright, John Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Hardy, Peter Palmer, Arthur
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Park, George
Cohen, Stanley Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Parker, John
Coleman, Donald Haynes, Frank Parry, Robert
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Healey, Rt Hon Denis Pavitt, Laurie
Conlan, Bernard Heffer, Eric S. Pendry, Tom
Cook, Robin F. Hogg, Norman (E Dunbartonshire) Penhaligon, David
Cowans, Harry Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhall) Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Cox, Tom (Wandsworth, Tooting) Home Robertson, John Prescott, John
Crowthsr, J. S. Homewood, William Race, Reg
Cryer, Bob Hooley, Frank Radice, Giles
Cunlitfe, Lawrence Horam, John Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds South)
Cunningham, George (Islington S) Howells, Geraint Richardson, Jo
Cunningham, Dr John (Whitehaven) Huckfield, Les Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Dalyell, Tam Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen North) Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Davidson, Arthur Hughes, Roy (Newport) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney Central) Janner, Hon Greville Robertson, George
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Rodgers, Rt Hon William
Davies, Ifor (Gower) John, Brynmor Rooker, J. W.
Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford) Johnson, James (Hull West) Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Deakins, Eric Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rhondda) Sever, John
Dempsey, James Jones, Barry (East Flint) Sheer man, Barry
Dewar, Donald Jones, Dan (Burnley) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert (A'ton-u-L)
Dixon, Donald Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Shore, Rt Hon Peter (Step and Pop)
Dobson, Frank Kerr, Russell Short, Mrs Renée
Dormand, Jack Kilfedder, James A. Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Douglas, Dick Kilroy-Silk, Robert Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Kinnock, Neil Silverman, Julius
Dubs, Alfred Lambie, David Skinner, Dennis
Duffy, A. E. P. Lamborn, Harry Smith, Rt Hon J. (North Lanarkshire)
Dunn, James A. (Liverpool, Kirkdale) Leadbitter, Ted Soley, Clive
Spearing, Nigel Tilley, John Wilson, Gordon (Dundee East)
Spriggs, Leslie Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley) Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Steel, Rt Hon David Watkins, David Winnick, David
Stewart, Rt Hon Donald (W Isles) Weetch, Ken Woodall, Alec
Strang, Gavin Wellbeloved, James Woolmer, Kenneth
Straw, Jack Welsh, Michael Wrigglesworth, Ian
Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley White, Frank R.(Bury & Radclille) Wright, Shella
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton West) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok) Young, David (Bolton East)
Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Whitehead, Phillip
Thomas, Mike (Newcastle East) Whitlock, William TELLERS FOR THE AYES :
Thomas, Dr Roger (Carmarthen) Willey, Rt Hon Frederick Mr. Walter Harrison and
Thorne, Stan (Preston South) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W) Mr. James Tinn
Adley, Robert Fairbairn, Nicholas Loveridge, John
Aitken, Jonathan Fairgrleve, Russell Lyell, Nicholas
Alexander, Richard Faith, Mrs Shella McCrindle, Robert
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Fa[...], John Macfarlane, Neil
Ancram, Michael Fanner, Mrs Peggy MacGregor, John
Arnold, Tom Finsberg, Geoffrey MacKay, John (Argyll)
Aspinwall, Jack Fisher, Sir Nigel Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh N) McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury)
Atkinson, David (B'mouth, East) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Fookes, Miss Janet McQuade, John
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Fowler, Rt Hon Norman McQuarrie, Albert
Bell, Sir Ronald Fox, Marcus Madel, David
Bendall, Vivian Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) Major, John
Benyon, Thomas (Abingdon) Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Marland, Paul
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Fry, Peter Marlow, Tony
Best, Keith Gardiner, George (Reigate) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Bevan, David Gilroy Gardner, Edward (South Fylde) Marten, Neil (Banbury)
Biggs-Davison, John Garel-Jones, Tristan Mather, Carol
Blackburn, John Glyn, Dr Alan Maude, Rt Hon Angus
Blaker, Peter Goodhew, Victor Mawby, Ray
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Gow, Ian Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gower, Sir Raymond Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Bottomley, Peter (Woolwich West) Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Mellor, David
Bowden, Andrew Gray, Hamish Meyer, Sir Anthony
Bright, Graham Greenway, Harry Mills, lain (Meriden)
Brinton, Tim Grieve, Percy Mills, Peter (West Devon)
Brittan, Leon Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Grist, Ian Moate, Roger
Brooke, Hon Peter Gummer, John Selwyn Monro, Hector
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe) Hamilton, Hon Archie (Eps'm&Ew'll) Montgomery, Fergus
Bruce-Gardyne, John Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Moore, John
Bryan, Sir Paul Hampson, Dr Keith Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes)
Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick Hanram, John Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester)
Buck, Antony Haselhurst, Alan Mudd, David
Budgen, Nick Hastings, Stephen Murphy, Christopher
Bulmer, Esmond Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Myles, David
Burden, F. A. Hawksley, Warren Neale, Gerrard
Butcher, John Hayhoe, Barney Needham, Richard
Butler, Hon Adam Meddle, John Nelson, Anthony
Cadbury, Jocelyn Henderson, Barry Neubert, Michael
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Newton, Tony
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hill, James Normanton, Tom
Carlisle, Rt Hon Mark (Runcorn) Hogg, Hon Douglas (Grantham) Nott, Rt Hon John
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Holland, Philip (Carlton) Onslow, Cranley
Chonnon, Paul Hooson, Tom Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs Sally
Chapman, Sydney Hordem, Peter Page, John (Harrow, West)
Churchill, W. S. Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Page, Rt Hon Sir R. Graham
Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildford) Page, Richard (SW Hertfordshire)
Clark, Sir William (Croydon South) Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Parkinson, Cecil
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hunt, David (Wirral) Parris, Mathew
Clegg, Sir Walter Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Cockeram, Eric Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Patten, John (Oxford)
Colvin, Michael Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Pawsey, James
Cope, John Jessel, Toby Peyton, Rt Hon John
Cormack, Patrick Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Pollock, Alexander
Corrie, John Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Porter, George
Costain, A. P. Kershaw, Anthony Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Cranborne, Viscount Kimball, Marcus Price, David (Eastleigh)
Dean, Paul (North Somerset) King, Rt Hon Tom Proctor, K. Harvey
Dickens, Geoffrey Kitson, Sir Timothy Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Dorrell, Stephen Knox, David Ralson, Timothy
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lamont, Gorman Rathbone, Tim
Dover, Denshore Lang, Ian Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Langford-Holt, Sir John Rees-Davies, W. R.
Durant, Tony Lawrence, Ivan Renton, Tim
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Lawson, Nigel Rhodes James, Robert
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (Pembroke) Lee, John Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Eggar, Timothy Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Ridsdale, Julian
Emery, Peter Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Rifkind, Malcolm
Eyre, Reginald Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire) Walters, Dennis
Robinson, Peter (Belfast East) Stradling Thomas, J. Ward, John
Rossi, Hugh Tapsell, Peter Warren, Kenneth
Royle, Sir Anthony Tebbit, Norman Wells, John (Maidstone)
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Temple-Morris, Peter Wells, Bowen (Hert'rd & Stev'nage)
Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Thomas, Rt Hon Peter (Hendon S) Wheeler, John
Shelton, William (Streatham) Thompson, Donald Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Thorne, Neil (Ilford South) Whitney, Raymond
Shepherd, Richard (Aldrldge-Br'hills) Thornton, Malcolm Wickenden, Keith
Silvester, Fred Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexleyheath) Wilkinson, John
Sims, Roger Trippier, David Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery)
Skeet, T. H. H. Trotter, Neville Winterton, Nicholas
Smith, Dudley (War, and Leam 'ton) Vaughan, Dr Gerard Wolfson, Mark
Speller, Tony Viggers, Peter Young, Sir George (Acton)
Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire) Wadding Ion, David Younger, Rt Hon George
Squire, Robin Waldegrave, Hon William
Stanbrook, Ivor Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire)
Stanley, John Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek TELLERS FOR THE NOES :
Steen, Anthony Wall, Patrick Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and
Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Waller, Gary Mr. Anthony Berry.

Question accordingly negatived.

6.30 pm

Amendment proposed: No. 251, in page 4, line 21, at end insert— '(9A) This section shall not apply to dwelling-houses : (a) which have been listed under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972

as being of special architectural or historic interest ; and (b) which are in a Conservation Area designated under the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972.—[Mr. David Steel.]

Question put, That the amendment be made :—

The House divided: Ayes 221, Noes 263.

Division No. 356] AYES [6.30 pm
Abse, Leo Davis, Clinton, (Hackney Central) Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Adams, Allen Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford) Heffer, Eric S.
Alton, David Deakins, Eric Hogg, Norman (E Dunbartonshire)
Anderson, Donald Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhall)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Dempsey, James Home Robertson, John
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ernest Dewar, Donald Homewood, William
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Dixon, Donald Hooley, Frank
Ashton, Joe Dobson, Frank Horam, John
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham) Dormand, Jack Howells, Geraint
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Douglas, Dick Muckfield, Les
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Douglas-Mann, Bruce Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen North)
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Dubs, Alfred Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Beith, A. J. Duffy, A. E. P. Janner, Hon Greville
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Dunn, James A. (Liverpool, Kirkdale) Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Dunnett, Jack John, Brynmor
Bidwell, Sydney Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Johnson, James (Hull West)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Eastham, Ken Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rhondda)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Ellis, Raymond (NE Derbyshire) Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur (M'brough) Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Bradley, Tom English, Michael Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Bray, Dr Jeremy Ennals, Rt Hon David Kerr, Russell
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Evans, loan (Aberdare) Kilfedder, James A.
Brown, Ronald W. (Hackney S) Ewing, Harry Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh, Leith) Field, Frank Kinnock, Neil
Buchan, Norman Fitch, Alan Lambie, David
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Fitt, Gerard Lamborn, Harry
Campbell, Ian Flannery, Martin Leadbitter, Tod
Campbell-Savours, Dale Foot, Rt Hon Michael Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Cant, R. B. Ford, Ben Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Carter-Jones, Lewis Forrester, John Lyon, Alexander (York)
Cartwright, John Foster, Derek Lyons, Edward (Bradford West)
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Foulkes, George Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Fraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood) McCartney, Hugh
Cohen, Stanley Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Coleman, Donald Garrett, John (Norwich S) McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. George, Bruce McKelvey, William
Conlan, Bernard Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Maclennan, Robert
Cook, Robin F. Ginsburg, David Magee, Bryan
Cowans, Harry Graham, Ted Marks, Kenneth
Cox, Tom (Wandsworth, Tooting) Grant, George (Morpeth) Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Crowther, J. S. Grant, John (Islington C) Maxton, John
Cryer, Bob Grimond, Rt Hon J. Meacher, Michael
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Mellish, Rt Hon Robert
Cunningham, George (Islington S) Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Cunningham, Dr John (Whitehaven) Hardy, Peter Miller, Dr M. S. (East Kilbride)
Dalyell, Tam Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)
Davidson, Arthur Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Mitchell, R. C. (Solon, Itchen)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Haynes, Frank Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw)
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon) Robertson, George Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Morton, George Rodgers, Rt Hon William Tilley, John
Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Rooker, J. W. Tinn, James
Newens, Stanley Ross, Ernest (Dundee West) Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Watkins, David
Ogden, Eric Sever, John Weetch, Ken
O'Halloran, Michael Sheerman, Barry Wellbeloved, James
O'Neill, Martin Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert (A'ton-u-L) Welsh, Michael
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Shore, Rt Hon Peter (Step and Pop) White, Frank R.(Bury & Radcliffe)
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Short, Mrs Renée White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Palmer, Arthur Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford) Whitehead, Phillip
Park, George Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich) Whitlock, William
Parry, Robert Silverman, Julius Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Pavitt, Laurie Skinner, Dennis Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Pendry, Tom Smith, Rt Hon J. (North Lanarkshire) Wilson, Gordon (Dundee East)
Penhaligon, David Soley, Clive Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Spearing, Nigel Winnick, David
Prescott, John Steel, Rt Hon David Woodall, Alec
Race, Reg Stewart, Rt Hon Donald (W Isles) Woolmer, Kenneth
Radice, Giles Strang, Gavin Wrigglesworth, Ian
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds South) Straw, Jack Wright, Shella
Richardson, Jo Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley Young, David (Bolton East)
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton West)
Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) TELLERS FOR THE AYES :
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney North) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle East) Mr. Clement Freud and
Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Thomas, Dr Roger (Carmarthen) Mr. Russell Johnston.
Adley, Robert Corrie, John Hordern, Peter
Aitken, Jonathan Costain, A. P. Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Alexander, Richard Cranborne, Viscount Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildford)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Ancram, Michael Dickens, Geoffrey Hunt, David (Wirral)
Arnold, Tom Dorrell, Stephen Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Aspinwall, Jack Dover, Denshore Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Atkinson, David (B'mouth, East) Durant, Tony Jessel, Toby
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Edwards, Rt Hon N. (Pembroke) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Bell, Sir Ronald Eggar, Timothy Kimball, Marcus
Bendall, Vivian Emery, Peter King, Rt Hon Tom
Benyon, Thomas (Abingdon) Eyre, Reginald Kitson, Sir Timothy
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Fairbairn, Nicholas Knox, David
Berry, Hon Anthony Fairgrieve, Russell Lamorrt, Norman
Best, Keith Faith, Mrs Shella Lang, Ian
Bevan, David Gilroy Farr, John Langford-Holt, Sir John
Biggs-Davison, John Finsberg, Geoffrey Lawrence, Ivan
Blackburn, John Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh N) Lawson, Nigel
Blaker, Peter Fookes, Miss Janet Lee, John
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fox, Marcus Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Bottomley, Peter (Woolwich West) Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Bowden, Andrew Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Loveridge, John
Bright, Graham Fry, Peter Lyell, Nicholas
Brinton, Tim Gardiner, George (Reigate) McCrindle, Robert
Brittan, Leon Gardner, Edward (South Fylde) Macfarlane, Neil
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Garel-Jones, Tristan MacGregor, John
Brooke, Hon Peter Glyn, Dr Alan MacKay, John (Argyll)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe) Goodhew, Victor Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)
Bruce-Gardyne, John Gow, Ian McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury)
Bryan, Sir Paul Gower, Sir Raymond McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Buchanan-Smith, Hon Alick Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) McQuade, John
Buck, Antony Gray, Hamish McQuarrie, Albert
Budgen, Nick Greenway, Harry Madel, David
Bulmer, Esmond Grieve, Percy Major, John
Burden, F. A. Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds) Marland, Paul
Butcher, John Grist, Ian Marlow, Tony
Butler, Hon Adam Grylls, Michael Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Cadbury, Jocelyn Gummer, John Selwyn Marten, Neil (Banbury)
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Hamilton, Hon Archie (Eps'm&Ew'll) Mather, Carol
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Maude, Rt Hon Angus
Carlisle, Rt Hon Mark (Runcorn) Hannam, John Mawby, Ray
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Haselhurst, Alan Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Channon, Paul Hastings, Stephen Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Chapman, Sydney Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Mellor, David
Churchill, W. S. Hawksley, Warren Meyer, Sir Anthony
Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Hayhoe, Barney Mills, lain (Meriden)
Clark, Sir William (Croydon South) Heddle, John Mills, Peter (West Devon)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Henderson, Barry Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Clegg, Sir Walter Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Moate, Roger
Cockeram, Eric Hill, James Monro, Hector
Colvin, Michael Hogg, Hon Douglas (Grantham) Montgomery, Fergus
Cope, John Holland, Philip (Carlton) Moore, John
Cormack, Patrick Hooson, Tom Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes)
Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester) Rhodes James, Robert Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Mudd, David Ridley, Hon Nicholas Thornton, Malcolm
Murphy, Christopher Ridsdale, Julian Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexleyheath)
Myles, David Rifkind, Malcolm Trippier, David
Neale, Gerrard Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) Trotter, Neville
Needham, Richard Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Nelson, Anthony Robinson, Peter (Belfast East) Viggers, Peter
Neubert, Michael Rossi, Hugh Waddington, David
Newton, Tom Royle, Sir Anthony Wakeham, John
Normanton, Tom Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Waldegrave, Hon William
Nott, Rt Hon John Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire)
Onslow, Cran ley Shelton, William (Streatham) Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs Sally Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Wall, Patrick
Page, John (Harrow, West) Shepherd, Richard (Aldrldgc-Br'hills) Waller, Gary
Page, Rt Hon Sir R. Graham Silvester Fred Walters, Dennla
Page, Richard (SW Hertfordshire) Sims, Roger Ward, John
Parkinson, Cecil Skeet, T. H. H. Warren, Kenneth
Parris, Mathew Smith, Dudley (War, and Leam'ton) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Speller, Tony Wells, Bowen (Hertrd & Stev'nage)
Patten, John (Oxford) Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire) Wheeler, John
Pawsey, James Squire, Robin Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Peyton, Rt Hon John Stanbrook, Ivor Whitney, Raymond
Pollock, Alexander Stanley, John Wickenden, Keith
Porter, George Steen, Anthony Wilkinson, John
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Williams, Delwyn (Montgomery)
Price, David (Eastlelgh) Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire) Winterton, Nicholas
Proctor, K. Harvey Stradling Thomas, J. Wolfson, Mark
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Tapsell, Peter Young, Sir George (Acton)
Ralson, Timothy Taylor, Teddy (Southend East) Younger, Rt Hon George
Rathbone, Tim Tebbit, Norman
Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal) Temple-Morris, Peter TELLERS FOR THE NOES :
Rees-Davies, W. R. Thomas, Rt Hon Peter (Hendon S) Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and
Renton, Tim Thompson, Donald Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment made: No. 41, in page 4, line 27, at end add— '; or (iii) in the discretion of the landlord, as the child of a person mentioned in paragraph (i) above who has succeeded to the rights of that person in dwelling-house occupation of which would be reckonable for the purposes of this section, but only in relation to any period when the child is over the age of 16 years ;'.—[Mr. Rifkind.]

Mr. Rifkind

I beg to move amendment No. 42, in page 4, line 29, after ' shall ', insert ', and any interruption in occupation of more than 12 months and less than 24 months may,'. The effect of the amendment is to give authorities discretion to count for discounts on sale periods of the purchaser's tenancy or occupation of relevant public sector housing that preceded a break in occupation of more than 12 months but less than 24 months. The matter was raised in Committee by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Brown) and my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson) and I undertook to see whether a discretion could be provided for local authorities. The amendment provides that discretion.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Rifkind

I beg to move amendment No. 43, in page 4, line 36, leave out from ' 1955 ' to ' Queen ' in line 37.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Richard Crawshaw)

With this we may take Government amendment No. 44.

Mr. Rifkind

The amendments delete the reference to voluntary aid detachments serving with the Royal Navy from the definition of Regular Armed Forces of the Crown. Since the detachments have not existed for more than 20 years, and discount entitlement goes back only 20 years, they are not relevant to the calculation of discount and no reference is necessary to them in the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 44, in page 4, line 38, leave out from ' and ' to ' and ' in line 39 and insert 'the Women's Royal Naval Service'.—[Mr. Rifkind.]

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