HC Deb 18 January 1984 vol 52 cc385-405

'After Section 17 of the 1980 Act there shall be inserted the following words— 17B. It shall be the right of a tenant under a secure tenancy to have repairs to the dwelling house carried out under procedures agreed by each landlord and its tenants.".'.—[Mr. Craigen.] Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Craigen

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

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

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

No. 4, in clause 3, page 3, line 27, at end insert— '(1A) The Secretary of State shall empower landlords to limit the proportion or cash value of the landlords' housing repairs budget paid out under the scheme.'. No. 6, in clause 3, page 3, line 33, at end insert— '(2A) Regulations under this section shall provide that, the landlord shall within twelve months of the commencement of this Act, and in consultation with its tenants, draw up a right to repair programme which will:

  1. (a) list those repairs for which the landlord is responsible; and
  2. (b) prioritise those repairs and state the time periods within which the landlord undertakes to carry out these repairs; and
  3. (c) establish a method for resolving any disputes arising under the programme
The landlord shall publish details of the arrangements which it makes under this section and ensure that a copy is made available to every tenant. No. 8, in clause 3, page 3, line 45, at end insert— '(c) shall provide that repairs within the scheme shall be classified according to their urgency and be assigned as emergency, essential or routine, with action on each to be undertaken accordingly by the landlord within an appropriate period to be specified in the regulations.'.

Mr. Craigen

We made it clear in Committee that we are in favour of a right to have repairs carried out. There is no doubt in my mind that those hon. Members who have public sector housing within their constituencies accept that genuine complaints and dissatisfaction exist about the repairs service. There is a need to strengthen cyclical and planned maintenance in the public sector. It is important that we achieve improved management of our housing stock, but that involves increased resources to housing authorities to enable them to carry out their responsibilities. Where landlords have responsibilities for repairs, it is essential that they carry them out.

The Minister did not fully answer in Committee the question about the extent of planned maintenance programmes in Scotland. He told my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) that a university research project is examining local authority housing repairs. If the Minister would speak to some tenants—I do not encourage him to go into public houses—he would learn more than the university researchers. I see that he is nodding. It is important for him to learn on the spot about the problems that tenants face and not rely too heavily on academic research.

I am worried about the tremendous cutbacks in resources in real terms to Scottish housing authorities since the Government came to office. Since 1979 the figure involved in real terms is £125 million. The cuts put a tremendous strain upon the maintenance and repair budgets of our housing authorities, and it is exceedingly difficult for many to carry out their proper responsibilities.

I do not intend to dwell at length on some of the major issues. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the housing authorities to eradicate the problems of dampness, to tackle asbestos stripping and removal and the structural problems in industrialised buildings that were put up in the 1950s and 1960s. Those factors are part and parcel of inadequate funding faced by local authorities in carrying out their legal obligations as public sector landlords.

When dealing with new clause 2 in Committee, we faced the problem of considering enabling legislation. It was based on reports that the Government were to receive at the end of last year—a consultation document called "A Right to Repair". The closing date for the submission of opinions was 31 December. The consultation document was not circulated as widely as it should have been.

I said in Committee that Glasgow district council did not receive a copy of the document until the shadow Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) gave it a copy. The closing date for responses from COSLA members was the end of November, which telescoped the procedure. The Minister has suffered from not having a sufficient background in local government affairs. Had he known more about the way in which local authorities operate when submitting views, he would have realised that they have a cycle of meetings. If one meeting is missed, a month must elapse before a further meeting can take place, but perhaps he expected councils to have special meetings to comment on such an important consultation paper.

Will the Minister give a preliminary report on the response that he has received? Few people have had a good word to say about the consultation paper. If the scheme is enacted, many tenants, when they look at the close print, will consider that they have been sold a pup. That is why it is important to enshrine in statute the right for repairs to be carried out rather than be short-changed by accepting the present right-to-repair scheme that the Government embodied in their consultation paper.

I shall not detain the House by dwelling for very long on some of the pertinent points which were raised in Committee about the way in which effective repairs should be performed. We were worried that the scheme might exclude the elderly and people on low incomes. Such people would be troubled by having to pay for repairs and waiting to be reimbursed. We were worried because full reimbursement might not take place and that there may be a sliding scale from 75 per cent. to 100 per cent. 8.30 pm

The Government argue that tendering is good practice. I am surprised that the consultation document did not say that tendering was expected for minor repairs. In the building industry it is elementary to seek estimates for repairs. My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) is as busy as ever. He gave me a list of housing authorities and their supplies and appliances. The mind boggles at the number of items that have to be kept in store. Will local authorities operate a type of Unipart service? Will they have to publish prices for items such as sinks or window frames so that others who put in tenders have that knowledge? Many practical considerations are involved.

The need for insurance cover is an alarming prospect for tenants who opt for do-it-yourself repairs. In Committee we discussed health and safety regulations which we believe to be important. It is strange that a Conservative Minister should in Committee suggest that if repairs are not carried out tenants should withhold their rents. It is strange that the Minister should reiterate that.

Mr. Ancram

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen) will recollect that he asked me about common law rights. I told him about tenants' rights under the common law. If I had failed to do that he would have accused me of not having given the whole picture. It is strange that he should now accuse me of trying to incite tenants.

Mr. Craigen

I am grateful to the Minister for trying to enlighten me in response to my earlier questions. Towards the end of the Committee stage and in response to one of my hon. Friends the Minister used what for a Tory is emotive language. It is interesting that a Conservative should tell tenants to withhold their rents.

Mr. Maxton

The problem is that poorer tenants cannot take part in the scheme. Tenants on housing benefit will be unable to exercise their common law right to withhold rent if repairs are not carried out because the DHSS will refuse to agree to that.

Mr. Craigen

I do not wish to take the debate outwith its scope, but my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxon) is correct. By altering housing benefits legislation the Government will make many tenants worse off, but we shall have the opportunity to debate that important matter on another occasion.

We must encourage local authorities and other housing authorities to improve their planned maintenance and cyclical repair arrangements. The Government are falling down by the measures that they are taking and the funding that they are denying housing authorities for repairs.

For emergency, essential and routine repairs the Government should rely upon an improved delivery service by housing authorities which, as landlords, are legally responsible. The Minister may contradict me when discussing the consultation document, but problems arise whether repairs are left to do-it-yourself Indians or fly-by-night cowboys.

The Committee discussed common repair schemes, but inevitably problems will arise in relation to gas, electricity, rewiring and dry or wet rot if the Government are not careful in the way that they engineer the right-to-repair scheme.

Our greatest worry is that parts of public sector housing are slithering into slumdom. The evidence is available. The Minister shakes his head, but he does not see the communities that Opposition Members see. The Minister denies it, but he is wrong. The facts are indisputable. Local authorities are experiencing more and more problems in keeping housing stocks in proper order. That used to be true of the private sector. I acknowledge that house improvement grants have helped, but the Minister has decided to cut and run on that issue. The evidence is of a deterioration in public sector housing stock. It is essential to establish a right to repair by the landlord and a proper repair delivery service.

Mr. Henderson

My impression is that the House agrees that repairs are not always done as well as they might be done. If the standards of the better local authorities were applied universally we should probably not have to discuss this legislation today. Unfortunately there are substantial variations in the quality of repairs and the way in which they are carried out. I shall not pursue any political guesstimates about which local authorities are best at handling repairs. The general desire in the House is to provide tenants with the right of repair. The differences come to light in the way it is carried out and in the way it affects different people.

In Committee and again tonight, Opposition Members have said that certain categories of people — they instanced poorer people—might not benefit from some ways in which the right to repair might be carried out. Surely that is not a good argument against proceeding with the right to repair, if sensible schemes can be devised.

Mr. Maxton


Mr. Henderson

If many people benefit from it, the fact that not every person benefits is not an argument in itself. There is no reason why we should not try to meet all the problems. Indeed, poorer tenants should get their repairs done anyway. If some of the pressure on local authority maintenance departments is reduced by the right to repair scheme, it is more likely that the tenant who wants repairs done by the local authority will find that the local authority provides that service more effectively.

Mr. Craigen

The hon. Gentleman is wiser than I thought. He was a member of the Committee with me, and I thought that he had grasped the whole point of his Government's consultation document better than he apparently has. We said that the better-off tenant who had the money would be able to get the repairs done, but that the majority of tenants are on housing benefit and would have difficulty in getting repairs done.

Mr. Henderson

I do not understand what is puzzling the hon. Gentleman. At present tenants should have their repairs carried out. If it is convenient and sensible for the tenant to arrange his own repairs, at no cost to himself, that is surely a good thing. If that releases resources in the local authority to provide a better service for all tenants, that is surely a good thing.

Reference was made in a pejorative way to fly-by-night operators coming in. Certainly no one would want to encourage such operators in the real meaning of the word, but that does not mean that individuals or small firms cannot provide a competent and adequate service. If there is a retired joiner living in the area who can carry out minor repairs, it would be of great benefit to him, as well as to other people, for him to do those repairs. That would avoid involving the great bureaucratic process. Opposition Members may describe that joiner as a fly-by-night operator, but I would regard him as providing a useful service.

Mr. Dewar

It is called the black economy.

Mr. Henderson

Not necessarily. He may pay his taxes, just as I am sure the hon. Gentleman pays his taxes, although the hon. Gentleman with his legal experience may be rather better at avoiding his tax than the poor old chap who is providing a service for his neighbour.

Mr. Dewar

The hon. Gentleman is suggesting that I evade my taxes.

Mr. Henderson

I did not suggest that the hon. Gentleman evaded his tax. He, as a lawyer, will realise that I have been very careful in making no such inference about him.

It is important to get the right to repair right. We all know that it will not be easy to get a comprehensive scheme absolutely right first time. It is therefore all the more important that at each stage of the evolution of my hon. Friend's scheme he consults as widely as possible, including the House, so as to get it right. I would find it most acceptable, perhaps on an Opposition day, at any rate at some point, to have an opportunity to debate the scheme either on the Floor of the House or in the Grand Committee, before an order is placed in the House. That will help hon. Members and will help to produce a scheme that will provide not only the right to repair that we want tenants to have, but will ensure that it defies the Jeremiahs of the Opposition who do not appreciate that a competent Government can produce schemes to meet difficult circumstances.

8.45 pm
Mr. Bruce

I support the right-to-repair principle, but I wish to speak specifically to amendment No. 4, standing in the name of the leader of the Liberal party, myself and my Liberal and Social Democratic colleagues. I accept that the amendment has been included in this group of amendments because the thrust of its argument is similar. The matter was discussed thoroughly in Committee, but it was not satisfactorily resolved. That is why my colleagues on Second Reading tabled an instruction, which regrettably was ruled out of order, that increased funds should be made available to cover such a scheme. The fact that the Government propose that this scheme, of which we still do not have full details, is to come out of existing local authority budgets — which, as we all know, are severely constrained—has encouraged me to table the amendment, which would enable local authorities to protect their own repairs policy and to ensure that the less privileged tenants in local authority housing do not suffer disadvantage as a result of the introduction of a scheme that gives tenants rights to repair.

Mr. Henderson

Surely with a scheme of this kind no one will be disadvantaged, in the sense that no existing rights are taken away?

Mr. Bruce

If the hon. Gentleman will listen to the argument, he may get my point. If there is a fixed amount of money and a new scheme is introduced, particularly if that scheme proves to be successful and popular, it means that the tenants who take advantage of the scheme effectively reduce the amount of money that is available to the local authority to carry out repairs under other schemes — for example, a sensible planned budgeted maintenance on a section of its own housing stock, which many good local authorities rightly regard as the basis of good housing management. The fact that its budget has been distorted by the requirement to carry out repairs could cause considerable difficulties, both in budgeting and planned maintenance programmes. That is my colleagues' first concern about the likely effect of the scheme — should the scheme be effective, and we assume that the Government intend to bring forward a scheme which they believe will be popular and widely taken up.

That brings me to my second point. For tenants who are in a position to take advantage of such a scheme, clearly the scheme is a good one, but, as the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen) pointed out, what about those tenants who are on low incomes or on social security benefit, who are simply not able to fund, even for a short time, the cost of such repairs? If they are told by their local authority, "We are unable to carry out your repair because our budget has been exhausted by the tenants' right to carry out repairs scheme", those people will be at a considerable disadvantage, and they will have to wait even longer for repairs to be carried out than they would otherwise.

Mr. Ancram


Mr. Bruce

Because the money would have been committed to those tenants who have taken advantage of the scheme that the Government seek to introduce. It is a simple point that Opposition Members seem to have no difficulty in grasping, although Conservative Members seem to find it very abstruse.

I said in Committee that I do not object in principle to a scheme such as the Government propose, but I am concerned that the Government have produced no safeguards for either local authorities that wish to carry out planned maintenance programmes or for tenants on low incomes who cannot take advantage of the scheme. It is therefore reasonable to allow local authorities to limit the proportion of their budget that would have to be committed to such a scheme so that they can plan to use the remainder of their budget to meet the requirements of tenants who want repairs to be carried out, specifically to be paid for by the council, and to carry out their own planned programmes.

That recognises that good housing management requires budgeting. The Government are not allowing those councils to plan but are requiring them to run the risk of a system that is not controlled but is at the whim of individual tenants. If that becomes the only system, or the bulk of the system, the whole programme of maintenance will be severely disrupted. As requests that the Minister should carry out a pilot scheme have been refused, I hope that he will publish a more detailed draft scheme before laying orders before the House.

Local authorities should have the right to limit the proportion of their budgets that are allocated to the scheme, at least until it is seen how the scheme works, so as to protect their plans and to protect those tenants who will not be able to benefit from the scheme, as so far outlined, because they will be unable to afford to do so.

I will not detain the House longer because I am sure that the thrust of my argument is clear to, and is accepted by, Opposition Members, who perhaps have less difficulty then some Conservatives in understanding how councils manage their housing budgets.

Mr. Bill Walker

The way in which the scheme will affect people on low incomes should receive the careful attention of the House. In a caring society, people living in council properties enjoying social security benefit—properly enjoying such benefit; I am not arguing against that—and who are thereby obtaining relief on their rates and rent, may find, in view of the discretion that exist in this sphere, that the social security departments are funding these repair activities, and I would not object to that. After all, social security is an avenue of housing revenue. Going into council rent coffers are substantial sums especially when over 50 per cent. of tenants are enjoying benefit. If that were extended to repairs, councils and tenants could benefit substantially.

Mr. Hugh Brown

A number of hon. Members have had consultations during the Christmas recess on some of the issues that arise out of the subject under discussion, and I am sure that the Minister appreciates that we wish to make a constructive contribution to the debate, though it is a shame that we are constrained by the time factor. We are discussing an important part of the Bill.

Although the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) was a member of the Committee, he was either ill or out of the country at the time; I will only say that he was missed from the Committee. It is clear, possibly because of his absence on those occasions, that he does not understand the position. Perhaps the Minister will gently remind him that there is no question of the DHSS being involved in the matter. I understood the Minister to give an indication in Committee that contractors would have to wait until the housing authority paid the bill, so ensuring that nobody was out of pocket. A statement to that effect might clear up some of the misconceptions of various organisations.

The proposed new clause is our alternative strategy, so to speak, to what the Government propose, and it comes straight from the Labour party manifesto, unlike some of the other proposals that we have been discussing. It is marvellous to be able to speak without official responsibility for my statements; I confess that I did not think that the way in which we would put into effect the principle of giving a right of repair had been well thought out. "Right of repair" is a nice-sounding phrase, but while I am in favour of the principle, I am more concerned to gee up some housing authorities that should be performing better in terms of repairs. There is general recognition of the fact that the service of repairs for most council tenants in Scotland, irrespective of who runs the authority, has not been good, and hence our concern.

As a result of the consultations that I had, I persuaded a community council in Easterhouse to sponsor a seminar. I did not try to influence that gathering. I simply supplied information so as to focus minds on the subject about which comment was invited in the consultation paper. I made no effort to sell or oppose the scheme. About 30 delegates were present, representing a variety of organisations, and they were unanimously opposed to the whole concept. If that sounds depressing, perhaps it means that more education should be given on the subject.

The representatives came from various organisations, including the local Communist party and street committees. I discovered that there was acceptance of the advice of the Scottish tenants' organisations, although it was wrong on perhaps six points out of eight. I am not against the Scottish tenants' organisations — local authorities must have somebody with whom to discuss matters—but there has been a failure on the part of the Scottish Office to educate people into understanding some of the thoughts behind the scheme.

As I said in Committee, I do not know where the idea of the scheme originated. There had not been a great demand by any local organisations for it, so how the Government came to think it up escapes me. That is why, when representations were made by the various organisations to which I have referred, there was unanimous opposition to the idea. Although Glasgow district council, in the evidence that it submitted on the document, did not come out and say that it opposed it, that evidence was so full of criticism that it was obviously not a popular concept.

I am sure that the Minister will take on board the spirit in which we are discussing this issue. I accepted his assurance that before the regulations were drawn up, opportunity would be found, through the usual channels, to discuss the matter. If the Government are determined to go ahead with the proposal, they should at least provide opportunity to enable us to discuss the final form of the scheme in the light of all the opposition that has been forthcoming. It is clear that some of the comments that have been made have come from people who either do not understand what is proposed or are deliberately misinterpreting the scheme.

I understood the Minister to say in Committee that nobody would be out of pocket unless he chose that course, and that if it was a do-it-yourself job, people would be able to buy materials. If someone went through all, the procedures as outlined and then got the contractor to do the job, the payment would be made by the authority within a certain specific time, so that the tenant would not be out of pocket. I am either right or wrong about that, and the Minister will tell me.

Mr. Ancram

The basic principle is correct. The hon. Gentleman will know that I said that a tenant would be able to enhance the type of repair being done if he wished to pay for it out of his own pocket. Those would be the circumstances in which they would not receive the whole grant.

Mr. Brown

I accept that. There is a clear implication that if a tenant wants to do something extra, that is his responsibility and the Minister is right to make that qualification, which I understand. The basic principle is that no one should be out of pocket. I am not arguing for the scheme, but saying that there is no point in our repeating misconceptions that people have that the poor person or somebody on social security will not be able to take advantage of the scheme. That should not arise. It is not an argument for the scheme but a point of clarification.

9 pm

Mr. Dewar

I was not on the Committee for this debate, as I served on it for only a short time. The point about people of restricted means was that they were worried about how they would meet the contractor's bill while they were waiting for the local authority to come across with the money. That worry may be met, but I am curious as to the answer.

Mr. Brown

I am not the Minister.

Mr. Ancram

The hon. Member is doing all right.

Mr. Brown

I at least pay attention to what the Minister says, and if I criticise a scheme I know what it is. If there is someone on social security who wants a job done, my understanding is that the contractor will need to take on board, just as he would with anybody else, the fact that he might have to wait for six weeks for the bill to be paid.

I feel a little resentful at times about my inability to convince even the Scottish tenants' organisations. I tell them that we have raised a matter, but they now have a point in the submission that is wrong. I do not understand whether this falls into the category of people deliberately not wanting to understand the scheme. The scheme is not popular. It may be that with education and a bit of advice people might understand it better.

I give the Minister a word of warning. The real problem that emerged from an area such as Easterhouse was the concern about jobs in the direct labour organisation. This is not a partisan point. That department has gone down from about 6,000 people to about 4,000, and apprehension was expressed that if too many private or do-it-yourself jobs were done that could have a serious effect on the viability of a department that is now operating under an Act that imposes conditions on it. I am not arguing for or against, but pointing that that was a real concern and one that the Minister will have to take on board because it is part of the opposition generated to the scheme. I do not think that the scheme will make much difference, but I hope that there will be further opportunity to discuss it if the Government go ahead.

Mr. Wilson

It is difficult for those of us who did not serve on the Committee to be able to discuss schemes that have not been properly brought to our attention. That is rather like putting the legislative cart before the horse. The Government should have issued a consultative document before legislation was introduced, obtained comment on it and then built that comment into the Bill so that all those who have participated in the process would know exactly what the Government had in mind and whether the scheme stood any chance of success.

I have found that the standard of repair work in my area has worsened in the past year or so. There is probably no single cause for discontent among council tenants worse than waiting for repairs to be carried out. That is particularly so if they are promised repairs by housing inspectors but when representatives of the DLO come along they are told that the DLO will repair some things but not others, which the tenants had thought that the housing inspector had passed for maintenance.

I spoke earlier about tenants being treated like pawns but there is probably even greater frustration among tenants who know that things are wrong with their houses—draughts come whistling through windows that are broken, doors may be insecure for days if not weeks—and there is insecurity among the tenants who have to put up with such conditions.

There has been silence on this today, but as far as I can tell from constituency correspondence there has been a shortage of fitments. Repairs are promised, but it is suggested that materials are out of stock. That excuse seems to have been more prevalent in the past year or so than previously, although I am sure that there will always be a problem if there is a sudden run on a particular fitment which must be put into a house. Local authority housing departments need always to improve management, coordination and liaison so that when repairs must be done they are done promptly and to a reasonable standard of workmanship.

If that criticism of shortages exists, we must address our minds to the scheme that the Government might have in mind. The hon. Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Henderson) seemed to see no problem for the poorer tenants who might have difficulty in financing repairs until money is available from the housing departments. No assumption can be made that if, because of the requirements of bureaucracy or otherwise, a voucher or receipt is passed into the housing authority a payment will be made immediately so that the tradesman is paid off. It may take weeks, if not months, for that to happen.

Mr. Ancram

Six weeks.

Mr. Wilson

I am glad that the Under-Secretary has told me. If a person is on supplementary benefit, six weeks can be a long time. The tradesman must be persuaded to accept credit.

Mr. James Hamilton (Motherwell, North)

That is the point. The hon. Member is right on the ball.

Mr. Wilson

I am glad to hear that. In some cases, there may be a difficulty in persuading tradesmen to accept small jobs when payments are likely to be deferred for a considerable period.

I suggest to the hon. Member for Fife, North-East—I follow up the remarks made by the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce)—that a problem could occur if the scheme were an outrageous success. I am not in a position to determine whether that is likely. If it were a success, there could be a rush to carry out repairs which had been accumulating over weeks, if not months. In that case, there would be a run on local authority budgets set aside for housing repairs. Local authorities are required by central Government to budget. They do not receive any additional money to meet repairs coming out of sequence, which can occur.

We have just had an example of such a rush. The Government's scheme on the 90 per cent. grants for improvement was so successful that the amounts being expended increased to not tens but hundreds of millions of pounds. That occurred to such an extent that the Government became alarmed and had to cut the grants to 50 per cent., and a freeze was put on. The scheme could work on a much smaller scale. If it proves successful, repairs will be carried out.

What happens to the remainder of tenants who might in normal circumstances want to have their houses repaired? Money will not be available and they will have to wait, even though some of the anticipated repairs might be more urgent than others carried out under the Government's scheme.

I followed the suggestion by the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) about the DHSS advancing money.

Mr. Bill Walker


Mr. Wilson

The hon. Gentleman is now suggesting that the DHSS will not advance any money. I should have thought that it would be most unlikely that the DHSS would accept any local government obligations or lend money for a period. That could leave in difficulty tenants who are on supplementary benefit. Many of the properties that tenants occupy are not in a good state of repair and are running down. There is a question mark over the scheme.

New clause 14 is simple. It says: It shall be the right of a tenant under a secure tenancy to have repairs to the dwelling house carried out". That first part of the new clause is a contractual right that tenants already enjoy under the terms of their lease from the local authority. The new clause continues: under procedures agreed by each landlord and its tenants. I am not sure what the new clause adds up to. The caveat in amendment No. 4 suggests that there should be a limit on the amount of funds available under the scheme to local authorities so that there is some cash left over for other tenants who wish to go through the usual procedure of having repairs to their houses carried out by their landlords. That is a common law right. I am not sure that the drafting of amendment No. 4 is sufficient to deal with the problem. However, that should not provide the Government with an excuse. If they find that there is a point to the argument advanced by the hon. Member for Gordon, they should reword the amendment appropriately.

I am dissatisfied with the details of the scheme that have been made available to us. It is one of those ghastly examples of amateurish legislation. The Government have jumped into something but have not worked out exactly what they intend to do.

Mr. Maxton

I am pleased that we are debating an issue which affects a large majority of council house tenants rather than something such as the sale of council houses, which is of concern to a small minority. Repairs are the second most common problem which are brought to my surgery. The most common problem is house transfers. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Mr. Marshall) tells me that earlier today he heard me speak for the first time in four and a half years. I wish that he had not come here to hear me a second time.

The third most common problem that arises in my surgery is one to which Conservative Members never address themselves. Far worse than the problem of repairs to council houses is that of people who live in private rented property. It is always much more difficult to tackle those problems than to approach the local council. As often as not, I have to get the environmental health department to come in and put an order on the landlord if those repairs are to be done. That is not necessary with local authorities. Perhaps Conservative Members should think a little more about private landlords and a little less about attacking local authorities and council house tenants.

I listened with considerable interest to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Brown). I was not a member of the Committee and he clarified for me many of the things that have worried me about the scheme. One of the reactions that we are getting from community councils such as those which I have consulted in my constituency, tenants' organisations and other organisations that represent council house tenants is generated by the fact that there is complete distrust of the Government's housing policy. Even if such people suspect that there is something in the Government's scheme, their reaction, knowing what the Government have done to them through housing policy in the past four and a half years, is to say that if the present Government are putting something forward, it must be wrong. I can understand that reaction. My hon. Friend the Member for Provan is right to say that tenants will not have to pay for repairs. Local authorities will have to bear the cost of them within six weeks. I think that presumes that it is an undisputed repair—in other words, that the local authority, having got the repair done, agrees it was necessary and that the work done is up to the standard required. If there is a dispute about it, presumably it could take considerably longer than six weeks before payment is made.

9.15 pm

I know that my hon. Friend's reaction will be that it is not the tenant who has to wait for his money, but the builder. How many building companies — some hon. Members opposite used to be in the building business themselves—are prepared to wait on an indefinite basis to get their money? Building companies have cash flow problems. A smaller company particularly can readily go out of business if it does a fairly major repair for a tenant which comes into dispute and drags on, because the company cannot continue to operate if it does not have the necessary cash. Hon. Members opposite who have been in business will appreciate that point.

Mr. Henderson

It is a judgment for the business man.

Mr. Maxton

The hon. Member says that it is a judgment for the business man, but then one comes back to the basic objection. In the case of the poor tenant who cannot afford to pay anything to the builder, the builder, knowing that he will have to wait six weeks to be paid, will make the judgment that he will not carry out the repair because there is no guarantee that he will get his money within a reasonable time. To the tenant who has the money, the builder will say, "You pay me and claim it back."

Mr. Hugh Brown

I was merely suggesting that some of these misconceptions were clarified in Committee. That is why I was perturbed, because even the Scottish Tenants' Association, in spite of these corrections having been made, continues in the same way.

Mr. Maxton

I think that we all know which party dominates that organisation, and sometimes we all have our doubts about it. The fact is that we do represent people, though I accept that they should have taken the points and got them right. As I said earlier, there is suspicion of the Government's housing policy. Builders might make judgments that result in a fallback to exactly the same position as previously.

A further problem with the scheme is the inability under the proposals for the local authorities to make planned work schedules as to what they going to do, which areas they will tackle for major repairs, how they will tackle emergency repairs and how they will lead through and carry out minor repairs. That seems to be the central argument against what is essentially a haphazard way of doing repairs. Glasgow has undoubtedly — and quite rightly—been one of the district councils most criticised for its repairs, but over the past two or three years it has at long last begun to put proper planning and managerial schemes into operation. At the point where Glasgow is now beginning to get it right and to get schemes worked out, it is hit by the Government in two ways. First, it is hit financially. Glasgow is finding it very difficult to carry out repairs because it does not have the money to do so, even though it would wish to do so and even though it has worked out schemes.

The second point arises from the introduction of this scheme. Tenants from a specific area—this is likely to be on an area basis at first, because people copy one another—will get repairs done, money will have to be put in, and then it will be found that the local authority has insufficient money to continue with the repairs, which will hit the poorer tenants in areas like Castlemilk road and Drumchapel and Easterhouse.

Mr. Hirst

If the problem of repairs in Glasgow is so pressing, how can the hon. Member reconcile it with the decision taken by his colleagues in the city of Glasgow Labour party who the other day voted not to implement any rent increase?

Mr. Maxton

That has nothing whatever to do with it. Glasgow district council is finally trying to tackle the problem, but it will not be able to do so properly because of the Government's proposals. Local authorities need a great injection of Government money to ensure that there are proper repair schemes.

Mr. Hugh Brown

And direct works departments.

Mr. Maxton

My hon. Friend is right. They, too, will be threatened. Moreover, the direct works department in Glasgow has in the past been one of the largest trainers of building trade apprentices. That function, too, will be threatened.

There is clearly a common concern about the fact that repairs are not always properly carried out, but there is a major difference of opinion about how the problem should be tackled. The Conservatives, as usual, wish to go for free enterprise at the expense of public enterprise but to the benefit of their friends in private industry.

Mr. Michael J. Martin Glasgow, Springburn)

I heard someone say "Oh, no!" as I rose to speak, but I am as entitled as anyone else to contribute to the debate. I am all for local authority tenants having the right to repairs, but the Government must face many responsibilities in this context.

Many houses in my constituency were built as a result of the encouragement given to Glasgow district council and the old Glasgow corporation by various Governments since 1945. The designs of some of them are disastrous, but the blame cannot be laid entirely at the door of the local authority. When the corridor-type maisonette housing in my constituency was first built it was extremely popular, but once people spent a winter in it they found that dampness literally ran down the walls. Parents now tell me that their young children are suffering from bronchitis and asthma, so something must be done. It is desperately difficult in a city such as Glasgow to transfer people to the areas to which they wish to go, and the landlord has an obligation to ensure that the houses are kept dry.

By all means there should be a right to repairs, but does that mean that tenants can demand that the work carried out on their maisonettes or Bison flats in Springburn should completely eradicate the dampness? If that is not the case, the Minister is saying that tenants in those homes do not have the same rights as those in conventionally built houses. If the tenants have that right, however, it is unfair to leave the burden entirely with the landlord, either Glasgow district council or the Scottish Special Housing Association.

I hope that the Minister will bear in mind that throughout Glasgow and the west of Scotland many people are suffering from chest complaints and very bad health due to damp housing conditions. I hope he will tell us how he will eradicate the problem.

There are in my constituency multi-storey flats 32 storeys high. A simple thing like the repair of a window means that a squad of men have to get a cradle up the side of the wall before they can do the repair. I represent the highest part of Glasgow. If there is a strong wind, no work can be done. With the help of the Government, the local authority must consider the type of material that windows are made of so that they will withstand the inclement weather that we get in Scotland.

Mr. Ancram

The speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Martin) was different from the others in that it dealt with aspects of housing not covered in the new clause. The hon. Member referred to problems in certain houses in his constituency, and, indeed, in mine, which require capital expenditure. Bids have been made to the Scottish Office, and the provisional allocations that have been made have taken account of them. But the hon. Gentleman has come here today after his council has announced that it will not increase council house rents, although it knows that the likely result will be that the capital available to it will probably be reduced to pay the equivalent of the amount it transfers to its rate fund contribution. Therefore, perhaps the hon. Member should aim his remarks more to his councillors in Glasgow district council than to me.

Mr. Martin

Surely the Minister has missed the point I have made, that neither Glasgow district council nor its predecessor, the corporation, was entirely responsible for the non-conventional housing that was built in Glasgow. Government after Government, including Labour Governments, told local authorities such as Glasgow, who were in desperate straits in regard to housing, that if they did not build multi-storey flats and maisonettes they would not get the grants they needed to build houses. The Minister must face the responsibility. It is not a question of a local authority not putting up rents. The Government must consider the problems that they have caused for tenants in this type of accommodation.

Mr. Ancram

I am sure I would be out of order, Mr. Speaker, if I were to go much further down that road, which is beyond the remit of the new clause and the amendments.

When he began his speech, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen) was constructive and I was prepared to treat his speech as we had treated all contributions on this part of the Bill in Committee —on the basis of consultation, because constructive ideas were put forward in Committee. Those consultations are all being taken account of in reaching a draft scheme.

I was saddened by the end of the hon. Member's speech, because he had been doing so well in terms of being constructive. Then he suddenly decided to launch into politics, which is perhaps not surprising in the House. However, the way he did so left a lot to be desired as regards accuracy. He said that Scotland was slipping into slumdom; I think that was the phrase he used. I should like to give him some figures. In the public sector — I presume he was talking about the public sector —improvements in 1979–80 were 33,500; in 1982–83 they were 49,900. I do not believe that that is slipping into slumdom. The number of houses below the tolerable standard fell from 113,000 to 82,000 between 1 April 1980 and 31 March 1983. I believe that that again gives the lie to the suggestion that Scotland is slipping into slumdon. I know that the hon. Member for Maryhill has held his present position for only a short time, but if he wishes to maintain his credibility — credibility is, after all, important—I hope that he will study the figures before he makes the type of statement that he has.

Mr. Craigen

I do not believe that I need lessons on credibility from the Minister. Will he confirm that 94,000 local authority houses built before the war are still awaiting modernisation?

9.30 pm
Mr. Ancram

There are 82,000 houses which remain below a tolerable standard. The problem appears to be manageable when set against an improvement of 37,000 houses in the past five years. That puts the matter into context.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Brown) made a useful contribution. I shall bear in mind a great deal of what he said in drawing up a scheme. He was correct to say that one of the things we must do is to publicise the scheme. I said in Committee that I would not just provide a summary of the comments made in consultations but that I would ensure that a draft copy of the regulations would be available for comment before they are formally laid before the House. I hope that in that way I shall allow hon. Members a chance to comment upon them before they are laid. As I said throughout the Committee, it is my intention to try to produce a workable scheme. I believe that the only way in which I can do that is by listening to the constructive comments that have been made.

The hon. Member for Maryhill raised this point, and I am sorry that I am not yet in a position to tell him the general lines of the submissions that have been made in response to the consultation paper. One of the reasons for that is that, although the deadline for comments was 31 December, some late submissions are still coming in. In particular, my Department will be meeting COSLA to hear its detailed view on the scheme. In the time available, the convention could only submit its preliminary comments in writing. I am considering how best to make a summary of the comments available. It will be done as quickly as possible once they have all been received. I am sure that the House would not wish me to give part of the comments and perhaps get the context wrong as a result.

I have listened to the valid points that hon. Members have made and they will be taken into account in arriving at the eventual draft regulations.

I was delighted to hear that new clause 14 was putting flesh on the bones of the Labour manifesto.

Mr. Dewar

Who said that?

Mr. Ancram

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) asks who said that. The hon. Member for Provan made it clear that this came from the manifesto. I remember that in Committee he was the first person to point out that there had been a commitment to a right to repair in the Labour manifesto.

In Committee we had a full discussion of the principles behind this type of amendment. As I said, I sympathised with the aim of improving repair services offered to all tenants including those, who for whatever reason, are unable or unwilling to take advantage of the proposed right to repair. I am still not convinced that the amendments are the best way to achieve that.

New clause 14 provides that secure tenants shall have the right to repair carried out by their landlords. However, tenants, whether secure or not, already have this right under common law, as I am sure the hon. Member for Garscadden knows from his legal background. Where a repair is the responsibility of the landlord, his duty to carry out that repair must of necessity imply a right on the part of the tenant to have the repair carried out. I assume that, when read with amendment No. 6, the new clause is intended to give tenants the means of enforcing that right if the landlord fails to carry out repairs within a reasonable period. However, tenants already have legal remedies available to secure the carrying out of repairs that their landlord fails to do. I am prepared to repeat to the hon. Member for Maryhill the example of the tenants' common law right to withhold their rent and use the amount held back to pay a contractor to carry out the repairs.

Amendment No. 6 is intended to set out the procedures under which tenants may exercise that right. It provides that landlords must draw up a programme that will list the repairs for which the landlord is responsible, classify them according to their urgency, specify the time limits within which the repairs will be carried out and establish a method for resolving disputes. I hope that that is a fair summary of the amendment.

Tenants should, of course, already know of the repairs for which their landlord is responsible. They are defined in statute — section 8 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1966 — and any additional repairing obligations are listed in their tenancy agreement. However, the amendment proposes—this is novel—that the landlord should be required to "prioritise" those repairs and state the time limits within which they will be undertaken. I have always followed the language of the hon. Member for Garscadden with much interest. Although I have consulted many dictionaries, I cannot find the word "prioritise" in any of them. I wondered whether that was a new Scottish word that he had discovered which was not yet included in the Scottish dictionary. However, it is the hon. Gentleman's amendment, so I am not answerable for that word.

Presumably the intention is that the landlord should classify the repairs according to their urgency. However, it is left entirely to the discretion of the landlord to decide what time limits to set. Where the repair services are already unsatisfactory, there is no incentive on the landlord to improve.

The main objection to the amendment is that it fails to say what sanctions there will be for tenants if their landlord does not carry out the repairs within the time limits, which he will set. Admittedly, there is to be some vague machinery for resolving disputes, but that machinery is itself to be set up by the landlord, so it can hardly be considered impartial. There is to be no penalty or sanction against landlords who fail to meet their undertakings. Therefore, the amendment has no teeth. It is largely a presentational exercise and adds little or nothing to tenants' existing common law rights.

Mr. Dewar


Mr. Ancram

If the amendment is the flesh on the bones of the Labour manifesto and has no teeth, perhaps that is the best sign so far that the Labour party has not changed.

We have adopted a different approach in our right-to-repair scheme. We believe that it is desirable that tenants should be given a general right to carry out repairs themselves and to be repaid and that that will meet the wishes of the many tenants who are able and, indeed, anxious to get the work done themselves. It is consistent with our aim of giving tenants as much freedom as possible to live in their own homes in the way they choose and will be a significant addition to the rights already available under the tenants' charter, including the right to improve. It seems strange that the right to improve should exist but the equivalent right to repair is not available.

To provide that landlords must set themselves time limits within which they will undertake to carry out repairs is a much less useful provision from the tenants' point of view. It is already open to landlords to undertake to carry out certain repairs within specified time limits on a voluntary basis. That might be commended as an example of good practice. This group of amendments, however, which leaves the most important details to the landlord, could be successful in improving repair services only if the provisions have the wholehearted support of the landlord. Even the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) might feel that in certain situations he could not put his hand on his heart and say that he would get that from his own district council. However, where such support exists, a statutory requirement is unnecessary. Where such support does not exist, the provision is likely to be ineffective. Unlike the Government's proposed scheme, the amendments would add nothing of substance to tenants' existing rights and I hope that the Opposition will withdraw them. If they will not, I must ask the House to reject them.

Regarding the amendment put forward by the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce), I listened carefully to what he said in its support. Again, I believe it to be misconceived. He expressed concern on two, points which he had also made in Committee. The first was that the introduction of the right to repair would lead to an overall increase in an authority's expenditure on management and maintenance. The second was that the right-to-repair scheme could lead to a situation where an undue proportion of the resources available for expenditure on management and maintenance would be required to make statutory payments to tenants who carried out repairs under the scheme.

As I indicated in Committee, I consider those concerns to be unfounded. Under the proposed scheme, as the hon. Member may recall from the consultation document, tenants will be entitled only to carry out repairs that are necessary and would otherwise be the responsibility of their landlord. The scheme will not, therefore, result in authorities having to pay for any repairs that they would not have had to carry out and pay for in any case. The type of repairs that we are looking at are inevitably reasonably small. We discussed in Committee the type of cost limit that would be put on them. They would be short-term to medium-term repairs that would, in any case, be carried out by any responsible authority within the course of a financial year. In such circumstances, unless the authority has been dilatory in carrying out repairs that were necessary, I do not see why there should be any effect on that authority's budget.

I recognise that some authorities have argued that it will cost them more to administer the scheme, but that depends very much on the arrangements that they adopt. I must say again that the experience in some of the English schemes suggests that an authority may well make savings on its expenditure on management and maintenance. Similarly, because the right to repair will not alter an authority's financial responsibility with regard to repairs, the introduction of such a right should not pose any insuperable problem for authorities in making adequate provision in budgets for all necessary repairs.

I hope that, given these views, the hon. Member will reconsider carefully the points that he made, because his fears seem to be groundless.

Having said that, I return to the point that I made earlier. I wish to see the right-to-repair scheme work. I am prepared to listen to constructive comments. The principle has been accepted by the House in the Second Reading of the Bill and I believe that, given the constructive approach adopted by many people outside the House, we shall have, when we lay draft regulations before the House—which I have said I will make available before that—a scheme that will be workable.

Mr. Dewar

There was a slight air of unreality about this debate in having the Under-Secretary lecturing us about credibility and showing a certain unwelcome determination in going to the very end of a very long and complicated script that had obviously been given to him.

Of course we are all united in the wish to improve services where repairs are concerned. We all accept that there are very real problems here, largely due to inadequate resources and funding. I do not want to run through the arguments at any length. The scheme that is at the moment in draft and that we have had an opportunity of looking at still seems to many of us to have quite considerable difficulties in terms of the practical administration of a right-to-repair scheme. Certainly all the advice that I have had, not just from district councils but from other professional people in housing management, suggests that there will be a great administrative on- cost which will increase with the rate of take-up of the scheme. I believe that there will be very considerable problems for those who have to administer the scheme in terms, for example, of arguments about which jobs fall within the ambit of the scheme, inspection before and after work is carried out and half a hundred other problems referred to extensively not just today but much more fully in Committee.

Let me make it clear also that, like my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Brown), I have done my best to consult in my local area not just the Glasgow Forum of Housing Associations and the Glasgow Council of Tenants, to whom my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen) and I have talked. In my own constituency, the community councillors in Knightswood, Drumchapel and Temple, areas very much affected in the west of Glasgow, feel almost unanimously that, although it may be a worthy objective to try to improve the repair service, this is in many ways misconceived in its approach. There is an understandable feeling that there is a sort of escapism here and that it is an attempt to get round the fact that, as a look at the housing support grant figures and housing finance in general shows, the problems are very much to be laid at the Government's door.

We would like to find the right solution. The Minister was good enough to say that he had a great deal of sympathy with the objectives of new clause 14. He went on—and it is always possible to do this in complicated matters when one is in Government—to make a large number of points about the way in which the spirit of new clause 14 had been translated into actual amendments. That is no doubt true, and no doubt it contains many faults. We hold to the view that tenants should be given the right to have repairs carried out and that they should be given the means to do so. It is in support of that principle that we hold to new clause 14 and the associated amendments, and invite the House to divide in their support.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 116, Noes 194.

Division No. 128] [9.45 pm
Alton, David Dewar, Donald
Ashton, Joe Dixon, Donald
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Dormand, Jack
Barron, Kevin Douglas, Dick
Beckett. Mrs Margaret Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Q.
Beith, A. J. Eadie, Alex
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Eastham, Ken
Bermingham, Gerald Ellis, Raymond
Blair, Anthony Evans, John (St. Helens )
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Ewing, Harry
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Bruce, Malcolm Fisher, Mark
Buchan, Norman Flannery, Martin
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Forrester, John
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Foster, Derek
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Foulkes, George
Clay, Robert Freud, Clement
Cocks, Rt Hon M.(Bristol S.) George, Bruce
Cohen, Harry Gourlay, Harry
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Corbett, Robin Harman, Ms Harriet
Cowans, Harry Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Craigen, J. M. Haynes, Frank
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Dalyell, Tam Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Home Robertson, John
Deakins, Eric Howells, Geraint
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) O'Neill, Martin
Johnston, Russell Parry, Robert
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Patchett, Terry
Kennedy, Charles Pavitt, Laurie
Kirkwood, Archibald Penhaligon, David
Lambie, David Pike, Peter
Leighton, Ronald Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Prescott, John
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Randall, Stuart
Litherland, Robert Richardson, Ms Jo
Loyden, Edward Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
McCartney, Hugh Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Sheerman, Barry
McGuire, Michael Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
McKelvey, William Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Skinner, Dennis
Maclennan, Robert Snape, Peter
McTaggart, Robert Steel, Rt Hon David
McWilliam, John Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Madden, Max Strang, Gavin
Marek, Dr John Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Martin, Michael Tinn, James
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Wallace, James
Maxton, John Wareing, Robert
Maynard, Miss Joan White, James
Meadowcroft, Michael Wigley, Dafydd
Michie, William Wilson, Gordon
Mikardo, Ian
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Tellers for the Ayes:
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Mr. James Hamilton and
O'Brien, William Mr. Allen McKay.
Alexander, Richard Currie, Mrs Edwina
Amess, David Dicks, T.
Ancram, Michael Dorrell, Stephen
Ashby, David Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Aspinwall, Jack Dover, Denshore
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Dunn, Robert
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Durant, Tony
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Evennett, David
Baldry, Anthony Eyre, Reginald
Batiste, Spencer Favell, Anthony
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Bellingham, Henry Finsberg, Geoffrey
Benyon, William Fookes, Miss Janet
Berry, Sir Anthony Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bevan, David Gilroy Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Freeman, Roger
Body, Richard Gale, Roger
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Galley, Roy
Boscawen, Hon Robert Goodhart, Sir Philip
Bottomley, Peter Goodlad, Alastair
Braine, Sir Bernard Gow, Ian
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Greenway, Harry
Bright, Graham Gregory, Conal
Brinton, Tim Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Brooke, Hon Peter Grist, Ian
Bruinvels, Peter Ground, Patrick
Bryan, Sir Paul Gummer, John Selwyn
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Bulmer, Esmond Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Burt, Alistair Hanley, Jeremy
Butcher, John Hannam, John
Butterfill, John Hargreaves, Kenneth
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Harvey, Robert
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Carttiss, Michael Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)
Chapman, Sydney Hawksley, Warren
Churchill, W. S. Hayes, J.
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hayward, Robert
Clarke Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Cockeram, Eric Henderson, Barry
Colvin, Michael Hickmet, Richard
Conway, Derek Hind, Kenneth
Coombs, Simon Hirst, Michael
Cope, John Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Couchman, James Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Crouch, David Hooson, Tom
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Murphy, Christopher
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Neale, Gerrard
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Needham, Richard
Hunter, Andrew Nelson, Anthony
Jessel, Toby Newton, Tony
Johnson-Smith, Sir Geoffrey Nicholls, Patrick
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Onslow, Cranley
Jones, Robert (W Herts) Osborn, Sir John
Key, Robert Ottaway, Richard
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Page, John (Harrow W)
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Knowles, Michael Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Knox, David Pollock, Alexander
Lang, Ian Powell, William (Corby)
Latham, Michael Powley, John
Lawler, Geoffrey Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Lee, John (Pendle) Proctor, K. Harvey
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Raffan, Keith
Lightbown, David Rathbone, Tim
Lilley, Peter Rhodes James, Robert
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Rifkind, Malcolm
Lord, Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Luce, Richard Rost, Peter
Lyell, Nicholas Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
McCurley, Mrs Anna Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Macfarlane, Neil Sims, Roger
MacGregor, John Skeet, T. H. H.
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Spence, John
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Maclean, David John. Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
McQuarrie, Albert Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Malins, Humfrey Temple-Morris, Peter
Malone, Gerald Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Maples, John Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Marland, Paul Thurnham, Peter
Marlow, Antony Trippier, David
Mates, Michael Twinn, Dr Ian
Mather, Carol Walden, George
Maude, Francis Walker, Bill (Tside N)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Warren, Kenneth
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Watson, John
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Winterton, Mrs Ann
Mellor, David Winterton, Nicholas
Merchant, Piers Wood, Timothy
Meyer, Sir Anthony Younger, Rt Hon George
Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Tellers for the Noes:
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Mr. Michael Neubert and
Moate, Roger Mr. John Major.
Monro, Sir Hector

Question accordingly negatived.

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