HC Deb 27 November 1984 vol 68 cc879-99 10.25 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Sir George Young)

I beg to move, That the draft Grants by Local Authorities (Appropriate Percentage and Exchequer Contribution) (Repairs Grant for Airey Houses) (Variation) Order 1984, which was laid before this House on 22nd October, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

It may be useful for hon. Members if I explain the circumstances that have given rise to this draft order.

Some five years ago, serious defects were discovered in a prefabricated reinforced concrete house of the Airey design, of which some 25,000 were built by the public sector in England and Wales after the second world war. The reinforced concrete structural posts of the house— which are concealed within the cavity wall and thus not capable of easy visual inspection— were found to be seriously cracked and spalled as a result of the corrosion of the tubular steel reinforcement within the concrete posts. Further examination of examples of this type revealed that this was affecting, actually or potentially, all houses of this type.

The defects entail the progressive deterioration, generally within a period of 30 years or so, of the PRC structural members. But for private owners of houses subject to this deterioration, and some 2,000 Airey houses have been sold by the public sector, the problem is not simply technical. In their unrepaired state, the houses are unmortgageable; private owners face substantial losses compared with the price paid by them, and they are unable to move. As most of them bought their houses before the defects or potential defects were detected and their significance understood, neither the purchasers nor the public sector bodies as vendors were in a position to protect the purchasers against incurring these losses.

This pattern of circumstances emerged first in 1981–82 in respect of owners of Airey houses, though, as hon. Members will know, subsequent research by the Building Research Establishment has revealed that all PRC dwellings designed before 1960 are likely to be similarly affected by the defects.

On 7 September 1982 my right hon. Friend the then Minister for Housing and Construction, the right hon. Member for Tonbridge and Mailing (Mr. Stanley), announced the Government's decision to make special assistance available to those who had purchased Airey houses at valuations that did not reflect the existence of the structural defects of the type I have described.

The scheme of assistance, which came into effect on 14 February 1983, has been administered by the local authorities, and it has been a matter for their discretion whether or not they give help under it and what form of help is given in a particular case. I am glad to say that most authorities have sought to help those who have applied.

Under the discretionary scheme, eligible owners were able to apply either for a repairs grant of 90 per cent. of repairs costs subject to an eligible expense limit of £14,000 in Greater London and £10,500 elsewhere, or to have their house repurchased by the local authority at its current market value, plus an ex-gratia payment equal to 90 per cent. of the difference between the current market value and the "defect-free" value of the house.

Expenditure incurred by authorities under the scheme on repairs grants, and ex-gratia payments in cases of repurchase, has been reimbursed by the Exchequer at a rate of 100 per cent. This high rate of contribution is in recognition of the voluntary nature of local authorities' participation in the scheme.

Three statutory instruments were made to bring the repairs grant component of the discretionary scheme into effect. Two were subject to the negative resolution procedure. The first enabled repairs grants to be given under the Housing Act 1974 in respect of Airey houses— SI 1983, No. 4, the Grants by Local Authorities (Repairs Grants for Airey Houses) Order 1983. The second set the eligible expense limits for such grants—SI 1982, No. 1895, the Grants by Local Authorities (Repairs Grants for Airey Houses) (Eligible Expense Limits) Order 1982. The third order required affirmative resolution of the House and set the rate at which a grant may be given by a local authority at 90 per cent. and the rate of Exchequer contribution towards the cost of that grant at 100 per cent. That order was debated and approved by the House on 24 January 1983.

The draft order before the House tonight seeks to vary the terms of that third order. Two related orders subject to negative resolution were laid before the House on 9 November— the Grants by Local Authorities (Repairs Grants for Airey Houses) (Revocation) Order 1984, and the Grants by Local Authorities (Repairs for Airey Houses) Order (Eligible Expense Limits) (Variation) Order 1984.

That brings me to the reason for the laying of this draft order and the related orders. Last Session, Parliament enacted the Housing Defects Act, and under the Act a statutory scheme of assistance for owners of prefabricated reinforced concrete dwellings designed before 1960 is to come into effect on 1 December. Designations and orders have been made for that purpose and the Department and the Welsh Office have issued a circular describing the arrangements. Similar arrangements are being brought into effect in Scotland on the same date though, as there are no Airey houses in Scotland, that country is not affected by the matters of concern to us in this debate.

Owners of Airey houses who have made no application before 1 December under the discretionary scheme will be able to apply for the assistance to which they are entitled under the Act. Their position will be the same as that of private owners of other types of PRC dwellings in respect of which assistance will now be available. They will no longer be able to obtain that help by applying under the discretionary scheme after 1 December.

I should like to dwell on this point for just a moment. Many of us heard my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Staffordshire (Mr. Heddle) on the radio this morning. He was seeking clarification of the position of those who wish to have their Airey house repurchased. I think that he was speaking on behalf of his constituents.

The first point I want to stress is that Airey owners have never had the right under circular 6/83 to require the council to buy back their house. The present scheme is entirely at the discretion of the council. It is for the council to decide whether to operate the scheme and whether to give assistance by way of repairs grant or repurchase.

One or two authorities do not operate the scheme at all. Others do not agree to repurchase properties, only to give grants. Under the statutory scheme to come into effect on 1 December, those who were eligible to apply under the discretionary scheme will now have a right to assistance.

Secondly, I wish to clarify the position of those who were delaying an application for repurchase under the discretionary scheme. When the Airey scheme was announced on 7 September 1982, it was decided that Exchequer contribution should be available only in respect of applications for repurchase received in the three-year period up to 7 September 1985.

At that time there was no prospect of legislation on housing defects generally, and, indeed, there was little evidence that other house types were similarly affected. I have already explained the advent of the Housing Defects Act and in the course of the Bill there was no question but that the new scheme under the Act would subsume the existing discretionary scheme. This will take place on 1 December.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Staffordshire has, quite understandably, expressed concern about the position of those who have not yet applied for repurchase under the discretionary scheme.

The only difference between the discretionary scheme and the statutory scheme in this respect is that, for the latter, the Act lays down in section 3 the criteria by which an authority decides whether assistance should be by reinstatement grant or repurchase. For example, repurchase must be the form of assistance offered if the house, after repair, will not provide a further life of 30 years or be mortgageable. I should also draw my hon. Friend's attention to the provision in section 3(5) of the Act to the effect that repurchase must also be the form of assistance offered if it is unreasonable to expect the owner to await or secure the carrying out of the reinstatement works.

It is true that Airey owners applying under the Act will not be able to guarantee repurchase, but they cannot do that at the moment because they have no right. It would not be correct for their position to be different from that of other owners applying under the Act, especially as there is no specific statutory authority for repurchase under the discretionary scheme. It is worth adding that under the statutory scheme repurchase could take place up to 1994 rather than 1985 and that the terms of repurchase are marginally more favourable to the owner than under the discretionary scheme.

There is no question of Airey owners having to complete the resale of their houses by 1 December in order not to lose out under the new arrangements. The result which we are trying to achieve by this package of orders, and our advice to local authorities, is that owners who apply by 30 November should have a choice of proceeding under the discretionary scheme or of applying under the Act.

If Airey owners wish to secure for themselves this choice and they have not yet applied under the discretionary scheme, they need simply make an application under it before 1 December—a letter to the local authority will suffice. But if they do not apply by then, they will still be entitled to assistance under the Act. The only difference will be that, as I have said, under the Act it cannot be guaranteed that assistance will be by means of repurchase, rather than reinstatement, because under the Act the form of assistance depends on the application of the statutory conditions in each particular case.

Mr. David Harris (St. Ives)

Most of us have listened to my hon. Friend in complete bafflement. Will he advise us on how on earth we are to get across what he is saying to our constituents? I am at a complete loss as to how to do so.

Sir George Young

With respect, I think that it is my hon. Friends' job to interpret legislation in the best interests of their constituents. But if my hon. Friend wishes his constituents to keep their options open, they have only to apply under the discretionary scheme before 1 December. In that way they will obtain the advantage of the discretionary and statutory schemes.

Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)

Will my hon. Friend confirm that neither the old nor the new scheme applies to houses built originally in the private sector and purchased by private owners? Is it not true to say that no assistance is forthcoming for such private owners?

Sir George Young

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The discretionary and statutory schemes apply to houses that originated in the public sector. I am reluctant to impose the rest of the order's explanation on my hon. Friends, but I am nearly at an end.

Mr. Michael Knowles (Nottingham, East)

The advice that my hon. Friend has just given indicates that applications should be made for discretionary grants under the existing legislation before 1 December. But if such an application were made and accepted by the local authorily, would not the applicant then be unable to apply for possibly more advantageous assistance under the Housing Defects Act?

Sir George Young

My hon. Friend is not quite right. If those involved had not started the work, they could at any point withdraw their application under the discretionary scheme, and reapply after 1 December under the statutory scheme. So the option would be kept open, even if the local authority approved the application, as long as work had not commenced.

But by way of encouragement to my hon. Friends, perhaps I should state that the position was set out clearly in the draft circular which the department sent to the local authority associations on 25 September and was repeated in circular 28/84 sent out by the Department on 12 November.

There are Airey owners who have already applied under the discretionary scheme and. whose applications have not yet been brought to a conclusion either in the start of repairs under an approval for grant, or by the completion of repurchase.

The present package of orders, including the draft order before the House now, deals with cases in which owners of Airey houses have already applied for assistance by means of grant under the discretionary scheme. We believe it is sensible, so far as the local authorities are concerned, that the detailed arrangements for such people should be brought into line with the provisions applying under the statutory scheme.

The orders which were subject to negative resolution, to which I referred just now, have the effect of limiting the availability of repairs grants under the 1974 Act to Airey owners who have applied by 30 November; and of setting the eligible expense limit for cases which proceed under the revised arrangements, but in respect of which grant has not yet been approved, at £14,000 throughout the country. This brings the limit into line with the expenditure limit set under the Housing Defects Act for the statutory scheme.

The Act provides that the Exchequer contribution towards reinstatement grants paid by authorities under the statutory scheme should be at the rate of 90 per cent.

The draft order before the House brings the discretionary scheme into line by providing that the Exchequer contribution in respect of grants approved after 1 December should also be at the rate of 90 per cent.

I apologise for having to take up the House's time in explaining the background to this draft order. I can see that what is going on is not immediately obvious to the layman. Procedurally, the position is complicated. But our purpose is relatively simple: to achieve consistency of treatment of grants for the repair of Airey houses, whether in the case of discretionary grants which can continue to be given under the 1974 Act or under the statutory scheme provided by the Housing Defects Act.

I commend the order to the House.

10.40 pm
Mr. Jeff Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr)

I understand the queries to the Minister, although the way in which some questions were put to him was less than fair. The Minister tried his best to explain a bad case. It is unacceptable for the Minister to come to the House on 27 November to make a statement that affects several hundreds of people who thought that they had another nine or 12 months to make a decision.

Airey house owners did not expect to have only a couple of days in which to make a decision, without all the facts being available. They do not know whether they will receive better treatment under the statutory scheme, because that scheme is not the same as the voluntary scheme.

I welcome the opportunity for hon. Members with Airey houses in their constituencies to raise the issue once again. The Minister said that about 25,000 such houses were built in the public sector in the United Kingdom. They are spread amongst at least 189 housing authorities. The latest note concerning distribution is dated 23 November 1981 and does not include Birmingham. Birmingham built 88 Airey houses and 28 of them are in my constituency.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon), who cannot be here tonight, confirmed a few miunutes ago that he helped build Airey houses in his constituecy. Mansfield is not on the list deposited in the Library. Will the Minister place more updated information in the Library?

I accept that about 10 per cent. of Airey houses were built in Leeds, the base of the Airey company. Only 123 of the 189 authorities on the list built 200 or more. The average is 116, and only 59 authorities built more than 169 houses. Most of them built only in tens or twenties. Perhaps someone went round the country telling local authorities, "We have built a lot in Leeds. Why don't you try some out to see how things go?". Some authorities built fewer than 10 Airey houses.

Purchasers have the choice of selling back to the local authority. That scheme might solve one immediate problem—that of owning an unmarketable asset. But it does not solve all the problems. What happens if the local authority fails to repair the house sold to it? That problem will have to be solved when the legislation takes full effect.

What will happen to people who have sold back to the council and who wish to remain in their home? Before I knew about tonight's order I received a letter from a constituent dated 20 November. My constituent had sold his house back to the council and was a retired skilled building worker. He said: however, we are very concerned as to the safety aspect of the structural deterioration. Five of the six columns that are exposed in the house have long cracks running upwards from below floor levels … These are becoming increasingly worse as time goes by. Last Friday, after crawling around under the house, I found cracks 15 in or 16 in long running from the base of the floor. The fact that the owner has sold his house back to the council does not solve his problem. He may be living in a house that is unsafe due to the deterioration of the pillars. He has spent a considerable amount on his house, and is reluctant to continue extending and improving that property because he does not know what will happen to the house in the medium to long term.

The Under-Secretary of State referred to some of the limits that the Treasury has placed on expenditure. I understand that the estimated average market value cost of repurchase at the time the Housing Defects Bill and the Airey schemes were being considered was put at £1,800 per dwelling. I ask the Under-Secretary of State to respond to the circular issued to hon. Members by Shelter. The organisation highlights the case of two Airey houses in a council area near London which were originally sold for £8,000. They have just been valued at £38,000 and £54,000 respectively. What is the position when such valuations are put on houses either before Friday, when the present scheme lapses, or after Friday when the statutory scheme starts? What has been the expenditure to date?

I understand the logic of the Government's argument in trying to match the 90 per cent. reimbursement to local authorities with the measures in the statutory scheme. The fact is that, whichever way one looks at this, local authorities now get 100 per cent. of what they spent on the refurbishment or repurchase and, after Friday, they will get 90 per cent. That is a cut. How much money has been spent by local authorities, reimbursed in full by the Government, to update the scheme for voluntary sales back to local authorities? The Under-Secretary of State should have that information available to him from the Treasury.

What happens to someone who does not sell back and decides to take a gamble that his house will be OK? The adjoining half of the property may still be in the hands of the local authority. If only 10 per cent. of the houses have been sold, the chances are nine to one that the other half of the property is in the hands of the local authority. The owner will not be able to sell, even if he has had repairs done. The building societies will not offer a mortgage to any potential purchaser if the joint structure has not been dealt with completely. It behoves the Under-Secretary of State to give an update on the discussions about a warranty scheme that have been taking place with the National House Building Council and the Building Societies Association. As I understand it, unless all the houses in a block-whether there are two or four-are dealt with, it does not matter if one or two owner-occupied houses have been repaired. Those owner-occupied properties are unsaleable if the adjoining properties are in local authority hands and the local authority has not had the resources to carry out repairs.

Sir George Young

The hon. Gentleman said that someone might take a gamble and go for reinstatement and then discover that the property was not mortgageable. In those circumstances, the person would not have been able to get a reinstatement grant under the Act. The Act clearly states that, unless the property is mortgageable, reinstatement is not available. In those circumstances, repurchase would be the only option under the Act, so the person would not be in the position to take a gamble.

Mr. Rooker

I do not think that it is as clear as that. If a house were mortgageable as an individual property—the valuations were correct and the cost of putting it right fell within the guidelines—there would still be a problem, if adjoining houses were owned by a local authority that, because of restrictions on its expenditure had not been able to repair its properties. Would building societies give a mortgage on that owner-occupied property? I understand that they would not do that. That is why the Government are having discussions with the building societies. Perhaps the Minister will expand on his intervention when he winds up.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary, the Earl of Avon, told the Institute of Housing in Birmingham last week: There is still a large element of speculation in many of the statements which are made about the scale of defects … Where there are no facts, then let us see what can be done to obtain the information necessary to paint as complete and as accurate picture as possible … So far as I am aware, there is no firm evidence of the number of dwellings affected … Few authorities have this information in respect of their own stock". Given that the Housing Defects Act is about to come into force, I find the Ministers's comments complacent. He spoke about resources and said: it is unsound to argue that repairs to defective dwellings, for example, are going to cost £X millions if the extent of the problem has not been established. The Minister quoted the Building Research Establishment's conclusion that it will often be 10 or 20 years or more before the processes of deterioration result in physical damage. He then argued: The costs of repairs should therefore be considered in the context of general repair programmes of local authorities. That is not good enough for Airey houses or for any of the houses covered by the Housing Defects Act.

No one can contradict me when I say that extra responsibilities are being imposed on local authorities as a result of the discovery, after all these years, that several hundred thousand non-traditional dwellings may be subject to structural defects and they will all require individual inspection. That was never budgeted for by local authority housing departments. It behoves the Government to give local authorities the extra resources required to carry out their responsibilities. They should not have to take money from existing programmes for housing improvement grants, general repairs and so on.

The required expenditure could be massive. Therefore, local authorities must be given the money to enable them to check on the scale of the problem. The Earl of Avon says that the problem must be investigated, but the Government withhold from local authorities the resources to enable them to find out the facts.

Before we are asked to consider any orders under the Housing Defects Act, Ministers must assure us that they will give local authorities the wherewithal to carry out their new responsibilities. Without that, a fraud will be perpetrated on the people in the operation of the Housing Defects Act. Many people think that because that legislation affects all non-traditional properties except Airey houses, action will be taken soon about their dwellings whether the occupiers are local authority tenants or owner-occupiers. That is not the case.

Unless the Government are prepared to put resources behind their Act, it will be seen as a fraud. I do not want that to happen, because there are a lot of worried people living in non-traditional homes. They are entitled to understand and believe that, having passed the legislation, Parliament will give the local authorities the necessary resources to ensure that the legislation becomes as effective as hon. Members thought it was when it was passed by the House of Commons.

10.55 pm
Mr. John Heddle (Mid-Staffordshire)

I start by declaring an interest. I am a vice-president of the Building Societies Association, and I regret the fact that the building societies movement, through the constituent societies, has placed a blanket blight on the 25,000 properties that we are discussing tonight. Undoubtedly, there are a number that are inherently defective; there are an even greater number that are sound in wind and limb.

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend and his colleagues in the Department of the Environment. I also pay tribute to the Government for having 'peen the first Government for a generation to acknowledge that a significant number of system-built houses that have been available to rent and to purchase since the war have defects. The Government came to the House and announced, I think in September 1982, following a campaign by my hon. Friends and by Opposition Members, that the defects existed. It is right that we should place on record our gratitude, on behalf of our constituents, for the fact that the Government have made a significant sum available to try to reinstate and rehabilitate the properties, and to reinstate and rehabilitate the quality of life of the former tenants.

In the Radio 4 interview this morning to which my hon. Friend referred, I said that the bureaucratic left hand seemed not to know what the administrative right hand was doing. I do not apologise for that remark and I do not retract that sentiment. It is extraordinary that on the one bureaucratic hand we are dealing with the small print of circular 6/83, published on 14 February 1983, which, as my hon. Friend pointed out—he was right to correct me—said that former tenants, now owner-occupiers of the Airey houses, do not have the right to sell back. Nevertheless, paragraph 29 of that circular sets out clearly that an application to repurchase must be received by the local authority by 7 September 1985. That surely implies that the owner-occupier has a right. All he is obliged to do is to tell the local authority, in the words of paragraph 29, and his application to repurchase must have been received by the local authority by that date.

The draft circular was sent out by the Department in September, when the majority of senior personnel in local authority housing departments throughout the country were probably on holiday, or recovering from being on holiday, and therefore were not in a position to brief the Association of District Councils, which was not fully staffed to be able to brief the constituent local housing authorities to tell their councillors and the people affected of the terms, which differ from and contradict—beneficially, I agree—those of circular 28/84.

The debate highlights the fact that the procedure, though generous in intent, is itself far from defect-free. I submit to my hon. Friend that all owner-occupiers of Airey houses should have had and still should have the right to sell their properties back to the local authorities, and that those local authorities should have a statutory duty to buy them back. Otherwise, it makes nonsense of the intent of circular 6/83.

Is it not nonsense that two circulars should be in existence simultaneously and that one of them, if it does not contradict the other, certainly conflicts with it? Why is a former tenant, who has exercised his statutory right to buy, to receive only 95 per cent. of the defect-free value in compensation? Surely the whole basis of compensation enshrined in the Land Compensation Act 1973 was that anyone affected by some act for which he or she was not responsible should be placed in the same position after the event as he or she was before it. Therefore, because there is an inevitable blight on all these properties, district valuers—being the admirable human beings that they are—will subconsciously subtract perhaps 5 per cent. from the value of the property. Therefore, the owner-occupier should receive 105 per cent. of the defect-free value compensation less the 5 per cent. tolerance, to bring it back to 100 per cent.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) referred to the position of the owner-occupier who sells back to the local authority but remains in the property as a tenant. I ask my hon. Friend to confirm that, having once more become a tenant, that person will be entitled to the credit of the subsequent years occupation should he or she wish to exercise the right to buy another property from a local authority.

My constituents, Mr. and Mrs. P. Ward of 12 Beech gardens, Lichfield, look forward to receiving my hon. Friend's unequivocal and unqualified confirmation that they will be entitled to receive compensation based on current market value, provided that they exercise—I chose my words carefully—those rights that were enshrined in principle in both the circulars but not in law before 7 September next year, and that in so doing they will not lose any of the discount that they could have lost if they were forced to tell the local authority before the close of business this Friday, 30 November, that they would otherwise have had to sell back their property.

Provided that my hon. Friend can give that assurance, hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber will leave tonight replete and content in the knowledge that all our constituents will have enjoyed the right of compensation that they rightfully deserve.

11.3 pm

Mr. Robert Litherland (Manchester, Central)

In debates on the Housing Defects Act 1984, both in this Chamber and in Committee, it was always accepted by hon. Members on both sides of the House and other interested parties that the Government's intention to bring the Act into force as soon as possible was a welcome move. I doubt whether the Airey house owners will welcome its being brought to fruition so quickly through this variation order.

Opposition Members have always argued that the Act has immense limitations. It is not all-embracing and does not address itself to the real problems confronting local authorities that have major housing problems caused by system-built defective housing.

When the Act comes into force on 1 December it will assist owner-occupiers such as owners of Airey houses who have purchased in good faith from local authorities and then found the properties to have latent defects. There is no argument about that, and I say good luck to them. After all, they bought the houses in good faith.

Local authorities also had those houses built in good faith, mainly due to promptings from various Governments with the offers of subsidies if they built system-built, package-deal housing. That housing was seen as the panacea of all our housing ills in the 1950s, 1960s and the early 1970s. That high density living accommodation did not solve the problems that then existed and has since created other problems.

The Act and the order do not even begin to scratch the surface of the problem. In one of its submissions to the Minister the Association of Metropolitan Authorities claimed that about £10 billion would be needed to put right the defects in post-war non-traditional housing. As we have stressed from the outset, it is not what is in the Act but what is left out. The Government's efforts may be welcome, but they are feeble in the extreme.

Shelter has highlighted the deficiencies in the repair schemes for this type of property and the delay in bringing forward a properly accepted scheme. Indeed, Shelter doubts whether the Act can operate until suitable arrangements have been made to test and approve potential repair methods. Even if a scheme were acceptable to the National House Building Council and the Building Societies Association were devised, it would come well after 1 December, when the Act comes into force.

As a result of that delay, Airey houses and other system-built properties will have to be repurchased. Bringing the Act into force before a suitable scheme for approving and assuring repair methods is in operation will cause many problems, not least an increase in the financial cost to local authorities. If no scheme has come to fruition and a large number of applications come forward for repurchase the financial burden will be very heavy indeed and the NHBC repair scheme could fall by the wayside. If councils have to find the capital cost of reinstatement grants without financial assistance from the Government in their housing investment programme allocations-the Chancellor's autumn statement made it clear that there would be cuts and there would be cuts and there is bound to be a further reduction in housing investment, especially in 1985–86—housing departments will be forced to pass on the burden to other areas of the housing programme.

Under the Act, payments to owner-occupiers in respect of defective housing will become mandatory. Local authority owned defective housing may therefore suffer because concils cannot meet repair costs. The order epitomises the distinction made by the Government between owner-occupiers and council tenants. It is an unsatisfactory approach to this massive problem because it deals only with a very limited number of properties. I cannot for the life of me understand how the properties are designated. What is the difference between Airey housing or any of the other types designated and the properties on Wellington street estate in my constituency, to which I have referred many times in the House and in Committee, which were built by Bison Northern Concrete only 12 years ago but are being knocked down by bulldozers right now. How much more defective can housing be?

The Government are dealing with a limited number of dwellings because they are interested only in the value of property. That is why there is discrimination. The Government are obsessed with money values. Where are their social values? Where is their consideration for council tenants who have to endure the misery of poorly-constructed, condensation-ridden properties which are expensive and difficult to heat? A lady came to see me because her husband was coming out of Christie hospital dying of cancer into a fungus-ridden flat in one of these system built properties. We had to bring in direct labour to modernise the property. [interruption.] It is no laughing matter.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

I did not say that it was.

Mr. Litherland

The property had to be decorated so that a man could die with some dignity.

The Minister knows that the problem exists. He saw a small fraction of it on his last visit to Manchester, although he will not come to visit Wellington street.

Mr. Winterton

My hon. Friend has not been asked—and the estate has been knocked down.

Mr. Litherland

I have sent many invitations to the Minister, but he has refused to come to Wellington street or to authorise a public investigation.

The building societies are not willing to give mortgages on such properties. The owner-occupiers who live on defective housing estates have no chance of selling their properties. I should like to quote from an article in the magazine Building of 23 November. Ever since the scope of the problem became lcmown, it was seen as a potentially major setback to the Government's council house sales policy. That is the Government's real concern. To prevent this two things were considered vital: to provide for repairs to defective units and to ensure that following the repairs the properties would be mortgageable … But the question of saleability was proving tricky, as building societies made it plain that they would not consider PRC homes—even after repairs—to be an acceptable risk for mortgage purposes unless they came with some kind of warranty. There is no proper repair scheme, and no warranty. The problem is immense and the Government's remedy is futile. There is a vast proportion of system-build in my constituency and every day the situation deteriorates. Manchester is only one of seven authorities that have decided to demolish Bison wall frame housing. Other systems are in the pipeline for demolition, and many other authorities with various system schemes will demolish unless extra money is forthcoming.

The Government recognise the unfairness for the private owner. They should also recognise the unfairness to local authorities which built the houses in good faith on the recommendation of past Governments. They should recognise that the vast majority of those living in defective and potentially defective homes are tenants, and that those tenants have been overlooked by the Government.

Local authorities such as Manchester want financial support for planned repair programmes or, where necessary, demolition. The Housing Defects Act 1984 and the variation order merely tinker with the problem. The Government are using the proverbial piece of Elastoplast when the patient is bleeding to death.

11.13 pm
Mr. Conal Gregory (York)

Airey homes are one of at least 26 types of prefabricated reinforced concrete housing. At the time of construction, builders believed that reinforced concrete would last for a very long time. As we now know only too well, this is not the case. In my own division of York, there are some 199 Airey and Unity houses. There are also Orlit houses and others not under immediate consideration. Many of the houses have been well looked after and improved. Many of the couples who have come to see me in my surgery or have been in contact with me have their life savings wrapped up in those homes. Those people will listen to this debate with considerable concern.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Staffordshire (Mr. Heddle) correctly declared his interest, but he skated over the role of the Building Societies Association, which I believe has been rather too cautious. A great deal of professional expertise could have been directed towards helping the people of York and many other areas.

It is curious that, although there might be a mortgage on a property, when the owner wishes to move because of a job or hospital commitments, the building societies show him the door. Moreover, prospective purchasers who have had a survey done at their own expense are also shown the door. Where is the caring attitude and the professional skill there? Surely a body such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which is often employed by building societies or other bodies, could have produced a voluntary scheme. There must be a note of disappointment about an appropriate scheme not having been developed.

The difficulty is that owners of the homes which we are discussing are immobile. Some live in caravans in other parts of the country because they have had to leave their home, although they have a purchaser in mind. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will say whether such people are likely to get professional help and whether, through discussions with the Building Societies Association, mobility will be possible.

The order refers to a reduction from 100 per cent. to 90 per cent. in the Government's support to local authorities for the cost repurchase or grant. Why should Government support not be as generous as the 100 per cent. on the Airey scheme for grant and repurchase? Why is it not the 105 per cent. of which my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Staffordshire (Mr. Heddle) spoke? I hope that he will speak in similar terms when he is wearing his other hat in the Building Societies Association. There is a need for proper compensation. The Government first announced a scheme to help private owners of Airey houses that had been purchased from a local authority as long ago as 7 September 1982. Well over two years later, there is still anxiety. Will my hon. Friend use his good offices to publicise, through the lobby press, what a good scheme he is offering? There is much anxiety among professional housing managers about how it works and the length of time envisaged. Home owners ask us for clarification and information, which is difficult to come by unless one reads professional housing publications.

The studies by the Building Research Establishment are professional. There should be a professional approach by those who want to help investors own their own horn. I trust that, through the publicity of this debate and otherwise, we can relieve the tension and anxiety of people who have bought these homes.

11.18 pm
Mr. Michael Meadowcroft (Leeds, West)

The hon. Member for Mid-Staffordshire (Mr. Heddle) complimented the Government on two counts. I can agree with him on one—that they recognised the scale of the problem and brought forward the Housing Defects Act 1984. I cannot agree with him on the second, which is that the Government have provided the resources to deal with the problem. There is no evidence to suggest that the Government have produced extra funds nationally to assist hard-pressed local authorities. It is no use recognising the massive problems of local authorities—Leeds has the major problem—without taking account of the variation between one local authority and another.

The order will not make much difference to the financial problems of local authorities, but what difference it makes is for the worse. It was the Government's express wish that, wherever possible, the owner should receive a repairs grant rather than have his or her home repurchased. That is a legitimate wish, but most of the people involved are far too shrewd and sensible to accede to the Government's wish because, unfortunately, the Government's wish does not help them in the long run.

In Leeds, for example, four out of five of those who have found themselves in this position have applied to have their houses repurchased by the local authority. Only 56 repair grants have been made in Leeds. I accept that there might be a few more in the pipeline. However, no fewer than 311 properties have had to be repurchased by the local authority at a cost of about £5.25 million. That substantial capital sum is set against Leed's future housing allocation. A local authority that is facing the problem of Airey houses and other reinforced concrete houses will not be able to cope without the provision of extra finance.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) said that the valuation of such houses in the London area was from £38,000 to £54,000. The average repurchase price in Leeds is slightly more than £;16,000 and the repairs to each house are costing on average £11,500. There is an obvious differential. The precedent that is being set by the treatment of Airey houses may well extend to other types of house and that factor is worrying Leeds and other authorities. They are afraid that they will be forced to repurchase the houses without the provision of extra capital. It will be impossible to find the sums involved.

It seems that the Government's approach to repair grants encompasses three different criteria. First, the Minister mentioned the availability of a mortgage if the repairs have been carried out. The other two criteria are equally important. The first of them is that there should be an economic consideration, in other words, an owner should not be placed in financial hardship. The average sum being found by owners is about £2,500. There are many owners who would be unable to find such a sum so they would be excluded under one criterion.

The third criterion is that of a 30-year life. Given our experience of system-built houses, we would be hard pressed to say that in all cases the houses will be satisfactory for a further 30 years. The solution that has been found by the Leeds council may well put its Airey houses in that category but the rest remain imponderables. The council's technical experts are expressing doubts about being able to find a solution for other similar types of house. This means that fewer than 20 per cent. will be taking up the repair grant option. Virtually everyone may ask for his house to be repurchased by the local authority.

The most bizarre factor is the right to buy, which was referred to by the hon. Members for Perry Barr and for Mid-Staffordshire. If a person asks for his house to be repurchased by the local authority and he is eligible for discount because he has lived in it for two years, the local authority cannot include the cost of the dwelling's renovation in the valuation. The occupier will be able to buy the house back from the local authority, after the authority has spent about £;11,500 to repair it at current prices, without having to pay any part of those costs. What incentive is there for anyone to apply for a repair grant when that sort of provision is available under the Act? The order is unlikely to have any real effect. Its only effect is likely to be detrimental to local authorities.

The building societies are somewhat remiss in the extent of their caution, which extends beyond the physical problems of the dwellings. At a meeting of officials of the Leeds city council and the building societies, the building society representatives said that they would want a warranty, which in its way was understandable. They said also that it would not be sufficient for all the houses or one block to be treated. They wanted the entire neighbourhood to be treated. That way, people who examine the aesthetic appearance of the houses could say that they were mortgageable. If that is the extent of the caution, I fear that the number of people who will fulfil the criteria for repair grants will be few and far between. I suspect that the Government's desire to encourage people to seek repairs grants rather than repurchases, will not be fulfilled, even with Airey houses. It will be even less the case for other PRC houses.

11.24 pm
Mr. Martin Redmond (Don Valley)

I assure the Minister that I understood every word he said until we heard the usual gobbledegook that confuses most people until they get a Philadelphian lawyer to interpret it. No matter which policies are advocated, they will not materialise unless there is cash to back them. Therefore, Airey-type house owners can only be frustrated by the Government's policies.

I wonder whether the Minister would consult some history books to see how the prefab problem was resolved. It was a more enormous problem than this one. Yet, with the co-operation of tenants, the councils and the Government resolved it satisfactorily. Every time we consider Airey housing and improvement grants, more problems seem to have accumulated. It may be helpful if the Minister looked at history books to see how the prefab problem was resolved.

If Airey housing were found in Conservative constituencies, the Department of the Environment might be a little more helpful in attempting to resolve the problem. I cannot understand why, when the problem is so acute, the Department of the Environment cannot provide more relief. On 1 December, when the Department of the Environment has played the publicity game, a mass of people may queue at local authorities' doors expecting grants or expecting the authorities to purchase their houses. We will again be using local authorities as whipping boys.

In Doncaster there are many houses of the semidetached type. One was bought privately, but the others remain in the public sector. If we resolve the problem in the private sector, how will the private owner react if the local authority cannot rectify the problem next door? Building societies will look keenly at possible damage when they give a mortgage.

A few days ago, the National Coal Board, which owns many Airey-type houses, was in the process of selling 11 of them, when the local authority bought the remaining stock. Those 11 tenants are now in limbo because the board is still the owner of the property. Could they get a grant, or will the NCB use some of the money which we granted it last night to rectify the problem?

The housing investment programme allocation is all-important. Without a reasonable cake, there are many problems. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has used the public sector as a whipping boy in seeking to save a few bob. Building firms in my constituency and the rest of Doncaster are interested in what is to happen to Airey houses because, as the cake diminishes, so does the number of building firms and the employment they provide in the constituency.

If we treat Airey house owners favourably, how will other people in the public sector react? Doncaster metropolitan district council has a marvellous tenants' association that covers the whole of the borough. There are well in excess of 170 branches and they will want to have a say if money starts going to Airey houses alone. Private sector improvement grants were held up in August 1983 because the cash had run out. There are 8,000 applications for improvement grants in the pipeline at present. There is a bob or two involved there.

The council owns 680 Airey-type houses and there are 200 in the private sector. There are also 35,000 council houses, some of which need repair. We can tinker with the cake, but unless it is increased the problem will become worse.

I hope that the Minister will return to his Department and get a few more pounds for a worthy scheme.

11.31 pm
Mr. Derek Fatchett (Leeds, Central)

I do not intend to delay the House for many minutes; I am essentially a populist and I realise that the Tories are somewhat tired of talking about housing, because it is not a problem that normally affects them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Ban (Mr. Rooker) said that he found the Minister's contribution somewhat difficult to understand. I disagree with my hon. Friend, because I thought that it was typical of all Conservative contributions on housing—restrictive and dogmatic. It is restrictive because it recognises a problem, as the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Meadowcroft) said, but does little about it. The proposals do not substantially help those who bought Airey houses. The measure is restrictive in its approach to local authorities by reducing the amount of grant available from 100 to 90 per cent.

The measure is restrictive in another respect, which has been mentioned by Conservative Members, because it introduces a time scale which will make it almost impossible for many people to exercise the right that the Government have grudgingly given them. It is ideological in another sense, and that is typical of the Tory approach. We seem to be interested in only one section—roughly 10 per cent. of the people who live in system-built houses. They are those who made the mistake of buying those houses.

The Tory party has a great deal to answer for. The Tories come here tonight wringing their hands about the problems that those people now face, but I expect that the hon. Member for Mid-Staffordshire (Mr. Heddle) spent a good deal of time going to local authority tenants saying, "Buy your council house. It is a good buy." That was bad advice. I would not go running to him for professional advice. He does not have to declare and define his interest to me, because I have seen the type of political advice that he gives.

Those of the hon. Member's constituents who decided to buy their council houses as a result of his political persuasion must have a great deal to regret, financially and in many other respects.

The Government are not bothered about the 17,600 houses in Leeds that were built with steel or concrete components, or about the 5,018 timber-framed houses. The Government are reducing the amount of money available to Leeds and other authorities for public sector build. When the Minister replies, I should like to hear him say that he is concerned about the problems of the tenants living in that accommodation. We have not yet heard that from the Government.

A few weeks ago, I went to a meeting of tenants who live in system-built housing in Leeds. The tenants told me that their winter heating bill last year—before the Chancellor of the Exchequer increased electricity charges—was £250. The Yorkshire electricity board sent along experts to find out the reason for those high bills on the Halton Moor estate in Leeds. The reason was not the failure of the electricity board, but the defective housing in which the tenants were living.

The Government have a responsibility to those people, but at the moment the Government are running away from that responsibility. Leeds city council has judged that it will take £160 million to deal with the defective system-built housing in the city. I should like the Minister to talk not just about the small percentage of people who have bought Airey houses, but about all those—owner-occupiers and tenants—who live in defective houses. If the Government do that, we shall believe that they take the problem seriously. At the moment, they are hidebound and blinded by ideology and their restricted approach.

11.36 pm
Sir George Young

With the leave of the House, I shall try to deal with some of the points that have been raised. We are talking about the marrying of two schemes. Scheme one is discretionary, applies only to owners of Airey houses, and is due to run out next year. Scheme two is statutory, applies to Airey house owners and other defined house types and runs for another 10 years. We are trying to marry the two schemes, and avoid the situation described by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Staffordshire (Mr. Heddle), who said that the Government are in a contradictory position in having two circulars running at the same time.

Scheme two is, by and large, a better scheme, as it is a statutory one that gives people rights, and the terms of compensation are more generous. In particular—this is in reply to the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Meadowcroft)—there is the possibility of 100 per cent. grants to owner-occupiers under the statutory scheme where there is financial hardship, which there is not under the discretionary scheme.

The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond) asked about the HIP allocations for Doncaster, and some other hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) asked about the position of local authority tenants. The Government have made it clear that if local authorities will tell us what they think that their obligations are for their own stock, we shall take this into account in making HIP allocations next year.

However, the local authority tenant is in a different position from the owner-occupier. The latter cannot move, whereas the tenant can, and the owner-occupier has lost his savings, whereas the tenant has not. Without a scheme, the resources to put a building right are not there for an owner-occupier, whereas a local authority has resources at its command. There is not a direct parallel between the position of the owner-occupier and the local authority tenant.

The hon. Member for Leeds, West doubted whether properties would be reinstated. I have seen, in Doncaster, some Airey-type houses that have been reinstated satisfactorily. Expertise is being developed by the building industry to restore Airey-type houses and, I hope, others, to a high standard that will last for 30 years, and be mortgageable. I am not sure that that would be the position in the circumstances that the hon. Member outlined.

I was asked why there is not a 100 per cent. contribution to the owner-occupier. It is reasonable that, when the taxpayer is bearing 90 per cent. of the cost, the owner-occupier who, before the Act, would have to bear the 100 per cent. costs himself, should be looked to for the 10 per cent. We have made provisions for that 10 per cent. to be made available by the local authority in cases of hardship. That 90 per cent. provision is a generous scheme.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Staffordshire asked about the position of one of his constituents. The best advice that I can give him is to advise his constituent to keep his options open by applying before 1 December. If he does that, he will have the benefit of both the statutory and the discretionary schemes. He made the point about the right to buy, a point that was made by other hon. Members. If a property is repurchased by the local authority and the owner-occupier becomes a tenant and stays in that building, he will subsequently have the right to buy on broadly the terms outlined by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Heddle

Will my hon. Friend clarify one point so that we can have it on the record? If my constituent keeps his options open and takes the advice that has just been given from the Dispatch Box and applies to the Lichfield district council by the close of business on Friday, will my hon. Friend confirm that he will not forfeit 10-months' worth of discount by obliging the local authority to repurchase in advance of 7 September 1985, which discount, if he waited until that time, under the original circular 6/83, he would not have forfeited in any event?

Sir George Young

I am not fully familiar with my hon. Friend's constituents, but the crucial date is the date of completion of the bargain. That would dictate the discount that would be repayable.

My hon. Friend made a slightly Freudian slip in his remarks when he said that he felt people should still have the right to sell back under the discretionary scheme. However, he corrected himself later and said that there is no such right under the discretionary scheme. One is dependent on the co-operation of the local authorities.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Parr (Mr. Rooker) asked for up-to-date information about the distribution of Airey houses. We are dependent on the local authorities for such information. The latest list is in the Library and I understand that that is dated November 1983. We have written to local authorities for that information and we can do no better than bring together the figures which they provide to my Department.

The hon. Member for Leeds, West implied that reinstatement grant would be the method of assistance for Airey houses. I am not sure whether that will be the case. It depends whether a successful claim can be made under section 3(5), and whether the authority considers the repaired house to be mortgageable.

That brings me to a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Gregory) and others about the NHBC and the BSA. I understand that there is a meeting tomorrow between those two bodies. They will be discussing the possible production of a certificate which will get round the problem of mortgageability and the resaleability of a property that has been improved. I share the views expressed by several hon. Members about the desirability of a scheme on those lines.

Mr. Gregory

In the course of clarification, may I seek my hon. Friend's assurance? Will that be for a long enough period to satisfy the building societies? At present, I understand that they are looking for one of some 30 years. The NHBC cover is normally for 10 years. Unless we can bring the two parties together my constituents and others will still be in the unfortunate position of having mortgaged their properties to building societies which are not prepared to put that money up again to prospective purchasers.

Sir George Young

I think that I can give my hon. Friend the reassurance that he wants. If one takes the position that he has just described, and if after reinstatement his constituent were not able to sell his property with vacant posession on terms where a mortgage would be available on satisfactory terms with a lending institution to a new buyer, he would be entitled to sell the property back to the local authority. That is clearly stated in clause 3.

There is no change in the rate of grant of 90 per cent. to the owner-occupier between the discretionary and statutory scheme. All the order does is change the contribution that the Government make to the local authority. It was 100 per cent. because the original scheme was discretionary and unless 100 per cent. reimbursement were offered by the Government there was a feeling that the local authorities would not have collaborated in a discretionary scheme.

I was asked how much had been spent under the scheme and how many people had been assisted. We do not have exact figures on the number of people who have been assisted. The information that we have is based on claims made by authorities for Exchequer contribution. Those claims are normally made in advance. In other words, they are estimates by the authorities of the numbers likely to apply and the likely split between repairs and repurchase. The number of repairs and repurchases for which local authorities have submitted claims to my Department is 750. I was asked how much has been paid in contributions. Our estimate is that about £4.5 million will have been paid by the end of this financial year, but I shall write to the hon. Gentleman with further details when I have them.

The hon. Member for Perry Barr spoke, I think, about a tenant in an Airey house that was owned by the local authority. Of course a local authority has a statutory responsibility for maintenance and common law responsibilities in respect of the safety of property. That might be the solution for that tenant.

I was asked about the owner's ability to meet his part of the grant. I have explained that the local authority can pay 100 per cent. under the defects legislation. It was also assumed that owners would have a choice of repurchase or grant. But a reading of the Act shows that that is not so. The onus is on reinstatement, and only if reinstatement is not practicable in the way that has been described does one turn to repurchase. As was rightly pointed out, much depends on the building society's attitude.

The hon. Member for Leeds. Central asked whether the Government are concerned about local authority tenants. Of course we are, but the Act and the order concern owner-occupiers and it would not be right to have a long debate about local authority tenants tonight.

I have tried to deal with the points raised. The hon. Member for Manchester, Central (Mr. Litherland) extended an invitation to me to visit some property. I was not quite sure whether it had been demolished. I visit Manchester regularly. I was in Oldham last month, where a very enlightened Labour-controlled local authority sold an entire council estate to a private developer, who modernised it and was selling it on to very proud owner-occupiers. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will use his influence to persuade Manchester city council to apply that sort of solution to some of the local authority estates in that city.

I hope that the House will approve the order.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 154, Noes 84.

Division No. 24] [11.45 pm
Amess, David Chapman, Sydney
Ancram, Michael Chope, Christopher
Ashby, David Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Conway, Derek
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Coombs, Simon
Batiste, Spencer Cope, John
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Corrie, John
Bellingham, Henry Dicks, Terry
Bevan, David Gilroy Dorrell, Stephen
Biffen, Rt Hon John Dover, Den
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Dunn, Robert
Boscawen, Hon Robert Durant, Tony
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Fallon, Michael
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Favell, Anthony
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bright, Graham Franks, Cecil
Brinton, Tim Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Brooke, Hon Peter Garel-Jones, Tristan
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Bruinvels, Peter Goodlad, Alastair
Bulmer, Esmond Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Burt, Alistair Harris, David
Butcher, John Heathcoat-Amory, David
Butterfill, John Heddle, John
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Hind, Kenneth
Carttiss, Michael Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Howard, Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Jessel, Toby Sims, Roger
Jones, Robert (W Herts) Skeet, T. H. H.
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Key, Robert Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
King, Rt Hon Tom Speller, Tony
Knox, David Spencer, Derek
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Lilley, Peter Stanley, John
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Steen, Anthony
Lord, Michael Stern, Michael
Macfarlane, Neil Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
MacGregor, John Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Maclean, David John Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Madel, David Stradling Thomas, J.
Major, John Sumberg, David
Malins, Humfrey Taylor, Rt Hon John David
Malone, Gerald Taylor, John (Solihull)
Maples, John Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Mather, Carol Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Maude, Hon Francis Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Thornton, Malcolm
Merchant, Piers Thurnham, Peter
Meyer, Sir Anthony Townend, John (Bridlington)
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Tracey, Richard
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Twinn, Dr Ian
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Montgomery, Fergus Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Morris, M. (N'hampton, S) Waddington, David
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Walden, George
Moynihan, Hon C. Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Murphy, Christopher Waller, Gary
Neale, Gerrard Ward, John
Needham, Richard Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Newton, Tony Warren, Kenneth
Nicholls, Patrick Watson, John
Oppenheim, Phillip Watts, John
Ottaway, Richard Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Whitfield, John
Parris, Matthew Whitney, Raymond
Pollock, Alexander Winterton, Mrs Ann
Powley, John Winterton, Nicholas
Proctor, K. Harvey Wolfson, Mark
Raffan, Keith Wood, Timothy
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Yeo, Tim
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Roe, Mrs Marion Younger, Rt Hon George
Sackville, Hon Thomas
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Tellers for the Ayes:
Sayeed, Jonathan Mr. Ian Lang and
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Mr. Michael Neubert.
Alton, David Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)
Ashdown, Paddy Deakins, Eric
Barnett, Guy Dewar, Donald
Barron, Kevin Dixon, Donald
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Dormand, Jack
Benn, Tony Duffy, A. E. P.
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Eastham, Ken
Bermingham, Gerald Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Blair, Anthony Fatchett, Derek
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Hamilton, James (M'well N)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Bruce, Malcolm Home Robertson, John
Canavan, Dennis Howells, Geraint
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Clay, Robert Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Cohen, Harry Kirkwood, Archy
Conlan, Bernard Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Litherland, Robert
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Corbyn, Jeremy Loyden, Edward
Cowans, Harry McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Cunliffe, Lawrence McKelvey, William
Dalyell, Tam McWilliam, John
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Marek, Dr John
Maxton, John Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Meadowcroft, Michael Skinner, Dennis
Michie, William Smith, C,(lsl'ton S & F'bury)
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Spearing, Nigel
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Stott, Roger
O'Neill, Martin Strang, Gavin
Park, George Straw, Jack
Parry, Robert Torney, Tom
Patchett, Terry Wallace, James
Penhaligon, David Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Pike, Peter Wareing, Robert
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Welsh, Michael
Prescott, John Winnick, David
Randall, Stuart
Redmond, M. Tellers for the Noes:
Rogers, Allan Mr. Frank Haynes and
Rooker, J. W. Mr. Allen McKay.
Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the draft Grants by Local Authorities (Appropriate Percentage and Exchequer Contributions) (Repairs Grant for Airey Houses) (Variation) Order 1984, which was laid before this House on 22nd October, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.