HC Deb 12 February 1986 vol 91 cc1049-71 10.17 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Michael Ancram)

I beg to move, That the draft Housing Support Grant (Scotland) Variation Order 1986 which was laid before this House on 13 January 1985 be approved.

It may be for the convenience of the House if we discuss at the same time the motions on the draft Housing Support Grant (Scotland) Order 1986, and with the consent of the Opposition the Prayer on the Housing Revenue Account Rate Fund Contribution Limits (Scotland) Order 1986.

Mr. Speaker

Very well, if the House so agrees.

Mr. Ancram

The full details of the housing support grant settlement are set out in the report which accompanies the draft Housing Support Grant (Scotland) Order. In the light of the time limits on this debate I will therefore not burden the House with excessive detail. I will, however, explain the thinking behind these proposals and also the limits which have been set out in the Housing Revenue Account Rate Fund Contribution Limits (Scotland) Order.

We have reached agreement with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on the formula for the distribution of housing support grant this year. I should like to place on the record our thanks to the convention for its contributions to our discussion. In the housing support grant settlement for 1986–87, the Government have aimed again at concentrating resources on those authorities which, in our view, require them. We have estimated eligible expenditure at £308 million and relevant income at £257.3 million. Housing support grant will therefore total £50.7 million, which will be distributed among the 24 authorities which, we believe, will incur deficits on their housing revenue accounts in 1986–87.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West)

How can the Minister possibly justify the miserable Government of whom he is a member increasing council house rents by 168 per cent. since they came to power and now refusing to give one penny of housing support grant to the vast majority of housing authorities, including Falkirk district council, which is in my constituency, which has not received one penny from the Government for years? How can the Minister justify this savage attack on the living standards of council house tenants and on the council's ability to improve and expand its housing stock?

Mr. Ancram

If the hon. Gentleman will await the rest of my argument, he will get an answer. He is suggesting that councils that are in surplus on their housing revenue accounts should still be helped by state subsidies to all tenants, regardless of need. I find that an extremely strange argument.

We have left out of the reckoning the expenditure and income of authorities that we believe will generate a surplus. Had we not done so, housing support grant would have been wiped out completely and authorities which continue to need subsidy would have been substantially worse off.

Local authorities' expenditure on housing is, of course, very sensitive to changes in interest rates. By agreement with the convention, we are again applying an average rate of interest to authorities' individual volumes of debt— 11 per cent. has been assumed in this settlement. If, however, in practice interest rates prove to be significantly different from our current assumptions, we will bring forward an appropriate variation order in due course. The 1985–86 variation order reflects a similar undertaking given at this time last year, and brings four authorities —Stewartry, East Lothian, 1nverclyde and Monklands— back into grant.

The figures in the housing support grant orders reflect our continuing concern to balance the undoubted need for expenditure on housing against our responsibility to control public expenditure as a whole. This is particularly the case in the amounts we have allowed for management and maintenance expenditure. These allowances have been the focus of much discussion with the convention, and we have agreed that a review of how they are calculated should be carried out during this year. for 1986–87, however, we have uprated the management and maintenance provision in the 1985–86 settlement by 4 per cent. to hold it constant in real terms.

On the income side, we are assuming for the purposes of the settlement that rents will increase by £1.26 per week over 1985–86 order levels, bringing rents to £13.85 in order terms. Taking these housing support grant assumptions together with the Government's decisions on rate fund contribution limits, we estimate that average council house rents will rise by about £1.60 per house per week in 1986–87.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

What advice has the Scottish Office had from the construction industry about the effect on employment of more generous maintenance grants?

Mr. Ancram

We have had discussions about the effects on employment of various forms of expenditure, including those which might be spent on maintenance. I shall say something about capital allocations later, but if the figures that were quoted by the chairman of the subcommittee of COSLA on housing are correct, many jobs will have been created by the additional allocations that I have made this year.

Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart)

Would the Minister care to express the rent increase of £1.60 in percentage terms and relate it to the increase in the retail price index during the past year?

Mr. Ancram

I must ask the hon. Gentleman to allow me to develop my argument as I want later, and in context, to say something about the level of rents that we are assuming and expect in the coming year.

It is right to consider the Housing Revenue Account Rate Fund Contribution Limits (Scotland) Order with the Housing Support Grant (Scotland) Order, because they are closely linked.

The Government have the responsibility to take difficult decisions about the total resources which the nation can afford to devote to housing against the background of restraint in public expenditure. In recent years local authorities' decisions to increase the proportion of expenditure paid by ratepayers have reduced the amount available for spending on necessary capital works. Their policies, of pre-empting a bigger share of the available resources so as to keep rents unnecessarily and artificially low, were not only bad for ratepayers, who had to foot the bill, but also reduced the amounts which could be spent on problems such as condensation and dampness. These short-sighted policies, which overall, over the past four years, forfeited £112 million in terms of housing expenditure limit penalties, exacerbated the housing problems that we face today. They were therefore bad for the long-term interests of the tenants themselves.

Mr. William McKelvey (Kilmarnock and Loudoun)

The hon. Gentleman referred to the visit of the then Secretary of State for Scotland to Kilmarnock in 1982 when the right hon. Gentleman commended the Kilmarnock and Loudoun district council on its initiative and the spending on the Knockenlaw initiative. At that time, the council was in receipt of £4.7 million in housing support grant but since 1984 the council has had zero grant. How can the Under-Secretary of State match that with a description of an irresponsible council?

Mr. Ancram

The hon. Gentleman has answered his own question. Obviously the council has conducted its housing affairs well enough and its level of housing support grant can now be reduced. Our expectation, on the assumptions that we make for the rent increase needed from Kilmarnock and Loudoun this year, is that it will be considerably lower than the average which I announced earlier.

Last year we took new powers and required authorities to budget for rate fund contributions of no more than £89.5 million in 1985–86. This enabled us, last March, to issue capital allocations on the housing revenue account totalling £276 million, which amounted to an increase of £49 million over those issued the previous March. Our decision this year to require authorities to limit their estimated rate fund contributions to a maximum of £69.76 million in 1986–87, as set out in the order before the House, has enabled us to issue provisional capital allocations totalling £322.5 million in Scotland for 1986–87. That figure is £46 million more than we issued last March for 1985–86. For the second year running, we are making a very real increase at a time of continuing restraint in public expenditure generally. This 42 per cent. increase in allocations of nearly £100 million over two years, reflects the high priority we are giving to ensuring that local authorities have the resources to meet essential needs. We have, for example, increased the special allocation for condensation and dampness from £16 million in 1985–86 to £20 million in 1986–87.

Moreover, although last year the accusation made by Opposition Members was that resources had simply been switched from one block, the non-HRA, to the other, the allocations for next year on both the HRA and non-HRA blocks have each been increased by more than double the rate of inflation, in all a £60 million increase over what was issued last March. Furthermore, the total resources available to authorities in 1986–87 will be further enhanced by the new arrangement which, for the first time this April, will allow authorities to carry forward automatically underspends of up to 3.5 per cent. of 1985–86 allocations.

In setting an aggregate limit to rate fund contributions of £69.76 million, we have consulted widely about the implications of the individual limits set. The distribution of this aggregate took account this year, both of the level of housing stock in each authority and of the limits set last year. As usual, we have heard exaggerated claims about the impact of rate fund contributions on council house rents, including some which I read in the press this morning.

Our view is that, making reasonable assumptions about loan charges and management and maintenance costs—we have, for example, for this purpose assumed that authorities will spend up to 6 per cent. more on management and maintenance than last year—average rent increases in Scotland next year will be about £1.60 per week. That figure was not seriously disputed by the convention when I met it on 9 December. Obviously the rent implications for individual authorities will vary, depending upon their own expenditure and income pattern.

Mr. Donald Stewart (Western Isles)

What does the Minister say about the Western Isles council, which already has the highest rents in Scotland — on the Department's figures — and which will have to raise rents by £1.90 per week? Is the idea that rents are already so high that another £2 a week does not make any difference?

Mr. Ancram

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for saying that the rents will have to go up by £1.90 a week. That is considerably lower than the projected figures put forward this morning by Shelter. The right hon. Gentleman knows, because my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State wrote to him on the matter after a recent visit, that part of the problem with the Western Isles is that for the current year and the next financial year, the council intends to increase management and maintenance by 25 per cent. That is considerably ahead of the rates that we had assumed, which were above the rate of inflation and which are built into the order. It is for the Western Isles to make a judgment on that matter, but it must take into account the fact that if it increases its maintenance and management expenditure to the extent that it has, that will have an effect on rents.

Many hon. Members may remember that at this time last year when I suggested that average rents would rise by just over £1 per week, we heard some wild claims about the effect of the rate fund contribution limits upon rent levels. It is worth considering what happened. Average local authority rent levels, as estimated in CIPFA's rating review, rose by £1.02 per week between 1984–85 and 1985–86. That is almost the figure that we had predicted, which was rubbished by Opposition Members during a similar debate. I do not think that our predicted average rent increases of about £1.60 this year is unreasonable in present circumstances.

During the current year the average Scottish rent is only £11.56. The rents of many individual authorities, especially in the west of Scotland, are lower still. In Glasgow the average is £10.64, in Aberdeen it is £11.21 and in Dundee it is £9.82. That compares with an average local authority rent in England and Wales of £15.64.

Mr. McKelvey

Irrelevant rubbish.

Mr. Ancram

From a sedentary position, the hon. Gentleman says it is irrelevant rubbish. If he considers the comparative position of Scotland and England, he may not find it as irrelevant as he suggests.

In 1985, the average earnings of manual workers in Scotland were higher than those of their counterparts in England and Wales. With almost half of all households in Scotland in public sector rented housing it is difficult to justify such low rents. If tenants have genuine difficulty in meeting their housing cost, relief is available to them through the housing benefit system.

Mr. Maxton

Will the Minister give the comparative costs of maintaining, repairing and managing houses in England, Wales and Scotland? He will find that the Scottish figures are lower, so the rents are lower.

Mr. Ancram

The hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Mr. McKelvey) who shouted from a sedentary position—it is equally implicit in the suggestion that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) is making—suggested that that is somehow unfair to those who pay rents in Scotland. As a percentage of weekly income, rents in Scotland are about 7 per cent. as against 9.6 per cent. in England. It is time that hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies realised the damage that has been done in past years by artificially keeping down rents at the expense of the capital needed to spend on the real problems affecting Scottish housing.

In conclusion, let me emphasise that we are determined to continue to concentrate the resources available for housing on capital investment rather than on subsidies.

Mr. David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale)

I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman said, "In conclusion". I was waiting for him to come to the point in his speech where he would deal with the effect of Scottish Office estimates of council house sales on the housing revenue account allocations. I understand the Government's determination to keep down housing expenditure, even if I do not agree with it. However, it is unforgiveable that in order to arrive at their figures they should produce completely notional figures of council house sales. In the case of Ettrick and Lauderdale district council, the estimate is 25 per cent. above the council's own estimate. How can he justify that?

Mr. Ancram

The right hon. Gentleman may be ambivalent on the right to buy council houses, but the estimates have been made after close consultation with local authorities. There is no benefit and no advantage either to myself or to the Scottish Office in over-estimating the number of sales, because there would be problems about the block allocations at the end of the day. What I have said, and will repeat—

Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)


Mr. Ancram

I am answering a question. I have answered quite a few questions already.

I repeat that if resources become available within the housing block grant I shall be prepared to consider supplementary allocations to authorities where there have been genuine reasons for a shortfall in housing sales. Obviously, that must depend on resources becoming available and I cannot give a categorical assurance about it.

Mr. Home Robertson


Mr. Barry Henderson (Fife, North-East)


Mr. Ancram

This is a short debate and I have given way several times. I shall give way to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Henderson

In the criteria which my hon. Friend has just mentioned, will he take specific account of the local authority which has already sold a substantial part of its property and has not been idle in regard to sales?

Mr. Ancram

That is one of the criteria which my officials and the officials of housing authorities will consider closely. It is not in the interests of either party to make over-estimates. Equally there are within Scotland examples where under-estimates have been made, particularly in Glasgow, which I understand expects to overshoot its estimate by £2 million. That council has not been known for its keenness to sell council houses. Obviously the under-estimate will be good for tenants in Glasgow because it will provide capital that can be spent on the housing problems.

Mr. Home Robertson


Mr. Ancram

I will not give way again.

In conclusion, let me emphasise that we are determined to continue to concentrate the resources available for housing on capital investment rather than on subsidies. Subsidies do not encourage efficient management by authorities. Where they benefit the better-off tenant who does not need them, they are wasteful on any view of scarce resources. Our policy has already allowed us to make substantial increases in the level of capital investment in the housing stock.

Opposition Members often accuse us of making slashing reductions in capital expenditure on housing. If is part of their mythology of cuts. But if we examine the record of the Labour party when it was last in government, we see that gross capital expenditure, at constant prices, fell by 37 per cent. over the four years between 1974–75 and 1978–79. By comparison, on the same constant price basis, less than 5 per cent. has been lost below the 1978–79 level.

We have consulted widely and at length on the orders before the House. Above all, the orders allow us to maximise capital allocations to housing authorities to deal with the very real problems in Scotland's housing stock.

I commend the orders to the House.

10.39 pm
Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Malone) on his promotion, and on his first night sitting in the Whip's place. If that is the quality of the speeches that the Minister is to give, the hon. Gentleman's progress will be swift. In the Glasgow Herald of last week, I read the headline: Rifkind in bid to revive Tories' flagging Fortunes. The article underneath said: Scottish Office Ministers and Scottish Conservative MPs have been told to adopt a new, high profile presence. If the Minister's speech is the high profile that the Secretary of State is expecting, he will have Rambo chasing after him very quickly, with his machine gun firing all the way round.

I notice that the Secretary of State seems to take great pleasure in the insult that the Daily Record paid him by calling him Rambo. After all, Rambo is a simplistic, violent moron, who has a total blind obedience to simplistic beliefs and is manipulated by people cleverer than he is. I would have considered that an insult, but on second thoughts, perhaps the Daily Record got it right.

The Minister's problem is that of all Conservative Ministers in Scotland. They are becoming increasingly schizophrenic. There is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde feeling about them. The only thing is that it is Mr. Hyde who is trying to change into Dr. Jekyll rather than the other way round. The problem is that they see their standing in the opinion polls slipping to 14 per cent.—a record except for one occasion when the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram) was chairman of the Scottish party. They like to give the impression that they are a caring Government and that are doing all that they can in difficult circumstances to look after the unemployed, the old, the young, the sick and the disabled. On the other hand, there is still "She who must be obeyed", demanding, in pursuit of her ideology, that public expenditure must be cut at all costs.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind)

Who wrote this, Helen Liddell?

Mr. Maxton

We have our bosses, but the Tory party is even harsher.

With these orders, the harsh Mr. Hyde is winning the battle. It is not the caring capitalism that the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) would like to see from the Tory party. The Minister has suggested that the Government are being generous to housing but in housing, as in all other sectors, there is a rigid adherence to the ideology of monetarism over everything else.

The Minister made great play of the capital allocations, housing increases, and the rest. However, today the Government published a Green Paper entitled "Public Expenditure 1988–89: a Commentary on the Scotland Programme". This shows that in 1980–81, the total housing programme, which is what matters, cost £781 million. In 1986–87, it will cost £645 million, a cut of £136 million, or 17.4 per cent., and that is only in cash terms, not real terms. If one adds inflation to the figure from 1980–81, which makes the comparison less bad than if we use the 1979–80 figures, just to stay at that level, the Government would have had to spend £244 million extra on housing. In real terms, the cut in total housing expenditure since 1981 is close to 50 per cent. I do not know how the Minister can stand there and say anything else.

The Minister spoke about capital allocations, as if somehow or another, when he gives capital allocations, he is giving local authorities money to spend. He is giving them permission to borrow money. That borrowing has to be paid for. It has to be paid for by the rents and increasingly, as housing support grant is cut, it has to be paid for by the tenant. Sixty per cent. of housing expenditure is at present on loan charges. Is the Secretary of State implying that I pay that when I take out a mortgage? I hope that he is because I shall come to that shortly.

Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)

Would the hon. Gentleman care to tell the House what proportion of that 60 per cent. is paid for by the taxpayer through the other assistance that is given directly to individuals for the payment of their rent and rates?

Mr. Maxton

I do not think that the fact that people are unemployed or old or have inadequate pensions has to be taken into account. Ministers do not take that into account in other things they do. The capital allowances have to be paid for, in the main, by those tenants who pay the rent and interest on them. That is the answer to what the Government are doing.

The orders are of course about housing support grant. We shall come to capital allocations at a later date. In 1980–81 housing support grant was £228.2 million. In this order it will be £50.7 million next year. That is a reduction in cash terms of £162.7 million since 1980–81 and a reduction of £13.5 million over this year. The rate fund contribution is, equally, to be cut by £20 million between 1985 and 1986. We do not have to ask ourselves whether this affects the public purse or the Government, but what it does to tenants and local authorities in Scotland. The fact is that 32 district councils which received housing support grant in 1979 and in 1980–81 will get nothing at all next year. In some district councils the tenants will now have to bear the full burden of housing costs, which, as I said earlier, includes 60 per cent. on loan charges.

Mr. Ancram

I am not sure what the hon. Gentleman is suggesting. Is he suggesting that housing support grant, which I think was always regarded as a deficit grant, even when the Labour party were in office, should be paid at the same level regardless of whether housing authorities come into surplus.

Mr. Donald Dewar (Glasgow, Garscadden)

They are not genuine surpluses.

Mr. Maxton

As my hon. Friend has just said, they are not genuine surpluses. If they were the same levels of housing support grant local authorities would have been able to keep rents down nearer the level of inflation and would have had a lot more to spend on repairs and maintenance in their houses.

Mr. Ancram

It is a public subsidy.

Mr. Maxton

The Minister says it is a public subsidy. Let us have a look at the facts. In 1979–80 the housing support grant was £223.43 per dwelling. It will be £59 on average as a result of the order. That is a reduction of subsidy of £164. I admit that it is a subsidy. That fact alone has meant an increase of £3 per week in rent. At present the average mortgage interest relief in Scotland is £550 per year. That is nearly 10 times the subsidy paid to the council house tenant. That cannot be right. We are not suggesting that we should get rid of relief for the taxpayer but it must be an equal subsidy. Why should the poorer council house tenant get no subsidy whereas those who are better-off and buying their own houses do?

Council house rents have increased by an average of 168 per cent. —twice the rate of inflation. As local authorities have been faced with more and more cuts in housing support grant, so they have been forced to cut expenditure on maintenance and housing generally. At the same time, they have often had to raise rents. When there has been any attempt by local authorities not to do that, they have been forestalled by the Government.

That has meant that tenants have faced ever-increasing rents and poorer and poorer service. Let us take Glasgow as an example — an area that the Minister claims is generously treated. Rents have risen by 100 per cent.—which is not as high as the average—while expenditure on repairs and maintenance has risen by 0.5 per cent. in cash, not real, terms. Rents have risen by an average of £275 while expenditure per house has risen by 74p. The effects of that are extremely damaging for tenants.

Even if the Minister was not interested in the plight of tenants, even if he was not a thrifty Scottish capitalist—which other Conservatives are—he should be concerned about the state of property. Surely the Government do not want local authority stock declining and deteriorating. As the level of housing support grant is reduced, so the stock deteriorates, because local authorities do not have money to spend.

Whatever the Minister might say about capital allocations, they are not keeping pace with the need for special housing, modernisation and repairs. COSLA, in its housing campaign document, stated that 332,000 houses in Scotland need modernising, 118,200 need rewiring, 314,000 suffer from dampness or condensation and 50,000 need major or structural repairs. COSLA estimates that that requires £700 million every year for the next 10 years—yet this year the Government are allowing authorities to spend only £280 million. COSLA states that that sum would not allow authorities even to keep their houses wind and watertight.

I know that the Minister disputes COSLA's figures.

Mr. Bill Walker

How much each year?

Mr. Maxton

As I said, £700 million each year over 10 years.

I accept that within the figure of 314,000 houses suffering from dampness, some could be modernised, but the cost of modernisation does not include remedies for dampness. Equally, dampness can be remedied without modernising the house.

If the Minister disputes the COSLA figures, why does he not meet its representatives and talk about it? He has flatly refused to do so. If he believes the figures to be wrong, why does he not establish a house condition survey such as there is for England and Wales? An ex-Minister, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Fletcher), is nodding.

Glasgow district council carried out a survey. It has instituted an inquiry headed by Sir Monty Finniston, hardly a wild figure of the Left. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) has given evidence to the inquiry, but the Secretary of State has refused to do so. When the right hon. Gentleman wrote to Glasgow district council, he said: I note also that the intention is that the Inquiry will 'bring forward practical recommendations for action by Government, the District Council and other agencies'. Those concerned in the Inquiry should recognise the impracticality of proposing any course of action which would involve substantial increases in levels of public expenditure. We know that in housing matters the Prime Minister's attack on public expenditure takes precedence and not the caring capitalism of the right hon. Member for Henley.

Housing conditions in Glasgow do not matter to the Secretary of State. It does not matter how many people are living in appalling damp conditions or what rent they pay. It does not matter to him what they are suffering in Glasgow.

Mr. Ancram


Mr. Maxton

The Minister says "Rubbish", but Labour Members have constituents who live in appalling conditions in large housing schemes in Glasgow. The only thing that matters to the Minister and the Secretary of State is the need to cut public expenditure.

The Government have no support for their housing policy, or any other policy, in Scotland. The Government are on the way out. Many Conservative Members will be wiped out at the general election, and the sooner the better.

10.55 pm
Mr. Barry Henderson (Fife, North-East)

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) has accused my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland of being dogmatic, but it was the hon. Gentleman who exposed his belief that only the public sector was competent to manage housing matters. We have shown that we are pragmatic in all our legislation, ranging from the Tenants' Rights, Etc (Scotland) Act 1980, piloted through the House by the new Secretary of State, to the recent measures brought forward today.

A mixture of public sector and private sector participation is most likely to meet the housing needs of the Scottish people. The assumption of the hon. Member for Cathcart that the public sector will always be better is difficult to sustain in practice.

Mr. McKelvey

The hon. Gentleman may not be surprised to learn that he has a measure of support for what he says. Does he accept that the public and private sectors in Scotland should be examined? A house condition survey would show up some of the horrors of the private sector that exist in the public sector, because of lack of finance from the Government.

Mr. Henderson

The hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudon (Mr. McKelvey) served with me on the Select Committee when we considered the problems of dampness in housing. Undoubtedly, those problems exist in the private sector. It is interesting that more has been done in the private sector than in the public sector to respond to the problems. For too long, public sector housing managers pooh-poohed council tenants, especially in Glasgow, when they complained of dampness, which we now understand to be condensation. Their problems were pooh-poohed, but we know now that those were real problems, which should have been dealt with. In the private sector and a free market economy they would have been dealt with long since. The public sector's slowness to respond to tenants' problems has been a severe disadvantage.

The hon. Member for Cathcart quoted COSLA emphasising the need for more attention to be paid to condensation and other housing problems. Those problems exist, but when local authorities are given the choice of where to put their money, they do not adopt those priorities. When the hon. Gentleman's local authority had the choice, it preferred to subsidise rents rather than resolve housing problems.

Will my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary explain why we still need any rate fund contributions? The phasing out of rate fund contributions has been a sensible progression and I am surprised that the contribution is still so large.

Will my hon. Friend also give us a progress report on the sale of council houses? I am a little anxious lest the Housing (Scotland) Bill, which has much to commend it and is still before the House, may have caused a pause in sales because of the improved discounts that it will confer on tenants whose local authorities are not voluntarily providing those discounts. I should like an assurance that sales are proceeding satisfactorily.

The right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel) has left the Chamber, but he mentioned the fears expressed by councils who do not sell the amount of housing that the Scottish Office expects them to sell. I have heard about those fears. I do not know of any council that has faced that problem, but I am glad that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary assured the House that he would respond flexibly to local authorities that had difficulty in turning the assumptions into facts. The hon. Member for Cathcart made much play of the problems of interest repayments for housing authorities. I am sure that he will recognise the important contribution that the sale of council houses has made to reducing the debt burden of those authorities and, therefore, to reducing the interest that they have to pay.

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary gave me a sympathetic response when I raised with him previously councils' housing roles. They have other responsibilities, apart from managing estates, and I regret that much of the finance from the Scottish Office has been given on the assumption that that is the only responsibility of housing authorities.

There are remarkable differences in the apportionment of housing grants to various authorities. I cannot understand them. I understand that some authorities have been given no grants, because they have been left out of account under the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1978, but why does Roxburgh need £1 million of support while Ettrick and Lauderdale needs none? Why can Banff and Buchan get by on £800,000 when Gordon needs £2 million? Those are surprising differences and I should be grateful if my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary would explain why they still exist.

Can more be done to separate the management costs from the maintenance costs of local authorities? Much inefficiency is sheltering behind the conjunction of those costs into one figure. There has been a considerable mixture of allocations. The urban areas have had a particularly heavy allocation of support grant.

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

There are more houses in urban areas.

Mr. Henderson

The urban areas have had a proportionately higher grant. Does the hon. Gentleman want details?

Mr. Foulkes

No, no.

Mr. Henderson

In the interests of brevity, I shall spare the hon. Gentleman the details.

Even in terms of population, a disproportionate amount of housing support grant seems to be going to the conurbations. I hope that, just because there are some loudmouths in those areas, that will not be the only consideration in determining grant.

Finally, I hope that the House will welcome the fact that the improved housing revenue account and non-HRA blocks are substantially improved on last year, and I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to deal with some of these points in his winding-up.

11.5 pm

Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

The hon. Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Henderson) will forgive me if I do not follow the line of his argument. Can I make a brief and succinct intervention to this debate by raising with the Minister the question of capital consent generally?

It is my impression that housing authorities are now substantially tailoring their expectations in the capital consents that they are putting forward to the sort of reactions that they have been getting from central Government. The Government should take that seriously when they look at these figures in terms of just exactly how they are measuring up to the expressed need. The expressed need is now being screwed down in a substantial way by the local authorities themselves because they have had such short shrift in the past. The Government must not use that criterion as a measure of their so-called success in dealing with the capital allocation situation.

Secondly, the question of council sales is causing some difficulties. I wonder if the Government would look again at the problems that flow as a consequence of the Treasury rules on annuality. There is something like a 3.5 per cent. carry-over from one year to the next, which is unusual in as much as other accounts such as roads have bigger carry-overs—about 10 per cent. I think.

There is a point here because there are great difficulties when council house receipts are taken as part of the total figure available to councils. It is impossible for local authorities to have a clear and concise estimate of exactly what moneys are going to fall within one year, as opposed to the other. This means that they are left on certain occasions with either shortfalls or with excesses, which they then have to try and spend in short order. I think it is right to mention that that causes problems for local authorities.

The Government's overall policy is to reduce the rate fund contribution. They think that the way of dealing with the consequent higher rents is by putting people on housing benefit.

The Minister must not take his own Department and that policy in isolation from what is going on in other Government Departments. In the near future we are going to come up against some real changes in housing benefit regulations which will reduce the floor for tenants. I think that these changes taken together with the proposals for the new community charge, with a 20 per cent. rate contribution by people who would formerly have been eligible for housing benefit, is something which his Department must consider when looking at orders like this in future. I ask him to do that as a matter of urgency in the coming Orders this year and next year.

The initial reduction in the rate fund contribution was from £120 million to £90 million, and it was further reduced to £70 million. That reflects a swingeing timetable of cuts. The Government's policy is clear and we all expect such things to happen, but the Minister must consider the timetable carefully when making such cuts. Many people will suffer hardship as a result of the extent of the cuts and the way in which they are being implemented.

As the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) said, comparisons with England are unrealistic. That can be said about the balance of the housing stock—the ratio of council-owned housing to owner-occupied housing—and proven maintenance costs. Given the maintenance costs that the authority in my constituency and in others have to meet, it is unrealistic to make comparisons with authorities south of the border. It is not comparing like with like.

There have been many fancy plans in the Scottish Office recently, including one to impose a tenants' self-maintenance scheme. What has happened to that scheme? I understand that it is going ahead but I have heard nothing about it. I do not support the scheme that was put on the stocks and made the subject of consultation in Scotland any more than the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen), for example, but I should like to know what has happened to it. We last heard of it about a year ago, when consultation was taking place.

Mr. James Craigen (Glasgow, Maryhill)

The hon. Gentleman may recall that when we debated the scheme in Committee on the Housing (Scotland) Bill, the Minister told me that it was a manifesto commitment. I told him that if he wanted to forget it, I would not remind him of it.

Mr. Kirkwood

The hon. Gentleman has dealt with the scheme in his usual succinct fashion. The Minister will recall that I initiated an Adjournment debate on the housing condition survey last Session. I have not changed the opinions that I expressed on that occasion. The Government are relying on a system of local authority housing check lists. The local authority in my constituency is short of staff who can carry out checklist responsibilities properly. The survey is important and it might frighten us to learn what is happening on a properly assessed percentage basis. We must proceed sensibly to deal with the problem over the next five to 10 years.

I understand that consideration has been given to the possibility of introducing an equivalent to the client-group approach assessment for rate fund contributions in future. There are real possibilities in that direction. Local authorities in the Borders would be the subject of a much more accurate assessment of need. My right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel) gave a good example that merits investigation.

I shall make two constituency points in conclusion. First, there are many houses in Berwickshire that are in need of repair and improvement, especially those in private ownership.

Mr. David Lambie (Cunningham, South)


Mr. Kirkwood

Some landlords have great difficulty in maintaining their houses in areas such as Berwickshire. Councils such as Berwickshire are good at maintaining the public housing stock and they maintain it well, but they find that the private stock is in bad repair. Previously, the only way open to them of tackling the problem was through the old system of improvement grants, which was extremely successful. It may have been expensive but it was an excellent way of dealing with the problem. I hope that the Government will think again during the consultation and will allow an element of grant. I accept that an element of equity loan financing is appropriate in certain circumstances but I believe that the old form of home improvement grant was much preferable to the new proposed system.

The rate fund contributions and the housing support grant calculations leave Roxburghshire with a deemed housing support grant income per head of £565,000 and with an assessed rate fund contribution of £52,000. That leaves them with a terrible problem. The contributions are unfair. A reasonable rate fund contribution would be £200,000. That costs each tenant about £100 a year, which is a substantial amount of money.

There are problems over empty housing stock in towns such as Hawick, but the scheme that is designed to sort out the difference between the housing support grant and the rate fund contribution exacerbates the problems. The Under-Secretary of State's speech was optimistic, but many of his figures are spurious. The capital allocations have to be traded off against the changes that have been made to the housing support grant and the rate fund contributions. If they are added together, we are not left with the rosy picture that was painted by the Minister. For that reason, if for no other, I propose to advise my colleagues to vote against the orders.

11.15 pm
Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)

I agree with the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) that if the Government are to examine the funds that are to be made available for housing, the amount of money that is allocated to housing improvement grants ought to be increased. They particularly help those who live in rural areas.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) huffed and puffed in his usual way and suggested that the amount required to carry out the necessary repairs to council house stock in Scotland amounts to £700 million every year for 10 years. It is interesting to note that Scotland would be asking for 10 per cent. of the public sector borrowing requirement to be spent in Scotland during the next 10 years. It is also interesting to note that it would amount each year to between £800 and £900 for each council house for a period of 10 years. A large amount of money will have to be spent on some houses, but no money will have to be spent on others. I find it difficult, therefore, to accept that figure.

What causes this huffing and puffing? For years the Labour party has bought votes by means of a cheap rents policy. That policy has been very successful. However, it has led to more and more houses in Scotland, particularly in the urban areas, falling into disrepair. It is inevitable that under the support system everybody enjoys a cheap rent, whether or not they can afford to pay a true rent for their property. People are not required to pay a true rent under this policy. But of course not; it is geared to catching votes. It has nothing to do with providing assistance to those in need.

Housing benefit goes to the individual. He qualifies for it according to his needs. If the local authority increases somebody's rent, it is paid by the taxpayer. He pays for the housing benefit. On the large housing estates in Scotland, it is not those who could not afford it who have been disadvantaged by the increase in rent, but those who could afford it. They do not like it because they voted Labour and thought that if they kept on voting Labour they would continue to enjoy the benefit of the taxpayer heavily subsidising their houses.

Anyone who examines the schedules will see that both Angus district council and Perth and Kinross district council receive a zero sum of housing support grant. Both councils ensured that their housing stock was well managed, but they are now disadvantaged because they must continue to support large housing estates which have fallen into disrepair. Sheer chaos has resulted from a policy which has been applied for three decades and which has been out of phase with housing support. The gearing and structure began to fall apart under the Labour Government simply because central Government could no longer afford to pay the vast sums necessary to local government so that it could continue the system which bought it votes. In future we want to see realistic council house rents being paid throughout Scotland, and support for those who genuinely need it.

Mr. Maxton

What is realistic?

Mr. Walker

A realistic rent is one which will pay to maintain the property in a viable condition during the life time of the tenants. That is the least that tenants can expect for what they pay.

Mr. Kirkwood

Can the hon. Gentleman hazard a guess at the figure necessary to achieve that? Does he accept that, when councils are selling the cream of the stock, the maintenance charges for the residue will inevitably increase?

Mr. Walker

The hon. Gentleman suggests that the cream of the stock will be sold and everyone will be disadvantaged, but that has not happened. Many houses have been sold. I can speak with authority only for my constituency, and I do not pretend to know what is going on in other constituencies. [Laughter.] Unlike the hon. Member for Cathcart—

Mr. McKelvey

On the matter of buying votes, the hon. Gentleman is well aware that I knew him in his boyhood when he lived on a council estate at a subsidised rent, which was less than six bob a week. Why did we fail to buy him? [Laughter.]

Mr. Walker

Unfortunately, the mirth is misplaced. The system that operated in Dundee was run by a Liberal council. It was not Liberal in the sense that the members were elected as Liberals, but the majority of them were Liberals, and I give credit where it is due. It included Sir Garnet Wilson and others. The housing estate where I lived was and is called Linlathen, and families received housing benefit depending on their income. My father had eight children, so the house was heavily subsidised while we were at school. When we went to work an economic rent was paid. I should like to see that system brought back, because it is right. The hon. Gentleman knows that that is an accurate description of what took place in Linlathen. He may have lived on another council estate where the position was different.

I am not ashamed of the fact that I grew up on a council housing estate. Because we had an enlightened local authority which was not attempting to buy votes, we had a system which I advocate. This system means realistic rents for those who can afford to pay them. It means people can buy their houses. The individual should be subsidised, not the house. What matters is the individual, not the building.

Such a system would ensure that adequate funds were available for maintenance and repairs. In time, with an increase in grant, the majority of families could afford to undertake the work. They would, in turn, help to subsidise the scheme. It would be based not on the cost of the individual property but on the total cost. It would be self-financing and would pay for itself.

Mr. Donald Stewart

The hon. Gentleman makes a case for low rents being the cause of insufficient maintenance. How does he argue the case for my local authority where council house rents are the highest in Scotland and grants have been cut in half by the Government just to save money?

Mr. Walker

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs spent some time in his constituency studying all the factors. He is correct in a number of respects, but not in some fundamental and important ones. Each individual in the Western Isles is sustained by the public purse—either collectively or individually, depending on how it is measured—to a much greater extent than in any other part of the United Kingdom, except perhaps in Northern Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman's constituency already enjoys more than its fair share of public support. I do not disagree with that, because of the conditions in that area. One must, however, acknowledge what happens. The right hon. Gentleman is wrong.

If all councils were like Perth and Kinross district council and we had a sensible policy that did not have to cater for all the extravagant practices of the past, there would be much more money for housing repairs. Treatment of the problems of condensation, dampness, bad structure and design could be paid for out of existing funds.

11.27 pm
Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West)

I could not understand why the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) was so enthusiastic about the Government's proposal. He was honest enough to say that he did not know what was happening elsewhere. That was self-evident. I am grateful for the fact that the hon. Gentleman said that.

I remind the House that the debate is about housing support grant. An answer given on 5 December 1985 in response to a question by my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Millan) gives certain statistics. The hon. Member for Tayside, North appears to be rejoicing, because the £5,620,000 which his local authority received in 1979–80 under a Labour Government will be reduced to nil if the order is agreed. That might be acceptable to Conservative Members. It is not acceptable to me that my two local authorities—Monklands, which in 1979 received £7,383,000, and Strathkelvin, which enjoyed £3,139,000—will receive not a halfpenny. I do not know why we should rejoice at that. On the basis of those figures, the 168 per cent. increase in rent since 1979, the real terms reduction of capital expenditure for housing authorities and the fact that only 24 of the 56 housing authorities will receive housing support grant, it is clear that the Government are conducting a vendetta against council houses and council house tenants which most Scottish people find repugnant.

I fear that the Minister refused to give way because he understood—

Mr. Ancram

I did give way.

Mr. Clarke

Not to me. He knew that I would refer to COSLA' s representations which, with the document "The Case for a Scottish Housing Condition Survey", utterly destroy the main thrust of the argument that he presented to the House today. He attempted to compare Scotland with England and Wales. On the basis of the facts, that is not possible. We are told that the Minister believes in a free market economy.

Who would assert that the housing circumstances in Scotland are comparable with those in England and Wales? The facts in those documents make it clear that they are not comparable. I challenge the Minister to alter his policy, especially when he pretends in public statements that he wants a good relationship with local government. I challenge him also to meet COSLA so that these facts can be discussed.

The Minister is not an expert on housing conditions in Scotland. Local authorities have to deal with these issues day after day and face the problem of allocating houses when they know that the supply is insufficient to meet people's demands. They know about the problems of dampness and condensation. The Minister ought to know about them too, because we have a Select Committee which the Government have disgracefully and blatantly ignored. It identified the fact that it costs 20 per cent. more to heat a house in Glasgow than in Bristol. Perhaps the Minister will take such facts into account when he is selling Scotland short, as he did earlier.

The people of Scotland are dealing with a serious problem in regard to fuel poverty. The Government have so far ignored that, just as they ignored representations last year which have been repeated recently, about winter conditions. By their policies and this order, the Government have again divided society. Those divisions are unacceptable in the context of the Scottish cultural background.

Even before the order was presented, 64 per cent. of council tenants received not a halfpenny from the Government, in contrast to the generous treatment afforded to people paying mortgages, who have 10 per cent. more support from the Government than council house tenants. The Minister has treated COSLA disgracefully, although he referred to it several times. He might not be aware that it believes that implementation of the Government's policies for housing benefit puts on housing authorities a burden that they are not ready to accept, that they do not believe they should have been asked to accept and, perhaps most important, that are seen to be to the disadvantage of the recipient, who will be asked to pay 20 per cent. more this year than last.

Although the Minister dismissed the point, I must assert that this is an argument about resources and priorities. Age Concern was right to identify the need for sheltered housing and to remind us that we need an extra 28,500, simply to deal with existing demand. Local authorities are correct to set the problems of the disabled as an urgent need. I congratulate Edinburgh and Edinburgh district council on the priorities that they have set. I am delighted to know that my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) opened such a project at the beginning of this week.

The Minister cannot pretend to local authorities, ratepayers or council tenants that the settlement is reasonable. It is not. It is a settlement which puts Scottish housing at a disadvantage. The sooner the Minister starts batting for Scotland the better. I say that without any great hope that he intends to do so.

11.35 pm
Mr. David Lambie (Cunninghame, South)

I have always spoken and voted against housing support grant and rate support grant orders since entering Parliament in 1970.

I cannot understand the arrogance of the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker), the former chairman of the Scottish parliamentary group, complaining that the Labour party was buying votes with a fair rent policy, when his Government have had a policy of owner-occupation and high relief on mortgage payments. As my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) said, every owner-occupier in Scotland who receives mortgage tax relief now gets more than £550 a year. The subsidy given to owner-occupiers in Scotland is 10 times that given to council tenants.

The order represents another attack by the Tory Government on the people of Scotland and the ratepayers. That is all right for hon. Members on both sides of the House who represent areas where there is a large proportion of owner-occupiers. I represent a constituency where the majority of the people live in public sector housing. Many of them live in houses owned by the urban development corporation and pay the highest rents in Scotland. The rest live in houses owned and controlled by the Scottish Special Housing Association. They pay the second highest rents in Scotland.

Cunninghame district council has been attacked seriously by the Government in the seven years during which it has controlled housing finance. Scotland has seen a big shift in housing finance from the public to the private sector. I hope that when the Labour party returns to power our Government will be as strong in supporting our voters as the Tory Government have been since 1979.

The Opposition are sometimes too soft to their political opponents. I hope that when we return to power we shall put the boot in and ensure that we play fair towards Labour voters in Scotland and those people who live in public sector houses.

In answer to a question from the right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart), the Minister said that the rate fund contribution had been cut drastically for the people of the Western Isles because of high management and maintenance costs. The rate fund contribution to Cunninghame district council last year was £3 million in round figures. This year we have been told that it will be £2 million. That is a reduction of one third, and yet our maintenance and management costs are among the lowest in Scotland. The Government seem to pick a formula and apply it whether the rents are high or low. They apply the formula to hammer council tenants.

The Labour group is meeting in my area tomorrow evening to fix the rents and rates for the next financial year.

Mr. Home Robertson

Is there a Tory party there yet?

Mr. Lambie

No. We are looking for the Tories. Ministers have promised that they will ensure that there is a Tory candidate at the next election so that votes are not spread over the other candidates and do not interfere with my majority. I have been given that guarantee by Conservative right hon. and hon. Members. I hope they keep to it. If they cannot get a Tory candidate, I will find a good one for them, someone who supports me although he is prepared to stand for the Tory party to ensure that I get in again.

Last year Cunninghame district council fixed a fair rent and fair rates. We balanced the books, but at the end of the financial year we will have a deficit of £1.5 million. Why? It is not because of the council's income and expenditure policy but because the Prime Minister's economic policies are in a shambles. Interest rates are much higher than we expected. Because of high interest rates the council finds itself with a deficit of £1.5 million. Why should the ratepayers and tenants of Cunninghame district council have to find that £1.5 million because of the failure of the Government? The Government should give the money to the council.

In the debate on the rate support grant settlement I asked the Minister for an estimate of the rate of interest used in the rate support grant formula. Can he tell us now what rate of interest he wants local councils in Scotland to take as the basis for their rates in the next financial year? He used a rate of 11 per cent. in the rate support grant settlement. If tomorrow night the Labour group in Cunninghame district council decides that the rate of interest for next year should be estimated at 11 per cent., will that be acceptable to the Minister or will it be declared illegal? The Minister should answer that question tonight.

Mr. Ancram

In reply to the hon. Member for Cunninghame, South (Mr. Lambie), the assumption we have made on interest rates in the housing support grant figures is 11 per cent., as I have said already. If there is a difference during the next year a variation order similar to that before the House can be brought forward. As the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) knows, interest rates can vary.

This is the second debate in a row in which the hon. Member for Cunninghame, South has offered to become the Conservative candidate in Cunninghame, South. We will make the suggestion to the Conservative association there for its consideration.

I found the hon. Gentleman's remarks about rents fairly surprising. His authority has the lowest rents in Scotland. We calculate that this year an increase of only £1.70 is anticipated which would mean that the new rent would be £10.59, still the lowest in Scotland. The speeches of Opposition Members indicate that Labour party policy remains, as it always has been, to give the highest possible subsidy not just to council tenants who are in need—that would be too selective—but to those who do not require to be subsidised, in the knowledge that money used in that way will reduce the amount of capital that could be used to overcome problems such as dampness, condensation and the removal of asbestos.

Mr. Craigen

Does the Minister seriously think that, even at a discount, the Opposition Benches would be prepared to take the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker)?

Mr. Ancram

The hon. Gentleman is very unfair to my hon. Friend, who rightly pointed out that in all the calculations that Opposition Members make about rents and increases they fail to take account of the amounts of central taxation subsidy paid to them in housing benefit. I thank my hon. Friend for raising that point.

A number of suggestions were made about the effects of the orders on rents. It was interesting to see this morning in the newspapers a report of a letter sent by Shelter to hon. Members, which made certain projections about rent increases. In particular, it mentioned Badenoch and Strathspey, and suggested that, on the calculations and arguments such as those put forward by the hon. Member for Cathcart, the increase would be £2.68. It is perhaps unfortunate that Shelter did not check with the authority, because it set a rent increase of £1.64. That proves that the false assumptions that the Member for Cathcart was making lead to—

Mr. Maxton

Just to put the record straight, I point out that I never mentioned that local authority in my speech.

Mr. Ancram

The whole way through his speech, the hon. Member, as far as I can make out, was using the same basis for assumption as the Shelter report.

The hon. Member for Cathcart made much about the situation in Glasgow. It is interesting for hon. Members to know what that is. Glasgow has 14.7 per cent. of Scotland's housing. The city has been allocated 24.6 per cent. of Scotland's resources, and that is not exactly a city that is hard done by. In the last few years, to keep its rents artificially low, Glasgow was prepared to forfeit £33 million in housing expenditure limit penalties—money that could have been spent on modernisation, new build and all the problems that the hon. Gentleman said were in Glasgow.

I am sorry that I have not the time to deal with all the specific problems that hon. Members have raised, because of lack of time. The hon. Member made much of the £700 million figure put forward by COSLA. The individual authorities have identified what they wished to spend in 1986–87 and the money needed was £475 million. That shows the sort of double counting that has taken place previously in the figures put forward by COSLA, which makes such figures suspect. I have tried to get COSLA to give me the basis from which those figures come. If it gives me that basis—

It being one and half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted business).

The House divided: Ayes 231, Noes 171.

Division No. 75] [11.47 pm
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Amess, David Coombs, Simon
Ancram, Michael Cope, John
Arnold, Tom Corrie, John
Ashby, David Cranborne, Viscount
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Crouch, David
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Currie, Mrs Edwina
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Dorrell, Stephen
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Baldry, Tony Dover, Den
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward
Batiste, Spencer Dunn, Robert
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Durant, Tony
Bellingham, Henry Dykes, Hugh
Bendall, Vivian Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Eggar, Tim
Blackburn, John Evennett, David
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Eyre, Sir Reginald
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fairbairn, Nicholas
Bottomley, Peter Fallon, Michael
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Farr, Sir John
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Favell, Anthony
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Fletcher, Alexander
Bright, Graham Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Brinton, Tim Forth, Eric
Brooke, Hon Peter Franks, Cecil
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Bruinvels, Peter Freeman, Roger
Bryan, Sir Paul Fry, Peter
Buck, Sir Antony Gale, Roger
Budgen, Nick Galley, Roy
Burt, Alistair Glyn, Dr Alan
Butcher, John Goodhart, Sir Philip
Butler, Rt Hon Sir Adam Gow, Ian
Butterfill, John Grant, Sir Anthony
Carlisle, John (Luton N) Gregory, Conal
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Griffiths, Sir Eldon
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Cash, William Grist, Ian
Chapman, Sydney Ground, Patrick
Chope, Christopher Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Churchill, W. S. Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hampson, Dr Keith
Hanley, Jeremy Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Hannam, John Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Hargreaves, Kenneth Roe, Mrs Marion
Harris, David Rossi, Sir Hugh
Harvey, Robert Rost, Peter
Haselhurst, Alan Rowe, Andrew
Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Hawksley, Warren Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Hayes, J. Sayeed, Jonathan
Hayward, Robert Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Heathcoat-Amory, David Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Heddle, John Shelton, William (Streatham)
Henderson, Barry Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Hickmet, Richard Silvester, Fred
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Sims, Roger
Hind, Kenneth Skeet, Sir Trevor
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Holt, Richard Soames, Hon Nicholas
Hordern, Sir Peter Speed, Keith
Howard, Michael Speller, Tony
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Spencer, Derek
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N) Spicer, Michael (S Words)
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Squire, Robin
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Steen, Anthony
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Stern, Michael
Jessel, Toby Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Jones, Robert (Herts W) Stewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Stokes, John
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Sumberg, David
Key, Robert Taylor, John (Solihull)
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Temple-Morris, Peter
Knowles, Michael Terlezki, Stefan
Knox, David Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Lamont, Norman Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Lang, Ian Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Lawrence, Ivan Thornton, Malcolm
Lee, John (Pendle) Thurnham, Peter
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Tracey, Richard
Lilley, Peter Trotter, Neville
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Twinn, Dr Ian
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Lord, Michael Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Lyell, Nicholas Viggers, Peter
McCurley, Mrs Anna Waddington, David
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Walden, George
Maclean, David John Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Madel, David Waller, Gary
Mather, Carol Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Watts, John
Merchant, Piers Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Wheeler, John
Miscampbell, Norman Whitfield, John
Moate, Roger Whitney, Raymond
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Wiggin, Jerry
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Wilkinson, John
Murphy, Christopher Winterton, Mrs Ann
Neubert, Michael Winterton, Nicholas
Newton, Tony Wolfson, Mark
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Wood, Timothy
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Woodcock, Michael
Parris, Matthew Yeo, Tim
Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abgdn) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Pawsey, James Younger, Rt Hon George
Powell, William (Corby)
Powley, John Tellers for the Ayes:
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Mr. Gerald Malone and
Rhodes James, Robert Mr. Francis Maude.
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)
Alton, David Barron, Kevin
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Beith, A. J.
Ashton, Joe Bell, Stuart
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) John, Brynmor
Bermingham, Gerald Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Bidwell, Sydney Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Blair, Anthony Kennedy, Charles
Boyes, Roland Kirkwood, Archy
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Lambie, David
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Lamond, James
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Leadbitter, Ted
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Leighton, Ronald
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Caborn, Richard Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Litherland, Robert
Campbell, Ian Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Canavan, Dennis Loyden, Edward
Carter-Jones, Lewis McCartney, Hugh
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Clarke, Thomas McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Clay, Robert McKelvey, William
Clelland, David Gordon MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Clwyd, Mrs Ann McNamara, Kevin
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S) McTaggart, Robert
Cohen, Harry McWilliam, John
Coleman, Donald Madden, Max
Conlan, Bernard Marek, Dr John
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Martin, Michael
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Maxton, John
Corbett, Robin Maynard, Miss Joan
Corbyn, Jeremy Meacher, Michael
Craigen, J. M. Michie, William
Crowther, Stan Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Cunliffe, Lawrence Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Dalyell, Tam Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Nellist, David
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) O'Brien, William
Deakins, Eric O'Neill, Martin
Dewar, Donald Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Dixon, Donald Park, George
Dobson, Frank Parry, Robert
Dormand, Jack Pavitt, Laurie
Douglas, Dick Pendry, Tom
Dubs, Alfred Penhaligon, David
Duffy, A. E. P. Pike, Peter
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Prescott, John
Eadie, Alex Randall, Stuart
Eastham, Ken Redmond, Martin
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Ewing, Harry Richardson, Ms Jo
Fatchett, Derek Robertson, George
Faulds, Andrew Rogers, Allan
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) Rowlands, Ted
Flannery, Martin Sedgemore, Brian
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Sheerman, Barry
Forrester, John Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Foster, Derek Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Foulkes, George Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Fraser, J. (Norwood) Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Skinner, Dennis
Garrett, W. E. Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
George, Bruce Snape, Peter
Gould, Bryan Soley, Clive
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Spearing, Nigel
Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central) Steel, Rt Hon David
Hardy, Peter Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Stott, Roger
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Strang, Gavin
Haynes, Frank Straw, Jack
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Heffer, Eric S. Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Tinn, James
Home Robertson, John Torney, Tom
Hoyle, Douglas Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Hughes, Dr Mark (Durham) Wareing, Robert
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Weetch, Ken
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Welsh, Michael
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) White, James
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Williams, Rt Hon A.
Janner, Hon Greville Wilson, Gordon
Winnick, David Tellers for the Noes:
Woodall, Alec Mr. Mark Fisher and
Young, David (Bolton SE) Mr. Ray Powell.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the draft Housing Support Grant (Scotland) Variation Order 1986, which was laid before this House on 13th January, be approved.