HC Deb 21 July 1986 vol 102 cc121-41
Mr. Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington)

I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 1, line 5, leave out Clause 1.

Mr. Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take amendment No. 3, in page 1, line 12, at end insert— '(2) The multiplier set against Birmingham in the Appendix to Annex G of the Rate Support Grant Report (England) 1986–87 shall he deemed to be 1.164156'.

Mr. Boyes

After lengthy proceedings in Committee, we are now back at first base. Birmingham will not get back the £7.2 million stolen from it unless clause I is deleted, and that is the purpose of amendment No. 1.

In Committee we attempted simply to change the date from 21 August 1986 to 31 December 1985, but that the Government found unacceptable. The reason why we wished to change that date related particularly to the consequences for Birmingham.

How the calculation that affected Birmingham's budget was made was argued at length in Committee and I do not wish to rehearse that now. However, if the Government had accepted our amendment, it would have left their main intention intact but allowed claims by other local authorities for wrongful treatment in the 1986–87 report when multiplers therein contained would not be retrospectively validated. We have no alternative now but to argue and vote for the deletion of clause 1.

Let us examine the nature of multipliers. They are complex, and, as demonstrated by the Birmingham case, can be used in a most vindictive way. During the debate on multipliers in Committee on 1 April 1980, which is a significant date when one considers what has happened since, my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley)— little did he know that the great city that he has the honour to represent would be so hard hit by a system whose application he described as complicated—said: More dangerous than that are the circumstances in which I understand they are to be used … One problem is the very flexibility of the multiplier system. Flexibility is the Government's word, but flexibility, while it is beloved by Governments and civil servants, is a matter of which Parliament ought to be particularly wary. One man's flexibility is another man's capriciousness. If something can be used flexibly, it means that the Minister can use it in a variety of ways. My right hon. Friend also said: They are crucial to the scheme and potentially damaging to some local authorities. They place in the hands of any Government arbitary powers".—[Official Report, Standing Committee D, 1 April 1980; c. 1044–46.] What prophetic words those turned out to be.

One of the problems for local authorities and Members of Parliament, and, above all, the public, is that the year-by-year application of multipliers has been different. We debated at length amendments to the Bill in which we argued for greater clarification of the local government finance system, which is getting more and more incomprehensible. Apart from a handful of experts who understand the system, for the rest of us confusion abounds. The Bill is about to make matters worse because of the Secretary of State's desire for an unnecessary and inordinate amount of discretion.

What was the main purpose of introducing multipliers in the first place? I ask that because they have been used on only two occasions for caps. The main intention was for safety net purposes, to ensure that local authorities did not lose a great deal of grant from one year to the next. "Complex" was the word used by the Minister in 1982 when discussing multipliers. That view was confirmed by the Audit Commission, which found that it had in practice become so complex that many officers and members of local authorities had abandoned the attempt to understand it fully, while others had concentrated on features that could be exploited to the advantage of a particular authority.

My understanding of the situation is that Birmingham's case is not complicated. In Committee the Under-Secretary of State appeared to allege that Birmingham had made up the figure of £7.million. "Plucked out of the air" became the phrase bandied about in Committee. However, the mode of calculation of the £7.2 million was explained by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham Hodge Hill (Mr. Davis) when he said: Let me tell the hon. Lady now so that she can understand. The Secretary of State estimated a base grant of £158 million for 1985–86 using contrived assumptions, whereas in the Secretary of State's own projections the grant entitlement for 1985–86 was expected to be £165.2 million. The difference is £7.2 million and that is the amount that we are discussing". —[Official Report, Standing Committee G, 1 July 1986; c. 19.] 10.15 pm

Birmingham is the only council to go to court, but many more councils are affected by the Government's decision. Thirty shire counties, 121 shire districts, eight metropolitan districts and one outer London borough are involved. The sum total involved is about £150 million, but only Birmingham has been to court. I understand that Nottingham wishes to go to court—but that is another matter.

This wretched Bill has been introduced because of the action of one local authority, and it involves £7.2 million which could and should have been found from the Department of the Environment's coffers. The entire £150 million could have been found from recycling grant cash.

The Government have used retrospective action on a number of occasions. The nature of retrospective action in this case causes concern to the Opposition. In the past in their dealings with local government this Government have changed the law relating to local authority mortgages. That was done by section 7 of the Local Government Act 1986. Section 91 of the Local Government Act 1985 makes unlawful payments by the GLC and metropolitan county councils to voluntary organisations and other local authorities after 24 July 1984. Section 8 of the Local Government (Finance) Act 1982 legalises the effective reduction in local authority block grant for those who have not complied with expenditure guidance issued previously by the Secretary of State in the 1981–82 financial year. In addition, the present: Secretary of State for the Environment, while Secretary of State for Transport, legislated to overturn a decision by the courts in a case brought by the GLC involving payments to London Transport.

The clause is designed to override Mr. Justice Mann's decision in the Birmingham case. It will also prevent local authorities, which are considering the 1986–87 rate support grant order, from doing so. It also validates all previous block grant determinations.

There is sometimes a case for retrospective action by Parliament. I give but three examples—to correct an administrative oversight, to put right an administrative mistake, and to regularise wartime acts. Remedial retrospective action is normally unobjectionable. There is nothing unconstitutional about it, because Wade and Phillips in their book "Constitutional and Administrative Law" said: It follows from the supremacy of Parliament that Acts may have retrospective operation. But to change the character of past transactions carried out on the faith of the then existing law is repugnant to the conception of the rule of law. In an article on retrospective legislation and the rule of law in Britain, J. W. Bridge said: It has been argued in this article that experience in Britain has shown that it is not desirable to prohibit retroactive legislation in all circumstances. Retrospective legislation may be used where justice demands it to protect persons from harm to themselves or their property where that harm results from an unforeseeable or unintended effect of the law or, as in the case of taxation, where different considerations apply. But apart from these exceptional and justifiable circumstances retrospective legislation does offend against the principles of the Rule of Law.

That might not be a relevant example, but the Government's retrospective action tonight certainly offends the people of Birmingham. They are being denied the product of spending £7.2 million which has been taken from them by the Secretary of State. Birmingham is in a region of growth in unemployment and could make good use of the money. We believe it essential to delete clause 1.

Mr. Terry Davis (Birmingham, Hodge Hill)

I shall speak more briefly than I had intended. I wish strongly to support the amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton and Washington (Mr. Boyes) and amendment No. 3, which would substitute a different figure for the multiplier used for the calculation of the rate support grant for Birmingham for this year.

During our discussion in Committee, it was established that from the time of the first announcement of the principles of this year's rate support grant a year ago, throughout the summer and the autumn environment Ministers discussed the basis of the RSG for this year with reference to last year's actual rate support grant. All local authorities thought that this year's RSGs would be based on the actual grants payable last year. That was the position throughout all the meetings and consultations with representatives of local authorities until the Secretary of State's announcement in December 1985.

What happened between the end of the consultations and that announcement, as became clear in Committee, was that some London authorities had made representations to the Secretary of State, who then changed his mind and based this year's RSGs not on the actual grants payable in 1985–86, but on what were called deemed grants — notional grants, artificial and contrived figures, dreamed up by the Secretary of State. I think that the word "dreamed" could be used instead of "deemed". That announcement came as a bolt from the blue to all local authorities.

For Birmingham, the difference between using the actual grant payable in 1985–86 and the deemed grant was £7.2 million. There is a tremendous feeling in the city of Birmingham about what has been called the robbery of £7.2 million. After protests to the Secretary of State, the city council decided to go to court. It is now well known that it won its case. A few days previously, the Secretary of State backed down and the Minister came to the House and told us that a Bill was being introduced. When the case came to court, the Government conceded the strength of Birmingham's case, and as a result an order was made in favour of Birmingham and the Department was ordered to pay the city's costs. The Secretary of State's representative in court admitted that the Secretary of State had acted illegally.

This Bill makes legal something that a court of law judged to be illegal. That is objectionable in any circumstances, but especially when it costs an individual or a group of people a large sum of money. The hon. Member for Tatton (Mr. Hamilton) may shake his head, but it was admitted in Committee—he was not there—that the effect of the Bill would be to make legal something that had been judged illegal and which the barrister representing the Secretary of State conceded was illegal. I am not questioning the good faith of Ministers; I accept what was said in Committee about their having taken a decision in good faith, being advised that they were wrong, conceding that and paying the city of Birmingham's costs. But this Bill takes away the fruits of that action; it means that Birmingham will not get £7.2 million.

We moved several amendments in Committee that would have given Birmingham the money that we regard as rightfully belonging to the city council. Amendment No. 3 would provide a means of giving Birmingham its £7.2 million, but in a different way. We tried to move amendments in Committee to persuade the Government to respect decisions made in a court of law on proceedings that had begun before the Bill was introduced into the House. That was not acceptable to the Government. We introduced other amendments that would have given the money to the city of Birmingham, but they were not acceptable either. I am not sure whether these amendments will be acceptable to the Government, but I suspect not. Amendment No. 3 would substitute for the existing multiplier used in the calculation of RSG for Birmingham —1.196046—a multiplier of 1.164156. The result would be straightforward—to give Birmingham its £7.2 million in RSG.

My hon. Friends and I came to the House this afternoon in a mood that relected the anger of the people of Birmingham, especially the city councillors, and prepared to discuss at length, through the night and the morning if necessary, the effects of the removal of £7.2 million from the city and to describe just what that means for our constituents—

Mr. Jeff Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr)

And in detail.

Mr. Davis

Yes, in detail.

We have, however, received a letter from the Minister for Environment, Countryside and Local Government telling us that ministerial note will be taken of the representations that we have made both in Committee and privately and that Ministers will give careful consideration to Birmingham's case for additional resources from the Department of the Environment's programmes during the current financial year. Leaking roofs are mended not by careful consideration, but by money. We do not not deal with the problem of Smith houses in Birmingham by considering it carefully. That problem, too, will be dealt with by money. There are many other examples where money is needed.

In the circumstances, I think that it would be unreasonable to press the Government further tonight. We expect the Minister to come forward with fresh money for Birmingham, and we shall accept that if it happens at short notice. My hon. Friends and I are prepared to accept the assurances that we have been given by the Minister on the basis on and the spirit in which he has given them. We expect, however, that his fine words will be matched by money. We shall not seek to delay unreasonably the passage of the Bill through Parliament tonight, but we expect the hon. Gentleman to respond by coming up with money in clue course.

We are taking the Minister's word and putting ourselves in his hands. I have no question about his good faith, but we are suspicious, especially after what was said last year about the way in which rate support grant would be calculated for this year, when a change in the method of calculation cost Birmingham £7.2 million. There was naturally some suspicion among my Birmingham colleagues. As I have said, we are prepared to accept the assurances that we have received from the Minister this evening and we look forward to seeing fresh resources being made available to enable Birmingham city council to deal with the many problems that we have described briefly tonight and in detail in the past. I hope that it will not necessary to describe them in detail in future.

Mr. Richard Alexander (Newark)

I am happy to take up the remarks of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Davis). Satisfactory assurances may have been given to him and his hon. Friends, but they have not so far percolated through to the Government side of the Chamber. Nottingham Members — I include the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton), who is in his place—have not received the same assurances as those which have been given to Opposition Members who represent parts of Birmingham. Consequently, I feel obliged to pursue the issue, and I shall do so as briefly as possible.

Does the Bill, as drafted, have an effect on legal cases which have already been commenced? The hon. Member for Bassetlaw asked the same question in a different way and he will have reached his conclusion on the reply which he was given. I am looking to a reply from my hon. Friend the Minister to the question as I have posed it.

I seek to draw the attention of the House to the position in which Nottinghamshire finds itself as a result of the Bill and I am looking for an assurance from my hon. Friend the Minister on the effect that it will have on our county. Many Nottinghamshire Members are present, including the hon. Member for Bassetlaw.

Long before the Bill was published, Nottinghamshire county council commenced proceedings against my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. The council claimed that the rate support grant settlement for 1986–87 was incorrectly established and calculated. Whether that is correct is not for me to say and not for the House to say. However, if a judge decides that the council is correct, Nottinghamshire ratepayers will be entitled to receive back from the Government about £18 million. I understand that the case is down for hearing before the Divisional court on 17 October. What is not clear from the Bill—nor was it clear from the Delphic reply of my hon. Friend the Minister to the hon. Member for Bassetlaw—is whether the council, by virtue of the Bill, is to be deprived of having its case determined by the courts. That is the long and the short of it. Has the Bill deprived my county council of its remedy through the courts? In my view, disputes should be settled in the courts—not by a side wind in a Bill dealing with another county council. I shall be glad to hear from my hon. Friend that my fears are ill-founded.

Mr. Straw

The hon. Gentleman's fears are not ill- founded. His fears are well-founded, because the Parliamentary Under-Secretary made it crystal clear at the end of her speech on new clause 1 that Nottingham could go to court, but it would have no remedy.

10.30 pm
Mr. Alexander

That is why I am pursuing the matter. My hon. Friend did not say in so many words that it would be unwise to go to court. She said that it could go to court. I do not claim that her reply was satisfactory. I think that Labour Members would be unwise to press me too far, because basically I am with them on that. I am trying to edge my hon. Friend into a more positive reply.

I appreciate that the Secretary of State must have some finality with a final date fixed for the calculation of the multiplier. Clarity and certainty are virtues in almost all fields. Delay might cause my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to alter the multiplier for other authorities in the same group, if the rules of the game had to be changed.

Nottinghamshire was entitled, as a matter of law, to use the law to challenge the proposed contribution it had to make to the further education pool as a result of the decision in the case involving the Inner London education authority. There is nothing else the county council could have done after that case than to go to law, if it believed that it was wrongly charged to that pool.

A successful appeal will reduce its budget and penalties. It is not fair if, as a result of the Bill, the council will not be allowed to proceed with its case—not because of anything that the county has done or any specific matter dealt with in the Bill, but because of something that occurred in a side wind as part of the Bill. That was not the reason for the Bill. I ask my hon. Friend to say that the Bill will not affect any remedy that a judge may decide the county council has.

I ask my hon. Friend for a specific assurance that my county council will not be deprived of its legal remedies by any side wind in the Bill. The Bill deals with something else. I ask my hon. Friend to assure me that there is nothing in the Bill to prevent my county council proceeding and, if found correct, proceeding to a satisfactory conclusion in the courts.

Mr. Ashton

I am happy to follow the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Alexander), but I think that he is rather optimistic. Asking the Government to change retrospective legislation is like asking for a reversal of the World Cup decision when Maradona knocked in the ball with his hand. The hon. Lady is on record as saying that, while the court case can be heard, whatever the outcome, there will be no recompense for Nottinghamshire.

In March this year, the county council commenced legal proceedings, because it felt that the case should be determined in the courts. It is now pressing for an exclusion clause to be inserted in the Bill which would protect the court proceedings. The Minister refuses to insert any sort of amendment or clause, or anything from the Labour party which says that the Minister is not above the court.

Before the legislation was introduced, Nottinghamshire had obtained leave from Mr. Justice Mann for a judicial review of decisions made by the Secretary of State. Clause 1 of the Bill, which has been approved, will retrospectively legitimise all the decisions of the Secretary of State under section 59 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act. As a result, Nottinghamshire county council will be denied an effective hearing in the courts, irrespective of the merits of the case. That is a form of dictatorship. We have often heard Governments allege that trade unions alter and backdate their rules, but the Government are doing exactly the same. It is wrong that the Bill, which, as the hon. Member for Newark said, was designed to alleviate Birmingham city council's problem, should now deny Nottinghamshire county council £18 million.

In February last year, Nottinghamshire county council fixed its budget for 1985–86 at £378 million. That was £8 million over target and the Government imposed a penalty of £18 million. The council knew that the penalty would be reduced if it cut spending. The budget included £16 million toward the cost of advanced further education. In June last year, ILEA successfully challenged in the High Court the basis on which the Secretary of State for Education and Science calculated contributions to the further education pool. By October, it was clear to the county council that its contributions would be reduced by about £1.6 billion only if it acted in the same way as ILEA. It therefore wrote to the Secretary of State saying that it proposed to cut its budget by the same amount, which would reduce the penalty.

In June, the council had revised its system of repaying loans for capital expenditure to spread it more evenly over the life of the loan. That brought Nottinghamshire into line with the majority of councils. It decided to charge to capital the salary costs of engineers working on new roads rather than pay them annually out of the rates. When those revisions were taken into account by the Department of the Environment, penalties would be reduced by £12 million.

During 1985, Nottinghamshire and Bradford sued the Secretary of State and were successful in the Court of Appeal but on 12 December 1985 lost in the House of Lords. I do not want to detain the House at this late stage with too many details, but the fact is that letters were sent and the Department of the Environment knew that Nottinghamshire county council was going to take that action. But still the council was ignored by the Department of the Environment. Because the council believed that the budget changes it proposed were legal and should he accepted, it wrote in October to the Department of the Environment, but the Department — probably deliberately — did not reply until 9 December. That letter, which was received on 11 December, stated two things. First, it said that the Secretary of State would not accept at that stage the advanced further education amendment because it was a windfall gain. The Secretary of State would have known that, if he accepted the amendment, it would increase the council's grant by £5 million. Secondly, to the council's surprise, the letter said that if there were any other budget changes, the Secretary of State would take them into account, provided they were received in time. An under-secretary confirmed by telephone that any other changes would be acceptable but he gave no indication that it was already too late because the rate support grant report was with the printers and had been signed that very day. The following morning, 12 December, at 10 am the council telexed all the budget revisions and the Department of the Environment acknowledged receipt at 11 am.

Nottinghamshire county council's case was based on the fact that it had altered its budget in time. The Secretary of State refused to accept that, although he is obliged by virtue of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 to use the best information available when making supplementary reports. Nottinghamshire's case is that he failed to use the information given to him about its budget and that he was told in time.

This dispute can obviously be settled only by the courts. The House cannot settle it. Legal evidence must be produced as to whether the county council was within the time scale and was doing exactly the same as ILEA—action of which the court had approved. It is common justice that the council's case should still be heard in the courts. The case is down for hearing in the middle of October. But the Under-Secretary of State says that it does not matter a damn what the court decides in October. The court can provide the remedy and say that Nottinghamshire county council was in order in everything that it did, but the Bill rules that out and any saving or amendment to the council's budget does not matter.

This is a constitutional issue. It is not about cash any more. It is about law and order. The party of law and order is quick to amend the law when it looks as though it might cost it some cash or as though it does not fall within the range of what it sees as being in order.

This is a panic Bill, although not too much of a panic because the Government know its effects. They know that the Minister has been acting illegally for about five or six years and has now been found out.

Mr. Robin Corbett (Birmingham, Erdington)

They confessed.

Mr. Ashton

Exactly. The only way of covering their tracks and of saving a great deal of money at the same time is by amending the rules. They have changed the rules and moved the goal posts in the middle of the game. They are a Government of cheats if they do not allow the court to decide whether the Nottinghamshire application was made in the right place, at the right time and in a bona fide manner. Nottingham's ratepayers should not be denied £18 million because of something that has happened in Birmingham under totally different circumstances.

I hope that the Minister will give an assurance that if the courts find that Nottinghamshire county council has a justifiable case and should have received that £18 million, it will be given next year. Better still, the council should be notified of that fact very quickly so that it does not have to go to court.

Mr. Jim Lester (Broxtowe)

I support both hon. Members who have just spoken, although not the florid language of the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) and his suggestion that my right hon. Friend was cheating. One principal point overrides all others. The Nottinghamshire county council went to court, as did the Secretary of State. The court found against the Secretary of State's evidence that it could hear the action. That is the most important point. The Secretary of State gave evidence that this Bill would render the action unnecessary, but the court found that it should hear the case. In those circumstances, it is repugnant that the Bill should take away the remedy of that action.

I know that other hon. Members representing Nottinghamshire do not intend to speak, because of the time available, but I am sure they would agree that retrospective legislation in that form is totally unacceptable. It will create a precedent. If Opposition Members ever tried to do the same thing, Conservatives would be deeply offended. I would be equally offended if my right hon. Friend tried to do same thing.

Mr. Rooker

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Davis), I shall be much briefer than I had intended. The phrase that the Minister used in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) is almost on a par with the reply of the Home Secretary during the Second Reading of the Shops Bill. He was asked whether there would be a guillotine, and, almost without thinking, he said that there would not. That had major repercussions.

I do not know whether the hon. Lady read her answer on advice from the civil servants' Box or whether she thought about what she was saying. But her answer clearly applied specifically to the Nottinghamshire case, of which I know nothing, although I have learnt a lot in the last few minutes.

Nottinghamshire county council is bound to get advice from the comptroller saying, "You cannot go to court now because the Minister has already said in Parliament that no judge can give you a remedy. Therefore, the costs of going to court would be a misuse of public funds." Nottinghamshire is therefore placed in an impossible position.

Unlike Birmingham, hon. Members from Nottinghamshire on both sides of the House are prepared to get up off their backsides and speak up for their authority. That has not happened in respect of Birmingham, which has not been an all-party exercise. I also freely admit that I was out of the country during Second Reading, hence my absence from the Division lists on that night. But this affair has not been handled in the spirit in which things have operated in the past. Previously, when our local authority has been badly treated by central Government, we have operated in a more constructive manner than on this occasion. The lessons of Nottinghamshire can be taken on board in Birmingham.

Mr. Roger King (Birmingham, Northfield)

I understand the hon. Gentleman's concern to have all-party support in Birmingham for the action on the repayment of the £7.. Conservative Members have given many reasons why it is difficult for the Government to accept that, but it is equally difficult for many Conservative Members, especially those who represent Birmingham constituencies, to go along with the hon. Gentleman's view that the Government have stolen £7.2 million from Birmingham ratepayers when we have just heard that the local authority has taken £31 million more from the ratepayers than it needed.

10.45 pm
Mr. Rooker

I welcome that intervention, because it means I can deal with two points which I would not otherwise have raised. The hon. Gentleman did not know that when he refused to support the repayment of the £7 million.

Whether the sum should be £7 million may or may not be justified in the Government's mind. Therefore, I welcome the Minister's letter and take it on trust, as, indeed, we all do. I shall spell out what I expect of the Minister, following that letter. I do not know what representations Conservative Members for Birmingham have made. They do not seem to want any of the £7 million returned because they find it too difficult to organise. I do not know whether they have asked for the money in another form, because there are other ways of assisting Birmingham quite legitimately and separately from other local authorities. There need not be a knock-on effect. We are making a special case for Birmingham, and we shall show, by highlighting certain factors, that there is a special case to be made.

Members of Parliament do not often have the opportunity to set priorities for local authority budgets. It is not our function. Most constituents think that we are in charge of local government budget priorities, but we must frequently disabuse them of that. Given the Minister's letter and given that there is some concession coming, it behoves us to say what our priorities are. The Minister knows that, despite what has happened recently, Birmingham is still by and large a low spending and low rate authority compared with many other large cities. Housing policy is not given sufficient priority in Birmingham compared with other projects. Tonight I have an opportunity on behalf of my constituents to try to influence the priorities on spending in Birmingham. I have no control over that and I do not wish to have any, because it is a matter for my colleagues on the city council. But tonight there is a chance of influencing how the Minister repays some or all of the money to Birmingham. Clearly, he will not accept the amendment.

The Minister should listen to what is said in the House as well as what is said in the City. No one would deny that the first priority of the chief executive of the city council is to get that £9 million urban development grant, but whether it should be used for a five-star hotel is another matter. I would argue that there are other priorities. The Minister has turned the application down. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) will undoubtedly make the point with more force than I can because it affects her constituency. A five-star hotel would not be my priority and it should not be the city's priority either.

Even in housing there are arguments about where the money should be spent. My view is that it should be targeted. The Minister's letter refers to programmes during the current financial year. Therefore, we are referring to something that has not been budgeted for. If the Government were to say, "We have decided to provide compensation amounting to £X million to overcome these difficulties, but we cannot do it by means of the multiplier; we will do it in another way, and here is the money," that would not be satisfactory. I want the money to be targeted on housing.

Money should be allocated specifically to compensate for the cuts caused by the lack of home improvement grants. Money should also be allocated to remedy housing defects. To its credit, Birmingham, as the largest public housing landlord, has taken the lead among English local authorities in surveying defective housing and estimating the costs of repair. It has discovered that the Smith, Parkinson and Boot houses cannot be repaired within the financial limits set by the Government. In some cases the repairs would cost far more than the market value of the houses. Therefore, Birmingham has said that it will repurchase the houses, with a view to future demolition.

The Minister ought to consider providing additional financial assistance for Birmingham under the Housing Defects Act 1984. A sum of £4 million would not be amiss. We are already a quarter of the way through this financial year. We could cope with additional expenditure of that order before 31 March 1987. It would not solve all the problems. The expenditure would be much higher than that. However, it would release other money for repairs and improvements.

To channel the money to housing defects would solve two problems. First, people are living in homes that are an albatross round their necks. They bought their homes in good faith, but they are now unable to sell them. Buyers cannot obtain a mortgage and the houses cannot be repaired within the financial limits. Secondly, money would be released for repairs to the council's housing stock.

Ministers are not unaware of these suggestions. On 19 May the Minister for Housing, Urban Affairs and Construction received an all-party delegation from the council. However, the delegation contained only Labour Members of Parliament because the Tory Members refused to attend the meeting. The Minister received a presentation of Birmingham's difficulties in operating the Housing Defects Act. We have not yet received the Minister's reply to that presentation. We were told that he would reply first to me and to my hon. Friends.

Birmingham faces special problems over the working of the Housing Defects Act. We know that £7 million more has been taken than should have been taken. In addition, there has been the catastrophic loss of rate support grant during the last few years. A case can be made for special additional funding under the Housing Defects Act in the current financial year. It would meet the commitment that is contained in the Minister's letter.

The Minister has also been pressed to disregard the special expenditure that is incurred by Birmingham's bid to host the 1992 Olympic games. There is no disagreement between the parties in Birmingham over that. Business has been a little slow to appreciate the seriousness of Birmingham's claim. Birmingham has committed an enormous amount of money to this bid. If the bid is successful" it will do a great deal of good not just to Birminhgam but to the nation as a whole.

Additional expenditure has also been incurred because of the Handsworth riots on 9 and 10 September. The operation of the Riot (Damages) Act is a thundering disgrace, and it should not form any part of modern public administration. We need to look at this quickly, although that will not help my constituents, or those of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell) or of my hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood, whose constituencies are also affected. A special disregard should be made for Birmingham because of its unique problems.

The Minister can find other ways to help. If he cannot find the full £7 million, I am prepared to take half a loaf. I can see from his letter that half a loaf is available. Unfortunately, this has not been done on an all-party basis.

I must respond to the point made by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King). It is a matter of some concern to any hon. Member if his constituents have been either over-rated or over-taxed. Birmingham has a revenue expenditure of about £900 million, give or take a few million, and deals with enormous sums of capital flow. The headlines last week were that we were £31 million overcharged on the rates, which is ludicrous, when there was a 43 per cent. rates increase last year. As I understand it, the £31 million was £23 million if one takes account of the £8 million deficit brought forward from 1984–85, which was the deficit that the Tory Councillor Bosworth left when he was thrown out of office.

There was a projected balance of £21 million when the budget was announced. The chamber of commerce was told about this in all the documents — there was no secret about this. There have been some technical changes in the way in which the Government have made their calculations. When one takes into account the balances that were robbed by the Tories so that they could cut the rates — a move for which they lost office — leaving a deficit that we had to make good, and the cuts in the rate support grant of £11 million over 1985–86, that leaves us with about £15 million. We are told that that is not an awful lot for a city that is spending £900 million. I do not see why there should be any balances anyway. The cash flows each week in Birmingham are enormous. The final figure is nowhere near the £31 million first quoted by the hon. Member for Northfield and he can get the information as easily as I and my hon. Friends.

I accept the Minister's word that something will happen. I have given my view as to where the money should be targeted, and why. I am not in favour of the money simply being made available after the budget has been met. because there are factors and projects on which nmoney will be spent of which I do not approve. They do not figure in my priorities and they would not assist my constituents. I am here to represent my constituents, not the organisations of local authorities.

Ms. Clare Short

I, too, will be brief—much briefer than I had intended to be if we had not received this generous letter from the Minister. I am sure that we are all extremely grateful and expect great things as he fulfils his undertaking to find some extra money for Birmingham to make up for taking away £7.2 million — an undertaking given because the Government took legal advice that showed that Birmingham would win in the courts.

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker), I wish to put on record my priorities for how the money should be spent. The Minister is right, if Saturday's Birmingham Post is correct, in rebuffing the request for a £9 million urban development grant for a luxury hotel to be built right next to one of the most appalling estates in my constituency, where people are living in tower blocks and maisonettes, with water and black mould affecting the health and the lungs of their children, according to consultants at the Birmingham's children's hospital, which is in the same area. It is a declining and dreadful estate, with no community facilities or proper cleaning. The lifts are used in those revolting ways that we have heard about in high-rise tower blocks that are in decline. I appeal to the Minister to make some money available for refurbishing that estate, and to confirm that the money will not be used to build a luxury hotel across the road.

11 pm

The Minister will be aware that the Paymaster General made great play of a commitment to ensure that urban renewal work and so on would employ local people in the area of the Handsworth riots, which affected Ladywood, and the constituencies of my hon. Friend the Member for Perry Barr and of my right hon. Friend the Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell). That was an important undertaking, because in the past, as we all know, much of the money spent in Handsworth has not employed local people, yet our rate of youth unemployment is horrendously high. More than 90 per cent. of very young black people are unemployed, and they provide the majority of those seeking work in the area. Despite that undertaking from the Paymaster General there is no money for urban renewal, and so there will only be a few jobs. It is a good policy, but it is too late. The money has been spent, and no new money is flowing through. Consequently, there will not be many jobs for local young people.

Another priority is urban renewal for the remaining parts of my constituency. A number of privately owned houses are in a dreadful state of disrepair. Many people are unemployed and can no longer afford to maintain their houses. Thousands of unemployed young people would give their right arm to obtain a job, to earn some money and to build up their local community. When the Minister decides how the money is to be spent, I hope that it will be spent not on subsidising luxury hotels to be erected by enormously wealthy international companies, but on improving the sad and declining estate in my area, on the urban renewal needs of Birmingham, and on helping young black people in Handsworth to find employment in their community.

Mr. Robin Corbett (Birmingham, Erdington)

In every sense of the phrase, this is a squalid Bill at the end of a wholly squalid affair. The city of Birmingham council went to court because it had a grievance. It was not simply a matter of the council arguing its case before the court, because the Government's representatives confessed in court that the Secretary of State had acted illegally. That guilt was confirmed by the court—it had little choice—and costs were awarded to the city of Birmingham. Having confessed to that illegality, the Government then obtained the support of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) in this form of legalised robbery.

Earlier we debated the fight against crime. It is quite bizarre that the Government's proposals should almost amount to knighting and honouring every burglar, mugger and rapist among those who carry out the 3.6 million crimes a year. If they had the power that the Secretary of State has or the votes that are behind him, they would go to court and get their convictions altered.

In practice, this argument should not be allowed to concentrate on the mind-bending detail of multipliers, rate support grants, GREs and so on. We are arguing about Whether the city of Birmingham should be allowed to spend the money that it said that it needed to spend prudently and sensibly, on behalf of a modern regional city that is trying to work its way out of a recession. The debate is not only narrowly about Birmingham. As the largest English authority that body went to court. We are talking about the effect, seven years on, of this Government's continuing war against the right of locally elected councils to decide sensibly and prudently on their priorities and spending. That is what it is all about. Whitehall does not know best. Heaven knows how many times that has been said in the House and it is still not listened to, understood or respected.

It is not as if the city of Birmingham is a big spender: I wish that it were. I take no pride in saying, and I know that some of my hon. Friends take no pride in it either, that in 1985–86 the city spent 6 per cent. below the Government spending targets. One of the problems in Birmingham is that it has consistently and persistently, under successive regimes, seen its role as that of a low spender. The penny is now beginning to drop and we hope that it will complete the fall under the Labour council and show that that great city will never solve its problems as long as it takes this too modest approach. I am not talking about being profligate. The Secretary of State visited Birmingham last September, on a visit of Handsworth, and he congratulated the city fathers on the way in which, in the previous two or three years they had spent money.

Like my hon. Friends I do not want any money that will flow from the Secretary of State's letter to go into some unspecified pot. I stress, along with my hon. Friends from the city, the paramount importance of finding more ways of getting money into housing. There is no bigger crisis in our city and the Government need no lectures on that. We do not waste money and I am not knocking the bid for the Olympic Games which Birmingham is carrying on Britain's behalf. All of us who run regular surgeries )n the city know about the way in which the misery has built up in people who live in inadequate housing and who cannot get a transfer or repairs and have no real hope on the waiting list.

I remind Ministers, in case he think we are messing about on this subject, that the last comprehensive return entitled "Repair and Improvement of the Local Authority Housing Stock", RILAHS for short, was sent to the Department of the Environment at the Department's request. That return identified the need to spend in excess of—wait for it: £715 million on repairing and improving the Council's existing stock. That is not on one new build because there is not one new family house of flat or purpose-built property for the disabled included in that amount. That £715 million is to repair the wreckage that we have in housing at the moment. The statement was reported to the council meeting on 1 July from the housing committee and said: an additional 635 new rented dwellings need to be provided by the City and a similar number by housing associations each year for the next five years. That is a total of 1,270 houses per year. I do not know how the hon. Member for Northfield can vote for this robbery when we have such housing needs, some of them in his own constituency. I do not understand how he can do that.

Mr. Roger King


Mr. Corbett

I know that his constituents will not understand it either. I gladly give way.

Mr. King

The hon. Gentleman has just given us ample evidence, if any were needed, of how disastrous it is for any city to get into such a situation with its council housing. In many ways it is a condemnation of the principle council housing, because there are plenty of alternative ways in which we could have developed housing within the city. He seems desperately concerned about this £7 million, but what about the £22 million left over from last year or the £15 million? That is over expenditure that was not budgeted for: it is excess profit for the council.

Mr. Corbett

The hon. Gentleman just does not understand. He continues to troop through the Lobby to vote for a Government who say, on the back of the right-to-buy policy, that local authorities cannot even spend the bulk of the money that they raise from that process on replacing, repairing, modernising or improving housing in the city. The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. He must live with that for which he voted. He voted for this £7.2 million robbery, just as he voted to put the lid on councils spending the revenue which they obtain from selling their houses. He cannot have it both ways; the voters will see through him.

I must make a narrow constituency point. On the Lyndhurst estate in my constituency, about £1.5 million is being spent on six tower blocks because they are falling down. Exterior work must be carried out on safety grounds. In an ideal world, those tenants would be invited to move out while the work is being carried out, because it is noisy, it is a nuisance and it causes disturbance, dust and dirt. Many of the tenants have lived in those blocks since they were built; they are elderly and have mobility problems. Since the hon. Member for Northfield voted for the robbery by the Government of funds that Birmingham would have otherwise spent on housing, tenants in three of the blocks on which work has started are fenced in by plastic. There is scaffolding all over the blocks, and jack hammers and sledgehammers are banging all over the walls. Even those with the most severe medical problems will be lucky to be moved out while the work is carried on. The hon. Member for Northfield cannot justify stealing £7.2 million that could have been used to give those tenants some sanity and peace while the necessary work was done.

The Minister believes that Birmingham has run out of work. Let me tell him about 1,500 Boswell houses in my constituency. They were built in the 1920s, are shale-filled and have major suspected structural problems. We are not inventing those problems. Four hundred of those homes —I do not complain about this—have been bought by their former council tenants. They have spent much money putting in bay windows, changing the front doors and all the other things that people do when they buy. I do not knock them at all. There is a major problem there. Money must be spent to put that problem right.

If Ministers cannot yet understand why we from the city of Birmingham feel so strongly about this robbery, will they at least think about what happens to real people in real streets in all our constituencies, including Northfield? This is the reality of what spending is about. That is why we object so strongly to this legalised robbery and—I say this to the Minister flatly—that is why we attach supreme importance to the word that he used in the letter that he wrote today to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Davis).

The Minister for Environment, Countryside and Local Government (Mr. William Waldegrave)

One problem, but also a pleasure, of being the Minister responsible for local government is that, as the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett) said, the complicated multipliers and formulae deal with real places and real people. Therefore, it is logically possible to extend such debates, which deal with all the authorities in the country, almost endlessly. I am grateful for the fact that the hon. Members who represent Birmingham and Nottinghamshire put succintly their strong cases on the way in which the legislation, as they see it, affects their local authorities.

11.15 pm

The amendments go to the heart of the Bill. The justification, approval for which we asked on Second Reading and which we received from the House, was that we needed to validate retrospectively the way in which the law had been thought to have worked to give us and local authorities the certainty that the law meant what we had thought.

I well understand that there will be losers among local authorities, just as there will be gainers, unless we as a Government relax the cash limits on local authority spending. It is legitimate for Opposition Members with a different view of economic policy to urge that, but as a Minister it is also legitimate for me to ask my hon. Friends to reject that.

There would have been no way to validate the law as we thought it to be for the losers and to put money in without abandoning our policy. That is why I must ask my hon. Friends, even though some represent authorities which in some respects are losers and would have gained from the immediate change that resulted from the court case brought by Birmingham, to reject the amendment.

The same is true of the Nottinghamshire case. There is no magic about the Nottinghamshire case either. The Department has written to Nottinghamshire saying that we shall, on the same grounds as the Birmingham case, concede their case. It is entirely up to Nottinghamshire whether it continues with the court case. I understand that it is uncomfortable for hon. Members, but we have had to say that the basis of the law must be returned to what we all thought it was.

I well understand that the legal challenges do not come from the fact that Nottinghamshire or Birmingham suddenly have, for general prima facie reasons, a sudden interest in the law. It is because they want to spend more money and have more money from the Government.

Mr. Ashton

The Minister has made a concrete cash offer to Birmingham, or at least has said that he will look at things favourably. Is he now saying that he will do the same for Nottinghamshire and that it will receive some financial benefit if he has the chance to look at the matter?

Mr. Waldegrave

There have been a number of debates. There has been a debate about the principles of validating what we thought the law meant, and I have no shame at all in coming to the House and saying—my right hon. Friend the Member for Wansted and Woodford (Mr. Jenkin) put it well on Second Reading — that Governments have a perfect right to secure that the law means what everyone thought it meant and for which they have all worked. My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) and others need have no doubt that that is a legitimate thing for Governments to do.

There has been another debate during the course of the Bill, which may be accidental in the sense that Birmingham brought the case, but it has fluently and persuasively focussed on some of the Birmingham problems. Hon. Members who represent Birmingham have justifiably used the Bill to press a number of cases on behalf of Birmingham, which they have also made outside the context of the Bill. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Davis) or the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) was generous enough to make concession over Conservative councillors. Indeed, I have found that in dealings with Councillor Knowles and his predecessor, Councillor Bosworth, that they come from a city, as mine used to be, where the local people put the city first and work together, which must be a strength for Birmingham.

During debates on the Bill several issues have been brought to my attention and some have been mentioned tonight. They show, as is bound to be the case, that there are different priorities, even among Labour groups in Birmingham. The Hyatt hotel does not seem to be popular among those hon. Members who have spoken tonight, although the hon. Member for Perry Barr, who is a sensible man, will, I am sure, say that if private money comes forward he will have no objection to that.

A number of other points have been made. The issue does not depend on the Bill, but on the way in which powerful representations from Birmingham have been hung upon it. Powerful delegations have talked to us. We are looking at the mechanisms available to us which might meet some of the problems. Of course it is open to my hon. Friends who represent Nottinghamshire constituencies to come to see me. However, I shall not be influenced by a case made on the Bill. They must make a case on merit, as other authorities do when they see us.

Mr. Richard Ottaway (Nottingham, North)

Did my hon. Friend say in response to the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) that the answer was no?

Mr. Waldegrave

I said that I could not possibly say to Nottinghamshire or to Birmingham that because they happened to be losers under the Bill, and because the multipliers mean what we all believe them to mean, they have any right to additional resources. A case has been made which we shall attempt to meet. The sum of £700 million was mentioned. I do not think that we are talking about such a sum, but we shall see whether resources can be found to meet some of the purposes put to us.

Mr. Alexander

In view of what my hon. Friend has just said in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Ottaway) what does he mean when he says that the Government will concede the case? Will Nottinghamshire get the money, or not?

Mr. Waldegrave

The situation is exactly the same as that for Birmingham and for the other authorities which produced late information. There is a strong case for saying that it must be for the Secretary of State to set a date beyond which information cannot be handled. Other authorities also produced late budgets. A telexed budget was handed to the Secretary of State as he entered the Chamber. That is an impossible way to proceed. We have the right to set a cut-off date for information. That is fair.

We are talking about a central part of a Bill which validates procedures which we all agreed were valid in the first instance. The county case, which we have conceded, is put right and validated in the Bill.

I have made points quite clearly to hon. Members representing Birmingham and councillors from both parties who have been to see us. I have to disappoint my hon. Friends who represent Nottinghamshire constituencies by saying that they and other councils will lose under the Bill. They cannot seek money from the Government, but if they want to make a case on merit, we shall be delighted to see them.

Mr. Boyes

I have listened with care to comments by my hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Davis), for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker), for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) and for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett). They put the case with passion for the people who live in Birmingham. We talk about councils and large sums, but at the end of the day we care about the citizen.

Even taking into consideration comments by my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) about the Nottinghamshire county council case, I do not intend to press amendment No. 3 to a Division, but after listening to the Minister and his disappointing reply to many important issues, I shall ask my hon. Friends to divide the House on amendment No. 1.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 171, Noes 230.

Division No. 272] [11.30 pm
Alton, David Crowther, Stan
Anderson, Donald Cunliffe, Lawrence
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Dalyell, Tarn
Ashdown, Paddy Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'I)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Deakins, Eric
Ashton, Joe Dewar, Donald
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Dixon, Donald
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Dobson, Frank
Barnett, Guy Dormand, Jack
Barron, Kevin Douglas, Dick
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Dubs, Alfred
Bell, Stuart Duffy, A. E. P.
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Eadie, Alex
Bidwell, Sydney Eastham, Ken
Blair, Anthony Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Ewing, Harry
Boyes, Roland Fatchett, Derek
Bray, Dr Jeremy Faulds, Andrew
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Fisher, Mark
Buchan, Norman Flannery, Martin
Caborn, Richard Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Forrester, John
Campbell-Savours, Dale Foster, Derek
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Foulkes, George
Carter-Jones, Lewis Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Clarke, Thomas Garrett, W. E.
Clay, Robert George, Bruce
Clelland, David Gordon Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hamilton, James (M'well N)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S) Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)
Cohen, Harry Hardy, Peter
Coleman, Donald Harman, Ms Harriet
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Corbett, Robin Heffer, Eric S.
Corbyn, Jeremy Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Home Robertson, John
Hoyle, Douglas Penhaligon, David
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Pike, Peter
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Radice, Giles
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Randall, Stuart
Janner, Hon Greville Raynsford, Nick
John, Brynmor Redmond, Martin
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Richardson, Ms Jo
Kennedy, Charles Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Kirkwood, Archy Robertson, George
Lambie, David Rogers, Allan
Lamond, James Rooker, J. W.
Leighton, Ronald Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Rowlands, Ted
Litherland, Robert Sheerman, Barry
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Shields, Mrs Elizabeth
Loyden, Edward Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
McCartney, Hugh Silkin, Rt Hon J.
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Skinner, Dennis
McKelvey, William Smith, C.(lsl'ton S & F'bury)
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)
McTaggart, Robert Snape, Peter
McWilliam, John Soley, Clive
Madden, Max Spearing, Nigel
Marek, Dr John Steel, Rt Hon David
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Stott, Roger
Martin, Michael Strang, Gavin
Maynard, Miss Joan Straw, Jack
Meacher, Michael Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Michie, William Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Mikardo, Ian Tinn, James
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Wallace, James
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wshawe) Wareing, Robert
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Welsh, Michael
Nellist, David Williams, Rt Hon A.
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Winnick, David
O'Brien, William Woodall, Alec
O'Neill, Martin Young, David (Bolton SE)
Park, George
Parry, Robert Tellers for the Ayes:
Patchett, Terry Mr. Allen McKay and
Pavitt, Laurie Mr. Ron Davies.
Pendry, Tom
Aitken, Jonathan Buck, Sir Antony
Alexander, Richard Budgen, Nick
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Bulmer, Esmond
Amess, David Burt, Alistair
Ancram, Michael Butler, Rt Hon Sir Adam
Ashby, David Butterfill, John
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Carlisle, John (Luton N)
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (Wton S)
Baldry, Tony Carttiss, Michael
Batiste, Spencer Cash, William
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Bellingham, Henry Chapman, Sydney
Bendall, Vivian Chope, Christopher
Benyon, William Churchill, W. S.
Bevan, David Gilroy Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Blackburn, John Clegg, Sir Walter
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Cockeram, Eric
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Colvin, Michael
Boscawen, Hon Robert Coombs, Simon
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Cope, John
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Corrie, John
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Couchman, James
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Cranborne, Viscount
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Crouch, David
Bright, Graham Currie, Mrs Edwina
Brinton, Tim Dickens, Geoffrey
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Dorrell, Stephen
Bruinvels, Peter Dover, Den
du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward Ottaway, Richard
Dunn, Robert Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Durant, Tony Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Dykes, Hugh Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Evennett, David Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abgdn)
Eyre, Sir Reginald Pawsey, James
Fairbairn, Nicholas Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Fallon, Michael Pollock, Alexander
Farr, Sir John Porter, Barry
Fookes, Miss Janet Portillo, Michael
Forman, Nigel Powell, William (Corby)
Fox, Sir Marcus Powley, John
Franks, Cecil Price, Sir David
Fry, Peter Proctor, K. Harvey
Gale, Roger Raffan, Keith
Garel-Jones, Tristan Rathbone, Tim
Glyn, Dr Alan Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)
Goodhart, Sir Philip Renton, Tim
Goodlad, Alastair Rhodes James, Robert
Gower, Sir Raymond Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Gregory, Conal Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Griffiths, Sir Eldon Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Ground, Patrick Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Grylls, Michael Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Roe, Mrs Marion
Hampson, Dr Keith Rossi, Sir Hugh
Hargreaves, Kenneth Rost, Peter
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Rowe, Andrew
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Heddle, John Ryder, Richard
Henderson, Barry Sackville, Hon Thomas
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Sayeed, Jonathan
Hirst, Michael Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Hunter, Andrew Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Shersby, Michael
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Silvester, Fred
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Sims, Roger
Lawrence, Ivan Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lightbown, David Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lilley, Peter Speed, Keith
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Speller, Tony
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Spencer, Derek
Lord, Michael Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Squire, Robin
Lyell, Nicholas Stanbrook, Ivor
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Steen, Anthony
McLoughlin, Patrick Stern, Michael
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Major, John Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Malins, Humfrey Stokes, John
Malone, Gerald Taylor, John (Solihull)
Maples, John Terlezki, Stefan
Marland, Paul Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Mates, Michael Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Mather, Carol Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Maude, Hon Francis Thornton, Malcolm
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Townend, John (Bridlington)
Mellor, David Tracey, Richard
Merchant, Piers Trippier, David
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Twinn, Dr Ian
Mills, Iain (Meriden) van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Mitchell, David (Hants NW) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Moate, Roger Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Waldegrave, Hon William
Moore, Rt Hon John Walden, George
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Wall, Sir Patrick
Moynihan, Hon C. Waller, Gary
Murphy, Christopher Ward, John
Neale, Gerrard Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Nelson, Anthony Warren, Kenneth
Neubert, Michael Watson, John
Nicholls, Patrick Watts, John
Norris, Steven Wells, Bowen (Hertlord)
Onslow, Cranley Wheeler, John
Osborn, Sir John Whitfield, John
Winterton, Mrs Ann Young, Sir George (Acton)
Winterton, Nicholas Younger, Rt Hon George
Wolfson, Mark Wood, Timothy
Tellers for the Noes:
Woodcock, Michael Mr. Tim Sainsbury and
Yeo, Tim Mr. Mark Lennox-Boyd.

Question accordingly negatived.

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