HC Deb 24 February 1988 vol 128 cc393-416 10.15 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton)

I beg to move, That the draft Housing Support Grant (Scotland) Order 1988, which was laid before this House on 3 February, be approved. It may be for the convenience of the House if we discuss also the next motion: That the draft Housing Support Grant (Scotland) Variation Order 1988, which was laid before this House on 3 February, be approved. Full details of the housing support grant settlement are set out in the report which accompanies the draft housing support grant order, and, in view of the time constraints on this debate, I shall not burden the House with excessive detail. I will, however, explain the thinking behind the proposals.

We have again had consultations 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 record our thanks to the convention for its contributions. In the housing support grant settlement for 1988–89 the Government have continued to concentrate resources on those authorities which, in our view, require them. The formula change approved by Parliament last year, involving the use of lower rate fund contributions, is again incorporated, to the benefit of local authorities. We have estimated eligible expenditure at £308.2 million on all local authority housing revenue accounts for 1988–89, and relevant income at £253.6 million. Housing support grant will therefore total £54.6 million. This will be distributed among the 25 authorities which we believe would otherwise incur deficits on their housing revenue accounts in 1988–89.

Local authorities' expenditure on housing is of course very sensitive to changes in interest rates, and we are again applying an average rate of interest to authorities' individual volumes of debt — 10.2 per cent. has been assumed in this settlement for 1988–89. 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. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] There have been plenty of precedents. There have occasionally been precedents for two variation orders.

The 1987–88 variation order before the House reflects a similar undertaking given at this time last year. Because average pool interest rates have fallen from 10.4 to 10.1 per cent. during the year, authorities' loan charges are lower and housing support grant payable is reduced by £4.6 million to a revised amount of £41.9 million.

The cost of managing and maintaining the housing stock is the other major item of expenditure on housing revenue accounts. For 1988–89 we have uprated the management and maintenance provision in the 1987–88 settlement by 10 per cent. We believe that this is extremely generous on top of the 7 per cent. increase included last year. It is more than double present inflation rates and should allow real growth on repairs expenditure in 1988–89. The new figure is £333 per house for management and maintenance and £270 million in total.

On the income side, we are assuming for the purposes of the settlement that rents will increase by £1.60 per week over 1987–88 order levels, bringing rents to £17.45 in order terms. Taking those housing support grant assumptions together with the Government's decisions on rate fund contribution limits, with which I shall deal shortly, we estimated in December that average council house rents would rise by about £1.65 per house per week in 1988–89, giving a Scottish average of £16.30.

Mrs. Maria Fyfe (Glasgow, Maryhill)

Will the Minister explain the basis for his assumption about rate increases in the coming year?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

A complex formula is worked out with COSLA. I am under a statutory obligation to negotiate with COSLA, and a complex formula is worked out and taken into account for distribution.

Mrs. Fyfe

Will the Minister explain that complex formula for the benefit of hon. Members who know nothing about it?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

It is highly technical, but, if the hon. Lady wishes me to give a detailed analysis, I shall be happy to do so in my winding-up speech. The formula takes into account, for example, the number of high-rise flats in a district council area.

The Government must take difficult decisions about the total resources which the country can afford to devote to housing, against the competing pressures upon public expenditure as a whole. Although I am pleased to have been able to increase housing support grant, as I have already outlined, our policy objective continues to be to reduce the total of indiscriminate subsidies to enable us to devote greater resources to investment in the stock.

Between 1981 and 1985, many authorities, by keeping rents unnecessarily and artificially low, and by requiring ever-higher contributions from ratepayers to balance their housing revenue accounts, chose to forfeit £112 million of capital expenditure consents which could, and should, have been used to carry out modernisations, to deal with dampness, condensation and so on. Since we took the statutory power to limit rate fund contributions, first exercised in 1985–86, that unacceptable trend has been reversed. We have reduced the rate fund contribution aggregate from an outturn of £139 million in 1984–85 to a statutory limit of £22.2 million for 1988–89, in the order.

Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow)

Will the Minister give way?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I should like to get on, as many hon. Members wish to speak.

Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)

The Minister is talking about the order concerning rate fund contributions. Is he aware that some doubts have been raised about whether the order is ultra vires? Will he comment on that, and on the apparently incompetent drafting of the order?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

The Select Committee on Statutory Instruments has expressed a doubt about the vires. Obviously, if that doubt were substantiated another order would be introduced. I wish to make it clear that I am referring to the housing support grant orders and not to any other orders, although I am referring to the subject in general, as the subject is discussed with COSLA in its entirety.

Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mrs. Fyfe) asked about the formula. I was a little concerned about that, so I went to the Vote Office and found that the formula is in the orders before us tonight. I should have thought that the hon. Lady would have a copy of them.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's perceptive comment.

We have increased capital allocations on the housing revenue account block by more each year than the rate fund contribution reductions required. For 1988–89 the rate fund contribution limit aggregate is £21 million lower than for 1987–88. and that has contributed substantially to the £24.5 million increase in the provisional HRA allocations announced for next year compared with 1987–88.

In setting an aggregate limit to rate fund contributions of £22.2 million we have consulted widely about the implications of the individual limits set. [Interruption.] This is important for district councils. The provisional limits that we announced in November took account of the number of council houses in each authority, but they also included additional amounts to ensure that where local authorities had raised rents over the past three years by more than the Scottish average, implied average rent increases would be restricted to a maximum of £2 per house per week. We subsequently invited representations. In considering the representations that we received, we looked very closely at the implied rent increase and rent level in 1988–89 in each authority. Of course, rent implications for the 56 housing authorities vary widely, but we increased the rate fund contributions limit for 12 of the 20 authorities which submitted representations.

Dr. Godman

Will the Minister give way?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

May I continue? Perhaps I shall give way a little later. I was mentioning that 12 of the 20 authorities received an increased rate fund contribution limit — [HON. MEMBERS: "Name them."] I can easily give hon. Members the names later.

The concessions that we made were calculated as follows. First, we used more up-to-date assessments of income and expenditure. In the case of local authorities which had raised rents over the past three years by more than the Scottish average, further concessions were needed to restrict rent increases to £2 per week.

Secondly, we increased the rate fund contribution limits of the authorities with current rent levels above our implied average Scottish rent for 1988–89 of £16.30. The concession was calculated so that their maximum rent increases should be restricted to £1.65 per week. Finally, as in the previous year, we set an upper threshold figure for rent levels. Rate fund contribution limits were increased for three authorities to ensure that they need not raise average rent levels above £18.75 per week, that being the upper limit. That is approximately last year's upper limit, plus the average rent increase figure we now predict for 1988–89. In our calculations, as I have said, we assumed that authorities would spend 10 per cent. more on management and maintenance than last year. Taking all those figures into account, we calculated that average rent increases next year across Scotland as a whole would be about £1.65 per week. If authorities were to choose to increase expenditure on management and maintenance by less than 10 per cent., the average rent increase required would naturally be less.

Since we notified authorities of our final decisions on rate fund contributions and housing support grant, most councils have taken their own decisions about rent increases for next year. The information that I have received so far, which covers virtually all authorities, suggests that the average will in fact be around £1.62 per week. This is very similar to the figure that we had estimated and will take average council house rents in Scotland to some £16.25 per week in 1988–89. I do not think that that is unreasonable. The £16.25 average next year is well below the current year's average council rent of £17.40 in England and Wales.

Mr. Nigel Griffiths (Edinburgh, South)

Will the Minister advise the House of the relationship that the rent increase bears to inflation, and whether it will have an inflationary effect?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

It was essential to concentrate on increased standards of management and maintenance to improve the housing stock. That was why we assumed a 10 per cent. increase in management and maintenance expenditure. I accept that that may be above inflation, but we believed that the improvement of the housing stock in the public sector was so important that that was fully justified. As I mentioned, the £16.25 average next year is below the current year's average council rent of £17.40 in England and Wales. It is also below current rent levels in housing associations, the Scottish Special Housing Association, new town houses and the private sector in Scotland.

Although local authority rent increases have been higher than inflation over the last few years — because they started from a very low base—let me remind the House that registered rents in Scotland rose faster between 1979 and 1986 than local authority rents, by 180 per cent. against 164 per cent. Of course, if tenants have genuine difficulty in meeting their housing costs, relief is available to them through the housing benefit system. The assistance is targeted directly at those households which need it arid is reflected in the level of housing benefit payments in Scotland of some £570 million in 1986–87. For 1987–88 the figure is £664 million. [Interruption.] We will have figures as soon as they are available.

In conclusion, let me emphasise that the figures included in the orders before the House tonight are designed to reinforce our policies for housing in Scotland.

Dr. Godman


Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

I am not giving way. I want to give plenty of opportunity to hon. Members to speak in this brief debate.

Reductions in rate fund contributions and housing support grant, taken together, are evidence of our continuing resolve to concentrate on using the resources available for housing on capital investment. The reduction in rate fund contributions will offer further relief to hard-pressed ratepayers, and has contributed towards announced increases in capital expenditure. These increases, together with the 10 per cent. increases for management and maintenance expenditure built into the calculations of both housing support grant and rate fund contributions, will ensure that tenants benefit through a higher standard of housing provision.

We have consulted widely on the orders. I am satisfied that the figures they contain are fair and reasonable. I commend the orders to the House.

10.31 pm
Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton), in his inimitable way, says that he has consulted widely on the orders. He was kind enough earlier in his speech to place on record the Government's thanks to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. Perhaps I might place on record the fact that COSLA does not think much of the Government or the orders.

There is something dreadfully predictable about Government statements on housing. I do not know why the Minister, his predecessor or any Conservative Member bothers to try to dress up the sorry story of housing in Scotland so as to make it sound as though the Government were doing something positive. The House is not impressed, people in Scotland are not impressed, and I doubt whether the Minister believes what he is talking about. This evening we have had the usual attempt to present a rosy picture of a package which represents a further cut in funding for housing in Scotland, regardless of the growing crisis of homelessness, overcrowding and decaying housing stock.

I intend to concentrate on the main housing support grant order for 1988–89. The variation order, which we are also debating, simply lops £4.5 million off last year's housing support grant to take account of fluctuations in interest rates, which shows how much the moneylenders make out of public sector housing in Scotland in a good year. For what it is worth, we acknowledge that there is to be an increase in rate support grant in the coming year from last year's figure of £47 million to £55 million. Of course, a significant proportion of that increase is likely to be swallowed by higher interest rates, as the Minister acknowledged. So we have a small increase, but the Government cannot deny that their objective is to do away with housing support grant altogether.

Mr. Allan Stewart (Eastwood)

Hear, hear.

Mr. Home Robertson

I am glad that the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) has confirmed that, with all the authority of an ex-Minister in the Government.

The Government have already run down housing support grant from well over £200 million a year in 1979 to less than a quarter of that figure last year. Only one third of Scotland's public sector housing stock is supported by housing support grant, and fewer than half of our local housing authorities receive any housing support grant at all. Only 14 of Strathclyde's 19 district councils receive it, and none goes to any district council in Fife, Central region, Lothian region or Tayside region.

Housing support grant, however, is only one part of the equation. There is also the question of housing capital allocations, and the rate fund contribution to the housing revenue account. We are supposed to be debating rate fund contribution tonight, but we understand that there is a suspicion that the Housing Revenue Account Rate Fund Contribution Limits (Scotland) Order 1988 may be ultra vires. It seems that the Government are becoming particularly slap-happy with their statutory instruments nowadays, and that they may have been found out—not for the first time—by the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments.

Obviously, it is up to the Select Committee to decide what to do about the matter, and we want to preserve our position, so I shall not say much about the rate fund contribution issue. I shall, however, say that the threat arbitrarily to halve the rate fund contribution from £44 million to £22 million is harmful, and an unwarranted interference in the freedom of Scottish local authorities to determine their housing policy.

The cumulative effect of all the Government's proposals is to cut the total resources available to public sector housing in Scotland in the coming year by another £49 million, to £284 million. As usual, the Government are seeking to conceal the cut by including in the calculation a mass of other factors, such as an assumption that councils will increase their income from the sale of council houses to £60 million. That starts from a fundamentally dishonest premise; local authorities are being compelled to sell those houses for a fraction of their value. It also prompts the questions whether the projected purchases will materialise, and — most significantly — whether enough sales will be completed in time for the proceeds to be used during 1988–89.

Even if we accept the Government's analysis of the figures for housing spending—which of course we do not—we would still find an overall cut of 2 per cent. in real terms in Scotland's public sector housing budget. As Opposition Members know, the real position is considerably worse than that.

I understand that the funds available for home inprovement grants to the private sector are also being cut by 16 per cent., from £147 million to £123 million. I should love to know how the Minister squares that with the Government's much-vaunted commitment to encourage the private sector and owner-occupation in Scotland.

The orders, combined with the Government's proposals for rate fund contribution restrictions—which may or may not return to the House in due course, depending on whether the Government can get the drafting right—are all part of a strategy to increase the rents paid by Scottish tenants. As my hon. Friends who are serving on the Standing Committee considering the Housing (Scotland) Bill will recall, a parallel debate took place there yesterday, when the Minister defended clause 38 of the Bill, which removes all restrictions from the rate of increase in private sector rents in Scotland in the interests of encouraging landlords and regardless of the impact on tenants. The housing support grant orders are driving council house rents inexorably upwards too, and the Minister knows that. In 1980, the average council house rent in Scotland was £4.92 a week. By last year, it had trebled to £14.65 a week.

Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South)


Mr. Home Robertson

I would be very willing to give way to a member representing a Scottish constituency, but I am not aware that the hon. Gentleman's constituency contains any district council tenants, so I am not clear about his interest in the matter.

It is, I believe, quite likely that council house rents somewhere in Scotland will shortly exceed £20 a week—and this from a Government who claim to be crusading against inflation. They have been intervening to force up rents at more than double the rate of increase in earnings, and almost three times the rate of inflation. So much for their anti-inflation policy. On top of this there will be the poll tax and the social security changes in April, all of which make up a recipe for great and growing hardship for a large number of households in Scotland.

Sadly, district councils in Scotland have precious little control over this escalation in rents. Housing costs to local authorities have increased by over 35 per cent. since 1980, but meanwhile Government interference with grants has directly increased rent levels in Scotland by 107 per cent. Tonight's orders will again increase rents by about £3 a week—more than double the rate of inflation this year.

Tenants in Scotland know very well that their councils are fighting to increase standards and keep rents reasonable, but this absurd Minister, with all the authority that can be conferred by a pitiful minority of 10 Scottish Members of Parliament, is imposing cuts and the restrictions that are forcing standards down and rents up. It is interesting to contrast this with the growing value of subsidies to owner-occupiers with mortgages, the majority of which is flowing to the south-east of England. Scottish council tenants are subsidising prosperous owner-occupiers in the home counties through their taxes, on the poll tax principle of robbing the poor to pay the rich.

Mr. Bill Walker

Earlier, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mrs. Fyfe) made an intervention in the speech of my hon. Friend the Minister concerning calculations and how the figures were arrived at. In his calculations, and on the basis of his proposition about subsidising, is the hon. Gentleman including all the housing benefit calculations and figures? If he is not, he is feeding rubbish in and getting rubbish out.

Mr. Home Robertson

The profile in The Scotsman has gone to the hon. Gentleman's head. I am talking about subsidy to public sector housing in Scotland, and comparing it with the indiscriminate subsidies to other sectors. The Minister condemned indiscriminate subsidies, but the Government are happy to hand them to owner-occupiers.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the total subsidy to English private housing is some 80 times Exchequer expenditure on Scottish public housing? Is that an equitable percentage?

Mr. Home Robertson

I tend to be a bit suspicious of figures quoted by the Scottish National party, but I shall look into those figures as they sound interesting.

We remain committed to a fair system of mortgage tax relief, but we must insist on a return to a more appropriate level of grant for public sector tenants in Scotland. We urgently need investment in public sector housing in Scotland. Our deepening crisis is a national scandal. Last year, no fewer than 30,000 Scots became homeless, and 200,000 people are stuck on housing waiting lists, which is a tragedy for all those families and young people. We have the shocking situation that one in four of the people of Scotland live in overcrowded accommodation.

The housing stock is decaying. Of 843,000 council houses, over 356,000 need to be modernised, over 88,000 need to be rewired, over 234,000 are affected by damp and over 153,000 need major structural repairs. The situation is geting worse every year, as the Government know because they are not prepared to provide the subsidies and create the necessary financial framework to overcome these problems. The Government are imposing more cuts and introducing the half-baked Housing (Scotland) Bill in the vain hope of reviving the defunct private rented sector in Scotland.

We recognise that the Government are hopelessly out of touch. They represent, I suppose, less than one seventh of Scotland's constituencies and are neither willing nor able to communicate with the majority of Scottish public opinion. But Scotland was trying to make a point to the Government on June 11 last year. Among other things, our people resoundingly rejected the strategy of cuts in, and restrictions on, housing investment. They certainly did not vote for madcap experiments such as Scottish Homes or born again Rachmanism, which the Government seem to support in their Housing (Scotland) Bill. The Scottish people voted to endorse their right to live in decent, secure homes on fair terms in their communities. This order does not begin to measure up to that objective, and if the House has any respect for the nation of Scotland it should reject it.

10.46 pm
Mr. Allan Stewart (Eastwood)

I congratulate the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) on his brass neck, as a well-known millionaire absentee landlord, in refusing to give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) on the ground that my hon. Friend had no Scottish council tenants in his constituency. It is easy for the hon. Member for East Lothian to attack mortgage relief. He is one of the lucky people who do not need mortgage relief to purchase a house. His speech contained one piece of interesting news, namely, that the Labour party in Scotland is still completely opposed to discounts for tenants, however long they have rented their public sector houses, who wish to turn their houses into homes of their own.

My hon. Friend the Minister fully explained the strategy behind the orders, and I fully support it, but why should a Back Bencher such as I support the continuation of housing support grant in Scotland at all? It is a selective handout from the taxpayer to particular areas of Scotland. It is a handout from which none of my constituents in Eastwood, Barrhead or Neilston benefit in any way. II is a movement of resources from Barrhead and Neilston to Glasgow. Why should I support that?

Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East)


Mr. Stewart

My hon. Friend the Minister rightly emphasised the increase that he is planning For management and maintenance. The hon. Member for East Lothian referred to rents. The average rent in Scotland will be about £16.25 a week, which compares with an average in England and Wales of about £17.40. Why is this justifiable, given that average incomes in the north of England and in Scotland are roughly the same? Is that riot a clear and continuing disincentive for people in Scotland to buy their council houses?

My hon. Friend also rightly pointed out that the Government have reduced the rate fund contribution from an outturn figure of £139 million in 1984–85 to £22.2 million in the orders for 1988–89. That is £22.2 million too much. There is no justification in theory for a continuing subsidy from ratepayers to particular tenants. It is right that resources should be concentrated on capital, on management and maintenance and on investment.

I hope that when my hon. Friend winds up the debate he will be able to confirm that this is the last time that the House will consider a rate fund contribution order or a successor to it. Next year, when the community charge will have been implemented, there will be no justification, on social or economic grounds, for this wholly indiscriminate subsidy from those who pay the charge in favour of certain tenants in some local authority areas. I support my hon. Friend's general strategy, with those reservations on the detail. I hope he will be able to confirm that that is the Government's intention for next year.

10.50 pm
Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)

It seems to be accepted on both sides of the House that the orders will do nothing for housing in Scotland. I do not think that I am alone in thinking that the Minister's heart was hardly in it when he opened the debate. Perhaps I might remind him of his former trade as an advocate. He gave all the impression of a man about to address the jury who has passed a note saying that his client did it after all.

The Minister's presentation was a triumph of expediency over reality, because the Government know—or ought to know—that there is a crisis on its way in housing. One in seven people live in overcrowded conditions. Thousands of houses have inadequate amenities and suffer from decay and disrepair. The Minister need only drive through the council house estates in his own constituency, which I have had occasion to do recently, to see clear evidence of that.

Since 1979, capital expenditure by local authorities on housing has been reduced by 27 per cent. We should consider housing support grant, rate fund contribution, the reduction in net capital allocation and income from sales when asking ourselves what the financial consequences of the orders will be. The result will be a 2 per cent. reduction in real terms in expenditure on housing in Scotland in the coming year.

The Government's behaviour is shoddy and uncaring. Others will be able to speak more eloquently of the problems in urban areas, but, in rural areas, the problems are frequently no less. North-East Fife district council is now Liberal-controlled, but it used to be Conservative-controlled. It has sold 2,179 houses, or 24 per cent. of its stock. It has sold a greater proportion of its houses than any other local authority in Scotland without objection and without cavil about the discount. It has followed the Government's policy in spirit and to the letter, but that earns it no support. It earns no help. It does not even earn a meeting with the Minister. Some 2,946 families are on the waiting list and 2,322 are in immediate need. There is nothing in the orders that will help the council to deal with the problem of those who are in immediate need.

Mr. Allan Stewart

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that he could have made that point if he had been here for question 8 during Scottish wuestions this afternoon? Why was he not here?

Mr. Campbell

I suppose that, after a while, one learns that there are those to whom one should give way and there are those to whom one should not. The hon. Gentleman seems to have put himself rather more firmly than he is accustomed to doing anything into the latter category.

The Government propose a rate fund contribution of nothing for north-east Fife. The sale of one quarter of the stock in north-east Fife has severely reduced its rent revenue. As a consequence, a relatively small number of tenants have to meet an increasing burden of interest charges on the council's housing account. Rents have had to be kept high to meet that burden and to provide for necessary repair and maintenance. Hon. Members should be in no doubt that the council and I accept that there is a need for repair and maintenance. It is all the more acute because of the aging nature of the housing stock in northeast Fife and in many other places in Scotland.

It is often said that immigration cases are the most tragic and difficult for Members of Parliament to deal with. In my short experience as a Member for Parliament, in many respects, housing cases may rival them. The Minister should come to my surgery when people come to me with complaints about their inability to obtain council houses. Perhaps he could read to them the prepared brief that he read to the House. He should listen to the response, which I suspect would be peremptory, vulgar, and, possibly, monosyllabic. Better still, the Minister should meet the district council of north-east Fife. He has just declined to do so.

It is most curious that a responsible local authority that has carried out the Government's policies to the letter is incapable of having a meeting with the Minister responsible for housing to discuss with him the very problems that have arisen because of that authority's willingness to carry out the Government's policy.

The orders do nothing for the problems of those in north-east Fife who require houses, and they do nothing for north-east Fife district council's management difficulties in relation to its existing housing stock. The truth is that the orders only compound the problems. For that reason, the Minister will find no comfort from my colleagues and me.

10.56 pm
Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)

We began the debate by referring to calculations, statistics and figures. I am sure that they are interesting. The hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) told the House that the Liberals' figure for overcrowding was one in seven, yet the Labour figure, which was given just a few minutes earlier, was one in four. That is not the narrow kind of discrepancy that one would expect. There are many divisions in the Opposition. Members of the alliance are unable to get their figures and their act together. The hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) is living on borrowed time on the Opposition Front Bench. It is only a matter of time before one of the more able hon. Members behind him sits in his place. The hon. Member for East Lothian, with his acres and estates, being an absentee landlord, would probably find that his image is more in keeping with the Scots' image of aristocrats.

Labour Members continually refuse to face the fact that, when they came to office, the Government recognised that Labour, at local and national level throughout Scotland, had bought votes with a policy of cheap rents. That policy meant that inadequate funds were going into housing coffers to maintain housing stock.

Mr. Nigel Griffiths


Mr. Walker

I will give way to the hon. Gentleman in a minute, if he will wait to hear what I have to say.

Unless sufficient funds go into housing coffers, the Department will be unable to maintain its housing assets. There are two ways of getting funds into housing coffers. The first is through rents. The second is through public support in whatever form that takes. I deliberately said "in whatever form it takes" because housing benefit is one of the many forms of support.

Mr. McAllion

The hon. Member will recall that the Minister, when he opened the debate, said that the Government were very concerned to use the resources available for housing on capital expenditure and for that reason they were switching resources from housing support grant and rate fund contributions towards capital expenditure. The hon. Member seems to be arguing that, rather than switching those resources to capital expenditure, the Government are switching them to housing benefit and are pauperising people living in council houses. That seems to be the tenor of his argument.

Mr. Walker

The hon. Gentleman is one of the individuals whom I expect to see sitting on the Opposition Front Bench in place of the hon. Member for East Lothian, if only because I believe that he attempts to do his homework a little more carefully. He does not indulge in the same vitriolic personal attacks which I believe are abusive and wasteful. In this case, I am sorry to say that the hon. Member for Dundeee, East (Mr. McAllion) seems to have got it wrong, like so many Opposition Members.

Mr. Norman Hogg (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth)


Mr. Walker

The hon. Member is always very courteous and I will give way to him in a moment.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East must recognise that the Labour party has never got its act together properly on the difference between capital account and revenue account. He knows full well that that was one of the problems with the Labour clubs in Dundee. It was typical of the fact that the Labour party cannot differentiate between the various sources of funding and expenditure.

Mr. Hogg

The hon. Gentleman clearly has a grasp of how best we can be promoted to the Opposition Front Bench. How does he account for the fact that he is where he is—and where he was in June 1979?

Mr. Walker

By choice—[Interruption.]

Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Walker

Only two people in the House know the truth of that, and I am one of them. The other is in 10 Downing street. Not many people can say that. Not many people can claim that they believe firmly in what they are doing and in the value that they place on what they are doing for their constituents over and above personal ambition. I hold the hon. Member for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth (Mr. Hogg) in high regard and believe that the Labour party never properly or fully appreciated his abilities as a Whip and particularly as Deputy Chief Whip. If the Labour party had the sensible arrangement that exists on the Conservative Benches, the hon. Gentleman would have been appointed a full Whip because he was so good at it.

The Government's policies are working towards a position where, when the community charge is introduced, we will no longer have to bring these orders before the House. I hope that this will be the last time that we will have to consider them. They do nothing for my constituents and, like my hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), I recognise that this evening we will do nothing for our constituents. For far too long our constituents have been subsidising the profligate, vote-buying policies of the Opposition, through various forms of taxation.

11.3 pm

Mr. Harry Ewing (Falkirk, East)

While listening to the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) I was astonished at my right hon. and hon. Friends laughing when he said that he is where he is—where he was in 1979— by choice. The question is: whose choice? The answer is, the Prime Minister's.

When I heard the Minister reading his brief, I understood clearly for the first time what Ruth Wishatt meant when she wrote in The Scotsman today: If he did not have a sore back, he would not see the present Scottish Ministers in his way. When introducing the orders, the Minister clearly displayed himself as one of the Ministers whom the hon. Member for Tayside, North would not see in his road. I am only grateful that I do not have to make the choice between them.

This type of debate suits the Minister because it is not about the formula by which the housing support grant is calculated, because the Minister does not understand it.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

The following facts have to be taken into account when considering the distribution of grant to authorities: estimated loan charges, supervision and management allowance per council house, additional allowances for some council houses in low-stock areas, basic repair and maintenance allowance per council house, supplementary allowance in recognition of certain additional needs, such as high-rise houses, allowances to represent other expenditure, a basic income factor per council house, estimated rate fund contributions and adjustments to represent other income factors. The actual details of working out the formula, which has been carefully done in conjunction with COSLA—I have had several meetings with that organisation—are complex.

Mr. Ewing

I know that the formula is complex for the Minister to understand because it has taken him 45 minutes to give the House that information. My hon. Friend the Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) asked for it during the Minister's opening speech, but he simply could not give it.

The Minister referred to adjustments for other income factors, which cover an extremely wide area. They cover factors such as the level of unemployment in the housing authority areas. The Minister has simply not taken account of the level of unemployment in many Scottish areas. Average income is another factor that must be taken into account when calculating housing support grant.

In the past five years the housing support grant for Falkirk district council, as a result of this order, has dropped from about £4 million to not a penny piece. Unemployment and the inability to earn wages in that area has increased from 15 per cent. to 19 per cent. of the adult population. Therefore, as the housing support grant has been reduced, unemployment has increased. The Minister and his civil servants have taken absolutely no account of the economic factors that prevail in that area.

I cannot speak with authority about any other district council areas. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) could confirm that the Inverclyde and Port Glasgow area is one of the most devastated of the United Kingdom. That area's allowance to make a rate fund contribution to the housing revenue account is a disgrace and takes no account of its economic circumstances.

Dr. Godman

It is my considered opinion that the Government are utterly indifferent to the plight of many thousands of people that I represent.

Mr. Ewing

My hon. Friend speaks with greater authority than either the Minister or myself about the problems in his own area. It is significant that only last weekend it was widely reported in the media in Scotland that there was a vigil outside New St. Andrews house by people from the Inverclyde area complaining bitterly about their plight and seeking to draw the Secretary of State's attention to their problems.

However, I shall return to the orders. The Minister totally failed, certainly in the case of Falkirk district council, and I suspect of many other district councils, to take account of economic circumstances. That is one of the main criteria to which the Minister should pay heed when calculating housing support grant.

I turn briefly to the ability to make a rate fund contribution to the housing revenue account. That is no business for the Government. They should not be interfering in whether a district council makes any contribution from the rate fund to the housing revenue account. If a district council chooses to make no contribution from the rate fund to the housing revenue account, that is a matter between the district council and its electorate when the district councils are elected in the first week of May this year. Equally, if a district council decides to make a substantial contribution from its rate fund to its housing revenue account, that also is a matter between the district council and its electors in the district council elections in May.

The Minister has absolutely no business to interfere in what is a local government matter, but that has been the hallmark of the Government. As people in Scotland continue to elect Labour councils, including in the capital city of Edinburgh, the Government take the huff and pull into the centre the freedom of local authorities to decide their own domestic housing policies.

The Minister, in a significant remark during his speech, told the House about the way in which registered rent had risen between 1979 and 1986 compared with the increase in local authority rates. The Minister should know—and I would caution him that he should be better briefed—that registered rents have risen by such a percentage because Rachmanism has run riot. Registered rents throughout Scotland apply to furnished housing. Racketeers are charging astonishing rents, and the rent officers are registering them at a very high level. When the hon. Members for Tayside, North and for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) complain about housing benefit, they should take a good close look at how much of that housing benefit is finding its way into the pockets of the racketeers who are bleeding young couples dry in furnished accommodation, for the simple reason given by my hon. Friend the Member for East Lothian.

Mr. Bill Walker

The hon. Gentleman and I have similar back problems. The hon. Gentleman will recognise that I have never complained about paying housing benefit because that benefit goes to the individuals who are in need. It does not subsidise the property.

Mr. Ewing

I really do not have the time to conduct a teach-in. For the benefit of the hon. Gentleman, housing benefit does not go to the individual; it goes straight to the local authority; and in the case of private rented accommadation it goes straight to the private landlord. That is where the bulk of housing benefit goes. As my hon. Friend the Member for East Lothian said, many young couples who cannot get local authority housing are living in rented accommodation at very high rents, and I have just given the reason for that.

This is the fourth time today that I have heard the hon. Member for Eastwood speak. He was called three times at Question Time and again in this debate. I live in hope that he will eventually say something sensible, but so far my hopes have not been fulfilled.

Last year in the United Kingdom 64,000 council houses were taken back because those who had bought them could not keep up the mortgage payments. In Scotland—the Minister should have the figures—6,000 council houses were returned to building societies and local authorities because those who had bought them simply could not pay the mortgage. In Falkirk a couple went to their building society, threw the keys on the counter and told the society that the house belonged to it. They are now housed by Falkirk's district council in accommodation for the homeless. That is what is happening.

These orders, coupled with the Housing (Scotland) Bill, are removing rights from local authority and SSHA tenants and compelling them to buy, whether or not they want to do so. That is what Conservative Members are up to and that is why I shall willingly join my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Lobby to vote against these orders.

11.16 pm
Mrs. Maria Fyfe (Glasgow, Maryhill)

Tonight we have had a good laugh at the speeches made by Conservative Members, and we cannot help but laugh when confronted with such buffoonery. We are discussing a serious subject which is no laughing matter, but we just cannot help ourselves, considering some of the contributions.

We are talking about the conditions in which people live and the housing that they must accept for want of anything better. In these orders the Government are cutting in half the rate fund contributions, which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Ewing) said, are provided entirely by local ratepayers. Not a penny of it comes from central Government, and it is simply not their business how much or how little a local authority contributes. Nevertheless, two or three years ago the Government intervened to force these cuts willy-nilly, thereby making it even more difficult for councils to operate any sort of sensible housing account.

Where does the formula come from, for example, to justify cutting Glasgow's rate fund contribution by £6,500,000 for the current year? The Minister has not explained how the formula works. Are the figures plucked from the air and then cut? As has been pointed out, not a penny comes from the Government.

Presumably the Government have read COSLA's submission on this. It points out that the introduction in 1984 of statutory rate fund contribution levels is an intrusion into the affairs of local government and a further unacceptable erosion of local democracy. Since then the rate fund contribution limits have decreased from £112 million, or 18 per cent. of total costs, to £22 million, or 3 per cent. of total costs for next year. So if the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) thinks that there should be no rate fund contribution whatever, he is certainly well on the way to getting what he wants.

Mr. Allan Stewart

Not quickly enough.

Mrs. Fyfe

Net capital allocation has been cut by £35 million. Capital receipts have increased by £60 million, but even the Government admit that that figure is a guess. There is no means of knowing whether that will be provided. When one considers that attempts to buy council houses tend to dry up as people fall increasingly into unemployment, and those who have attempted it have to give it up as a bad job, it is clear that we cannot realistically expect any vast increase in capital receipts, yet the Government write in that figure. Again, where is the explanation? Where is the Government's explanation of the formula for arriving at this figure?

Even what the Government are doing for the private sector is nonsense. To reduce the grant by £24 million makes me wonder what feedback Conservatives are getting from their surgeries. People tell me that they do not feel that there is any point applying for a grant, as they know that the money has dried up. Conservatives need only look around them at the state of the private sector to see that there is obviously a great deal of need for the repair grants to continue. To cut them as they have done is highly irresponsible and will do great damage to private sector housing stock.

Let me concentrate on Glasgow's needs. Every hon. Member present must know that Glasgow had to seek an independent review of the state of its housing. Having appealed year after year to the Government to take a serious look at Glasgow's housing, the council had to invite independent and highly respected people to conduct that investigation. It must be about two years since that report came out, but what are the Government doing in response to Glasgow's housing needs?

How will the formula benefit Glasgow? The rate fund contribution was cut by £6.5 million, but not a penny of that is Government money anyway. The housing support grant has been raised from the current year to next year, but it is still only half the 1980–81 level. It comes nowhere near meeting the needs of Glasgow. Even previous Tory Governments accepted that Glasgow needed a far better level of housing support grant than this Government will give it.

If I make no other point tonight that gets through the heads of Conservative Members, I must make it clear that capital allocation is not a resource given to the council. The hon. Member for Eastwood said—I hope I quote him correctly—that resources should be concentrated on capital. After all his years in government, does he not know that all that the Government are doing in setting a capital allocation is allowing the council to spend its own ratepayers' money? Not a penny comes from the Government. Capital receipts are simply what the council gets from selling its housing stock. Again, not a penny of that comes from the Government. All that they are doing is reducing the good housing stock, but not getting any money in to replace it.

How is Glasgow supposed to pay off its massive debts? I remind Conservative Members that 40 per cent. of Glasgow's entire spending goes to pay off housing debt because of Glasgow's vast programme to clear slums and build houses after the war. Quite apart from the vast debt to be cleared, which is a millstone round Glasgow's neck, people live in intolerable housing conditions. Some houses are so damp that people are forced to shut off the bedrooms and sleep in the living room. Some have dangerous wiring and loose slates that take years to replace.

The Minister recently paid a visit to Maryhill. He was pleased to open a pleasant new housing association development, with a beautiful set of houses, with reasonable rents, which were a pleasure for anyone to move into. But he was not so willing to go a few yards up the road to see how people live in Ruchill, for example. The council cannot afford to do anything about the general environmental conditions of the people who live there. The Government are happy to be associated with the nice housing, but will not do a damned thing about the state of affairs for many thousands of people in Glasgow.

In conclusion, I can only say that the anger of the people of Glasgow has certainly been shown politically against the Government time and again. The Government have the cheek to talk about us buying support. What do they think they are doing when they keep on subsidising mortgage tax relief hugely, year after year, with no fancy talk about formulae to justify it? We want the same fair deal for council tenants.

11.24 pm
Mr. Nigel Griffiths (Edinburgh, South)

This is a black day for housing in Scotland. It is a black day for the 350,000 families who live in houses, with rotting windows and leaking roofs, which require modernisation. It is a black day for the 88,000 tenants living in houses that require rewiring. Many houses have wiring that is positively dangerous; some have rooms without electric sockets and others have kitchens with barely adequate electricity supplies. It is also a black day for the 153,000 houses that need major structural repairs and for those tenants who have to live in them. It is a black day for the 234,000 Scottish families who have to live in damp houses.

We have had an unedifying lecture from the Minister about the fact that two thirds of Scottish councils no longer receive any help from the Government or the taxpayer. We know that the combined cut in the rate fund contribution and the housing support grant this year is £14 million. We know that, under the Conservatives, almost no help has been given for housing those families—30,000 people in all—who, particularly at Christmas and in the winter, do not have a home of their own or a roof over their heads. The Conservatives have cut support to those families to an all-time low so that fewer than half the Scottish councils now receive help in housing the homeless.

That contrasts with the situation under the last Labour Government when 56 out of 56 district and island authorities received some support to help those who needed houses. Do Conservative Members wish to challenge that? They are prepared to sit and snigger among themselves. They will not get up on their feet and challenge those figures because they know that they are correct. Under the Labour Government, every Scottish council knew that the homeless people in its area could obtain some help.

What have the Tories done? They have ensured that no ratepayer or taxpayer has to spend any money to help the homeless. They have narrowed down the field so that only one third of local authorities in Scotland receive any help towards housing the homeless and that, within that one third, only council tenants bear the burden of helping those homeless families. That is the reality of eight years of Tory rule.

The orders perpetuate and exacerbate that policy. The homeless are now receiving help from the smallest number of people ever. It is not the better-off home owners, in Edinburgh and Glasgow, for example, who are being asked indirectly, through taxes, to help those homeless families, but the council tenants. The hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) said that council tenants are among the poorest people. That is why they receive the housing benefit that he supports.

Unfortunately, the Secretary of State for Social Services does not support that policy. After 11 April, millions of people, including 1 million pensioners, will suffer as a result of cuts in housing benefit. All Opposition Members and the vast majority of the people in this country feel some compassion for those who are down-and-outs, but the people who are being asked to dip into their pockets are council tenants whose earnings are below average and who form the poorest section of the population. That is the effect of the order which the Minister presented so proudly from the Dispatch Box. The poorest people of this country are being asked to help those who are even less fortunate than themselves. It is a great tribute to the people of this country that the poorest are willing to do that. People in my constituency are willing to help.

The hon. Member for Tayside, North said that Labour is buying votes by helping council tenants. That is far from the truth. The hon. Gentleman just has to open his eyes, even though that is difficult for him, and look around. Only a tiny minority of people in south Edinburgh own their own houses, but Labour's new heartlands are in Marchmont and Morningside.

Mr. Sam Galbraith (Strathkelvin and Bearsden)

The largest amount of home ownership in Scotland is to be found in my constituency. It has the smallest number of council houses. That gives the lie to the suggestion by the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) that Labour is buying votes through providing council houses. Our support is coming from home owners.

Mr. Griffiths

That point is well made.

Mr. Bill Walker

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Griffiths

I hear the cry, "Point of order." I shall happily give way if the hon. Member for Tayside, North wants to make a bogus point of order.

Mr. Walker

I called out "Point of order" because I thought I heard the hon. Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) suggest that I was lying.

Mr. Griffiths

No Opposition Member would allege that the hon. Member for Tayside, North has the brains to lie, to tell the truth or to think anything out.

The problem is that council tenants, the poorest people, are being asked to foot the bill for homelessness in Scotland. Since 1979, Eastwood has lost £330,000 of grant to help the homeless. Eastwood district council matched the Government's contribution towards housing the homeless, but the Government are welshing on that partnership. Since 1979, Nithsdale has lost £1 million in housing support grant, much of which went towards housing the homeless. Kyle and Carrick, where the Secretary of State for Defence saw his majority slashed to fewer than 200, has had its budget slashed from £9 million to nothing by this Government. Edinburgh, the city that I am proud to represent, has lost £22 million under this Government.

I have received a letter from the Scottish Council for Single Homeless that spells out the effects of the housing support grant cuts in Edinburgh. There is a deficit this year of £330,000, and there will be a deficit of over £330,000 in the next financial year. That deficit will have to be met from the housing revenue account.

How does the Minister expect Edinburgh to provide that money when there is to be no support from the Government or the taxpayer? There is no answer to that question. The Government are not giving even a penny towards the provision of hostels. Both the Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland take great pride in opening hostels, sheltered housing units and other showpieces that are largely local government and Labour council initiatives. They go along at the last minute and take the credit, but they give precious little support to those initiatives.

If the Government need to be convinced about that, they need refer only to the Secretary of State for Scotland's answer to me last Friday about Housing Corporation expenditure in Scotland between 1974 and the next financial year. They will see that under the Labour Government the Housing Corporation, from which so many Scottish housing associations receive money, was provided with enormous bounty. In real terms, spending increased fivefold under Labour. Under this Government, spending has barely increased by 50 per cent. in eight years.

When the Labour Government were in office, spending on housing associations and the Housing Corporation rose by 87 per cent. in 1975, 36 per cent. in 1976 and 46 per cent. in 1977. This spending increased in each year after that while the Labour Government were in office. We know that under the Conservative Government the projects that Ministers boast about have had their budgets cut. In 1984, the Government cut the Housing Corporation's budget. It was cut again in 1985, followed by a further cut in 1986. It is only in recent years that they have managed to increase the corporation's budget. A 2 per cent. increase in real terms has been squeezed for 1988–89.

The nub of our argument is that the Government have tried to steal the credit for what was done by the Labour Government. They have tried to denigrate the great work that was carried out by the Labour Government between 1974 and 1979. During that period there was a fivefold increase in spending within the private sector and housing associations. It is a disgrace that the work of my colleagues in the previous Labour Government is being denigrated. The lies must stop now. I challenge the Minister to challenge my figures, he having made a poor attempt to do so in Committee.

Even when we move from the co-operative and housing association sectors into what might be described as the Government's strong points, such as repair grants and the help that is given to home owners, we are aware of their woefully inadequate and pitiful record. This year, help given by the Government to home owners throughout Scotland will be cut by 16 per cent. The Minister knows that in south Edinburgh there will be thousands left on the waiting list, for 90 per cent. grants were nothing more than an electoral gimmick. It was made in the year before the 1983 general election, only to be dropped almost the day after the election by my predecessor.

The Government's housing record is abysmal. Notes are being passed to the Minister from the civil servants' Box. The only one that we want him to read this evening is, "I resign."

11.37 pm
Mr. Andrew Welsh (Angus, East)

There have been contributions of fervour and feeling on a subject that is deserving of them. That cannot be said of the two token contributions from the Conservative Benches, which have been virtually deserted.

I do not have to declare an interest, because Angus district council gets precisely nothing from the Government in terms of housing support grant. It receives nothing, zero, zilch or nil, and it is allowed to provide a similar amount in rate fund contributions. All housing improvements within the area of the district council fall on the shoulders of council house tenants. They receive no help from central Government. Housing support grant in Angus fell from £4.37 million to zero within three years. The Government do not understand the effect that such a dramatic reduction in resources has on a local authority that is endeavouring sensibly to plan its housing policy.

Prudent authorities are treated with the same contempt that is shown to authorities which the Government consider to be bad boys. Indeed, prudent authorities sometimes receive the worst treatment. Prudent budgeting is no safeguard against a Government who are so biased against local government.

It is ridiculous that housing policy in Scotland is being determined by the resources that can be raised from the selling of council houses and not by the needs of the people. It is clear that the Government's policy, in partnership with the private sector, is to starve Scottish authorities of the funds that are required to provide adequate housing for the Scottish people. Resources are being squeezed from councils. Only 25 authorities in Scotland are receiving help from the Government, and that number will dwindle to nil in the coming years. The figures show that two thirds of the total housing stock receives no central Government financial support. Yet local authorities should be a major engine in any drive to solve Scotland's housing problems.

The fall in the Government's support for Scottish housing contrasts starkly with their support for the political heartlands in south-east England, where huge public subisidies are given through mortgage interest tax relief. With 30 per cent. of the United Kingdom population, south-east England receives 50 per cent. of total relief, equivalent to well over £1 billion. Would that that money were spent in Scotland on our housing needs.

Specifically on the variation order, I ask the Minister how taking £707,000 from Roxburgh district will help its housing position, or how the £94,500 clawed back from Annandale and Eskdale will help that district. Indeed, how will the money taken from Argyll and Bute district do anything to help solve its rural housing problems? Based on a technical adjustment for interest rates, it would be better for these sums to remain within the housing system in each of the districts. In other words, the money is going in the wrong direction.

The calculations sum up the Conservative Government's attitude towards one of Scotland's major and long-lasting problems. [Interruption.] In view of the groaning on the Labour Benches, may I point out that I do not take long on my speeches, but I have the right to speak, and I will finish this speech. If hon. Members allow me to continue, I will finish promptly. If there have been delays, blame should be pointed in the direction of other hon. Members.

The Government's rate Fund contribution is merely another way of stopping local independence of decision-making. It seems scarcely credible in the middle of a Scottish housing crisis, with homelessness and waiting lists increasing, with the cessation of public authority house building, and with dampness and other massive problems facing us, that these orders are before us to cheesepare sums of money which could otherwise be spent on helping to solve the problems. A proper Scottish house conditions survey could have been funded by the money that the Government are taking from Scottish local authorities, but nothing is happening.

We have a clear indication that the Government are going in the wrong direction. Instead of dealing with Scotland's housing problems by injecting more resources, they are squeezing money out of Scotland's private and public housing systems. These are technical documents which once again betray the Government's failure to deal adequately with Scotland's housing needs.

11.42 pm
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

In response to the hon. Member for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh), may I say that Angus district council has decided not to increase rents next year.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Griffiths) raised again the question of improvements grants. For 1987–88 Edinburgh received a non-housing revenue account allocation of £8.5 million, plus £26 million which was earmarked for dealing with the grant backlogs. Glasgow had a share of that. The council's provisional non-HRA allocation for 1988–89 consists of £9.5 million, plus £14.5 million, earmarked for grant backlogs. In other words, the basic allocation on the non-HRA is up by £1 million if we take out the backlogs.

The hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) said that much of the increase in housing support grant is due to interest rates. That is not so. The interest rate assumed for next year, 10.2 per cent., is only 0.1 per cent. above the rate for this year. The reason for the £12 million increase in housing support grant for 1988–89 is increased management and maintenance which is necessary to ensure that the housing stock is well looked after.

Sums spent on housing in Scotland in the public sector will increase from 1987–88. The planned gross capital expenditure was £719 million. That will go up to £748 millon. Hon. Members should not doubt that. In view of what has been said tonight, it should not be forgotten that the Government have again increased the provision for capital investment in Scottish housing. Although the housing revenue allocations for 1987–88 stood at record levels, the provisional allocations for 1988–89 are nearly 7 per cent. higher than the equivalent allocations for the current year. Of course, with the major disposals of stock to the private and voluntary sector, even greater investment is now being made in what was seen hitherto as local authority stock.

More local authority dwellings were improved last year—some 58,000, which is more than in any of the previous 10 years. More than 298,000 local authority dwellings, about a quarter of the stock, have been included in modernisation schemes costing about £1 billion—

It being one and a half hours after the motion was entered upon, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER proceeded to put successively the Question already proposed from the Chair and the Question on such of the remaining motions relating to Housing (Scotland) as were then made, pursuant to order [19 February].

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 203, Noes 137.

Division No. 194] [11.45 pm
Alexander, Richard Goodhart, Sir Philip
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Amess, David Gow, Ian
Amos, Alan Gower, Sir Raymond
Arbuthnot, James Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Gregory, Conal
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Ashby, David Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Aspinwall, Jack Grist, Ian
Atkinson, David Ground, Patrick
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Batiste, Spencer Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Hampson, Dr Keith
Bellingham, Henry Hanley, Jeremy
Bendall, Vivian Hannam, John
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Bevan, David Gilroy Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Blackburn, Dr John G. Harris, David
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Haselhurst, Alan
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hayes, Jerry
Boswell, Tim Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Bottomley, Peter Hayward, Robert
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Heathcoat-Amory, David
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Heddle, John
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Brazier, Julian Hind, Kenneth
Bright, Graham Holt, Richard
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Hordern, Sir Peter
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Howard, Michael
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Burt, Alistair Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Butler, Chris Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Butterfill, John Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Irvine, Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Jack, Michael
Carrington, Matthew Janman, Tim
Carttiss, Michael Jessel, Toby
Cash, William Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Conway, Derek King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Kirkhope, Timothy
Day, Stephen Knapman, Roger
Dorrell, Stephen Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Knox, David
Dover, Den Lang, Ian
Durant, Tony Latham, Michael
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Lawrence, Ivan
Forman, Nigel Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Gale, Roger Lightbown, David
Garel-Jones, Tristan Lilley, Peter
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Shaw, David (Dover)
Lord, Michael Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
McLoughlin, Patrick Sims, Roger
Mans, Keith Skeet, Sir Trevor
Marland, Paul Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Soames, Hon Nicholas
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Speed, Keith
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Speller, Tony
Maude, Hon Francis Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stanbrook, Ivor
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Stevens, Lewis
Miller, Hal Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Mills, Iain Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Mitchell, David (Hants NW) Summerson, Hugo
Monro, Sir Hector Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Morrison, Hon Sir Charles Temple-Morris, Peter
Moss, Malcolm Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Moynihan, Hon Colin Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Neale, Gerrard Thorne, Neil
Needham, Richard Thornton, Malcolm
Neubert, Michael Townend, John (Bridlington)
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Tredinnick, David
Nicholls, Patrick Viggers, Peter
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Waddington, Rt Hon David
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Walden, George
Oppenheim, Phillip Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Paice, James Waller, Gary
Patnick, Irvine Ward, John
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Warren, Kenneth
Porter, David (Waveney) Watts, John
Portillo, Michael Wheeler, John
Powell, William (Corby) Whitney, Ray
Raffan, Keith Widdecombe, Ann
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Wilkinson, John
Redwood, John Wilshire, David
Renton, Tim Winterton, Mrs Ann
Rhodes James, Robert Winterton, Nicholas
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Wolfson, Mark
Riddick, Graham Wood, Timothy
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Woodcock, Mike
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Yeo, Tim
Rossi, Sir Hugh Young, Sir George (Acton)
Rost, Peter
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Tellers for the Ayes:
Sackville, Hon Tom Mr. Richard Ryder and
Sayeed, Jonathan Mr. David Maclean.
Scott, Nicholas
Alton, David Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Cousins, Jim
Ashton, Joe Crowther, Stan
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Cryer, Bob
Barron, Kevin Cunliffe, Lawrence
Battle, John Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Beckett, Margaret Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Bell, Stuart Dixon, Don
Bermingham, Gerald Doran, Frank
Blair, Tony Duffy, A. E. P.
Boyes, Roland Dunnachie, Jimmy
Bradley, Keith Eadie, Alexander
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Eastham, Ken
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Evans, John (St Helens N)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Buckley, George J. Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Callaghan, Jim Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Flynn, Paul
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Foster, Derek
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Foulkes, George
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Fyfe, Maria
Clay, Bob Galbraith, Sam
Clelland, David Galloway, George
Clwyd, Mrs Ann George, Bruce
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Godman, Dr Norman A.
Golding, Mrs Llin Meale, Alan
Graham, Thomas Michael, Alun
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Hardy, Peter Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Harman, Ms Harriet Morgan, Rhodri
Henderson, Doug Morley, Elliott
Hinchliffe, David Mowlam, Marjorie
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Murphy, Paul
Home Robertson, John Nellist, Dave
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) O'Brien, William
Howells, Geraint Patchett, Terry
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Pike, Peter L.
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Quin, Ms Joyce
Illsley, Eric Redmond, Martin
Ingram, Adam Reid, Dr John
John, Brynmor Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Robertson, George
Kennedy, Charles Rogers, Allan
Kirkwood, Archy Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Lambie, David Rowlands, Ted
Lamond, James Ruddock, Joan
Leadbitter, Ted Salmond, Alex
Lewis, Terry Skinner, Dennis
Livsey, Richard Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
McAllion, John Soley, Clive
McAvoy, Thomas Spearing, Nigel
McCartney, Ian Steel, Rt Hon David
Macdonald, Calum A. Strang, Gavin
McFall, John Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
McGrady, Eddie Turner, Dennis
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Vaz, Keith
McKelvey, William Wall, Pat
McLeish, Henry Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
McTaggart, Bob Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
McWilliam, John Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Madden, Max Wise, Mrs Audrey
Mahon, Mrs Alice Worthington, Tony
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Wray, Jimmy
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Tellers for the Noes:
Martlew, Eric Mr. Frank Haynes and
Maxton, John Mr. Nigel Griffiths.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the draft Housing Support Grant (Scotland) Order 1988, which was laid before this House on 3rd February, be approved.

  2. c416