HC Deb 17 April 1989 vol 151 cc116-35 10.14 pm
Mr. Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Housing (Change of Landlord) Regulations 1989 (S.I., 1989, No. 367), dated 6th March 1989, a copy of which was laid before this House on 15th March, be annulled. This statutory instrument, which is unusually large, is the sort of legislation to which we are becoming accustomed under a Government who legislate by statutory instrument or order of the Secretary of State, as we pointed out to the Minister a number of times in Committee during consideration of the Housing Act 1988.

I concede that the regulations make one or two changes for the better. The Government have clearly responded to some of the requests that we made in the Committee that considered the Housing Act. I welcome those small improvements. We still have a system, which the Government introduced, of "pick a landlord", which should more appropriately be named "pick a tenant". The regulations refer to the way in which, having made a bid for a group of properties, the applicant—as the new landlord will be called—can begin to acquire those properties and the information that must be given by the local authority about the tenants who live in the area, voting and consultation periods.

It would be nice if I were able to say that this is a genuine "pick a landlord" scheme that would enable the tenant of a latter-day Mr. Rachman or Mr. Hoogstraten to go to his town hall, housing association or local housing co-operative and say, "I am fed up with being harrassed by this landlord and want to change to a better or different one." That will not occur. The regulations apply only to local authority tenants.

The Government allege that local authority housing is unpopular. That is a strange argument when one bears in mind the fact that local authority waiting lists of people desperate to obtain council houses have increased dramatically under the Government and currently stand at 1.25 million people. The Government's view was soundly put down by the Glasgow university study carried out at the request of the Department of the Environment. It showed that, by and large, councils are good landlords and compare favourably with housing associations.

The regulations are a one-way ticket because there is no possibility of changing one's mind if one gets a bad landlord. Again, it is not "pick a landlord" but "pick a tenant". An outside landlord makes a bid, and once it is accepted tenants are stuck with him until the landlord chooses to dispose of them. Tenants are unable to vote to change their landlord.

The object of the measure is to squeeze the public housing system further, to push people out of it and into the public sector. Perhaps predictably, that policy is not working as well as the Government would like. The harsh reality for the Government is that the majority of tenants who are voting under the rigged system, whereby abstentions are counted as yes votes—a system that would be satisfactory to a third-rate dictator—are voting it down and saying no. Some of the alternative landlords have been quite good housing associations with good reputations. Tenants are doing so because the Government have terrified many of them, especially older ones, with their drive to push them into the private sector.

Many tenants, especially older ones, remember that they tried to get out of the private sector. Government reports clearly show that private rented housing is the most unpopular form of rented housing. Some council landlords and some housing association landlords are bad, but the worst of them cannot compare with the worst private sector landlords, which include the Mr. Rachmans and Mr. Hoogstratens of this world. When the Government say that such things cannot happen and—as they tried to tell us during the passage of the Bill—that landlords will not exploit the new assured tenancy that makes it easier to evict, I demonstrated how wrong they are.

The new business expansion scheme pushes people who have never been landlords into providing accommodation. Brochures from companies—some quite respectable—are circulated which say that the companies will convert the properties into three and four-bedroom residential flats, let them on an assured tenancy, and shortly before the end of the business expansion scheme takes effect—the five-year period when tax is paid—they will convert them into one-bedroom flats, prior to selling them. The brochure continues: Carrying out major renovation work on such accommodation is grounds for compulsory repossession"— the nasty word "eviction" is not used— under the 1988 Housing Act. That was how I was able to predict—sadly, with accuracy—that such legislation and the assured tenancy would be abused. The evidence is there to see for all who have eyes.

Another reason why the Government's system is failing is that housing associations object to being used as the stalking horse for the Government. They do not like being pushed into taking over council properties because they are aware that, if they do so, they will take on large management problems which, in many cases, they are not equipped to meet. The Government, in their desperation to increase the supply of housing, are asking them to start building more of their own properties, and their management problems become even more complicated. The associations have to increase the supply of built properties and take on other existing properties from local authorities. The majority of housing associations do not want to get into that game. Only the bigger, richer and longer-established councils can do so, which is what is happening.

Part V of the regulations relates to section 101 of the Housing Act and prevents local authorities from making secure a tenancy on a property which becomes vacant during the application. From time to time the Government have accused councils of keeping properties empty unnecess-arily. I have pointed out time and again that local authorities have a better record in this matter than housing associations or the private sector, and an infinitely better record than the worst of all landlords, the Government, of whose properties almost 6 per cent. are empty.

Under the regulations, local authorities will have to keep additional numbers of houses and flats empty because they cannot let them during the period of the takeover—which can last for six months—unless they do so on a temporary basis. The properties cannot be let on a secure tenancy.

How can the Minister justify this in terms of good housing management? How can a local authority manage its stock well if, during the period of a takeover, it cannot let properties which become vacant—even to people who are homeless? The local authority may still have to put such people in bed-and-breakfast accommodation even though empty property exists in the takeover area. I challenge the Government to say that they will allow local authorities to put people into vacant properties and give them a secure tenure and a vote.

Regulation 13 does not allow a tenancy to become secure automatically when section 101 of the 1988 Act ceases to apply. Will the Minister address this topic when he winds up? Why cannot the property automatically become a secure tenancy? The right and logical thing to do would be to allow it to revert to being a secured tenancy. Under section 13, that would not happen—but if I am wrong, I will be glad to be corrected.

Schedule 3 says that the information shall be written in clear and straightforward language". I welcome that; it is a good change, but I hope that it will not be the so-called straight language of the Government's propaganda leaflets, such as the so-called "Tenants' Choice" leaflet put out by the Department of the Environment, which did not state in clear and unambiguous language that people who do not vote are counted as having voted in favour of a new landlord. That was rightly described as inertia selling by the National Consumers Council. The Minister continually ducked giving the council the leaflet so that it could give its informed view on the matter.

I welcome the fact that the new landlord will have to specify the difference between a new tenancy on offer and a secured tenancy. That is one of the most interesting and welcome moves in this otherwise squalid little regulation. For some time now, tenants have been offered a pig in a poke, often by organisations that have been well-intentioned. I have seen leaflets put out by people seeking to take over—I am thinking in one case of a management buy-out which implied that the tenancies that tenants would get if they voted for new landlords would be as good as secured tenancies. They might have been, but nobody knows, because no agreement of any sort was in existence when the propaganda was being put out. Tenants were being asked to make decisions without knowing the facts. So it is an important and welcome step forward that tenants should be told the specific difference between the new tenancy they are being offered and their present secured tenancy. If they are offered an assured tenancy, it will be much weaker than their present secured tenancy, because, as I have already said, people can be evicted on the grounds of the necessity for major repairs or of being more than three months in arrears with their rent.

I hope that the Government, who abuse the English language regularly, will tell tenants in straight language that they cannot change their minds. I hope they will tell them that, if they vote for a new landlord who turns out to be bad, all that the Government will do will be to tell the landlord that he cannot be an assured landlord any more—but his tenants will have to stay with him. They will not be able to vote on the matter—no "pick your landlord" this time. This is a one-way ticket, often into an unknown future. That is why so many elderly people are frightened about the change. The Government are bullying them into the private sector, and that is unacceptable and unnecessary.

Section 16(6) suggests that it is the tenants' duty to tell applicants that they may be absent from their address for some time—an interesting innovation. It means that, if a tenant goes off to serve in the armed forces—perhaps to the Falklands—for a long time, unless he remembers to tell the applicant that he will be away for a long time, he will return to find that ownership of his home has been transferred over his head. People who go to prison or to hospital or who become seriously ill at home and who cannot care for their affairs in the usual way will also be vulnerable in this respect.

This is not a proper democratic system: it is a disgrace. I have yet to meet a Conservative Member of Parliament who has been able to justify this appalling system on a public platform. I have to hand it to the hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Mr. Kirkhope) who, speaking at a meeting with me, put the Government's case perfectly. He said that they choose the electoral system that suits the occasion, and by God he was right. He said, "As long as we can win it, we shall fix it in whatever way we can." What a definition of democracy. What a definition of what we think is necessary in a modern democratic society.

Mr. Timothy Kirkhope (Leeds, North-East)

The hon. Gentleman has taken totally out of context what I said at that meeting. It is typical of the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues that they always take such remarks out of context when it suits the occasion. He may remember that the meetings that he and I addressed together were largely sympathetic to the general view that tenants should have some choice in the matter, however it is determined.

Mr. Soley

The Conservative councillors who were present were more in favour of what I said than what the hon. Gentleman said. That is why the Association of District Councils and the London Boroughs Association were so opposed to this rigged voting system. It would be hard to take what the hon. Gentleman said out of context, because he was asked a specific question. He may remember that the whole of the proceedings were tape-recorded, and the tapes are still in existence. If he wants to listen to the tapes and say how his remarks were taken out of context, I should be delighted to see his response in print.

The system is pretty grim. Part VII makes no mention of arrangements for outstanding loan debts. Perhaps the Minister will address that in his winding-up speech. That might well leave the local authority carrying debt for properties that have been transferred. When I hear the Government talking about how concerned they are about the ratepayer, I think of Thamesmead. I think of an estate valued at about £200 million that was knocked down for £25 million because the company taking it over said it could not afford it. That was £400 a house. What happened to the outstanding debt charges of £120 million? They were dumped on London ratepayers, who will go on paying them for many years.

Mr. Roger Gale (Thanet, North)

Could the hon. Gentleman tell us what has happened to the rates in the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham since his party took over?

Mr. Soley

The hon. Gentleman would not ask that question if he knew the latest news. The rate increase of 3 per cent. in Hammersmith and Fulham is one of the lowest in the country. It is far lower than rate increases in Conservative areas and far lower than that in the area of the Minister for Local Government. The rate increase in Suffolk, Coastal was one of the highest in the country. What a shambles. The Government try to fix local authorities so that rates have to go up, and they get it so wrong that Conservative councils have to put up the rates. Labour councils still manage to provide decent services while keeping rates within bounds, which is just about possible under this system.

I look forward to hearing interventions by the hon. Member for Thanet, North (Mr. Gale) when he complains on behalf of his constituents about the poll tax. He will say to the Minister, "I am worried about the poll tax. It is hitting families in my constituency very badly. Each child over the age of 18 in a family has to pay the poll tax." We shall see a different look on the hon. Gentleman's face when he talks about local government finance then.

As I have said, part VII does not mention what is to happen to debt. Can the Minister tell us whether outstanding debts will be dumped on the ratepayers? We want to know, and so do ratepayers. Under part VII, applicants can proceed even if initially they are unable to come up with the full price. I am deeply worried about that, because some housing associations and other associations, many of which had good intentions, are getting into difficulties after taking over properties because they have not assessed as they should have assessed the financial consequences. That is why we have seen rents going up so much in areas that have been transferred.

There may be debates about the causes of rent increases in ex-GLC seaside homes. When rents go up to 40 per cent. of the net income of two pensioners who are above housing benefit level because they have two occupational pensions, they will not survive for long without suffering acute economic hardship. It is unnecessary and cruel for the Government to put them in that position.

These regulations should not have been laid. They are based on a premise that makes them unnecessary. For some tenants this is a one-way ticket out of the public sector; it is not "pick a landlord" legislation. I should love it if tenants of a bad landlord could change their landlord, but they cannot. This is all about trying to get local authorities to give up their housing without providing anything in its place. That is why the housing crisis in this country is no longer just an inner-city crisis or a crisis in the rented sector, but one that goes to urban and rural areas and hits people who are buying as well as people who are renting. This Government's housing policy is a failed policy, and these regulations are a small part of that failure.

10.36 pm
Mr. Matthew Taylor (Truro)

I do not wish to detain the House for long, but I must say that it is a great shame that debates of this kind take place at this time of night. This is really just an extension of the drip of legislation by the back door—through statutory instruments provided for in the primary legislation, the detail of which Ministers were unable to fill in when the legislation was going through its various stages.

As the hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) said, these regulations contain some improvements. The changes that will ensure that tenants get better information are welcome. Nevertheless, there is still not enough information about the reality of the Act, about the effect that privatisation will have on tenants over the years. I am thinking in particular—this has been mentioned already—of circumstances in which people find that they have been tricked, conned or bought into making a bad decision. The landlord—supposedly squeaky clean—is taken off the Government's list of acceptable landlords, but the tenants have to put up with him indefinitely.

Individual tenants can do nothing about the malpractices that they are suffering. Many of them will not have voted for the system, but the abstention vote will ensure that, so far as the Government are concerned, those people's hands were raised to show that they were in favour of the system. Thank goodness we do not, as yet, have voting by show of hands in this House.

Part IV provides that, if a tenant in a block votes against a new landlord, that tenant has the right to stay with the council. The landlord is enabled to let that particular flat back to the council, which can sublet it to the tenant. That is an improvement.

The thing that will lead me to vote against these regulations—I understand that there will be a vote—is the procedure under part V which prevents the council, during the bidding process, from letting a council property on the estate in question.

Almost every other provision in this instrument is concerned with detail. In most cases the detailed provisions are unlikely to affect what is happening, but this provision relates directly to people's ability to have their housing needs met—to be certain of a roof over their heads, to be certain of a home for their husbands, or wives, and children. It is about the most basic of things. In my view, this procedure will deprive people of the security of a roof over their heads, simply because of the bureaucracy of a voting system. It is a system which should not be taking place in any case, but which, in this case, will ensure that at least some individuals suffer.

As has already been said, the Government repeatedly criticise councils for not housing people when there are properties in which they can be housed. Without any question, some councils are better at it than any others. The Government are worst of all. These regulations put into the rules a system that ensures that the accommodation cannot be properly used. That is not only an error but fundamentally and morally wrong. They should be opposed tonight if for no other reason than that they will keep out on the streets yet more people without the permanent security of housing for them and their children.

10.40 pm
Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

Like many hon. Members, I have a surgery in my constituency, in my case every Friday. Every week, the greatest number of problems concern housing. People come to me asking me what can be done. Some live in bed-and-breakfast accommodation. Some are single-parent families. Some have lived in Newham for many years. Some are in unsuitable private rented accommodation, and others want transfers. Last Friday, about 70 per cent. of all the cases that I saw concerned housing. What can we offer such people? On many occasions, I have said that I only wish that Ministers, and in particular the Prime Minister, would come to my surgery to see how enormous is the housing problem in my area, and how that is mirrored throughout London and in no doubt in other cities.

If the Housing Act 1988 from which these regulations flow had done anything to address the housing crisis, I would have been most encouraged. I would also have been amazed, given the Government's record. The Act has nothing to do with building one single unit of the accommodation that is so desperately needed. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) said, it is all to do with ideology, and the drive to force local authorities out of providing housing. It is about petty, party political, ideological objectives rather than housing.

It does not take a great statistician to work out that there must be something wrong when homelessness in London has doubled since 1979 when the Government came to power. The number of people in bed-and-breakfast accommodation has reached astronomic proportions. In 1983, Newham was spending £50,000 a year on bed and breakfast. This year, it will spend £5 million. That cannot be right.

While the queue of people wanting accommodation keeps growing, the Government cut the resources that local authorities need to build new houses. The Minister will correct me if I have got it wrong, but if I remember rightly, since the Government came into power, the housing investment programme has been cut by 80 per cent. in real terms. That is why homelessness has doubled. It is not because there are no good landlords waiting in the wings to come along and give people decent accommodation in which to live: it is all because the Government have cut, cut and cut again against the resources that local authorities need to spend on housing.

I hope that, if the Minister's bag carrier has just got the figure for the number of voids in Newham—I am sure that that is what I lipread—he will bear in mind the fact that we have about 1,100 voids because they are in unsafe tower blocks. They are those Taylor Woodrow Anglia tower blocks. No doubt the Minister remembers the name of Ronan Point. There are 110 of those unsuited tower blocks. In the drive to sell off units of accommodation, there are not many takers for tower blocks in Newham. Boroughs have been forced to sell off the best properties. Tenants have been left in the worst, and they have little chance now of ever moving out of them.

The problems of homelessness in London and elsewhere stem from the constant denial of resources to local authorities to build houses that people so desperately need. In the 1970s, we were building, about 25,000 units of accommodation a year in London. We are down now to fewer than 2,500. Building in the public sector is at a lower level now than it was in the 1920s. It is a scandal. The Minister and the Government generally are presiding over an obscene disgrace. In 1989, there are still tens of thousands living in conditions that no Member of this place would be prepared to tolerate for five minutes. At 10.45 pm we are discussing measures that have nothing to do with the problems of homelessness and nothing to do with building new homes. Instead, they are all about party political spite and ideology as the Government try to drive local authorities out of the provision of homes.

The regulations against which we are praying make t he already fundamentally flawed policy even more problematic. They display disregard for the interests of tenants. They work against genuine efforts to find satisfactory tenant-based solutions to housing problems. They introduce the imposition of intolerable administrative and financial burdens on councils. The time scale for consultation is woefully inadequate. If the objective is to allow genuine discussion among tenants and their advisers to enable satisfactory solutions to housing problems, the time scale is nonsense.

I understand that 14 weeks is the maximum period for consultation, and it could be much less. The applicant landlord could effectively stifle debate by issuing the final offer only at the end of the first seven-week period. The belated concession of seven to 10 days for the council to respond is completely inadequate. There is then four weeks in which to vote, but that could be done on the first day, with only two weeks to follow up. Real debate could be restricted to only two weeks in the middle of the process. It is the opinion of the Association of London Authorities that 28 weeks is the minimum period for real debate and discussion.

Perhaps the Minister will argue that there will be debate during the preliminary phase, but few details are available about that. I hope that the Minister will tell us in greater detail what the consultation period will involve. As the procedure is non-statutory, an applicant landlord will not have to make a final offer. That means that details of rents, for example, will be missing. Genuine consideration of all the facts can take place only within the statutory consultation process, and under the regulations that could be limited to a mere couple of weeks.

Housing is far too important for these procedures to be acceptable even to the Minister. The provisions of only one vote for joint tenants will cause major problems. At the very least, we maintain that two signatures should be required to prove that the vote is acknowledged by both parties. The regulations are inadequate for meeting the needs of tenants whose first language is not English. That is a matter of major concern in a borough such as Newham. Regulation 16, schedule 3, states that, Where there is significant foreseeable demand material, should be translated. That provides too many loopholes for applicant landlords.

Ms. Diane Abbott (Hackney, North and Stoke Newington)

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is all well and good for Ministers to sit and laugh and chatter through his excellent and carefully judged speech? If they had the week-in and week-out experience of London Members in dealing at their surgeries with people who have been in bed-and-breakfast hostels for years and who have had to bring up small children in that accommodation—in other words, if they had to deal with the victims of their housing policies—they would not be quite so glib and quite so happy. The regulations will do nothing to help the homeless and the poor and everything to aid and provide profits for property speculators.

Mr. Banks

There are times when I find it difficult to work out whether the Government are vicious or ignorant. I have come to the conclusion that they are both. There can be no doubt that they are certainly vicious, but I also believe that many Conservative Members are also ignorant of the problems. Although some Conservative Members know what the problems are, because of the party whipping system they are prepared to turn their minds away from the realities. Many of those who know the realities absent themselves from these debates and come in only to vote, because if they have not heard the arguments their consciences will perhaps not trouble them in quite the way that they should and they can stagger home to bed, if not with easy consciences, at least with consciences that have not been troubled with having to confront the reality of life for so many of our citizens in London and elsewhere.

I return to the issue of translated material. As I have said, there are too many loopholes for the applicant landlord when dealing with tenants, many of whom do not have English as their first language. Surely, if tenants are to exercise choice, which is the Government's stated aim, those tenants must have understandable information before them. There is nothing in the regulations to say how demand is to be assessed or what constitutes "significant". We maintain that if a single tenant does not understand, it is significant to him or her. I hope that the Minister will say a little more about translated material.

It appears that spoilt ballot papers will count as abstentions. Under this voting system, that means they will be votes in favour of transfer. That is nonsense, but under this Government, we are getting used to nonsense in voting procedures in these regulations. There is no question of democracy. The Government do not worry about concepts such as democracy, because it means whatever they want it to mean—

Mr. John Battle (Leeds, West)

Or whatever they can get away with.

Mr. Banks

Indeed, as my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle) says, democracy means whatever the Government can get away with. However, that may not work. The tenants may vote against those landlords because they are not coming in to do a good job: they are trying to strip out the assets. It is no good the Minister saying, "Oh well, only approved landlords will come from the Housing Corporation," because it will be quite possible to pull the wool over the eyes of the Housing Corporation. If the corporation gets it wrong, there is no question of it saying, "We'll take those properties away from that stinking lousy landlord"; all that it will say is, "Sorry, you can't have any more people to exploit, but you can carry on exploiting the ones you've got."

Let us face it—this is a developers' charter, an asset-strippers' charter. It has nothing to do with finding housing for the people who desperately need it. Until we get rid of this stinking, rotten Government who could not care a monkey's toss, the housing crisis will just get worse and worse. No doubt the only thing that we shall get from the Minister are his laughs and sneers. That is all that the homeless can expect from him.

10.52 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. David Trippier)

I assume that the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) was trying—as he so often does—to draw a laugh from Conservative Members. He is often genuinely funny. However, he was not all that funny today. Indeed, the comments made by Opposition Members generally did not show anything new or innovative over the arguments that they have tried to advance in the past on this part of the Housing Act 1988 which refers to tenants' choice. There were simply the regurgitated arguments that I have heard so many times because, for some reason or another, the Opposition seem to be worried about the legislation. I genuinely cannot guess why they are so worried, unless it is for purely party political purposes and they are concerned that we are moving into the heartland of the Labour party—

Mr. Battle

That is what this is all about—very interesting.

Mr. Trippier

We are not only offering, as we have done since 1979, an opportunity to tenants to exercise their right-to-buy; we are now offering them an extension to that—the opportunity to choose an alternative landlord—

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)


Mr. Trippier

I shall gladly give way in a moment.

How on earth can the hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) suggest to the House that instead of choosing a new landlord, the legislation means choosing a tenant or, to use his precise phrase, it means "pick a tenant"? The hon. Gentleman knows—although his right hon. and hon. Friends may not—that the council house tenant has the right to veto his council house being sold over his head. The council house tenant can, by registering that veto, remain with the registering landlord, which will be the local authority. The hon. Gentleman knows that, and he probably suspects that the vast majority of his right hon. and hon. Friends—because they have not taken the time and trouble to read the regulations—do not. The hon. Gentleman said that the Government were putting fear into the minds of tenants. If anyone is doing that, it is the hon. Member for Hammersmith and his right hon. and hon. Friends.

Mr. Winnick

It is not difficult to expose the Government's hypocrisy. Why is the right to decide that is given to council tenants not extended to private tenants? The Minister says that the regulations are all about giving choice. Does not the Minister know that many private tenants under pressure and suffering intimidation would gladly choose the local authority as their landlord?

Mr. Trippier

I have not heard such bunkum for a long time. As a result of the policies of previous Labour Governments, and of former Conservative Governments with which I personally would not have agreed, there has been such a substantial increase in the public sector housing stock that we have, I am ashamed to say, the highest percentage public housing stock in the whole of western Europe, and the lowest percentage—8 per cent. —of private rented accommodation in western Europe. The situation is so out of balance that there is no fair alternative.

The 1988 Act is designed to encourage the development and growth of the private rented sector—not by reincarnating Rachman, as the hon. Member for Hammersmith suggests, but by expanding the housing association movement. I remind the hon. Member for Newham, North-West, that a housing association is highly likely to be the alternative landlord putting forward proposals to the tenants, rather than the kind of private landlord that he suggests. The hon. Gentleman should make it clear to his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms. Abbott) that housing associations are non-profit-making bodies.

Mr. Mark Fisher (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)

The Minister visited my constituency and knows that it has a very large private rented sector. What does he have to say to those of my constituents in the private rented sector who want the choice he intends giving public sector tenants?

Mr. Trippier

I have never been on an official visit to the hon. Gentleman's constituency during my time as a Minister with responsibility for housing. However, I shall be only too pleased to visit it and to see whatever the hon. Gentleman wishes to show me.

The matter in question has arisen on several previous occasions. Our responsibility is clearly to give public sector tenants an alternative. The private rented sector is tiny. Tenants who are dissatisfied with their private sector landlords can go to law. The changes we introduced in the 1988 Act ensure that the kind of rent previously charged in the public sector—which had a considerable effect on rents generally—can move up to being more of a market rent. The alternative available to the tenant should be fairer than in the past.

Mr. Winnick

Why does the Minister not answer the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher) and by me? It is a very simple question: if, as he claims, there is a choice for public sector tenants, why is there no choice for private tenants? However misguided they may be, why not allow them to choose whether to become local authority tenants?

Mr. Trippier

If they wish to become local authority tenants, they can exercise that right by applying to the local authority. [Interruption.] Of course they can. As a result of changes in the 1988 Act, however, a number of tenants will choose to move into the private sector. Rat her than choosing to exercise the right to buy—they may not be in a position, financially, to do that—they will move into accommodation owned by housing associations. There is clear evidence of that in recent surveys by the Department of the Environment. Some 40 per cent of tenants consulted during the Professor MacLennan study said that they were prepared to pay a higher rent for a better service from the landlord. If we are to debate these matters seriously, let us examine the facts.

Mrs. Llin Golding (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

May I take up the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Fisher)? What about the former National Coal Board tenants in both our constituencies who have to put up with disgusting conditions now that their houses have been sold off to landlords whom they can never find, and who do not care about repairs? Can they go to the local authority and ask to be taken on?

Mr. Trippier

Earlier today, on a regional visit to the east midlands, I met representatives of the East Midlands housing association, which, I understand, has made bids for former Coal Board properties. [Interruption] I do not think that this is a new case, and I do not think that the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle) knows a great deal about the east midlands.

Mr. Battle

That is a slur.

Mr. Trippier

The hon. Gentleman usually casts slurs from a sedentary position. If he wishes to intervene, I shall be happy to give way.

Mr. Battle

Would the Minister kindly answer the question put to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle under Lyme (Mrs. Golding) about the circumstances of people whose homes have already been sold over their heads, rather than talking about new circumstances in which negotiations are in progress with the housing association? Will he also not assume that Opposition Members know nothing about such matters?

Mr. Trippier

If the hon. Gentleman would open his ears instead of his mouth, a whole new world would be opened up to him. I was answering the question put to me by the hon. Lady. If housing associations are to bid for properties formerly owned by British Coal, it is up to them to produce an alternative better than what has been experienced by the tenants of those properties. That is what I learnt today.

Certainly tenancies that were the responsibility of British Coal may not have been handled properly; I have no way of knowing unless I am told. What concerns me is that such properties are improved by their alternative landlords. In this case and, I understand, in many other parts of the country, the landlord will be a housing association. But I do not want to be diverted on to a specific point about British Coal properties, or the hon. Member for Newham, North-West will be the first to accuse me of ducking the pertinent questions that he asked.

Mr. Soley

The reason the Minister is falling into a trap is that he is trying to answer a separate question. The question was: what will happen to the Coal Board tenants whose houses have already been sold to bad landlords? Does he not realise that many of those landlords cannot even be traced? Does he not know that the tenants drove down in a coach, only to find that the "registered office" was an empty house? Following the "World in Action" programme about a lady who was driven out of her home by Mr. Hoogstraten, I have written to the Lord Chancellor, the Home Secretary and the Minister for Housing, Environment and the Countryside. That lady is still out of her home, and all those Ministers say that nothing can be done. Where is the law to protect such people? Where is the choice of a different landlord?

Mr. Trippier

Even if what the hon. Gentleman says were true, it has absolutely nothing to do with tenants' choice, for which provision is made in section 4 of the 1988 Act. He knows that perfectly well. I am prepared to discuss that or any other matter with him or any other hon. Member, but it has nothing to do with the regulations. It is vital that I should respond to some of the questions that have been asked.

Mr. Abbott

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Allen McKay (Barnsley, West and Penistone)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Trippier

I shall give way on one more occasion. The hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington has already intervened, so I shall give way to the hon. Member for Barnsley, West and Penistone (Mr. McKay).

Mr. McKay

The Minister is not putting his mind to the question. By one means or another, the Government intend to do away with local authority housing. We have known that for a considerable period. Should not the tenants of British Coal have, as of right, the choice to become local authority tenants because local authorities are the best landlords?

Mr Trippier

I am talking about the new regulations. We have taken as many steps as we think are necessary to provide for tenants a better alternative than the one that they have now. I maintained that the right of tenants to exercise a veto over their homes being sold to other landlords is a sufficient safeguard to ensure that our proposals are fair. In the vast majority of cases where there is a choice for tenants, I believe that they will choose a housing association rather than a private landlord. Opposition Members have been scaremongering. The Opposition are frightened of the proposals, so they have chosen to attack the publicity that the Government—more particularly, the Department of the Environment—have provided on the proposals.

The hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) concentrated on a leaflet that we have debated at great length. We tried to debate the matter in the media, but it was overtaken by events and it was never broadcast. As a result, however, of the publication of this—a copy of which he has had because I sent it to him, although he did not mention that fact—we have made the position clear. It is more suitable for him; it contains more pictures so he will probably be able to understand it a little better. We have coloured the pictures so that no mistake can possibly be made by the hon. Member for Hammersmith about what we are saying.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. The Minister ought to identify, for the benefit of Hansard, what it is that he referred to as "this."

Mr. Trippier

I am grateful for the chance of a commercial, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is entitled "Tenants' Choice." It is a recent Department of the Environment and Welsh Office publication. We have gone to extreme lengths to make the alternatives abundantly clear. The hon. Member for Hammersmith claimed that the effect of not voting is not made clear in our leaflet. We say: If the transfer happens … Special arrangements apply to commercial tenants and flat-owners … but otherwise if you voted yes—or did not vote at all—you will transfer to become a tenant of the alternative landlord; if you voted no, you will stay a tenant of the council.

I have no doubt that from time to time the hon. Member for Hammersmith will raise this matter in future debates on housing and that he will attack the leaflet line by line and word by word and say that it is not abundantly clear. This evening he asked, "Will the Government be honest about the one-way ticket?" We have been very honest about that, too. Page 17 of the booklet deals with the question Can I change my mind after the vote? The answer is: No. If the transfer goes ahead and you have either voted `yes' or not cast your vote, you will not be able … to stay with the existing landlord or opt to go back to it later. I fail to see how we could make that any clearer.

Mr. Soley


Mr. Trippier

Is the hon. Gentleman going to change his tack? He either wants the position made clear or he does not, surely.

Mr. Soley

If the Minister listened to what I said about the previous leaflet and put it right in the present leaflet, I am pleased. Does the present leaflet make it clear that people who chose to stay with the council will, in certain circumstances, have to pay rents set by the new landlord, or that they will have to pay all the service charges and so on? Does it make that clear?

Mr. Trippier

If the hon. Member reads his intervention in Hansard, he will realise that he has made an absolute "Horlicks" of it. He asked whether I would make it clear what would happen to tenants who stayed with the local authority—that there might be substantial increases in rents and service charges. I think that he was referring to the fact that the alternative landlord—the private sector or housing association landlord—would then be in a position to increase rents and service charges. It would be the responsibility of the housing association, before the vote was taken, to make it clear to the tenants what the alternative actually meant to them. The alternative landlord would have to spell that out and make it abundantly clear—as anyone would have to—that it was prepared to offer a better service than the service being provided by the local authority. If the housing association could not persuade tenants that it could offer a better alternative, tenants plainly would not vote for it as an alternative landlord, so the situation simply does not arise.

Mr. Tony Banks

Suppose that a potential new landlord says, "We can offer you a better service," but does not mention rents, then gets hold of the properties and sticks the rents up 12 months later. Is the Minister saying that the new landlord will not be able to do that? Does he really believe that that situation will not arise, and will he assure us that, if it does, he will do something about it?

Mr. Trippier

On the latter point, of course we will, but the situation would not arise. Having suggested, rather stupidly, that the purpose of the legislation was to "strip out" local authorities' assets, which is palpable nonsense, the hon. Member for Newham, North-West went on to dismiss what he thought would be the Government's response to his speech, which is pretty clear: we have to approve the landlords through the Housing Corporation. [Interruption.] To be fair, the hon. Gentleman touched on that.

I would not in any way undermine the power that the Housing Corporation has in that regard and its responsibility for policing the 1988 Act. The landlords have to be approved and the housing associations will certainly be regularly monitored; they are at the moment, and that will continue. It is rather silly to suggest that tenants would vote for an alternative landlord if they did not know what the alternative rent regime would be. That would be stupid, and the hon. Gentleman's suggestion stretches credulity to breaking point.

Mr. Banks


Mr. Trippier

I want to be fair to the hon. Gentleman's colleagues by trying to answer their questions.

The hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) suggested that there was not sufficient information about the Government's proposals. I have dealt to some degree with the recent publication that we have made available. I accept entirely that much more needs to be done to increase tenants' awareness of precisely what the 1988 legislation means for them. We have made it clear time and again that we are not attacking local government in the round. But in many cases the housing stock that local authorities have to manage is so enormous that they could not possibly manage it effectively or efficiently. We believe that their tenants should have the opportunity to exercise the right to choose an alternative landlord.

As a result of the legislation, there has been a considerable degree of deathbed repentance on the part of a number of local authorities that I would consider inefficient. If I were to select examples, I might be able to carry the hon. Member for Truro with me and we would agree that a particular local authority was inefficient. Many local authorities are trying to win back the favours and affections of their tenants. As I have suggested, it is a little late. If they improve their service as a result of our introducing the legislation, it should be welcomed on all sides of the House.

Mr. Matthew Taylor

Will the Minister explain why so many local authorities in rural areas have rather little housing stock and are probably not on the Minister's list of local authorities that cannot run their affairs properly? Torbay is such an example where the Minister has turned down a request for transfer. By deathbed repentances, is he referring to the fact that in Torbay dead people were counted as having voted in favour of a transfer?

Mr. Trippier

I have yet to see any evidence that such people were counted. Although I have heard it from the hon. Member for Truro and the hon. Member for Hammersmith, I have seen absolutely no evidence that that ever occurred. In regard to the legislation, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that those who have the opportunity to vote will be not only very much alive, but even if they are at sea, or even under the sea in submarines, to quote the hon. Gentleman's favourite example, it will be the responsibility of the electoral officer to ensure that they are reached. It is perfectly possible for someone serving with Her Majesty's forces abroad to be contacted in the preliminary period, through the normal British forces post office system, and that will be the responsibility of the electoral officer.

With regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for Newham, North-West about homelessness, there is an unmistakeable connection between the number of empty properties under local authority management in London and the number of homeless families. It shows the degree of inefficiency of housing management in local authorities such as his own, and particularly in Brent, that they have not turned round those empty properties and brought them back on to the market.

Mr. Banks

This one always comes up. I received an answer from the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Chope), who is not altogether dead; indeed, I understand that he is still alive. I asked him: what average percentage of the total housing stock of (a) councils, (b) housing associations and (c) private landlords was vacant at the last recorded date."—[Official Report, 13 April 1989; Vol. 150, c. 664.] The Minister's reply was that the average vacant dwellings as a percentage of stock of local authorities was 2.4 per cent., the figure for housing associations was 2.5 per cent., and the figure for private rented dwellings was 4.1 per cent. The fact is that in the local authority areas the percentage of vacancies is lower than in any other housing sector and considerably lower than in the Government's own housing sector.

Mr. Trippier

What else does the hon. Gentleman expect? There are literally thousands of private sector landlords who have varying sizes of stock. How would the hon. Gentleman, as a constituency Member of Parliament—forgetting his party affiliation—expect to chase within his constituency individual private landlords to ensure that the private rented sector is turned round and brought on to the market? I am sure that he and I agree that it would be pretty difficult. I know that the hon. Gentleman is fair in this respect.

The further difficulty the hon. Gentleman would have is persuading Newham—this is a darn sight easier problem—to improve the efficiency of the local authority and ensure that the empties are brought back on to the market and used to provide accommodation for those who are genuinely homeless.

Conservative Members are sick to death of the Opposition trying to claim that they have a monopoly of concern for the homeless—[HON. MEMBERS: "We do."].They do not. It is clear that bringing the empty properties back on to the market would relieve the pressure that the homeless are putting on the local authorities. If only one Opposition Member would admit that it is a sign of inefficiency that local authorities are not bringing those empty properties back on to the market, their claim would at least be credible. They do not turn round to their local authorities and say that they are inefficient.

There is one exception. He is a well-known Socialist but he is not a Member of the House. The leader of Liverpool city council, Councillor Keva Coombes, has been extremely fair recently in admitting publicly and with me in a debate on a radio programme, that Liverpool city council is inefficient in two regards. The first is in bringing empty properties back into use and the other is in not chasing effectively its rent arrears. Because someone such as that is prepared to admit that improvements can and should be made, it is beholden on Opposition Members also to admit that the performance of many Socialist-controlled local authorities is not up to scratch. Professor Maclennan did not do what the hon. Member for Hammersmith said. He confirmed that the efficiency within housing associations was eminently superior to local authorities.

Tenants' choice is a new opportunity for tenants of which the Government are proud. The Opposition did not like the Government giving tenants the right to choose to buy their own homes. They do not like us giving them the right to choose an alternative landlord. We have also built in the provision enabling tenants to stay with the local authority. Therefore, the Opposition find it extremely difficult to attack our proposals. I urge the House to support our measures and I commend them to the House.

11.23 pm
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

The Minister said that he was ashamed of the total number of local authority dwellings in Britain and that he considered that there were too many. The Minister should instead be concerned about and ashamed of the acute housing crisis in Britain, about the number of families living in bed-and-breakfast accommodation and about the fact that only five minutes away from here many poeople, not all of whom are beggars—many are young people who have come from the north—will have to sleep in the open air by the embankment tonight. The Minister has expressed no shame or concern about that, so what kind of Housing Minister do we have?

My hon. Friends have, in the main, referred to the housing crisis in London—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I have taken a relaxed view of the scope of the debate, but it is now turning into a general debate on homelessness, which cannot be permitted.

Mr. Winnick

I was referring to the Minister's replies to questions, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

If local authority tenants are to be given a choice of landlord, it is only proper that private tenants should be given the same choice. My hon. Friends referred to former tenants of British Coal, who are unaware who their present landlord is—[Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) will try to control herself—

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

I wish that Labour-controlled authorities would fill the empty dwellings under their control.

Mr. Winnick

The hon. Lady should perhaps have asked my permission before intervening.

My hon. Friend referred to tenants being unaware who their landlords are. Why should they not be able to choose to remain with private landlords or become tenants of a local authority or housing association? The regulations will certainly give no rights to those tenants.

We are discussing only the public sector, and the Minister gave the game away when he described it as the Labour heartland. He is concerned not with housing or tenants but with party politics. He wants to undermine the public rented sector because of the long Tory vendetta against council housing.

The voting system is crooked. Anyone who abstains is regarded as voting in favour. The Minister proved tonight what we have said all along—that he is concerned not about housing, or the acute distress being caused to so many families, or the fact that people who cannot afford a mortgage and cannot obtain local authority dwellings are living in abysmal conditions, but about undermining councils and harming and penalising public sector tenants.

Mr. Soley

Given the way in which the Minister dealt with the subject, he ought to be known as the hon. Member for used car sales. He refused to answer the question about the regulations keeping properties empty during the takeover because councils will not be able to let them. He keeps answering questions that were not asked because he cannot answer the difficult questions. That is why he should be selling cars.

Mr. Winnick

My hon. Friend makes a valid point. The Minister constantly tells local authorities that they are in the wrong, and he constantly informs the House of the number of local authority dwellings that are vacant. Yet, as my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) said, there are twice as many empty private dwellings. If the regulations make it more difficult for local authorities to let dwellings, how can he criticise them when he is the Minister responsible for making the position worse?

Everything that the Minister said showed that he should not be in charge of housing. Far from looking on him as a Minister responsible for housing, I see him as the anti-housing Minister. He is the worst junior Minister—[Interruption.] I know that there is a great deal of competition for that title, but the Minister has shown that he is the worst junior Minister in this present wretched Administration. Far from being concerned about housing, the Government want to cause the maximum damage to the public rented sector. When we vote against the regulations tonight, we shall do so with every possible justification.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 136, Noes 206.

Division NO. 159] [11.29 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Evans, John (St Helens N)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Anderson, Donald Fatchett, Derek
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Fearn, Ronald
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Barron, Kevin Fisher, Mark
Battle, John Foster, Derek.
Beckett, Margaret Fraser, John
Bell, Stuart George, Bruce
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Bermingham, Gerald Godman, Dr Norman A.
Blunkett, David Gordon, Mildred
Boyes, Roland Graham, Thomas
Bradley, Keith Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Hardy, Peter
Buckley, George J. Henderson, Doug
Caborn, Richard Holland, Stuart
Callaghan, Jim Home Robertson, John
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Howells, Geraint
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Clay, Bob Illsley, Eric
Clelland, David Ingram, Adam
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Cohen, Harry Lamond, James
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Leadbitter, Ted
Corbyn, Jeremy Leighton, Ron
Cousins, Jim Lewis, Terry
Crowther, Stan Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Cryer, Bob Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Cummings, John Loyden, Eddie
Cunliffe, Lawrence McAllion, John
Cunningham, Dr John McAvoy, Thomas
Dalyell, Tam McFall, John
Darling, Alistair McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) McKelvey, William
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I) McLeish, Henry
Dixon, Don McWilliam, John
Doran, Frank Madden, Max
Eastham, Ken Mahon, Mrs Alice
Marek, Dr John Skinner, Dennis
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Martlew, Eric Soley, Clive
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Spearing, Nigel
Moonie, Dr Lewis Steel, Rt Hon David
Morgan, Rhodri Steinberg, Gerry
Morley, Elliott Stott, Roger
Mullin, Chris Straw, Jack
Murphy, Paul Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Nellist, Dave Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Turner, Dennis
O'Brien, William Vaz, Keith
O'Neill, Martin Wall, Pat
Patchett, Terry Wallace, James
Pike, Peter L. Walley, Joan
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Prescott, John Wareing, Robert N.
Quin, Ms Joyce Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Redmond, Martin Winnick, David
Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Rogers, Allan Young, David (Bolton SE)
Rooker, Jeff
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Tellers for the Ayes:
Ruddock, Joan Mr. Frank Haynes and
Salmond, Alex Mrs. Llin Golding.
Alexander, Richard Fenner, Dame Peggy
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Allason, Rupert Fishburn, John Dudley
Amess, David Forman, Nigel
Amos, Alan Forth, Eric
Arbuthnot, James Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Fox, Sir Marcus
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Franks, Cecil
Ashby, David Freeman, Roger
Aspinwall, Jack French, Douglas
Atkins, Robert Gale, Roger
Atkinson, David Garel-Jones, Tristan
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Gill, Christopher
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Baldry, Tony Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Batiste, Spencer Gow, Ian
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Gregory, Conal
Benyon, W. Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')
Bevan, David Gilroy Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Blackburn, Dr John G. Grist, Ian
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Hague, William
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Boswell, Tim Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Bottomley, Peter Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Harris, David
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Hayward, Robert
Bowis, John Heathcoat-Amory, David
Brazier, Julian Heddle, John
Bright, Graham Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Burns, Simon Hind, Kenneth
Burt, Alistair Howard, Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Cash, William Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Chapman, Sydney Hunter, Andrew
Churchill, Mr Irvine, Michael
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) Jack, Michael
Cope, Rt Hon John Janman, Tim
Couchman, James Jessel, Toby
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Davis, David (Boothferry) Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Durant, Tony Key, Robert
Eggar, Tim King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Emery, Sir Peter Kirkhope, Timothy
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Knapman, Roger
Evennett, David Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Fallon, Michael Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Favell, Tony Knowles, Michael
Knox, David Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Latham, Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Lawrence, Ivan Roe, Mrs Marion
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Rowe, Andrew
Lightbown, David Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Lilley, Peter Sackville, Hon Tom
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Shaw, David (Dover)
Lord, Michael Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Maclean, David Speller, Tony
McLoughlin, Patrick Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Stern, Michael
Malins, Humfrey Stevens, Lewis
Mans, Keith Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Maples, John Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Marland, Paul Summerson, Hugo
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Thorne, Neil
Meyer, Sir Anthony Thornton, Malcolm
Miller, Sir Hal Thurnham, Peter
Mills, Iain Townend, John (Bridlington)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Tracey, Richard
Moate, Roger Tredinnick, David
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Trippier, David
Morrison, Sir Charles Twinn, Dr Ian
Moss, Malcolm Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Neale, Gerrard Waddington, Rt Hon David
Needham, Richard Waldegrave, Hon William
Neubert, Michael Walden, George
Nicholls, Patrick Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Waller, Gary
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Ward, John
Norris, Steve Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Oppenheim, Phillip Warren, Kenneth
Paice, James Watts, John
Patnick, Irvine Whitney, Ray
Patten, Chris (Bath) Widdecombe, Ann
Patten, John (Oxford W) Wilkinson, John
Pawsey, James Wilshire, David
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Porter, David (Waveney) Winterton, Nicholas
Portillo, Michael Wood, Timothy
Powell, William (Corby) Woodcock, Mike
Raff an, Keith Yeo, Tim
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Redwood, John Tellers for the Noes:
Riddick, Graham Mr. Stephen Dorrell and
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Mr. John M. Taylor.

Question accordingly negatived.