§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton)
I beg to move,That the draft Housing Support Grant (Scotland) Order 1994, which was laid before this House on 25th January, be approved.I propose to keep my opening remarks brief. This is the seventh successive annual housing support grant order that I have laid before the House. Hon. Members will by now be familiar with the housing support grant system, but it may be helpful if I remind the House that housing support grant is a deficit subsidy paid to local authorities that, on the basis of reasonable assumptions about income and expenditure, would otherwise be unable to meet the costs of council housing from their rental income.
Full details of the grant settlement for the next financial year are set out in the order and the accompanying report. As always, I wish to express my thanks to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, with whom the grant settlement was discussed. Although the convention has reservations about certain aspects of the settlement, I am grateful for the constructive and helpful approach that it takes in our annual discussions on these matters.
The draft order provides that the total grant payable next year will be £25.7 million. Broadly speaking, that sum represents the difference between the eligible expenditure and the relevant income of the authorities that, in the absence of grant, would have a deficit on their housing revenue accounts. Eligible expenditure consists mainly of loan charges and of management and maintenance spending. The loan charges that we estimate local housing authorities will have to meet next year are, as usual, based on a projection of each authority's capital debt to the mid point of the financial year, taking account of new borrowing and debt redemption.
To calculate interest charges, we applied to those projections of capital debt the pool interest rate expected for the local authority debt next year. Our present estimate of that rate is 9.2 per cent. Interest rates may fluctuate, however, and I can assure the House that, if there is a significant change in the estimate of the pool rate, the Government will, in line with usual practice, introduce an appropriate variation order to adjust the amounts of grant payable. For the moment, our estimate of total loan charges to be met from local authority housing revenue accounts amounts to £494 million.
The other main item of eligible expenditure is that on the management and maintenance of housing stock. Our estimate of eligible management and maintenance spending in 1994–95 is based on an assumed average spending level of £696 per house. That represents a 15 per cent. increase over the equivalent average for the current year. Although that is a generous increase, I consider it justified by the additional demands being placed on local authorities' housing management services, particularly as a result of the tenants charter. I would add that it is further evidence of the commitment of the Scottish Office to the maintenance of the physical condition of Scotland's housing stock.
§ Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow)
In relation to the housing support grant that is given for the repair and building of hostels, what guidelines has the Minister issued to local authorities in 744 terms of the need to participate, to consult and have discussions with those who run and manage hostels? Will he ensure that those who run hostels have the right to determine or be involved in the way in which the money is spent?
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
The hon. Gentleman is taking me slightly out of sequence. I am coming to that point. I am glad to say that some 20 district councils receive housing support grant for the hostels portion. The sum this year has gone up considerably as a result to £2,066,339, which is a substantial increase. I genuinely believe that local authorities are fully aware of the possibilities in that connection and it represents an indication of the co-operation between authorities and the Scottish Office.
On the other side of the equation—the estimated relevant income—the assumed average standard rent for next year has been set at £34.86 per house per week. I stress that that figure is not a forecast, guideline or recommendation. It is the average rent which, for the purposes of the grant calculations, we consider that the authorities should reasonably be expected to achieve. The actual rents charged by authorities may be higher or lower, according to their own decisions about income and expenditure.
I shall discuss the implications of the subsidy settlement for actual rents in a moment. Before doing so, I should mention the hostels portion of the housing support grant, on which we touched a moment ago. Since we decided three years ago to extend the hostels grant to all authorities with hostels, rather than limiting it to authorities that qualified on the basis of their housing revenue accounts as a whole, there has, as I mentioned, been a welcome increase in the number of hostel places made available by authorities from 1,796 in 1990 to 2,126 in 1993.
As I mentioned, the amount of grant has increased from £1.3 million to more than £2 million next year. I recognise, of course, that hostels are far from being the complete answer to homelessness, but I believe that they make a significant contribution to dealing with the single homeless. I am pleased that the partnership between the Scottish Office and local authorities in this area is definitely producing worthwhile results.
§ Mrs. Maria Fyfe (Glasgow, Maryhill)
Is the Minister suggesting that any Scottish housing authority that applies for a hostels grant is likely to get it? The need for hostels for the homeless is widespread throughout Scotland and is not confined to local authorities that happen to have been given a grant this year.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
Authorities have received a hostels grant in response to representations. There is one case within my knowledge in which the costs were far greater than was the case for the rest of Scotland. As the costs were considered excessive, the grant was not allowed. In general, authorities that are eligible and apply get the grant.
§ Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)
Is the Minister aware of Landsborough house in Ayr, which is provided by Kyle and Carrick district council? It was named in honour of a former councillor, the late James Landsborough, and is an excellent provision for the single homeless in Ayr. Is the Minister also aware that, due to the lack of foresight and to the inept planning of 745 Tory-controlled Kyle and Carrick district council, that newly equipped hostel will have to be knocked down? Is not that completely ridiculous and a waste of public expenditure? Will the Minister tell us exactly how he will deal with that in relation to the expenditure that will be required to replace Landsborough house and to provide sufficient alternative accommodation?
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
Kyle and Carrick district council is receiving the hostels portion housing support grant of £50,032, if I have read the order correctly. The priorities chosen by the council are a matter for it. I cannot give the hon. Gentleman the details, because I have not been directly involved and it would not be appropriate for the Scottish Office to be involved in choosing local priorities, which should more properly be a matter for local democracy. If the hon. Gentleman wishes, I am prepared to look into that point. Perhaps he will give me a note of the circumstances. I shall, of course, reply to him fully.
§ Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East)
The Minister said that there would be about 2,000 places for the homeless in hostels. What is the current level of homelessness in Scotland in terms of individuals registered as homeless with local authorities?
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
The numbers of homeless people have increased. Two thirds of the applicants have given as the immediate cause of homelessness the fact that their family or friends are no longer willing or able to accommodate them. Shelter's figures show a 15 per cent. increase in homelessness. The Government have seen the figures. As Shelter has said, most of the increase related to Glasgow and at least part of the increase seems to be due to under-counting in previous years rather than to a real increase in 1992–93. Scottish Office statisticians have discussed the figures for Glasgow with a view to publishing more accurate estimates shortly. In my winding-up speech, I shall give the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) our best estimate of the numbers.
General fund contributions represent a subsidy from council tax payers to council tenants. This sort of subsidy is indiscriminate because it benefits all tenants regardless of their circumstances, and it is unnecessary because tenants who are unable to meet the costs of their housing receive assistance in the form of housing benefit. Therefore, I make no apoligy for the proposals in the Housing Revenue Account General Fund Contribution Limits (Scotland) Order 1994 to bar authorities from budgeting to make general fund contributions next year.
Authorities were consulted individually about these proposals and only nine of them saw fit to make representations on the matter. I have examined those representations carefully and concluded that none of them presents a case that is strong enough to justify allowing them to make a general fund contribution.
§ Mr. Thomas Graham (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde)
When the Government previously allocated funds to the homeless in Renfrew district, the council was allowed to buy four houses in the private sector. When the local folk complained about that, the information that they received from the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), the Under-Secretary, was that the district council 746 could have used the money to improve flats. When Renfrew district council received the money, what information did it receive about how to spend the money—whether it could be used to refurbish council flats for the homeless or whether the council was forced to buy private houses?
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
We issued a special allocation of more than £20 million for special projects. The hon. Gentleman may have a point in saying that it could have been done better. An enormous amount has been achieved throughout Scotland as a result of those special projects, and that is the view of Shelter as well. We are learning all the time. If the hon. Gentleman has recommendations to make, they will be taken into account in the future.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
I am tempted to give way to the hon. Gentleman, but I want to develop this point.
The effect of the subsidy proposals on authority rent levels will vary. Decisions on such rent levels are a matter for authorities, but I accept that some of them will be influenced by the levels of subsidies. We should not, however, exaggerate the extent of that influence.
A large majority of authorities in Scotland do not receive housing support grant in respect of their mainstream council housing or make general fund contributions. Clearly, the subsidy proposals will have no impact on the rent decisions of those authorities. For the 17 authorities that currently receive grant in respect of their council housing, the effect of the change in the level of grant from this year to next will vary. In most cases, the grant is a relatively minor component of housing revenue grant income and the impact of the change in grant levels is likely to be outweighed by the decisions of authorities on such matters as management and maintenance spending.
§ Mr. Michael J. Martin (Glasgow, Springburn)
The Minister will know that many tenants who are on co-operative or district council waiting lists are offered community-based housing association properties. Is he concerned that many of the community-based housing associations where tenants find housing are facing rent increases of 30, 40 or 50 per cent? Surely he should be concerned about what is happening in that area, because hardship is being created.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
Many of those matters must be discussed at the local level. Certainly, the levels of housing association grant in Scotland are on average higher than those south of the border. The purpose of that is to ensure that housing associations continue to cater for their traditional clients.
The amount of housing benefit that will be paid this year is likely to be more than £750 million. Of that amount, it is estimated that more than £500 million is likely to be paid to local authority tenants—and paid by the Department of Social Security to local authorities. That is a significant factor in relation to rents. As I have made clear, decisions on council rents are matters for local authorities, and the Government's influence on those decisions is limited. Nevertheless, it has become a tradition—
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
I will develop the point, and then give way to the hon. Gentleman. It has become a tradition at my meetings with the convention for me to forecast the overall average rent increase for the coming year, despite the Government's subsidies forming such a small proportion of the housing revenue account income. That makes it extremely difficult to forecast average rent increases with any accuracy.
Despite that, I advised the convention this year that I expected rent increases for 1994–95 to average between 4 and 5 per cent. That remains my best estimate, although I note that a number of authorities, including Glasgow, have already announced average rent increases for next year that are well below my estimate of 5 per cent.
I know that Opposition Members will consider that, when compared with current rates of inflation, a rent increase of 5 per cent. is too high. I must remind them that year by year, local authorities are making real improvements in the management and maintenance services that they provide to their tenants. It is right that those extra costs should be met by those tenants who can afford to do so. Tenants who cannot afford to meet their housing costs receive housing benefit and are fully protected against rent increases.
§ Mr. Canavan
The Minister will recall that he and I were elected to Parliament on the same day. At that time, the Labour Government had introduced the whole system of housing support grants and virtually every housing authority in Scotland qualified for assistance under that system. We now have a situation where virtually none of them do. My local authority gets no support at all, except under the hostel agreement.
The flagship of the Government's housing policy seems to be Scottish Homes, the national housing authority. The authority announced a 6 per cent. increase in rents early this week, which is more than twice the rate of inflation. How can the Minister justify that increase, at a time when he is imposing a limit of a 1.5 per cent. increase on public sector workers' wages? That is a disgrace, and it is a cut in the living standards of working-class people and their families. Is it not about time that the Government, and the Minister in particular, recognised that and took action to give housing authorities, including Scottish Homes, sufficient resources to improve the housing stock, as well as recognise that a reasonable level—
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
The decision on rents was a matter for the Scottish Homes board and, as a result, more will be spent on Scottish Homes' stock and on the public sector tenants who are living within that stock.
There has also been a movement away from generalised subsidies towards personalised subsidies, through housing benefit. I mentioned the sum of £750 million which is to be spent on housing benefit in Scotland. I defy any hon. Member to say that that is a small sum. It is an enormous sum, and justly so. In that context, the proposals before the House make up a fair and reasonable subsidy package. They balance the interests of tenants, the council taxpayer and the national taxpayer. I commend the order to the House.
§ Mrs. Maria Fyfe (Glasgow, Maryhill)
Here we are once again, having our annual February debate on the housing support grant order. The needs are greater once again, and the amount of cash keeps getting smaller. I notice, incidentally, that there are no nationalists in the Chamber; nor were there any in the Committee room upstairs where we were discussing sheriff court fees. We must conclude that the homeless and the state of Scotland's housing are matters far too unexciting for the three stooges to bother with.
I took a bet with myself on how long it would take for a Conservative Member to mention the irrelevance of housing benefit. I did not think that the Minister himself would introduce it so early in his speech. As Opposition Members have pointed out, housing benefit is obviously aimed at householders; it has nothing to do with building and repairing housing stock.
Today, we learn of the housing support grant—the only direct Government support for council housing—for 1994–95. Once again we see a drastic fall, from £36 million to £25.7 million, to be shared among just some of our housing authorities while others will receive not a penny. That is a cut of 28.4 per cent. As was pointed out, in 1980 the figure was £228 million, which was shared among all housing authorities. In that year, general fund contributions provided a further £100 million or thereabouts for housing.
This year, Glasgow's housing grant will be cut from £11 million to roughly £1.5 million. Edinburgh, the capital, will receive £0.5 million for hostels and nothing at all for its mainstream housing. It is hard to credit that our capital city is receiving not one penny for its mainstream housing.
Incidently, I wonder why the Minister does not have printed on the order, which is available from the Vote Office, a table showing each authority's housing support grant for mainstream housing and for hostels, showing who receives what, what they received last year, and who receives nothing at all. Would that not be a useful piece of information under the tenants charter?
How does the Minister come up with such an absurdly irrelevant, useless, out-of-touch, global figure of £25.7 million and such unfair and inadequate grants for some authorities and nothing at all for others? Believe it or not, one thing he does is to create a grant formula based not on actual levels of local authority income and expenditure but on notional levels of money spent and money coming in.
When I describe how the general portion of housing support grant alone is made up, hon. Members will see for themselves the scope for cheating homeless people and council tenants out of their rights. The Scottish Office's own document states:the amounts by which the sum of estimated loan charges, estimated management and maintenance expenditure, estimated rents lost, estimated capital expenditure funded from current revenue and estimated other expenditure exceeds the sum of estimated rental income, estimated general fund contributions, estimated balances brought forward and estimated other income.There are eight items to estimate, but hardly a hint of reality to be seen in any of them.
Let us consider rents lost. If a council decides to redevelop some of its houses, as happened in Glasgow and in other parts of Scotland, which it does with the full knowledge and co-operation of the Government, is it not farcical and unfair if it loses housing support grant because houses are standing empty and earning no rental income? 749 Instead of assuming 3 per cent. or any other percentage of income lost, why does the Minister not act on the reality of the actual rents lost?
When discussing this matter with local authorities, the Minister had the cheek to put the tenants charter on the agenda. He mentioned the right to repair. Remembering the year-on-year reductions in housing support grant and the number of eligible local authorities, we might ask "What with?"
The Minister builds in groundless assumptions all over the place. In his calculations he began by grossly overestimating income from rents. He anticipated an average increase in rents from £26.51 to about £34.86 a week. In support of that, so he said, he called in aid the rents for Scottish Homes. Considering that his decisions affect the rents of Scottish Homes, is that not like a burglar telling people they have no right to complain as he took even more from the house across the road?
Even if actual rents rise by 5 per cent. next year, the Minister's estimate of rental income will still be £236 million higher than the reality, and that fairy tale helps him to reduce housing support grant. The Government's assumed figure for management and maintenance for 1994–95 is less than the amount that authorities have told the Minister that they need to plan to spend. The Minister has increased the assumed figure per house by 15 per cent.Nevertheless, he comes nowhere near closing the gap between his notional figures and the reality—assuming that the local authority receives any housing support grant.
At present, only 29 housing authorities receive a grant of some type. Of those, 12 only do so as a result of receiving hostels grants. Just 17 out of a total of 56 receive housing support grant for their mainstream houses, and next year even fewer will do so—13 only will receive even that grossly inadequate support.
The settlement per house gets less and less every year. It is important to realise that fact when considering housing support grant figures each year. Not only are fewer authorities made eligible every year, but the amount per house, when one considers the remaining housing stock in the local authority sector, gets less year on year. In 1992, 697,000 houses received housing support grant of £47.5 million, or £68.10 per house. In 1993, the housing stock was down to 668,000, and £53.69 was received per house. In 1994, 646,000 houses are to receive £39.74 per house. That illustrates the way in which the Government, far from responding to the housing need in Scotland, on that per house basis are demonstrably worsening the condition of Scotland's public sector housing stock.
Last year, in the debate on the Housing Support Grant (Scotland) Order 1993, my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) asked the Minister what news he had for those people managing women's refuges to meet the growing demand for such hostel accommodation. The Minister replied that they are financed, not from housing support grant, but from the aggregate external finance. He did not commit himself to meeting the needs, but simply contented himself with a bureaucratic and technical answer—and still the refuges turn away many women whom they cannot help.
I ask the Minister, why do only a minority of housing authorities in Scotland qualify for hostel accommodation grant? Does the Minister think that homeless people, 750 people needing hostels under care in the community, and battered wives needing shelter, live only in certain parts of Scotland but do not exist in others? Should he not organise a grant system which meets the needs of the most desperate of our people?
Last year we pointed out that children in bed-and-breakfast accommodation are more likely than others to suffer ill health. We emphasised the need for housing adapted to suit people with disabilities. We told the Minister of overcrowding in our constituencies. Since then, in addition, we have had the damning evidence of the Scottish Homes survey—the Minister may not remember its existence—commissioned by the Scottish Office about the condition of Scottish housing. Last year, in the debate on the Housing Suppoort Grant (Scotland) Order 1993, the Minister said that the surveywill be enormously helpful in pointing the way to effective targeting of resources in the future"—[Official Report, 17 February 1993; Vol. 219, c. 445.]Where are those extra resources? Why is the money being cut instead of increased?
At the current level of funding, by 2000 some people will still live in the damp houses that they now occupy. Where is the serious money to treat damp houses and prevent so many of our nation's children from growing up with asthma and bronchitis due to the damp and difficult-to-heat housing in which their parents are forced to live.
Hon. Members have pointed out that rents are increasing inexorably. In 1979, the average council house rent was £4.92 a week. Under the present Government, tenants will pay about £28 next year. Those rents have increased well in excess of inflation. Tenants are paying more and getting less for their money.
Thirteen years ago, Scottish housing authorities built 7,000 houses for rent in one year. In 1992, they could build only 1,650. They have even had to pull down housing of sound construction which has deteriorated as a result of lack of investment. The Government have created a shocking waste of public money.
As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) pointed out at Labour's local government and European conference a week ago, we have called time and again on this dogma-bound Government to allow local authorities to embark on a new programme of house building for the thousands of homeless families in our communities and the thousands more young couples who desperately need homes of their own. We should provide jobs for building workers and suppliers across Britain who are crying out for new orders.
Once again, the housing support grant is an abysmal failure. It is a smack in the face and a sneer of cold disdain to every one of our people who is inadequately housed from a Government who long ago lost any sense of being a Government for all our people.
I call on my hon. Friends to vote against the order. We should tell the Government to tear it up and come back with an order that addresses the problem. In future, the Government should not come to the House with such grossly inadequate funding for local authorities when they know so well the size of the crying need.
§ 10 pm
§ Mr. Michael J. Martin (Glasgow, Springburn)
Glasgow, where I was this afternoon, is experiencing one of its worst days of winter and we are experiencing similar 751 conditions down here in London. I am grateful to organisations such as the Simon Community, the Salvation Army, the Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church for doing something to help our homeless people. The Government stand condemned for failing to do what those charitable organisations are trying to do. How can the Government claim that, with housing support grant, they are helping to build more hostels when they are aware of the terrible pressures that local authorities face?
My native city of Glasgow has an excellent record in respect of helping the single adult homeless. The Government have done nothing but try to hinder the city. Without finance, local authorities cannot help the single homeless.
There have been two by-elections in my constituency. Like many other members of the Labour party, I had an opportunity to canvass and meet people on housing estates. It is a sad indictment on us that some of those housing estates are worse than they were 30 or 40 years ago.
Tenants remember when some of those housing estates were excellent places in which to live. As a result of the Government, who claim to be the Government of law and order, turning a blind eye to the antisocial behaviour of some tenants, other tenants are living in fear. They are not secure in their own homes.
Head teachers have reported that children are taking it in turns to stay away from school because at least one child in a family has to remain at home to stop the home from being burgled. The Government are simply taking finance away from local authorities. If the Government are serious about law and order, they should ensure that every tenement flat has a security entry system. The Minister should provide money for such systems.
If tenement flats had security entry systems, elderly and young people would know that no one was prowling around the back door, on the landing or up the close trying to see whether anyone was at home. Those systems would help to reduce crime. They would also help tenants who take pride in their properties, who wash the stairs and keep the gardens clean. They would know that no passer-by could get in to destroy what they had worked hard to achieve.
Years ago, if tenants—possibly elderly people—were standing around, strangers were not able to enter. Nowadays, elderly people are frightened to tackle strangers, so they need a secure system. The Minister ought to give serious consideration to that matter in the case of every council property and, indeed, every private property. Grants are available.
I am thinking especially of multi-storey flats. I have heard Conservative Members criticise local authorities for building such flats. Actually, some of them are beautiful and a joy to live in. I wish there were one in London that I could use four days a week. There are several such buildings in my constituency. The Government of the day forced the local authorities to construct multi-storey flats, threatening to withdraw grant from those refusing to build non-traditional housing. That is the type of thing with which the House concerns itself at present.
If the Minister seriously wants to secure an improved quality of life for the tenants of multi-storey flats, he should make provision for a concierge service and for camera surveillance at points of entry. In my constituency we have what are the equivalent of three streets rising into the sky. In some cases, anyone can gain entry—drug 752 addicts and burglars, for example. There is evidence that a block of flats with a concierge service is a much better place in which to live.
§ Mr. Martin
The hon. Gentleman will have his own opportunity to speak.
The Minister mentioned Scottish Homes. I realise that this debate is about local authorities, but there is a comparison to be made here. I suspect that the Minister is more interested in looking after Scottish Homes than in looking after local authorities. After all, that is where his placemen are. The Minister can pick the Sir James Mellons of this world, but he cannot pick the democratically elected local authorities and the housing convenors. It must be said that most of the Scottish Homes property in my constituency is excellent. It is well looked after and is a credit to tenants and management.
The Minister is aware, however, of my deep concern about some of the community-based housing associations, some of which are getting too big for their boots. An association in the constituency of Hillhead increased rents by 50 per cent. What would happen if a local authority did that? When an increase of £1 a month was proposed for dwellings in Glasgow, there were almost riots in George square. Trade bodies, the tenants' association and everyone else turned out.
In my constituency, some rents have increased by 30 per cent. What makes the situation worse is the fact that 75 per cent. of the rent income of some community-based housing associations is spent on administration—paying for officials. Thus owner-occupiers in the catchment area are not contributing as much as those who pay rent, resulting in an unfair burden on the latter. The agency responsible is none other than Scottish Homes.
Many tenants who have been with a community-based housing association for 15 or 16 years find, when they apply for a house or a flat in another part of the association's area—perhaps because of arthritis or some other disability—that they are granted a change of dwelling only if they opt for an assured tenancy instead of a secure tenancy. The Conservative party talks about citizens charters and people's rights, but every day of the week in my constituency tenants are losing their right to appeal to a tribunal. I hope that the Minister will examine that aspect.
One terrible case with which I am dealing concerns a woman whose husband left the matrimonial home. She has been told by the housing association—which is an agent for Scottish Homes—that she can remain in the property, but on an assured tenancy. That is the worst kind of discrimination. Right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House fought for women's rights and now those rights are being lost.
There is no sheltered housing in the Haghill and Germiston communities in my constituency, yet the houses there were built before the war—under the John Wheatley legislation. Some tenants have lived there since they were two or three years old, after leaving the slums and other parts of the city. Now that they are of advanced years, there is no sheltered housing for them. To obtain that, they must leave the friends and relatives with whom they have lived all their lives. Why should not those who have put something into society get something back at the end of their days? 753 There have been many debates about council house sales. I am on record as saying in Glasgow district council in 1974 that we should experiment before the Government moved in and forced a local authority to sell its housing stock. Some of my hon. Friends were also councillors at that time. Perhaps that is how I got a reputation for being a so-called right winger. The sale of council houses may be successful in desirable areas, but young couples are not getting the chance that their mothers and fathers, and even their grandparents, had of obtaining a better house.
How can the Minister say to young couples who have been paid off by the railway workshop or the cigarette factory in my constituency, "You can buy your council house"? They do not have two ha'pennies to rub together. They cannot even afford to send their children to the Christmas treat at school. How can the Minister say, "If you want a nicer house, buy one"? Local authorities must have the flexibility to give a chance to young couples who have served their apprenticeship in bad housing.
The Minister sold off decent housing. It was a popular move. In my constituency, some local authority houses that were bought at a discount for £10,000 have changed hands several times and are now on the market for £40,000. Some people have done very well, but unless the Minister gives local authorities the money to buy two, three, four and five apartment houses, there will be losers. Those people who will lose deserve something better than they have now.
§ Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)
I may say to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Martin), as one right winger to another, that I agree with him on the voluntary bodies issue. We are fortunate that there are such bodies, which show that they care and take action.
I welcome the comments of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary about what I would call realistic rents. I have always believed that local authorities should charge realistic rents, which would ensure that properties were maintained in a viable condition. If we had done so many years ago, we would have had funds available through the rents system to deal with the massive problems of dampness and so on. Housing benefit takes care of those who cannot pay, and it should be the vehicle through which funds are used to ensure that local authorities maintain their stock in a viable condition.
While I am sure that the hon. Member for Springburn is right in saying that some multi-storey buildings are nice places in which to live, he must agree that most people, given the option, would prefer to live in a different kind of property. That is my experience of people wishing to obtain housing.
§ Mr. Kynoch
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Martin) referred to the security of some of those properties and to the security systems on the doors. Does my hon. Friend agree that such matters are for the local authority rather than for the Government? Is he aware that in the city of Aberdeen many local authority properties are having such systems fixed?
§ Mr. Walker
I agree with my hon. Friend. If local authorities had had realistic rents from the outset, all those 754 things would have been funded adequately and properly. The hon. Gentleman's reference is another example of insufficient cash to deal with problems.
The hon. Member for Springburn mentioned housing associations. I am sure that he is right in believing that some housing associations may have caused problems. In my constituency, the vast majority of the housing associations do a good job and I commend them.
However, the hon. Gentleman highlighted something that should be examined—the incidents in which individuals, for a variety of reasons, are forced into a transfer of tenancy. They should not be forced from a secured tenancy, with all that that means, into taking an assured tenancy with the resulting changes in the parameters. That question needs to be examined and perhaps the Government will take it on board.
In conclusion, as I know that many hon. Members want to speak, may I say that I am delighted that at long last we are beginning to talk in a sane way about how we fund local authority housing.
§ Mrs. Ray Michie (Argyll and Bute)
I, too, recall speaking in the same debate on 17 February last year. It seems that, one year on, matters have not greatly improved. As we heard, rents have continued to rise and, according to Shelter, homelessness in Scotland has risen by 15 per cent. in the past year. Of Scotland's housing stock, 4.7 per cent. is still below a tolerable standard.
As the Minister knows, I have a special interest in housing in rural areas, where the problem is especially acute. Again, homelessness has increased and the proportion of housing of a low standard is larger than in other areas. In 1991, according to Scottish Homes figures, 6.6 per cent. of rural housing was below tolerable standard as against 4.3 per cent. in urban areas. Low wages, which tend to prevail in rural areas, especially in the highlands and islands, mean that, usually, local people cannot afford to pay market prices for housing. In 1990, Market Research Scotland found that 83 per cent. of people living in rural areas could not afford to pay more than £30 a week. Those people are not only facing that problem of hardship, but face higher living expenses than those in the rest of the country.
In many areas, the situation is exacerbated by the demand for holiday homes. I spoke about that last year and the Minister wrote to explain the Government's thinking behind the 50 per cent. council tax discount for holiday homes in Scotland and in England, especially in places such as the Lake District, but, of course, not in Wales. I am still worried about the lack of any attempt to secure a population balance in small communities which can so easily end up lifeless. I have seen it all too often: every second house has become a holiday home, people have left and the place is dead.
As was mentioned by the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan), Scottish Homes has just announced an average rent increase of £2.07p a week—6 per cent.—from 1 April. The Minister said that that was not a matter for him: I think that we shall hear the phrase "not a matter for me" more and more in this place. But whatever gloss the Minister puts on the housing position and whatever figures are bandied about, I still receive far too many letters about housing problems in rural parts of my constituency. Let me give two examples. 755 An ambulance man employed in accident and emergency services, and restricted to a certain rural area—albeit quite a large one—by operational requirements, has been on the housing waiting list since 1991. Although that man plays an important part in the community, he has to live in a caravan: to me, that means that he is homeless. It is dreadful that someone who gives service to the community cannot obtain a home. I wonder what he thinks as he passes all the empty holiday homes; I am sure that he is not too happy.
I received a letter about a man with two children, whose wife is pregnant again. He lost his job when the company for which he worked went bankrupt, through no fault of his. He was unable to keep up the mortgage payments; all four lived in one room—lent by a friend—for six months or so and then in a box room in a relative's house. Eventually, the man managed to get another job, which took him away for two out of every three weeks. That relieved the situation somewhat, but the stress and anxiety took their toll on his wife's health. I am glad to say that, after a year, Argyll and Bute district council housed the family, but it was a long and difficult year for them.
According to the district council's housing plan for 1993–98, the housing condition survey found that much of the stock in my constituency—in both the public and the private sector—was in urgent need of repair. The cost was estimated to be some £163 million and that was based on 1989 prices. Where on earth will the council find that kind of money?
§ Mr. Brian Wilson (Cunninghame, North)
I am sure that in the hon. Lady's constituency—as in parts of mine, such as the islands of Arran and Cumbrae—there is support across the political spectrum for allowing the council to stop selling houses in areas where there is high demand and little supply. The Scottish Office, however, will not even make the concession of allowing the council to stop selling at any point in the decline of the stock. Surely, in rural communities experiencing the circumstances described by the hon. Lady, the least that the Government could do would be to allow authorities that discretion, given that it is not even a matter of local political contention.
§ Mrs. Michie
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. He is absolutely right. Over the years I have advocated that local authorities should be allowed to stop selling because they know what the problems are. How can it be regarded as dreadful that some thought should be given to a change of use being granted before family houses are turned into holiday homes and thus adding to the numbers that are left empty.
I am sure that the Minister will be delighted to hear that I intend to finish on a positive note—
§ Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)
Does the hon. Lady agree that the capital debt overhang afflicts housing in many Scottish councils, including the central belt and the rural communities? The position is especially bad in the rural areas because more housing stock there has been sold. Is she aware that the entire rental income of at least one council in Scotland is not enough to cover the interest payments on the accumulated capital debt? In such circumstances, how on earth is it possible for a council to invest in its housing stock?
§ Mrs. Michie
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, because he has reinforced my argument. I remarked that Argyll and Bute district council was asking where it would get the money to tackle its housing problem.
As I was saying, the Minister will be delighted to know that I shall finish on a positive note. Some harsh words have been said about Scottish Homes and in the past I have accused it of not honouring its promises. However, I welcome the joint announcement that was made last week by Scottish Homes and Highland and Islands Enterprise that they are carrying out a major study of the link between rural housing availability and economic development.
The population of the highlands and islands has been rising steadily over the past 20 years and is currently about 370,000. Although people are arriving, many indigenous people are having to move away and the lack of housing in rural areas is seen as a major constraint on the economic and social development which is so necessary if local people are to have the opportunity to stay if they so wish. I know that there are particular problems in the western isles and north-west Sutherland where the reduction in population is a cause of great concern.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise said:Economic development creates demand for housing, while a lack of suitable housing is a block to the creation of employment which underpins communities. This is particularly true of remote rural areas, where the gain or loss of a few households or jobs c an make the difference between a community progressing or declining.I wholly agree with that statement. I am glad that the study will include the remoter parts of the highland region, the Western Isles, Shetland and my own constituency of Argyll and Bute. I want to put it on record that the joint study is being undertaken. I hope that it will be carried out in good time and that any recommendations will be acted on speedily. I shall certainly be watching very carefully to see that they are carried out.
§ Mr. Sam Galbraith (Strathkelvin and Bearsden)
When some of my colleagues became aware that I might try to catch your eye to be allowed to speak on housing, Madam Speaker, they queried whether I should be allowed to do so, bearing in mind that I represent Strathkelvin and Bearsden, a constituency usually associated with leafy suburbs in which the majority of the population own their own homes. However, as the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) knows, that is not quite a true picture. It has been suggested that the Government recession has brought us to such a state that even the good burghers of Bearsden are in difficulty over council housing.
There is little council housing in the Bearsden part of my constituency—a small sheltered housing development—but that is not the case in Strathkelvin. In Strathkelviln, of which I represent a part, there are 8,055 council houses, of which 4,834 are in my constituency. The majority of those, just over 3,000, are in Kirkintilloch, there are some in Bishopbriggs and the rest are in Lennoxtown and Torrance. Those are looked after by an excellent district council with a tip-top housing department.
The housing stock is kept in good repair. The council has just completely replaced all window frames and installed insulation. It has a devolved, democratic system of fulfilling the wishes of the people of Kirkintilloch, Bishopbriggs, Lennoxtown and all other areas. It is responsive to people's wishes and needs in this important 757 area. Lest anyone persists in the notion that my constituency consists of leafy suburbs, let me say that that is not the case.
Once again, the Government have given nothing by way of housing support grant to Strathkelvin. Does that mean that there are no problems in my area? Certainly not. My surgery is regularly filled with people looking for houses. They have been looking for many years, but are making no progress. Many of them want exchanges. Homelessness is a problem in my constituency. The homeless write to me and come to my surgery, but they have been given nothing by the Government.
The Minister will tell us that the housing support grant is basically deficit-based. He will say that it is based on estimated relevent income, eligible maintenance, relevant accounts, estimated this and estimated that. That means that it is plucked out of the air. Is all that estimation relevant or in any way related to the needs of people in the area? It should be related to those needs, but in my area it clearly is not. How can it be, when the Minister gives no housing support grant to combat major homelessness and help people who have been waiting six or seven years for council houses?
It is clear that the method of calculating the formula is wrong and it is time to return to the drawing board and reassess the calculation so that it relates purely to need. I hope that the next housing support grant proposals will relate to that and will give my district authority, which spends money wisely and well and looks after its housing stock, a greater amount.
My housing authority is so highly regarded in the district that residents of Scottish Homes who are being offered new landlords wish the district authority to take over. There are 488 houses—
§ Sir Nicolas Fairbairn
Local authorities hold 100,000 unoccupied houses. If they were occupied would not that do something for the homeless?
§ Mr Galbraith
If they were occupied there would be people in them! That would certainly do somethng for those people. As the hon. and learned Gentleman knows, there are often good reasons for such houses being unoccupied. I shall not abuse my hon. and learned Friend any more. He is a splendid friend of mine and we have spent much time together.
The issue has been raised many times. My constituents who currently reside in Scottish Homes wish the district authority to be their new landlord. Yet that choice has not been open to them, because of the connivance and instruction of the Government, who spend all their time talking about choice, freedom of the individual and devolving power, which we all realise is a complete fallacy because they give choice only when it suits them.
This is an issue of which the Government should be ashamed. I trust, therefore, that the Minister will use his good powers with Scottish Homes to allow it to conduct a ballot and thereby give my constituents who live in its housing the opportunity to propose Strathkelvin district as 758 its landlord, because it has shown itself to have a highly efficient, effective, devolved and accountable housing management system which is a credit to the area. I trust, therefore, that, when the Minister proposes the housing support grant next year it will adequately recognise the needs of my community.
§ Mr. Mike Watson (Glasgow, Central)
From those who have participated in the debate, it is clear that the housing problems of the city of Glasgow are desperate.
I held a surgery last weekend. Thirteen constituents attended, 10 of whom raised issues related to the standard of their housing in one form or another—repairs, overcrowding, dampness and similar problems. Hon. Friends who represent constituencies not only in Glasgow but in conurbations throughout Scotland receive such complaints regularly.
The housing support grant figures that the Minister gave this evening betrayed once again the lack of grasp that he and his fellow Ministers have of the housing needs of Scottish people. The figures were not based on local authorities' estimates of their needs. The Scottish Office, contrary to those estimates, ignores the actual income and expenditure of local authorities. It regularly meets the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the larger local housing authorities, but continually ignores the advice and information that it is given.
Housing support grant has dropped from £47.5 million in 1992–93 to £35.9 million last year and to under £26 million this year. Grant for Glasgow, which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mrs. Fyfe) said, has the most severe housing problems in Scotland, has decreased from £11 million to just over £1.5 million. That is woefully inadequate. The Minister has been told time and again by Glasgow district council and by housing authorities that considerable additional resources are necessary and that the problems will be addressed only by debt write-off. He continues to ignore that, and the problems continue to mount.
At present, 60 per cent. of the housing revenue account, of which housing support grant once provided a major part but now provides only a minor part, is spend on repaying local authorities' loans. Tenants are more likely to be paying off interest on those loans than getting any improvement in the housing stock in return for their rent.
Housing support grant is now under £26 million for the whole of Scotland, but only 13 years ago it was £228 million. If the Government convince my hon. Friends and me that the situation is improving, they will have done a remarkable job because we all know from our surgeries that the problems are getting worse rather than better.
COSLA calculates that, on a cumulative basis, about £1.8 billion has been taken out of housing resources in Scotland in the past decade. That direct Government support would have been available if funding had continued at anything like its level when housing support grant was introduced. That is a massive amount and I invite the Minister to comment on what it could have done in terms not only of building new houses, treating dampness and repairing leaking roofs and ill-fitting windows, all of which can contribute to the incidence of chronic illness throughout the central belt of Scotland, but of providing shelter for homeless people.
759 When I spoke in the debate a year ago I highlighted the plight of homeless people in Glasgow and mentioned some of the organisations seeking to help them. Their situation is worse now than it was a year ago. The resources of the Glasgow Council for Single Homeless have been slashed, and the Stopover project, a vital refuge for young single homeless people, has been closed for the past three months, with no sign of when it will reopen although it was supposed to do so at the beginning of the year.
The situation continues to get worse. In the meantime, the Government's answer, which is highlighted in the figures put before the House today, is grossly to overestimate the rent increases that can be charged and grossly to underestimate the management and maintenance costs that local authorities will face. It would be interesting if we could reverse that equation even once, to try to pull back some of the ground that has been lost over the past 10 years.
There are many appalling homes, particularly throughout the central belt of Scotland, and thousands of people without any home at all. According to the figure that the Minister cited, the total number of places being made available in hostels throughout Scotland is just over 2,000. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that hostels are not the answer to the problem of homelessness, but when set against the total number of homeless in Scotland that figure comes nowhere near to addressing the problem.
Over the past few days, there have been comments about the hon. Member for Finchley (Mr. Booth), the most interesting of which was that the hon. Gentleman has three homes. I do not know what anyone does with three homes. I continually meet people who would do anything to get one home. [Interruption.] I will gladly give way to the Minister of State, Department of Employment, the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth), if he wants to intervene. Apparently he does not.
The problem of home ownership needs to be looked at. The Government say that they are trying to deal with the problem, yet their supporters include the hon. Member for Finchley, who quite happily owns three homes. The hon. Member for Stirling sees nothing wrong in that. Other hon. Members such as the hon. Members for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Duncan) and for Billericay (Mrs. Gorman) think nothing of trading with council houses as though it were an excellent way of making extra money.
§ Sir Nicholas Fairbairn
I presume that the hon. Gentleman has a home in Scotland; and, as he lives down here, he will also have one in London. That is two.
§ Mr. Watson
I am glad that the hon. and learned Gentleman has managed to put one and one together and make two; for this evening, that is a quite remarkable achievement. Of course I have a home in London and a home in Glasgow. But the hon. Member for Finchley has his constituency in London, so he should require no more than one home.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris)
Order. We are talking about housing in Scotland, not Finchley.
§ Mr. Watson
I agree that this is a debate on housing support, Mr. Morris, and I do not suppose Finchley gets much housing support. I drew attention to it merely to contrast the situation with the problems that I meet daily in Scotland.
Many Scottish local authorities have a number of houses lying empty and unable to be let to tenants. There are reasons for that. There is certainly no lack of demand for them and no lack of will on the part of local authorities to repair them and make them habitable. The local authorities lack the resources to enable them to make those houses habitable and secure and to re-let them. The Minister has had this point put to him on countless occasions, especially in relation to Glasgow, but has refused to take the arguments on board.
The level of housing support grant has continued to diminish as a result of the Secretary of State once again making those totally unrealistic assumptions, overestimating the amount that will be raised from rents and underestimating the appropriate level of repairs and maintenance. When will the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the Scottish Office figures that he uses to calculate both those figures are well wide of the mark?
The question of rents was referred to earlier. In respect of income from rents, the Minister has told us that he is assuming that rents will be £34 and above per week next year. That is about 31 per cent. higher than the present average rent. The figure of 5 per cent. was used earlier, and it was pointed out that even that is well above the current rate of increase in the cost of living. The Minister anticipates a figure of approximately six times that. Even if rents rose by 5 per cent., rental income in Scotland would still be about £235 million short. The Minister must be more realistic in his assumptions.
It bears repeating that housing support grant is now the only direct Government support for council housing in Scotland. For next year, projected income has been overstated by about £235 million, with maintenance expenditure overestimated by £18 million. [Interruption.] The Minister may think that that is a matter for some amusement. Those I meet weekly in my constituency do not. They are desperately concerned and the housing department in Glasgow is equally desperately concerned.
At the Minister's December meeting with COSLA, he stated that any authority which faced an above average rent increase for the next year, based on his assumptions, would be treated sympathetically when it applied to receive recognition of the requirement to make a general fund contribution. He said in his opening remarks that, of the nine authorities that had applied, apparently with his encouragement, not one had been permitted to do so. The Minister rejected all the submissions and he did not say why. I hope that he will take the opportunity to give his reasons when he winds up. What is the point in encouraging local authorities to make use of the general fund contribution when none of them has been allowed to do so?
We must look at the picture across Scotland as a whole. It has already been said that only 13 of the local authorities are getting the mainstream grant from the housing support grant, only 21 are getting the hostels grant and, astonishingly, only 6 per cent. are getting both. Those figures include major conurbations. The city of Dundee gets nothing. Edinburgh gets nothing for its mainstream 761 grant. Other major conurbations, such as Motherwell, Renfrew, Inverclyde and Aberdeen, get nothing in either category. I invite the Minister to justify that.
We have seen the housing conditions survey and the figures that it produced on the standards of housing throughout Scotland. The Minister is living in a different 762 world, and so are those of his hon. Friends who think that there is nothing wrong in owning a number of houses. I want to deal with the problems of people who either have no home at all or who live in totally inadequate housing. That is what this debate should be about, but it is not, because the funding has been consistently cut. That can only mean poorer housing for many of those whom Scottish Labour Members represent.
§ Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)
If we look at the details of the financial provision about which the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. Watson) was speaking, we see that, 13 years ago, the housing support grant stood at £228 million and the general fund contribution at £100 million. Next year, the combined total of both will be a mere £26 million. On a cumulative basis, that represents the £1.8 billion loss of revenue for housing over the past decade that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central specified.
No other aspect of social provision can have such a direct impact on people's lives as the lack of housing finance. The problems of dampness, inadequate housing and homelessness are rife throughout Scotland. I know that the Minister is a compassionate man. I hope that he will deal with those aspects in the debate and show that he recognises that the lack of housing finance over the past decade is causing real problems for people throughout Scotland.
The basic limitation on housing finance in Scotland is the capital debt overhang. In fact, 60p to 65p of every pound of rent paid in Scotland goes to refinance the interest payment on the housing accumulated capital debt. In many councils, the figure is almost 100 per cent. For Gordon council, in north-east Scotland, the figure is more than 100 per cent. In those circumstances, it is simply impossible for councils to reinvest adequate sums in the maintenance of houses, never mind in any building programme. I would like the Minister to tell us directly how on earth finance can be injected into housing when individual district councils face such a financial problem.
I suspect that the Government's attempt to diminish public housing in Scotland was sourced in two hopes. First, there was an ideological drive against public housing—and perhaps the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) was the main protagonist. The argument was that if public housing was reduced in Scotland, people would be more amenable to the idea of voting for the Conservatives. Over the past decade, public housing in Scotland has been reduced, but there is no sign that the social engineering favoured by the hon. Member for Stirling has had any impact on the Conservative party's fortunes.
Secondly, it was argued that public housing was an economic problem for Scotland and that it was an inhibition on economic development. It is clear from studying the situation throughout the United Kingdom over the past few years that, in many ways, the housing market in the south of England has been much more of an economic problem for that area than the housing market in Scotland has been for Scotland. The preponderance of private housing in the south, with all the emphasis that that gives to a boom-bust cycle in the economy and over-investment in property, has been much more of a problem in terms of economic management than the degree of public housing has been in Scotland.
I ask the Minister to move away from the campaign against public housing in Scotland. He must realise that hundreds of thousands of Scots are entitled to live in good quality, rented accommodation in the public sector. If we are to get back to basics, let us get back to the basic provision of high-quality council and other public housing in Scotland. Any ideological Government drive against the public sector in Scotland should now be abandoned as not having fulfilled the political aspirations of the hon. 764 Member for Stirling but having condemned hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland to the abject misery of substandard housing over the past 10 years.
§ Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East)
This document: is largely technical. Anyone in Scotland who happened to read it would not find out much about housing in Scotland because it is deliberately designed to be difficult to understand and interpret. The Government hope that they will be able to slip this document through the House without too much press coverage or awareness in Scotland of the way in which they are treating council housing.
This represents one of the few occasions when the House can debate council housing in Scotland; therefore, we should take advantage of this occasion and try to interpret the document. We should never forget that although few hon. Members live in council housing, hundreds of thousands of our constituents do so. The council housing sector remains important to constituents, although it may not be so important to hon. Members who represent them.
The experience of my hon. Friends who have spoken in this debate, and who continue to speak about their surgeries in their constituencies, is one that almost all Labour Members can repeat. Every surgery that I have held in Dundee since 1987 has been dominated by the issue of council housing and the lack of decent, affordable council housing for those who need it. The Government have ignored that forum in Scotland for a considerable period.
§ Mr. Norman Hogg (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth)
My hon. Friend makes an interesting point about Dundee. Does he conclude that the housing needs of the people of Dundee were a major factor in the recent by-election which we won so spectacularly?
§ Mr. McAllion
My hon. Friend makes a fair point. The Labour party in Dundee won a council seat back from the Scottish National party, which had held it for a considerable time. We won it back with a convincing majority. Indeed, the turning point in that by-election was when the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) graced Dundee with his presence. Thereafter, the votes haemorrhaged towards the Labour party and away from the SNP. I invite the hon. Gentleman to return to east Dundee any time he wants to come—he reinforces Labour's position in that city every time he visits.
My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Martin) made an interestng point about the impact of council by-elections and the experience of hon. Members taking part in them. I remind him of the importance of debates on council housing, especially on the periphery of Scottish cities where council housing is predominant and of such a poor standard, where unemployment is high, where the crime rate is high and where the problem of drug abuse is common. My hon. Friend said that one of the most important things that can be done in terms of Government support for council housing in Scotland was to make funds available for various security measures to make council housing more secure for people who live in it.
In Hilltown, and especially the Maxwelltown area where there are such problems, Dundee district council must now spend part of its housing revenue account on putting in security cameras, security entrances, concierge systems and so on. That is the sort of thing with which the 765 council should be given direct assistance by the Government, but it gets absolutely nothing in housing support grant. It receives no help whatever to deal with all the problems that it faces. That is an absolute disgrace.
Given the condition of the housing stock in Dundee, it is a disgrace that we must divert part of the money which should be spent on the housing stock into security measures so that people can feel a bit safer in their homes. An even bigger disgrace is the fact that the local council gets no help from the Minister, or from the Government who are responsible ultimately for housing in Scotland.
Schedule 3 to the order refers to what we call the hostel portion, and those councils that will qualify for it in 1994–95. Twenty-one local authorities in Scotland qualify, but Dundee is not one of them. I remind the Minister that I intervened during his speech to ask what the level of homelessness in Scotland was. He replied that he would give the answer in a minute, but two, three, four and then five minutes passed, and the Minister sat down without giving the answer.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
Some 42,500 households applied to local authorities in Scotland to be considered as homeless. Some 72 per cent. of those households found permanent or temporary accommodation. Local authorities have statutory responsibility, especially for priority cases. Some of the other cases lost contact.
§ Mr. McAllion
I thank the Minister for those figures. Is he not ashamed of his boast that he is making about 2,000 places in hostels available to the homeless in Scotland? That is in no way adequate to meet the problems facing councils across the country. He says that Dundee council has a statutory responsibility to deal with the priority homeless cases. Why is he not giving Dundee any of the hostel portion? Why is Dundee not getting assistance from the Government to help with the homeless problem?
The Minister should go to some of the agencies that work with the homeless in London, particularly young homeless Scots. He would discover that the young homeless Scots who head towards London because they cannot find housing back in Scotland mainly come from Glasgow; in second place after Glasgow comes Dundee. What assistance is Dundee getting from the Minister next year in terms of support for the homeless? Absolutely nothing.
§ Sir Nicholas Fairbairn
I set up a firm in Dundee recently, and all the 800 staff had no difficulty in finding housing. How extraordinary.
§ Mr. McAllion
What is extraordinary is that anyone in the House could begin to understand what the hon. and learned Gentleman has just said. I did not understand a word of what he mumbled across the Chamber to me.
The idea that apportioning £2 million to 21 difficult local authorities in Scotland is in any way commensurate with dealing with the problem of homelessness is put in context by remembering the amount that local government reform will deny the new Dundee council. It will lose £2.25 million in terms of grant aid and expenditure. The Minister for Local Government and Planning tells me that that is not a significant sum. If £2.25 million is not a significant sum, neither is the £2 million that the Minister 766 has allocated to 21 different authorities across Scotland to help them tackle the homeless problem. The Minister should begin to take that on board.
The order deals also with the different authorities in Scotland that get housing support grants from the Government. The Minister knows that there are 56 different housing authorities in Scotland. Only 29 of them—just over half—will receive any housing support grant from the Government. That means that 27 different housing authorities in Scotland will get absolutely nothing, among them Dundee. Dundee has had nothing from the Government during the past 10 years in terms of housing support grant.
Owner-occupation in Scotland is heavily subsidised through mortgage tax relief, and other forms of tenure are heavily subsidised through right-to-buy schemes, rent-to-mortgage schemes and stock transfers. Even the private sector is heavily subsidised through gro-grants. With that mind, does not the Minister think that it is an absolute disgrace that 27 different councils in Scotland do not receive a penny in subsidy from the Government for the council housing for which they are responsible?
The Minister was in Dundee recently when Wimpey opened the new private housing development in Mid Craigie. He and other Ministers authorised a grant of more than £2 million to Wimpey Homes to allow them to build private houses for sale on the market and to make a big profit for Wimpey Homes in the process. Is it not a disgrace that the Minister can subsidise the profits of private house builders at a time when he gives nothing to 27 councils across the country? If he does not think that that is a disgrace, it is time he recognised that it is and it is his responsibility to do something about it.
§ Mr. Bill Walker
Will the hon. Gentleman acknowledge that the taxpayer directly provides housing support to pay for people's rent, that money is paid indirectly to the individual and that it goes into the coffers of the housing department? Does he agree that that amounts to many millions of pounds?
§ Mr. McAllion
The hon. Gentleman is referring to housing benefit, not housing support. I shall tell him of my experience with housing benefit. One of the cases at my recent surgery was about housing benefit. It involved a constituent, who was a single parent with three children, who had a private flat in Dundee because access to council housing had not been available to her. She had been living at the address for three and a half to four years. The Government changed the regulations and qualifications for housing benefit. She received notification that she no longer qualified for housing benefit in private accommodation because the rent was too high and that she should move out of the private accommodation and into council accommodation.
My constituent appealed against the decision. Because her landlord got wind of the fact that the council was challenging her right to housing benefit, he has given her notice to quit. She will have to get out of the home that she and her family have known for the past four years and move into the council sector—and not into good housing in the council sector, because the good council housing has been lost through the right to buy and other measures that the Government have introduced.
She will be asked to move into areas of Dundee that are euphemistically called areas of low demand—areas where 767 nobody wants to live, where crime, vandalism, unemployment and drug abuse are prevalent. She and her family have been put at risk because the Government are denying them housing benefit. The hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) should not tell me that everybody's needs are looked after. Those who depend on the council sector do not have their needs looked after by the Government.
§ Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby)
I am not aware of the situation in Dundee, but I have been listening to the hon. Gentleman with much interest. What about the father of those children? Is he responsible for their upkeep?
§ Mr. McAllion
You would rule me out of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I started on the Child Support Agency. The fathers who are being chased are those whose wives depend on income support. Anyone who does not depend on income support is not chased by the Child Support Agency. If the hon. Gentleman does not know that that is the case, he does not have any working-class constituents.[Interruption.]
§ Mr. McAllion
I shall follow your instructions, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and get back to the debate and not pursue that matter any further.
Before the hon Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan) sneers, let me say that the father could have been dead; I have no idea about him. The hon. Gentleman should not
As the Minister will be aware, Inside Housing, which is read by all housing professionals in Scotland and is regarded as one of the most prestigious magazines dealing with housing in Scotland, dealt with the order in its issue of 28 January. It stated:Scottish local authority tenants face steep rent rises next year following the government's anouncement of a £10 million cut in housing support grant last week.Hon. Members should not be under any illusion as to what the order represents. It represents a £10 million cut in housing support grant to be made available to local authorities. This year, there was £35.9 million in housing support grant; next year, there will be only £27.5 million. As Inside Housing says, that means an average increase of 5 per cent. in council sector rents next year, and the Minister has admitted as much.
It is a case of double standards, not "back to basics". The Government parade around the country, boasting about low inflation, but they then increase inflation by putting up rents at twice the level of inflation. Why is it that only council sector tenants have to pay higher rents when everybody else's rents have been kept in line with inflation? It is because of a vile, anti-council tenant policy which has been pursued by successive Ministers.
§ Mr. Barry Porter (Wirral, South)
I seek some information, because a question was asked some time ago and it was not answered. Perhaps, in relation to Dundee, the hon. Gentleman will say how many void houses there are, how long they have been in existence—
§ Mr. Porter
They are called void in England.
768 Will the hon.Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) also say what monetary effect that has on the Dundee local authority? Before I cast my vote, I should very much like to know what the local authority is doing.
§ Mr. McAllion
The hon. Gentleman would do better not to intervene in Scottish debates because he shows his ignorance of the reality of housing conditions in Scotland. It is that some district councils have houses which they cannot let—houses which are available to be let but in which people are frightened to live as a result of the general conditions in the district in which they are located.
If Conservative Members do not understand that there are vast tracts of cities in this country in which people are frightened to live because of the state to which the Government have reduced those districts, it is time that they began to do so, instead of trying to score cheap debating points. We are speaking about real conditions in which people have to live, not making pure debating points, as Conservative Members try to do with their debating skills.
Earlier, the Minister spoke about the Government's commitment to maintaining the physical condition of Scotland's housing. Has he not read the national housing conditions survey which was carried out by Scottish Homes on his behalf, which showed that 423,000 dwellings in Scotland suffered from damp, serious condensation or mould and that 3.5 per cent. of that number—nearly 15,000 houses—suffered from all three conditions at the same time? Yet he speaks about the Government's commitment to maintaining the physical stock of housing in Scotland. Let him try to tell the people who live in that housing that the Government are committed to maintaining the stock of the house in which they live. The Government are not committed and I will never be convinced that they are.
I have spoken for long enough and I do not want to give the hon. Member for Wirral, South (Mr. Porter) a heart attack. I would not want to be responsible for any further by-elections. I must, however, tell the Minister that the difference between the people who live in the council housing sector in Scotland and everyone else is simply that they do not vote Tory, and for that reason they are not a priority for the Government. Unlike the tenants of Westminister city council, there will be no designated housing policy for them because there is no reward to be had from that for the Conservative party in Scotland.
The Government are simply writing off council housing in Scotland because they believe that council house tenants vote Labour. The Government want to change people's voting patterns so they are trying to destroy council housing. Their priority is tenure change instead of the priority that will be the priority of the next Labour Government when a Scottish parliament is set up, and that is to ensure that everyone in our country gets a decent house which they can afford, and which is a decent place in which to live.
§ 11.6 pm
§ Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)
I am grateful for the opportunity to say a few words, especially after the robust and sincere speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion). I think that the only mistake that he made was in giving way to some of the Conservative Members who have riot been sitting through what has been an interesting debate, to 769 which, to be fair, the Minister and some other Conservative Members from Scottish constituencies made useful contributions. It is a pity that it has been spoiled by some sedentary interventions and one or two standing interventions.
As in the constituencies of my hon. Friends the Members for Glasgow, Central (Mr. Watson) and for Dundee, East, concern about housing features as a major issue at the surgeries that I hold every week in my constituency. The second most urgent subject mentioned by constituents is problems arising from the Child Support Agency, which is astonishing. Until a few years ago, it used to be the poll tax but, thankfully, we do not have that any more and now the agency has taken the place of the poll tax in the extent of the problems that it causes. It is taking the place of the poll tax in the way in which it is making Conservative Members, and especially members of the Government, unpopular, not only in Scotland but throughout the United Kingdom.
I find that, apart from maintenance problems, many difficulties are experienced by people who seek transfers to smaller houses or to larger houses—in most cases, families to smaller houses. Throughout Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley the sale of council houses has distorted the available stock. As no replacement stock has been provided, it is difficult for even the most sensitive and understanding local authority—I have that in Cumnock and Doon Valley, although not in Kyle and Carrick—to find appropriate houses for people seeking transfers. That causes great hardship.
The problem could be solved overnight if the Government would release the money that is available from council house sales for the building of new council houses. That would be the sensible thing to do. It would also provide jobs for people in regions of high unemployment. Housing and unemployment problems could be dealt with substantially overnight.
My next point relates to an issue raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith). Many of my constituents, like those of my hon. Friend, live in houses owned by Scottish Homes. Whenever people are asked their preference, they say that they want Scottish Homes to continue as their landlord or, if that is not possible—as unfortunately appears to be the case—they prefer the local authority to take over
Those people particularly do not want to be part of housing associations. They do not want to be part of a housing authority black hole or to be under a private landlord, especially when it is unclear where accountability lies. To whom are housing association members accountable? Technically, in some ways they are accountable to Scottish Homes, to the funding body or to the Government. However, in reality, they have no direct accountability in the way that local authorities have accountability.
Unfortunately, as my hon. Friend the Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden rightly said, the tenants are not given the opportunity of exercising those options. Scottish Homes says that it wants to get out of house ownership so that that option is unfortunately not available. I pressed Sir James Mellon on that and he said that his board would not accept that option. He said that Scottish Homes was going to get out of house ownership and house rental.
770 The option of local authority ownership is also not available. Council tenants are left with Hobson's choice.
I want to amplify the point I made earlier about the homeless hostel in Ayr. It is astonishing that a great deal of money—thousands of pounds—has been spent on Landsborough house; and the Secretary of State should be aware of what is happening as he lives near by. The house was named in memory of the late James Landsborough, who was an excellent councillor on Kyle and Carrick district council. However, Tory-controlled Kyle and Carrick district council is showing its lack of foresight by saying that all that money will be wasted because Landsborough house is to be demolished for new commercial development which the council has proposed for the site.
What is to happen to that expenditure? Surely there should be reference to the district auditor. Surely the Secretary of State should examine the matter. We hear criticism of other councils, but we seldom hear Kyle and Carrick taken to task, and I suspect that I know why.
§ Mr. Robathan
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I understand that the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Ms Hoey) wishes to raise a point of order because she is wearing a hat. Is that the case?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Any hon. Member who wants to raise a point of order can do that. It is entirely up to the hon. Member.
§ Mr. Norman Hogg
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The remarks of the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan) are impertinent, improper and insulting to a colleague in the House. The hon. Gentleman should be a gentleman and withdraw his remarks.
§ Mr. Robathan
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As a new Member of the House, I thought that one wore a hat in the House only if one wished to raise a point of order. I did not think that my remarks were at all disrespectful.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
May I inform the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan) that the hat is used if a Member wishes to raise a point of order during a Division. To the best of my knowledge, we are not in the middle of a Division at the moment.
§ Mr. Foulkes
Indeed. The hon. Member for Blaby is not just disrespectful to my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Ms Hoey); he is disrespectful to all the people in Scotland who are concerned about housing because he has intervened in such an infactile way on several occasions during the debate.
It is ridiculous and it will create a great deal of hardship—
§ Mr. Foulkes
Well, unfortunately, my hon. Friend will see a lot more of him. However, I hope that my hon. Friend will not dignify the hon. Member for Blaby by continuing to refer to his infantile interventions.
771 What is far more important is the question of rents in Scotland. At present the average is £26.51 per week, yet the Government assume that the figure will be £35.86 in the next financial year, despite the fact that, in the calculation of the housing support grant, they are assuming an increase of 5 per cent. Anyone who can do the simplest arithmetic will realise that the difference between the two figures that I have just quoted is much more than 5 per cent. The local authorities will have to find a great deal of money to make up the difference. They will be underfunded by many millions of pounds.
I should like to conclude with a brief reference to the Cumnock and Doon Valley district council. The council, whose area has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the whole of Great Britain, will receive no housing support grant and no hostel support grant for this year or next year. That is an absolute disgrace. In addition to its high unemployment rate, the area is the home of people on very small incomes. Its residents work in the textile and other industries in which wages are very low indeed.
The whole tenor of this debate has been meanness on the part of the Government—the worst meanness in housing that I have known for a very long time. The provision of affordable decent housing is a basic right, and it is about time the Government understood that.
§ Mrs. Fyfe
I should like, by leave of the House, to wind up on behalf of the Opposition. Seven Opposition Members have spoken in the debate, but we have had a contribution from only one Conservative—the uncharacteristically brief speech of the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker).
I have to say that it was utterly trivial and childish of the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan) to make the point that he made when my colleagues were dealing most sincerely and passionately with the needs of their constituents, who worry deeply about the state of housing in Scotland. People outside must despair of Parliament and must wonder how aware are some of its Members of the needs of their people.
As I want to leave the Minister time to answer some of the important questions that have been put to him, I shall be brief. Will he please answer the question about assured tenancies and secure tenancies and the rights of women who are separated from their husbands? That question was put by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Martin).
The Minister should stop making ludicrous overestimates of rental income and ludicrous under-estimates of management and maintenance costs. That is his way of distorting the housing support grant calculations. Will he, in future, print a detailed and informative housing support grant order and, while he is about it, stop talking about capital allocations—a term meant only to confuse?
Does the Minister intend to fund a programme to ensure that homeless youngsters and battered women have somewhere to go—that there is adequate hostel accommodation?
As time is short, I shall not quote the Scottish Homes survey, as I intended to do. The Minister commissioned Scottish Homes to undertake the survey. He has only to go back and read it again. Last year, he warned us not to vote against the corresponding order, saying that if we did, the housing authorities would get nothing.
772 I have heard nothing to make me change my mind about urging my hon. Friends not to vote for this order. Let them vote against it and tell the Minister to meet COSLA again and to re-read his own housing survey so that some realism may be built into his estimates. Only then shall we see some sense and humanity in the funding of our housing.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
I am very glad of the opportunity to respond to this debate.
The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) asked why Dundee did not receive the hostels portion of the housing support grant. The answer is quite simple: Dundee does not have any housing department hostels. If it were to provide such hostels, it would certainly qualify for that portion. I can tell the hon. Gentleman that 5.5 per cent. of the council housing stock in Dundee is empty. I hope that the hon. Member will use his good offices to encourage the council to bring more of its stock back into use.
§ Mr. McAllion
I will use my good offices to make that 5.5 per cent. of housing stock available for rent, if the Minister will give the council the money to put it in a fit condition to rent.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
We will certainly bear in mind Dundee's bids before the final allocations are made in a few weeks' time.
As the comments of the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Mrs. Michie), much is happening in respect of rural Scotland. Scottish Homes has produced 1,700 additional homes in rural areas, and £3.3 million was provided for that purpose during 1992–93. An evaluation of the rural demonstration areas has been undertaken and the results will be published later this year. Per capita, rural areas receive more in local authority allocations that the average for the rest of Scotland.
Scottish Homes is looking carefully at how it may bring vacant stock back into use. It held discussions with the Forestry Commission and the Scottish Landowners Federation. I repeat that an additional £3 million was made available to Scottish Homes to enable further progress to be made.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
The hon. Gentleman must be realistic. Many vacant houses in Scotland are in the private sector.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
The hon. Gentleman says, "Rubbish." I know that a great many public sector houses should be brought back into use.
§ Mr. Ingram
Is the Minister aware that not one tenant has been placed in any of the 80 brand new houses in my constituency built by East Kilbride development corporation and available for occupancy since last November? Why? Because the Government are trying to force housing associations into the town. Those houses should be allocated now. They have been empty since November.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
My hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), who is the Minister responsible for new town housing, is in his place and will 773 have heard the hon. Gentleman's comments. I have little doubt that there will be rapid progress in the coming months, in relation to those houses.
The hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) asked for the release of council house receipts. They are already released to public authorities in Scotland. We estimated that £230 million would be raised from council house receipts this year. In fact, the figure is £268 million—and those entire receipts go the public sector, which will be greatly to its benefit. That sum increases the overall sum to be spent on public sector stock to £440 million.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mrs. Fyfe) put the case for Glasgow. Last year, Glasgow's housing revenue account produced a surplus of more than £60 million. In those circumstances, there is no need for additional Exchequer support. Housing support grant is a deficit subsidy. Glasgow is projected to have a relatively small deficit next year.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
Yes. The housing support grant is perfectly fair, when one bears in mind that Glasgow set an average rent increase for next year of only 2.8 per cent.—which we estimate is well below the national average.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Martin) spoke about security. In urban regeneration schemes, we give priority to installing strong security systems—and Glasgow district council has been doing so in the multi-storey flats at Castlemilk. I support that policy, and the hon. Gentleman's comments will not be lost on that district council.
The hon. Member for Springburn said that a housing association had increased rents by 50 per cent. I am aware that in certain circumstances—for example, on a change of tenancy—rents may be substantially increased, but secured or assured tenants would not pay such increases. That would be contrary to the terms and conditions of their tenancies.
I should be grateful if the hon. Member for Springburn would give me the details in writing and I shall consider them thoroughly.
We have been consulting on the question of changing from a secured tenancy to an assured tenancy, because there has been an inconsistency in the way in which housing associations have interpreted the law. We have received responses to that consultation, but there is a case pending. Milnbank housing association is challenging the rent officers and we are awaiting the outcome of that case. We shall bear in mind the points that the hon. Gentleman has made and if he will give me the details, I shall look into it.
§ Mr. Michael J. Martin
Milnbank housing association is in my constituency. Scottish Homes is leaving Milnbank to take the legal action through the courts and Scottish Homes is willing to pay part only of the legal costs. I hope that if that is a test case in which the Government are interested, they will take all the costs on boards and not 774 burden the rent payers of the Milnbank housing association, which operates in only a small part of my constituency.
I shall be able to furnish the Minister with cases in my constituency where rents have been increased substantially and I hope that he will look into them.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will write to me about the case that he mentioned of the increase of more than 50 per cent. As I said, the Government will not make a decision until after the outcome of that case. On the issue of homelessness—
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
We have taken a large number of measures to deal with homelessness. We have provided some £27 million for extra capital allocations, we have provided more than £10 million for homelessness under the urban programme and, of course, we have provided the hostels portion of the housing support grant, which has been debated tonight. We have also provided cash incentive schemes and we are providing substantial support to the voluntary organisations.
In the past week, Scottish Homes has announced that it was promoting lead tenancy arrangements, whereby empty private property is leased to housing associations for letting to homeless families, and that it was using new, furnished accommodation grants for housing associations to encourage provision of accommodation for the homeless.
I shall give way to the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. A. Godman), whose constituency I shall be visiting before long.
§ Dr. Godman
May I say how pleased I am that the Minister has accepted my invitation to visit certain housing schemes in my constituency.
If a housing association threatened a tenant with an assured tenancy, what powers would the housing association ombudsman have to overturn such a decision?
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
The housing association ombudsman is in post and his recommendations in cases of maladministration will be carefully considered by the Scottish Office as soon as it receives them. Of course, the hon. Gentleman is free to refer cases to the ombudsman.
As the House will know, the housing scene has changed dramatically over the past few years.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
If I give an obvious example, Scotland has overtaken England in the percentage of public sector houses sold to sitting tenants. There is 0.5 per cent. more in Scotland.
We all know that the scene is changing greatly. More and more local authorities are accepting that their role need not be confined to the direct provision and management of their own housing stock. Increasingly, they are realising 775 that housing needs may be met most effectively by acting in an enabling role and by co-operating with Scottish Homes, housing associations and the private sector to jointly plan investment and provide homes for their areas. There are now some 42 strategic agreements with local authorities and those are bearing fruit. Only this morning, I was in Falkirk, from where the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) comes, and saw a successful development which involved the district council.
§ Madam Deputy Speaker
Order. I do not think that the debate should end in such confusion. If the hon. Member who has the Floor does not give way, others must resume their seats. Does the Minister wish to give way or not?
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
The hon. Member for Falkirk, West, his constituent, the district council, Scottish Homes and the developer had an extremely successful housing development in the small urban renewal initiative. Conservative Members warmly welcome partnerships such as that: it is working, and it will continue to work. I commend the motion to the House.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 304, Noes 250.779
|Division No. 123]||[11.30 pm|
|Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey)||Burns, Simon|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Burt, Alistair|
|Alexander, Richard||Butler, Peter|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)||Butterfill, John|
|Allason, Rupert (Torbay)||Carlisle, John (Luton North)|
|Ancram, Michael||Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)|
|Arbuthnot, James||Carrington, Matthew|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Carttiss, Michael|
|Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv)||Cash, William|
|Ashby, David||Channon, Rt Hon Paul|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Chapman, Sydney|
|Atkins, Robert||Churchill, Mr|
|Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E)||Clappison, James|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)||Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North)||Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey|
|Baldry, Tony||Coe, Sebastian|
|Banks, Matthew (Southport)||Colvin, Michael|
|Banks, Robert (Harrogate)||Congdon, David|
|Bates, Michael||Conway, Derek|
|Batiste, Spencer||Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)|
|Bellingham, Henry||Coombs, Simon (Swindon)|
|Bendall, Vivian||Cope, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||Cormack, Patrick|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Couchman, James|
|Blackburn, Dr John G.||Cran, James|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)|
|Booth, Hartley||Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)|
|Boswell, Tim||Davies, Quentin (Stamford)|
|Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)||Davis, David (Boothferry)|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia||Day, Stephen|
|Bowden, Andrew||Deva, Nirj Joseph|
|Bowls, John||Dickens, Geoffrey|
|Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes||Dicks, Terry|
|Brandreth, Gyles||Dorrell, Stephen|
|Brazier, Julian||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James|
|Bright, Graham||Dover, Den|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Duncan, Alan|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)||Duncan-Smith, Iain|
|Browning, Mrs. Angela||Dunn, Bob|
|Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)||Durant, Sir Anthony|
|Budgen, Nicholas||Dykes, Hugh|
|Eggar, Tim||Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)|
|Elletson, Harold||Knight, Greg (Derby N)|
|Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)|
|Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)||Knox, Sir David|
|Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)||Kynoch, George (Kincardine)|
|Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)||Lait, Mrs Jacqui|
|Evans, Roger (Monmouth)||Lang, Rt Hon Ian|
|Evennett, David||Lawrence, Sir Ivan|
|Faber, David||Legg, Barry|
|Fabricant, Michael||Lennox-Boyd, Mark|
|Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas||Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)|
|Fenner, Dame Peggy||Lidington, David|
|Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)||Lightbown, David|
|Fishburn, Dudley||Lilley, Rt Hon Peter|
|Forman, Nigel||Lloyd, Rt Hon Peter (Fareham)|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Lord, Michael|
|Forth, Eric||Luff, Peter|
|Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman||Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas|
|Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)||MacGregor, Rt Hon John|
|Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)||MacKay, Andrew|
|Freeman, Rt Hon Roger||Maclean, David|
|French, Douglas||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Gale, Roger||McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick|
|Gallie, Phil||Madel, Sir David|
|Gardiner, Sir George||Maitland, Lady Olga|
|Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan||Malone, Gerald|
|Garnier, Edward||Mans, Keith|
|Gill, Christopher||Marland, Paul|
|Gillan, Cheryl||Marlow, Tony|
|Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles||Marshall, John (Hendon S)|
|Gorman, Mrs Teresa||Martin, David (Portsmouth S)|
|Gorst, John||Mates, Michael|
|Grant, Sir A. (Cambs SW)||Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian|
|Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)||Mellor, Rt Hon David|
|Greenway, John (Ryedale)||Merchant, Piers|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)||Mills, Iain|
|Grylls, Sir Michael||Moate, Sir Roger|
|Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn||Moss, Malcolm|
|Hague, William||Needham, Richard|
|Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie||Nelson, Anthony|
|Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)||Neubert, Sir Michael|
|Hampson, Dr Keith||Newton, Rt Hon Tony|
|Hanley, Jeremy||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Hannam, Sir John||Nicholson, David (Taunton)|
|Hargreaves, Andrew||Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)|
|Harris, David||Norris, Steve|
|Haselhurst, Alan||Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley|
|Hawkins, Nick||Oppenheim, Phillip|
|Hawksley, Warren||Ottaway, Richard|
|Hayes, Jerry||Page, Richard|
|Heald, Oliver||Paice, James|
|Heathcoat-Amory, David||Patnick, Irvine|
|Hendry, Charles||Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael||Pawsey, James|
|Hicks, Robert||Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.||Pickles, Eric|
|Hill, James (Southampton Test)||Porter, Barry (Wirral S)|
|Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)||Porter, David (Waveney)|
|Horam, John||Portillo, Rt Hon Michael|
|Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Rathbone, Tim|
|Howard, Rt Hon Michael||Redwood, Rt Hon John|
|Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)||Renton, Rt Hon Tim|
|Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)||Richards, Rod|
|Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)||Riddick, Graham|
|Hunt, Sir John (Ravensboume)||Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm|
|Hunter, Andrew||Robathan, Andrew|
|Jack, Michael||Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn|
|Jackson, Robert (Wantage)||Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)|
|Jenkin, Bernard||Robinson, Mark (Somerton)|
|Jessel, Toby||Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxboume)|
|Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey||Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)|
|Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)||Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela|
|Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)||Ryder, Rt Hon Richard|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Sackville, Tom|
|Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine||Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim|
|Key, Robert||Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Kilfedder, Sir James||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)|
|Kirkhope, Timothy||Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian|
|Knapman, Roger||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)||Thurnham, Peter|
|Shersby, Michael||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Sims, Roger||Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)|
|Skeet, Sir Trevor||Tracey, Richard|
|Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)||Trend, Michael|
|Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Soames, Nicholas||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Speed, Sir Keith||Viggers, Peter|
|Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)||Waldegrave, Rt Hon William|
|Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)||Walden, George|
|Spink, Dr Robert||Walker, Bill (N Tayside)|
|Spring, Richard||Waller, Gary|
|Sproat, Iain||Ward, John|
|Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)||Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)|
|Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John||Waterson, Nigel|
|Steen, Anthony||Watts, John|
|Stephen, Michael||Wells, Bowen|
|Stern, Michael||Whitney, Ray|
|Stewart, Allan||Whittingdale, John|
|Streeter, Gary||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Sumberg, David||Wiggin, Sir Jerry|
|Sweeney, Walter||Wilkinson, John|
|Sykes, John||Willetts, David|
|Tapsell, Sir Peter||Wilshire, David|
|Taylor, Ian (Esher)||Wolfson, Mark|
|Taylor, John M. (Solihull)||Wood, Timothy|
|Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)||Yeo, Tim|
|Temple-Morris, Peter||Young, Rt Hon Sir George|
|Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)||Mr. Robert G. Hughes and Mr. Andrew Mitchell.|
|Thornton, Sir Malcolm|
|Abbott, Ms Diane||Cook, Frank (Stockton N)|
|Adams, Mrs Irene||Cook, Robin (Livingston)|
|Ainger, Nick||Corbett, Robin|
|Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)||Corbyn, Jeremy|
|Allen, Graham||Corston, Ms Jean|
|Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)||Cousins, Jim|
|Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)||Cox, Tom|
|Armstrong, Hilary||Cryer, Bob|
|Ashton, Joe||Cummings, John|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Cunliffe, Lawrence|
|Barnes, Harry||Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)|
|Barron, Kevin||Dalyell, Tarn|
|Battle, John||Darting, Alistair|
|Beith, Rt Hon A. J.||Davidson, Ian|
|Bell, Stuart||Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)|
|Bennett, Andrew F.||Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l)|
|Benton, Joe||Dewar, Donald|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Dixon, Don|
|Berry, Dr. Roger||Donohoe, Brian H.|
|Betts, Clive||Dowd, Jim|
|Boateng, Paul||Dunnachie, Jimmy|
|Boyes, Roland||Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth|
|Bradley, Keith||Eagle, Ms Angela|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Eastham, Ken|
|Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E)||Enright, Derek|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E)||Etherington, Bill|
|Burden, Richard||Evans, John (St Helens N)|
|Byers, Stephen||Ewing, Mrs Margaret|
|Caborn, Richard||Fatchett, Derek|
|Callaghan, Jim||Faulds, Andrew|
|Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)||Field, Frank (Birkenhead)|
|Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)||Fisher, Mark|
|Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)||Flynn, Paul|
|Campbell-Savours, D. N.||Foster, Rt Hon Derek|
|Canavan, Dennis||Foulkes, George|
|Cann, Jamie||Fraser, John|
|Chisholm, Malcolm||Fyfe, Maria|
|Clapham, Michael||Galbraith, Sam|
|Clark, Dr David (South Shields)||Galloway, George|
|Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)||Gapes, Mike|
|Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)||Garrett, John|
|Clelland, David||George, Bruce|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Gerrard, Neil|
|Coffey, Ann||Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John|
|Connarty, Michael||Godman, Dr Norman A.|
|Godsiff, Roger||Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)|
|Golding, Mrs Llin||Milburn, Alan|
|Gordon, Mildred||Miller, Andrew|
|Graham, Thomas||Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)|
|Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)||Morgan, Rhodri|
|Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)||Morley, Elliot|
|Grocott, Bruce||Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)|
|Gunnell, John||Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)|
|Hain, Peter||Mudie, George|
|Hall, Mike||Mullin, Chris|
|Hanson, David||Murphy, Paul|
|Hardy, Peter||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)|
|Henderson, Doug||O'Brien, William (Normanton)|
|Hendron, Dr Joe||O'Hara, Edward|
|Heppell, John||Olner, William|
|Hill, Keith (Streatham)||O'Neill, Martin|
|Hinchliffe, David||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Hoey, Kate||Parry, Robert|
|Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)||Patchett, Terry|
|Home Robertson, John||Pendry, Tom|
|Hood, Jimmy||Pickthall, Colin|
|Hoon, Geoffrey||Pike, Peter L.|
|Howarth, George (Knowsley N)||Pope, Greg|
|Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)||Powell, Ray (Ogmore)|
|Hoyle, Doug||Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)|
|Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)||Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Prescott, John|
|Hutton, John||Primarolo, Dawn|
|Illsley, Eric||Purchase, Ken|
|Ingram, Adam||Quin, Ms Joyce|
|Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)||Radice, Giles|
|Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)||Randall, Stuart|
|Jamieson, David||Raynsford, Nick|
|Janner, Greville||Redmond, Martin|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)||Reid, Dr John|
|Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)||Rendel, David|
|Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)||Robertson, George (Hamilton)|
|Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)||Robinson, Geoffrey (Co'try NW)|
|Jowell, Tessa||Roche, Mrs. Barbara|
|Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald||Rogers, Allan|
|Keen, Alan||Rooker, Jeff|
|Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)||Rooney, Terry|
|Khabra, Piara S.||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Kilfoyle, Peter||Rowlands, Ted|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Salmond, Alex|
|Leighton, Ron||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Lestor, Joan (Eccles)||Sheerman, Barry|
|Lewis, Terry||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Litherland, Robert||Short, Clare|
|Livingstone, Ken||Simpson, Alan|
|Loyden, Eddie||Skinner, Dennis|
|Lynne, Ms Liz||Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)|
|McAllion, John||Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)|
|McAvoy, Thomas||Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)|
|McCartney, Ian||Snape, Peter|
|Macdonald, Calum||Soley, Clive|
|McFall, John||Spearing, Nigel|
|McKelvey, William||Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)|
|Mackinlay, Andrew||Steinberg, Gerry|
|McLeish, Henry||Stevenson, George|
|McMaster, Gordon||Stott, Roger|
|McNamara, Kevin||Strang, Dr. Gavin|
|McWilliam, John||Tipping, Paddy|
|Madden, Max||Turner, Dennis|
|Maddock, Mrs Diana||Vaz, Keith|
|Mahon, Alice||Wallace, James|
|Marek, Dr John||Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Wareing, Robert N|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)||Watson, Mike|
|Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)||Welsh, Andrew|
|Martlew, Eric||Wicks, Malcolm|
|Maxton, John||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)|
|Meacher, Michael||Wilson, Brian|
|Meale, Alan||Winnick, David|
|Michael, Alun||Worthington, Tony|
|Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)||Wray, Jimmy|
|Wright, Dr Tony||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Young, David (Bolton SE)||Mr. John Spellar and Mr. Jack Thompson.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
That the draft Housing Support Grant (Scotland) Order 1994, which was laid before this House on 25 January, be approved.