Power to Give Financial Assistance
Clause 50
4:30 pm

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing

Mr Nigel Spearing (Newham South)

I beg to move amendment No. 313, in page 47, line 45, leave out 'person' and insert 'statutory authority or registered charity'. The amendment relates to the grant-making powers of a HAT. Clause 66(1) says: For the purpose of achieving its objects a housing action trust may, with the consent of the Secretary of State, give financial assistance to any person. It sets out the forms in which such assistance may be given.

Amendment No. 313 is a probing one, but I believe that it has probity. Being able to give assistance to any person—admittedly with the consent of the Secretary of State —is a wide power. My hon. Friends will confirm that such power is not given to local authorities. They are subject to strict auditing by the local auditor, despite the fact that they share with a HAT the objective of improving living conditions in an area. The objectives of a HAT go much wider than that. A HAT can do almost anything, as was shown in earlier debates.

Under clause 58(3)(d), a HAT can carry on any business or undertaking". I am not suggesting that the Secretary of State or Ministers will agree to allow a HAT to pay money to anyone for doing anything. I should not be quite so naive as to believe that. Nevertheless, the consent of the Secretary of State is obtained not by an open, glasnost process but by writing letters. A local authority, using its more limited powers, must obtain consent from the Secretary of State—a letter is sent, the local authority committee receives an answer and there may be something in a council's minutes to say that the Secretary of State has given consent.

No such conditions apply to a housing action trust. We have heard nothing much about the meetings that the housing action trust will have and we have heard only vaguely about an annual report. Nominated persons in the HAT will have the power to give any person grants—albeit with the consent of the Secretary of State—for very wide purposes. That is an enormous privilege, and I use that word advisedly. Privilege is something that we prize greatly in this House, but privilege has another side to it, which is responsibility. I suggest that the clause as drafted contains a temptation to irresponsibility.

I speak with some experience because, as everyone knows by now, we have a sort of housing action trust in the London area. We have a quango called the London Docklands development corporation. We are now being asked to form heaven knows how many other, smaller quangos in different parts of the country. From what we heard in the last debate, it appears that even Broxbourne may be a candidate for a HAT, surprising though it may be to hear that that part of Hertfordshire has a problem of homelessness.

The Government are usually very worried about public expenditure. They were worried to the tune of £4 billion, which they doled out to well-off people. As we know from the Prime Minister's rather nasty replies last week, when it comes to people on social security and to pensioners, the Government are as tight as tight can be. The clause allows housing action trusts to give away money to more or less anybody for anything, subject to the consent of the Secretary of State. We must ask for what purpose they will give it away.

Unfortunately—I was not present for the debate—I understand that, since I tabled the amendment, or around the same time, the Government have tabled their own amendments to the effect that a list of persons to whom money has been given will be published at the end of the year. Perhaps the amendment appears in another group. That amendment has been tabled and discussed since I tabled mine, but that does not detract from the probing nature of my amendment.

There is a risk that a dependent society may arise. The Government are all against a dependent society. They tell us that they are against dependency, whatever that is, when it is municipally funded or when it is funded by the Department of Health and Social Security. They will have to shell out an awful lot more on the homeless as they increasingly fall out of the bottom of the housing market, and on those who get into debt. There is not an hon. Member who does not receive almost daily through his letter box inducements to get into debt, from banks and many others.

Let us consider the powers available to the HATs. As we know, they have the power to dispose of property and

I believe that the HATs will promote a dependent attitude because of the example of the London Docklands development corporation in east London, where little money is available from local authorities.

Sports organisations, youth organisations, old people's organisations and advice organisations are all having their grants cut and cut again, sometimes to the extent that they cease to operate. Then the LDDC comes along and hands out money here, there and everywhere—for a sports kit for a primary school, a presentation to an old persons' club or for the increased architectural merit of a new school. In each case, "by courtesy of the LDDC" will be posted up. It is well known that if one wants money in east London one tries the LDDC.

5.15 pm

It is all public money, but it is not being disbursed by an accountable elected authority. We know the LDDC's record. It has repeatedly been pointed out how much a housing action trust will resemble an urban development corporation. HATs will be seen as bodies to which to apply for money, because they will have a lot of it. That will give them power—the power of patronage and to be the squirearchy of the area.

I am not suggesting that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, would be called upon to be a member of a housing action trust, because you are in this House. But imagine being invited to be the chairman or chief executive of a housing action trust. I know how such people operate, because I have seen them. Everywhere they go, people doff their caps almost because these functionaries, nominees of the Secretary of State, can hand out £10,000 here and £100,000 there in east London. They do so all the time. That is a reversion to another age, although the genuine squirearchy used their own money. The characters in the HATs will hand out our money.

I do not impugn their integrity. I am merely saying that the Government have set up in law a thoroughly 19th-century arrangement. We know how Victorian the Prime Minister can be when she chooses, although it is all Victorian vice and very little Victorian virtue. The Labour party is a Victorian organisation, but a virtuous one.

Photo of Mrs Mildred Gordon

Mrs Mildred Gordon (Bow and Poplar)

Does my hon. Friend agree that the LDDC is virtually a dictatorship in docklands and that the housing action trusts will be another form of dictatorship? Consider the problems that there have been with the management of the LDDC—the members of the executive and the executive officers. Will there be an equal amount of bumbling in the boards of the bodies that will control vast amounts of public money in housing? Will we see an equally sad lack of help for those in need in the area?

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing

Mr Nigel Spearing (Newham South)

I am afraid that my hon. Friend is right. We cannot be certain that the animal will work in that way, but from my experience of the jumbo animal, the little jumbos will probably work in the same way. I say that for one reason alone: it is human nature. I do not think that there is a single hon. Member, however to the Left or the Right of the spectrum he may be, and however moral according to the Prime Minister's precepts, who, given the power to hand out such sums almost on the nod, would not be tempted. I am told that in the LDDC three or four people meeting in secret decide these matters. I suggest not that there would be subversion—that is a strong term—but that the members of the HATs would tend to be a little casual in dealing with these matters.

I do not believe that such a way of going about things is in the best tradition of British public administration. I am not so sure that it is in any traditions of British public administration, of which the Government constantly say they are in favour. It is an invitation to temptation. I do not question the integrity of future members of a HAT, its chief executive or chairman, but they will be in a position to hand out substantial sums for a wide range of purposes that are only indirectly related to the operation of the trust.

Clause 58 says that HATs may acquire, hold, manage, reclaim and dispose of land … carry out building and other operations; … carry on any business or undertaking: and may generally do anything necessary or expedient for the purposes of those objects and powers or for purposes incidental thereto." They could assist people to move. A HAT would undoubtedly find it profitable to assist people to buy their homes elsewhere, as the capital gain on sale of the HAT property would be considerable. If the Treasury did not want the money, the Secretary of State might. Indeed, the Secretary of State might direct a HAT to do that.

Some may say that that is going a bit far, but not at all. About one year ago, the Secretary of State for the Environment said that he wanted the LDDC to make as much profit as possible from increased land values, so that he could help fund dockland development corporations in other parts of the country. I think that he may have softened his tune a little, because he now understands the needs of people in east London. His attitude is, however, only slightly different now, and if he can do that for the LDDC, a HAT could operate in the same way.

People may be glad to take the money made available to them to move. I can imagine people vacating nice property in my constituency which the HAT could dispose of at an enormous capital gain. Indeed, I think that that has already happened in the Isle of Dogs.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing

Mr Nigel Spearing (Newham South)

I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Poplar (Ms. Gordon) is nodding in agreement. Her local authority is operating in that direction, and the Bill will speed up the process.

The Minister may wish to comment on my suppositions. If she can deny them, I will be pleased. I am one of those who believe that there is a hidden agenda. Much of the Government's legislation has a hidden purpose, which may be discerned by spotting its salient features. The Minister for Housing and Planning, whom we welcome back, may not be enthusiastic about that approach, but I am sure that those who were responsible for the genesis of HATs were.

That approach was given a boost by all that stuff about the Walker plan a fortnight ago. We were told that council tenants are to be offered their own premises not at half price but at virtually no price. That has not appeared in the Bill, but what is to prevent HATs from being vehicles for that process? Nothing. They can dispose of land. It does not have to be at market price. If there is anything to prevent it, perhaps the Minister, if she knows about it, will tell me. What is to prevent HATs from becoming "mini-Walker sales bodies"?

Photo of Mr George Howarth

Mr George Howarth (Knowsley North)

My hon. Friend has introduced the English Secretary of State for Wales into the equation and said that there is an element of Victorian values here. Does my hon. Friend agree that, with the Secretary of State for Wales, the role of the LDDC and the possibility of HATs, what we are talking about is neo-colonialism? Good and worthy people are going out and doing their good works during the day and retreating to their leafy suburbs for the night. The only thing that they probably do not carry with them that the colonialists did is a Bible to tame the heathen savages

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing

Mr Nigel Spearing (Newham South)

There are elements of that, but my hon. Friend reminds me of when an Austrian radio commentator came to my constituency to look at what was happening in docklands, as there was some rehabilitation and rejuvenation in some Austrian towns. He was appalled and said, "Mr. Spearing, what is happening here is a takeover by an imperial power."

The Secretary of State for Wales has put forward his plan. It could operate well with HATs. There is nothing to say that the plan is confined to areas that are absolutely physically rundown. Clause 55 tells us that among the factors which the Secretary of State has to bear in mind is the extent to which housing is occupied, its physical state and design, the area it is in and any need to repair or improve it. It does not say that the housing has to be in a bad state. It can be in jolly good state. The more we examine the matter, the more possibilities emerge and the more we are worried.

As I said earlier, the best Victorian virtues are very good. They are the ones which the Prime Minister pretends to practise, but in fact she practises only Victorian vices. We can take the example of the Division which took place not very long ago. It was about the homeless. The word "homeless" does not appear in the Bill. For how many hours have we discussed it? What sort of Housing Bill is this which does not mention the homeless when, even in leafy Broxbourne, 15 per cent. of the people having to be housed by the council are homeless? That is the sort of Victorian vice that we know all about. The subject was explored in the excellent play by Galsworthy that we saw recently on television. It was about a man of integrity who was wholly out of tune with his time.

Why should there not be a list confining assistance to statutory authorities and registered charities? If somebody wished to avail himself of a HAT's largesse, he could form a small local charity which acts as a second tier. That often happens in other areas. That would avoid any suspicion of a conveyor belt taking public money to people who do not need it. I await the Minister's reply, but I fear that it will not be very satisfactory.

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Mr Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

One would have thought that, when framing legislation, the Government would consider the problems being experienced in housing and try to alleviate local authorities' difficulties.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) has advanced a strong argument, and said that we do not know how much money HATs will have, where it will go and who will control it. If we are to have organisations with spare money to dole out, I should have thought that the Government would consider meeting housing need. One group that I wish to bring to the Government's attention is the young single homeless. If financial support is to be possible, why cannot some of it go towards counselling and support services for such people?

We all know that the crisis of the young single homeless will increase when the poll tax is introduced as many families with children aged over 18 who live at home will find it difficult to carry the burden of poll tax. There is, therefore, a danger that yet more young people will be shoved out on to the streets, where they will join the many who are already wandering around. Local authorities have no statutory responsibility to house the young single homeless unless they are considered to be at some special risk.

Therefore, if funds are to be made available to the HATs, I hope that they will consider such groups, which have been ignored for many years by housing authorities. I do not blame local authorities—they have enough to do as it is to meet the increasing demands that are made on them. Although they are sensitive to the needs of the young single homeless, and of other groups such as single parents, they find it difficult, within their budgets and facilities, to meet those needs and make accommodation available.

5.30 pm

That brings me to the accountability of the housing action trusts. The lack of accountability has been mentioned. It is amazing that the Government seem to think that lack of accountability in housing is more desirable than accountability of local authorities, which know local needs and local issues, and can direct their attention to areas of stress and need, rather than to have a quango that may not be closely associated with the area.

Photo of Mrs Alice Mahon

Mrs Alice Mahon (Halifax)

I am sure that my hon. Friend has read "The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists". I was reminded of the council carving up little bits. They were suspect elected representatives.

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Mr Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

My hon. Friend is right, and "The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists" is compulsory reading for all Socialists. There is a danger of such a carve-up and a lack of accountability. The clause also introduces the danger of patronage in how the money will be doled out. It worries me that the Government assume that the housing action trusts will be more responsive to local needs.

In my constituency, the local council has embarked on a radical scheme, in co-operation with building societies and English Heritage, to modernise steel workers' ironstone cottages, which are part of the local historic tradition. That will not only preserve that heritage but provide useful two-bedroomed accommodation. The local authority has not had difficulty getting the scheme off the ground, but the Government have prevaricated in the negotiations between the authority and the building societies, placing the scheme in doubt. That does not give me a great deal of confidence about any independence of the housing action trusts and their meeting local needs any more efficiently than the local council.

What will happen to any housing stock that is handed over to housing action trusts? I return to the single homeless. My local council recently modernised a pre-war block of flats in Queensway, the idea being that the accommodation should be for couples and single people. I wonder whether the same priority will be given by a housing action trust that finds a similar block of flats. The trust may find it useful for yuppification and dispose of the property, possibly for profit.

Make no mistake, those ripples of yuppification are spreading out of London as far north as my constituency, where yuppies from London are looking for bijou boltholes in Scunthorpe. Believe me, I would rather have a bijou bolthole in Scunthorpe than live in docklands any day. I say that from the bottom of my heart.

That trend has the undesirable consequence of forcing up the price of local property and puts yet more pressure on young people who want to leave home and, in many cases, have to leave home. Such young people want a start on the housing ladder and to find somewhere to live.

There does not seem to be any direction for the money that is being made available to HATs. I should like money to go to local authorities, where it could be controlled by democratically elected and accountable people. It could be directed towards need, not greed, rather than being doled out in the spirit of paternalistic 19th century patronage.

We should face such issues. I know very well that the Government will not accept the amendment, because they do not care about issues such as I am raising. But Opposition Members intend to pursue those matters in great detail because many people face considerable stress and are in great need. I want to highlight the needs of young single parents and single-parent families, who are only one group of many.

Photo of Ms Dawn Primarolo

Ms Dawn Primarolo (Bristol South)

My hon. Friend mentioned single young people. In Bristol, of 14,000 people who are able to register on the housing waiting lists, almost two thirds are couples—[Interruption.] I believe that there should be just one debate in the Chamber. I appreciate that hon. Members talk in the Chamber, but sometimes the noise is so loud that it distracts others.

Nearly two thirds of the 14,000 people on the waiting lists in Bristol are single people and childless couples. In 1985, the city council projected, on the basis of the census, that in Bristol we should need to build accommodation for single people only to account for the demographic changes. I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree that that is where the money should be directed, not into property speculation through HATS.

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Mr Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

I thank my hon. Friend, who has put her finger on the issue by identifying where any resources should go. It is a sad reflection of the trends in our society that there are more single parents. That is a growing group, as the Government know, because of the stresses and strains on marriages and the increasing divorce rate. There are also stresses and strains on the family unit. Increasing numbers of young people have to leave home for all sorts of reasons, not least to look for work in other areas.

That is why I argue that the Government are not giving enough attention to the single person, the young single person and single parents. If money is to be made available to the housing action trusts, it should be directed in a logical and accountable way towards meeting people's needs, and not simply be a paternalistic backhander from the Government to the HATs.

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Mr Ian McCartney (Makerfield)

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) who, in an assiduous manner—displayed these past 24 hours—has extracted the hidden agenda of the HAT proposals.

After the debates in Committee, I believe that there is a danger of what can be described only as a slush fund. The Under-Secretary is yawning once again, but she and the Minister of State made it clear that HATs were about transferring millions and sometimes multi-million sums of public assets to unelected organisations with a responsibility for disposing of those assets. The profit from the disposal of the assets would go to the national Exchequer, not back to the local community, which built up the assets in the first place. In the legislation, we are seeing the possible preparation of a slush fund.

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Mr George Howarth (Knowsley North)

My hon. Friends the Members for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) and for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) have both referred to a hidden agenda, which seems to be obscured from the Under-Secretary. Will my hon. Friend speculate as to why the hon. Lady has not been told about it?

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Mr Ian McCartney (Makerfield)

The whole Bill has been somewhat obscure to the Under-Secretary—I am not being nasty when I say that. One can only speculate on the number of notes passed between the unknown civil servants and the Minister and come to the conclusion that the Secretary of State has not told her what the Bill is about. The Minister was in such a state that she had to go to Finland for a rest. She is back now—

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Mr Ian McCartney (Makerfield)

Yes, but I would not have said that. I hope that the Minister will be able to put our minds at rest.

We can only surmise about Government policy. For example, through the Greater London council and so on, the Government virtually handed over to Thamesmead plc lock, stock and barrel, the housing assets of the estates, the land and the derelict land. It has now become clear that the derelict land holding of Thamesmead plc is worth about £300 million. That has been stripped from the public purse.

The Government's intentions as to financial assistance are not clear. We do not know where the money will come from. Will it be money that has accrued from the sale of public assets? Will it be additional grant from the Department of the Environment? Will the housing action trusts be able to claim aid? Will they be able to claim money from the Manpower Services Commission? Will they be able to claim money from other public sources? Will it simply be money accrued from the sale of public assets, to be disbursed without any accountability?

I am curious to know why the Government have included in the Bill the words "any person." In a local authority, the district auditor would take action. I can give an example of that. During the miners' strike, in the Wigan metropolitan council we used certain sections of the Local Government Act 1986. We used the product of a penny rate to assist families in need. We helped the children and wives of miners with food and emergency payments. The district auditor ruled that the payments were not legal. Repayments have continued since the end of the strike and will continue until everything has been repaid. That is the public's perception of a local authority assisting families in need.

The Bill allows public assets to be stripped and the profits disbursed without public accountability. I could understand that if there were to be community centres, advice agencies, centres for the unemployed, tenants' associations, meals on wheels or pre-school nursery groups within the community covered by the HAT. I could understand it if the HAT was providing assistance—albeit, as has been said, in a colonialist way. In some instances such organisations would be registered charities and would be recognised by the community for the work they have done.

Will the HATs be like a bank allowing the sale of the property, organising mortgage arrangements and assisting with repairs and rehabilitation so that the property can be resold on the open market? What is the nature of the assistance to be given? In disposing of the assets, will financial assistance be given to those to whom the assets are disposed? It is important that the Minister clarifies the position.

In areas where HATs may be set up, the public are worried about what will happen to their property and community. Local authorities which are under threat from HATs are entitled to know whether the profits from their assets will be given to others inside or outside the community.

It is important to know that, because HATs will have other functions, particularly in relation to environmental health. Is it intended that the money be used to pump-prime houses in the private sector or for repair grants or other refurbishments? If the money is used for that purpose, will the local authority have its grant reduced because that money will be taken into account when considering the overall level of spending on refurbishing and repair grants?

5:45 pm
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Mr Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

Does my hon. Friend agree, apart from the points that he has eloquently outlined and with which I agree, that there is another potential problem with HATs? If they remove a substantial chunk of public sector housing, if the authority wishes to undertake estate renovation or whole-street renovation, it will be difficult to find empty properties so as to decant the tenants. To lose a substantial amount of property will hold up whole-house developments or large-scale developments of older housing stock.

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Mr Ian McCartney (Makerfield)

That goes back to the arguments that some of us were putting in relation to the grounds for eviction and whether ground for possession is the rehabilitation of a property. We discussed the position of the tenure being offered to new tenants within the HAT.

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Mr Nigel Spearing (Newham South)

My hon. Friend asked a question that may have been rhetorical or actual and may have been for the Minister or the world in general. The answer is part of the hidden agenda. Clause 58 says: The primary objects of a housing action trust in relation to the designated area for which it is established shall be—

  1. (a) to secure the repair or improvement of housing accommodation for the time being held by the trust".
I emphasise the words "for the time being". That implies that it is transitional and that the power is to be used for the sale of properties.

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Mr Ian McCartney (Makerfield)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is not part of the hidden agenda. That was clearly the position of the Minister. The Minister made it clear that we are talking about a transitional period of, say, five years. The job of the HAT will be to move in, take over the public sector stock, have it revalued and then make its decisions as to whether the stock and assets are to be sold to the private sector as they stand or after they have been refurbished, or whether they are to be offered to sitting tenants. This is a massive asset-stripping job. It is probably one of the largest asset-stripping jobs in the privatisation programme.

The first HATs are only a lead-in and provide a learning process for the Government on the best way to get rid of public sector accommodation. Conservative Members have occasionally muttered a few comments about the Bill. They and the Ministers have made it clear that local authorities are no longer seen as providers of housing. They are there to deal with aspects such as homelessness and to maintain a register for the homeless, registers for the transfer of tenancies, and other things that cost money in terms of administration costs and with which the Government do not want to lumber HATs.

We are dealing with a slush fund. We are debating whether that slush fund is for short-term gain in terms of HATs promoting their image within the community, or for facilitating the rapid sale of the properties and land within the confines of the HAT. The Minister will have to tell us what will happen to derelict land. I have already said that Thamesmead has £300 million—worth of derelict land. Will the HAT be able to claim derelict land grant, or will the money replace the grant?

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Mr George Howarth (Knowsley North)

The Minister will correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that the ability of any housing authority to obtain derelict land grant for housing development was taken away last year. In fact, I believe that the last such grant was made in my own constituency. So that option will not be open.

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Mr Ian McCartney (Makerfield)

That highlights my point about selling assets to the private sector and then giving it the resources to use the land for its own purposes, whether to create something for the community or purely to make profits. In many areas, especially in the north of England and in parts of industrial Wales, north-east England and London, huge tracts of derelict land are available as a natural resource and massive profits can be made overnight through speculation and transfers of ownership. A major example is the way in which the docklands development has transferred derelict land assets from the community to the private sector. [Interruption.] That must be the 25th or 26th time that the hon. Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) has made a childish jibe from a sedentary position. If he wishes to contribute to the debate, I will give way to him.

Mr. Robert G. Hughes:

Why had local councils left the land derelict for so long? Why does the Labour party not admit responsibility for that?

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Mr Ian McCartney (Makerfield)

That comment shows the ignorance of Conservative Members about the ownership of derelict land. In London and other urban areas, the overwhelming proportion of such land is owned not by local authorities but by the private sector and by other public sector bodies. The derelict land programme exists because of the work of local authorities. My local authority has the largest reclamation programme of any local authority in Europe. In the main, derelict land has been the by-product of de-industrialisation, when the private sector, having made its profit, gets out and leaves the community to cope with the resulting disaster.

Mr. Hughes:

Talk to Londoners.

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Mr Ian McCartney (Makerfield)

It is typical of the hon. Gentleman to try to make cheap political jibes when we are trying to resolve the major problem of how derelict land can be brought back to public use for employment or environmental purposes, whether by the public or the private sector.

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Mr Elliot Morley (Glanford and Scunthorpe)

The derelict land in my constituency results from the massive steelworks closures brought about by the Government. The local authority has not been able to tackle the problem because, when the land was in private ownership, there was unrestricted dumping of poisonous chemicals of all kinds on the site. No local authority has the money to tackle that scale of pollution. It requires Government money, although in fact it is the responsibility of the private company which polluted the site and then, having taken its profit, left the problem to the local authority.

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Mr Ian McCartney (Makerfield)

Again, my hon. Friend makes the position clear. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Harrow, West is trying to interrupt from a sedentary position again. He should quit while he is ahead. For three months he was in a privileged position to contribute to the Committee debates on these issues, but he signally failed to do so, although no doubt we shall hear more interruptions from him between now and 2.30 tomorrow afternoon. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about Wigan pier?"] Wigan pier is a prime example of a local authority initiative turning private dereliction to public use. This year it was awarded the European heritage award for the best environmental improvement in Europe. It is so good that Ministers arrive almost daily to see what a wonderful job the local authority has done. If the hon. Member for Harrow, West is really interested in the refurbishment of the local economy and community through the proper use of derelict land grant and public investment, I invite him to come to Wigan—he might learn something.

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Mr George Howarth (Knowsley North)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for the Government Whip to admonish a Conservative Back Bencher for having the temerity to intervene after sitting silent for so long?

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Mr Irvine Patnick (Sheffield, Hallam)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was listening to my hon. Friend the Whip. He was complimenting my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes) on his contribution.

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Mr Paul Dean (Woodspring)

This gives me the opportunity to point out that there are rather too many private conversations on both sides of the House. I have been tolerant because the House has been sitting for some time, but I am sure that we shall make greater progress if hon. Members will restrain themselves.

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Mr Ian McCartney (Makerfield)

I am grateful for your protection, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My hon. Friends were not talking among themselves—they were giving me encouragement. Since about two o'clock this morning, Conservative Members have been filibustering with childish comments and pranks. I even had to admonish one group who had obviously come in from Annabel's after a bit too much pink champagne and tried to disrupt the proceedings. The Opposition, however, will not be deflected from dealing with the issues at stake.

To return to my subject, will the money be used for benevolent community purposes to assist the poorest members of the community living within the confines of the housing action trusts? Will it be used to help families who, due to the changes in income support, can no longer claim lump sum payments for essential items such as furniture, carpets and curtains or so-called luxuries such as cookers, bedding and heating appliances? If the money is to be spent on that kind of activity to maintain the social fabric of the community, I should be the first to say that the amendment should be withdrawn, but I suspect that that is not the prime objective. The money is a slush fund to be used once the assets have been stripped from the local authority and the community, and it will find its way into the pockets of those who should never have received it.

I end with a question to my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing); there is not much point in asking the Minister, as we shall get no reply. Is there not widespread disquiet about the docklands accounts and the way in which hundreds of millions of pounds of public money has been disbursed by the corporation? There should be full public knowledge of that, but the allegations are still not in the public domain because of the secrecy involved in that development.

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Mr George Howarth (Knowsley North)

As my hon. Friend may know. the Merseyside development corporation has been severely criticised by the auditors for not keeping proper financial control over its expenditure.

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Mr Ian McCartney (Makerfield)

I apologise to my hon. Friend for not alluding to that point. He and other hon. Members from that region are disquieted, given that the organisation was set up in a blaze of glory precisely to undercut or cut out the role of the then Merseyside county council, the Liverpool city council and other councils involved in the regeneration of Merseyside. It is a crying shame, considering the major cuts in rate support grant and housing investment programme money for authorities in Merseyside, when a non-elected quango, appointed by the Secretary of State, is not only squandering but misusing public money. Will the Secretary of State take action and seek to recover public resources in the same way as he attempted to crucify bankrupt Labour councils for simply providing new homes and refusing to cut public and social services?

6 pm

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Mr Tony Banks (Newham North West)

Yes, I get around as much as I can. Presenting a moving target on a day such as this is safer, and probably in the best interests of my future health and prosperity.

I trust the Under-Secretary of State. She certainly never makes a promise that she does not keep. She gets around that, of course, by never making any promises. At least that is an advance on the promises that other Ministers do not keep. It may have been a back-handed compliment, but it was still meant as a compliment.

We are suspicious of this part of clause 66. That is why my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) moved amendment No. 313. We raised this matter in Committee on 18 February. To his credit, the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Livsey) drew particular attention to HATs giving financial assistance to any one person. We all miss the incisive contributions that were made by the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor. We wish that we could pray in aid his oratory this afternoon. The answer that we got from the Government was wholly unsatisfactory. It was not an answer at all.

I shall make a brief contribution on this occasion, just to get my hand back in, as it were. I ask the Minister to be more precise about what sort of individuals the Government had in mind when they framed clause 66. As the amendment rightly states, it would be far more appropriate for grant-giving powers of HATs to have been given to fund local needs through community centres, advice agencies and tenants' associations. In view of what we know is going on elsewhere, and the possibility of councils extending the principle of portable discounts to people, there might be such an element. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle) might develop that point.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) said, there is a possibility that there will be a slush fund and that HATs will be used to give lump sums to individuals to tempt them to move out so that flats and houses can be sold. That is another form of winkling, and we are worried about it. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South could be moved to consider withdrawing his amendment if we were to have some more assurances from the Minister.

Picking up the point about the financial probity of the London Docklands development corporation, my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South is undoubtedly the best expert in the House on the functions, activities and behaviour of the London Docklands development corporation. But Opposition Members and people in the east end are seriously worried about the financial business and doings of the LDDC, and so was the auditor. I understand that the Public Accounts Committee will interview representatives of the LDDC to see whether it can get to the bottom of the matter.

With unelected, effectively unaccountable quangos, away from the scrutiny of the ballot box, without public admission to meetings, and without printed agendas and minutes, there is always the problem of all the things that they can get up to. We shall refer to that matter when we examine the composition of HATs and the publication of their guidelines. The Minister will set a good scene for later debates if she gives us some more assurances about what this part of clause 66 means in respect of HATs giving grants to individuals.

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Mrs Marion Roe (Broxbourne)

I have listened with amazement to some of the wild allegations that Opposition Members have made about the likely activities of HATs. It is quite untrue to suggest that the Bill gives HATs an unfettered ability to spend taxpayers' money. HATs will be able to use their power to give financial assistance only with the consent of the Secretary of State. My Department will issue a financial memorandum to HATs, setting out in detail the circumstances in which assistance may be given. As provided in amendment No. 332, which the House agreed only a little time ago, full details of all financial assistance by each HAT will be set out in annual reports submitted to Parliament.

Opposition Members are becoming obsessed with derelict land. That land may be of particular relevance to urban development corporations in Thamesmead, but it is of marginal relevance to HATs, which will be set up to improve life for people who live in run-down council housing. HATs will certainly be required to make the best possible use of derelict land in their areas, as the Secretary of State expects local authorities to do.

The hon. Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney) referred to accountability. Of course HATs will not be asset-strippers. The interests of the residents in the area will be essential to HATs' interests. Despite what Opposition Members have said, I emphasise that HATs will be fully accountable to Parliament through the Secretary of State. HATs' activities will be controlled and monitored through the corporate planning system. The Secretary of State will have powers of direction over HATs, and HATs will be required to submit annual reports to Parliament. We are about to consider an amendment that was promised in Committee to allow the National Audit Office access to HATs, to carry out value-for-money audit examinations. That will ensure HATs' final financial accountability.

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Mr Ian McCartney (Makerfield)

I follow up the hon. Lady's commitment about HATs not being asset-strippers and about their accountability. Does that mean that, when HATs sell housing stock, whether or not they are rehabilitated at the time of transfer, the Government will not allow that stock to be transferred to absentee landlord companies? That is similar to what is happening with British Coal property. What steps will the hon. Lady take to ensure that, when it is transferred, stock will not be resold on the open market, as so many Coal Board houses have been? Even within a day of the sale of an asset in London, tenants are left not knowing who their real landlords are.

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Mrs Marion Roe (Broxbourne)

The assurances that the hon. Gentleman is seeking were debated in Committee. He knows that the interests of residents in HAT areas are of prime importance.

It is simply nonsense to seek, as amendment No. 313 does, to restrict HATs to giving financial assistance to statutory authorities or registered charities, both of which are encompassed in the general term in clause 66, "person". Therefore, I call on hon. Members to reject the amendment

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Mr John Wakeham (Colchester South and Maldon)

I beg to move, That the debate be now adjourned.

I believe that it would be in the interests of the House for us to adjourn our consideration of the Bill now and not to proceed with any further business today. The Opposition undertook that, if the House debated the Housing Bill through last night, the Bill would be completed today. That undertaking was repeatedly reaffirmed. The Opposition have now indicated that they do not intend to fulfil that undertaking. The House can work only on the basis that where undertakings are given they are honoured. In the present circumstances, we shall need time to consider very carefully how we should proceed.

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Mr Allan Roberts (Bootle)

That is one of the most outrageous statements that I have heard the Leader of the House make. He made accusations about my right hon. and hon. Friends who have been negotiating with him, but they are not here to answer those accusations. He did not have the courtesy to tell them that he would be coming here to make those outrageous accusations—

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Mr Allan Roberts (Bootle)

No. I will not give way. The right hon. Gentleman does not deserve that courtesy.

It is the protocol in the House that if hon. Members, whether they are Leaders of the House or not, intend to mention other hon. Members, call them liars and insult them, they should at least have the courtesy to tell them about it in advance so that they can be in the Chamber to answer the accusations.

The truth is that this Government, this Leader of the House and this Secretary of State for the Environment have treated the House with contempt. They have tabled amendments that have completely rewritten the Housing Bill and given us totally inadequate time to debate those amendments and new clauses. Government Back-Bench Members know that to be true because the Government have done the same with other legislation. The Opposition responded to the Government's treatment of the House by debating the legislation fully and properly in the interests of the nation. It is the Government who have ratted on the proper procedures. Their attitude is a disgrace.

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Mr John Wakeham (Colchester South and Maldon)

All that I would say is that I informed members of the Opposition Front Bench before I made the statement.

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Mr Nigel Spearing (Newham South)

This is a debatable motion. I am sure that the House will wish to adjourn soon, but, in view of the terms of the statement made by the Leader of the House, I do not think that we should do so at once.

I have no knowledge of what used to be not mentioned in the House—the usual channels. I believe that the phrase was coined in the 1930s. I put it to the Leader of the House in all sincerity that whatever undertakings he may have thought were given—or may have been given, for all I know—the right hon. Gentleman is not solely relating to colleagues on his Bench. I am glad to see him nodding in response to that.

The Leader of the House has forgotten some things. He has, quite properly, interrupted the debate on my amendment No. 313. If the motion is accepted, as I suspect it will be, we shall resume the debate at a later date. But it is more important to recall business questions last Thursday. The Leader of the House announced then that the House would discuss the Housing Bill on three days this week and that it would be concluded on Wednesday. I pointed out to him that that target was unlikely to be achieved because of the importance of the Bill and the number of amendments tabled to it. With the best will in the world, I did not see how it could be attained. The Leader of the House said that he would not withdraw the statement but that he would have further discussions. I have no doubt that those further discussions took place.

6.15 pm

The Leader of the House must know from the tone of hon. Members' contributions to the debate that our difficulty has been not with the usual workings of the House but with the nature of the Bill. A difficult Bill always attracts strong feelings. A Bill that is badly drafted usually needs many amendments on Report, and many amendments have been selected by the Chair because of the contentious nature of the Bill. I should not call them difficulties. This has been Parliament doing its job and finding out what the Bill is about. The present position has more to do with the nature of the material than with the behaviour of my right hon. and hon. Friends, and certainly those on the Front Bench, during the past 24 hours.

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Mr Cranley Onslow (Woking)

This is an unhappy moment. The events of the past 24 hours have proved that the Opposition are an undisciplined rabble.

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Mr Allan Roberts (Bootle)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for the hon. Gentleman to make accusations about the behaviour of Members of Parliament during a period when he was not even present in the Chamber? Is it not a fact that the Opposition have been very organised and have destroyed the progress of this Bill?

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Mr Paul Dean (Woodspring)

We are debating the motion for the adjournment of the debate. We have had a long sitting and many hon. Members will be hoping that it will not be too long before they can get some sleep. I hope that we can conduct the debate quietly and responsibly.

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Mr Cranley Onslow (Woking)

I have no wish to state the obvious at length, and I do not withdraw a word of what I said. The key word that I used to describe the Opposition was "undisciplined". I believe, and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House assures me that it is true, that the agreements that were entered into have been broken. Broken agreements are not a sign of good discipline. It is clear from the events that those who are supposed to control the Opposition have failed to do so.

If it is true that the Labour Whips, speaking with the authority that they have, gave an undertaking that, i:n return for sitting through the night, we could finish the Bill by 10 o'clock this evening, even if in the process the Killingholme Bill was killed, and that undertaking has been broken by Opposition Members, it is an act of high indiscipline.

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Mr Cranley Onslow (Woking)

I will not give way. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will wish to make his own speech.

Once again, the Labour Whips, the shadow Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition have failed to exercise the authority which the House expects of them. The Leader of the Opposition is the one person who should come here, because the House may have one or two things to say to him. If he has the leadership qualities to take part in Prime Minister's Question Time

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Mr Frank Cook (Stockton North)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for an hon. Member to make at such length accusations of indiscipline when Mr. Speaker today made a clear statement that the debate had been conducted properly and within the rules of procedure? Is he not, by making false accusations of indiscipline, trying, in an oblique manner, to criticise the Chair?

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Mr Paul Dean (Woodspring)

I do not regard anything that has been said so far, on either side of the House, as a reflection on the Chair. It is understandable that, after long hours of debate—[Interruption.] Order. It is understandable that, after such long hours of debate, hon. Members are getting a little tired, but the best way for us to proceed now is to conduct the debate in an orderly and quiet manner.

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Mr Cranley Onslow (Woking)

I am not criticising the Chair in any way, nor am I challenging the proposition that, if hon. Members stay within the rules of order, they are obeying the discipline of the Chair. I am talking about the breach of the internal discipline of the Labour party. The well-remunerated Opposition Chief Whip undertakes—

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Mr Cranley Onslow (Woking)

No, I shall not give way. I wish to make my main point.

The Opposition Chief Whip undertakes, on behalf of his colleagues, to deliver certain acts, but they have not occurred. If the Leader of the Opposition took greater interest in discipline within his party, we might be able to see where the true responsibility lies. We know that there is no discipline within the Labour party, because there is no leadership, from the Opposition Chief Whip, from the shadow Leader of the House or from the Leader of the Opposition.

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Mr Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

This is a case of Opposition 3, Government I. The Leader of the House was a bit premature. Had he waited until the next debate, he would have been moving the Adjournment halfway through the groups of amendments and new clauses selected by Mr. Speaker. We are on the 56th such group and there are 58 still to come. Perhaps the most telling point of all is that a substantial number—nearly half—of these amendments and new clauses have come from the Government. Of those remaining to be debated, 73 were tabled by the Government. Since we started debates on part III, almost exactly 12 hours ago, substantial time has been spent on Government amendments and new clauses. The Government have had to concede that their management of the business has shown that they are unable to deliver their own legislation in the time that they had planned.

The Bill was always going to be controversial. It was bound to be more controversial when the Government decided to add to it almost as much again by way of amendment. This came not in the days immediately after the Committee and the original day for Report in April, nor in the days between Committee and the revised date for Report in May, nor between the Committee and the second revision of the date for Report in early June, but between that second revision and the eventual date for Report in mid-June. By that stage, we should have had some sign of what the Government were going to propose, but it was not until the final hours available for tabling new clauses and amendments that the Government tabled this mass of proposals.

Not only that, but the substantial proposals that the Government said that they would show to the House before Report have still not been seen. The major matter of a social charter for tenants is still a matter of mystery, shrouded in confusion and followed everywhere by uncertainties.

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Mr Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Has the hon. Member considered that what has really happened is that the Prime Minister has given the Leader of the House a bit of earhole powder and told him to get the matter sorted out because it looked as if, under her Administration, we were going to break this century's record for length of sitting? Furthermore, she wants to come in here with the Secretary of State for the Environment after it is all over and clear up all this litter.

Finally, does the hon. Gentleman think that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton), who took part in some of these proceedings, would describe what has happened today—signing up for the homeless and fighting for the tenants—as parliamentary mugging?

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Mr Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

The answer to the last question is perhaps the easiest. It is no. Yet again, the procedures of the House have been used as they are entitled to be. In large measure, Back Benchers have spoken not a fiction but a fact. They have pointed out to the country that we have a Housing Bill that still does not mention the word "homeless". It is a Housing Bill, written in 1988, with 110,000 people having presented themselves as homeless, which does not treat the main issue with which it has to deal.

I do not know whether it was worked out when the Prime Minister came in for her breakfast blessing or whether it was worked out later, but the reality of the motion to adjourn is that the Government have had to concede that they did not allow enough time in the beginning and that they will lose some of their business in any event. There is no way out.

The only way for the Government is to admit that they have been well and truly snookered, caught and knocked off the table. Even if the Leader of the House succeeds, as I suppose he might, with his motion to adjourn—when it can be voted on is a subject for your ruling Mr. Deputy Speaker—he will have to come back to the House either for the continuation of Report stage part three, part four and part five, followed by new clauses which the Government chose to put at the end rather than at the beginning or he will have to come back with a guillotine motion. That would be yet more evidence not only that the Government cannot manage their own business but that they have to bring in a timetable to stifle the debate on housing the homeless when that is a matter which the House has shown that it is willing and able to debate and wants to debate at considerably greater length.

6:30 pm
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Mr Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Government need not have found themselves in this mess? The trivial argument advanced by the right hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) shows that he has not understood what it is about. The mess could have been avoided if the Government had listened to what I said last week, which met with agreement by some. I forecast that the Bill would not be through on time if the Government continued to try to introduce new clauses in a way which undermined our Committee procedure.

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Mr Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

The hon. Gentleman is right. I remember what was said during business questions last Thursday. I remember the points of order on Thursday. The case was made for more time, and I remember that the Leader of the House said that that would be considered. He did not say, "No, there is no question of it." Instead, he said that the Government would consider what they could do.

The reality is that no extra time has been given. It is 24 hours since we began the third day of the Housing Bill on Report. We started three hours late. Some of us have broken sitting records before. Some of us sat through the record sitting since the war of 32 hours on 22–23 May 1984. Some of us did so with no difficulty, and to his credit the Minister for Housing and Planning was one of them. We did so because the Government were trying to abolish local government. They were trying to steamroller through the House legislation that went against the wishes of the people and local authorities. The matter deserved to be debated at length. It deserved to face the resistance of the Members of the House of Commons.

When the Leader of the House seeks to terminate this debate so that it will not, perhaps, make the record books to which it was otherwise clearly heading—that is not certain, Madam Deputy Speaker, because you and your colleagues may well decide that we should continue for some hours yet—let him understand that there are two orders to follow the consideration of the Bill on Report, as well as other matters and an Adjournment debate.

The reality is that we are prepared and are willing to debate housing and the homeless for as long as the matter remains on the political agenda. We shall do so until there are a Government in office who represent, first, the majority of the British people, which this Government do not, either politically or electorally, and, secondly, the majority of those who need protection, care and concern. Opposition Members, perhaps occasionally supported by the rare compassionate, concerned Conservative Back Bencher, will continue to challenge the Government's steamroller. We believe that legislation must be debated properly, and debated until we get it right. If we cannot persuade the Government to change the laws that they propose, on their head be it. On their head be the political blame. We shall have none of the Housing Bill. We shall have none of the Government's housing policy. We shall have none of the authoritarian and unsympathetic attitude of the Government, who do not deal with the people who are in the greatest housing need.

Mr. Robert G. Hughes:

I warmly welcome the motion of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. Unlike many Opposition Members who are now in their places, I have sat through the vast majority of the third day's consideration of the Housing Bill on Report. I have sat through shift changes on the Opposition Front Bench. That is hardly evidence of a sincere approach to the Bill. Opposition Front Bench spokesmen have come and they have gone. Opposition Members have been in evidence by extremely long and tedious speeches. They have failed to do justice to the serious arguments that were advanced in Committee.

In Committee, we debated the real issues. Opposition Members have been unwilling and unable to carry forward those arguments on Report. Therefore, I welcome my right hon. Friend's motion to adjourn the debate. I do not believe that the Opposition ever intended seriously to debate housing issues. I welcome the fact that we shall be returning to consideration of the Bill on Report. When we do so—perhaps with a timetable motion, but that is not a matter for me—Conservative Members will be in a position to advance the important arguments that demonstrate why the Bill is vital for the homeless. It is considered vital by all those who are concerned about the provision of housing for everyone in Britain. It will put an end to the evil empires of council housing that the Labour party controls, which have done so much damage to ordinary people who merely want a home. Opposition Members do not care about those people. Conservative Members do, and we shall make that clear when we continue the debate.

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Mr Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

Perhaps we can now deal with some of the facts. I do not think that I have ever seen a Government in such an incredible mess. lit is surely one in which they deserve to be.

Let me explain what happened. Consideration of the Bill in Committee began in December 1987 and it emerged on 15 March. What happened then? It remained behind the scenes while the Secretary of State for the Environment and the Minister for Housing and Planning tried to make sense of one of the most incredibly stupid measures to be brought before the House by any Government. Why is it so bad?

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Mr Andrew Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I have been a Member of this House for a long time and I have rarely seen a Patronage Secretary or other Government Whip behave in such an appalling way. Surely we can expect acceptable behaviour from the Patronage Secretary of a sort that you would expect from other right hon. and hon. Members, Madam Deputy Speaker. I suggest that you should consider suspending the sitting until we can get some decent behaviour from him.

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Miss Betty Boothroyd (West Bromwich West)

I see no point at all in suspending the sitting. I have no wish to do so, nor shall I do so. I expect the very highest standards from every hon. Member, irrespective of his or her standing in the House.

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Mr Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

I think that it would help the House, Madam Deputy Speaker, if those who sit on the Government Front Bench listened to my remarks and to those made by others who will contribute to the debate subsequently. There are many things that Conservative Back Benchers do not know about the passage of the Bill.

As I have said, the Bill emerged from Committee in March. It has been with the Government since then. Few Bills have been waiting so long for consideration on Report. Why? There is something that I want to say about the Minister for Housing and Planning that Conservative Members may wish to hear. The Minister tried hard to improve the Bill. He was prepared—[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman should listen to what I am saying about his Minister.

The Minister for Housing and Planning tried to improve the Bill. In Committee he made about 100 concessions, rightly and properly. He agreed to change the Bill in places, to reconsider points or to come back to us with recommendations or suggestions. He acted generously. I always claimed that the reason for that was that the Bill had been badly drafted and that the Secretary of State for the Environment had wanted a different Bill.

I then recognised that the Government were having acute difficulty in getting the Bill back to the Floor of the House. Why? Not just because of the concessions but because they needed to make other changes as well.

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Mr Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

The hon. Gentleman must wait; I am not giving way.

In making the other changes, the Government made the fatal error of including major changes which would affect the procedures of the House. The Minister can confirm that I was on the telephone to his office last Thursday to say that I was worried about the changes. On Friday I said that there was no way that I would co-operate on the time scale that we had agreed of three and a half days but that if he gave me an extra day to debate the new clauses, making the total time four and a half days, I would accept that. Even today I offered that again, but the offer was rejected by the Government.

If there are to be new clauses and amendments of constitutional importance, and if they are to be considered without going through Committee, is it not reasonable to ask that that period should be given on the Floor of the House to consider what would otherwise have been considered in Committee?

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Mr William Waldegrave (Bristol West)

It is important to get the timing right. What the hon. Gentleman has said is true. He asked for another day and said that if we gave him another day he would agree to speed the passage of the Bill. However, he did that some hours after agreeing that he would give us the Bill by around 10 o'clock today, and he did it in the presence of several witnesses, including the Secretary of State. I suspect that he had not told his Back Benchers about it, and I suspect that that is why he could not deliver it.

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Mr Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

It is more complicated if we look at the timing. It is right that I accepted the timing before I read new clause 47, and before I got the tenants' charter and the guide to new clause 47, which was put in the Table Office only on Thursday, indicating that the Government had given it considerable thought. It was only after I had seen those on Friday that I said the timing was unacceptable. Until that time I had not seen the detail of new clause 47, nor had I seen the pamphlet which has been put in the Table Office. It had not been given to me as the Opposition Front-Bench spokesman on housing, any more than the paper on tenants' choice was given to me. So where is the normal relationship through which Ministers give information to their opposite numbers?

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Mr William Waldegrave (Bristol West)

We should be clear. The hon. Gentleman offered the deal today, not last Thursday or Friday. I suspect that he had not told his Back Benchers, and I understand their astonishment.

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Mr Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

I can say exactly what I said to the Minister and he can confirm it. I said, "I have no problems about you getting the Bill by 10 o'clock or 12 o'clock." I have no problems. What the Minister still does not understand is the extent of the anger, not just in the Labour party but in the Liberal party and among Scottish and Welsh Members, and for good reason.

6.45 pm

Let me take the matter further. There then came the amazing additions. You will remember, Madam Deputy Speaker, that I put a motion to the House last Thursday asking for the new clauses to be referred back to the Committee, because by that time I had realised that what the Government were doing was more serious. When that was not accepted, I raised a point of order. I wrote a manuscript amendment, which is still on the Table, which asked that the new clauses which had not been considered in Committee should be sent to the Committee. I told the Minister that again today. I said, "If you do not want to give me another day, do it differently. Let the new clauses which did not go to Committee be sent to the Committee and I will accept that." That also was rejected.

I want to tell Conservative Members and the public the extent of the Government's proposed additions to the Bill. New clauses 26, 25 and 29 were added without any debate in Committee. They are extensive. Two new schedules on Wales were added without having gone through Committee. There were 12 pages of typed print on the Order Paper for those alone. I ask the Government and Conservative Members to think about what that implies.

In our parliamentary democracy a Bill is read the First time and then has a Second Reading before going into Committee. Hon. Members know that it goes into Committee for detailed consideration, not because the parties disagree on some parts of it but because there are unintended consequences with legislation from any party. We send Bills to Committee so that they may have a detailed analysis to prevent difficulties arising.

The new amendments propose a housing corporation for Wales, to which neither I nor my hon. Friends object, but I have every objection to something as big, powerful and effective as that being set up without being examined in Committee. In Committee not one member of the Government, nor an Opposition Front Bench Member, spoke for Wales. There was just one Back Bencher on each side to speak for Wales.

What else was in the new proposals? If we are talking about broken promises, I have much time to deal with what the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave) has tried to do to improve the Bill. Some things have not been delivered. In Committee, the Minister said: On the hon. Gentleman's wider point, the next major occasion on which we shall debate what the Government have called the charter would be on Third Reading, because we have given clear assurances that we must have a much more detailed debate then, and it would be wrong if we did not." —[Official Report, Standing Committee G, 8 March 1988; c. 1493.] That was on the social landlords' charter. The Under-Secretary of State also said in Committee that it should be before the House on Report. The charter has still not been produced. It is one of the most important parts of the Bill, as every Minister has said, but no such thing exists.

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Mr Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

I will not give way.

That is in the Committee Hansard. Hon. Members should read what the Minister said: that it would be ready for Third Reading. It is not ready, yet it is a central part of the Bill.

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Miss Betty Boothroyd (West Bromwich West)

Order. The hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) has made it clear that he is not giving way.

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Mr Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

I am anxious to go through this in detail, without taking up the time of other hon. Members.

Let me go on to what I found most offensive of all, new clause 47. I shall not debate it, but new clause 47 provides that local authorities can give away all their council housing lock, stock and barrel. The small print of the paper that was left in the Table Office on Thursday—so it had been thought about, printed and produced, but left there only on Thursday—-says that local authorities, to meet their homelessness statutory responsibility, will be able to contract out the homeless to private landlords.

I ask Conservative Members to consider whether, even if they think that it is a good idea for a local authority to enter into a contract with private landlords and for private landlords to take the homeless people, it is a good idea to produce such a clause—without its being debated in Committee—which does not decide how long those people will be there, how much the landlords will be paid or who they pass them on to afterwards. None of that has been debated, nor would it have been had we not taken this exercise.

What happens next? New clause 47 is really offensive. It refers to the "Housing (Scotland) Act 1987". The Housing (Scotland) Bill is not yet an Act of Parliament. It is in the House of Lords at the moment. If the Government wanted to amend the Housing (Scotland) Bill, they could do so in the House of Lords. They have not done so; they have done it in a Bill that applies to England and Wales. There was not a single Scottish Member, never mind a Scottish Member from the Government Front Bench or the Opposition Front Bench, on the Committee. No wonder Scottish Members and Welsh Members feel angry about it. Why should they be treated in that way?

Then we come to the really offensive part. From time to time, the Government have chosen to lecture the people of this country on the dangers of retrospective legislation. Yet new clause 47 takes effect from 9 June 1988. It is retrospective legislation by which a local authority can get rid of all of its housing. Where is the great argument of the Government and the Tory party against retrospective legislation? It has gone. Conservative Members, the Government and the Minister must know that what they have done is deeply offensive to the methods by which the House is used to proceeding.

The next issue also concerns new clause 47. It concerns the voting system. We all know that the voting system in which local authority tenants are transferred to private tenancies is rigged. We know that people who die have their votes counted in favour of a transfer to the private landlord. We know that empty flats are counted as a vote in favour of a private landlord. That has been around for some time. Suddenly the Government have discovered that, despite that rigged voting, tenants still do not want to be transferred. Therefore, they invented new clause 47. They know that, if they squeeze local authorities enough, sufficient local authorities will do their dirty work for them and transfer the tenants under the guidelines of the voting system. Of course, there is no statutory requirement on local authorities to carry that out. It is not in the Bill, and we all know that if it is not in the Bill it is not a statutory requirement.

The Bill has been appallingly mismanaged from beginning to end. I have some sympathy for the Minister for Housing and Planning, but frankly he must ask himself how much longer he can serve under a Secretary of State who drafts a Bill for him, fights him all the way, line by line, on the changes, and then puts him through this. If the Minister wants a Secretary of State who wipes his feet on him, so be it. But that is his choice, and the House of Commons will not put up with it.

The Bill is not just about housing. Housing is central to it, but underneath rests the issue of parliamentary democracy and the way in which the House of Commons is trampling all over it.

Photo of Mr Michael Fallon

Mr Michael Fallon (Darlington)

I rise to support my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. I wish to remind the House of the terms of the motion that my right hon. Friend moved. He made it absolutely clear that an undertaking had been given by the Opposition. He went on to emphasise that that undertaking had been reaffirmed—[Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Norman Tebbit

Mr Norman Tebbit (Chingford)

I distinctly heard, as did many hon. Members, the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Roberts) accuse my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House of being a liar. [Interruption.] Even with the debased standards which are common on the Opposition Front Bench, that remark ought to be withdrawn. [Interruption.]

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd

Miss Betty Boothroyd (West Bromwich West)

Order. With great respect to the House, I was busily engaged and I certainly did not hear it. If any hon. Member did use that word, I ask him to respect the traditions of the House and withdraw it.

Photo of Mr Allan Roberts

Mr Allan Roberts (Bootle)

I did use that word, and I withdraw it, but I hope also that the Leader of the House will withdraw the outrageous accusations that he made earlier which virtually implied that some of my hon. Friends were lying.

Photo of Mr Max Madden

Mr Max Madden (Bradford West)

As my hon. Friend the Member for Bootle (Mr. Roberts) has withdrawn the remark that was challenged, will you, Madam Deputy Speaker, ask the Government Chief Whip who, as the Leader of the House was making his application for the Adjournment, pointed to the hon. Members on the Opposition Front Bench and called them liars on a number of occasions. He was clearly heard by several Opposition Members. What is good enough for the gander is good enough for him. Will he also withdraw his remarks?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd

Miss Betty Boothroyd (West Bromwich West)

I am prepared to accept my full responsibilities while I am in the Chair. The House will know that I was not in the Chair at the time and will understand that I cannot accept responsibility for what took place when I was not here.

Photo of Mr Michael Fallon

Mr Michael Fallon (Darlington)

My right hon. Friend made it absolutely clear to the House that an undertaking had been given. He went on to emphasise that that undertaking had been repeatedly reaffirmed. I think that I can defuse the situation. My right hon. Friend was being a little less than his usual charitable self when he implied that that undertaking could have been kept or adhered to—

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd

Miss Betty Boothroyd (West Bromwich West)

Order. There can be no further point of order. I have dealt with all the points of order. Is it a fresh point of order?

Photo of Mr David Winnick

Mr David Winnick (Walsall North)

I wonder whether you, Madam Deputy Speaker, would rule on the following. You asked that if anyone used the word "liar" he should withdraw. My hon. Friend the Member for Bootle (Mr. Roberts) has explained the position and has done so. You said that if anyone else might have used that word, that was not a matter for you because you were not in the Chair. As a large number of my hon. Friends distinctly heard the Government Chief Whip repeatedly shout out, "Liar," surely it is right and proper that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should have enough honour to stand at the Dispatch Box and withdraw what he said. He said, "Liar"; he knows that he said, "Liar," and he should withdraw it.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd

Miss Betty Boothroyd (West Bromwich West)

Order. I think that I made the position clear in dealing with the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Roberts). [Interruption.] Order. It is incumbent upon any hon. Member in the House who uses language which is unacceptable to us to withdraw it.

Several Hon. Members:

rose

7 pm

Photo of Mr Brian Sedgemore

Mr Brian Sedgemore (Hackney South and Shoreditch)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I do not want to go back over old ground, but on one occasion during a Friday debate I made a remark about the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Sitting in your seat was another Deputy Speaker. I was asked to withdraw that remark on the following Monday, when Mr. Speaker was in the Chair. Therefore, I ask your Clerk to tell you that the way in which you are ruling on this allegation, which I am not in a position to judge, is not the way in which this House is run.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd

Miss Betty Boothroyd (West Bromwich West)

That is a challenge to the Chair. If any hon. Member wishes to raise that matter on another occasion, he is perfectly at liberty to do so. At the moment, however, I am listening to the comments of the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Fallon).

Photo of Mr Michael Fallon

Mr Michael Fallon (Darlington)

As I was saying, Madam Deputy Speaker, before I was so crudely interrupted, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has made a number of claims: first that an undertaking was given; secondly, that that undertaking was repeatedly reaffirmed. His third claim was slightly unfair. He left Conservative Members with the impression that either the shadow housing spokesman or the Opposition Chief Whip were in a position to fulfil the undertakings that had been given. It is clear to Conservative Members that the Labour party is out of control. Neither the shadow housing spokesman nor the Opposition Chief Whip can control any of the rebels who have been at work during the last 24 hours.

There are a number of Opposition parties. To be charitable, some hon. Members are genuinely interested in housing, while others are more interested in the North Killingholme Cargo Terminal Bill. They are concerned with what might happen to them when Mr. Arthur Scargill hears that they have acceded to the passing of the North Killingholme Cargo Terminal Bill. They are concerned not so much with Shelter as with Mr. Arthur Scargill. They are concerned not so much with the implications as with their deselection for having failed to resist the passage of that private Bill.

Photo of Mr Robert Adley

Mr Robert Adley (Christchurch)

Does my hon. Friend agree with me that it might help his argument if we were to adjourn so that we can find out whether Opposition spokesmen have made statements, not to their party leader that does not seem to be their wont these days—but to the chief political correspondent of the Press Association?

Photo of Mr Michael Fallon

Mr Michael Fallon (Darlington)

I think that it would be fair if we were to give the chief political correspondent of the Press Association a slightly earlier night than he has been used to during the last couple of days. He should not have to wait until one o'clock in the morning. I very much hope that my right hon. Friend's motion for that purpose will be acceded to, but let no hon. Member on this side of the House be under any illusion about what happened during the last 24 hours. We have seen an Opposition party that is totally out of control in its conduct of the Housing Bill and in its desire not to deal with the North Killingholme Cargo Terminal Bill and other issues before the House.

Before we adjourn, there should be a statement by the Opposition Front Bench spokesman about who is in control of this rabble, whether the Labour party wishes to proceed with the Housing Bill and about its view of the conduct of business and the delivery and acceptance of undertakings through the usual channels.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House proceeded to a Division.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks

Mr Tony Banks (Newham North West)

(seated and covered): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I apologise for addressing you in this Frankie Vaughan-type garb, especially as I am wearing a white jacket, but you probably know that I was a junior Whip—[Interruption.] I was also a very effective junior Whip. I resent deeply the comments that were made by the Leader of the House from the Dispatch Box. They could easily be interpreted as implying that a deal was struck with me, as the Whip, and that I then reneged on it. I want to make it quite clear that at no stage whatsoever was I ever approached by any Whip on the other side, nor did I give any assurance whatsoever with regard to any deal. I wish the debate had been allowed to continue. I resent the allegation that the Labour party is ill-disciplined. Last night—

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd

Miss Betty Boothroyd (West Bromwich West)

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that that is not a point of order for the Chair. It is a matter for debate. I understand the hon. Gentleman's frustration, and that of many other hon. Members, but he has already made the point that I think he wished to make.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett

Mr Andrew Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

(seated and covered): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether you could inquire into the suggestion that has been put to me, that the Leader of the House has implied to the Opposition that the Short money will be put in question unless the Opposition co-operate over the Bill. If the Leader of the House has used the Short money as a threat in an attempt to control the Opposition, I suggest to you that that is absolutely outrageous.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd

Miss Betty Boothroyd (West Bromwich West)

I shall see that the matter is referred to Mr. Speaker and that a response is given.

Photo of Mr George Howarth

Mr George Howarth (Knowsley North)

(seated and covered): Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. If what my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) has said actually happened, was it not a breach of privilege and of the rules of this House? Should it not be referred to the Privileges Committee?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd

Miss Betty Boothroyd (West Bromwich West)

I have already made it quite clear that at this stage the matter ought to be referred to Mr. Speaker for him to deal with.

Photo of Mr James Pawsey

Mr James Pawsey (Rugby and Kenilworth)

(seated and covered): Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it not a fact that the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) resigned as a Whip on the question of disciplining Opposition Members?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd

Miss Betty Boothroyd (West Bromwich West)

Order. Resignations of Whips have nothing whatsoever to do with the Chair. We are in the middle of a Division.

The House having divided: Ayes 269, Noes 193.

Division No. 359][7.2 pm
AYES
Adley, RobertBright, Graham
Alexander, RichardBrittan, Rt Hon Leon
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBrooke, Rt Hon Peter
Allason, RupertBrown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Amess, DavidBrowne, John (Winchester)
Amos, AlanBruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Arbuthnot, JamesBuchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Buck, Sir Antony
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Budgen, Nicholas
Ashby, DavidBurns, Simon
Atkins, RobertBurt, Alistair
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Butler, Chris
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Butterfill, John
Baldry, TonyCarlisle, John, (Luton N)
Batiste, SpencerCarlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyCarrington, Matthew
Bellingham, HenryCarttiss, Michael
Bendall, VivianCash, William
Benyon, W.Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnChope, Christopher
Blackburn, Dr John G.Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterCoombs, Simon (Swindon)
Body, Sir RichardCormack, Patrick
Bonsor, Sir NicholasCritchley, Julian
Boscawen, Hon RobertDavis, David (Boothferry)
Boswell, TimDay, Stephen
Bottomley, PeterDouglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaDunn, Bob
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)Durant, Tony
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Emery, Sir Peter
Bowis, JohnEvennett, David
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir RhodesFallon, Michael
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardFenner, Dame Peggy
Brazier, JulianField, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Fookes, Miss JanetMaclean, David
Forman, NigelMcLoughlin, Patrick
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Forth, EricMcNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Franks, CecilMadel, David
French, DouglasMajor, Rt Hon John
Gale, RogerMalins, Humfrey
Garel-Jones, TristanMans, Keith
Gill, ChristopherMaples, John
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir IanMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Goodhart, Sir PhilipMarshall, Michael (Arundel)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMates, Michael
Gow, IanMawhinney, Dr Brian
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Greenway, John (Ryedale)Meyer, Sir Anthony
Gregory, ConalMiller, Sir Hal
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')Mills, Iain
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Miscampbell, Norman
Grist, IanMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Ground, PatrickMitchell, David (Hants NW)
Grylls, MichaelMoate, Roger
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)Monro, Sir Hector
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hampson, Dr KeithMoore, Rt Hon John
Hannam, JohnMorris, M (N'hampton S)
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Morrison, Sir Charles
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Harris, DavidMoss, Malcolm
Haselhurst, AlanNeale, Gerrard
Hawkins, ChristopherNelson, Anthony
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir BarneyNeubert, Michael
Hayward, RobertNewton, Rt Hon Tony
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidNicholls, Patrick
Heseltine, Rt Hon MichaelNicholson, David (Taunton)
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Hind, KennethOppenheim, Phillip
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Page, Richard
Holt, RichardPaice, James
Hordern, Sir PeterParkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Howard, MichaelPatnick, Irvine
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)Pawsey, James
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Porter, David (Waveney)
Hunt, David (Wirral W)Portillo, Michael
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)Powell, William (Corby)
Hunter, AndrewPrice, Sir David
Irvine, MichaelRathbone, Tim
Jack, MichaelRedwood, John
Jackson, RobertRenton, Tim
Janman, TimRhodes James, Robert
Jessel, TobyRiddick, Graham
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyRidley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Jones, Robert B (Herts W)Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelRoe, Mrs Marion
Kellett-Bowman, Dame ElaineRost, Peter
Key, RobertRowe, Andrew
Kilfedder, JamesRumbold, Mrs Angela
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Ryder, Richard
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)Sackville, Hon Tom
Kirkhope, TimothySainsbury, Hon Tim
Knapman, RogerSayeed, Jonathan
Knight, Greg (Derby North)Shaw, David (Dover)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Knowles, MichaelShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Lang, IanShelton, William (Streatham)
Lawson, Rt Hon NigelShephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Lee, John (Pendle)Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkShepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)Shersby, Michael
Lilley, PeterSims, Roger
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)Skeet, Sir Trevor
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lord, MichaelSoames, Hon Nicholas
Luce, Rt Hon RichardSpeller, Tony
Lyell, Sir NicholasSpicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Squire, RobinWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Stanbrook, IvorWaller, Gary
Stern, MichaelWalters, Sir Dennis
Stevens, LewisWard, John
Sumberg, DavidWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Summerson, HugoWarren, Kenneth
Taylor, Ian (Esher)Watts, John
Taylor, John M (Solihull)Wells, Bowen
Tebbit, Rt Hon NormanWheeler, John
Temple-Morris, PeterWhitney, Ray
Thatcher, Rt Hon MargaretWiddecombe, Ann
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)Winterton, Mrs Ann
Townend, John (Bridlington)Winterton, Nicholas
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)Wolfson, Mark
Trippier, DavidWood, Timothy
Trotter, NevilleWoodcock, Mike
Twinn, Dr IanYeo, Tim
Vaughan, Sir GerardYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Viggers, Peter
Waddington, Rt Hon DavidTellers for the Ayes:
Wareham, Rt Hon JohnMr. David Lightbown and Mr. Stephen Dorrell.
Waldegrave, Hon William
Walden, George
NOES
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Dunnachie, Jimmy
Allen, GrahamEastham, Ken
Alton, DavidEvans, John (St Helens N)
Anderson, DonaldEwing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterField, Frank (Birkenhead)
Armstrong, HilaryFields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Flynn, Paul
Barron, KevinFoot, Rt Hon Michael
Battle, JohnFoster, Derek
Beckett, MargaretFoulkes, George
Beggs, RoyFraser, John
Bell, StuartFyfe, Maria
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Galloway, George
Bermingham, GeraldGarrett, John (Norwich South)
Blair, TonyGeorge, Bruce
Blunkett, DavidGolding, Mrs Llin
Boateng, PaulGordon, Mildred
Boyes, RolandGould, Bryan
Bradley, KeithGriffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Bray, Dr JeremyGriffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)Grocott, Bruce
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Hardy, Peter
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Buchan, NormanHealey, Rt Hon Denis
Buckley, George J.Hinchliffe, David
Caborn, RichardHogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Home Robertson, John
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Hood, Jimmy
Canavan, DennisHowarth, George (Knowsley N)
Cartwright, JohnHowells, Geraint
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Clay, BobHughes, Roy (Newport E)
Clelland, DavidHughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Clwyd, Mrs AnnHughes, Simon (Southwark)
Coleman, DonaldIllsley, Eric
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Ingram, Adam
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Janner, Greville
Corbett, RobinJohn, Brynmor
Corbyn, JeremyJones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Crowther, StanJones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)
Cryer, BobKaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cummings, JohnKennedy, Charles
Cunliffe, LawrenceKinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Cunningham, Dr JohnKirkwood, Archy
Dalyell, TamLamond, James
Darling, AlistairLeighton, Ron
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)Lewis, Terry
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)Litherland, Robert
Dewar, DonaldLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dixon, DonLofthouse, Geoffrey
Dobson, FrankMcAllion, John
Doran, FrankMcAvoy, Thomas
Douglas, DickMcCartney, Ian
Duffy, A. E. P.Macdonald, Calum A.
McFall, JohnRogers, Allan
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)Rooker, Jeff
McKelvey, WilliamRoss, William (Londonderry E)
Maclennan, RobertRowlands, Ted
McNamara, KevinRuddock, Joan
McTaggart, BobSalmond, Alex
Madden, MaxSedgemore, Brian
Mahon, Mrs AliceSheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Marek, Dr JohnShore, Rt Hon Peter
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)Short, Clare
Martlew, EricSkinner, Dennis
Maxton, JohnSmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Meacher, MichaelSmith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Meale, AlanSnape, Peter
Michael, AlunSoley, Clive
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)Spearing, Nigel
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)Steel, Rt Hon David
Millan, Rt Hon BruceStott, Roger
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)Strang, Gavin
Molyneaux, Rt Hon JamesStraw, Jack
Morgan, RhodriTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Morley, ElliottTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Mullin, ChrisTurner, Dennis
Nellist, DaveWall, Pat
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonWallace, James
O'Brien, WilliamWareing, Robert N.
O'Neill, MartinWelsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Orme, Rt Hon StanleyWelsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Owen, Rt Hon Dr DavidWigley, Dafydd
Parry, RobertWilliams, Rt Hon Alan
Patchett, TerryWilliams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Pike, Peter L.Wilson, Brian
Prescott, JohnWinnick, David
Primarolo, DawnWise, Mrs Audrey
Quin, Ms JoyceWorthington, Tony
Radice, GilesWray, Jimmy
Randall, StuartYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Redmond, Martin
Rees, Rt Hon MerlynTellers for the Noes:
Richardson, JoMr. Graham Allen and Mr. Chris Smith.
Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Robertson, George

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingiy:—

The House division: Ayes 278, Noes 183.

Division No. 360][7.20 pm
AYES
Adley, RobertBottomley, Mrs Virginia
Alexander, RichardBowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Allason, RupertBowis, John
Alton, DavidBoyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes
Amess, DavidBraine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Amos, AlanBrazier, Julian
Arbuthnot, JamesBright, Graham
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Brittan, Rt Hon Leon
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Ashby, DavidBrown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Atkins, RobertBrowne, John (Winchester)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Baldry, TonyBuchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Batiste, SpencerBuck, Sir Antony
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyBudgen, Nicholas
Bellingham, HenryBurns, Simon
Bendall, VivianBurt, Alistair
Benyon, W.Butler, Chris
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnButterfill, John
Blackburn, Dr John G.Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterCarlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Body, Sir RichardCarrington, Matthew
Bonsor, Sir NicholasCarttiss, Michael
Boscawen, Hon RobertCash, William
Boswell, TimChannon, Rt Hon Paul
Bottomley, PeterChope, Christopher
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Kirkhope, Timothy
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Kirkwood, Archy
Cormack, PatrickKnapman, Roger
Critchley, JulianKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Davis, David (Boothferry)Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Day, StephenKnowles, Michael
Dorrell, StephenLang, Ian
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesLawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Dunn, BobLee, John (Pendle)
Emery, Sir PeterLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Evennett, DavidLester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Fallon, MichaelLloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Fenner, Dame PeggyLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Lord, Michael
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyLuce, Rt Hon Richard
Fookes, Miss JanetLyell, Sir Nicholas
Forman, NigelMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Maclean, David
Forth, EricMcLoughlin, Patrick
Franks, CecilMcNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
French, DouglasMcNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Gale, RogerMadel, David
Garel-Jones, TristanMajor, Rt Hon John
Gill, ChristopherMalins, Humfrey
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir IanMans, Keith
Goodhart, Sir PhilipMaples, John
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Gorman, Mrs TeresaMarshall, Michael (Arundel)
Gow, IanMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)Mates, Michael
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Greenway, John (Ryedale)Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Gregory, ConalMayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E')Meyer, Sir Anthony
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Grist, IanMills, Iain
Ground, PatrickMiscampbell, Norman
Grylls, MichaelMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Moate, Roger
Hampson, Dr KeithMonro, Sir Hector
Hannam, JohnMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Moore, Rt Hon John
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Harris, DavidMorrison, Sir Charles
Haselhurst, AlanMorrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Hawkins, ChristopherMoss, Malcolm
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir BarneyNeale, Gerrard
Hayward, RobertNelson, Anthony
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidNeubert, Michael
Heseltine, Rt Hon MichaelNewton, Rt Hon Tony
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)Nicholls, Patrick
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Hind, KennethNicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Holt, RichardOnslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Hordern, Sir PeterOppenheim, Phillip
Howard, MichaelPage, Richard
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)Paice, James
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Patnick, Irvine
Howells, GeraintPawsey, James
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hunt, David (Wirral W)Porter, David (Waveney)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)Portillo, Michael
Hunter, AndrewPowell, William (Corby)
Irvine, MichaelPrice, Sir David
Jack, MichaelRathbone, Tim
Jackson, RobertRedwood, John
Janman, TimRenton, Tim
Jessel, TobyRhodes James, Robert
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyRiddick, Graham
Jones, Robert B (Herts W)Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelRidsdale, Sir Julian
Kellett-Bowman, Dame ElaineRoberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Kennedy, CharlesRoe, Mrs Marion
Key, RobertRossi, Sir Hugh
Kilfedder, JamesRost, Peter
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Rowe, Andrew
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Ryder, RichardTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Sackville, Hon TomTrippier, David
Sainsbury, Hon TimTrotter, Neville
Sayeed, JonathanTwinn, Dr Ian
Shaw, David (Dover)Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)Viggers, Peter
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Waddington, Rt Hon David
Shelton, William (Streatham)Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)Waldegrave, Hon William
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Walden, George
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Shersby, MichaelWallace, James
Sims, RogerWaller, Gary
Skeet, Sir TrevorWalters, Sir Dennis
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Ward, John
Soames, Hon NicholasWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Speller, TonyWarren, Kenneth
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)Watts, John
Squire, RobinWells, Bowen
Stanbrook, IvorWheeler, John
Steel, Rt Hon DavidWhitney, Ray
Stern, MichaelWiddecombe, Ann
Stevens, LewisWinterton, Mrs Ann
Sumberg, DavidWinterton, Nicholas
Summerson, HugoWolfson, Mark
Taylor, Ian (Esher)Wood, Timothy
Taylor, John M (Solihull)Woodcock, Mike
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)Yeo, Tim
Tebbit, Rt Hon NormanYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thatcher, Rt Hon MargaretTellers for the Ayes:
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)Mr. Tony Durant and
Townend, John (Bridlington)Mr. David Lightbown.
NOES
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Darling, Alistair
Allen, GrahamDavies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Anderson, DonaldDavis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterDewar, Donald
Armstrong, HilaryDixon, Don
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Dobson, Frank
Barron, KevinDoran, Frank
Battle, JohnDouglas, Dick
Beckett, MargaretDuffy, A. E. P.
Beggs, RoyDunnachie, Jimmy
Bell, StuartEastham, Ken
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Evans, John (St Helens N)
Bermingham, GeraldEwing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Blair, TonyField, Frank (Birkenhead)
Blunkett, DavidFields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Boateng, PaulFlynn, Paul
Boyes, RolandFoot, Rt Hon Michael
Bradley, KeithFoster, Derek
Bray, Dr JeremyFoulkes, George
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)Fraser, John
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Fyfe, Maria
Buchan, NormanGalloway, George
Buckley, George J.Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Caborn, RichardGeorge, Bruce
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Golding, Mrs Llin
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Gordon, Mildred
Canavan, DennisGould, Bryan
Cartwright, JohnGriffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)Grocott, Bruce
Clay, BobHardy, Peter
Clelland, DavidHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Clwyd, Mrs AnnHaynes, Frank
Coleman, DonaldHealey, Rt Hon Denis
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Hinchliffe, David
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Corbett, RobinHome Robertson, John
Corbyn, JeremyHood, Jimmy
Cousins, JimHowarth, George (Knowsley N)
Crowther, StanHughes, John (Coventry NE)
Cryer, BobHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cummings, JohnHughes, Roy (Newport E)
Cunliffe, LawrenceHughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Cunningham, Dr JohnIllsley, Eric
Dalyell, TamIngram, Adam
Janner, GrevillePrimarolo, Dawn
John, BrynmorQuin, Ms Joyce
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)Radice, Giles
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)Randall, Stuart
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)Redmond, Martin
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldRees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Kinnock, Rt Hon NeilRichardson, Jo
Lamond, JamesRoberts, Allan (Bootle)
Leighton, RonRobertson, George
Lewis, TerryRogers, Allan
Litherland, RobertRooker, Jeff
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Lofthouse, GeoffreyRowlands, Ted
McAllion, JohnRuddock, Joan
McAvoy, ThomasSalmond, Alex
McCartney, IanSedgemore, Brian
Macdonald, Calum A.Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
McFall, JohnShore, Rt Hon Peter
McKelvey, WilliamShort, Clare
McNamara, KevinSkinner, Dennis
McTaggart, BobSmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Madden, MaxSmith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Mahon, Mrs AliceSmith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Marek, Dr JohnSnape, Peter
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)Spearing, Nigel
Martlew, EricStott, Roger
Maxton, JohnStrang, Gavin
Meacher, MichaelStraw, Jack
Meale, AlanTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Michael, AlunThomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Millan, Rt Hon BruceTurner, Dennis
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)Wall, Pat
Molyneaux, Rt Hon JamesWareing, Robert N.
Morgan, RhodriWelsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Morley, ElliottWigley, Dafydd
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Mullin, ChrisWilson, Brian
Nellist, DaveWinnick, David
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonWise, Mrs Audrey
O'Brien, WilliamWorthington, Tony
O'Neill, MartinWray, Jimmy
Orme, Rt Hon StanleyYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Parry, RobertTellers for the Noes:
Patchett, TerryMr. Ray Powell and
Pike, Peter L.Mr. Allen McKay.
Prescott, John

Question accordingly agreed to.

Debate adjourned accordingly.