Orders of the Day — Clause 2. — (Exchequer Advances to Building Societies.)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th February 1959.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Maurice Macmillan Mr Maurice Macmillan , Halifax 12:00 am, 4th February 1959

I beg to move, in page 2, line 29, after "direct", to insert: Provided that, subject to subsection (3) of this section

  1. (a) the rate of interest thereon so payable shall be less than the rate charged by a building society on a mortgage under this Act by not more than one half of one per cent.;
  2. (b) the rate of interest charged by a building society on a mortgage under this Act shall not exceed the minimum rate recommended for the time being by the Building Societies Association for new mortgages for owner-occupation.
I am aware that Clause 2 (1) is normally the enabling provision for providing loans out of the Consolidated Fund, but because, as my right hon. Friend the Minister said on Second Reading, this is a special and unusual situation, I hope that it will be possible for the Minister to accept a special and unusual procedure.

It is partly that I am not happy about the link between the Building Societies Association recommended rate of interest with the rate to be charged by the Government. We all accept the Government's contention that we cannot make fixed interest loans to building societies which, over a large part of their business, charge variable rates.

Perhaps not all of us, but those on this side of the Committee, I think, would accept that a difference of one-half of 1 per cent. between the rate charged by the Government and that which a building society can charge on its lendings is an equitable compromise. I know that the average of building societies' costs is more than this margin, but there are societies with a narrower margin and there are certain other considerations that receiving the Government loan will entail to compensate them for receiving on the Government loan a margin which possibly is slightly less than they would like.

In defending this particular system set out in Appendix I of the White Paper, the Minister said on Second Reading: 'It is the traditional practice of the building societies to make loans at rates of interest which may be changed as time goes on. These changes in the lending rates of the societies are not made with great frequency. When they happen, they are a reflection of a definite change in the whole level of interest rates generally prevailing."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th December, 1958; Vol. 597, c. 795.] One of the difficulties and a reason why I put down this Amendment, is that they do not, in fact, reflect the general rates of interest prevailing without a considerable time-lag. The rates which the Building Societies Association recommends are quite obviously and necessarily chosen to suit all the members of the Association. I am not criticising the Association on this. This is recognised by the building societies themselves in that it is a recommended rate. Quite apart from whatever their position would be under the Restrictive Trade Practices Act if they, as well as the Government, tried to make it an enforced rate, they do not attempt to do so. It is a recommended rate. The Bill makes it compulsory if public funds are to be used to provide money in this way for house purchase.

Although I would prefer that the rate charged by the Government should not be linked with the Association's recommendation, could it not be done in a way which would allow individual societies to charge less—although not, of course, more—than the Building Societies Association's recommended rate without being precluded, as would happen under present arrangements, from participating in the Government scheme?

Photo of Mr Albert Evans Mr Albert Evans , Islington South West

Is the hon. Member saying that it might so happen that a society which was not a member of the Association would decide to charge a rate somewhat lower than that recommended by the Association? In that case, if that society did so, under the terms of the White Paper it would be excluded from the Government loans.

Photo of Mr Maurice Macmillan Mr Maurice Macmillan , Halifax

The hon. Member has slightly anticipated my argument. I was about to come to the position of various societies under the present arrangements as set out in the White Paper. If I may correct the hon. Member, this does not apply only to societies which are not members of the Building Societies Association, since there is no reason why a building society should not charge a lower rate than that recommended and still remain a member of the Association.

The point at issue is the rate actually charged by the building societies. Under the arrangements set out in the White Paper, if a society were to charge less than the recommended rate one of two things would happen. Either it could not in fact take part in the scheme because the rate it charged would be the same or greater than the rate it was being charged by the Government—and there would not be the one-half of 1 per cent. differential; there would be nothing to stop it in law, although, in practice, it would not be able to take advantage of the Government scheme—or, in taking advantage of the Government scheme, it would have to discriminate against those buying pre-1919 houses through its officers as compared with owner-occupiers buying post-1919 houses. In other words, it would be forced to charge more to people buying older properties.

The intention of the Amendment is merely to enable the Minister to include in his scheme societies which are charging less than the recommended rate by charging those societies less than he is charging the others by the same one-half of 1 per cent. I must admit that, as it stands, the Amendment may well be unworkable and limit the Minister too much. The same difficulties that I found when dealing with Clause 1 in an attempt to suggest methods by which the Minister could make the scheme more liberal and easy to apply are there, but if pressed to a logical conclusion do, in fact, limit it. I think that is almost inevitable if the details of the scheme are not included in the Bill itself.

The last thing that I would want would be to force the Minister to change over, without amending legislation, from a rate of interest which was linked permanently to one-half of 1 per cent., but if the cost of building societies should go up it might well be that the Minister might want to have a slightly larger difference between what they are paying in and what is being paid by the mortgagees.

There is not the same argument that could be put forward for conditions of trusteeship status involved here, because in this case we are dealing only with the loan to building societies. The question of trusteeship does not come into it at all. Therefore, there is, perhaps, not quite the same need for precision in laying down conditions at this stage.

The Minister has also seen fit to specify in detail certain other arrangements about these loans but that is not, of course, to say that he should or can specify the conditions as to rates of interest which are necessarily changing and are more liable to change than the question of amount or proportion such advances bear to the total amounts already outstanding. I am extremely anxious that every effort should be made to include in the loans societies that are charging a rate of interest less than that recommended by the Building Societies Association. There are, in fact, societies which charge more and I am not suggesting that they should be helped in any way, but where an individual society wants to charge a lower rate of interest than that recommended by the Association or where it wants to lower its rate of interest before the Association wishes or recommends it to do so, I think it most unfortunate that to enable people to buy houses at a lower rate of interest it should then jeopardise its position under the scheme.

I would be most grateful to the Minister if he could tell us that these problems are in his mind. I do not ask him to commit himself tonight on this complicated and difficult problem. If he can give some assurance that he is not anxious to help building societies to keep up their rates of interest, but will consider methods by which they will be brought down. I for one would be quite satisfied.

9.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

This is a starred Amendment, which has just appeared on the Order Paper, and my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Maurice Macmillan) has moved it persuasively and cogently. It is no secret that it is an Amendment not without relation to the society which bears the honoured name of his constituency.

My hon. Friend asked me to consider the Amendment sympathetically. He showed recognition of the difficulties. I say, frankly, at the outset that this matter is not without its difficulties. In advising the House of Commons one has to decide which course involves the least formidable difficulties. I can assure my hon. Friend and the Committee that the Government have no desire whatever to take any action which will, as it were, artificially keep up the rate of interest that societies charge to those who are purchasing houses through them. Indeed, one desires to see the greatest amount of competition, but there are difficulties, as f am sure my hon. Friend appreciates, in the course which he advocates.

I would remind the Committee of what was said in Appendix I of the White Paper in the outline of the agreed scheme it is stated: All Building Societies participating in the scheme will be charged the same rate.… My hon. Friend's Amendment cuts clean across that. His Amendment envisages a situation where, if one or more societies are charging their borrowers a rate lower than that recommended by the Building Societies Association, that society or those societies will be enabled to claim Exchequer advances at an interest rate lower than that which is being charged to other societies.

There are difficulties whatever course one follows, but I must admit to the Committee that the difficulty in the way of lending Exchequer money at different rates of interest to parallel bodies which are in competition with one another is very serious. Having carefully considered what my hon. Friend has said, I cannot commend to the Committee a plan under which Exchequer advances would be made to different societies, in one case at 5½ per cent., in another at 5 per cent., and in another perhaps at a different rate. However sympathetic we may be with the particular circumstances which I know that my hon. Friend has in mind, hearing in mind that it is public money of which we are speaking, I gravely doubt whether we could defend a situation in which Exchequer advances were being made at different rates to different societies.

That, frankly, has to be my summing up of the situation. I am not pooh-poohing anything that my hon. Friend has said. I am not denying that there are problems here. In general, I like to see initiative. I like to see those who are prepared to take risks beyond those which their neighbours—and I am not sure whether I should say "their friends"—are taking; and any society which charges a rate below that which other societies are charging is presumably taking a greater degree of risk thereby.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

Would the Minister say whether that differentiation about which he is so concerned in lending to building societies applies to lending both to the private sector and to the public sector if the Bill goes through?

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

That may be so, but I am now addressing myself to an Amendment that would operate within the private sector. I certainly cannot think of any case in which Exchequer money is being lent at different rates of interest to private organisations in direct competition with each other. It is that proposition that I cannot commend to the Committee.

If hon. Members ponder this, I think that they will appreciate the force of my argument. I know that there is a difficulty, and I sympathise with my hon. Friend—if I may say so, I think that he has put the Halifax case extremely well—but I do not believe that any Government could, in fact, envisage a situation in which, for the same purpose, they were making advances of public money at different rates of interest to parallel building societies in competition one with another.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

Where are the restrictive practices to be found now? The hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Maurice Macmillan) said that he thought the Building Societies Association did no more than recommend the rate to its members because, if it went further, it might get into trouble over restrictive practices. Perhaps he pushed it a little far. I am beginning to wonder whether I ought to haul my bank before the court in respect of the interest it charges on my overdraft—but be that as it may.

I trust that the right hon. Gentleman really does not think that what he has just said appeals to the Committee. He knows perfectly well that the object of the Amendment is simply to allow a society to lend at a lower rate if that society, in the exercise of its independent judgment—something much valued by the Tory Party in this competitive world —thinks that it can profitably do so. The effect of the rejection of this Amendment will be to oblige the society to choose between getting the advantages of this scheme and keeping to the rate at its present level. If it wants the advantages it will have to raise its rate. That is the problem that, as all of us know, as every newspaper and very many people in the country know, has been facing the Halifax Society ever since these proposals were first negotiated with the building societies—the Halifax itself not, of course, being a member of the Association, at any rate at the moment.

What the Minister is really asking us to do is to force that choice on the Halifax. Supposing the Halifax thinks that it is good business—and I would not put it out of its mind to suppose that it might also be a social advantage—to lend at half of one per cent. lower than the other societies in this fiercely competitive business, as we have been told that it is, the other societies will then get the trustee status for their deposits presented to them by the Government, while what is probably the largest society of all will not get that status.

It really does illustrate the artificiality of the Government's insistence on this very rigid machinery which, apparently, the Building Societies Association has succeeded in imposing on them. I say to the Minister and to the Government that if this Bill is to serve any of the purposes that the Government hope it will serve, the building societies will, in effect, be the agents of the Government in the buying and improving of houses.

The Government think that in that respect the building societies have a special and useful function. I think that the idea is an exaggerated one, but if it is right, surely it is not for the principal in a matter like this to oblige his agent to charge the public more than the agent himself wants to charge the public. That is what the refusal of this Amendment comes to.

There may be technical difficulties in the proposal—I have not seen any myself—but its real object and purpose are perfectly plain to see. In no circumstances could it raise the rate charged to the public borrower and, in other cases, as in the case of the Halifax, it would definitely lower it.

These associations and, for that matter, Government Departments, too, necessarily move rather slowly. If they move slowly in making changes, it is no bad thing that a large and responsible society should take a step in the right direction on its own account and give other people a lead. There is no question of disloyalty to the building society movement or anything of that kind. The Halifax is not a member of the Association. The common rate of interest is merely a recommended rate, and we can all think of many cases in which more than the recommended rate has been charged by building societies.

I congratulate a hard-headed North Country society which says that it can do well—and it does, in fact, do well—by lending at a lower rate than the others. I would like the others to follow, and I should like it to be possible for there to remain some inducement for a forward-looking society to give a lead in the right direction to the rest.

We hear talk about freedom of judgment and freedom of business. I do not know what has happened to the party opposite, and I do not know what right hon. and hon. Members opposite think they are doing about this.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

As my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Lindgren) says, what about Tory freedom? If there ever was something imposed in the wrong sense on a reluctant and competent person who was willing to work for his principle, this is really it.

I will take up just one other point. The Government, in future, in a competitive business, the right hon. Gentleman says, is not going to lend to different bodies at different rates. I cannot remember the rate at which they recently lent £50 million to Colvilles. The fact that it has been done at that rate and that that statement has been made on behalf of the Government will, no doubt, be of interest to the steel manufacturers of the country if they have time to think about their business instead of politics.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

The extravagant argument put by the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) nearly changed my mind against him. I am rather in favour of what he was endeavouring to express, but not in those extravagant terms.

With the greatest respect to my right hon. Friend, the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Maurice Macmillan) appealed to me more than the argument put by my right hon. Friend. I am sure that we wish to encourage building societies which are able to reduce their rates of interest, and we do not wish to penalise them. More than that, we would not wish them to penalise the borrowers on pre-1919 houses, as, I think, would necessarily follow if building societies such as the Halifax which charge a lower rate of interest desired to take advantage of the scheme. They would have to raise the rate of interest to the Building Societies Association's recommended rate if they were lending on pre-1919 houses and wished to take advantage of borrowing on that basis.

My right hon. Friend said that the Government do not wish to keep up the rate of interest artificially. If the present proposals were carried out, that might very well happen. Also, he said that it was desirable that all building societies should be charged the same rate and that one building society should not get the benefit of the lower rate of interest on its borrowings from the Treasury compared with another society. But, surely, it deserves that lower rate if it is able to pass it on to the public, that is to say, from the borrowers from it.

In making what was, I think, his main ground of argument, the difficulty of lending at different rates of interest, my right hon. Friend was really straining at a gnat. We already intend to fix the, rate of interest at a figure settled by an association completely independent of the Government. It is not the Treasury which is fixing the rate of interest at which money is being lent by it, but an independent body, the Building Societies Association, by recommending a certain rate, and the Treasury lends at ½ per cent. below. Having gone that far in taking it out of the hands of the Treasury to fix the rate at which it lends its money, surely we can go one step further and say that if a building society is able to reduce its rates to borrowers, then the Treasury should lend money at the ½ per cent. lower than that reduced rate.

9.30 p.m.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to consider this matter again before the next stage of the Bill. I am sure that it is a point which appeals to both sides of the Committee. Of course we realise the grave difficulty in accepting an Amendment such as this. My hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Maurice Macmillan) has, by means of this Amendment, raised a very important point, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will say that he will give it further consideration with Treasury officials.

Photo of Mr Albert Evans Mr Albert Evans , Islington South West

I was surprised at the Minister's reply to the argument put forward on the Amendment. He told the Committee that this was a starred Amendment and, therefore, it appeared on the Amendment Paper only today. I cannot persuade myself that the Minister and his Department had not considered the vital principle involved before today. The whole matter has been common knowledge throughout the country for some months, and one would have thought that the Minister, even while preparing the Bill, would have given close consideration to the principle of the Amendment.

I submit that not only the Halifax Building Society is concerned here. We know that the hon. Member who moved this Amendment sits for Halifax and that the society which has taken the courageous initiative in lowering interest charges happens to be called the Halifax Building Society, but this is not, as the Minister seemed to suggest, just a Halifax case. A very important principle is involved.

It seems to me that the question we have to ask ourselves is whether the Government should waste public money by encouraging building societies to charge higher interest rates on mortgages than they find is necessary. The Government say, "Yes, we have to encourage higher interest rates on mortgages," and the reason that the Minister gave for that amazing point of view was that it would not be possible for the Treasury to charge varying rates of interest to competitive bodies in the same sphere. Why would it not be possible? The Minister went so far as to say that no Government dare do this outrageous thing, namely, charge different rates of interest to competitors in the same sphere. What is the difficulty? Why cannot the Treasury adjust the rate of interest? The house purchaser has had little help from the Government so far and is suffering under a shocking burden of interest as a result of Government policy, so shocking that few of us realise that families are in pawn for probably the whole of their working lives because of the high rates of interest which the Government have encouraged.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

At least they have got their houses.

Photo of Mr Albert Evans Mr Albert Evans , Islington South West

Perhaps they have all got houses in Croydon. Perhaps the housing problem in Croydon is solved, perhaps it is not, but I shall not be led astray on that point.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

The hon. Member says that perhaps Croydon has the houses. Indeed it has. The council has built a very large number of houses in Croydon since the party opposite was in power.

Photo of Mr Albert Evans Mr Albert Evans , Islington South West

In Croydon, we have the rather disturbing spectacle of the local council having to evict tenants from its houses to make way for the people who are in inadequate accommodation. I cannot, however, pursue that further; it is not in keeping with the Amendment.

If it is understood in the country that the Government have reached the stage when they must encourage the maintenance of high interest rates charged by building societies, I am sure that no owner-occupier or person seeking to buy his house will thank the Government, but, on the contrary, will turn away from the Government.

The Minister must consider the Amendment carefully. Although it is a starred Amendment he must give it further thought I hope that, apart from party politics, he will see his way to encourage the downward trend of interest rates which the Halifax Building Society has started.

Photo of Mr Joseph Sparks Mr Joseph Sparks , Acton

I take it that the Minister is basing the interest rate that will be charged to the building societies for Exchequer advances upon the rate fixed by the Building Societies Association. It has been said that that rate will be one-half of 1 per cent. below the minimum rate fixed by the Building Societies Association, which in this case would be about 5½ per cent. We are always told that the interest rates charged by building societies are dependent upon the amount of money that the societies can attract by way of investment. The greater the investment in the building societies, the lower should be the rate of interest.

According to the Explanatory Memorandum, the building societies are now advancing something like £40-£50 million on the purchase of pre-1919 houses and £330 million a year for the purchase of newer houses, making a total of about £380 million. The Minister proposes to put into the pool an additional £100 million, or to advance the amount of money available for this purpose by, roughly, an additional 25 per cent. beyond what is already being used for the purpose by the building societies.

The inflow of at least £100 million, if not more, of Government funds should largely overcome the deficiency in investment in the building societies which makes it necessary to raise the rate of interest. I suggest that when the Bill goes through and the Minister makes £100 million available for this purpose the rate of interest charged or fixed by the Building Societies Association should fall, because the scarcity of available investments will be very largely overcome. I am wondering whether the right hon. Gentleman has considered that. He may well decide to advance more than £100 million, and he has the power to do that here. In fact, he has the power to make up almost completely the shortage of funds now experienced by way of investment for this purpose, so that there ought to be an inflow of investment into the building societies—such an inflow as they have not experienced for a very long time—and that, in itself, ought to cause a reduction in the rate of interest fixed by the Building Societies Association.

In regard to the Halifax Building Society, it would be helpful to know what its position is. No one knows whether that society wants to take advantage of this scheme or not. It may not want to do so. It may have sufficient funds and may not want any more. It may not want to invest in this kind of property, or it may; nobody knows. Therefore, it does not follow that all building societies will want to take advantage of the offer in this scheme, but I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman could have given us a much more optimistic idea of the likely rate of interest to be fixed, having in mind the fact that the funds to be made available for this purpose are to be considerably augmented. I should have thought that that would have led to a reduction in the rate of interest charged by building societies and that it would automatically have brought into benefit the Halifax Building Society, unless, of course, that Society reduces still further rate of interest.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

I know that the Committee is anxious to come to a decision, but there are two points that I should like to make. First of all, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman realises the difficulty that he is now facing arising solely from his doctrinaire approach to the problem. If he had wanted to do so he could have done this through the local authorities and the building societies need never have been brought in at all. The right hon. Gentleman is now faced with giving a decision which is an affront even to his own supporters.

I hope the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Maurice Macmillan) might be able to induce the Halifax Building Society to go to the Market Research Bureau and get them to send a few people knocking on a few million doors to ask them whether they are in favour of interest rates being brought down, or whether they do not believe that the Government are wrong in producing this scheme for them to buy their own houses by having to pay more interest than would have been necessary if the right hon. Gentleman had accepted the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Halifax.

That is all I wish to say at this stage. There is much more I should like to say, but I know that the Committee is anxious to come to a decision and, in order to comply with the wishes of my Front Bench, I will resume my seat.

Photo of Mr Maurice Macmillan Mr Maurice Macmillan , Halifax

I should like to thank the Minister for his explanation. I see his difficulty, though, with respect, I do not think it is as great as he himself thinks. Since this is an unprofitable activity on the part of building societies, and in so far as it benefits them at all, it benefits them by increasing their business generally, and not by making profits out of this operation in particular; it is, therefore, of benefit to them, no matter what the rate of interest is.

I should like to point out that I am not speaking on behalf of the Halifax Building Society. Like the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks), I do not even know what its views are on this Amend- ment, and whether it wants to take advantage of the scheme or not, but I am rather flattered by the influence which I am supposed to have on it. The Society has not, in fact suggested or even helped to draft the Amendments which I have put forward. Personally, I think that the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) rather over-excited himself over the pathetic plight of the Halifax Building Society, desperate because this scheme will not help it to increase its number of loans on pre-1919 houses—considering that the society has already a higher proportion of its business in that class of house than any other society in England. From my limited knowledge of the Society, I do not think that it is likely to be seriously affected one way or the other.

9.45 p.m.

I must confess I am disappointed in some ways at the Minister's reply, but I am not suggesting that the Committee should press the Amendment to a Division—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"]—because possibly owing to the fact that the Amendment was drafted entirely by me unaided there is a serious error which I have seen only since this debate started. It is that the Amendment is forcing the Minister to charge a specific rate of interest without any possibility of altering it except by amending legislation. I apologise to you, Sir Gordon, and to the Committee for the mistake.

The first words of the Amendment are Provided that, subject to subsection (3) of this section— Subsection (3) as it stands bears no reference whatsoever to this subsection (1) and, therefore, that first phrase of the Amendment is entirely irrelevant. From the rest of the Amendment it is painfully obvious that the result of it is to force the Minister to charge a maximum differential, so to speak, of one-half of 1 per cent. Although I am in no way briefed to defend building societies' interests I am sufficiently concerned with them not to try to force the Minister to a Division. Moreover, it is, incidentally, quite illogical that we should make this part alone of the Bill alterable only by amending legislation. Therefore, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Hon. Members:

No.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

The point which the hon. Gentleman has just made is more ingenious than convincing, and what we are concerned about at the moment is the principle and the intention of the Amendment. Any drafting difficulty of

the sort he mentioned could, of course, be put right at a later stage.

Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 166, Noes 199.

Division No. 32.]AYES[9.50 p.m.
Alnsley, J. W.Hannan, W.Paget, R. T.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Hastings, S.Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)Hayman, F. H.Palmer, A. M. F.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Healey, DenisParker, J.
Awbery, S. S.Harbison, Miss M.Parkin, B. T.
Bacon, Miss AliceHobson, C. R. (Keighley)Pentland, N.
Balfour, A.Holman, P.Plummer, Sir Leslie
Bence, C.R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)Holmes, HoracePopplewell, E.
Benson, Sir GeorgeHoughton, DouglasPrentice, R. E.
Beswick, FrankHughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Blackburn, F.Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Probert, A. R.
Blenkinsop, A.Hughes, Heotor (Aberdeen, N.)Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Blyton, W. R.Hunter, A. E.Randall, H. E.
Boardman, H.Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Rankin, John
Bonham Carter, MarkIrving, Sydney (Dartford)Reynolds, G. W.
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)Isaaes, Rt. Hon. G. A.Rhodes, H.
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)Janner, B.Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Boyd, T. C.Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethJeger, George (Goole)Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Brockway, A. F.Johnson, James (Rugby)Royle, C.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Jones, Jack (Rotherham)Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Brown, Thomas (Ince)Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Skeffington, A. M.
Burke, W. A.Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)
Burton, Miss F. E.King, Dr. H. M.Slater, J. (Sedgefield)
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Lawson, G. M.Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Champion, A. J.
Chetwynd, G. R.Lee, Frederick (Newton)Sorensen, R. W.
Cliffe, MichaelLee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)Lindgren, G. S.Sparks, J. A.
Corbet, Mrs. FredaLogan, D. C.Spriggs, Leslie
Craddook, George (Bradford, S.)Mabon, Dr. J. DicksonSteele, T.
Crossman, R. H. S.McCann, J.Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Davies, Harold (Leek)MacColl, J. E.Stones, W. (Consett)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)MacDermot, NiallTaylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Deer, G.McGhee, H. G.Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Delargy, H. J.Mclnnes, J.Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Donnelly, D. L.McKay, John (Wallsend)Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwoh)McLeavy, FrankThornton, E.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Timmons, J.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Tomney, F.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)Mahon, SimonUsborne, H. C.
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)Mainwaring, W. H.Warbey, W. N.
Fernyhough, E.Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Watkins, T. E.
Finch, H. J.Mann, Mrs. JeanWeitzman, D.
Fitch, AlanMarquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Fletcher, EricMason, RoyWilkins, W. A.
Foot, D. M.Mitchison, G. R.Willey, Frederick
Forman, J. C.Moody, A. S.Williams, David (Neath)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
George, Lady Megan Lloyd(Car'then)Mort, D. L.Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Gibson, C. W.Moyle, A.Winterbottom, Richard
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.Mulley, F. W.Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Grey, C. F.Neal, Harold (Bolsover)Woof, R. E.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Lianelly)Oliver, G. H.Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Griffiths, William (Exchange)Oram, A. E.
Hale, LeslieOswald, T.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hamilton, W. W.Padley, W. E.Mr. Pearson and Mr. Simmons
NOES
Agnew, Sir PeterBarlow, Sir JohnBoyle, Sir Edward
Aitken, W. T.Barter, JohnBralne, B. R.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Batsford, BrianBromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.
Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir WilliamBaxter, Sir BeverleyBrooke, Rt. Hon. Henry
Arbuthnot, JohnBell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Brooman-White, R. C.
Armstrong, C. WBennett, F. M. (Torquay)Browne, J. Nixon (Cralgton)
Ashton, H.Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.
Atkins, H. E.Biggs-Davison, J. A.Burden, F. F. A.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.Bingham, R. M.Butcher, Sir Herbert
Baldwin, Sir ArcherBirch, Rt. Hon. NigelCarr, Robert
Balniel, LordBishop, F. P.Channon. P
Barber, AnthonyBlack, Sir CyrilChichester-Clark, R.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)Hulbert, Sir NormanPeyton, J. W. W.
Cole, NormanHurd, Sir AnthonyPickthorn, Sir Kenneth
Cooper, A. E.Hutchison, Michael Clark(E'b'gh, S.)Pilkington, Capt. R. A,
Cooper-Key, E. M.Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)Pitt, Miss E, M.
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir HarryPowell, J. Enoch
Corfield, F. V.Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Price, David (Eastleigh)
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Jennings, J. C. (Burton)Rawlinson, Peter
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)Redmayne, M.
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)Rees-Davies, W. R.
Cunningham, KnoxJohnson, Eric (Blackley)Ridsdale, J. E.
Dance, J. C. G.Kaberry, D.Rippon, A. G. F.
Davidson, ViscountessKeegan, D.Roper, Sir Harold
Deedes, W. F.Kerr, Sir HamiltonRopner, Col. Sir Leonard
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. MoA.Kershaw, J. A.Russell, R. S.
Doughty, C. J. A.Kirk, P. M.Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
du Cann, E. D. L.Lambton, ViscountSharpies, R. C.
Duncan, Sir JamesLancaster, Col. C. G.Shepherd, William
Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)Leavey, J. A.Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)
Elliott,R.W.(Ne'castle upon Tyne, N.)Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. EvelynLegh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Errington, Sir EricLindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)Storey, S.
Erroll, F. J.Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Fell, A.Linstead, Sir H. N.Studholme, Sir Henry
Finlay, GraemeLloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)Summers, Sir Spencer
Fisher, NigelLoveys, Walter H.Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughTaylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Freeth, DenzilMacdonald, Sir PeterTeeling, W.
Gammans, LadyMackeson, Brig. Sir HarryTemple, John M.
Garner-Evans, E. H.Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster)Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Gibson-Watt, D.McLean, Neil (Inverness)Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Glover, D.Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)
Glyn, Col. Richard H.Maddan, MartinThornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Godber, J. B.Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Goodhart, PhilipMaitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)Turner, H. F. L.
Cower, H. R.Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Graham, Sir FergusMarkham, Major Sir FrankTweedsmuir, Lady
Green, A.Marlowe, A. A. H.Vane, W. M. F.
Gresham Cooke, R.Marshall, DouglasVickers, Miss Joan
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)Mathew, R.Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.Mawby, R. L.Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Gurden, HaroldMaydon, Lt-Comdr. S. L. C.Wall, Patrick
Hall, John (Wycombe)Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Mott-Radolyffe, Sir CharlesWard, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)Nairn, D. L. S.Webbe, Sir H.
Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)Neave, AireyWebster, David
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)Noble, Michael (Argyll)Whitelaw, W. S. I.
Hobson, John(Warwick & Leam'gt'n)Oakshott, H. D.Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Holland-Martin, C. J.O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Horobin, Sir IanOrr, Capt. L. P. S.Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame FlorenceOrr-Ewing, C. Ian (Hendon, N.)Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)Page, R. G.Wood, Hon. R.
Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)Woollam, John Victor
Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.Partridge, E.
Hughes-Young, M. H. C.Peel, W. J.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Bryan and Mr. J. E. B. Hill.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

I beg to move, in page 2, line 39, at the end to insert: or in the Metropolitan Police District or the City of London, three thousand pounds. When the Bill was first published, two months ago, some criticism was directed against the point that it ignored the known difference of values in and outside London which has been recognised in rent restriction legislation and elsewhere for many years. I said in the debate on Second Reading that I took note of that criticism, that I would consider it further and that I would discuss the matter with the representatives of the building societies.

The outcome of that undertaking is this Amendment which fixes a different and higher figure, £3,000, for London and the Metropolitan Police District as distinct from the £2,500 which will operate for the rest of the country. I think that it is a wise differentiation and I hope that the Committee may be disposed to agree to it.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

I must ask the right hon. Gentleman for rather more information about this Amendment. We all recognise that there is a difference between London prices for the purchase of houses and provincial prices for the purchase of houses, just as there is a difference in rents in the two parts of England. The right hon. Gentleman introduced into the Rent Act, if he remembers, a £40 limit for London and a £30 limit for the provinces. We also had a £30 limit for Scotland. What the Minister proposes to do now is to introduce a much smaller differential, and to introduce it only as between Greater London, on the one hand, and the provinces, on the other.

No doubt the right hon. Gentleman will have had information from the building societies of which he did not tell us, but there is another question which ought to be considered. The demand for these houses and the price of them varies with the supply, and this means, in effect, that it varies with the shortage of housing accommodation in different parts of the country. Housing accommodation, particularly in large towns other than London, may more often be a question of the amount of space available for the purpose, and occasionally a question of the character and extent of the existing estates and other houses in the city. I hope that we shall hear from the right hon. Gentleman tomorrow what consideration he has given to that matter and whether he thinks that the maximum—

It being Ten o'clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.