New Clause No. 3. — (Power to Convert Existing Controlled Tenancies into Regulated Tenancies.)

Orders of the Day — Rent Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th June 1965.

Alert me about debates like this

New Clause No. 3.—(POWER TO CONVERT EXISTING CONTROLLED TENANCIES INTO REGULATED TENANCIES.)
(1) Section 11(3) of the Rent Act 1957 (release from control) shall cease to have etfect.
(2) In this section "existing controlled tenancy" means—
(a) a tenancy to which the Rent Acts apply apart from section 1 of this Act;
5(b) a statutory tenancy arising (whether before or after the commencement of this Act) on the termination of such a tenancy as is mentioned in paragraph (a) of this subsection.
10(3) The Minister may by order provide as respects any area in England and Wales or in Scotland that where the rateable value on a date specified in the order of a dwelling-house in that area exceeded such amount as may be so specified and the dwelling-house is subject to an existing controlled tenancy the existing controlled tenancy shall be treated as a regulated tenancy.
(4) An order under this section may contain such transitional provisions as appear to the Minister to be desirable.
15(5) A tenancy or statutory tenancy to which an order under this section applies shall be disregarded for the purposes of section 3(3)(a) of this Act, and in relation to any rental period of such a statutory tenancy beginning after the order comes into operation sections 5 and 6 of this Act shall have effect as if references therein to the last contractual period were references to the last rental period beginning before the order comes into operation.
20
25(6) A notice of increase served under section 7 of this Act in respect of an existing controlled tenancy which by virtue of an order under this section is treated as a regulated tenancy shall only be valid if the rent specified in it does not exceed by more that 15 per cent. of the controlled rent the rent payable for the rental period beginning twelve months before the notice takes effect, except so far as the increase relates to such part of the rent registered under this Act as may in pursuance of the order be distinguished in the register as attributable to the provision of additional or improved services or furniture or the carrying out of an improvement; and in ascertaining for the purposes of this subsection the amount of the rent payable for any rental period, any amount payable in respect of rates borne by the landlord or a superior landlord shall be disregarded.
30
In this subsection "the controlled rent" means the rent payable for the last rental period beginning before the order comes into operation.
35(7) The power to make an order under this section shall be exercisable by statutory instrument and no such order shall have effect unless it is approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.—[Mr. MacColl].

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Mr James MacColl Mr James MacColl , Widnes

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

Photo of Sir Samuel Storey Sir Samuel Storey , Stretford

I understand that it would be for the convenience of the House to discuss with new Clause No. 3 the following Amendments, in line 21, leave out subsection (6); in line 24, leave out "of"; and in line 24, leave out from first "rent" to "except" in line 25.

Photo of Mr James MacColl Mr James MacColl , Widnes

That suggestion would certainly lead to a more convenient debate, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.

This is one of two new Clauses which are designed to take the place of the present Clause 15. Clause 15 in the Bill attracted an interesting and constructive debate in Committee on 18th May. My right hon. Friend at the end of that debate promised to have a look at the drafting of Clause 15 to see whether it could be tightened up and made rather more precise. Later on, if this new Clause and new Clause No. 4 are accepted, we shall move to delete Clause 15.

Clause 15 deals with two different questions—the movement from what can roughly be called old control to regulation and the movement from regulation to decontrol. The new Clause deals only with the movement from old control to regulation. I will go through the Clause and explain fairly shortly how it is designed to work. Subsection (1) abolishes Section 11(3) of the Rent Act 1957. The original control in Clause 15 worked on the basis of Section 11(3)—altering it, but accepting it as the background for the operation. This was criticised on the grounds that it was a little vague, that it made it difficult to know precisely how the machinery would work, and that it was a dangerous introduction of the 1957 provisions by reference into the Bill. Therefore, the Clause starts by providing that Section 11(3) will no longer have effect. The Clause offers alternative machinery.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

Are we correct in understanding that this Clause abolishes the process of going direct from control to decontrol and that, if ever it were desired to decontrol now controlled property, the process of going through regulation and then decontrol would have to be followed?

Photo of Mr James MacColl Mr James MacColl , Widnes

The hon. Gentleman is right in thus interpreting the Clause. Subsection (2) provides that "existing controlled tenancy" within the meaning of the rest of the Clause is

  1. "(a) a tenancy to which the Rent Acts apply …
  2. (b) a statutory tenancy arising … on the termination of such a tenancy as is mentioned in paragraph (a)".
I do not suppose that there are many such tenancies still in operation. In most cases by now the tenancies will have been terminated by notices to quit and we shall be dealing only with statutory tenancies. However, there are probably some outstanding, and they are dealt with under the Clause.

Subsection (3) provides that The Minister may … as respects any area in England and Wales or in Scotland make an Order. This is different from what is in Clause 15, because it does not enable the Minister to make an Order covering the whole country. He can only cover an area, although the size of the area is undetermined—it may be large; it may be small. He may provide as respects any area … that where the rateable value … in that area exceeded such amount as may be … specified and the dwelling-house is subject to an existing controlled tenancy the existing controlled tenancy shall be treated as a regulated tenancy". The implications of this are that, above any change in the existing rateable value limits which is made by the Order, dwelling-houses coming within that bracket of rateable values are not decontrolled but come into regulated tenancies, as the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) said.

Subsection (4) provides for making transitional provisions. These will probably be mostly administrative provisions because the new Clause, as opposed to Clause 15, is fairly precise in defining how the machinery will work.

Subsection (5) provides for freezing rent after the Order has been made. The way the Bill is designed to work is that in the first stage rents are frozen at existing levels before they are altered by the machinery of the Bill. This subsection provides that the frozen rent shall be the same as the old controlled rent.

Subsection (6) limits the amount of the increase of rent that can be charged by the landlord to 15 per cent. in any one year. This is mandatory on the Minister. No discretion is left with the Minister to vary that limit.

Subsection (7) provides that the power to make an Order under the Clause shall be subject to the positive procedure; that is, there must be an affirmative Resolution of each House before it can come into operation.

Perhaps I should explain how this machinery is designed to work. At the first stage the Order is made. The rents are frozen at the existing old controlled levels. There is no immediate increase. At the second stage the landlord can apply to the rent officer, and then either the rent officer or the tenant can go to the rent assessment committee and the machinery will fix a fair rent within the meaning of Clause 22, which defines the fair rent for regulated tenancies. That fair rent may increase, decrease or remain the same, depending on the rent assessment committee's appraisal of what is a fair rent in comparison with the old controlled rent. The old controlled rent is linked to rateable values. The fair rent is not linked to rateable values. It is an assessment of what the property in its existing state of repair is worth. Therefore, in some cases the fair rent may be less than the old controlled rent. In some cases the rent assessment committee might think that there should be no difference. In some cases the fair rent might be greater. That is the end of the function of the rent assessment committee for the moment in fixing the fair rent.

Then the landlord, having got his fair rent, is limited by the Clause in the amount he can claim from the tenant. He cannot claim more than the fair rent. He can claim up to the fair rent, provided that his claim does not involve an increase of more than 15 per cent. per annum. The next year he can charge another 15 per cent. of the old controlled rent, not of the increased rent. It is not, as it were, compound interest. It is simple interest. It is 15 per cent. of the old controlled rent each time. The landlord can go on in that way until such time as he reaches the fair rent. If the fair rent happens to be less than the old controlled rent, the tenant can apply under the procedure of the Bill for a reduction in rent.

It may be of some assistance, to the House if I give some idea of the amounts involved. By definition only low rents are involved, because all the old controlled dwellings are below the rateable value limits fixed in the 1957 Act. Therefore, the maximum increase in a year on the highest rented old controlled property in London would be about £20 a year or 8s. a week. In the provinces, where the rateable value limits are lower than they are in London, £15 would be about the maximum increase, which is about 6s. a week.

8.0 p.m.

The Clause is concerned with movement from old controlled rent to regulation. This means that all the provisions about security of tenure remain, and the position of the tenant, apart from his rent, is not affected because the provisions for security of tenure are the same for regulated tenancies as for the old controlled tenancies. The tenant remains subject to the same type of protection by the courts as he has in his existing position. What differs is that he is subject to the increased rent up to what is thought to be a fair rent, subject to the absolute maximum increases provided in subsection (6) of the Bill.

The only other point is the effect of the movement upon the repair position. I will not go into it in detail, because it comes up under Clause 22 and the Schedules. Roughly, the position is that instead of having machinery for the deduction of rent where repairs are not done, the rent officer takes into account the state of repair of the dwelling when he fixes the fair rent. If the condition alters during the three years for which the fair rent lasts, an application can be made to have the rent varied because of the change in the position.

This is different and perhaps more flexible machinery to take into account the condition of the house, but this will come more closely under our survey when we look at Clause 22 and the Schedules.

Photo of Mr James Allason Mr James Allason , Hemel Hempstead

I must plead guilty to a great deal of the time which will be spent now on the Bill, because it was I who suggested in Standing Committee that Clause 15 was extremely unsatisfactory in that it dealt with two entirely different subjects, and the rubric dealt only with one. I suggested that it should be split into two Clauses. I congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary on the fact that by extending it to two Clauses he has made the provisions clearer, with less reference to the Rent Act, 1957, and more actual facts, and yet at the same time he has managed to get it into the same number of words.

When he was considering Clause 15 the Minister gave a number of undertakings. He undertook to consider whether it would be possible to rewrite the Clause into two Clauses, and that he has done. He undertook to remove the power under Clause 15(2), which it was not intended to have but which somehow swept in in error. He undertook to do this by having power to move from controlled to uncontrolled tenancies without passing through rent regulations, and, as we have heard, this has been incorporated in the Bill. He undertook to seek power to vary rateable value and see whether whole areas should be taken out of the scope of the Bill. I am not at all clear to what extent he has met that particular undertaking, and I should be grateful if we could have some explanation on that point.

The Minister's last undertaking was that he would seek to provide for the prevention of rent increase beyond a certain figure. This is fulfilled in the new subsection (6). The new Clause No. 3 in general terms repeats the substance of Section 11(3) of the Rent Act, 1957. All the points there now reappear here, but this makes the position a great deal clearer than when we had to go back to the 1957 Act to understand what the provisions would be when it came to changing controlled tenancies into regulated tenancies.

It gives the Minister great pleasure, no doubt, that he can say that even more of the wicked Rent Act has been repealed, because by repealing Section 11(3) the amount of the Rent Act which is being repealed is almost doubled, but in fact it is being rewritten in other words. No doubt, however, that will be welcomed.

Subsection (6) is extremely difficult to understand. Many people have taken it to mean that it is a once-for-all 15 per cent. increase. I am grateful for the Parliamentary Secretary's explanation that it means something else. It is a pity that when the new Clause was put down a Press statement was not issued by the Ministry explaining what it meant. It is extremely obscure. Instead of that, there was some sort of Press leak from the Ministry which gave the impression that three increases of 15 per cent. and three only would be allowed. This may well have been a misunderstanding of the position. As I understand, it is a 15 per cent. of the original controlled rent increase allowed per year until the regulated rent is reached.

This is unsatisfactory in that it introduces a new form of controlled tenancy. Many different forms of tenancy arise under the Bill and here a statutory tenancy starts moving out of being what have been known as a statutory tenancy and becomes a different short of statutory tenancy on an escalatory scale. What on earth that sort of tenancy will be called I do not know.

I suggest that it is not necessary to lay it down here, in any case, because under subsection (4) an order made under the Section when the Bill becomes an Act may contain such transitional provisions as appear to the Minister to be desirable. Therefore, the Minister can perfectly well lay down that the scale should be 15 per cent. or any other percentage when he comes to make the order.

I imagine that these orders will be very widely spaced. The Minister may well decide that in certain areas, where he finds that there is limitless accommodation and few statutory tenancies exist, that it is rather ridiculous to have a statutory tenancy alongside a large number of regulated tenancies, and he can move very quickly. I visualise, on the other hand, that in London it will be a much slower process of moving from controlled tenancy to regulated tenancy. Certainly with the cheapest properties it will be a good many years before this comes up.

It seems odd that we should lay down in the Bill that precisely 15 per cent. is the perfect percentage which shall operate for all time. I think that it would be more satisfactory if subsection (6) was left out. Then if the Minister felt, when he came to make a particular order, that he wanted to put in 15 per cent., he could do so. In laying down 15 per cent. now, the Minister is tying down the hands of his successors for perhaps many years to come.

I welcome the new Clause No. 3 because it seems to me so much simpler to understand, with the exception of the wicked subsection (6) which is quite appalling and which I hope will be amended in another place.

Photo of Mr Julius Silverman Mr Julius Silverman , Birmingham Aston

As the hon. Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Allason) has said, whilst this new Clause No. 3 repeals Section 11(3) of the Rent Act it re-enacts most of its provisions with some modifications, or rather so do new Clauses Nos. 3 and 4 together.

For my part, and this applies to a large number of my hon. Friends, we do not like Section 11(3). Our party fought this at the time most strenuously and we are alarmed that it should be reinserted even in a modified form in the Bill. I want to mention what was said on this subject by the official spokesman of the party, the present Lord Mitchison. On Second Reading, in Committee, on Report and on Third Reading we made it quite clear that we were against this provision.

The words used by my noble Friend Lord Mitchison were: The sole safeguard is that there shall be an affirmative Resolution of Parliament. What does an affirmative Resolution mean by comparison with what there ought to be—a new Statute? I agree entirely with this, even today. If we are to alter the structure of present controlled rents, this should not be done by order or regulation. There should be new legislation providing—and this is most important—that side by side with any increase of rents there should be adequate provision for repairs, which there is not in the new Clause or anywhere in the Bill. Lord Mitchison added: An affirmative Resolution comes before the House and is subject to what is, in effect, a Second Reading discussion only. There is no opportunity whatever for detailed discussion, there is no opportunity for any Amendment, and there are, of course, no Committee proceedings. What happens is that it goes through Parliament without the people in the country affected realising what is happening until it is too late. It goes through Parliament without them and their associations being able to exercise the sort of pressure which in the course on this Bill, has been so effectively exercised on some hon. Members opposite … Then he went on to say in even stronger language: There is no indication of that in the language of the subsection, and I call both the subsection itself and the use which it is proposed to be made of it in connection with the fifteen months' concession an abuse of the power of the Ministry as against Parliament, an abuse of the power of the Government as against the country and an inroad into the liberties of the people in a matter which, I repeat, vitally and directly concerns them. I hope and pray that no Labour Government will ever sink to depths of oppression and duplicity which this Clause and the use of it represents."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. Standing Committee A, 26th February, 1957; c. 959–60.] Having said that, and remembering the struggles which took place in those days, I was appalled to find that when this Bill came before the House this Clause 11(3) was still there. While it has admittedly been modified and there are now some safeguards, I think it is still a thoroughly bad Clause, together with Clause 4.

Personally, I do not like this idea of either decontrol or what is called re-control, of sweeping decontrol or sweeping recontrol by order or regulation. I believe that if it is ever administered by the right hon. Gentleman it will be administered at any rate humanely and at the proper time, but I would suggest to him that it is leaving an instrument in the hands of his successor, of another Minister, who may not be so humane. We may then be saddled with the responsibility of this sort of regulation.

8.15 p.m.

No one yet knows precisely what is going to be the effect of these provisions and what will be the basis of the Government Clause. In a sense we are stepping into the dark. It may be that in some areas there will be substantial increases of rent above the controlled rate and I am sure the people who sent us here did not vote for substantial increases in those rents.

That is why I am opposed to this ceiling, which is, I think, an inadequate ceiling, of limiting the increase of rents by 15 per cent. per annum. I suggest that one total increase of 15 per cent. is sufficient to cover the situation and I still hope the Minister will be prepared to agree to that. Remember creeping recontrol goes on. One still gets a large number of houses every year where a new tenant comes in and the full rent of the regulated tenancy fails. I believe there is no case whatsoever for allowing either this Minister or some other Minister in the future to introduce orders or regulations which are going to allow an increase of 15 per cent. per annum.

In certain cases the rent may be doubled, may be increased by 30s. or £2. I do not think there is any case for that. I do not think any question of balance between the landlord and tenant justifies that. In the Amendment which I have put down I propose that there should be one ceiling only and that should be 15 per cent. and the rent should go no higher. My Amendment is on the Order Paper and I hope the Minister is going to look at it, even at this late stage.

Photo of Mr Mark Carlisle Mr Mark Carlisle , Runcorn

It is clear that if one of the intentions of the Minister in bringing in this new Clause was to placate his own hon. Friends on the Committee which was considering the Rent Bill he has failed judging by the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. Julius Silverman). It is quite right, as the hon. Gentleman said, that this is a change which is basically one of form rather than of substance, so far as section 11(3) of the Rent Act was concerned. Although it may be that the Minister can now claim that he has deleted a further part of the 1957 Rent Act it is quite clear that these new sections, to a large degree, merely reinstate it in similar words in this new Bill.

What I am perturbed about in this new Clause is subsection 6. I am particularly opposed to the remarks made by the hon. Member the Member for Aston, in the Amendment which is down in his name, in which he proposes to limit still further the limitations already put in subsection (6) of this new Clause.

If the Clause were to be carried, containing as it does the proposed subsection (6), and if, in particular, the Amendment tabled in the name of the hon. Member for Aston were to be carried, there would in future be three different types of rents for controlled properties. This seems to me to be nonsense. There would be those rents which remained controlled under the 1957 Act which would be at the rate of twice the 1956 gross rateable value; there would be the fair rents of regulated tenancies paid under the Bill; and there would be a third group of people who would presumably pay the controlled rent plus 15 per cent. If the Minister succeeds in carrying his new Clause, and if the Amendment tabled in the name of the hon. Member for Aston failed, it would be 15 per cent. a year until the new fair rent limit was reached.

I wish particularly to address my remarks to the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Aston. If it were passed, there would be permanently three bases on which the rent could be charged. The Minister has said on many occasions that he is anxious to be fair to the landlord and to the tenant. It clearly cannot be fair to the landlord, or I believe in the interests of the tenant, to introduce a proposal in the Bill which would artificially limit the rent at what is conceded to be well below the fair rent for the premises in question.

We know that the rent limit of the controlled tenancies set in 1958 is already out of date. I think that that is accepted by hon. Members on both sides. To take a simple means by which that can be tested, we know that the rent limit under the 1957 Act on controlled tenancies was based on twice the gross rateable value, that since then there has been a rerating of those premises and that on average the rateable value has increased 2·8 times for each of those premises. The rating officer has rerated those premises at his assessment of the present day rent which would be obtained for those houses at a price higher than the rent fixed under the 1957 Act. One can say that the rating officer, by means of the rerating which has occurred, has assessed what would be the rent at higher than the rent capable of being charged. That is evidence that those rateable values are already out of date.

Secondly, if the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Aston were to be carried those rentals will become steadily more out of date as each year passes. They are already eight years old. There is no doubt that the rip-roaring inflation which we have under this Government is reducing still further the value of money. Therefore, these rents become steadily and more rapidly out of date.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will say how the productivity of the landlord has increased over this period which warrants him having any increase in rent at all.

Photo of Mr Mark Carlisle Mr Mark Carlisle , Runcorn

The justification for an increase in rent is that the landlord should have what is on current day values a fair return on the money invested in the house and—I repeat that I believe that this is in the interests of the tenant—a fair amount with which to carry out repairs and to keep the house in a proper condition.

May I refer to two further figures which, I believe, show conclusively that the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Aston would limit at a wholly false amount the existing rentals for houses which came out of control. Since 1958 the average price of building materials has risen by 15 per cent. Since 1958 the average earnings of construction workers in the building industry have increased by 45 per cent. With the inflation which is occurring at the moment, costs such as these are rising rapidly.

The hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) said in Committee that the controlled rent should be about one-sixth of the fair rent. I did not accept that for a moment, but what is clear is that it is much less than 15 per cent. on top of the controlled rent.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that the average earnings of building workers are largely related to increased productivity and are based on production schemes which, in the main, do not apply to property repairs? Surely this is a very important point in relation to the repairs done by landlords.

Photo of Mr Mark Carlisle Mr Mark Carlisle , Runcorn

I accept that point, but I think that the hon. Gentleman would agree that the cost of repairs and of the wage element in repairs have increased considerably since 1958.

If the new Clause and the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Aston were to be passed, we should have at a very early date what the Minister has deplored—people paying different rents for similar premises. As the hon. Member for Aston said, this new Clause, or even his Amendment, would not remove creeping recontrol. Therefore, we should have some people living in controlled houses, some people living in houses with a rateable value of, say, £29 who are paying a fair rent because of creeping recontrol, and some people paying the old controlled rent plus 15 per cent. as a once-for-all increase because the Minister had made an order under the nevi Clause. That is a further disadvantage of the Amendment proposed to the new Clause.

Secondly, this proposal would not enable the landlord to do the necessary repairs to keep the houses in a satisfactory state of repair. Thirdly, I believe that it would encourage still further the owner, when he had the opportunity, to sell rather than to relet.

The Minister, in a speech which he made in Leeds in January this year, said: If you are going to give high quality houses, people have got to get used to higher rents". That is a statement of fact with which many of us on both sides of the House would agree as being not only to the advantage of the landlord, but clearly to the advantage of the tenant.

The Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Aston, by uneconomically limiting the rent of houses which at a later stage might be moved out of control by the Minister, would prohibit the possibility of higher quality housing by prohibiting the ability of the landlord to receive a fair rent from the tenant.

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

The Bill contains some excellent provisions. It is a serious attempt to undo the damage done by the Conservative Rent Act of 1957. The Clause, however, is a disastrous mistake. I want this to be a great Bill. It is exactly 50 years after the 1915 Act, which introduced rent restriction and made housing history. I want this Bill similarly to make housing history. It will not do it if this weakness remains.

8.30 p.m.

I am in favour of rigid rents. I would say that the maximum should be the 1957 controlled rents, which were roughly a 60 per cent. increase for most landlords. I strongly differ from the hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle), who said that the present maxima were out of date. They are out of date because of the pressure of the market, because there is such a demand for housing. In the situation of shortage that exists most landlords will naturally exploit that shortage. That explains why the valuations have gone up.

Photo of Mr Christopher Chataway Mr Christopher Chataway , Lewisham North

Does that mean that the hon. Member would not make any adjustment for inflation?

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

I would be very generous to the landlords. I would give them a 15 per cent. once-and-for-all increase, as my hon. Friend suggests, to cover the depreciation of the £. If I regarded Clause 22 as satisfactory, I should not worry about the new Clause, but Clause 22 is so vague that no right hon. or hon. Member this evening knows exactly what kinds of rents the tribunals will fix. My fear is that loopholes will be found in Clause 22, as not all but some landlords and their lawyers found a loophole in the Protection from Eviction Act which was passed six months ago. I do not want the landlords to be over-compensated in the way in which it has been suggested that the steel owners might be.

I do not think that the public have quite realised the significance of the new Clause. I wish to quote a case, the details of which have been provided by my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson), of a row of houses in his constituency—although they might be in any industrial area—two up, two down without a bath, people sharing an outside lavatory, in my view the kind of houses on which the landlord should not be able to raise rents at all. However, he is allowed to do so under the Rent Act. The tenants pay 28s. a week plus rates, which is more than the property is worth.

Next door to the first house is a house which has been affected by creeping decontrol and the landlord has charged 80s. plus rates. This actual case goes before the rent tribunal. Nobody here this evening know what rent the tribunal will fix for that house. My hope would be that the tribunal would say, "This is an exorbitant rent for such a house and we will reduce it." Nobody knows by how much the tribunal would reduce the rent. Let us suppose, however, that it knocks off £1 and brings down the rent to 60s. The tenant is very satisfied.

When, however, the tribunals have dealt with these cases of decontrolled rents, they have then to proceed to deal with the cases of controlled rents. The tribunal, therefore, says to the tenant of No. 1, "We are now considering your rent. As your house is identical in every way with the house next door, we must obviously fix an identical rent." So the tenant's rent will go up from 28s. to 60s. Hon. Members opposite want it to go up in one fell swoop. They cannot wait; their tongues are hanging out in anticipation. I hope, therefore—and I am sure—that their Amendment will not be carried.

I also agree with my hon. Friend that no Labour Government would do such a thing, but we live in a democracy and there is no guarantee that a Labour Government will continue in office for ever. If the landlords' party opposite were returned to power, I would not trust hon. Gentlemen opposite to refrain from taking this action, and I do not want to put a weapon in their hands. Any Government which deregulated in this way and raised controlled rents would be committing political suicide, because this question is dynamite as it affects so many people.

It is true that the Minister has delayed the agony by saying that there shall not be an increase of more than 15 per cent. in any one year. If it can be so described, this is death by a thousand cuts, although it will probably take only seven years to reach 100 per cent. increase in rents. Furthermore, it is not restricted to that increase. There might well be a 200 per cent. increase in present controlled rents.

My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) tabled an Amendment, which has not been called, to provide that the increase should not be more than 3½ per cent. per annum, which in my view is plenty. I can appreciate the reason why my hon. Friend has suggested that figure. It has a familiar connotation. Why should we give an increase of 15 per cent. per annum to men who do no work at all, and yet restrict to 3½ per cent. the increase which is permitted to trade unions which represent men who work very hard indeed?

Photo of Mr Mark Carlisle Mr Mark Carlisle , Runcorn

Does the hon. Gentleman consider that, under the prices and incomes policy, if there is an application for a wage increase from unions which have not put in an increase since 1957, they should still be limited to an increase of 3½ per cent.?

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

The difference is that they do no work at all.

Photo of Mr Paul Rose Mr Paul Rose , Manchester, Blackley

The difference may also be that the initial cost of these houses has been paid for many times over in many cases.

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

I was going to make that point. We are dealing with very old houses, and the fact is that 85 per cent. of all houses to rent were built before 1914. They are at least 51 years old, and many of them are more than 100 years old.

Workers will say, "If you are going to allow landlords to raise controlled rents for doing nothing, do you seriously suggest that we should restrict our wage claims?". I am opposed to any increase in controlled rents. What are the arguments which have been adduced from the benches opposite in support of this proposal? They say, first, that higher rents are needed to carry out repairs, but, unfortunately, there is no guarantee in the Bill that repairs will be done. In 1957 landlords were given a 60 per cent. increase, presumably to allow them to carry out repairs, but with some honourable exceptions they did not carry out any repairs at all. They just pocketed the increase. It might interest the House to know that there was an increase of £200 million a year in net rent incomes between 1957 and 1961 after paying for repairs.

There is no guarantee in the Clause that improvements will be carried out. I have here a letter from an engineering worker in the Manchester and Salford district who has just been hit by the fact that his rent is likely to be increased under this Clause. He says: I am a tenant of one of the controlled properties mentioned, and the owner, like so many others as you well know, point blank refuses to apply for improvement grants. Are we, therefore to pay a rent increase … to people who refuse to bring their property up to reasonable standards, which means baths and inside lavatories? … I am sure you will agree that there should be no increase where there is no bath or inside toilet, otherwise terrific wage demands will be the result. Of course, it may be that the Bill will make these safeguards a condition. In that case the public relations department of the Housing Ministry is at fault for releasing only one side of the information. It is not the public relations department that is at fault; the truth is that there is no insistence on the installation of lavatories or hot water before there can be rent increases of controlled houses.

The second argument adduced in favour of raising controlled rents is that if we do not give the landlords a large increase in their rents they will not let the houses; they will sell them. They will sell them in any case, as the Milner Holland figures show. Indeed, if we grant an increase in rents it means that we are granting an increase in selling price, because if rents are allowed to rise the capital value of the property will similarly increase. If landlords do sell their houses it will be a good thing, especially if municipalities taken them over. Two years ago the Prime Minister, speaking in Leeds, said that housing was not a proper field for private profit-making.

In Committee the Minister said that in the great conurbations there could be no question of this being done very speedily. He explained that there were large numbers of decontrolled cases to deal with before the rent tribunals got round to controlled cases. In the big conurbations there will surely have to be more than one rent tribunal. If this is not to be the case it means that there will be a tremendous delay before the tribunals deal with some of the high decontrolled rents—and I want those tribunals to get on to that job very quickly.

Why not leave controlled tenants well alone? They are a shrinking number in any case, because creeping decontrol is reducing their numbers. It is bad enough for a family going to a new house to have to pay a higher rent, but at least they go there voluntarily—I agree that it is not entirely voluntarily, because they have a beggar's choice owing to the fact that the market has risen and they have to pay. It is worse for people to have to pay an increased rent for the house in which they live. There is a distinction in this case, because this will be entirely involuntary. Last October the electorate chose a Government in the belief that they would keep rents down. We must not increase rents, especially for controlled tenants.

The Conservative Rent Act of 1957 is generally known among millions of our electorate as the landlords' charter. I appeal to the Minister to redress the balance by improving the Bill.

8.45 p.m

Photo of Mr William Rees-Davies Mr William Rees-Davies , Isle of Thanet

The hon. Member began his speech with a great fallacy and ended it with another. This is the first time that I have heard anybody suggest that the great housing charter arose from the Increase of Rent and Mortgage Interest (War Restrictions) Act, 1915. I would remind the hon. Gentleman that the Act of 1915 came into force purely as an emergency measure in time of war, was ill-conceived and ill-drafted and has been described by every judge in almost every case who has had to construe it as a thoroughly bad Act, with no other purpose than that of an emergency measure in time of war, for which it could be forgiven.

The hon. Member is equally wrong in suggesting that the 1957 Act was ever drafted as a "landlords' charter", or that anyone has ever so regarded it. This is quite untrue. I speak as one who did not particularly like that Act and strongly opposed certain parts of it.

I wanted to take up one or two points mentioned by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. Julius Silverman). I was, I think, the first Member in the House to suggest, some years ago, that we should have a measure of rent control, but that the difficulty was that it was required only in certain parts of the country. I therefore advocated then, and consistently, within my own party and publicly, that we needed this control by areas.

Last year, I was pressing on the then Government and I have since, and I would wish to press on the present Government, that the way in which we could get some form of fair rent control in this country is by looking at it area by area and recognising that circumstances differ immensely in different areas, not only within the metropolis, but within the cities and certainly in the provinces. The only effective way by which we can deal with this problem is to treat it as a matter for area control.

Therefore, in so far as this Clause is one of several which deal with the question of the Minister taking powers for area control, I am for it 100 per cent. However, at some stage—I do not ask him to do it on this Clause—I hope that the Minister will give some indication before the end of the Report stage as to what are the broad principles—I do not want to tie him down to detail—which he will apply in considering area control.

When I was fighting as a rent rebel with my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) with regard then to the question of rent control and its necessity in the cities and conurbations, we pointed out, and repeat now, that certain areas of the country require no rent control or Rent Act at all. My own constituency is one of them. Although I favour a strong rent control in certain areas of London, Liverpool and elsewhere, we do not need it at all in Thanet. No more did we need it in 1957, when I was arguing very strongly in favour of there being some rent control.

Therefore, I hope that, either on this Clause or on another, the Minister will tell us whether he proposes to bring these areas under control throughout the country, and, if not, what general principles he has in mind. Will we, as Members of Parliament, be able to make representations to him on behalf of given areas? For example, would the representatives of the County of Kent be able to come forward, representing local authorities in the area, to say, "We do not think that this is necessary for the whole of Kent?". Would that be so with regard to particular cities?

The Minister may prefer to deal with this on another occasion. There are several others on which it arises. I hope that we can get some explanation, in regard to subsection (3) in this Clause and other parts of the Bill, of the policy of Her Majesty's Government in the implementation of what I can loosely call area control.

The great mistake which the hon. Member for Aston made in his speech was that he talked about the fact—he was quite right—that the country had not fully appreciated that the Clause to some extent proceeds to deal with the question of the old controlled statutory tenancies and the old controlled rents and makes provision in subsection (6) for a measure of increases to bring them into line with regulated rents under the new Act.

Of course, he said, there will be creeping decontrol. That is not so. He is quite wrong there. The purpose of this Clause is to retain the old ones under control, but convert them into the regulated rent. That is important because the policy of the Conservative Party was—and, so far as I know, still is—on the old basis, to leave the controlled rents alone for statutory tenants, on the basis that by the process of creeping decontrol they would gradually vanish and allow free rents above the fixed amounts.

The new Clause aims to turn all the old statutory rents, by a gradual process of evolution, into regulated rents. It has already been propounded by the Minister as his policy that we shall have control of unfurnished rentals throughout the country—up to £400 a year in London and somewhat less outside—and that they shall all be subject to rent control with prevention from eviction.

We will have an opportunity to debate the former and to decide whether the right hon. Gentleman's tests and definitions are sufficiently comprehensive to decide what the rentals shall be. Nevertheless, I hope that he is aware that we cannot have a whole series of different types of contractual and non-contractual tenancies. The right hon. Gentleman must at least be right in saying that if we are to provide a fair rent in the terms of a regulated rent—and, after all, the Minister is setting up all the paraphernalia which I do not believe is necessary, with rent officers, assessment committees, and so on; all of that could have been avoided, although we will discuss that later—then, if hon. Gentlemen opposite accept that that will be a fair rental, I do not see how they can also contend that those who will be paying controlled rental should not in due course, also be asked to pay a fair rental.

This is a somewhat complicated matter and I come to the heart of it and mean no offence when I say that this part of the argument is really the "left" side of the argument. It must be, for it is stated by hon. Gentlemen opposite that in due course it must be agreed that a fair and proper rental should be paid, although I have not heard any criticism of the criterion as to how that fair rent should be assessed.

The only remaining question is by what degree these people will be asked to pay it. If 15 per cent. is suggested as being too high over six or 12 months, it might be said that it should be 5 per cent. or 10 per cent.

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

Why not 3½ per cent.?

Photo of Mr William Rees-Davies Mr William Rees-Davies , Isle of Thanet

Let us assume that it is 5 per cent. It cannot be fair to keep somebody from the ultimate fair rental if there would have to be a 100 per cent. increase because that would entail waiting 20 years; that is, 5 per cent. for 20 years. We must, therefore, be reasonable about this.

Subsection (6) of the new Clause is obscure, to say the least. I wish it were phrased in understandable language. I have had 20 years' experience of rent legislation, but subsection (6) is unintelligible to me. It refers to 15 per cent. and I should have thought that it would have been good enough merely to say, "A 15 per cent. increase will be permitted in any one year up to the fair rental fixed"—and that rental would be fixed by the provision dealing with assessments. Why not, for a start, change the wording of the subsection to make it more intelligible?

Do not the Government want a reasonable percentage to be included to bring it up to a fair rental? I do not vouchsafe an opinion as to what it should be, but certainly the aim should be to bring the controlled rental up to the regulated fair rent within a reasonable period of time—say, about two years in ordinary cases.

Subsection (4) of the new Clause refers to transitional provisions and states: An order under this section may contain such transitional provisions as appear to the Minister to be desirable. If we do not know what the policy is to be on new Clause No. 3, we will be completely in the dark as to how this is to be achieved. If this is meant to be purely a machinery Clause and nothing else, I would like that made plain, but they ought to know what is the precise manner in which it is envisaged this will take effect.

Taking a normal case of a rent of 21s. to 25s. a week, let us say that it is decided by a tribunal that the rent in the area is reasonably to be fixed at 35s. a week, resulting in an increase of 10s. to 15s. a week on a £1 rent, what reasonable period should be set to enable the controlled rent to come up to the fair rent which has been fixed? As the Clause is liable to be looked at in another place, I am inviting the right hon. Gentleman to look at subsection (6) and consider whether it can be made intelligible to the general public, because it is not intelligible to my hon. Friends and myself.

We may not have the intelligence of the general public, but we have to tell the general public what we take it to mean. I take it to mean something different. I do not take it to mean that there could be a 15 per cent. every year for the next three years.

Photo of Mr William Rees-Davies Mr William Rees-Davies , Isle of Thanet

I do not know what my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) takes it to mean, but I am anxious to hear that it shall not only mean what we take it to mean, but that the public shall understand it to mean what they read it to mean.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

What the Clause means is that you should not be allowed to increase the rent by more than 15 per cent. of the controlled rent. It is not a geometric progression, but an arithmetical progression.

Photo of Mr William Rees-Davies Mr William Rees-Davies , Isle of Thanet

Taking 15 per cent. of the controlled rent, is that once for all? As I understand, it is 15 per cent. of the controlled rent, but you can do that annually.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

As the hon. Gentleman says, the aim of the Clause is to prevent a sudden bumping up of rents. One is allowed to move from one point to the other by not more than 15 per cent. of the controlled rent each year, so that one would take between six and six and a half years to double the controlled rent it that were necessary, two years if only 30 per cent. were necessary, three years if 45 per cent., and so on. I am told by my legal advisers that this is language which to really trained legal minds is crystal clear.

9.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Norman Atkinson Mr Norman Atkinson , Tottenham

The right hon. Gentleman's reply illustrates very clearly what the argument is about on the comments which have already been made and which drove my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. Julius Silverman) to submit his Amendment, which I want to support. I wish also to comment on what was said by the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies). A number of hon. Members opposite have spoken of the poverty of landlords and property-owning companies and have said that these people must have an annual rent increase of no less than 15 per cent. in order to balance their books.

In London, we are concerned about a number of property-owning companies, particularly those which own the type of property which we are discussing. I obtained some figures about one company. In 1957, the same year as the infamous Rent Act, the company's profit was £15,525. The profits had risen in 1964 to £269,259. The ordinary dividend has increased in this way between 1957 and 1964 without any new capital being added. I suggest that we need not have too much sympathy with or shed too many tears over this sort of company.

Photo of Mr David Webster Mr David Webster , Weston-Super-Mare

Would the hon. Member in fairness tell us the ordinary dividend of that company 15 years previously? He will find it very similar to that which he quoted.

Photo of Mr Norman Atkinson Mr Norman Atkinson , Tottenham

You are asking for figures.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. The hon. Member must speak through the Chair. He must address his remarks to the Chair.

Photo of Mr Norman Atkinson Mr Norman Atkinson , Tottenham

I am sorry, Dr. King. I am merely submitting that some property-owning companies which own the type of property which we are discussing and which will be affected by the Bill have not suffered as much poverty as hon. Members opposite suggest. Companies have had bonus shares over the period 1957–63 and the value of a £100 shareholding has increased to £660 today. That shows that there is some profit in this kind of property even though I admit that the whole of the property owned by the company is not controlled but includes a large lump of decontrolled property from which it has earned its profits.

Photo of Mr David Webster Mr David Webster , Weston-Super-Mare

The hon. Member confused me with you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I am flattered. He quoted the figure of profits in 1957. Would he quote the figure of profits fifteen years earlier and thirty years earlier. He will find that the company has been expanding over the whole period.

Photo of Mr Norman Atkinson Mr Norman Atkinson , Tottenham

I am sorry but I cannot answer that question. I have not figures going back 50 years. I have taken a period between 1957 and the present day.

The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet said that to make sense rent control should be regionalised. This is the only fair basis on which we can get a fair method of assessing rents throughout the country. One of the strongest features of the Bill is that the Minister can introduce some degree of regionalisation because of the terms of reference for the chairmen of the panels to be set up by the Minister. The terms of reference will give a built-in regionalisation to the whole rent structure. We recognise that it is difficult to talk in terms of fair rents, which is the subject of this argument. I recognise that we cannot argue whether there should be one increase of 15 per cent. and no more or continual increases of 15 per cent. unless we relate the argument to the whole question of fair rents and to how much the increase will mean in terms of the householder.

That involves questions of regional or geographical differences, but my concern is with London, and with North London in particular. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) gave some very graphic examples of how this suggested increase could affect some tenants, in north London, and I want to quote two examples in north London. In one case a controlled house has a rent of 28s. 6d. a week. The house has no bath, but it has six rooms. The National Assistance Board pays the rent in both cases and therefore has knowledge of the rents, and it is the National Assistance figures that I quote. In the other case the National Assistance people are helping the tenants to pay a decontrolled rent of £5 2s. 6d. The difference between the two rents is £3 14s.

In the same terrace are houses of the same kind—six rooms but no bath—which are sub-divided to accommodate two families, one upstairs and one downstairs. In the decontrolled house the total rents amount to £7 15s. a week, plus rates. The total rents in the controlled house are £3 2s. per week, plus rates. The difference there is £4 13s. a week—

Photo of Mr Norman Atkinson Mr Norman Atkinson , Tottenham

As my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East says, this is a scandalous situation, but one which we must look at when deciding whether to have a 15 per cent. increase once for all or a continuous rent rise over many years. I am pointing to the dilemma in which rent assessment committees will be placed when they have to assess a fair rent.

In this same street—Cadoxton Avenue, Tottenham—where I found these examples, I know that the price for the same sort of house two years ago was £3,500 with vacant possession. The expectancy of life of the property is about 25 years. The investor looking for a return on his investment of £3,500 knows that he can sub-divide the house top and bottom and let the property to two families. Whichever way we look at the matter, unless the rent assessment committee is to confiscate part of that person's capital or devalue the property it must accept that the basis for establishing a fair rent must be the £3,500 paid for that kind of house. If that is so, the lawyers and property assessors, and the like, with whom I have discussed this problem advised me that the fair rent, with all the circumstances taken into consideration, must be about £6 15s. a week.

If that is to be the outcome of that kind of assessment, we must relate such an analysis to the controlled tenancy of a similar kind of property—

Photo of Hon. Sam Silkin Hon. Sam Silkin , Camberwell Dulwich

Is £3,500 the vacant possession value? If it is, surely it takes into account the scarcity of houses, which is the very thing that is being wiped out by the fair-rent provisions.

Photo of Mr Norman Atkinson Mr Norman Atkinson , Tottenham

Precisely, that is the whole point. This kind of property is fetching such exorbitant prices because of scarcity value. This situation in London in times of scarcity and these sort of prices are now quite common. A rent assessment committee, assessing what the investor can expect in return for that kind of investment, can either confiscate the property or recognise the price and fix the rent on the value.

Photo of Mr Charles Doughty Mr Charles Doughty , East Surrey

The hon. Member's figures, which I am following with great interest, are based on an entirely wrong assumption. A house might fetch that price because someone wants it for himself, but that is not the investor's price for a house to be let to someone else.

Photo of Mr Norman Atkinson Mr Norman Atkinson , Tottenham

The hon. and learned Member is quite wrong and does not understand the position in London housing. People will pay this price because then they will become owner-occupiers of the property and can make such a house a viable proposition by letting part of it. That is the only way in which people can find reasonably suitable accommodation when they know that, although they are paying that price for an investment, they can recoup some of the capital by letting off the other part of the house. This provides a method of establishing a fair rent for that kind of property. The terms of reference which presidents of panels will be handing out to various rent assessment committees will say that there must be continuity of assessments throughout London and that there must be a relationship between properties of a similar kind irrespective of scarcity values.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I want the House to be certain that what my hon. Friend is saying bears no relation to the truth. No such instruction is the intention, and it is most misleading to suggest it. If my hon. Friend had listened to the Committee stage he would have known that we were discussing precisely this problem and that the whole purpose of Clause 22 is to eliminate scarcity value by fixing fair rents. It is most misleading to say that everything said in Committee will be disregarded by the president of the London panel.

Photo of Mr Norman Atkinson Mr Norman Atkinson , Tottenham

I thank my right hon. Friend for that explanation. If that is so it is extremely welcome. I welcome this, but a lot of people will lose a lot of money on investments they have made over the years since 1957. If that is so, I am happy tonight. The Minister has made my year; in fact he has justified our results in the last election. Those people will lose a lot of money, but, nevertheless, as my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East pointed out, if there is a relationship between similar houses in the same street there must be some extortionate increases on present controlled tenants. Whatever we say about decontrolled tenancies and prices which landlords have paid for property, this must of necessity bring about a substantial reduction, but it will be a rent far above that paid by the tenant in controlled property.

Because these differences exist in London and are so enormous, to say that we can perpetuate a system of 15 per cent. per year ad infinitum until the total is reached which is considered to be a fair rent is too much in the present situation. I therefore support the points made by by my hon. Friend the Member for Aston in suggesting that in those circumstances it is fair that in regard to controlled tenancies there should be only one increase of 15 per cent., which is an adequate adjustment taking into consideration increases, depreciation and so on over the recent years.

9.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

In general, I welcome the new Clause. It is possible that I might welcome it more if I was quite certain that I understood subsection (6). The Minister has assured the House that it is crystal clear to him.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

No. What I said was that I was assured as a layman that to a lawyer with a really trained mind these somewhat difficult words are crystal clear. They are not clear to me, but I am told that that is what they mean. I have interpreted them as one layman to other laymen.

Photo of Mr Henry Brooke Mr Henry Brooke , Hampstead

I was going to suggest to the House that that was the true position. But, after all, the Minister must take responsibility. If he says that it is crystal clear to somebody responsible, it must surely be constitutionally crystal clear to him, and we all envy him.

I welcome the Minister's approach here. I have long thought, in the light of experience, that the original Rent Bill of 1956, was slanted too much in the direction of complete decontrol and not sufficiently in favour of raising controlled rents to a sensible level. I say "a sensible level" so as not to confuse the issue further by bringing in the word "fair", which is a controversial word in the context of the Bill. I have much sympathy with the Minister, because I went through the same kind of experience in Standing Committee as he is going through this evening. At that time I was assured by some of his hon. Friends that twice gross value was an entirely extortionate rent and that it was unforgivable that a Tory Government should be authorising landlords to raise rents to such a height as twice gross value.

Most of us then knew—I think we all know by now—that a house cannot be kept in proper condition on a rent of twice the 1939 gross value. At that time cost of repairs and maintenance was over 3½ times the 1939 cost. Now it must be well over four times. If I understand the Clause aright, it seems to me in general a sensible step towards lifting the twice gross value figure up to what is described in the Bill as a fair rent. I reserve all my doubts about the possibility of putting a fair interpretation on the word "fair". We shall see what happens.

I note that some of those who, eight years ago, argued that twice gross value was an extortionate rent for a Government to authorise are now saying in their Amendments that they think that 2·3 times 1939 gross value would be acceptable. The Minister is making a wiser approach than theirs. It was a disappointment to me that in the Bill as it was originally published there seemed to be no attempt to tackle in a systematic and thoughtful way the problem of the house controlled at twice the 1939 gross value. I did not serve on the Standing Committee, but it is clear to me that some of these problems were brought home to the Government in Committee.

I consider that new Clauses Nos. 3 and 4 are a considerable improvement on Clause 15. My hope is that the Minister will have the courage to use his powers over those large parts of England and Wales where it would be possible very quickly to make an Order enabling the existing controlled rents to be brought up to regulated rents.

My chief doubt about the Clause is the wording of subsection (6). I am most grateful to the Minister for telling us what it means, or telling us what he is advised that it means, but I should be even more grateful if he could get some of his right hon. Friends in another place to suggest Amendments which would make it clear not only to the lawyers but to him and to me that the Clause really does mean what he is advised that it means.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

I want to deal with the main argument which we should be considering. It seems to me that we have strayed a little from the issues involved. I well understand that the essence of the argument revolves round the question of the establishment by rent officers or rent assessment committees of what a fair rent means. It could be argued that we are possibly talking about the wrong Clause and that we ought to be discussing whether or not there should be rent officers or rent assessment committees, but we are talking about the establishment of a fair rent. Examples have been given of a controlled tenant paying 25s. a week and a decontrolled tenant, living in precisely the same kind of property, paying £4 a week.

We know that there was an increase in the rent of controlled tenancies at the time of the passing of the 1957 Rent Act. In a great many cases this increase varied from 30 per cent. to 60 per cent. I realise that the argument now is whether we have complete confidence that rent officers and rent assessment committees will fix all rents at a reasonable level. If they do, there can be no argument that the rent of existing controlled tenancies should be increased when they come regulated tenancies, but the question is what will be a fair rent to fix. No one knows. It seems to me that we should determine in some way or another that the fair rent will be on the basis of a limitation set within the Bill. The limitation which I think is more than fair is a 15 per cent. once-for-all increase.

There are many people living in controlled tenancies at the moment who even now, in my estimation and that of my hon. Friends, are paying high and exorbitant rents which they ought not to be paying, and certainly not the fantastic rents which people are paying for comparable decontrolled tenancies. Our fear is that there will be a wholesale increase in rents by 15 per cent. per year until the level is reached. This is why we urge our right hon. Friends to look again at this question.

I plead with them to consider seriously what has been said by their hon. Friends who are stressing this matter. We understood, and it was clearly laid down in the Labour Party manifesto, that we would establish rent tribunals and rent assessment committees, but the manifesto did not indicate anywhere that there would be any wholesale increase in the rent of controlled tenancies. We have to look at this again and I appeal to my hon. and right hon. Friends on the Front Bench to look at this matter and seriously consider the arguments which have been put forward by my hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. Julius Silverman) and Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun).

Photo of Mr Charles Doughty Mr Charles Doughty , East Surrey

I am sorry I was not here for the earlier part of the discussion on this new Clause, but it seems from what I have heard that hon. Members opposite have misconceived a very important part of rent restriction legislation, and I include this Bill, ever since and even before the First World War. At least after the First World War there were 40 per cent. increases of rent allowed following the fall in the value of the £ to deal with the increase in the cost of repairs, which nearly always in those cases fell upon the landlord. It may be said that this was insufficient or too much, but it was a sum which was allowed. When the new restrictions came, after the Second World War, no Government succeeded in dealing with the fall in the value of the £ and the increase in the cost of repairs. That was one of the gravest criticisms of the continuation of the Rent Acts after the Second World War. I do not wish to make any political capital out of this at all. It meant that landlords, small people, perhaps owning one house or half a house, or big property companies, could not keep their property in order. They saw properties going down and the tenants did not like to complain because they knew they were paying small rents and the landlords could not repair because they had not the money to do so.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

Is not the hon. and learned Gentleman stating a fallacy? Did not his own party introduce the 1954 Rent Act to give an increase to landlords who did repairs and the landlords failed to come forward and do repairs? Following that was the 1957 Act.

Photo of Mr Charles Doughty Mr Charles Doughty , East Surrey

I am sorry the hon. Gentleman should try to introduce political questions into this. If he wishes to do so I will tell him straight away it was the 1945–51 Labour Government who failed to deal with the problem of the fall in the value of money in proportion to the rates. That argument is unanswerable, but I did not wish to introduce too much political bias into this and I had not mentioned that. That was the position certainly until 1957, when the houses were falling down and when, apart from modernisation, no repairs were being carried out. Whatever be the merits or demerits of this Bill, the Minister has tried to bring into line with modern needs the rents that should be paid in respect of the various properties.

I was not here, unfortunately, but I am told that this Amendment was brought in by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. Julius Silverman). I remember the buildings in Aston until 1950 when I fought a by-election there. They need repairing and they will not be repaired until a fair rent is paid for the properties in that district. The only way in which it can be done is for a fair rent to be charged in respect of all properties, be they in Aston or north London.

At a time when the prosperity of the country is good, when wages are high and employment is full, this is not the time to start saying, "Let this house fall down; I am getting it for 28s. a week inclusive of rates because before the First and Second World Wars the tenant was only paying that. Never mind the landlord or how much he is losing, never mind if the house is falling down, never mind the lack of modernisation; if we can get away with small rents then leave us alone."

That is not an argument which is right or sound from the housing point of view or from the conurbation point of view, be it in London, Liverpool, Manchester or Birmingham.

Photo of Mrs Lena Jeger Mrs Lena Jeger , Holborn and St Pancras South

I am trying to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument. I wish that he would explain the relationship between increased rents and repairs. In my experience in Central London there is no connection between the imposition of higher rents and the more conscientious carrying out of repairs. In fact, the contrary has happened as a result of the Rent Act, 1957.

9.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Charles Doughty Mr Charles Doughty , East Surrey

I am obliged to the hon. Lady for that question. In nearly every case the liability for repairs falls on the landlord. It is no good serving a sanitary notice or schedule of repairs on the landlord if he has not the money from the rent to cover the cost. In central London the landlords would wish to keep their property in order if they had a sufficient income from the rent.

Photo of Mr Charles Doughty Mr Charles Doughty , East Surrey

The hon. Lady shakes her head. I do not know which constituency she represents, but, be it in north London or anywhere else, the property will always be repaired, as it was in the past, if enough money is forthcoming. The failure over many years has been that under the Rent Acts rents were not increased in keeping with the times. It is right that rents should be stepped up gradually year by year so that the blow falls more reasonably on the tenant. But a landlord is entitled to receive a fair return on his capital so that he is in a position to carry out the obligation to keep his property in repair.

Whether the Bill is wise or necessary over the whole country is an entirely separate question and I should be out of order if I were to attempt to deal with it now. However, this is, broadly speaking, a wise Clause to introduce in the Bill. I am sure that this is the only method which can be used, and I am glad to see that this is the first time since the Second World War that this problem has been tackled in a Rent Bill.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

The hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty) said that this was a wise new Clause. Whether it is wise or not, it is an essential Clause, because it is the hinge on which the whole Bill works. We are having to work in stages. In the first stage we introduce regulation. The regulation will apply only to those people who were decontrolled tenants. Therefore, 800,000 people who were decontrolled tenants will be brought within the ambit of regulation. They will be the first to go to the rent officers and rent assessment committees. For purely administrative reasons it seemed to me essential that if we were not to block up the whole system of tribunals we should let those whose need was greatest come first. Therefore, these 800,000 people must come first.

I want to make it clear that how soon we can move to the second stage, where the controlled tenant moves into regulation, depends on something which none of us knows, which is the degree of contentment, or discontent, of tenants. If the Milner Holland calculation is correct, and if 65 or 70 per cent. of tenants are perfectly content with their rent, the process will not take so long. If there are tenants, as some of my hon. Friends believe, who are much more discontented, there will be more cases to decide and, therefore, a longer period in which the controlled tenant will remain under his present condition of statutory security with his rent fixed and frozen at this level, for part of the new Clause ensures that during the first period of rent regulation the conditions of controlled tenants remain precisely as they are.

I had better make absolutely clear again how the Clause is to be interpreted. The right hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. H. Brooke) and I, with our laymen's attitude, should make sure that we agree on its interpretation. The freeze is in subsection (5). After the freeze comes the Order area by area. Here I agree with the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies). I thought that it was essential to give us power to introduce the second stage, not nationally as a single unit, but area by area, for very obvious reasons.

Areas such as London, where some 300,000 people will be recontrolled, will have many months, if not years, of working over the recontrol. An area like Cornwall and Devon, which I have looked at as a possible sub-area, will have only 20,000 cases to be dealt with. Therefore, it seemed to me that areas where the problem is not acute—and this is a problem which is mainly acute in half a dozen conurbations—should be able to move forward at a different pace from an area which has an overwhelming problem. [AN HON. MEMBER: "It will be done regionally?"] Yes, it will be done regionally, area by area.

As to the size of area which I am thinking of for each panel, England would be divided into sixteen quite large areas—for example, West Midlands, East Midlands and Greater London. These big areas would be dealt with by one panel broken up into assessment committees to deal with the whole of the area. This will be done on a large scale to achieve the maximum uniformity of results.

The second stage, therefore, will be when we find that we have worked through an area and have reached the condition in which we can move. The controlled tenants then will be transferred into rent regulation by means of an affirmative Order. We have included this provision in the new Clause because it is essential for the House of Commons to be fully consulted in the process. Local Members of Parliament will have a right to understand the conditions and to decide whether they want to see this movement. The House will be able to decide.

Photo of Mrs Lena Jeger Mrs Lena Jeger , Holborn and St Pancras South

Can my right hon. Friend explain why a poor old man living in Devonshire should have his rent put up before a poor old man who lives elsewhere?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I am talking about the machinery of transfer. In reply to my hon. Friend, who I do not think has grasped the central principle of the Bill, I do not think that to move from rigid rent control into rent regulation will be a disadvantage for all tenants. For many it will give them a mobility to escape from their present inadequate accommodation to better accommodation without threat of eviction. If I believed that rent regulation was in every way a disadvantage, I should not introduce it. On the contrary, I think that rent regulation, for the tenant as well as for the landlord, will produce great advantages. It will improve the chances of having a house repaired and improved in conditions which would be quite impossible under control.

Therefore, my first disagreement with some of my hon. Friends is that I am convinced that rent regulation, which we are introducing, is an enormous improvement on the rigid rent control which is part of the 1957 Act, to which some of my hon. Friends cling with tenacious pertinacity, which shows that sometimes even the Leftist wing has a deeply Conservative trend.

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Stepney

Will my right hon. Friend take this opportunity, as he is in this generous mood, to make clear that the movement from rent control to a rent regulated sector will, in his view, in certain cases at least, lead to a reduction of rent as well as to an increase in rent?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I believe that my hon. Friend was absent during the initial speech by my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, who made the position clear. It is not true that every time there will automatically be an increase of rent. It means moving to a position in which a rent fixed by a rent officer or rent assessment committee will be the tenant's rent. That level may be either above or below the level of the existing rent.

Nevertheless, it would be quite unrealistic to deny that this will imply change. A great many people are on controlled tenancies; their rents have been frozen and costs have risen steadily. Of course, there will be increases. That is why subsection (6) is introduced, because although there will be cases where rent regulation will mean a decrease, even in a controlled rent, in the broad number of cases my hon. Friends were perfectly right to bring out into the open that there will be large numbers of controlled tenants who, when they see the work of the rent officer, will look at it with great anxiety. They will say, "What will that mean to me?". We have the situation already of two identical houses in a street, one of which is controlled and the other is decontrolled. As my hon. Friend said, the rent for one is 28s. while the rent for the other is £5. I would not have thought that my hon. Friends were prepared to perpetuate that situation. Surely nobody can defend such a state of affairs. My hon. Friends want to freeze the situation, with no change at all. If there are two identical houses, the rent of one being 28s. and of the other £5, surely we all agree that there is something wrong in justice with a system under which one tenant has to pay 28s. while the other has to pay £5 for precisely the same accommodation.

We have to find some way of deciding what these two identical houses are worth. I am assuming, of course, that they are identical houses in the same area and are not in different parts of the country where there are differences in value. Let us assume that these identical houses are side by side and that the rent of one is three times the rent of the other. The first job of the rent officers and the committees will be to decide objectively what should be the fair rent of those houses. I know that there are difficulties in this matter, but we can discuss those on a later Clause. All I am saying is that I hope my hon. Friends will come to the point of agreeing that somebody must decide what is a fair rent.

Once that decision has been made, rents which are above that figure will have to come down, and rents which are below it will have to go up. Those who believe that there is such a thing as a fair rent must admit the possibility of a rent going up to the fair level as well as of a rent coming down to that level. That is all that I am saying.

I do not want to spend a lot of time on this new Clause, because this is not the Clause which deals with the fixing of rent. Subsection (6), which has caused alarm among my hon. Friends, deals with the certainty that in a number of cases rents will have to rise. Some rents are so low that they are bound to rise, because no fair-minded committee could decide that that level of rent for that quality of house was sufficient or fair.

Some of my hon. Friends believe in a rigid system of rent control. Some of them would have liked to relate it to gross value for rating. There is no formula for relating rents to gross value which anyone would accept as in any way realistic which would not automatically increase a large number of controlled rents. There is no way of doing this which would not automatically increase those rents. I notice that my hon. Friends were careful not to give us a formula for calculating what would happen. We have rejected the idea of relating rents to gross value, and we have come to a fair rent formula, and in this new Clause we are considering what precautions we can take to see that the transition from rigid controlled rent to flexible fair rent is carried out as smoothly as possible. That is all that the new Clause is about.

I think that it was my hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) who said that the real issue was whether we should have a 15 per cent. increase once and for all, or each year. The Clause says nothing about that. It deals with the position when the rent has been fixed. Let us assume that the rent of a house has been fixed at 30 per cent. above the present level.

9.45 p.m.

This subsection lays it down that if it has been fixed, and the present rent is 30 per cent. below the level of a fair rent, it shall take two years to raise it, and it shall not be raised all in one go. I would have found it difficult to believe that my hon. Friends would object to that. They could object to many other things. They might want a rigid formula. But to object to the humanity of saying that if there is to be an increase the blow shall be softened by being limited to a rise of 15 per cent. of the standard rent in each year seems strange to me. I would have thought that they would agree that this was a sensible thing to do.

Even those who have their doubts about the method of rent fixing which we are discussing—

Photo of Sir Albert Costain Sir Albert Costain , Folkestone and Hythe

I have been listening to what the right hon. Gentleman has said with great care, and I do not want to cause arguments. When he says that there is no formula for linking a fair rent to the rateable value I accept it, but how does he expect the new rent officers, who do not possess the experience of valuation officers, to assess the fair rent?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

The hon. Gentleman must not tempt me to deal with a different Clause. We are not dealing with rent fixing; we are dealing with the smoothing of the transition from controlled rents to regulated rents, and with the only provision that is contentious. All the others are mechanism provisions, to see that we get through. When we reach new Clause No. 4 we may have other points to deal with. I am concentrating on subsection (6) of this new Clause, which provides that if a fair rent has been fixed and if it is above the level of the present controlled rent the statutory tenant concerned cannot be obliged to pay more than a 15 per cent. increase on his controlled rent for any one year. The rent must go up by arithmetical progression by not more than 15 per cent. each year.

Photo of Mr Eric Lubbock Mr Eric Lubbock , Orpington

Is the 15 per cent. calculated on the statutory rent, or is it applied to the increase?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I have said this twice before. It is 15 per cent. on the frozen controlled rent—the frozen rent under subsection (5). That subsection provides that whatever was the controlled rent remains the controlled rent until rent regulation has taken place. This must be clear now. There is no ambiguity. It is 15 per cent. of the controlled rent, frozen at that level the moment when the Bill comes into force.

Photo of Sir Eric Errington Sir Eric Errington , Aldershot

What happens after the first raising of the rent? As I understand it, there is a revision of rent every three years. In certain cases the yearly increase of 15 per cent. may not cause the rent to rise to its proper level before a further alteration has to be made.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

If the hon. Member will be patient, we shall reach that point later. We are now discussing the movement not within the regulated rent—from one regulated rent to another—but from controlled rent to regulated rent. The Clause does not deal with the problem of what happens to rent when application is made to the rent officer to change it after three years. The Clause concerns the movement from the controlled status to the regulated status.

My hon. Friends and I have discussed this matter on many occasions before this. We do not argue among ourselves; we have mutual elucidation. I put it to my hon. Friends that the Amendment which they have kindly placed on the Order Paper is not one which could possibly have been put down if my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) really meant what he said—that this was a noble Bill. He said that it was a noble Bill, but he wanted rigid rents. I must let him into a secret. This is a Bill which destroys rigid rents. If this Bill does anything systematically, it destroys rigidity of rents. It says that there can be differences between area and area. It says that there will be differences. I am not terribly upset if, sometimes, rent assessment committees differ from one another, provided that they respond to the needs of the area. This is not a Bill for that. My hon. Friend needs a different Bill if he wants that to praise. He must not praise it for what it is not. This begins to get away from the mathematical rigidity of the Tory formula in the Rent Act, which the hon. Gentleman wants to perpetuate. I want to get right away from it.

He says that he will put down an Amendment to say that there can be one increase, and after that, the rents are frozen for ever. This is simply a wrecking Amendment. If that is done, there is no movement from controlled to regulated tenancy. It is quite true, as the hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) said, that that would simply create three classes of tenants—statutory tenants frozen here, mid-statutory tenants and regulated tenants. All that will have been achieved is the creation of a three-class State. I think that the two-class State is intolerable. To pass an elaborate Bill merely to create a three-class rigid State seems to me absolutely senseless.

Therefore, with all respect to my hon. Friends, I know what they were trying to do, but if they had persuaded me of this, they would have persuaded me to ossify a structure, the curse of which already is its dry ossification. What is wrong today is this rigidity. Therefore, I beg them to realise that if they have doubts about our rent-fixing methods, as they may have, this is not the Clause to discuss them. They can discuss that on Clause 22, when we come to rent-fixing, but on this Clause they cannot deny me the right to prevent tenants from having to pay in one jump the big increase which is required of them. As this is all that this subsection does, I find it difficult to believe that they will not permit us that degree of humanity, even if it does require a flexibility of mind which I know some of them find difficult.

Hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

The Minister accused his colleagues to his left politically of being Conservative. In fact, he obliged us on these benches by making a reasonably good Conservative speech. We all start from the principle that the fair rent procedure as applied to regulated tenancies is accepted and welcomed on both sides of the House where there is a proved shortage. At least, we can agree on that point. I think that that is agreed between such poles apart as my right hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Brooke) and the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer).

I appreciate that the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) opposes fair rents altogether and wants to keep them rigid at the present controlled rent plus 15 per cent. However, I think that most of us would start from the principle of the fair rent being the right thing to apply to regulated tenancies at present. Where we on this side of the House think that the Minister has marred that system is the retention of existing control and by not bringing the existing controlled properties within the regulated control system at once.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) said, the controlled rents are now wholly out of date. They ought to have been brought into the regulation system at once. In fact, the Minister promised in Committee that when the rent officers were found and the rent assessment committees were set up, and when the system was set into operation in any particular area, he would move the controlled tenancies into the regulation system. He has now partially changed his mind. He is bringing them into another control system, not into complete regulation. My hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn said that, as a result, there would now be three different types of control—the old control, the fair rent control, and the controlled rent plus 15 per cent. He was one short. There is another category of controlled rent—that which becomes frozen before one can move from control to having the rent fixed by a rent officer. We do not know how long that may take.

The Clause is entirely new to the Bill. The Minister explained the reason and I quite understand it. The reason for no direct transfer from control to decontrol is that, first, he wants the 800,000 dwellings which he is bringing into regulation to be dealt with. Secondly, he wishes to move the controlled properties not direct to decontrol, but via regulation. Under the back bench revolt which we have seen he has been pushed into making this intermediate stage of the 15 per cent. increase per year. In the course of doing so he has deprived himself of the power, under Section 11(3) of the Rent Act, 1957, to decontrol controlled property by order.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Aston (Mr. Julius Silverman) said that the power should never be used, but that if there were any form of decontrol it should be by Statute and not by order. My hon. Friends and I do not agree with that. We think that Section 11(3) of the Rent Act gave the Minister proper power to move from control to decontrol where he was satisfied that in any area there was no longer a shortage. Now, even though he may be entirely satisfied that there is no shortage of housing accommodation in an area, he must, if the new Clause as it stands is added to the Bill, go through the farce of making controlled property regulated before completely decontrolling it—and on the way freezing the rents for a period between an order turning decontrolled into regulated and those properties being able to come before the rent officer or rent assessment committee.

Subsection (5) of the new Clause is as objectionable and certainly almost as unintelligible as subsection (6). It tells us to disregard Clause 3(3,a) and, as I understand it, freezes the rents of controlled property at the controlled rents until they can come before the rent officer. The Joint Parliamentary Secretary said that there were three stages, but I think that he jumped a gap. He said that, first, there would be an order making controlled property regulated property in an area or perhaps over the whole country. The next step, he said, was for the landlord to apply to the rent officer. He did not say that there might not be a rent officer or even a rent assessment committee set up by that time.

Photo of Mr James MacColl Mr James MacColl , Widnes

I made it clear that the rent would be frozen at the old controlled rate.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

If I am not relating the hon. Gentleman's statement correctly I apologise. I merely wished to point out that there might be quite a long delay between an order and a tenant and landlord being able to come before the rent officer and having a fair rent agreed. During that time the rent will be frozen at the controlled rent. When they eventually get before the rent officer, and perhaps then to a rent assessment committee, and a fair rent is fixed the landlord is not to be entitled to recover that fair rent at once.

The Parliamentary Secretary explained that this dealt only with dwelling houses at a fairly low rent and that the greatest increase one could expect in London would be about £20 a year and elsewhere about £15 a year.

It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Ordered,That the Proceedings on the Rent Bill may be entered upon and proceeded with at this day's sitting at any hour, though opposed.—[Mr. Bowden.]

Question again proposed, That the Clause be read a Second time.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

Although a fair rent may be fixed by a rent assessment committee at, it may be, 50 per cent. or 100 per cent. more than the existing controlled rent, the landlord will not be entitled to claim it. The right hon. Gentleman said that the trained mind of the lawyer would be able to understand subsection (6). I am the latter, but apparently I have not got the former. I did hope I had a trained mind, but I have certainly found the greatest difficulty in understanding subsection (6) as it is written into the Clause.

I think that this is the way to illustrate my argument. Suppose the controlled rent is £100 per annum and, when the landlord and tenant go before a rent assessment committee, it is decided that the fair rent is £200 per annum. For the first 12 months after that, the landlord will only be entitled to £115 per annum, and it will take him about 6½ years to get his fair rent. By the very term, "fair rent", we have all been using, there is an injustice to the landlord. He is not being entitled to what the rent assessment committee has decided to be a fair and just return on his property from his tenant.

In passing, I would make one comment on the wording of subsection (6). It refers to a notice of increase under Section 7 of the Act, and refers to that notice of increase all the way through the subsection. Reading the subsection, I should have thought that one notice exhausts the powers under Clause 7. Clause 7 talks about a notice of increase being served. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would look at this at some time because I should have thought that, having served one notice the landlord's powers under the Clause would be exhausted, and he would not be able to serve another one for 12 months. However, that is more a drafting point than anything else.

Photo of Hon. Sam Silkin Hon. Sam Silkin , Camberwell Dulwich

Is the right hon. Gentleman advocating the view and is it the policy of the party opposite that in the example he quoted the position ought to be that the same tenant who is paying £2 a week today should be compelled to pay £4 a week tomorrow, with no graduation at all?

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

If it is found to be a fair rent by the rent assessment committee, it seems to me the tenant should be obliged to pay that rent and that justice should be done to the landlord in that way. The right hon. Gentleman, the Minister, says he does not want a controlled rent to be bumped up too suddenly. Is that not an admission that in many cases controlled rents are grossly unfair at present, if there is to be that large jump or bump between the controlled rent and the fair rent Some of his colleagues want to perpetuate that injustice and that unfairness indefinitely, but he, too, would perpetuate it in my example, which I think is a fairly reasonable example on figures, for 6½ years. Because that would be the effect of subsection (6) of this Clause, we would wish to press that to a Division.

We have reached the ironical stage that those who had the other Amendments on the Notice Paper cannot possibly vote for subsection (6) to be retained in the Clause. I hope that their votes will go the same way as their voices during the debate. We shall welcome them readily in the Lobby with us against subsection (6).

Photo of Mr Eric Lubbock Mr Eric Lubbock , Orpington

It is very unfair on the Minister that, having done his best to produce a sensible compromise, he has succeeded in pleasing nobody—neither his hon. Friends nor the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page). In my opinion, he has made an excellent attempt in the new Clause. I have not heard anyone say this during the debate, and someone ought to say it. This is a very reasonable new Clause, and subsection (6), in particular, does a great deal to satisfy the doubts which I felt on the Bill as originally drafted.

I should not like to see imposed at once the enormous increase of 100 per cent. in the example quoted by the hon. Member for Crosby, nor do I want to see a return to the rigid control of pre-1957. What the Minister has done in the new Clause and in subsection (6), in particular, is a very reasonable compromise.

Photo of Sir Harmar Nicholls Sir Harmar Nicholls , Peterborough

The Minister has obviously won over the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) and the Liberal Party, and we shall expect to see them in the same lobby in the Division, but I do not see how the Minister's hon. Friends can join him in that Lobby after their uninhibited attack and their outlook on this subject. If justice is done I expect to see the Liberal Party support the Minister, but in the interests of good parliamentary debate and conscientious feeling behind the speeches made, the Minister's hon. Friends should leave him to go it alone.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time.

Amendment proposed to the proposed Clause, In line 21, leave out subsection (6).—[Mr. Boyd-Carpenter.]

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out, to "of" in line 24, stand part of the proposed Clause:—

The House divided: Ayes 177, Noes 157.

Division No. 218.]AYES[10.8 p.m.
Abse, LeoHooson, H. E.Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Horner, JohnPentland, Norman
Armstrong, ErnestHoughton, Rt. Hn. DouglasPerry, Ernest C.
Atkinson, NormanHowie, W.Popplewell, Ernest
Bagier, Gordon, A. T.Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Probert, Arthur
Baxter, WilliamHughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Randall, Harry
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony WedgwoodHughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Rankin, John
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)Rees, Merlyn
Binns, JohnHunter, A. E. (Feltham)Reynolds, G. W.
Bishop, E. S.Irving, Sydney (Dartford)Rhodes, Geoffrey
Blenkinsop, ArthurJackson, ColinRoberts, Albert (Normanton)
Boardman, H.Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.)Roberts, GOronwy (Caernarvon)
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Robertson, John (Paisley)
Bray, Dr. JeremyJohnston, Russell (Inverness)Robinson, Rt. Hr. K. (St. Pancras, N.)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & Fbury)Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)Rose, Paul B.
Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)Kelley, RichardRowland, Christopher
Buchanan, RichardKerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)Sheldon, Robert
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)Lawson, GeorgeShore, Peter (Stepney)
Carmichael, NeilLedger, RonShort, Rt. Hn. E. (N'c'tle-on-Tyne, C.)
Coleman, DonaldLee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
Conlan, BernardLever, Harold (Cheatham)Silkin, John (Deptford)
Crawshaw, RichardLewis, Ron (Carlisle)Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)
Grossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.Lomas, KennethSilverman, Julius (Aston)
Cullen, Mrs. AliceLubbock, EricSlater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Dalyell, TamMahon, Dr. J. DicksonSmall, William
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)McBride, NeilSteel, David (Roxburgh)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)McCann, J.Swain, Thomas
Dell, EdmundMacColl, JamesSwingler, Stephen
Doig, PeterMcGuire, MichaelSymonds, J. B.
Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.McInnes, JamesTaverne, Dick
Edelman, MauriceMackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Ensor, DavidMahon, Simon (Bootle)Tinn, James
Evans, Ioan (Birmingham, Yardley)Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Tomney, Frank
Fernyhough, E.Manuel, ArchieVarley, Eric G.
Finch, Harold (Bedwellty)Mapp, CharlesWainwright, Edwin
Fitch, Alan (Wigan)Mayhew, ChristopherWalden, Brian (All Saints)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)Mellish, RobertWalker, Harold (Doncaster)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)Mendelson, J. J.Wallace, George
Ford, BennMikardo, IanWatkins, Tudor
Freeson, ReginaldMillan, BruceWeitzman, David
Galpern, Sir MyerMilne, Edward (Blyth)Whitlock, William
Garrett, W. E.Molloy, WilliamWigg, Rt. Hn. George
Garrow, A.Morris, Charles (Openshaw)Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
George, Lady Megan LloydMorris, John (Aberavon)Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Ginsburg, DavidMurray, AlbertWilliams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. AnthonyNeal, HaroldWilliams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Grey, CharlesNoel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Griffiths, David (ROther Valley)Norwood, ChristopherWillis, George ((Edinburgh, E.)
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.O'Malley, BrianWilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell)Orme, StanleyWilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Hamilton, William (West Fife)Oswald, ThomasWinterbottom, R. E.
Harper, JosephPadley, WalterWoodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)Page, Derek (King's Lynn)Wyatt, Woodrow
Hazell, BertPalmer, ArthurZilliacus, K.
Heffer, Eric S.Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Hill, J. (Midlothian)Parkin, B. T.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Holman, PercyPavitt, LaurenceMr. Ifor Davies and Mr. Gourlay.
NOES
Agnew, Commander Sir PeterBingham, R. M.Buck, Antony
Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)Birch, Rt. Hn. NigelBullus, Sir Eric
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)Black, Sir CyrilCampbell, Gordon
Amery, Rt. Hn. JulianBlaker, PeterCarlisle, Mark
Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.Box, DonaldCarr, Rt. Hn. Robert
Astor, JohnBoyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)
Awdry, DanielBoyle, Rt. Hn. Sir EdwardClark, William (Nottingham, S.)
Balniel, LordBraine, BernardCole, Norman
Batsford, BrianBrewis, JohnCooke, Robert
Bell, RonaldBrinton, Sir TattonCorfield, F. V.
Berry, Hn. AnthonyBrooke, Rt. Hn. HenryCostain, A. P.
Biffen, JohnBruce-Gardyne, J.Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)
Biggs-Davison, JohnBuchanan-Smith, AlickCrawley, Aidan
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir OliverJohnson Smith, G. (East Grinstead)Prior, J. M. L.
Cunningham, Sir KnoxJones, Arthur (Northants, S.)Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Curran, CharlesJoseph, Rt. Hn. Sir KeithRedmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin
Dalkeith, Earl ofKaberry, Sir DonaldRees-Davies, W. R.
Dance, JamesKerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)Kilfedder, James A.Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeiey)
Dodds-Parker, DouglasKirk, PeterSandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Doughty, CharlesKitson, TimothyScott-Hopkins, James
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir AlecLambton, ViscountSmith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Drayson, G. B.Langford-Holt, Sir JohnStainton, Keith
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)Legge-Bourke, Sir HarryStanley, Hn. Richard
Errington, Sir EricLloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Eyre, ReginaldLongden, GilbertStudholme, Sir Henry
Farr, JohnLoveys, Walter H.Talbot, John E.
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central)McAdden, Sir StephenTaylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Clover, Sir RichardMacArthur, IanTeeling, Sir William
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.McNair-Wilson, PatrickThatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Goodhew, VictorMaginnis, John E.Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Gower, RaymondMathew, RobertTweedsmuir, Lady
Grant-Ferris, R.Maude, AngusVickers, Dame Joan
Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Welder, David (High Peak)
Gurden, HaroldMaydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Hall-Davis, A. G. F.Meyer, Sir AnthonyWalker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)Walters, Dennis
Harris, Reader (Heston)More, JasperWard, Dame Irene
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)Morrison, Charles (Devizes)Webster, David
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughWells, John (Maidstone)
Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)Murton, OscarWhitelaw, William
Harvie Anderson, MissNeave, AireyWilliams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)
Hay, JohnNicholls, Sir HarmarWills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir LionelNicholson, Sir GodfreyWilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Hendry, ForbesPage, John (Harrow, W.)Wise, A. R.
Higgins, Terence L.Page, R. Graham (Crosby)Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Hirst, GeoffreyPeel, JohnWood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Hogg, Rt. Hon. QuintinPercival, IanWoodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Hutchison, Michael ClarkPeyton, JohnWylie, N. R.
Iremonger, T. L.Pickthorn, Rt. Hn. Sir KennethYates, William (The Wrekin)
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Pike, Miss Mervyn
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)Powell, Rt. Hn. J. EnochTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Ian Fraser and Mr. Pym.

Clause added to the Bill.