Orders of the Day — House and Land Prices (Scotland)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th February 1973.

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7.38 p.m.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

I beg to move That this House deplores the hardship caused to the people of Scotland and to young couples in particular by the Government's failure to prevent alarming increases in land prices and the cost of house building.

Photo of Miss Betty Harvie Anderson Miss Betty Harvie Anderson , Renfrewshire East

Mr. Speaker has selected the Government amendment to leave out from 'House' to the end of the motion and to add instead thereof: approves the measures taken by Her Majesty's Government to stimulate action by all agencies to meet outstanding housing needs and to improve housing conditions in Scotland; and acknowledges that, as a result, the demand for wider opportunities for choice in housing Is now being fully recognised and increasingly met.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

The Government have presided over the most devastating increase in house prices ever seen in Scotland. The Conservative Party made a great many promises to the electors when they were in Opposition. No group was wooed more assiduously or received more promises than the young prospective house buyers. After two-and-a-half years of Tory rule these promises read like a sick joke. As each month goes by more and more young couples in Scotland are being priced out of the housing market.

Last year the average price of a new house in Scotland rose by a staggering 24 per cent. According to the Nationwide Building Society, the average price of a new house in Scotland in 1971 was £5,592. In 1972 it was £7,361. Since the General Election house prices in Scotland have risen by 43 per cent.

It is worth noting what happened during the last Labour Government's term of office. House prices rose by an average of 6 per cent. between 1965 and 1970. However, the statistics understate the position. In our large cities, and in Edinburgh in particular, a city with which I am familiar, the position is much worse. For example, I learned this weekend about a young couple about to get married, one a teacher who has been teaching one year and the other a lawyer who began practising a year ago. They set about buying a three-apartment flat with kitchenette and bathroom in Bruntsfield Avenue, Edinburgh. That is a modest dwelling. The asking price was £4,500. The surveyor's estimate of the value was £5,200. They offered, having stretched themselves to the limit, £6,200. They learned afterwards that there were three offers over £7,000 and that the flat was sold for £7,300. That is the reality of the situation.

Photo of Hon. Thomas Galbraith Hon. Thomas Galbraith , Glasgow Hillhead

The hon. Gentleman does not know what sort of people buy these houses.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

The position is that unless one has a house to sell it is virtually impossible to buy one. A couple who two years ago would have had no difficulty in getting a house are finding nowadays that they literally cannot borrow enough money to buy a house, and the trouble is that it is the houses at the lower end of the scale, the modest-priced houses, which have been showing the biggest increases. Thus, these couples are forced to live either in rented accommodation, or remain with their parents, or, if they are lucky, get a council house.

But if the increase in house prices is outrageous, the land price situation is a national scandal. I regret to say that statistics are available only for England and Wales, but once again we can turn to the Nationwide Building Society, because since 1966 it has been publishing its surveyor's estimates of the site values of the houses on which it has granted mortgages. It is worth looking at these figures closely. In the six years from 1966 to 1971, the average increase in the price of a house site was 4 per cent. per annum. But the increase last year, between 1971 and 1972, was a staggering 22 per cent.

Anyone who reads the Scottish Press is aware of the position. For example, in Aberdeen an area of about 82 acres went for the average price of about £20,000 an acre. In Edinburgh, an acre of land in Corstorphine sold for £30,000. How can any one justify that position? At the end of the day, the people who pay these big prices, who give the landlord or the land speculator their profit, are the house buyers.

But, of course, the situation is not confined to urban land. There is a similar situation with agricultural land. I quote from a speech made by the editor of the magazine British Farmer and Stockbreeder, reported in the Financial Times on 7th February. He said: The doubling of farm land prices in the past 12 months has created a new and irreversible situation in British agriculture. By imposing a divorce between the roles of ownership and occupation, it spells the eventual doom of the large owner-occupied farm.The long-term effect of capital gains tax and estate duty means that more and more devices will be found to encourage city money to be invested in the ownership of farm land.Increasingly this will leave the farming to farm managers, to subsidiary tenant farming companies, and occasionally to forms of partnership between owners (or a series of owners) and a specialist farming enterprise. It is no wonder that at this year's Oxford farming conference, for the first time, think, ever, large farmers were becoming interested in the possibility of land nationalisation as a way of seeing that their sons succeed them in their farms.

But if the position with regard to urban and agricultural land is bad, what is absolutely astounding is that we even have this situation in the Highlands, where land, if nothing else, is plentiful. We are all familiar with the notorious case of the development at Raasay, where a Sussex pathologist, Dr. Green, is succeding in frustrating the building of the car ferry, for which there has been a long campaign. It is surely outrageous that an absentee landlord can stop such development, particularly when it has been agreed between the Scottish Development Department and the Inverness County Council and has been campaigned for for many years by that island community.

That is one example in the Highlands. In June 1971, the Scotsman, in a report headed, A 'kidnapped' isle for £50,000 plus said: That extraordinary Highland phenomenon—high property prices amid a superabundance of land and an enfeebled local economy—manifested itself in London yesterday.The 600-acre island of Errald, near Iona, has been put on the market at a price 'in excess of £50,000'. The writer worked out what that amounted to. He pointed out that the deal worked out at more than £80 an acre, or £6,250 a cottage. He went on: Yesterday the board"— the Highlands and Islands Development Boardwere a model of discreetness. Sir Andrew Gilcrist, the chairman, would not be interviewed on the subject. The faceless spokesman who is customarily produced on such occasions, came up, after two hours of cogitation, with the statement: 'We are fully occupied with inhabited islands.' The Aberdeen Press and Journal of 28th April 1972 had a report headed: Housing the key factor in drift". It said: Housing problems were a major factor in the depopulation of the Highlands and the destruction of community life there, according to the two main speakers at the annual meeting of the Highland Fund in Edinburgh last night.Mr. John Rolle, chairman, said young couples could not afford the prices paid for houses by incomers seeking country retreats, and he appealed to building societies to do more to help younger people in these areas.Lord Birsay, president of the Fund, spoke of the need to keep communities together and of the success some communities had had in resisting erosion and making vital progress. The danger came in being 'bought over body and soul' by people with no sense of community and no interest in the native culture. The Select Committee on Scottish Affairs visited Aviemore in the course of its deliberations, but I regret that it did not come to grips with the real problem facing the people of the Aviemore and the Badenoch area in general. It is astonishing that a local councillor there, Mr. Sandy Lindsay, has been trying to buy a piece of land for many years in order to build a house. His sister wrote to the landlords in the Badenoch district, which covers about 1,000 square miles. I quote a letter from the Factor of the Pityoulish estate, which, again, is owned by an English absentee landlord. Mr. Lindsay and his sister knew that there were empty houses but the letter said: I regret that I have no cottages or houses on my books, and the only sites that I have on my books at the moment are within small residential housing development on the perimeter of Kincraig Village. He explained that services had been installed and that the prices for these small plots of land were around £3,000 each. That is in the Highlands of Scotland where land is plentiful.

Only this month we learnt that the Highlands and Islands Development Board's holiday chalet scheme has ground to a halt. Why? One of the main reasons is once again the problem of land. A large proportion of the people who wanted to build holiday homes in the Highlands could not do so because they could not get a plot of land at a reasonable price.

The Labour Party has made it clear that it intends to put an end once and for all to a situation where land owners and land speculators can hold the community to ransom in this way. The party is committed to a substantial programme of land nationalisation when it returns to power. The details are being worked out at present.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

I am sorry but I cannot give way again. We have already lost half an hour of the debate and we must finish at 10 o'clock.

But it will not be sufficient to take the land into public ownership. What is more important is how it is administered and to see that it is made available at reasonable prices for development. That is precisely what the Labour Party is working on at present.

What about the Government? In this area their policies have been abject failures. They started by blaming wages. It is true that some workers have obtained a significant increase in their wages over the past year. If we look at the increase in prices of newly-built houses and at the increase in wages and materials it will be seen that they cannot justify such price increases. I do not believe that hon. Members opposite would seek to pretend that the increased prices of existing houses can be attributed to wage increases. Certainly the phenomenal increases in land prices cannot have anything to do with increases in workers' wages.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

The hon. Gentleman is quite right. To a large extent this is a question of supply and demand. What has been the supply? Last year, not only did we have a record increase in house prices in Scotland, we also had a record drop in the total number of houses built. The drop was one of 21 per cent. from 1971–72. The number of houses completed in 1971 was 40,744. In 1972 it was 31,990. It is worth noting that in the six-year period from 1965 to 1970 the average number of houses completed in Scotland was over 40,000. In other words, last year's figures represent a drop of 20 per cent. from the average for 1965–70.

Photo of Mr Gordon Campbell Mr Gordon Campbell , Moray and Nairnshire

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that at the time he is speaking of the average period between approval and completion for public sector housing was 24 months so that 1972 reflected approvals in 1970? Since 1970 approvals and starts in Scotland have increased.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would not dispute the fact that the main issue affecting the supply of houses last year—and we are talking about the increase in prices last year—was the number of houses completed last year. The Government have been in power for 21½ years. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to show us that he is tackling the problem let him get the number of houses completed per year over the 40,000 mark which the Labour Government achieved throughout their period of office.

It is not just the supply. It is the demand. What have the Government done to the demand? Their policy of forcing up rents can only worsen the situation and drive out those admittedly few people—but nevertheless in the context of this supply and demand situation, a significant number—who are trying once again to buy the cheapest accommodation to which I have referred.

It is worth asking the Minister what is the position about this under the new pay and price code. I have not had much time to study it in detail but it seems from paragraph 10, in which it says, in subsection (iv), that prices of second-hand goods are excluded that that means that existing houses are not covered by this document. I assume, too, that agricultural land is not covered from a quick reading of paragraph 57. From a cursory reading I suspect that land prices are not covered at all by the code.

It appears that there may be some control over the price of new houses, but it seems that this will be capable of achievement only when some houses on an estate have been sold and it is possible to compare increases in prices. Where houses are being built on a new estate I cannot see how the Government will control prices.

They are not even trying to do so. No one can accuse this Government of not pursuing Tory policies. For the landlords, the landowners, the land and property speculators, things have never been so good. They are making huge profits and receiving generous tax cuts to boot. No doubt they will continue to make large donations towards the Conservative Party's campaign. No one can accuse the Tories of not being good to their friends.

For the tenants and the couples trying to buy their first house, things have never been so bad. Rents are being forced up, house prices are soaring. Wages are frozen. The Government have made no attempt to solve the real housing problems facing the people of Scotland. Indeed, instead of solving them they have made them worse by pursuing policies aimed at enriching that small minority who already own the bulk of the nation's land and wealth. It is on these grounds that I urge hon. Members to support the motion.

7.55 p.m.

Photo of Mr Hamish Gray Mr Hamish Gray , Ross and Cromarty

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: approves the measures taken by Her Majesty's Government to stimulate action by all agencies to meet outstanding housing needs and to improve housing conditions in Scotland; and acknowledges that, as a result, the demand for wider opportunities for choice in housing is now being fully recognised and increasingly met.

7.56 p.m.

Photo of Sir John Gilmour Sir John Gilmour , Fife East

I do not think that anyone would deny that the point made by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) about land prices is extremely worrying. The trouble is that it is no good worrying about it if we do not get down to the causes. What is happening? Why is it that people feel that they have to put their money into land and houses rather than into other things? It is happening because of the erosion of the value of money, and this is something to which the Opposition are contributing because they are not supporting my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in his attempts to deal with inflation. That is why it is happening. It is no good wringing our hands about it if we are not prepared to stop it.

There are other fiscal measures which affect this just as much. The hon. Gentleman mentioned the effect of capital gains tax and estate duty. If we compare the rates of taxation in this country with those in the other EEC countries it will be found that we are probably being unfairly penalised as a result of the level of taxation on land. This is something which can be redressed. There is another problem. As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs and Agriculture, Scottish Office told me in reply to a Question I asked not long ago about the amount of agricultural land going out of use every year, the figure is between 4,000 to 5,000 acres annually.

Under present fiscal arrangements people who receive the money for this land must get their money reinvested inside a year. Is this not putting too much pressure on land and unnecessarily forcing up prices? I suggest that these are some of the reasons and causes. The hon. Gentleman quoted the Oxford farming conference and the fears that people have expressed that farmers' sons will not be able to succeed to their fathers' farms because of the high taxation that will ensue. Exactly the same thing applies to landlords, whether large or small. If we are to get over this question of rising prices we have to try to get rid of scarcity.

I have taken part in one or two housing debates in the last 10 or 11 years but we have never got ourselves properly established about the number of houses we think Scotland needs. Most hon. Members would probably agree that we have never been able to build as many houses as we would like. Thinking over this question I looked at the graph contained in the Scottish Economic Bulletin, No. 3 of 1972, which takes us up to the end of 1971. It is often easier to see things in a graph form. There is an interesting graph in this document. This shows, at the top, that there was a peak of public sector house building in 1967 and, at the bottom, that, at the same time, private house building was at its lowest. Since then, the graph has gone the other way: public sector house building is decreasing and private sector building is increasing.

Does not this suggest to hon. Members that, when there is a big drive in the public sector, the building industry will be able to cope only with a certain amount and that the level of private house building will fall? Conversely, if there is an upsurge in the private sector, there is a shortage of labour and the public sector suffers. Can the Minister give us any information about the Government's idea of what the proper size of the building trade industry should be? If we do not use all the available resources, we shall not get the number of houses we want.

Then there is the question of those houses that have been modernised as a result of improvement grants. The high rate of the grant is coming to an end. Has there been any estimate of the number of houses which still need to be improved and of whether it would be the right policy to prolong this help? I went around some tenement flats in Dundee one day recently—[Interruption.] I was in pursuit of votes, and there is nothing to be ashamed of in that. I must say I found a lot of support—[Interruption.] We were dealing more with national interests. The byelection is being fought on national policies rather than on more regional ones.

Anyway, I saw large blocks of buildings with four single ends and a shared lavatory on one floor. Plans were in train for modernising them, but the only way of achieving the standard of sanitation and amenity that people deserve is by halving the number of dwellings. I therefore hope that we can try to ensure that, if large quantities of houses need modernising, this will not be neglected, particularly because the cost of the alternative—pulling them down and redeveloping the land—adds substantially to the end price.

The fact that things are not going all that badly in the building trade in Scotland was illustrated in a news item that I read in the Glasgow Herald on the way down today. Headed "Scottish lead in building", it said, There is more building activity in Scotland than in any other part of Britain, according to the National Federation of Builders' and Plumbers' Merchants.Figures issued by the Federation at the weekend show that building increased by more than 25% in Scotland last year, compared with 9% in London and the South East and 7% in the Midlands.The figures are based on the value of building materials and products sold by the firms the federation represent. I am the first to admit that one must take percentages with a pinch of salt—if one builds two houses instead of one, one shows a 100 per cent. increase, but that does not mean much in terms of building homes—but this shows that there is greater activity in house building in Scotland. This can do a great deal to end the scarcity of houses, which surely does most to reduce the price.

I should also like to know how it is that we get reports of so many empty local authority houses. It cannot be right that we should be so desperately short of houses while many houses are empty.

Photo of Mr John Robertson Mr John Robertson , Paisley

I should like to put one part of the record straight. The Secretary of State mentioned 500 empty houses in Paisley, for instance. Yet the right hon. Gentleman gave permission for them to be demolished, and they had to be cleared of tenants first. Therefore, strictly speaking, although they are empty, they are not available for letting.

Photo of Sir John Gilmour Sir John Gilmour , Fife East

That would lead me to believe that the statistics are being collected in the wrong way. If a house is subject to a closing order because of projected demolition, it should not be classed as an empty house but should be struck off the strength altogether. I think that the Minister would agree with that. If this has been done in the wrong way in the past, at least we are getting some progress out of this discussion.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

But the Secretary of State gave the House the wrong information.

Photo of Sir John Gilmour Sir John Gilmour , Fife East

I am certain that, if they find that, inadvertently, they have given wrong information, all my right hon. and hon. Friends will be the first to admit it and see that it does not happen again.

I can see no point in our taking up the attitude that we are trying to mislead each other. I hope that we want to do our best to help to get houses for people and that we could join together to that end.

Photo of Mr Henry Brewis Mr Henry Brewis , Galloway

Does my hon. Friend not remember from his visit to Glenrothes new town that there were 1,200 houses empty? As that is a new town, surely the reason is hardly likely to be that they were due to be demolished?

Photo of Sir John Gilmour Sir John Gilmour , Fife East

There is some truth in that. One of the troubles is that, in new towns, some houses are kept for previously arranged occupation.

Information which came to us in the Select Committee led us to wonder about the future general policy towards the building of high-rise blocks of flats in our cities. This comes up in paragraphs 106 and 107 of the Select Committee report. One point that was particularly mentioned is that the original density laid down for these blocks was a maximum of 150 persons per acre, but as time went by, the maximum became the minimum and the resultant densities applied over the last 10 years have been too high. Glasgow is in fact to reduce its standard to 110, I think.

It is easy, when one has a desperate shortage of housing, to agree to accept these higher densities. But all our information was that the standard of amenities and standard of living provided at those densities was wrong.

We are talking about the pressure caused by rising land prices, which leads to the argument for building at a greater density. We must resist this argument if we are to build houses with a reasonable standard of amenity.

This is one of the most evocative subjects that we can ever debate. The provision of a home is the most essential matter for any family. No one can be satisfied with the present trend of land prices and something must be done to halt it. I hope and believe that, by beating the scarcity of housing, we can provide houses at a more reasonable price. I therefore support the amendment.

8.9 p.m.

Photo of Mr George Lawson Mr George Lawson , Motherwell

No one would accuse the hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour) of wishing to deceive or mislead the House. I certainly would not. Yet he has advanced an argument which, in another but relevant field, is already being seen to be invalid, and he has not applied the findings of his own party in this other field to the question of land.

The hon. Member told us, for example, that, in his opinion, perhaps the outstanding reason for the rapid increase in the price of land is the general inflation, that this process is a hedge against inflation. The argument seems to be that land values will remain fairly stable and that, if prices rise, owners can always realise at the higher price. I would think that the very fact of inflation operating in the general field and operating in land means that in each field inflation is reinforced in the other, and perhaps in land much more than in anything else, because it is seen as enduring. Many people for building purposes, or other purposes, will buy land at grossly inflated prices on the basis of a hedge against inflation.

Photo of Hon. Thomas Galbraith Hon. Thomas Galbraith , Glasgow Hillhead

What the hon. Member is saying is very interesting. He is saying that land is a hedge against inflation and that this accounts for the high prices. May high prices not be because a man who buys land at what appears to be a high price knows that because of inflationary wages and salaries the people for whom he will build houses will be able to pay the prices?

Photo of Mr George Lawson Mr George Lawson , Motherwell

He may think this way. That is part and parcel of inflation. I notice the Minister turning round and nodding his head and complimenting his hon. Friend on being accurate. A hedge against inflation? Yes. The answer is to make land more plentiful, according to the hon. Member for Fife, East. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) was saying that the prices of these things are so rapidly inflating.

What are the Government seeking to do about this? To intervene in the free market. The Conservative Government have changed about in a remarkable, a wonderful fashion in a very short time. I would sometimes counsel my hon. Friends that instead of attacking the Conservative Government for what the Government do they should be seeking to push the Government further and further, complimenting them, saying that these are excellent Socialist measures which are being adopted. Nothing would so undermine the confidence of the backwoods Conservatives than if the Socialists were complimenting the Conservative Prime Minister for being the best Socialist of all in matters of this kind.

I put it to the hon. Member for Fife, East that he cannot have it both ways. His own party and his own Government come to the conclusion that inflation is of such a devastating nature, or can be, that we cannot leave it to the forces of the free market—so called—but that there must be increasing intervention. I would say, there should be increasingly sensitive and understanding intervention. But intervention there must be. There must be forms of control. I am prepared to see society reaching towards ways by which there can be control. We are moving towards it, but one must recognise that if there is to be control over prices and wages, it cannot be argued that the one great exemption from control should be land and the houses which go on it. It cannot be argued one way only, and I hope that the Minister will not so argue.

I am not necessarily associating myself with my hon. Friends who are arguing for holus-bolus nationalisation. It is not always the answer. I recall a piece of evidence which came to us when, in the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs, we were examining land prices and one member of the Committee asked why it was that the Secretary of State for Scotland was generally regarded as being one of the worst landlords in Scotland. I do not think he got a very satisfactory answer. It would seem to me that mere nationalising does not solve the problem. It may produce new problems. Perhaps in certain circumstances it can put us in a position where we can begin to tackle the problem in other ways.

That is not to say that the problem of control of land prices is not a very urgent problem which requires to be tackled. It requires to be tackled for the person trying to get a house, just as it requires to be tackled for the person who wants to cultivate a piece of land or to manage it in some other way.

Photo of Mr George Lawson Mr George Lawson , Motherwell

I will give way if the hon. Member is anxious to intervene.

Photo of Hon. Thomas Galbraith Hon. Thomas Galbraith , Glasgow Hillhead

I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I am following with the very greatest interest what he is saying. What he is saying is that there should be some sort of control over the prices of land. I would like him to tell the House, if he would, the answer to this. Suppose there is this control over prices of land and there are two individuals who wish to buy the same bit of land. How is it decided which is to get it? Is it the one who knows the official or the civil servant best? How is it done?

Photo of Mr George Lawson Mr George Lawson , Motherwell

I would turn it the other way. The same thing applies in the control of wages. Suppose there are two employers and there is a scarcity of a certain type of skill and one employer is prepared to bid up, to pay more, for the skill available. That is the free market, the basis of the kind of thing hon. Gentlemen opposite are trying to bring under control. I am saying that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. I am not objecting to sauce for the goose or for the gander, but let us be more comprehensive in our approach to the question and recognise that we cannot properly argue for control over incomes without at the same time arguing for control over this other very important field. Do not ask me how exactly I would propose to do it, for I have not time to answer, nor, at this stage, have I particular knowledge, but I know that in various ways it has been attempted, and not at all successfully. However, that does not mean to say that it ought not to be attempted again, and we hope to see more success than there has been in the past.

I make that reply to the hon. Member for Fife, East. I am always in danger, when I set out to reply to an hon. Gentleman opposite, of making a speech different from that which I got up to make. I was provoked into coming into this debate because of certain remarks made by the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur). Unfortunately he is no longer here. He told me he could not be here so I am not blaming him, but I shall have to switch my argument in some other direction.

I would suggest that one of the reasons for the sudden spurt of prices for houses, for these very small, often very poor, houses, of the kind of which my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) gave an example—I think it was at Brinsfield—is the Housing (Financial Provisions) Bill which this House passed recently. I think that that may, perhaps, be a substantial part of the explanation for the rise. There can be no doubt—certainly there is no doubt in my mind—that very many people who previously would have thought in terms of a local authority house, and many people who are presently living in local authority houses, were, rightly or wrongly, brought to believe that they would be made to pay through the nose for continued occupancy of local authority houses, that is to say, if they are people with reasonable incomes.

I am not talking of people who are down at the bottom of the incomes scale, who can expect, in some cases, to get substantial rebates. I am talking of the lad with a reasonable wage, the lad who will be paying the standard rent. I put it to the Minister that that lad, if he has any sense at all, will recognise that very soon, if not just at the moment, in one, two, three, four, five years' time, not very far ahead, he will be subsidising the tenant who comes into the newly built house. It will be he alone who will be subsidising such a tenant. That tenant will not be subsidised from the general rates. He will not be subsidised from Exchequer grant.

What will happen under the Act, as the hon. Gentleman knows very well, is that each and every local authority will require to pool its houses, and, on the basis of that pool of houses with an estimated standard rent, the local authority will charge the extra rent which comes into being. For a house costing £7,000, so much per annum for that house will be added to the bill. That, I take it, will not be charged on the tenant for a new house costing £7,000 or £8,000. The economic rent of that house could be paid only by a very prosperous tenant indeed. All the time the lad is living in that house he will know that every new house that is built will add to the rent he will be required to pay because it will be spread over the pool.

If it is Government policy to bring pressure to bear on local authorities to sell as many houses as possible, the houses that will be bought will be those in the middle band, the more desirable houses built during the inter-war period which have been kept in excellent condition and which cost about £400 or £500 to build. Those houses will be sold not at replacement cost, as they should be, but at a substantially reduced price. The local authority will be left with the expensive high flats and the undesirable houses. The more desirable houses will be sold, and those who purchase them will have contracted out of the pool. They will recognise that if they continue to pay the standard rent they will be carrying the actual housing costs without Exchequer subsidy and without the local authority having power to make rent contributions.

Photo of Mr Ronald Brown Mr Ronald Brown , Shoreditch and Finsbury

My hon. Friend knows that it is even worse than that. If the local authority makes a profit on the housing revenue account, 50 per cent. of that profit goes back to the Government.

Photo of Mr George Lawson Mr George Lawson , Motherwell

My hon. Friend is talking about the English position. Scotland has not quite reached that position yet. The standard rent is supposed to cover the whole cost and the cost of new houses as well.

The Minister will tell us about high-cost subsidies, slum clearance and so on, items that enter the cost of houses over 25 years. That will all be put on the shoulders of the local authority tenant who is paying the standard rent. The knowledge of this will drive people increasingly into the housing market. They will be prepared to pay almost any price—prices far in excess of the worth of the houses—because they are desperate. Many people enter into hire-purchase obligations that they cannot meet, and the same will apply to houses.

I was angered by the misrepresentation of the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire. Hon Gentlemen on the Government benches have badly misrepresented the position of local authority tenants. They have a long history of hostility towards local authority tenants. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead, is sometimes cited as an example of this hostility. We all know about the Rolls-Royce cars and Jaguars at the doors of local authority houses and the argument about the poor old pensioner and the widow having to subsidise those tenants. Adequate housing, with bathrooms and inside lavatories and hot and cold water cannot be paid for out of the wages that large numbers of people expect to earn. If our people are to be reasonably housed, society must bear the cost and make no bones about it.

Photo of Hon. Thomas Galbraith Hon. Thomas Galbraith , Glasgow Hillhead

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that this may be something which society has to bear for many people but surely not for the owner of the Jaguar.

Photo of Mr George Lawson Mr George Lawson , Motherwell

The Jaguar argument is rather like the old argument about keeping the coal in the bath.

During the passage of the Housing (Financial Provisions) Scotland Bill there was widespread talk about taking away the subsidy from the bricks and mortar and passing it to the person. But that has not been the principle applied by the Government. It is happening only in respect of the local authority tenant who is expected to pay the standard rent. It is not happening in private housing. If the property is other than local authority or Scottish Special Housing Association, there is a substantial subsidy on bricks and mortar which takes no account of the means of the person receiving it.

I made a calculation about some Georgian houses which cost £20,000. The income tax remission on those houses, at the rate calculated by the building society over a 25-year purchase period, which is not excessive, works out at £16·15 per £1,000 per annum. On my calculation, that is about £323 per year as a subsidy on bricks and mortar over 25 years. If income tax changes, the rate will change. However, on the basis of my calculation the figure works out at £323 per house per annum over 25 years.

I am not challenging the payment of money on bricks and mortar. However, if such a subsidy can be paid in that connection, I contend that it certainly should be paid to local authorities. I do not see why a local authority, paying out £6,000 or £7,000 per house, should not get at least what would go in income tax remission over the purchase period.

People are crying out for honesty. They want the position accurately represented. Let us be partisan occasionally, but let us also recognise that certain matters must be presented in a straightforward way. People are beginning to recognise that the more money they have, the more expensive their houses, the greater the amounts they will be able to draw from the public purse. This is not their own money which has been taxed from them; it is the equivalent of public money. This is happening not only with a person's private home, but with a second house in the country. If it is fair in that connection for the owner of private property, it must be done for local authorities as well.

On Wednesday of last week the Minister bragged or boasted that the number of approvals in 1972 was up on what it had been in 1971 or 1970. Of course, he gave the figure for the early part of the year. The important figure is that for the latter part of the year. What is the rate that is now beginning to show itself in terms of local authorities asking permission to build houses? I should be surprised if there is not a steep and continuing fall in the number of applications for permission to build houses.

I do not know why they need permission. A local authority is no longer an authority for houses but an agent. One of the grievances which arose in the recent dispute between local authorities and the Government was that they had been turned into agents.

The Government have been making a lot of fuss about local authorities implementing the law. Local authorities in my area have been implementing the law, and I support them. Nevertheless, I am extremely angry when I recognize that the Government are welching on obligations entered into many years ago. My authority has been deprived of over £1¼ million per annum in the form of Exchequer grant for houses which it has built. Young people who would previously have turned to local authorities are being driven on to the open market to buy houses at grossly inflated values. I believe that this will have the effect of causing local authorities virtually to cease building houses. This is deplorable.

I should like to know what plans there are to control the high price of land and the high cost of houses, and what plans there are to treat local authorities at least as fairly as the purchasers of £20,000 houses.

8.34 p.m.

Photo of Mr Patrick Wolrige-Gordon Mr Patrick Wolrige-Gordon , Aberdeenshire East

The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) congratulated us on becoming Socialists. Occasionally while he was speaking I almost felt like congratulating him on becoming a Conservative. In a controversial debate there seems to be some cross-fertilisation of ideas, which I welcome.

I congratulate my right hon. and hon. Friends on their success in reversing the downward trend of house building under the previous Government. I hope that there will be no public comment on that. The rise in land prices is being picked upon by many as a symbol of weakness and a crisis of confidence in the British economy. I think that for that reason the matter needs to be put into perspective.

Listening to some of the debate one would think that we were the only country in the world in which land prices had not risen and had not been rising steadily for a considerable time. Land is in short supply, and it will become in even shorter supply unless we start doing something drastic with the oceans. Land price is therefore bound to be high. The general consensus is that it will become even higher. There is nothing sinister about that; it is an inevitable development of a shortage of living space compared with what has been known in the past.

The question which faces the House is what to do about it. The Labour Party has a significant gap in its motion. I was glad to notice that on this occasion the gap was filled in by the good speech of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) who told us what hon. Gentlemen opposite would do about the situation. He said that they would nationalise land, and he brought in a splendid reference to the Oxford Conference and the welcome which that idea was given by the sons of large farmers who thought that it would enable them to keep their farms. I must tell the hon. Gentleman that if he believes that he will believe anything.

The general understanding of what hon. Gentlemen opposite propose to do about the land situation is the old one. They would nationalise land, and I think that we should know what that would mean. It would mean stealing. What is the point of doing it otherwise? What is the economic advantage to the nation, to the general public or to the voters of Dundee of nationalising land if we do not obtain it substantially cheaper than we otherwise would?

Anybody can buy land at any time. The public, in the shape of the Government, public authorities and local authorities can buy land. They could buy it in the past. If they want, they can and do acquire land by compulsory purchase. Those authorities who paid any attention to future trends were as able as anybody else to buy land early and keep the rate down. What assurance do we have that a nationalisation authority would be so much more efficient and so much less keen to obtain its pound of flesh than the variety of competing and different interests which exist now? The answer is, none at all.

It has never happened yet, and to a monstrous lethargy will be added monumental inefficiency. The only advantage of the Labour Party's policy of land nationalisation lies in taking the land at a low rate of exchange compared with what it is worth. It is a once-for-all advantage and can never be repeated, and the subsequent burden on the country will be enormous.

I turn briefly to the amendment, and particularly to its reference to the action that we have taken to stimulate all agencies in the provision of housing. I wholly support that policy, confident in the belief that when the Government speak of stimulation they do not regard that process as having stopped. It must carry on.

Coming as I do from an area of Scotland where large-scale development is in progress, I am particularly concerned whether housing will be adequate to meet the needs of incoming industries. Many of the companies coming to the north of Scotland do not regard housing as their problem. In a sense there is no reason for them to do so. But I suggest to those companies and the Government that they should do so. Some companies invest considerable sums of money in plant and machinery, which they can recover from the sale of their products or services. In the north of Scotland, in many cases, they will need a new community or a great increase in an old community in order to serve their plant and machinery. But not all these companies want to play the same part and invest the same kind of money in building that community needed to service their plant, nor to take long-term responsibility for the future of those communities once their immediate interest has gone. A caravan site is just about the limit of what they see as required provision for their workers. That is not adequate.

Will the Government consider doing more to encourage new industry coming into our part of the country to play its part in creating the communities that its activities tend to create and to put a part of the cost as a charge on its products in exactly the same way as for the amortisation of its building of the plant and machinery? The more we can do to increase resources to meet the infrastructure needs of these developments, the better.

8.42 p.m.

Photo of Mr David Steel Mr David Steel , Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire

Any debate on housing in Scotland ought always to begin with a restatement of the very different features of the housing stock that exist between Scotland and England. The latest figures, for 1971, show that in England 52 per cent. of the housing stock was owner-occupied as against 28 per cent. rented from public authorities, whereas in Scotland the figures are almost exactly reversed, with 30 per cent. owner-occupied and 52 per cent. rented from public authorities.

It is therefore obvious that in today's conditions any Government ought to encourage a growth in the private sector of housing in Scotland. But if one has, at the same time, a decline in the number of houses being built in the public sector and an increase in the rent levels, the pressure on the private sector is bound to be enormous. That is one of the signs that we have seen in recent months. But although we want to see the Government encouraging more home ownership in Scotland, and an increase in the proportion of the housing stock which is privately owned, we have also to remember that for a large section of the Scottish population the ownership of a home is well beyond their aspirations.

The Shelter Housing Aid Centre in Edinburgh has produced a report of its first year of activities. The Minister visited this centre some months ago. Its report showed that of the 595 families who went through the organisation's machinery for aid and advice, and of all the solutions it has tabulated in its report, in only one case was the purchase of a house the solution for a family.

The reason for that is that a great many families' income levels are now well below the levels at which they can even contemplate buying a house at today's prices.

The Glasgow Shelter Housing Aid Centre has broken down the family income of the people with whom it has dealt and has shown that in the first six months of its operation 52 per cent. of the families whom it was trying to assist had total family incomes—not just that of the breadwinner—of below £15 a week. Thus, to talk about the open market or wider opportunities for choice in housing as the amendment does, is a cruel joke, because for large sections of the population reliance will still have to be on the public sector.

My colleagues and I will support the motion, but we wonder why it refers to "increases in land prices" and then to the cost of house building". Under this Government, for the first time, a gulf has appeared between the cost of building houses and their price. This is one of the features of housing under this administration. The Nationwide Building Society published an interesting graph last month showing that during the period from 1965 to 1971 the cost of house building and the price of modern houses, older houses and new houses, rose at a set level. However, suddenly, in June 1971, there was a continued rise in building costs but a dramatic escalation in the price of new houses, modern houses and even older houses, and therefore a gap appeared.

The increase in house prices cannot be explained away in terms of building costs. Although costs have continued to rise there is something new operating in the market which should be identified.

Photo of Mr David Steel Mr David Steel , Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire

Therefore, because I believe that an attempt should be made to increase the supply of houses at a reasonable price, the Government should examine the operation of the different mechanisms whereby people are subsidised for living in houses. The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) made several valuable points about the amount by which we subsidise, by means of the tax system, people who are buying more expensive houses. We also subsidise those living in council houses through the rent rebate scheme. The greatest contribution which could be made to encourage people to buy their own house, would be to make a grant to young married couples. If some public expenditure were to be so channelled more married couples would start on the ladder of buying a house instead of on the ladder of spending anything up to 65 years in a council house.

If the Government are looking for ways of saving money so as to introduce a measure of this kind they could make a start by abolishing, or placing a ceiling on, the tax relief they are prepared to grant on mortgages above a certain level. There is no justification—in fact, there is the very reverse—for granting tax relief on more than one mortgage. Apart from the fiscal effect, the social effect of second-house ownership is very bad.

In 1972 we saw the greatest percentage increase in house prices since the Second World War. According to the report of one of the leading chartered surveyors and estate agents in Scotland for last year— The £10,000 modern semi-detached house is now a reality in Central Scotland, and even tenement houses in desirable locations have been making between £8,000 and £10,000. This report has something more valuable and specific to say about land prices.

Referring to the supply of land the report says: The supply can only be increased if builders are prepared to step up their production and have enough land to do so, and this is a crucial point in Scotland where it is not so much a case of there being no land for building but that much of the best undeveloped residential building land is held in the land banks of relatively few developers". The report goes on to indicate that on the rare occasions when prime sites in Edinburgh and Glasgow have come on the market they have realised well over £30,000 an acre for low density schemes and up to double that where densities of 25 houses per acre were possible. If we are to release some of the land now being hoarded for later development direct action by the Government will be necessary.

My party has long advocated that the rating of site values would be beneficial to the community. There is no argument about that. If a site is undeveloped and hoarded for a developer's own purposes, site value rating would have a dramatic effect in encouraging him to develop it. Nor would I rule out municipalisation of building land in key centres as a way of helping the private and public housing markets in Scotland.

Finally, I want to deal with a problem that has been discussed by one or two hon. Members—the new trend in the more rural areas of Scotland to purchase a second house as a holiday home. It is a growing problem in the Highlands and Islands and certainly in the Borders, and I have been considering what the Government could and should do. I have already suggested that tax relief should not be available on second mortgages. At any time—for instance during the Budget statement—the Government could announce the removal of this tax concession. That would help.

But there are two other possibilities. First, it is wrong that public authorities such as British Railways or the Forestry Commission, which are often in a position to dispose of unwanted properties which they own on behalf of the people—sometimes cottages and sometimes larger houses—should be encouraged to go for the highest market value regardless of social consequences. In my constituency there have been instances of properties being sold as holiday homes over the heads of local people who have wanted to buy them. The prices paid have been three or four times the district valuer's valuation—three or four times the value at which the public authorities could have offered them to local authorities.

Photo of Hon. Thomas Galbraith Hon. Thomas Galbraith , Glasgow Hillhead

May that not be due to the difficulty of getting planning permission to build a house in the country?

Photo of Mr David Steel Mr David Steel , Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire

No, I do not think that it is. I am talking about properties that are often sold to people from London and other parts of urban England. The properties fall into two categories. There are, first, small cottages which are used for weekends and holidays, some of which are being sold to people in central Scotland—so that this is not purely an England-Scotland issue—instead of being occupied by ordinary working families, who would like to buy such cottages as a permanent home. Secondly, there are the larger houses—the farm houses, and so on, from farms that the Forestry Commission has bought and that are sold to people of rather more substantial means who come from the cities and towns and who want them as small country estates.

In any case, in the past two or three years we have seen the development of this new phenomenon. It is a matter for the Treasury, which should instruct public authorities to have regard to the social consequences of their actions when selling property.

There is one other possible solution. It is for the Government to introduce a system of treble rating of domestic houses that are used not as ordinary residences but as second houses. If such houses are bought by people who make no contribution to the life of the community, there is a strong case for making such people pay a substantial financial contribution to the local community.

Photo of Mr Henry Brewis Mr Henry Brewis , Galloway

I am a little behind with my intervention now, but this is the point which I wished to put: if a local authority insists on buying a house using the district valuer's assessment, should it not be bound also to use the district valuer's assessment when it wants to sell, instead of getting a quite exorbitant price?

Photo of Mr David Steel Mr David Steel , Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire

The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point. The properties of which I am speaking were in many cases bought by the public authority from private individuals in the first place. One has to go back a little in history, but that was often so. When a public authority purchases, the district valuer's price is used for negotiation, but when the authority sells the sky is the limit in open market value. There is a serious injustice here which the Government ought to put right.

In the last two or three years, the business of property and land in Scotland has become something of a financial racket. It seems that in our society a man who is rich now gets on very nicely but a poor man often finds his aspirations stifled. No Government ought to be content with that sort of society.

8.56 p.m.

Photo of Mr Iain Sproat Mr Iain Sproat , Aberdeen South

The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) made a constructive speech, and I agree when he says that we must find a way of helping young married couples. I should favour an examination of his suggestion that we take something off tax relief for people at the top. I think that that would be an equitable way to go about it, and I am sure that my hon. Friend on the Front Bench will have noted the suggestion.

The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson), whose speech also I enjoyed, commented on the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Act. Obviously, I do not accept all he said about that Act, and I think it important to see in proper perspective what my right hon. and hon. Friends are trying to do for housing in Scotland through all agencies and all the ways to stimulate housing development.

One should not ignore what the Government are trying to do through the Act, and what they have succeeded in doing. When we came to power in 1970, the housing situation in Scotland had gone rotten. The process had gone on over many years. I do not blame any individual Government for it, but, as the House knows, we had the worst overcrowding in the United Kingdom, the worst slums, and the worst record of owner-occupation in the United Kingdom. Scotland has only about half the amount of owner-occupation to be found in England and Wales—about 27 per cent. as compared with 51 per cent. Also, we had the worst and most ludicrous level of rents in the United Kingdom. I do not believe that all these factors are unconnected, and it was one of the principal objects of the Act to tackle them.

That is the background of our housing policy, and I am sorry that the attitude of the Clydebank councillors should seem to symbolise the worst and most reactionary attitude of Scottish housing authorities, not only defying the law, which in itself is thoroughly reprehensible, but defying it in such a way as to ensure that their own people have a worse deal than they would have under the provisions of the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Act.

Photo of Mr Iain Sproat Mr Iain Sproat , Aberdeen South

The hon. Gentleman did not have to sit through the many sittings of the Scottish Committee on that Bill. As an English Member, he is always welcome to our debates, so long as he does not interrupt too much.

I shall not go through all the virtues of the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Act—

Photo of Mr Robert Hughes Mr Robert Hughes , Aberdeen North

Virtues? It would not take long.

Photo of Mr Iain Sproat Mr Iain Sproat , Aberdeen South

I assure the hon. Gentleman that it would take quite a long time to detail them. For the first time, we have a rent rebate scheme on a national scale. For the first time, we have a national scheme which ensures that many thousands of people in Scotland will be living rent-free. I think that there are 2,000 people in Edinburgh alone who will now live rent-free as a result of the Act.

For the first time, we shall have rent allowances to tenants in furnished and unfurnished private accommodation. This is a great advance. The Opposition have never satisfactorily explained how they could allow rents to go up in the private sector, as they did, without bringing in rent allowances so as to protect those tenants in the private sector who could not afford the rents which they were allowing to rise.

In that context, it is worth mentioning also how we are improving the housing stock in Scotland by seeing for the first time that landlords in these circumstances receive a fair rent which they may plough back into the accommodation, while at the same time ensuring that those tenants who cannot afford it are subsidised by those who can. It seems that this is as equitable a situation as we can hope to achieve in the rather clumsy and broad legislation that we have to pass.

It is also worth mentioning the house improvement grants, which have been a tremendous success in Scotland, particularly in Aberdeen where the demand far outran the council's willingness or the ability of local builders to satisfy demand. I was very sorry that in Aberdeen in particular, possibly through prejudice and dogma—and no doubt the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Robert Hughes) may take this up later—the local council was not keen to use improvement grants, so that an appalling situation arose in which people were genuinely willing to improve their property but were unable to take advantage of the provisions the Government had made for them to do so. I congratulate the Government on the vigorous, far-reaching and comprehensive measures they are taking to stimulate private sector building and, indeed, building at almost every level in Scotland.

As for the situation in Aberdeen, there is no doubt that what one might call the reverse side of the oil boom has shown itself, amid all the prosperity which oil has already brought to Aberdeen and will bring increasingly. In an earlier debate I mentioned that the figure was £1 million per rig per year coming into the area. But the reverse side has been a tremendous rise in house prices in Aberdeen and in the North-East. Answering a Question the other day my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that the average house price increase in Scotland since June 1970 was 35 per cent. My right hon. Friend will be lucky to find a house or tenement which has not increased by more than 35 per cent. in the past two years in Aberdeen. Estimates from reputable bodies in the area show that executive housing, which we shall need if we are to attract the sort of oil executives that we must attract to maximise developments in the area, has gone up in price by as much as 100 per cent. in the last year alone. That is quite out of the ordinary and something which my hon. Friend the Under Secretary might wish to look at most carefully.

This situation has not been caused only by the oil boom, although that was the main reason for it. Prices have always been high in Aberdeen. They have always been much higher in Scotland because in many cases costs have been traditionally higher than in England and Wales and the scarcity of owner-occupied houses has pushed up the prices in Aberdeen, as elsewhere, as has the Government's correct stimulus to owner-occupation. Another factor has been that Aberdeen Corporation over the years has bought up a tremendous amount of land within the city boundaries on which to build municipal housing so that there is now no room on which to build many private houses, short of destroying slum tenements in the centre of the city. That situation has aggravated the scarcity, and the situation has been aggravated further by the North Sea oil boom.

It is no use denying—and I am sure that the Under-Secretary would not wish to do so—that in Aberdeen prices have risen at a staggering rate. They have now reached a staggering level and every indication is that they will continue rising. We must look at ways in which the trend can be halted. I hope that the Government will look urgently and seriously at the situation and I hope particularly that the Government will encourage and enable local authorities to release more land in the North-East if we are to take the maximum advantage of the oil opportunities.

Secondly, the Government must encourage local councils to sell off council houses at the pre-emption rate. It is a wonderful opportunity to buy good houses at 20 per cent. less than market rate in many cases.

Thirdly, the Government must do something to help the young married couples in particular, who are the hardest hit by the present situation. The country can make few better investments than to see young married couples happily settled in their own homes.

9.5 p.m.

Photo of Mr David Lambie Mr David Lambie , Central Ayrshire

I was thankful to hear the Opposition Front Bench spokesman, my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) say that the Labour Party intends when it regains power, which I hope will be soon, to nationalise the land. I hope that the basis of compensation will be the use value, the value on the valuation roll, and not the development value, as is now paid. I recall the words of the statesman who said not so long ago that God gave the land to the people. The sooner the land is given back to the people, the better it will be for the country.

My second point concerns the escalation of land values in my constituency. My hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) was asked tonight what he would do to try to stop the inflation of land prices. A practical method has been put to me by the town council of the royal burgh of Irvine. In 1958 the council bought about 5½ acres of land at a total cost of £1,050, and in 1960 it bought 14½ adjoining acres at a total cost of £1,500. That made the cost between £100 and £200 an acre.

The town council just under a year ago put up nine plots of land for sale to people who wished to build their own houses. It stated that the cost would be about £700 an acre and asked people to apply to have their name put on a reserve list. Because of difficulties outwith the control of the town council, the negotiations were not then completed. Recently, the council asked the district valuer to place a new value on the nine plots, and he valued seven of them, each of which was 0·15 of an acre, at £1,300 each, plus feu duty. The remaining two, of 0·19 of an acre, he valued at £1,700 each. That represents a value of about £10,000 an acre for land that the council bought in 1958 and 1960 for between £100 and £200 an acre.

The town council, which is not Labour-controlled, did not see why it should rob the people who had applied less than a year ago to have their name placed on the reserve list. It threw the ball back into the Secretary of State's court, asking him for permission to sell the plots at the original value. We are still waiting in Irvine for an answer, but that is nothing new in Scotland, because everyone is waiting for an answer from the Secretary of State. I should like the Under-Secretary to give us that answer tonight. Is Irvine Town Council to be allowed to carry out Government policy? Is it to be allowed not to join in the inflationary spiral, but to try to break it in regard to land prices in the Irvine area?

My next point also concerns the Irvine area and the Irvine Development Corporation which, because we have been designated a new town, has complete control over planning and most of the land within the area. Irvine Development Corporation, which is a public body—I hope that the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) will note that—put up to feu 28 plots of land in Whitehirst Park, Kilwinning at a price of £1,600 a plot. In January 1973, when people applied for the plots, it sent the following letter, the relevant part of which says: In the event that more than one application is received for a particular plot then those applicants will be asked to offer by tender a price in excess of the £1,600 stated in the particulars. As there was a great demand for the 28 plots, Irvine Development Corporation said, "We will have an Indian market. We will put it up to the highest bidder". I heard last weekend that the highest bidder offered £2,500. That is approximately £10,000 to £11,000 an acre for land that was valued not so long ago at £100 or £200 an acre.

I ask the Under-Secretary of State, as I have asked his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to carry out Government policy. I have asked the Chancellor to do so not only on wages but on land prices. I have received no reply from the Chancellor. He has told me that he will see about it in the Budget. We now get that answer from every Minister. However, I ask the Under-Secretary of State to take action regarding Irvine Development Corporation. If land is valued by a district valuer at £1,600 an acre, the Corporation should not be allowed to put it up for auction and to try to get people to quote higher prices than they can afford. If £1,600 is the value of the plot, the plot should be sold at that price. If there are more applicants than plots, the best way is to ballot for them. Surely that is a sensible approach. I suggest to the hon. Member for Galloway that that is a method by which to break the inflationary spiral. That would be a positive action on the Government's party to try to stop this sort of thing.

I know before the Under-Secretary of State answers that he will say that he has no control over Irvine Development Corporation. Unfortunately it seems that very few people have control over the corporation.

It is customary when a Minister visits an hon. Member's constituency to notify him that he is making the visit, but the last time the hon. Gentleman visited the Irvine area he did not notify me. Perhaps he did not do so because he is afraid to come to the area. Every Minister who comes to the Irvine area and notifies us knows that we shall arrange for a large demonstration to point out to him the feelings of the people in the area. When the Minister of State for the Scottish Office, Lord Polworth, opened a new road last week, he met 500 construction workers. He told them about the Government's prices and incomes policy. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be courteous enough to tell us, the Irvine Town Council and the Irvine Development Corporation that the Government will take action on the price of land in the Irvine area.

9.14 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Hughes Mr Robert Hughes , Aberdeen North

In the 32 months in which I have been in this House I have seen some very curious situations, but I have never known the Government not to put up an opening speaker on a debate of this kind. It is scandalous that no Minister has spoken. It is scandalous that while we are having this debate there should be a complete lack of knowledge about the Government's intentions, which we should have known from the beginning of the debate.

We are holding the debate against the background of escalating prices, both of land and of housing. The trouble with statistics is that they often mask quite remarkably what is happening. If we believe them, the average price of a new house since June 1970 has risen from £5,201 to £7,361, a rise of £2,160 or 42 per cent. The average increase in the cost of a modern existing house has risen from £5,303 to £7,500, or an increase of 43 per cent. Such figures do not explain what has happened in very recent times, but they are bad enough.

Let us look at the situation of people wanting to buy their own homes. If the average price of the house was £5,000, as it was in June 1970, they had to find a deposit of £500 and a monthly repayment, before tax relief, of £36·65. That again is bad enough, but what were we told by the then Opposition before the 1970 election? They produced a document called Tomorrow's Scotland—Better with the Conservatives". In the section on housing the manifesto said: The difficulties of young people raising money for a deposit to buy a house are a barrier on the road to wider home ownership. That is interesting because in December 1972 the deposit on a house was £700—an increase of £200. In addition, a young couple now have to find £54 a month for mortgage repayments—an increase of £4 a week at 8½ per cent. on a 90 per cent. mortgage. That is Tomorrow's Scotland—Better with the Conservatives", representing an increase in deposit and an increase on the monthly repayments.

Even that does not tell the full story of what has been happening recently. It has been noted that builders are having such a good time that they are reluctant to quote the price of a house until it is finished. We have gazumping not in the traditional fashion but in a different way. Builders will not tell prospective customers how much a house will cost until it is built. The reason for this is that some people have been buying a house at a fixed price from the builder, living in it for a couple of months and then selling it again at an exorbitant profit. Builders say, "That is not good enough. We have to have our pound of flesh." So they are not telling customers what they will have to pay. Instead they wait to see what the market will bear when the selling comes around, and they take as much as they can.

The story of what is happening with new houses is repeated in many ways in a worse form with older houses. On 13th December 1972, The Scotsman reported that in Edinburgh A stone-built semi-detached house, with no garage, in a good residential area of Edinburgh which cost £7,800 four years ago was sold for £14,500—an appreciation of 85 per cent.A modern terraced house in a fashionable part of Edinburgh was recently sold for a little over £30,000, representing an 85 per cent. increase over two and a half years. What about Aberdeen? Aberdeen, as The Scotsman also reported, has its own problems. The newspaper reported in August 1972: Soaring house prices provide the dominating topic of conversation in Aberdeen today.In pubs and clubs and over tea all the talk is about small bungalows built prewar for £700 selling for £10.000, and of three-roomed flats in 70-year-old tenements with a shared stair-head toilet going for £4,000. If they have a bathroom that adds £1,000 to the cost.Just over £2,000 a room has become a useful guide to house prices.An estate agent said the rate of increase…shot up over the past 12 months and the graph showed no sign of flattening out. By this time next year"— that means August 1973— …sale could be showing a further increase of £2,000. Is it not a pretty poor outlook for the young married couples in Scotland trying to begin a decent life? Is it not a poor outlook for those who have no other opportunity, who have not been able to get council houses and who are scrambling around in the market trying to find a house to buy?

One is bound to ask, why is there this phenomenal growth in the cost of housing. We know that it is partly due to the growth in demand. This in itself is strange because traditionally in Scotland we are not a house-owning country. Many hon. Members have referred to the fact that in Scotland only 30 per cent. of our houses are in owner-occupation as against a figure of 50 per cent. for England and Wales. Traditionally we have a low rate of home ownership. A reason was put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson). It is that the Government are forcing rent increases upon the local authority tenants which is making them look towards the housing market.

The Government are trying to force people into the housing market. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) repeated a point he made in Committee, namely, that one of the worst things about the Scottish housing position is that we have too low an owner-occupation rate. The whole of the Government's policies have been geared towards forcing people into the private market. The housing-building figures show this to be true. Although there was an increase in the private sector in 1970—from 8,220 to 11,835—the total number of houses completed in Scotland has fallen by 15,000. If we look at the figures produced by the tinder-Secretary dealing with future trends it will be seen that, apart from the suddent peak because of a once-and-for-all subsidy, the trend is downwards.

This is what the Government want. They want to force people on to the market. They need not think that by doing that the cost of local authority housing will in any way be reduced. Local authority housing is increasing in price. A house which in 1971 cost £3,126 now costs £5,479. It is estimated that an ordinary traditional three-bedroomed house shows a 73 per cent. increase in building costs. This increase has been put down, among other things, to the cost of land. The Government have to decide what to do about this. Those who are forced into the market cannot be expected to face these costs. By their silence the Government are condemned out of their own mouths. They are not interested in what is happening.

All this is bad enough but there is worse when we come to the issue of land. In many ways this dominates life in Scotland. From mid-1971 to mid-1972 the price of a plot of urban building land increased by 60 per cent. Many hon. Members have mentioned this increase. A central site in Edinburgh sold at over £40,000 an acre. There were examples given in Edinburgh and Glasgow where low-density housing land costs £30,000 an acre but double that where the density is 25 houses an acre or more.

There is a consistent forcing up of land prices. Aberdeen provides an interesting example. About 4½ years ago Aberdeen Town Council was briefly under the control of a Conservative Council. It sold 20 acres of prime land near the centre of Aberdeen, in the centre of a desirable residential area, for £90,500. That was just over £4,500 an acre. At the end of last year, at Westhills scheme outside the city, land sold for over £20,000 an acre—nearly five times the price four-and-a-half years ago. There has been a tremendous increase in the price of land.

Last Wednesday, the Under-Secretary tried to argue that the cost of land was not a factor in house prices. But we glean these facts from the Press. There are no comprehensive statistics for Scotland. As long ago as 1970, a report of the Scottish Housing Advisory Committee drew attention to the fact that there were difficulties in finding out the facts about the cost of land. We have shown clearly this evening that the cost of house building land is increasing tremendously.

If there is a lack of knowledge about the cost of the land, there is an even greater lack of knowledge about who owns it. I was amazed that the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Wolrige-Gordon) should have said that the Labour Party's policy of public ownership meant stealing the land. I had to ask my hon. Friends whether that was what he was saying. He wants to read "Our Noble Families", by the late Tom Johnson. There he will find how the land was obtained by the landowners—by plunder, by the might of the barons of yesteryear.

Even now, 100 years after the land survey, we cannot find out exactly who owns the land. There have been valiant attempts to find out the facts. I would refer hon. Members to a document entitled "Acreocracy" produced by Perth Fabians, which showed what is happening, although even there they had to go to tremendous lengths to get the information because it is kept secret. When it comes to secrecy, the Mafia could learn a few lessons from the Scottish landowners.

What we need above all is, first, a land register, so that we may know who owns the land. Once we have done that, we can take the land into the ownership of the people.

My hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell said that nationalisation is not necessarily the answer to every problem. But I am convinced, and I am sure that, on reflection, he will agree, that the way to protect the people of Scotland is by nationalising the land. Unless we do this, we shall continue the problem of land and house prices.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) asked one or two questions about housing costs. The pity of it is that the Under-Secretary will now have the last word and will presumably find it difficult to be challenged. Nevertheless, these questions have to be asked.

In the "House Builder" of February 1973, under the heading "A war on" in the editor's column, referring to a war on prices, we are told that the freeze does not affect house prices and that, according to the former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, nor will phase 2. It is still legal, according to this article—we are waiting for this to be denied—to charge more for a later phase of a new estate than for an early one. It is still legal to use a rise-and-fall clause to offset rises in the cost of labour and materials: It is even legal—though utterly deplorable—to gazump, ie, to increase the cost of a house after it has been offered to a prospective purchaser, subject to contract. We in Scotland are lucky in that regard. Once a contract has been settled that price is fixed.

But I view with grave misgivings the idea in a recent Law Journal that, once all the sealed tenders have come in, the lawyers should sit around and try to bargain. This is bringing back gazumping in a new form. If nothing else, I hope that the Government will tell us that that will not be allowed.

The Government have told us today nothing in answer to our case. Some hon. Members opposite, perhaps the Minister, may gather comfort from the fact that one or two commentators seem to think that the rate of increase in prices has levelled off, that we have reached a peak and that the house-building market has settled. That may be one aspect of the matter, but it is expected that the position may get worse, bad though it is now. The Economist intelligence unit has said that by April this year it expects the rate of house prices to resume rising. So the position now is far from being the worse. We shall face the likelihood that house prices will constantly increase.

The House-Builder is more pessimistic than I am in relation to what the Government are going to do. Also in the February issue a man called Michael Becket, who is a financial staff writer for the Daily Telegraph, says: Sooner or later, Government is going to act on the price of private housing—it is just a matter of time before it generates the political courage and then decides on what the action ought to be. All I can say is that I wish I had as much confidence. I have certainly no confidence that this Government will do anything to check the rise in house prices.

During this debate the Government, and the back benchers behind them, have not sought to defend the rise in land and house prices. This is understandable. The facts are incontrovertible. They cannot be challenged, but the Government have not condemned the rise in prices. Their amendment seeks to divert the House from the question at issue. That also is understandable because the core of Conservative ethics is maximisation of profit. At every stage, ever since the Conservatives became the Government, they have directed their policies to that end. The Housing (Financial Provisions) Act has been used in more ways than one to see that private owners can make the best they can out of the nation's resources. For instance, the Government slipped through a schedule to the Act relieving those who get grants for improving houses from having to repay them if they sell within three years. That may be legal but, in my view, it is morally fraudulent conversion, leading to the plunder of the public purse.

That is one simple reason. The Government think of housing as a commodity to be sold like striped toothpaste or fancy detergents at the best prices for the highest gain. This is what divides us in the House and in the country. They put profit first and people second. We believe that housing is a social service, and that young people have a right to start married life in decent standards of housing. It was very revealing that the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South, in an interview he gave recently to the Aberdeen Evening Express, said, High prices are part of the price of progress. They simply have to be accepted. There is not much compassion there for the young married couple. The Government have done nothing for the young married couple starting off in life and have been obsessed with raising house rents to the exclusion of all other considerations.

It is for all these reasons that I ask the House to reject the amendment and to carry the motion.

9.33 p.m.

Photo of Mr George Younger Mr George Younger , Ayr

I would first of all like to welcome the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) and the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Robert Hughes) to their Front Bench. I think this is the first time they have participated from there, at any rate in a major debate. I congratulate them on being on the Opposition Front Bench and welcome them there. I hope to see them in that position for a long time to come. They will entertain us very much from there.

There is no gratitude in this life, is there? When I heard what were to be the subjects of today's debates I discussed with my right hon. Friend the best way to handle them. I calculated that according to the ordinary course of events, we should have eight Front Bench speakers in the debates, and that, if that were allowed to happen everyone would be complaining about it and saying that the debates were taken up with Front Bench speeches. I thought I would try to make it a little easier by not having two Government speakers in this debate, and I have been castigated by the Opposition for doing so. I am sorry about that, but I still consider that it was right, and I have even had denied to me five minutes of the meagre time I asked for. However, I will do my best to do justice to the points which have been put to me.

I was delighted to see the two hon. Gentlemen, and surprised that two such young hon. Gentlemen should produce so much old-fashioned ideology. History repeats itself. The old shibboleths of the Labour Party are coming to the fore with the new generation, and that reassures us.

The cardinal requirement in meeting the housing needs of Scotland is that housing policy should be tackled on a comprehensive basis over all the different types of housing provision. It is no longer sufficient for us to concentrate on any one form of housing provision. It is no use putting everything into the building of houses for owner occupation, into improvement or into building council houses. The only way in which we can provide the sort of houses that people increasingly want to live in is for the Government to have a comprehensive approach to all the various types of housing.

That is why I have spent a lot of time, with the assistance of the Scottish Housing Advisory Committee—of which I am Chairman—tackling this side of housing problems in the past two-and-a-half years. A report called "Planning for Housing Needs", commissioned by the committee and published last year, recommended that local authorities should increasingly look beyond their own future housing programmes to the full exercise of their total housing powers and duties based on a comprehensive assessment of housing needs in the public and the private sectors. I have invited local authorities to review their housing programmes in the light of the report's recommendations.

At its meeting last month the Scottish Housing Advisory Committee decided that a demonstration project should be carried out to study the housing needs of a selected area, adopting the guidelines and the methodology recommended in the report I have mentioned. Arrangements are being made for the local authority associations to be consulted about this proposed study. It is hoped that the results obtained will be of practical benefit to the local authorities directly concerned and will show the way to tackle, throughout Scotland, the task of assessing the housing needs and the housing programmes required to meet the needs of each area.

I am pleased to be able to tell the House that Mr. J. B. Cullingworth, the Director of the Planning Exchange, who was chairman of the working group which produced last year's report, has accepted the invitation of my right hon. Friend to be chairman of the advisory committee which will be associated with the forthcoming demonstration project. All those who are involved in housing and the agencies which work in housing will welcome this renewed dedication to the right principle for modern housing, which is a comprehensive approach to needs in general.

The motion gives me the greatest concern. I have felt it most important to make sure that we do everything we can to encourage home ownership in Scotland, first, for social reasons. Every survey on this subject indicates that a large proportion of people, particularly young people, wish to own their own homes. Were the motion to be justified I should be very concerned. It is equally important that we should have more owner-occupied housing in Scotland from the industrial point of view. In attracting new industry, it is necessary to be able to point to a stock of available housing for owner-occupation. At present there is an insufficient supply for our industrial needs.

My hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour), in a thoughtful speech, said that the rise in house prices of the last few years has been closely associated with the problem of inflation generally. It is unrealistic to think that one can look at one side of the problem without looking at the other. I am not saying that all this rise is due to the inflationary problem, but if the Opposition are to show their concern about rising house prices for young couples they must throw their weight behind the Government's effort to get inflation under control. It will not do for them to sit back and try to make political capital out of it without throwing their full weight behind this battle which most people support most warmly.

Photo of Mr George Younger Mr George Younger , Ayr

I must pursue my argument. In the context of the motion there has been a substantial rise in house and land prices in the last few years. I do not intend to dwell on that fact, because it is known by everybody. I want to go into some of the reasons for it and to give some of the facts and figures behind it. First, land prices, as has been pointed out, have been rising, partly because of inflation and partly because of demand. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, East produced some examples. It is always possible to produce one or two classic extreme examples in any country at any time.

Photo of Gavin Strang Gavin Strang , Edinburgh East

One has to go to the average.

Photo of Mr George Younger Mr George Younger , Ayr

Of course, in the centre of any city where there is a tremendous demand for land, it is possible to point to large figures of escalating costs of land or houses. That is not in dispute. But, as I think I heard the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East say a moment ago, one has to go to the average. It is right to record extreme cases, but that is not the main point of the story. We should not get carried away about that.

Despite the fact that land prices have risen, it does not appear that the proportion of the cost of a new house accounted for by land cost has increased. That does not make it any more palatable, but it focuses our attention on the price generally, not on the price of land in particular.

According to the Nationwide surveys, in 1971 the cost of land in the proportion of a new house was about 11·7 per cent. This year it is 11·4 per cent. So the message is not that we forget that the price of land has risen, but that the real factor is the price of the house as a whole, and not the price of the land in particular. Therefore, I want to concentrate on looking at the price of the house as a whole.

The problem of land is very much concerned with the availability and provision of land. It is also a problem of attitudes. I think that it will be generally agreed on both sides of the House that for some years too many people have been reluctant to zone land for private development in sufficient quantities for the needs.

Photo of Mr George Younger Mr George Younger , Ayr

No, I will not give way. I have been trying to encourage local planning authorities to zone more land for private housing and to make sure it is available. There is not a general shortage—

Photo of Mr Robert Hughes Mr Robert Hughes , Aberdeen North

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in Edinburgh, for example, there is sufficient land to build 7,000 houses already zoned and in private ownership for house building, yet only 400 houses a year are being built? How can this be explained in terms of what the hon. Gentleman is saying?

Photo of Mr George Younger Mr George Younger , Ayr

I was at fault in giving way to the hon. Gentleman. I was going on to say that there is not a general shortage of land available for private housing in Scotland, but it is desirable that local authorities should make still more land available. The only way to bring down prices is to make more land available and to get more houses built. The demand factor will not then put up prices at the same rate.

I should like to get down to some of the facts about house prices. First, is the average price of a new house in Scotland higher or lower than in other parts of the country? In 1969 the price was higher in Scotland than in other parts of the country. The average price of a new house in Scotland in 1969 was £4,918—higher than the average price of a new house in England or Wales by about £150. By 1972, the average house south of the Border cost £450 more than a Scottish house, the Scottish average being £6,596.

For all houses taken together—that is, both old and new—the average price in Scotland in 1972 was £6,232, which was more than £1,200 less than in England and Wales, where the average price was £7,470.

Taking percentage increases, we find that new house prices in Scotland increased by 24 per cent. between the second half of 1970 and the second half of 1972. That was less than half the increase for England and Wales, which was 49 per cent. The annual increase for 1972 was 15 per cent. in Scotland compared with 32 per cent. in England and Wales.

Those facts demonstrate not that we have a situation with which we are satisfied but that it is not true to say that we have a worse situation than one finds in the rest of Britain. What I should like to make clear is that Scotland is a good place for people to consider when they think about owning their own homes. It is a place where it is advantageous for people to own their homes, and we should encourage them as much as we can to do so.

Another way of looking at this is to compare the rise in house prices with the rise in average earnings, because if house prices go up someone buying a house finds it very much more difficult to do so if average earnings have not risen also. But if house prices go up and if earnings go up by the same amount then, relatively, the position is unaltered.

It is not the case that it is more difficult today than it was two years ago for a working man in Scotland to buy a house. Between 1970 and 1972, average earnings for manual workers in Scotland increased by about 30 per cent., while house prices increased by very much the same amount—marginally under 30 per cent. Average wages increased from £27·04 in 1970 to more than £35 in 1972. Between 1971 and 1972 wages increased by 17 per cent., while house prices increased by 15 per cent. Those are the figures given by the Building Societies Association.

The unprecedented increase in new private house building in Scotland since 1970 must be due in part at least to the great demand that has been created by those figures. If hon. Gentlemen opposite visit any house builder in Scotland they will find on his wall lists of people wanting to buy houses, and this in spite of the fact that house building is at an all time record level. It is not the case, in spite of all the difficulties that we have, that it is relatively more difficult today to buy a house than it was two years ago.

Nor is it the case that young couples are finding it more difficult to buy houses. In 1968—according to building societies' surveys—one-third of all mortgages were granted to borrowers under 26. The latest figure is similar.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

The point is that many young couples buy unsatisfactory houses. They leave homes in which they have been brought up which are far better than those which they are forced to buy— tenement flats, and so on. I wish the hon. Gentleman would tell us how many mortgages are for that kind of property.

Photo of Mr George Younger Mr George Younger , Ayr

The right hon. Gentleman is correct in saying that people buy all sorts of houses. People who buy houses which they do not really like do so quite often with the object—which they achieve—of moving to a better house as they get on in life. That is the normal progression.

Photo of Dr Maurice Miller Dr Maurice Miller , Glasgow Kelvingrove

Dr. M. S. Miller (Glasgow, Kelvingrove) rose

Photo of Mr George Younger Mr George Younger , Ayr

I am sorry, but I do not have sufficient time to give way.

Photo of Mr George Younger Mr George Younger , Ayr

I am sure it is, but I must continue with my speech. I do not wish to be discourteous to the hon. Gentleman.

Is it the case that a mortgage relative to income is more difficult to afford to-day than it was two years ago? The figures provided by the building societies and the methods by which they calculate them are interesting.

As I have said, the average price for a house in Scotland is about £6,500. But houses are being advertised for sale in several large towns at present at about £5,500. [An HON. MEMBER: "Where?"]. For instance, Airdrie, Larkhall and Dalry. They are two-bedroomed bungalows and semi-detached houses. I have been pretty fair with my information, and perhaps the House will now listen to the rest of it.

The average wage-earner today is earn-about £35 a week in Scotland.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

Is that take-home pay?

Photo of Mr George Younger Mr George Younger , Ayr

Not the net figure, no. Perhaps the mathematics master will leave me for a moment. By the normal calculations of the building societies, the borrowing power of a person earning £35 a week is about £5,450, and the mortgage repayment, allowing for tax relief or mortgage option, is £33 a month. This is a perfectly normal business transaction, and hon. Members must have heard it hundreds of times in their surgeries. It does not seem to me to be unreasonable or, indeed, something which produces hardship, as is stated in the motion.

If we go up a little further, to those earning £40 a week—a little above the average wage, but by no means a princely salary—the borrowing power at present would be about £6,250, which is very near the average price of a house in Scotland. The mortgage repayment, under the option mortgage scheme, would be about £38 per month.

I am not pretending that there is no cause for concern about rising house prices, because there is. But it is complete nonsense to try to give the impression to people in Scotland that they should not be trying to own their own homes because they could not afford it. It is not so. If that were so, I should be more concerned about it than anyone else. The Labour Party must come to terms about that.

I have been asked a number of very important questions and I shall do my best to answer some of them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East asked several very important questions about empty houses. The situation regarding empty council houses is a very patchy one. In some parts of some cities there is a considerable number lying empty. In other parts of the country there are still long waiting lists. It is no use anyone having the idea that because there are some empty council houses there are empty council houses everywhere. That is why we believe that we must concentrate our housing effort on those areas where there is still a crying need for it. It is no use having a blanket approach to large areas as a whole when we do not look at individual areas properly. As for the empty houses, I urge local authorities as often as possible to try to seek new methods of getting tenants wherever possible or ways of making use of these houses.

My hon. Friend also asked about high-rise flats. I would not want to pre-empt the consideration we are giving to the Select Committee's report, but it is generally agreed now that the role of high-rise flats went a little too far in previous years. I think that both sides of the House would agree that there is a need for them in some places but, generally, the needs of families and the desires of most of our cities and towns are for a more traditional type of housing. That is what will increasingly come to be built.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Wolrige-Gordon), my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) and the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North raised the particular problems of the North-East around Aberdeen. I am carefully watching the situation qua house prices in the North-East of Scotland. This question is causing considerable concern. It is due principally, though not entirely, to the very success the North-East of Scotland is having in its exploitation of North Sea oil. This is a classic example of boom conditions appearing and activity all over the place, with increasing demand forcing up prices.

The main thing one can do in any area to mitigate the effect of demand causing high prices is to build many more houses. Unless we can manage to maintain the current boom of building for owner occupation, the demand versus supply imbalance will become even more marked. This is why I am glad the building industry is going ahead and is optimistic about the future. It has done a marvellous job in managing to produce record figures in the last two years. In 1972 it managed to produce record figures in spite of a very long and difficult building strike lasting six weeks.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South asked for action to help combat soaring prices and for the release of more land. I have said that we are doing all we can to encourage councils to zone more land for private development, although it does not appear at present that there is a real shortage of land for private building.

My hon. Friend mentioned also the sale of council houses. One way of helping to ease the pressure for owner occupation would be for councils to allow the sale of houses to sitting tenants who wish to buy them, thereby helping to create a market for houses, which will do much to lower the price level and benefit many would-be occupiers. This would apply particularly to councils in the North-East where there is great pressure.

There has been much mention also of the question of the price of private houses. There was a marvellous speech, which I thought I remembered, from the

hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson). We heard the speech several times during our debates on the Housing Finance Act. I always enjoy the speech and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will keep on making it. I will not go into all the hon. Gentleman's strictures about the Housing Finance Act. I will say only one thing about it in the context of this debate. The hon. Gentleman entertained me greatly by saying, very honestly, in a very honest speech, "Do not ask me how exactly I propose to do it". That could well be the motto for the Opposition tonight. They have succeeded in mentioning many statistics about house prices, but we have not had any concrete example of what they would do to put the matter right.

I am not quite right. The Opposition have produced a suggestion, namely, that they want to nationalise all the land in Scotland. If their message at the end of this debate is that all that they can think of to put the matter right is to nationalise all the land in Scotland, that is a clarion call that the prospective and present house owners in Scotland will find a pretty damp squib.

The motion has been tabled by some bright spark in the back regions of the Opposition Whips' office, no doubt, with perhaps other motives than purely intellectual ones in looking at Scotland's housing problem. The Opposition have failed to make a case for any lack of action in housing on the Government's part. They have served only to highlight the fact that we are for the first time looking at housing in a comprehensive way, taking in all agencies.

I do not know who devised the motion, but I am sure that the House will take the advice of all who have spoken from this side, in spite of all the abstentions on the other side tonight, and vote down the motion with the contempt that it deserves.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 290, Noes 230.

Division No. 66.]AYES[10.0 p.m.
Adley, RobertArcher, Jeffrey (Louth)Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)Astor, JohnBaker, W. H. K. (Banff)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)Atkins, HumphreyBalniel, Rt. Hn. Lord
Amery, Rt. Hn. JulianAwdry, DanielBatsford, Brian
Beamish, Col. Sir TuftonGreen, AlanMoney, Ernle
Bell, RonaldGrieve,PercyMonks, Mrs. Connie
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)Montgomery, Fergus
Benyon, W.Grylls, MichaelMore, Jasper
Berry, Hn. AnthonyGummer, J. SelwynMorgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.
Biffen, JohnGurden, HaroldMorrison, Charles
Biggs-Davison, JohnHall, Miss Joan (Keighley)Mudd, David
Blaker, PeterHall, John (Wycombe)Murton, Oscar
Body, RichardHall-Davis, A. G. F.Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Boscawen, Hn. RobertHamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Neave, Airey
Bossom, Sir CliveHannam, John (Exeter)Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Bowden, AndrewHarrison, Brian (Maldon)Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Braine, Sir BernardHarrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)Normanton, Tom
Bray, RonaldHaselhurst, AlanNott, John
Brewis, JohnHastings, StephenOnslow, Cranley
Brinton, Sir TattonHavers, Sir MichaelOppenheim, Mrs. Sally
Brocklebank-Fowler, ChristopherHawkins, PaulOrr Capt. L. P. S.
Hayhoe, BarneyOsborn, John
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Heath, Rt. Hn. EdwardOwen, Idris (Stockport, N.)
Bruce-Gardyne, J.Heseltine, MichaelPage, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)
Bryan, Sir PaulHicks, RobertParkinson, Cecil
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus,N&M)Higgins, Terence L.Peel, Sir John
Buck, AntonyHiley, JosephPercival, Ian
Bullus, Sir EricHill, S. James A.(Southampton,Test)Peyton, Rt. Hn. John
Burden, F. A.Holland, PhilipPink, R. Bonner
Butler, Adam (Bosworth)Holt, Miss MaryPounder, Rafton
Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn)Hordern, PeterPowell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Carlisle, MarkHornby, RichardPrice, David (Eastleigh)
Carr, Rt. Hn. RobertHowe, Rt. Hn. Sir GeoffreyPrior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Channon, PaulHunt, JohnProudfoot, Wilfred
Chapman, SydneyHutchison, Michael ClarkPym, Rt. Hn. Francis
Chataway, Rt. Hn. ChristopherIremonger, T. L.Quennell, Miss J. M.
Churchill, W. S.Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Raison, Timothy
Clark, William (Surrey, E.)James, DavidRamsden, Rt. Hn. James
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Cockeram, EricJennings, J. C. (Burton)Redmond, Robert
Cooke, RobertJessel, TobyReed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Coombs, DerekJohnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)Rees, Peter (Dover)
Cooper, A. E.Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)Rees-Davies, W. R.
Cordle, JohnJopling, MichaelRenton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir FrederickJoseph, Rt. Hn. sir KeithRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Cormack, PatrickKaberry, Sir DonaldRidley, Hn. Nicholas
Costain, A. P.Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. ElaineRidsdale, Julian
Critchley, JulianKilfedder, JamesRippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Crouch, DavidKimball, MarcusRoberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)
Crowder, F. P.King, Tom (Bridgwater)Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)Kinsey, J. R.Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir HenryKitson, TimothyRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
d' Avigdor-Goldsmid,Maj.-Gen.JackKnight, Mrs. JillRost, Peter
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.Knox, DavidRussell, Sir Ronald
Digby, Simon WingfieldLambton, LordSt. John-Stevas, Norman
Dixon, PiersLament, NormanScott, Nicholas
Dodds-Parker, Sir DouglasLane, DavidShaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
du Cann, Rt. Hn. EdwardLangford-Holt, Sir JohnShelton, William (Clapham)
Dykes, HughLe Marchant, SpencerShersby, Michael
Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir JohnLewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Simeons, Charles
Edwards, Robert (Bliston)Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)Sinclair, Sir George
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)Longden, Sir GilbertSkeet, T. H. H
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)Loveridge, JohnSmith, Dudley (W'wlck & L'mington)
Emery, PeterLuce, R. N.Soref, Harold
Eyre, ReginaldMcAdden, Sir StephenSpeed, Keith
Farr, JohnMacArthur, IanSpence, John
Fenner, Mrs. PeggyMcCrindle, R. A.Sproat, Iain
Fidler, MichaelMcLaren, MartinStainton, Keith
Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)Maclean, Sir FitzroyStanbrook, Ivor
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)McMaster, StanleyStewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesMacmillan.Rt.Hn. Maurice (Farnham)Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Fookes, Miss JanetMcNair-Wilson, MichaelStoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Fortescue, TimMcNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)Stokes, John
Foster, Sir JohnMaddan, MartinStuttaford, Dr. Tom
Fowler, NormanMadel, DavidSutcliffe, John
Fox, MarcusMarples, Rt. Hn. ErnestTapsell, Peter
Fry, PeterMarten, NeilTaylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D.Mather, CarolTaylor, Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)
Gardner, EdwardMaude, AngusTaylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Gibson-Watt, DavidMaudling, Rt. Hn. ReginaldTaylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)Mawby, RayTebbit, Norman
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Temple, John M.
Glyn, Dr. AlanMeyer, Sir AnthonyThatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Goodhart, PhilipMills, Peter (Torrington)Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Goodhew, VictorMills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Gorst, JohnMiscampbell, NormanTilney, John
Gower, RaymondMitchell, Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W)Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)Trew, Peter
Gray, HamishMoate, RogerTugendhat, Christopher
Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir RobinWard, Dame IreneWoodnutt, Mark
van Straubenzee, W. R.Warren, KennethWorsley, Marcus
Vaughan, Dr. GerardWells, John (Maidstone)Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Vickers, Dame JoanWhite, Roger (Gravesend)Younger, Hn. George
Waddington, DavidWiggin, Jerry
Walder, David (Clilheroe)Wilkinson, JohnTELLERS FOR THE AYES
Walker, Rt. Hn. peter (Worcester)Winterton, NicholasMr. Walter Clegg and
Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir DerekWolrige-Gordon, PatrickMr. Bernard Weatherill
Wall, PatrickWood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Walters, DennisWoodhouse, Hn. Christopher
NOES
Abse, LeoGinsburg, David (Dewsbury)Mikardo, Ian
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Golding, JohnMillan, Bruce
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)Miller, Dr. M. S.
Ashley, JackGriffiths, Eddie (Brightside)Milne, Edward
Atkinson, NormanGrimond, Rt. Hn. J.Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)
Barnes, MichaelHamilton, William (Fife, W.)Molloy, William
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)Hardy, PeterMorris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Baxter, WilliamHarrison, Walter (Wakefield)Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Beaney, AlanHattersley, RoyMorris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony WedgwoodHealey, Rt. Hn. DenisMulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Bidwell, SydneyHeffer, Eric S.Oakes, Gordon
Boardman, H. (Leigh)Hilton, W. S.Ogden, Eric
Booth, AlbertHooson, EmlynO'Halloran, Michael
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)Horam, JohnO'Malley, Brian
Bradley, TomHoughton, Rt. Hn. DouglasOram, Bert
Broughton, Sir AlfredHowell, Denis (Small Heath)Orbach, Maurice
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)Huckfield, LeslieOrme, Stanley
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)
Buchan, NormanHughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)Padley, Walter
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)Hughes, Roy (Newport)Palmer, Arthur
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)Hunter, AdamParker, John (Dagenham)
Cant, R. B.Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Carmichael, NeilJanner, GrevillePavitt, Laurie
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northtfield)Jay, Rt. Hn. DouglasPeart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)Jeger, Mrs. LenaPendry, Tom
Castle, Rt. Hn. BarbaraJenkins, Hugh (Putney)Perry, Ernest G.
Clark, David (Colne Valley)Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)John, BrynmorPrescott, John
Cohen, StanleyJohnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Price, William (Rugby)
Concannon, J. D.Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)Probert, Arthur
Corbet, Mrs. FredaJohnson, Walter (Derby, S.)Reed, D. (Sedgefield)
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)Rees, Merlyn (Leeds. S.)
Jones, Dan (Burnley)Rhodes, Geoffrey
Crawshaw, RichardJones,Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)Richard, Ivor
Cronin, JohnJones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. AnthonyJones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)Roberts, Rt.Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. RichardJudd, FrankRobertson, John (Paisley)
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)Kaufman, GeraldRoderick, Caerwyn E.(Brc'n & R'dnor)
Darling, Rt. Hn. GeorgeKelley, RichardRodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Davidson, ArthurKerr, RussellRoper, John
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)Kinnock, NeilRose, Paul B.
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Lambie, DavidRoss, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Lamborn, HarryRowlands, Ted
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)Latham, ArthurSandelson, Neville
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)Lawson, GeorgeSheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Deakins, EricLee, Rt. Hn. FrederickShore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Delargy, HughLewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)Short, Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Dell, Rt. Hn. EdmundLewis, Ron (Carlisle)Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
Dempsey, JamesLipton, MarcusSilkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Doig, PeterLomas, KennethSilkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Douglas-Mann, BruceLoughlin, CharlesSillars, James
Driberg, TomLyon, Alexander W. (York)Silverman, Julius
Duffy, A. E. P.Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)Skinner, Dennis
Dunn, James A.Mabon, Dr. J. DicksonSmall, William
Eadie, AlexMcBride, NeilSpearing, Nigel
Edelman, MauriceMcCartney, HughSpriggs, Leslie
Edwards, Robert (Bilston)McGuire, MichaelStallard, A. W
Edwards, William (Merioneth)Mackenzie, GregorSteel, David
Ellis, TomMackie, JohnStewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)
English, MichaelMaclennan, RobertStoddart, David (Swindon)
Evans, FredMcNamara, J. KevinStonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Faulds, AndrewMahon, Simon (Bootle)
Fisher, Mrs. Dorls(B'ham,Ladywood)Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Strang, Gavin
Fitch, Alan (Wigan)Marks, KennethStrauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)Marquand, DavidSummerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Ford, BenMarshall, Dr. EdmundSwain, Thomas
Forrester, JohnMason, Rt. Hn. RoyThomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff,W.)
Fraser, John (Norwood)Mayhew, ChristopherThomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Freeson, ReginaldMeacher, MichaelTomney, Frank
Galpern, Sir MyerMellish, Rt. Hn. RobertTorney, Tom
Gilbert, Dr. JohnMendelson, JohnTuck, Raphael
Wainwright, EdwinWhite, James (Glasgow, Pollok)Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)Whitehead, PhillipWilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Walker, Harold (Doncaster)Whitlock, William
Wallace, GeorgeWilliams, Alan (Swansea, W.)TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Weitzman, DavidWilliams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)Mr. Donald Coleman and
Wellbeloved, JamesWilliams, W. T. (Warrington)Mr James Hamilton
Wells, William (Walsall. N.)Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Main Question, as amended, put:

The House divided: Ayes 291, Noes 230.

Division No. 67.]AYES[10.15 p.m.
Adley, RobertElliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)Kaberry, Sir Donald
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)Emery, PeterKellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)Eyre, ReginaldKilfedder, James
Amery, Rt. Hn. JulianFarr, JohnKimball, Marcus
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)Fenner, Mrs. PeggyKing, Tom (Bridgwater)
Astor, JohnFidler, MichaelKinsey, J. R.
Atkins, HumphreyFinsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)Kitson, Timothy
Awdry, DanielFisher, Nigel (Surbiton)Knight, Mrs. Jill
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesKnox, David
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)Fookes, Miss JanetLambton, Lord
Balniel, Rt. Hn. LordFortescue, TimLamont, Norman
Batsford, BrianFoster, Sir JohnLane, David
Beamish, Col. Sir TuftonFowler, NormanLangford-Holt, Sir John
Bell, RonaldFox, MarcusLe Marchant, Spencer
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Fry, PeterLewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Benyon, W.Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D.Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)
Berry, Hn. AnthonyGardner, EdwardLongden, Sir Gilbert
Bitten, JohnGibson-Watt, DavidLoveridge, John
Biggs-Davison, JohnGilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)Luce, R. N.
McAdden, Sir Stephen
Blaker, PeterGlimour, Sir John (Fife, E.)MacArthur, Ian
Body, RichardGlyn, Dr. AlanMcCrindle, R. A.
Boscawen, Hn. RobertGoodharl, PhilipMcLaren, Martin
Bossom, Sir CliveGoodhew, VictorMaclean, Sir Fitzroy
Bowden, AndrewGorst, JohnMcMaster, Stanley
Braine, Sir BernardGower, RaymondMacmillan.Rt.Hn.Maurice (Farnham)
Bray, RonaldGrant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)McNair-Wilson, Michael
Brewis, JohnGray, HamishMcNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Brinton, Sir TattonGreen, AlanMaddan, Martin
Brocklebank-Fowler, ChristopherGrieve, PercyMadel, David
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest
Bruce-Gardyne, J.Grylls, MichaelMarten, Neil
Bryan, Sir PaulGummer. J. SelwynMather, Carol
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus,N & M)Gurden, HaroldMaude, Angus
Buck, AntonyHall, Miss Joan (Keighley)Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
Bullus, Sir EricHall, John (Wycombe)Mawby, Ray
Burden, F. A.Hall-Davis, A. G. F.Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Butler, Adam (Bosworth)Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Meyer, Sir Anthony
Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn)Hannam, John (Exeter)Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Carlisle, MarkHarrison, Brian (Maldon)Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Carr, Rt. Hn. RobertHarrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)Miscampbell, Norman
Channon, PaulHaselhurst, AlanMitchell, Lt. -Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W)
Chapman, SydneyHastings, StephenMitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Chataway, Rt. Hn. ChristopherHavers, Sir MichaelMoate, Roger
Churchill, W. S.Hawkins, PaulMoney, Ernie
Clark, William (Surrey, E.)Hayhoe, BarneyMonks, Mrs. Connie
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Heath, Rt. Hn. EdwardMontgomery, Fergus
Cockeram, EricHeseltine, MichaelMore, Jasper
Cooke, RobertHicks, RobertMorgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.
Coombs, DerekHiggins, Terence L.Morrison, Charles
Cooper, A. E.Hiley, JosephMudd, David
Cordle, JohnHill, S. James A.(Southampton,Test)Murton, Oscar
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir FrederickHolland, PhilipNabarro, Sir Gerald
Cormack, PatrickHolt, Miss MaryNeave, Airey
Costain, A. P.Hordern, PeterNicholls, Sir Harmar
Critchley, JulianHornby, RichardNoble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Crouch, DavidHornsby-Smlth,Rt. Hn. Dame PatriciaNormanton, Tom
Crowder, F. P.Howe, Rt. Hn. Sir GeoffreyNott, John
Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)Hunt, JohnOnslow, Cranley
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir HenryHutchison, Michael ClarkOppenheim, Mrs. Sally
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, MaJ. -Gen. JackIremonger, T. L.Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Osborn, John
Digby, Simon WingfieldJames, DavidOwen, Idris (Stockport, N.)
Dixon, PiersJenkin, Patrick (Woodford)Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)
Dodds-Parker, Sir DouglasJennings, J. C. (Burton)Parkinson, Cecil
du Cann, Rt. Hn. EdwardJessel, TobyPeel, Sir John
Dykes, HughJohnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)Percival, Ian
Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir JohnJones, Arthur (Northants, S.)Peyton, Rt. Hn. John
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)Jopling, MichaelPink, R. Bonner
Elliot. Capt Walter (Carshalton)Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir KeithPounder, Rafton
Powell, Rt. Hn. J. EnochSimeons, CharlesTugendhal, Christopher
Price, David (Eastleigh)Sinclair, Sir GeorgeTurton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.Skeet, T. H. H.van Straubenzee, W. R.
Proudfoot, WilfredSmith, Dudley (W wick & L' mington)Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Pym, Rt. Hn. FrancisSoref, HaroldVickers, Dame Joan
Quennell, Miss J. M.Speed, KeithWaddington, David
Raison, TimothySpence, JohnWalder, David (Clitheroe)
Ramsden, Rt. Hn. JamesSproat, IainWalker, Rt. Hn. peter (Worcester)
Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir PeterStainton, KeithWalker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Redmond, RobertStanbrook, IvorWall, Patrick
Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)Walters, Dennis
Rees, Peter (Dover)Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)Ward, Dame Irene
Rees-Davies, W. R.Stoddart-Scott, Col, Sir M.Warren, Kenneth
Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir DavidStokes, JohnWells, John (Maidstone)
Rhys Williams, Sir BrandonStuttaford, Dr. TomWhite, Roger (Gravesend)
Ridley, Hn. NicholasSutcliffe, JohnWiggin, Jerry
Ridsdale, JulianTapsell, PeterWilkinson, John
Rippon, Rt. Hn. GeoffreyTaylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)Winterton, Nicholas
Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)Taylor,Edward M. (G'gow,Cathcart)Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Roberts, Wyn (Conway)Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)Tebbit, NormanWoodnutt, Mark
Rost, PeterTemple, John M.Worsley, Marcus
Russell, Sir RonaldThatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. MargaretWylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
St. John-Stevas, NormanThomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)Younger, Hn. George
Scott, NicholasThompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)Tilney, JohnTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Shelton, William (Clapham)Trafford, Dr. AnthonyMr. Walter Clegg and
Shersby, MichaelTrew, PeterMr. Bernard Weatherill.
NOES
Abse, LeoDuffy, A. E. P.Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Dunn, James A.Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)Eadie, AlexJones, Dan (Burnley)
Ashley, JackEdelman, MauriceJones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)
Atkinson, NormanEdwards, Robert (Bilston)Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)
Barnes, MichaelEdwards, William (Merioneth)Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, w.)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Ellis, TomJudd, Frank
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)English, MichaelKaufman, Geralo
Baxter, WilliamEvans, FredKelley, Richard
Beaney, AlanFaulds, AndrewKerr, Russell
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony WedgwoodFisher, Mrs. Doris(B'hsm,Ladywood)Kinnock, Neil
Bidwell, SydneyFitch, Alan (Wigan)Lambie, David
Boardman, H. (Leigh)Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)Lamborn, Harry
Booth, AlbertFord, BenLatham, Arthur
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)Forrester, JohnLawson, George
Bradley, TomFraser, John (Norwood)Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Broughton, Sir AlfredFreeson, ReginaldLewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)Galpern, Sir MyerLewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)Gilbert, Dr. JohnLipton, Marcus
Buchan, NormanGinsburg, David (Dewsbury)Lomas, Kenneth
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)Golding, JohnLoughlin, Charles
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Cant, R. B.Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Carmichael, NeilGrimond, Rt. Hn. J.Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfleid)Hamilton, James (Bothwell)McBride, Neil
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)McCartney, Hugh
Castle, Rt. Hn. BarbaraHannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)McGuire, Michael
Clark, David (Colne Valley)Hardy, PeterMackenzie, Gregor
Cohen, StanleyHarrison, Walter (Wakefield)Mackie, John
Concannon, J. D.Hattersley, RoyMaciennan, Robert
Conbet, Mrs. FredaHealey, Rt. Hn. DenisMcNamara, J. Kevin
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)Heffer, Eric S.Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Crawshaw, RichardHilton, W. S.Marks, Kenneth
Cronin, JohnHooson, EmlynMarquand, David
Crosland, Rt. Hn. AnthonyHoram, JohnMarshall, Dr. Edmund
Crossman, Rt. Hn. RichardHoughton, Rt. Hn. DouglasMason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.)Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
Darling, Rt. Hn. GeorgeHuckfield, LeslieMeacher, Michael
Davidson, ArthurHughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)Mendelson, John
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Hughes, Roy (Newport)Mikardo, Ian
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Hunter, AdamMillan, Bruce
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)Miller, Dr. M. S.
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)Janner, GrevilleMilne, Edward
Deakins, EricJay, Rt. Hn. DouglasMitchell, R. C. (S'hamplon, Itchen)
Delargy, HughJeger, Mrs. LenaMolloy, William
Dell, Rt. Hn. EdmundJenkins, Hugh (Putney)Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Dempsey, JamesJenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Doig, PeterJohn, BrynmorMorris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Douglas-Mann, BruceJohnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)
Driberg, TomJohnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Oakes, GordonRodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)Thomas,Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff,W.)
Ogden, EricRopor, JohnThomas, Jeffrey (Abertiilery)
O'Halloran, MichaelRose, Paul B.Tomney, Frank
O'Malley, BrianRoss, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)Torney, Tom
Oram, BertRowlands, TedTuck, Raphael
Orbach, MauriceSandelson, NevilleWainwright, Edwin
Orme, StanleySheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Padley, WalterShort, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)Wailace, George
Palmer, ArthurShort, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton.N.E.)Weitzman, David
Parker, John (Dagenham)Silkln, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)Wellbeloved, James
Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Pavitt, Laurie
Peart Rt. Hn. FredSillars, JamesWhite, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Pendrv TomSilverman, JuliusWhitehead, Phillip
Perry, Erneast G.Skinner, DennisWhitlock, William
Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.Small, WilliamWilliams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Prescott, JohnSpearing, NigelWilliams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Price, William (Rugby)Spriggs, LeslieWilliams, W. T. (Warrington)
Probert, ArthurStallard, A. W.Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Reed, D. (Sedgefield)Steel, DavidWilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S)Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Rhodes, GeoffreyStoddart, David (Swindon)
Richard, IvorStonehouse, Rt. Hn. JohnTELLERS FOR THE NOES
Roberts, Albert (Normanton)Strang, GavinMr. Donald Coleman and
Roberts, Rt.Hn.Goronwy (Caernarvon)Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.Mr. Michael Cocks
Robertson, John (Paisley)Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Brc'n & R'dnor)Swain, Thomas

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved,That this House approves the measures taken by Her Majesty's Government to stimulate action by all agencies to meet outstanding housing needs and to improve housing conditions in Scotland; and acknowledges that, as a result, the demand for wider oportunities for choice in housing is now being fully recognised and increasingly met.