Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [20th May]:
That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to reduce the sums mentioned in Item 10 of Part I of the Schedule (Page 6) as follows:—
When the debate was adjourned on 20th May, I was about to list the ways in which the Greater London Council will be spending that portion of the money in its Bill allocated for the municipalisation of rented houses. This is the subject of the motion before the House which seeks to cut back expenditure by the GLC in the housing field.
The ways in which the GLC will wish to spend the money concerned in this motion are as follows. The first will be in pursuance of a confirmed compulsory purchase order or to meet a statutory obligation such as a purchase notice served by a private owner on the GLC. The second will be on acquisition, particularly in areas of acute housing stress, of tenanted property where the local authority has clear evidence that tenants are in need as a result of bad housing conditions, including threat of harassment and risk of becoming homeless. The third will be on the acquisition of properties which have been standing empty for six months, or of properties with vacant possession in areas in which there is a serious overall shortage of housing, and the acquisition of which would be for the purpose of housing essential public service workers or homeless families. The fourth would be the acquisition of houses previously sold by a local authority which it is reacquiring under the terms of a pre-emption clause imposed on the original sale. The fifth will be the acquisition on behalf of, or in order to sponsor, a housing association or a tenants' co-operative.
I should like to know—I think the House is entitled to know—on what grounds any Member of the Opposition would oppose the purchase of rented accommodation to serve those purposes—and perhaps the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) will tell us—for these are the five categories of acquisition which are listed in paragraph 30 of Circular 70/74 as priorities which the Government wish local authorities generally to pursue in their acquisition programmes, a policy to which the GLC and other local authorities which have been in touch with us since the issue of that circular have acceded.
If both Government and local authorities, including the GLC, are agreed on the policy of acquisition in these categories, what objection can the Conservative Party have to such a policy? This is not a question of random acquisition. It represents a planned approach to solving the deep housing problems in some of our major cities, including, of course, London. Nowhere are these problems more acute or is the approach set out in the circular and the policy of the GLC more appropriate than in London.
The panel of inquiry into the Greater London development plan pinpointed the main area of housing stress in London as the privately rented sector, which was shrinking in size and being replaced by accommodation which the displaced inhabitants could not afford. The panel concluded that unless local authorities provided such accommodation themselves, or helped housing associations to provide it, it was unlikely to be provided.
The panel recommended that the GLC and the boroughs should acquire a greater diversity of houses and let them on a variety of conditions, in order to deal more effectively with the widest possible range of housing problems. The report of the panel of inquiry was received by the previous administration, of which the hon. Member for Hornsey was a member as a Minister in the Department of the Environment.
Are we to understand that the Conservative Party has now rejected one of the most central recommendations on policy which the inquiry submitted to the then Government and which is now before this Government? We accept the analysis of the Layfield panel of inquiry. The GLC is willing to do the job and the Government intend to see that it has the financial resources. Does the Conservative Party really seek to prevent the GLC from making acquisitions which will stop harassment, prevent more homelessness and help those who are already homeless?
Do they not want London's essential services improved by increasing the accommodation available for the workers in them? From teachers to transport workers, covering the whole range of public services, London is in difficulty. One of the most important areas in which help can be given is housing. These people are increasingly turning to the local authorities direct or to the housing associations, which I have helped the local authorities to finance, or to the Housing Corporation for such help. They expect Parliament to support their pleas, not oppose them, as would be the effect of the motion.
The hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Finsberg), who moved the motion, professed to recognise all these problems. His words about London's public services are well worth quoting. Among other things he said:
our public services are creaking because of manpower shortages."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th May 1974; Vol. 874, c. 105.]
I think that we would all accept that one of the most important reasons why the services are creaking is the housing situation which the staff of these services are facing.
The House must recognise, therefore, that the kinds of acquisition of rented accommodation by the GLC which the Conservative Party's motion opposes are the very kinds which the hon. Member for Hampstead seeks to persuade us that he supports. The Conservatives cannot have it both ways. I do not know about other hon. Members who spoke in a different vein in the earlier debate, but the hon. Member for Hampstead would say that it is the local borough which should act and not the GLC. But he also said that he considered it quite wrong and not genuine local government that the GLC should come to the House to get its money. He pointed out that the GLC is the only local authority which has to come to the House in this way.
That is a fair point to make, but it is quite beside the central point of the debate on the motion. It is another matter, which concerns the procedures by which the GLC gets authorisation for its expenditure. It is separate from the issue before us, which is the request to the House that it should instruct the Committee which is to handle the Bill to delete expenditure designed to bring houses into public ownership in the categories that I have put before the House. That is the issue. It is not the methods by which the GLC has to get authorisation for its expenditure. That is a red herring and a bluff. The hon. Member for Hampstead and those who spoke in the earlier debate know that. They are introducing something that is quite irrelevant. If they want to alter the method by which the GLC gets authorisation for expenditure, let them bring an appropriate motion before the House.
The Minister will recall, among his quotations, that in two previous money Bill debates I have said that the GLC should not come to the House for its money and should behave like other local government bodies. It is because the GLC has to come here for money that the House has the right to say to the GLC what it should do.
I do not particularly agree with the representation which the hon. Gentleman has put to the House again. It is an acceptable argument, but it is quite beside the point of the motion, which seeks to stop the GLC acquiring properties to meet the kind of needs that I have put to the House. That is the issue before us.
In his motion, the hon. Gentleman, despite the view that he has expressed about this being an improper way for the GLC to get authorisation for expenditure, seeks to cause the procedure which he sees as anomalous to produce even more serious anomalies. Under the circular from which I have quoted, any other authority anywhere in the country, without coming to the House, can do precisely what the GLC wishes to do. Are we to say to the GLC, the largest local authority in the country, that it should be more restricted in the exercise of its proper housing functions than the smallest district council? The case has to be argued. Are we to say to the GLC that it should not operate its housing powers in the same way as the smallest district authority in the country operates its housing powers? That would be the effect of passing the motion.
I remind the House that the powers under which the GLC acts in housing matters are powers conferred by Parliament. The Bill authorises only the expenditure. The powers already exist. If hon. Members want to take away those powers, they should take the proper parliamentary steps and have such a motion carried in the House. The motion before us seeks to render inoperable powers which Parliament has provided to the GLC. The House would thus be producing constitutional nonsense if it were passed.
Will my hon. Friend confirm that the law which requires the GLC to come to the House for its authorisation stems from an Act passed during the period of the Conservative Government in the early 1960s?
My hon. Friend is correct to remind the House of that. The procedure arises from the London Government Act 1963, which set up the present system of local government in London. Many Conservative Members were present in the House at that time and no doubt campaigned in favour of that legislation.
To do what is being asked by the Opposition, quite apart from the fact that it is wrong in principle, would create constitutional nonsense. The hon. Member for Hampstead is not challenging the purposes for which the money is to be used, unlike some of his hon. Friends. He said that he in no way opposes these purchases. He is on the record as having said that, although he now claims the right, since the GLC has come to us, to stop these purchases. Some may under stand this sort of convoluted argument, but my hon. Friends and I cannot.
That is what I gather. The hon. Member for Hampstead and others have argued against this matter not only in the course of the earlier debate but on other occasions. Whatever he may say, he is challenging the basic housing powers of the GLC as given to it by Parliament under a Conservative Government.
Conservative Members say that municipalisation does not add to the existing housing stock. That is not an original argument. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is true."] Of course it is true, but it is hardly a profound observation. The aim of municipalisation is to achieve the objectives I spelt out in my opening remarks. I gather that the hon. Member for Hampstead does not disagree with those objectives, because he said so the last time we debated this matter.
The hon. Member said it should be the boroughs and not the GLC, but he did not object to the policy. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) pointed out the last time we debated this, although there may not be an increase in the housing stock there is an addition to the effective housing stock when for every empty privately owned house there is a municipally owned occupied one.
The Housing Bill, which has now completed its Committee stage and has been generally welcomed by the House, provides extensive new powers for local authorities, including the GLC, to acquire dwellings in housing action areas where this is necessary if they are to be used effectively. That is the central theme of the circular on house purchase to which T have referred, as is clear from the categories of acquisition which I mentioned in my earlier comments. It would, therefore, be quite contradictory to the Bill if the House passed this motion. It would make it almost impossible for the GLC to be active in areas of stress in the way the Bill seeks.
I apologise if I do not appear to understand the argument that the Minister is putting forward. When he speaks of the ability of Parliament to amend any provision which the GLC seeks to obtain, is he complaining that Parliament will not he a rubber stamp for the decisions of the GLC or is he complaining that Parliament proposes to use the powers conferred upon itself in that respect?
I am not surprised that the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stan-brook) does not understand my argument in view of what he says. Nor does he show much spirit of interest or concern about the housing problems in London. It is not understood by Conservative Members who make nice speeches about the compassionate politics from time to time but are not prepared to put the necessary instrument into the hands of the authorities so that they can do something about the problem.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, North (Mr. Davies) rightly said on the last occasion, the most desperate housing need in London is not houses to buy but houses to rent. We must get our priorities right in considering London's housing problems, and the aims of the Bill are a major step in the right direction.
The housing problems of this great city are far too important to be treated in the way in which Opposition Members are seeking to treat them. At this time, well past the middle of the twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of families are living in conditions of which we should be ashamed. The worst of these conditions are to be found in London in the privately rented sector, where 40 per cent. of such dwellings are in substandard to slum condition. The only way in which we can have action taken is by public enterprise by the GLC and other forms of social ownership.
In our earlier debate the huge size of these problems was shown by a number of figures which I gave to the House. But it seems that the seeking and obtaining of information is the limit of what we can expect from Conservative Members. It is no wonder their housing policies led to the disaster we are having to tackle.
It is no use seeing the problems if action is not taken to deal with them. The need for action in London is a matter of the utmost urgency, requiring immediate and continuous effort by all concerned—the Government, Parliament, the GLC, the boroughs, the voluntary housing movement, everyone who can act.
If the motion is passed, the GLC's contribution to this effort will have to be severely curtailed. The reduction proposed for housing expenditure is nearly 40 per cent. Let there be no mistake—this will not be made up by other people, for most of the boroughs are doing all they can already, where in some instances they are not, it is not because they are relying on the GLC to act for them but because they take the view of Conservative Members.
Will the hon. Gentleman refute the suggestion that the instruction will in no way lead to the addition of more houses for the Greater London area? Should not the accent be on the acquisition of more land and more houses and not on existing houses?
I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman that we should have more land brought into use for more housing. I hope that he and his colleagues will use all their endeavours to support the Government and the GLC in our attempts to get such land in the outer London boroughs as well as in dockland and elsewhere brought into housing use. It is in many of the outer London boroughs dominated by the Conservative Party that there is a callous indifference to solving London's housing problems.
What we shall shortly be voting about is not whether the GLC or the boroughs should be acting but whether we really want an all-out attack on London's housing problems. In the Government's view, there can be only one answer. I ask the House to reject this heartless and indifferent motion, and let Londoners know that we care about their welfare and want to see an end to the social evils that exist in far too much of housing and blight the lives of so many of the families in this great city.
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. There are quite a few of my hon. Friends in the Chamber who were present when the previous debate of 20th May was truncated by the Opposition. Is it not fair that my hon. Friends should now continue this debate as Opposition hon. Members did not want to argue their case on that earlier occasion?
I was about to say that we owe this debate to the extraordinary scene in this House on 20th May to which the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Brown) has referred, when the Government Chief Whip gave a remarkable imitation of an on-course bookie's tic-tac man. I am not sure how the Chair was intended to interpret those unusual gestures, but the result was that the Government lost the rest of their business for that date, the lion. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) lost his Adjournment debate and the Bill was put at risk for one month.
When the Minister came to intervene on that earlier occasion he did so, as he has done tonight, with his usual curious mixture of aggressive arrogance and defensive bitterness. He took it as the grand occasion to make an onslaught upon our housing record and give himself an alibi for the future. Tonight he has continued that line to impugn our motives regarding housing.
The Opposition have as much concern for the homeless, for the ill-housed people and for London as the Government, except that we do not adopt the continual holier-than-thou attitude that is all that we get from the Government. All that Labour hon. Members have to do is to examine side by side the housing records of the two parties back to 1950 and they will see that we outscore them time after time. If there is time at the end of the debate I shall turn to housing figures and statistics. I have come prepared to do that. I shall take the Minister right through the parties' records. He will find that his party does not come out of that at all creditably.
I now turn to the real issue—namely, the municipalisation of privately owned property. The Minister has come round to that only today. The motion before the House is an instruction to the Committee on the Greater London (Money) Bill to reduce certain sums mentioned in the schedule by approximately £83 million. The money is earmarked by the GLC for carrying forward its programme of municipalisation up to the end of the first six months of the financial year 1975–76. In addition, I understand that the GLC proposes to petition Parliament for a further net £13 million for the year 1974–75 to enable it to buy up new houses from private developers. It is that request that we have to scrutinise. We must consider whether the borrowing for such purposes is justified and whether the resources could be better employed.
We are charged by previous legislation to do that because of the size of the GLC and the great impact upon public expenditure that an authority of that size has by virtue of its operation. Parliament has seen fit to give us that responsibility, and it is that responsibility that we must now discharge.
The more one examines the details of the proposals, the more one becomes disquieted. According to the joint report of the valuer and the director of housing to the council, dated 12th September 1973, the acquisitions practical for 197475 total 5,000 dwellings at a cost of £50 million—not the £83 million with which we are now dealing nor the other £13 million which is going to be involved.
The report states that, given staffing and administration, 5,000 houses in a year is what is practical for the GLC to acquire. But that is only the beginning of the arithmetic. It estimates that the difference between the loan charges involved in borrowing all this money and the fair rents will leave the GLC with a deficit of £800 per annum for each dwelling it acquires. Even allowing for Government subsidies of £600 per dwelling per annum, this will mean a deficit on the revenue account of the GLC of £700,000 for 1974–75. That is quite apart from the borrowing we are now talking about.
The officers advise that a further £25 million will be required for repairs and improvements, presumably out of the revenue account, which will require a supplementary estimate. In addition, staff will have to be augmented in the departments concerned. The GLC will require, in carrying out the acquisition of 5,000 properties a year, 60 additional valuers and surveyors and 30 additional solicitors—the latter, at £3,000 a year, costing an extra £300,000. The GLC has recently rented new offices in Regent Street for staff at prime rents; it will have to rent even more offices in central London, at an even greater burden to the ratepayers.
Is the hon. Gentleman. therefore, proposing that the forest of "For sale" notices covering London should continue to adorn empty premises and that tenants should continue to be winkled out and to have to be put into bed and breakfast accommodation or other accommodation for the homeless because the GLC is unable to come to their rescue?
If the hon. Gentleman will compose himself with a little patience, I shall come to that point. At the moment I am dealing with the financial implications.
As I was pointing out, the employment of an extra 60 valuers and surveyors and 30 more solicitors is not the end of the story. Anyone with experience of the management of local authority housing knows that it is most efficiently and economically done where properties are grouped in reasonably-sized estates. This eases the problems of rent collection, caretaking, calls for maintenance and repairs, and the sorting out of the myriad tenancy problems which arise between landlord and tenant. The management of individual properties scattered over a large geographical area is both expensive and inefficient.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the officers of the GLC recommend the council to engage a further 510 clerical management staff, maintenance men, caretakers and cleaners to deal with the additional 5,000 properties, which will mean a salary and wage bill, on my estimate, of about £1,400,000.
No provision has been made in the current rent estimates of the GLC because of the uncertainty of recruitment. It does not even know yet whether it will get the people to administer any block of property.
Supplementary estimates will require to be submitted to the ratepayers in the New Year. The GLC ratepayers, who already face an 85 per cent. increase, will jump for joy at the things I have just mentioned. To what purpose is this colossal expenditure being incurred? The municipalisation of 5,000 houses will have but a marginal effect on the housing problems of Greater London. The Minister does not like me saying this but it will not deter me: it will not add one new unit of accommodation to the existing house stock.
This brings a new competitor with massive funds into the housing market, making it even more difficult for those trying to find their own homes, and will force prices up.
I am well aware of the effect on the house market and on prices of this kind of activity by anybody with this kind of money at its disposal. It will limit even further the choice of living accommodation between council property and home ownership. It means imposing greater financial strains on those already struggling to pay their rates. It is wasteful deployment of public resources, using money which could be better employed for other housing purposes than by acquiring houses which are already there. If successful, this will have a stultifying effect on housing supply and will mean little hope for new families being formed by youngsters leaving their parents to marry—because they never get on a council housing list.
How much better it would be—I answer the hon. Member opposite by posing another question—if the GLC were to use this money in providing mortgages at low interest rates for these young people or for teachers who cannot afford to live in London and do not qualify to go on housing lists, and for employees of London Transport, which we are told is desperately under-staffed.
Since the hon. Gentleman is making so much of the point, he is aware, unless he has forgotten, that in the same money Bill the GLC is seeking authority for another £80 million of expenditure for precisely the purpose he has put to the House. It will provide about a quarter of the local authority home loans throughout the country.
That is not sufficient for the purposes we have in mind, because the hon. Gentleman was suggesting municipalisation for teachers, for London Transport staff and for the homeless housing programme. If he thinks municipalisation is necessary for that purpose he accepts that the mortgage money is not enough. He must do.
Add this to the money for mortgages, and, instead of employing 60 valuers, 30 solicitors and 510 managers, caretakers and cleaners, getting new offices, spending ratepayers' money on those purposes, it could use that money for giving lower interest rates to teachers so that they could buy their own houses. The policy of municipalisation is so absurd in terms of expenditure and of what it will achieve that I cast around for other reasons why these proposals are brought before us.
I recall a story, almost apocryphal, which is told in London local government circles about the late Herbert Morrison. It is said that when Labour won control of the LCC in the '30s and he became leader, Herbert Morrison unrolled a map of London and said "We will build large council estates there, there and there. That will make sure that London will be Labour for ever."
He pursued that policy with the vigour for which he was well known. The result was satisfactory in the Labour interest but the price was the creation of large soulless estates. In recent years the reverse process has been taking place in inner London, the so-called process of "gentrification". Areas of London, originally Regency and Victorian, were built for the "carriage" trade. Those areas became less fashionable between the two world wars as the middle class followed the progress of the Underground and the electrification of Southern Railway into the outer suburbs.
The houses they left behind fell into multi-occupation, became subject to rent control and decayed through financial neglect. The inner borough councils were faced with declining rateable values and less and less money to spend on amenity and environment. Obsolescence accelerated as the inner boroughs became increasingly depressing and squalid, and Labour power became more and more secure. In London squalid districts and Labour Party control of local government have become synonymous.
In the last two decades there has been the reverse of this taking place. As travel in and out of the centre of London has become more and more difficult and frustrating, and house prices in the most fashionable areas have moved out of the reach of people, the middle class has begun to return to inner London, salvaging and resuscitating decayed properties, starting with those with a period flavour. We have seen the process from middle class to middle class go full circle in parts of Islington, Camden, Lambeth and Paddington. This has been viewed with great alarm by the London Labour Party, which is more concerned with securing its power base than seeing good homes re-created at minimum cost.
Speaking as a Member for an area where there has been exactly this kind of "gentrification" process which the hon. Member tried to describe, may I assure him that this process which is taking place in the heart of my constituency has had no effect whatever upon the strength of the Labour majority in the area? It is a very bad thing only because it means that people who are performing the necessary services for London simply cannot find accommodation. That is why we disapprove and feel that there needs to be a brake upon a process which otherwise would run not throughout the centre of London.
No doubt the hon. Gentleman will rejoice that his majority has not been affected by "gentrification". Perhaps he will explain that to some of his hon. Friends who have shown so much concern about this process. Of course the services are a problem, but Camden is virtually one vast council estate now. There are vast areas—[Interruption.] This is a natural process which should be allowed to continue.
We are continually told by the outer London boroughs "We have our own atmosphere, and the inner London boroughs must not interfere with it by being allowed to build or acquire houses in our areas.". It seems that they must keep their middle class nature, but apparently the working people living in the inner boroughs are to be displaced to give way to market forces. How does the hon. Gentleman reconcile the two?
I know that the Minister does not like it when we mention it, but there is land available. It is dockland, and I intend to deal with that subject later.
The London Labour Party recognises that the massive council estate is no longer socially acceptable, any more than is bulldozing down London's architectural heritage. For that reason, it invented "gentrification" as something of a pejorative term. It has sought in its place some other means of stopping that happening and has seized on municipalisation, or, to use that euphemism of it, social ownership, as a means of controlling who shall and who shall not live in a particular district by taking as many private homes into public ownership as it can. In inner London the purpose is to ensure that its supporters remain in sufficient numbers and in outer London it is an extension of the Morrison strategy of political colonisation.
All this is done under the cynical cloak of care for the people in housing need. The hypocrisy of the Labour Party sickens me.
Therefore, let us look at the alternative. The only policy which can succeed is that which will provide an extension of the housing stock, which will create new homes for new generations of families, and which will rescue our old decaying houses and turn them into decent homes. My hon. Friends and I believe that such an alternative is viable, and, therefore, I put five specific matters. They are not original; they have been canvassed before. But they are matters which, taken together, will, I think, serve more to help the people in housing need in London than will playing around with 5,000 houses round the periphery.
First, there must be a diversion of greater public resources for the rescue of the older housing stock. Second, there must be conversion of uneconomically large houses into units compatible with modern family needs. Both those objectives were sought in our Housing and Planning Bill to supplement our massive programme of house improvement grants. I am gratified that the Minister has taken up all those proposals and has reintroduced them with very little variation because he realises their validity.
I do not know whether hon. Members appreciate that, as a result of the massive encouragement given by the Conservative Government to improvement grants for making up-to-date conversions, decent homes were being provided at the rate of 400,000 a year. That is a genuine contribution to the housing stock and a useful deployment of public resources.
Third, I suggest the release of the vast pool of unoccupied and under-occupied property throughout the capital by freeing all future lettings from control and security of tenure. I refer to premises at the moment unlet because people are fearful of bringing in tenants who may turn out to be bad ones of whom they may never rid themselves. Anyone who knows London will know of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have accommodation of that kind available and would bring it on to the market tomorrow if they had no fear of future control.
Fourth, I suggest to the Minister the immediate setting up of a new town corporation for the redevelopment of the 5,500 acres of derelict and idle land lying in the docks. It is a continuing scandal that the GLC and the five—[Interruption.] The Minister laughs, of course. He is not concerned with the problems of London or with solving them. He is concerned only about making political arguments and appearing as the knight in shining armour to the homeless of London.
It is a matter of months ago, during the course of last year, that it was the hon. Gentleman's own Secretary of State who did not proceed along the lines that are now being urged on this Government, who have been in office only four months. Instead, the then Secretary of State sponsored the setting up of a joint committee of the GLC and the London boroughs concerned to study various ways in which they could deal with this land. Why, then, does the hon. Gentleman come up with this so-called new proposal when his own Government rejected it months ago?
An independent consultant's report was prepared, the GLC and the five London boroughs did not like it, they asked for time to reconsider it, they started to fall out amongst themselves, and it was shortly before the General Election that my right hon. and learned Friend's patience was becoming stretched to the point of setting up this new town corporation. Those are the facts, and the hon. Gentleman can look at his departmental records to see whether or not that is the case.
I urge the hon. Gentleman not to play this "footsy" game with the GLC and his Labour colleagues in these boroughs, but to get on with the job of providing houses on those 5,500 acres, which are a growing insult to the homeless in London.
Does not the hon. Gentleman remember that when his right hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) initiated this project there were 800 acres of land in my constituency awaiting the building of houses, and that one of the conditions of the survey was that all development should be frozen? If the hon. Gentleman's party and his right hon. Friend were really serious about this, why would not they permit the Newham borough council and the GLC to go ahead on land which had been allocated for housing, which has been agreed to be there for housing and on which, I believe, housing will now be built? Why did not they do that?
I have no idea at all. No doubt there is a valid answer and it can be studied. But I am not in the position of having an official box at my elbow to feed me bits of paper with all the answers.
Taken together, and immediately, I am sure that these proposals will present an immediate and positive solution to London's housing problems. In favour of them, I reject utterly the temporary and ridiculous expedient of municipalisation, which owes its genesis to a cynical exploitation of a crying human need. I reject that it should be done at the enormous expense of the hard-pressed ratepayers of London and those seeking their own homes.
I oppose municipalisation because I believe that Londoners' homes should be their own castles, not feudal cottages held under the patronage of the political barons of the GLC.
I said that if there was time I would comment on the Minister's remarks about the comparative housing records of the two main political parties. I do that gladly.
The burden of the Minister's criticism was that he inherited a programme—
Before the hon. Gentleman delves into all the facts and figures, may I ask whether, on behalf of the Conservative Party, he will comment on the position of ordinary people who have no proper places in which to live and bring up their children? Will he leave these figures, abandon his abuse, and show a little concern for the ordinary folk of London who have no proper housing because of the policies of the Conservative Party?
I have that concern. I came into politics 25 years ago because of the housing conditions that I saw in Islington. That experience impelled me into local government, and from there I have progressed to this place. Housing has always been my main concern and interest. I wish to do my best to try to alleviate some of the appalling conditions in which so many people have to live. I give way to no Member in this House it my feelings for those people.
I differ profoundly from the hon. Gentleman about the means by which that object shall be achieved. I do not believe that it will be done by political bosses operating in town halls. It will be achieved only by giving people the ability to acquire their own homes. That is where we must direct public help and assistance. We must provide resources for those people to modernise their homes.
I believe that there is a different and better way to achieve that objective than what is proposed by the hon. Gentleman. That does not mean that I do not feel for these people and their problems as much as he does. I probably feel a great deal more.
Let me now get back to housing statistics. The Minister said that he had inheri-
The Labour Party said that it was impossible for this country to build more than 200,000 houses a year. The Conservative Government set a target of 300,000 houses a year, went on to 400,000, and were getting their sights on 500,000 houses a year when we had the disaster of the Labour Government of 1964–70, which completely wrecked our programme in 1967 and 1968.
In the period 1967–68 the housing programme went into a deep slide which was arrested only in the past 12 months. Let me quote from the Financial Times of 12th June last in which Colin Jones writes about the private sector. [Interruption.] I know that hon. Gentlemen opposite do not want to hear the case when it is not convenient to them, but let me read from an impartial article:
There is a growing impression that the long downward slide, which began as far back as 1967–68, may at last be bottoming out. For about a year now in England and Wales and for about six months in Scotland, the number of new local authority houses for which tenders have been approved has been rising.
|Division No. 46.]||AYES||[11.26 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Bray, Ronald||Corrie, John|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Brewis, John||Costain, A. P.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Brittan, Leon||Critchley, Julian|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Crouch, David|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Crowder, F. P.|
|Ancram, M.||Bryan, Sir Paul||Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Buchanan-Smith, Alick||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid.Maj. -Gen. James|
|Atkins, Rt. Hn. Humphrey (Spelthorne)||Buck, Antony||Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)|
|Awdry, Daniel||Budgen, Nick||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.|
|Baker, Kenneth||Bulmer, Esmond||Dixon, Piers|
|Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord||Burden, F. A.||Dodds-Parker, Sir Douglas|
|Banks, Robert||Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Dodsworlh, Geoffrey|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Carlisle, Mark||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Drayson, Burnaby|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Fareham)||Chalker, Mrs. Lynda||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Benyon, W.||Channon, Paul||Durant, Tony|
|Berry, Hon. Anthony||Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Dy[...]es, Hugh|
|Biffen, John||Churchill, W. S.||Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Clark, A. K. M. (Plymouth, Sutton)||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)|
|Blaker, Peter||Clark, William (Croydon, S.)||Elliott, Sir William|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.)||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Emery, Peter|
|Body, Richard||Cockcroft, John||Eyre, Reginald|
|Boscawen, Hon. Robert||Cooke, Robert (Bristol, W.)||Fairgrieve, Russell|
|Bowden, Andrew(Brighton, Kemptown)||Cope, John||Farr, John|
|Boyson, Dr. Rhodes (Brent, N.)||Cordle, John||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Cormack, Patrick||Fidler, Michael|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey||Lamont, Norman||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Fisher, Sir Nigel||Lane, David||Kidsdale, Julian|
|Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh, N.)||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Latham, Michael (Melton)||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Lawrence, Ivan||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.-W.)|
|Fowler, Norman (Sutton Coldfield)||Lawson, Nigel (Blaby)||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Fox, Marcus||Le Marchant, Spencer||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Fry, Peter||Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D.||Lewis, Kenneth (Rtland & Stmford)||Royle, Sir Anthony|
|Gardiner, George (Reigate & Banstead)||Lloyd, Ian (Havant & Waterloo)||Sainsbury, Tim|
|Gardner, Edward (S. Fylde)||Loveridge, John||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Gibson-Watt, Rt. Hn. David||Luce, Richard||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Gilmour, Rt. Hn. Ian (Ch'sh' & Amsh'm)||MacArthur, Ian||Shaw Giles (Pudsey)|
|Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||McCrindie, R. A.||Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan||Macfarlane, Neil||Shelton, William (L'mb'th,Streath'm)|
|Godber, Rt. Hn. Joseph||MacGregor, John||Shersby, Michael|
|Goodhart, Philip||McLaren, Martin||Silvester, Fred|
|Goodhew, Victor||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. M. (Farnham)||Sims, Roger|
|Goodlad, A.||McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury)||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Gorst, John||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Gow, I. R. E. (Eastbourne)||Madel, David||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'm'ngton)|
|Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Spence, John|
|Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Marten, Neil||Spicer, Jim (Dorset, W.)|
|Gray, Hamish||Mather, Carol||Spicer, Michael (Worcestershire, S.)|
|Grieve, Percy||Maude, Angus||Sproat, Iain|
|Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Mawby, Ray||Stainton, Keith|
|Grist, Ian||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Grylls, Michael||Mayhew, Patrick (Royal T'bridgeWells)||Stanley, John|
|Hall, Sir John||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Steen, Anthony (L'pool, Wavertree)|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Miller, Hal (B'grove & R'ditch)||Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Mills, Peter||Stodart, Rt. Hn. A. (Edinburgh, W.)|
|Hampson, Dr. Keith||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Stokes, John|
|Hannam, John||Moate, Roger||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Money, Ernle||Tapsell, Peter|
|Harvie Anderson, Rt. Hn. Miss||Monro, Hector||Taylor, Edward M. (Gl'gow, C'cart)|
|Havers, Sir Michael||Moore, J. E. M. (Croydon, C.)||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Hawkins, Paul||More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Tebbit, Norman|
|Hayhoe, Barney||Morgan, Geraint||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Margaret|
|Henderson, Barry (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Morris, Michael (Northampton, S.)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. P. (B'net,H'dn S.)|
|Heseltine, Michael||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Townsend, C. D.|
|Higgins, Terence||Morrison, Peter (City of Chester)||Trotter, Neville|
|Hill, James A.||Neave, Airey||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Holland, Philip||Neubert, Michael||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Hordern. Peter||Newton, Tony (Braintree)||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Howe, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Surrey, E.)||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Viggers, Peter|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Normanton, Tom||Waddington, David|
|Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, North)||Nott, John||Wakeham, John|
|Hunt, John||Onslow, Cranley||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Hurd. Douglas||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Osborn, John||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)||Wail, Patrick|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Walters, Dennis|
|James, David||Pattie Geoffrey||Warren, Kenneth|
|Jessel, Toby||Percival, Ian||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Pink, R. Bonner||Wells, John|
|Jones, Arthur (Daventry)||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Jopling, Michael||Prior, Rt. Hn. James||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Raison, Timothy||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Rathbone, Tim||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Worsley, Sir Marcus|
|Kilfedder, James A.||Redmond, Robert||Young, Sir George (Ealing, Acton)|
|Kimball, Marcus||Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)||Younger, Hn. George|
|King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Kirk, Peter||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David (H't'gd'ns're)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Knight, Mrs. Jill||Renton, R. T. (Mid-Sussex)||Mr. Walter Clegg and|
|Knox, David||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Mr. Cecil Parkinson.|
|Abse, Leo||Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)|
|Allaun, Frank||Bennett, Andrew F. (Stockport, N.)||Brown, Ronald (H'kney.S. & Sh'ditch)|
|Archer, Peter (Warley, West)||Bidwell, Sydney||Buchan, Norman|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Bishop, E. S.||Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Springb[...]n|
|Ashley, Jack||Blenkinsop, Arthur||Butler, Mrs. Joyce(H'gey, WoodGreen)|
|Ashton, Joe||Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Callaghan, Jim (M'dd'ton & Pr'wich)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Booth, Albert||Campbell, Ian|
|Atkinson, Norman||Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Cant, R. B.|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Carmichael, Neil|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland)||Carter, Ray|
|Barnett, Joel (Heywood & Royton)||Bradley, Tom||Carter-Jones, Lewis|
|Bates, Alf||Broughton Sir Alfred||Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara|
|Beith, A. J.||Brown, Bob (Newcastle upon Tyne,W.)||Clemitson, Ivor|
|Cocks, Michael||Huckfield, Leslie||Padley, Walter|
|Cohen, Stanley||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Coleman, Donald||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Pardoe, John|
|Colquhoun, Mrs. M. N.||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, North)||Park, George (Coventry, N.E.)|
|Concannon, J. D.||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Hunter, Adam||Parry, Robert|
|Cook, Robert F. (Edinburgh, C.)||Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (L'p'I,EdgeHill)||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, Maryhill)||Irving, Rt. Hn. Sydney (Dartford)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Jackson, Colin||Pendry, Tom|
|Cronin, John||Janner, Greville||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Phipps, Dr. Colin|
|Cryer, G. R.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg|
|Cunningham, G.(Isl'ngt'n,S&F'sb'ry)||Jenkins, Hugh (W'worth, Putney)||Prescott, John|
|Cunningham, Dr. John A.(Whiteh'v'n)||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (B'ham,St'td)||Price, Christopher (Lewisham, W.)|
|Dalyell, Tam||John, Brynmor||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Davidson, Arthur||Johnson, James (K'ston uponHull, W.)||Radice, Giles|
|Davies, Bryan (Enfield, N.)||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Rees, Rt. Hn. Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)||Richardson, Miss Jo|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Deakins, Eric||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds, W.)||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Judd, Frank||Roderick, Caerwyn E.|
|Delargy, Hugh||Kaufman, Gerald||Rodgers, George (Chorley)|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Kelley, Richard||Rodgers, William (Teesside, St'ckton)|
|Dempsey, James||Kerr, Russell||Rooker, J. W.|
|Doig, Peter||Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Roper, John|
|Dormand, J. D.||Kinnock, Neil||Rose, Paul B.|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Lambie, David||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Lamborn, Harry||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Dunn, James A.||Lamond, James||Rowlands, Edward|
|Dunneit, Jack||Latham, Arthur (CityofW'minsterP'ton)||Sandelson, Neville|
|Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth||Lawson, George (Motherwell&Wishaw)||Sedgemore, Bryan|
|Eadie, Alex||Leadbitter, Ted||Selby, Harry|
|Edelman, Maurice||Lee, John||Shaw, Arnold (Redbridge, Ilford, S.)|
|Edge, Geoff||Lestor, Miss Joan (Elton & Slough)||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Edwards, Robert (W'hampton, S.E.)||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (S'pney&P'plar)|
|Ellis, John (Brigg & Scunthorpe)||Lewis, Arthur (Newham, N.)||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (N'ctle-u-Tyne)|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (L'sham, D'ford)|
|English, Michael||Lipton, Marcus||Silkin, Rt. Hn. S. C. (S'hwark, Dulwich)|
|Ennals, David||Loughlin, Charles||Sillars, James|
|Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)||Loyden, Eddie||Silverman, Julius|
|Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Evans, John (Newton)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, W.)||Small, William|
|Ewing, Harry (St'ling, F'kirk&G'm'th)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)|
|Faulds, Andrew||McCartney, Hugh||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)|
|Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||McElhone, Frank||Snape, Peter|
|Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||MacFarquhar, Roderick||Spearing, Nigel|
|Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.)||McGuire, Michael||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Flannery, Martin||Maclennan, Robert||Stallard, A. W.|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Steel, David|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||McNamara, Kevin||Stewart, Rt. Hn. M. (H'sth, Fulh'm)|
|Foot, Rt. Hn. Michael||Madden, M. O F.||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Ford, Ben||Magee, Bryan||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John|
|Forrester, John||Mahon, Simon||Stott, Roger|
|Fowler, Gerry (The Wrekin)||Mallalieu, J. P. W||Strang, Gavin|
|Fraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood)||Marks, Kenneth||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Freeson, Reginald||Marquand, David||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Garrett. John (Norwich, S.)||Marshall, Dr. Edmund (Goole)||Swain, Thomas|
|Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy||Thomas, D. E. (Merioneth)|
|George, Bruce||Meyhew, Christopher (G'wh, W'wch, E)||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Gilbert, Dr. John||Meacher, Michael||Thorne, Stan (Preston, S.)|
|Ginsburg, David||Melish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Gourlay, Harry||Mendelson, John||Tierney, Sydney|
|Graham, Ted||Mikardo, Ian||Tinn, James|
|Grant, George (Morpeth)||Millan, Bruce||Tomlinson, John|
|Grant, John (Islington, C.)||Miller, Dr. M. S. (E. Kilbride)||Tomney, Frank|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Sheffield, Brightside)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)||Torney, Tom|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Molloy, William||Tuck, Raphael|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Moonman, Eric||Tyler, Paul|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, C.)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Urwin, T. W.|
|Hamling, William||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Varley, Eric G.|
|Hardy, Peter||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Harper, Joseph||Moyle, Roland||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, Ladywood)|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Murray, Ronald King||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Hattersley, Roy||Newens, Stanley (Harlow)||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Hatton, Frank||Oakes, Gordon||Watkins, David|
|Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Ogden, Eric||Weitzman, David|
|Heffer, Eric S.||O'Halloran, Michael||Wellbeloved, James|
|Hooley, Frank||O'Malley, Brian||White, James|
|Hooson, Emlyn||Orbach, Maurice||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Horam, John||Orme, Rt. Hn. Stanley||Whitlock, William|
|Howell, Denis (B'ham, Small Heath)||Ovenden, John||Wigley, Dafydd (Caernarvon)|
|Howells, Goraint (Cardigan)||Owen, Dr. David||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)||Wilson, Fit. Hn. Harold (Huyton)||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Williams, Alan Lee (Hvrng, Hchurch)||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.E.)||Young, David (Bolton, E.)|
|Winstanley, Dr. Michael|
|Williams, Rt. Hn. Shirley(H'f'd&St'ge)||Wise, Mrs. Audrey||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Williams, W. T. (Warrington)||Woodall, Alec||Mr. Thomas Cox and|
|Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)||Woof, Robert||Mr. John Golding.|