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Housing (Scotland) Bill

Volume 130: debated on Wednesday 30 March 1988

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As amended (in the Standing Committee), further considered.

Clause 54

Persons By Whom Right May Be Exercised

5.25 pm

I beg to move amendment No. 7, in page 31, line 42, leave out from `Homes;' to end of line 9 on page 32 and insert

`and every public sector landlord including regional councils or joint boards or joint committees of two or more regional councils and any trust under the control of a regional council will automatically be so approved.
(2) An approval under this section—
  • (a) shall require the consent of the rent assessment committee in every area in which the new landlord may wish to acquire property;
  • (b) shall, in relation to any landlord, specify the maximum number to which the approval extends of houses to be acquired by him under this part of this Act; and
  • (c) in determining the maximum number referred to in Part 52 (2)(b) above Scottish Homes shall in all cases consult with the appropriate rent assessment committee.'.
  • I understand that it will be for the convenience of the House to discuss also amendment No. 160, in page 32, line 9, at end insert—

    '(4) The Secretary of State may approve a public sector landlord as an approved person for the purposes of this section where—
  • (a) the majority of tenants of an approved person have complained in writing to the district council in whose area the houses tenanted are situated as to the financial affairs of, administration of or level of service being offered by such an approved person; and
  • (b) the Secretary of State, upon enquiry, is satisfied that such a complaint is justified and the acquisition of all of the houses owned by the approved person complained of would be appropriate for the local authority.
  • (5) The Secretary of State may make regulations under this part of this Act by statutory instrument to provide for the holding of enquiries where complaint has been made by tenants, the determination of such enquiries, and the procedure for acquistion of any property following such an enquiry.
    (6) A statutory instrument containing an) order or regulation under this part shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.
    (7) Orders or regulations under this part may make different provisions for different cases or circumstances or different areas and may contain such incidental provisions as the Secretary of State thinks fit.'.

    Having listened to the resounding silence of one Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, he who is supposed to be responsible for education—some would call it dumb insolence in his case—I return to the attack on the question of housing in Scotland.

    Amendment No. 7 would require local authorities to acquire houses from the private sector, subject to consent from the tenants, and would enable rent assessment committees to monitor and, where necessary, to regulate private landlords in Scotland.

    Part III has been described by the Scottish Office publicity machine as a "tenants' choice" mechanism. that must be a new low in dishonesty, even by the threadbare standards of the present Administration in the Scottish Office. Presumably the word "choice" is supposed to imply that all tenants will be able to choose their landlord. However, as we know, the truth in the Bill is very different. Tenants will be totally passive. Part III establishes a framework of "landlords' choice" whereby private landlords will be able to acquire public sector houses at bargain prices under a perverse form of compulsory purchase scheme. That is not tenants' choice; it is more like a landlords' lucky dip at the expense of the local authority and the tenant. The only power that is given to the tenant in this process is to grant his or her consent to the transaction going ahead.

    The Government have specifically excluded the possibility of privately owned houses being transferred to the public sector, however much the tenants of privately owned houses might want that transfer to take place. The transfers will be in one direction only and those transfers to the private sector will be irrevocable. There will be no going back once the tenant has allowed that to happen.

    The amendment provides for genuine choice by enabling the property to be transferred in either direction, either from the public to the private sector, or the private sector to the public sector. It also provides for safeguards to be applied by the rent assessment committees in the private sector.

    The Government clearly see the redevelopment of private landlordism in Scotland as an end in itself. They therefore want to make it easy for private landlords to acquire property cheaply and easily—not by building houses to rent or improving existing property, but by raiding district council housing stock in Scotland. We shall no doubt see further incentives for the private sector, coupled with even more disincentives for the public sector, as part of the Government's doctrinaire and spiteful policy towards Scottish housing.

    We in the Labour party want to promote genuine diversification in housing in Scotland. One need look no further than Labour-controlled local authorities, such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Stirling and, indeed, to my own constituency of East Lothian. Labour-controlled local authorities, on a local basis, are promoting housing associations, co-operatives and, indeed, partnership with the private sector, and why not? There is a long list of examples of locally initiated schemes introduced voluntarily by elected local authorities without this heavy-handed interference by central Government.

    There is evidence that most Scots who want to rent their homes would prefer to have the option of public sector tenancies. There are examples of that from places as unlikely as the Shetland Islands, where tenants of the Scottish Special Housing Association have made it abundantly clear that they wish to remain in the public sector and would prefer to transfer to local authority tenancies rather than be shuffled into the private sector.

    Equally, as my hon. Friend the Member for East Kilbride (Mr. Ingram) said last night, there is overwhelming evidence that the tenants of new town development corporations do not want to be shuffled into the private sector. They want the option of transferring to the local authorities. That is understandable. There will be even stronger demand for public sector tenancies when the true horror of insecurity and high rents that are inherent in the assured tenancy system become well known when and if this wretched Bill reaches the statute book.

    May I take the House briefly through the process whereby a private speculator will be able to operate the scheme in part III? First, a representative of the private landlord must persuade a tenant to sign the consent for him to acquire the public sector house concerned. That could involve bribes and inducements, including offers of rent-free periods, and in some instances representatives of speculative landlords may try to trick tenants into giving up their secure tenancies in the public sector and move into insecure tenancies in the private sector. The Scottish Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux has expressed anxiety about the fact that there is no provision for clear advice for tenants in those circumstances.

    Having secured the tenant's consent, the acquiring landlord would have to notify the local authority, which would then be obliged to sell the house to the acquiring landlord at the district valuer's valuation. Of course, that will be a low valuation, and it will be even lower since it will be made subject to the secure tenancy that still applies in the public sector.

    Finally, unless the tenant withdraws his consent, the landlord can spring the trap. He will have acquired the property at an artificially low valuation and the tenant will immediately lose his rights under the secure tenancy system, including the right to a fair rent, the right to full security, the right to succession and even the right to buy. The tenant would move quickly into the uncharted and insecure waters of assured tenancies. There should be a Government health warning on the assured tenancy system, which will be a recipe for insecurity, eviction and stress for many tenants.

    That is not the end of the story. Having acquired a potentially valuable asset on the cheap, the landlord will have an immediate windfall gain, as the value of a house with an insecure tenant is higher than the value of a house with a secure tenant. It will then be open to the landlord to find ways of exploiting the position even further—by forcing up the rent or even trying to get rid of the tenant altogether by evicting him. That will be easy under schedule 5. Then, with vacant possession of the house, the landlord will be able to sell at a vast profit without the local authority having any say in the matter, despite the fact that it built up the asset.

    That is indefensible, and a warning should go from the House to Scottish tenants to avoid the trap by refusing to sign anything that may be put before them by fly-by-night landlords who may appear on their doorsteps in the coming months and years. I am especially worried about the loss of special needs housing for rent that could result from the legislation. We have already experienced that in many areas, under the right to buy, and the position could become worse as a result of this landlords' choice mechanism.

    The Minister's English counterparts promised significant safeguards in the comparable scheme for England and Wales. They have undertaken to introduce a code of conduct for approved landlords, and they have accepted the principle that transferred tenants should be allowed to return to local authority tenure if they wish. They have also imposed a duty on the housing action trusts—there is no equivalent for Scotland — that may acquire the properties to assist local authorities in housing homeless people. No such duties will be imposed on acquiring landlords in Scotland. No such undertakings have been given for Scotland.

    Part III has nothing to do with choice. It is a bare-faced device to allow speculators to plunder the public housing stock under a perverse and unjustifiable form of compulsory purchase scheme. If they want to be involved in rented housing, why do they not build houses, improve existing housing stock or acquire houses voluntarily from the local authority? That happens in Glasgow. But that is too straightforward. It is too much to expect that from the private sector. In Scotland, the private sector has been declining since the beginning of the century. It has dwindled to only 6 per cent. of the Scottish housing stock, and it is absurd for the Government to build a housing policy on the dwindling and discredited private rented sector.

    Shelter has informed us that 50 per cent. of the cases of homelessness that have been reported to it in Glasgow came from the private rented sector. How much worse will the position become when the scheme comes into effect? The Government are taking a dangerous risk for tenants in Scotland by trying to found their entire housing policy on people who have failed in the past and who are known to include unscrupulous people who are capable of exploiting and harassing tenants.

    Part III is a dishonest and dangerous scheme. The only way in which it can be made to work satisfactorily is to provide for proper regulation of private landlords and to enable local authorities to acquire housing if private tenants wish to change to local authority tenure. That would inject the comprehensive element of choice that is completely lacking from the Bill at present. The amendment would achieve those objectives, and I commend it to the House.

    On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for Conservative Back-Bench Members from Scotland to attend this debate? I do not know whether they have been named—

    Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that that is not a point of order. Let us get on with the debate.

    Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Would it be in order for Conservative Back-Bench Members from any part of the country to attend this debate?

    Those interventions have tempted me to say that sometimes I think I miss even the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) —

    Well, perhaps not.

    Amendment No. 7 would allow local authorities to be approved landlords. The Scottish National party amendment, No. 160, represents a fail-safe device to meet the major problems that will arise under this new housing system. The two amendments are interlinked and their basic principle is to allow tenants the extra option of returning to public authority housing.

    Amendment No. 160 provides a procedure for the reacquisition of houses by a local authority in circumstances where it would be appropriate for that authority to reacquire them as a purchaser of last resort. As set out in subsection (4)(a) of the amendment, they include circumstances where
    "the majority of tenants of an approved person have complained in writing to the district council in whose area the houses tenanted are situated as to the financial affairs of, administration of or level of service being offered by such an approved person."
    Allowance is made for the Secretary of State to make inquiries and deal with the problem.

    The amendment offers an important form of tenant protection that is missing from the Bill as drafted. The Government assume that all local authorities are bad landlords and that all private landlords are automatically good. The traffic directed by the Bill is all one way—out of the public sector — with no channel of return, even if the tenant wishes to do so. True freedom of choice should work both ways, with citizens having the opportunity freely to opt out or in of the public and private sectors.

    The Government's version of free choice stops short at the public sector. My amendment would alter that to allow local authorities to replace private landlords where they have proven themselves to be inferior. That would restore two-way traffic between the private and public sector and offer genuine freedom of choice to the individual.

    The Government assume that the transition to a private landlords will only be to the good. My amendment questions that assumption by looking at cases where the majority of transferred tenants are dissatisfied by the deal offered and the services given. The amendment would enable the Secretary of State—if satisfied upon inquiry that such complaint is justified — to allow tenants to return to their preferred tenancy under a local authority. Surely that is offering genuine freedom of choice under controlled and obvious circumstances. I hope that the Government will accept that.

    I accept that there is parliamentary supervision and that a set of provisions will follow, but the end product should be greater freedom of choice for tenants and the right freely to choose the best deal whether that is in the public or private sector. If the Bill remains unamended, such choice does not exist. It offers one-way traffic only, with no alternative for those people who prefer the public sector.

    My amendment would allow such free choice and would operate to overcome the worse possible problems that would be faced by tenants due to inferior landlord services. The amendment tackles the fundamental question: what happens when something goes wrong after tenants have left the public sector for the private sector? The Government have avoided or plainly ignored that problem. The tenants, however, would suffer from the Government's failure to allow use of the obvious available mechanism to address that problem.

    The amendment would offer a public sector option to the existing choice. The amendment allows the Secretary of State to approve a public sector landlord when the tenants have complained in writing to the district council about
    "the financial affairs of, administration of or level of service being offered by such an approved person."
    The Secretary of State could then make inquiries, and if he was satisfied that the complaints were justified, the local authority could then step in to solve the problem. That authority would meet the needs of those tenants. The amendment proposes an orderly system to sort out that problem.

    I hope that the Government will not hide behind ideology. I hope that they will go some way towards allowing a wider choice for tenants and ensure a proper coordination between the private and public sector as providers of housing.

    The principle behind the amendment has apparently already been accepted for England and Wales by the Government. I refer the Minister to the proceedings of Standing Committee G when the Minister for Housing and Planning said:
    "we have no difficulty accepting the principle of tenants returning to the local authority if the authority wants to have them. We may need to amend the Bill to make that clear or give assurances."—[Official Report, Standing Committee G. 11 February 1988; c. 810]
    That offers a clear undertaking that, for England and Wales, tenants will have the right to return to the public sector. Therefore, there should be absolutely no problem for the Minister to give a similar assurance for Scotland. If not, we are entitled to ask why. The Scottish people will draw a suitable conclusion about the Government and their motivations if such an assurance is not given when the Minister replies.

    I am still a relatively new Member of the House and I have had a limited experience of the Bills that have been passed in any one parliamentary Session. To paraphrase a former member for a Dundee constituency, I believe that rarely has a Bill promised so much yet delivered so little.

    I was thinking particularly if Winston Churchill—he was a Liberal then.

    We have been repeatedly told by the Minister and indeed by every Conservative Member who spoke in Committee — that was not very many — that the Bill represents a major extension of tenants' rights, notably as a result of the provisions in part III regarding the pick-alandlord scheme. Amendment No. 7 specifically refers to that.

    Those who seek to exercise the new right that the Minister is so keen to encourage will find that that very act will mean that they will surrender many of the rights that they possess as public sector tenants. The Minister has not confronted that problem. There will be council tenants who will be frustrated by the inability of their local councils to carry out the major repairs required by their houses and who will therefore succumb to the offers of new windows or whatever the potential private sector landlord may dangle in front of them.

    Those tenants may well choose to transfer the ownership of their house from the local council to that private sector landlord. As soon as a tenant does so, he or she immediately loses many of the rights that they currently possess. Indeed, in Committee the Minister told us that he spent one night in the Committee that considered the Tenants' Rights, Etc. (Scotland) Act 1980 defending and promoting the very rights that will be taken as a result of the Bill.

    5.45 pm

    Tenants stand to lose rights, such as the right to buy their houses. If a tenant moves to a private sector landlord, he immediately loses the right to buy that house at a discount. It is no use the Minister saying that the private sector landlord and tenant should come to an arrangement between themselves as to what price the landlord may sell the house. The success of the sale of council houses has depended on the fact they have been sold at a discount: had they not been sold at a discount, I do not believe that a single council house would have been sold to a sitting tenant.

    Tenants will also lose the right to a secured tenancy that is guaranteed by a cast-iron written lease. If they move to the private sector they will also lose the right ever to choose a landlord again. The right that the Minister is seeking to promote today can be exercised only once. If a tenant makes a mistake in exercising that right, the Ministers answer is, "Well, that's tough. You will have to live with that mistake".

    There is no provision for people to return to the public sector if they find themselves in the grip of some Rachman-type landlord who is exploiting them. The Minister believes that that is just hard luck. The amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh) attempts to resolve that problem. That amendment offers tenants an emergency way out, and I hope that the Minister considers it seriously.

    Someone may choose a landlord who, to begin with, may seem rational and reasonable. That landlord may offer them new windows, new doors, new heating systems and so on. However, once they are under the control of that landlord, the rents go up and the villainy starts. Those tenants may then wish to get away from that landlord, but they cannot. The Minister must address that problem.

    The Bill, far from extending tenants' rights, represents an attack upon them. The Bill also takes away those rights in an indirect manner. Earlier in our discussions, I mentioned the views of tenants in my constituency who are representatives of tenants' organisations, especially in the Whitfield area. They emphasised the importance of being local authority tenants and the many facilities that are made available to them by the local authorities to enable them to come together to organise into a tenants' organisation to try to improve their environment.

    The local authority has made available to those tenants a house or flat free of charge and has also given them direct aid in the form of grants to enable them to meet the expense of establishing such tenant organisations.

    Without such direct assistance from local authorities, such tenants' organisations could not survive for any length of time. As Part III of the Bill stands, if tenants make a decision to move from the public to the private sector all such facilities will be denied them. The Minister should concede that it is frankly inconceivable that any private sector landlord will make available a house or flat, free of rent, for such tenant organisations.

    It is inconceivable that any private landlord would give direct aid in the form of grants to such tenant organisations to enable them to work together in their interests — by their nature, such interests must be in direct conflict with the landlord's interests. The Minister must come to grips with the fact that local authorities in the public sector are different from the private sector and take a much more enlightened view of their relationships with tenants than any private sector landlords.

    The Minister came to Dundee and announced a grant of more than £6 million for the Ormiston crescent tenants' co-operative, and everyone was grateful for that. He should know from his experience, therefore, that tenants in Whitfield were able to form a co-operative because in the previous year they had worked closely with the elected officials of the district council, who had brought them to a state of readiness in which they were able to form the cooperative and make a success of it.

    That sort of work will not be done in the private sector; it can only be done in the public sector. By encouraging people to move from the latter to the former, the Minister is encouraging them to give up the potential to form themselves into co-operatives, of which he says he is in favour.

    The amendment will give tenants a genuine choice—not the one-sided choice of leaping from the public to the private sector but the choice to do what they want; not, as the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) said yesterday, what the Government and Tory Back Benchers think they should want. That is an important distinction, and there is overwhelming evidence of what tenants want.

    In Committee, we dealt with the views of Scottish Special Housing Association tenants and discussed whether they were enraptured with the Bill's provisions. The SSHA tenants made it clear that they did not want the new Scottish Homes agency as their landlord. They wanted to remain tenants of the SSHA and to be left alone by the Government. They wanted a ballot in which to make clear exactly what they felt about the Government's propsals, but the Minister denied them that.

    The whole affair was summed up by Mr. Derek Mason, the chairman of the SSHA, whom I quoted in Committee as asking what the point of having a ballot was when we already knew what the result would be. Almost all SSHA tenants would vote against the Scottish Homes proposals, yet the Minister has denied them the ballot. We know what the outcome would be, but that does not suit the Government. They favour the ballot box only when the outcome suits them; they are against ballots that vote against their proposals.

    Any hon. Member who has attended the scores of public meetings that have been held to discuss Scottish Homes will understand what I am saying. I shall be attending two meetings in Dundee next week that have been organised by tenants' organisations which have come into being since the introduction of this Bill to defend tenants against its attacks on them. Tenants are united in their condemnation of Scottish Homes and demand the right to transfer from the SSHA into the local authority sector, not the private sector. They know that the local authority sector offers them much more in the long term than they can ever possibly get from the private sector, the more so once they have a Government who properly fund local authorities and allow them to provide the services that they are anxious to supply.

    This is not only a matter of facilities being provided for tenants' organisations, or the co-operation between local authorities and their tenants that enables the latter to form co-operatives—it is a question of rent levels, too. SSHA tenants will say that they would rather be local authority tenants because that means lower rents. Transferring to the private sector even now means increased rents; transferring to the council sector, lower rents. That is one of the most attractive things about local authorities in tenants' eyes.

    It is no good the Minister or his Scottish Back Benchers —none of whom are present—lecturing Scottish local authorities about having far too low rent levels. Dundee has the second lowest rent levels of any major city in Scotland, but 60 per cent. of its tenants need housing benefit to pay their rents. Nevertheless, the Minister wants to put up those rents and pauperise more tenants. Perhaps he will not be happy until 100 per cent. are on housing benefit, or perhaps he means to drive them all out of the public sector. That is the spirit behind the Bill.

    The legislation is a dreadful attack on the public sector provision of housing in Scotland. It is an undisguised onslaught upon it, which is why all who are genuinely interested in tackling Scotland's housing problems should unite in supporting the amendments.

    The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland
    (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton)

    rose

    On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order and fair that the Minister should have to stand at the Dispatch Box discussing a subject of which he has but a tenuous grasp, without the support of any of his Scottish Back Benchers? Do you have any powers to drag some of those Back Benchers—

    I am glad to respond to the debate. The hon. Member for East Lothain (Mr. Home Robertson) asked why there was a need for the tenants' choice provisions, as much of the progress that has already been made towards co-operatives is being made without legislation. The answer is that disposals of local authority property to co-operatives require both the Secretary of State's approval and the co-operation of the local authorities. The Bill extends rights to tenants to transfer, whether or not the local authority agrees and without the need for approval by the Secretary of State — so it represents an extension of opportunity and choice.

    The hon. Member for East Lothian said that it was important to have guidance in an appropriate form for local authority tenants. Under clause 2(2)(e), appropriate guidance and advice will be given by Scottish Homes to tenants, and rightly so.

    The hon. Member for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh) asked what would happen if something went wrong. It would be the responsibility of Scottish Homes to approve a landlord and monitor the situation, and to help to avoid any problem arising. If one arose, it would be the responsibility of Scottish Homes to ensure that another housing association took over. If that was not possible, the landlord division of Scottish Homes would have to take responsibility. That was an important point that we considered in Committee.

    The blindingly obvious alternative is to say that local authorities, which have housing, could also solve that problem, so why not use the existing mechanism?

    There are a number of reasons why not. We believe in extending opportunity and choice, but local authorities in some areas already have 80 per cent. of the stock. If we gave the right to transfer to local authorities within the public sector and from the private sector back to the public sector, that would lead to a perpetual merry-go-round and cause a bureaucratic nightmare.

    Does the Minister accept that he should be trying to facilitate what the tenants want, not what the Government want? If tenants in a given area decide that they all want to be local authority tenants, that is a matter for them, not for the Minister or me.

    We are approaching the matter highly pragmatically by giving an extension of opportunity, whether or not that opportunity is taken up; that is a matter for the tenants, as the hon. Gentleman says. If they do not want to take it up, they will not.

    It is correct that accurate information will have to be given to tenants well before any choice could be exercised under the Bill. If tenants, however, do not want to transfer, that will be the end of the matter—

    Amendment No. 7 seeks, first, to open up the tenants' choice provisions to allow transfer to public sector landlords and, secondly, to create a role in tenants' choice transfer procedures for local rent assessment committees. I do not believe the House should accept either purpose.

    Part III of the Bill seeks to widen the choice of tenure available to tenants in the public sector. In many areas, as I mentioned, choice is severely restricted, with many areas having 60 per cent. local authority housing, and in some it is almost as high as 80 per cent. Amendment No. 7 would increase local authorities' holdings and thus intensify the difficulties that they face in providing a satisfactory level of service for their tenants. That is not the purpose of part III of the Bill. Our aim is to diversify tenure, not to reinforce existing near-monopolies—

    I shall make one further point and then allow the hon. Gentleman to intervene.

    Of course, the provisions in this part of the Bill which preclude transfer from one public sector landlord to another, except to Scottish Homes, do not rule out completely tenants transferring to public sector landlords. The Secretary of State can, for example, under section 12(7) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987, approve sales by a local authority of any of its stock. As I said in Committee, this power has been used on a number of occasions. For example, the transfer of large numbers of houses from Glasgow district council to the SSHA in Castlemilk and the transfer of stock to housing co-operatives, are covered by this section.

    Moreover, it will still be possible for a local authority, without consent, to acquire property under section 2(1)(c) and section 9 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 if it wishes to do so, and provided it is prepared to give priority, within its capital allocation, to the purchase. Such property could, I believe, include tenanted property, and any such transfers would in practice require the tenants' consent. I repeat that the provisions in part III do not rule out transfers to public sector authorities under other arrangements.

    6 pm

    I must come back to the point that I made, because the Minister talks about diversifying the tenure. Why will he not allow the tenure to be the choice of the tenant? Will he diversify the tenure by forcing tenants in one direction? This is a disgraceful example of the Government's political eugenics. Why will the Minister not allow tenants to make their own choice? Why must he force them against their wishes to go for a form of tenancy that they do not want? Why can they not have the choice?

    There is no question of any compulsion. This is an extension of opportunity, and in due course it will be entirely a matter for tenants as to whether they take up that opportunity.

    No, I shall not give way. I have answered the hon. Gentleman's question. There is quite clearly no element of compulsion. That was the essence of the hon. Gentleman's question, and I have answered it. He may not like the answer, but I repeat that there is no way in which there will be any element of compulsion in the proposals that I am putting before the House.

    I should like to ask the Minister for information about co-operatives. If some cooperatives decide to transfer to a private landlord and others do not, are the individual rights of people guaranteed, or will the transfer be subject to a majority decision of the tenants? I am interested in individual cases.

    In the two kinds of cooperatives that I know—management co-operatives and ownership co-operatives— the decision about forming a co-operative is a matter for the tenants. The hon. Gentleman's suggestion is a novel one that I have not heard about. He spoke about a co-operative transferring to a different form of ownership. An ownership cooperative is owned by the tenants, and that is a matter for them.

    I shall now return to the role suggested in the amendment for local rent assessment committees. When considering applications for approval for prospective new landlords, Scottish Homes will of course be expected to conduct careful inquiries. In guiding Scottish Homes in the exercise of its duties, the Secretary of State will encourage it to maintain the closest possible links with local bodies, and particularly with local authorities.

    We would not wish to impose on Scottish Homes, when it exercises its various duties under the Bill, a statutory requirement to consult any particular body, whether it be the local authority, the local rent assessment committee or whatever. Nor do we think it reasonable to impose on Scottish Homes a requirement that all approvals must set a limit to the number of houses any receiving landlord can acquire. Clause 54(2) (c) already allows Scottish Homes to impose such a limit where it believes that this is required.

    Amendment No. 7 suggests, in effect, a requirement that any private sector receiving landlord should go through two approval processes, by Scottish Homes and by the local rent assessment committee. This double approval mechanism is neither necessary nor desirable. I repeat that we cannot support the inclusion of public sector housing authorities as receiving landlords.

    Has the Scottish Office issued any guidelines to local rent assessment committees? If it has, what criteria do those guidelines suggest?

    The hon. Gentleman asks about guidelines. I imagine that he is posing his question in the context of tenants' choice. I can tell the hon. Gentleman what I have said in Committee—that the fullest possible information will have to be made available to tenants. The hon. Gentleman's question may well be a future question for consideration by Scottish Homes when it has been set up.

    I agree, but the hon. Gentleman must appreciate that when a responsible body such as Scottish Homes is set up, it has a responsibility to take seriously its duties as they are set out in the Bill. The Secretary of State has power under the Bill to give directions if Scottish Homes does not properly carry out its responsibilities.

    I should now like to speak to amendment No. 160. I suspect that the amendment as drafted goes rather further than intended. It would mean that, once a landlord had been approved by Scottish Homes as a receiving landlord under this part of the Bill, a majority of that landlord's tenants could petition the Secretary of State to hold a public inquiry. The tenants coming together in this way need not include any who had transferred to the landlord under the tenants' choice provisions.

    The amendment suggests not just a return ticket to the public sector in the unlikely event of an approved landlord letting down its new tenants, but a possible transfer to the public sector of other tenants of that landlord or, for example, tenants of a housing association who have had no previous link with the public sector. We see part Ill as a means of breaking down local authority monopolies. The amendment could well tend to reinforce monopolies.

    If the democratic majority of tenants have a crummy landlord and wish to have a better housing service, and if they could get that from the public sector, why should they not have that democratic right of choice?

    The hon. Gentleman says that if a housing association is set up and a majority of tenants say that they wish to transfer to a local authority, they should have the power to do that. That is certainly not part of our proposals. For example, if a company did up a block of flats and the majority of tenants said that they wanted to transfer to the local authority, that would virtually amount to compulsory purchase, and that is certainly not part of our proposals.

    Let us look at the amendment in more detail. First, Scottish Homes' approval to receiving landlords will not be given lightly, and Scottish Homes will be expected to monitor approved landlords" performance. Many of the receiving landlords under tenants' choice will be registered housing associations, responsibility for which will be taken over by Scottish Homes from the Housing Corporation in Scotland. In such cases, Scottish Homes can and will take action to safeguard the position of tenants long before the difficulties that the amendment suggests might occur would reach the state of affairs suggested.

    If Scottish Homes' advice and assistance fails to prevent the level of service offered by the landlord from deteriorating in the way suggested, what the amendment proposes would be equivalent to compulsory purchase. The local authority would be given the right to acquire property from the private sector. There is a very considerable difference in principle between introducing legislation under which rights are given to acquire property from the public sector, where public money has been involved in providing the property, and seeking to permit compulsory removal of property from the private sector. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw his amendments; otherwise, I shall have to ask the House to oppose them.

    The hon. Member for East Lothian said that concessions had been promised in the English Bill to recognise the possibility of tenants who had transferred from the public sector returning to local authorities. It has been suggested that a similar concession should be made in Scottish legislation. The positions are not exactly comparable. For example, the undertaking given by the Minister for Housing and Planning in the Department of the Environment does not relate to transfer under tenants' choice provisions. That undertaking was given in the context of the English housing action trust provisions. We should not confuse the two initiatives.

    Under tenants' choice, the tenant has complete discretion on the question of whether to seek a new landlord. That is not the case under English housing action trust proposals. It is not unreasonable, therefore, that, when the trust is disposing of housing stock, tenants who so wish should be able to move back to the local authority, if the authority wishes to resume landlord responsibilities. I must make it clear that housing action trusts form no part of the Scottish legislative proposals. It is therefore very much a red herring to complain that undertakings given in another debate in a different context have not been repeated in our consideration of the legislation.

    The hon. Gentleman also mentioned a code of conduct. We discussed on many occasions in Committee the question of ensuring that landlords who are in receipt of public money or who are approved for the purposes of tenants' choice provide a good housing service to their tenants. There is a variety of ways of achieving that and different methods may be appropriate for different circumstances. It may be sensible to have different mechanisms relating to registered housing associations and to approve tenants' choice landlords. I am aware that various proposals have been discussed in England, but, given our Scottish Homes proposals, it would be sensible to consider separately the right approach for Scotland.

    6.15 pm

    The Minister said that the Government were opposed to the principle of compulsory purchase in the context of the amendment moved by the Opposition. That must be the most spectacular example of doublespeak that has come from any Minister, although we are accustomed to the Minister becoming confused in the context of the legislation. If the Minister is opposed to the principle of compulsory purchase, why is part III in the Bill? It provides for the compulsory purchase by private landlords of public sector property whatever the broader interests of the local communities might be.

    The Minister frequently parrots the slogan that this part of the Bill extends tenants' rights. He should not believe the briefs put in front of him by his officials at the Scottish Office. He will find that it does no such thing. The Bill establishes rights for ambitious landlords to acquire public property at low prices. It is a lucky dip for profiteering landlords. The Minister knows that and the House should be aware of that. This is blatantly one-sided legislation because it allows the private sector to acquire public assets at knockdown prices, but establishes no parallel right, even where there may be an overwhelming case, for private sector propery to be taken over by the public sector, when the tenants desperately want that. The tenants have no rights in that respect. The only rights built into this part of the legislation are for acquiring landlords.

    The Minister made it clear that the Government are simply expressing their prejudice against local authority housing in spite of the fact that he knows perfectly well that the majority of people who want to rent their houses in Scotland would prefer to rent on a secure basis with a fair rent in the public sector.

    If the Minister is not aware of that, as he happens to be one of my constituents, I invite him to come along on a Saturday to one of my surgeries in the town where he lives. He will be able to hear the views of private sector tenants who would like to choose the option to move into the public sector, but cannot do so because the Government will not allow the local authorities to provide the housing required.

    The Government are denying opportunities for many tenants in Scotland. There is no support for their measure. That is borne out by the fact that no Scottish Tory Back Benchers have come along to speak in support of the Government. They have not even been present in the Chamber during the debate.

    There is no case for the Government's proposals, but there is every case for amendment No. 7 and I urge the House to support it.

    Does the hon. Gentleman have the leave of the House to speak again?

    Leave withheld. The hon. Gentleman cannot speak again. He does not have the right of reply. His amendment has not been moved.

    Question put, That the amendment be made :—

    The House divided: Ayes 202, Noes 233.

    Division No. 242]

    [6.16 pm

    AYES

    Abbott, Ms DianeBlair, Tony
    Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Bradley, Keith
    Allen, GrahamBrown, Gordon (D'mline E)
    Alton, DavidBrown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)
    Archer, Rt Hon PeterBrown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)
    Armstrong, HilaryBruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
    Ashdown, PaddyBuchan, Norman
    Ashley, Rt Hon JackBuckley, George J.
    Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Callaghan, Jim
    Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
    Barron, KevinCampbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)
    Beckett, MargaretCampbell-Savours, D. N.
    Beith, A. J.Canavan, Dennis
    Benn, Rt Hon TonyClark, Dr David (S Shields)
    Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
    Bidwell, SydneyClay, Bob

    Clelland, DavidLestor, Joan (Eccles)
    Clwyd, Mrs AnnLewis, Terry
    Cohen, HarryLitherland, Robert
    Coleman, DonaldLivingstone, Ken
    Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Livsey, Richard
    Cook, Robin (Livingston)Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
    Corbett, RobinLofthouse, Geoffrey
    Corbyn, JeremyLoyden, Eddie
    Cousins, JimMcAllion, John
    Cox, TomMcAvoy, Thomas
    Crowther, StanMcCartney, Ian
    Cryer, BobMacdonald, Calum A.
    Cummings, JohnMcFall, John
    Dalyell, TamMcKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
    Darling, AlistairMcKelvey, William
    Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)McLeish, Henry
    Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)McNamara, Kevin
    Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)McTaggart, Bob
    Dewar, DonaldMcWilliam, John
    Dixon, DonMadden, Max
    Dobson, FrankMarek, Dr John
    Doran, FrankMarshall, David (Shettleston)
    Douglas, DickMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)
    Duffy, A. E. P.Maxton, John
    Dunnachie, JimmyMeacher, Michael
    Dunwoody, Hon Mrs GwynethMeale, Alan
    Eadie, AlexanderMichael, Alun
    Eastham, KenMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
    Evans, John (St Helens N)Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
    Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
    Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
    Fatchett, DerekMoonie, Dr Lewis
    Field, Frank (Birkenhead)Morgan, Rhodri
    Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
    Flannery, MartinMullin, Chris
    Flynn, PaulMurphy, Paul
    Foot, Rt Hon MichaelNellist, Dave
    Foster, DerekOakes, Rt Hon Gordon
    Foulkes, GeorgeO'Brien, William
    Fraser, JohnO'Neill, Martin
    Galbraith, SamOrme, Rt Hon Stanley
    Galloway, GeorgeParry, Robert
    Garrett, John (Norwich South)Patchett, Terry
    Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)Pendry, Tom
    George, BrucePike, Peter L.
    Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr JohnPowell, Ray (Ogmore)
    Godman, Dr Norman A.Prescott, John
    Gordon, MildredPrimarolo, Dawn
    Gould, BryanQuin, Ms Joyce
    Graham, ThomasRadice, Giles
    Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Randall, Stuart
    Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Richardson, Jo
    Grocott, BruceRobertson, George
    Hardy, PeterRobinson, Geoffrey
    Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyRogers, Allan
    Healey, Rt Hon DenisRooker, Jeff
    Heffer, Eric S.Ruddock, Joan
    Henderson, DougSalmond, Alex
    Hinchliffe, DavidSedgemore, Brian
    Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Sheerman, Barry
    Home Robertson, JohnSheldon, Rt Hon Robert
    Hood, JimmyShore, Rt Hon Peter
    Howarth, George (Knowsley N)Skinner, Dennis
    Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
    Howells, GeraintSmith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
    Hoyle, DougSmith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
    Hughes, John (Coventry NE)Snape, Peter
    Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Spearing, Nigel
    Hughes, Roy (Newport E)Steinberg, Gerry
    Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)Stott, Roger
    Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Strang, Gavin
    Illsley, EricStraw, Jack
    Ingram, AdamTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
    Janner, GrevilleTaylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
    John, BrynmorTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
    Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)Vaz, Keith
    Kinnock, Rt Hon NeilWall, Pat
    Kirkwood, ArchyWallace, James
    Lamond, JamesWalley, Joan
    Leadbitter, TedWardell, Gareth (Gower)

    Wareing, Robert N.Worthington, Tony
    Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)Wray, Jimmy
    Williams, Rt Hon AlanYoung, David (Bolton SE)
    Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
    Wilson, BrianTellers for the Ayes:
    Winnick, DavidMr. Frank Haynes and
    Wise, Mrs AudreyMrs. Llin Golding.

    NOES

    Adley, RobertDouglas-Hamilton, Lord James
    Aitken, JonathanDover, Den
    Alexander, RichardDunn, Bob
    Alison, Rt Hon MichaelEggar, Tim
    Allason, RupertFallon, Michael
    Amess, DavidFarr, Sir John
    Amos, AlanFavell, Tony
    Arbuthnot, JamesField, Barry (Isle of Wight)
    Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Fookes, Miss Janet
    Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Forman, Nigel
    Ashby, DavidForth, Eric
    Atkinson, DavidFowler, Rt Hon Norman
    Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Fox, Sir Marcus
    Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Franks, Cecil
    Baldry, TonyFreeman, Roger
    Banks, Robert (Harrogate)French, Douglas
    Batiste, SpencerFry, Peter
    Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyGale, Roger
    Bendall, VivianGardiner, George
    Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Garel-Jones, Tristan
    Benyon, W.Gill, Christopher
    Bevan, David GilroyGlyn, Dr Alan
    Biffen, Rt Hon JohnGoodlad, Alastair
    Blackburn, Dr John G.Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
    Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterGorman, Mrs Teresa
    Bonsor, Sir NicholasGrant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
    Boscawen, Hon RobertGreenway, Harry (Ealing N)
    Bottomley, PeterGrylls, Michael
    Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaGummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
    Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)Hampson, Dr Keith
    Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
    Bowis, JohnHarris, David
    Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir RhodesHaselhurst, Alan
    Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardHayward, Robert
    Brandon-Bravo, MartinHiggins, Rt Hon Terence L.
    Brazier, JulianHind, Kenneth
    Bright, GrahamHogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
    Brittan, Rt Hon LeonHowarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
    Brooke, Rt Hon PeterHowarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
    Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
    Browne, John (Winchester)Hunt, David (Wirral W)
    Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)Hunter, Andrew
    Budgen, NicholasIrvine, Michael
    Burns, SimonJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
    Burt, AlistairJones, Robert B (Herts W)
    Butcher, JohnKellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
    Butler, ChrisKilfedder, James
    Carlisle, John, (Luton N)King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
    Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Knapman, Roger
    Carrington, MatthewKnight, Greg (Derby North)
    Carttiss, MichaelKnight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
    Cash, WilliamKnox, David
    Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs LyndaLang, Ian
    Channon, Rt Hon PaulLawrence, Ivan
    Chapman, SydneyLee, John (Pendle)
    Chope, ChristopherLeigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
    Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
    Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
    Colvin, MichaelLightbown, David
    Cope, JohnLi 1 ley, Peter
    Cormack, PatrickLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
    Cran, JamesLuce, Rt Hon Richard
    Critchley, JulianMcCrindle, Robert
    Currie, Mrs EdwinaMacfarlane, Sir Neil
    Curry, DavidMacGregor, Rt Hon John
    Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
    Davis, David (Boothferry)McLoughlin, Patrick
    Day, StephenMcNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
    Devlin, TimMcNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
    Dickens, GeoffreyMadel, David
    Dorrell, StephenMalins, Humfrey

    Mans, KeithShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
    Marshall, John (Hendon S)Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
    Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
    Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Shersby, Michael
    Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinSims, Roger
    Mellor, DavidSkeet, Sir Trevor
    Meyer, Sir AnthonySmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
    Miller, HalSpicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
    Miscampbell, NormanSquire, Robin
    Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)Stanbrook, Ivor
    Mitchell, David (Hants NW)Steen, Anthony
    Moate, RogerStern, Michael
    Monro, Sir HectorStewart, Andy (Sherwood)
    Montgomery, Sir FergusStewart, Ian (Hertfordshin N)
    Morrison, Hon Sir CharlesSumberg, David
    Moss, MalcolmSummerson, Hugo
    Neale, GerrardTapsell, Sir Peter
    Nelson, AnthonyTaylor, Ian (Esher)
    Neubert, MichaelTaylor, John M (Solihull)
    Nicholls, PatrickTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
    Nicholson, David (Taunton)Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
    Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)Temple-Morris, Peter
    Onslow, Rt Hon CranleyThompson, D. (Calder Valley)
    Oppenheim, PhillipThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
    Page, RichardThornton, Malcolm
    Patten, Chris (Bath)Tracey, Richard
    Pawsey, JamesTredinnick, David
    Porter, Barry (Wirral S)Twinn, Dr Ian
    Porter, David (Waveney)Vaughan, Sir Gerard
    Portillo, MichaelWaddington, Rt Hon David
    Powell, William (Corby)Wakeham, Rt Hon John
    Price, Sir DavidWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
    Raffan, KeithWarren, Kenneth
    Raison, Rt Hon TimothyWatts, John
    Rathbone, TimWells, Bowen
    Redwood, JohnWheeler, John
    Renton, TimWiddecombe, Ann
    Riddick, GrahamWilkinson, John
    Ridley, Rt Hon NicholasWilshire, David
    Ridsdale, Sir JulianWolfson, Mark
    Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)Wood, Timothy
    Rossi, Sir HughWoodcock, Mike
    Ryder, RichardYeo, Tim
    Sackville, Hon Tom
    Sainsbury, Hon TimTellers for the Noes:
    Scott, NicholasMr. Tony Durant and
    Shaw, David (Dover)Mr. David Maclean.
    Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)

    Question accordingly negatived.

    Clause 55

    Application To Exercise Rights Conferred By This Part And Offer To Sell

    Amendments made: No. 67, in page 32, line 18, at end insert—

    'In this subsection, "prescribed" means prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State by statutory instrument subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.'.

    No. 68, in page 32, line 22, at end insert

    `and in this subsection the reference to a tenant's or joint tenant's spouse includes a person of the opposite sex who is living with the tenant or joint tenant as if he or she were the tenant's or joint tenant's husband or wife.'.—[Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

    Clause 56

    Variation Of Conditions

    Amendment made: No. 69, in page 33, line 39, after `Tribunal' insert

    `for Scotland (hereinafter in this Part of this Act referred to as the Lands Tribunal)'.—[Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

    Clause 57

    Notice Of Acceptance

    Amendment made: No. 70, in page 34, line 21, after `period', insert `immediately'. — [Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

    Clause 59

    Reference To Lands Tribunal

    Amendments made: No. 71, in page 35, line 6, at end insert—

    '(bb) the Lands Tribunal has made a finding under section 58(3) above and the landlord has not, within 2 months, duly progressed the application in accordance with that finding.'.

    No. 72, in page 35, line 13, leave out from `under' to end of line 16 and insert

    `subsection (1) above, it shall consider whether any of paragraphs (a) to (c) thereof apply and, if it so finds, it may serve an offer to sell notice and do otherwise as the landlord `might do in pursuance of such notice; and anything done by it under this subsection shall have effect as if done by the landlord'.—[Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

    Clause 62

    Abolition Of Local Authority's Power To Refer Part Vii Contracts To Rent Assessment Committees

    Amendment made: No. 73, in page 36, line 12, leave out from beginning to `shall' and insert

    `sections 66(1), 68 and 71(1) of that Act the words "or the local authority" in each place where they occur'. — [Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

    Clause 64

    Rent Officers: Additional Functions Relating To Housing Benefit Etc

    6.30 pm

    I beg to move amendment No. 6, in page 36, line 23, leave out Clause 64.

    The amendment would delete an obnoxious clause relating to housing benefit, which is supposed to deal with the likelihood that high rents in the private sector might become an excessive burden on the housing benefit system. One might expect a mechanism to be provided to enable the rent officer to restrict rents in such cases and, to stop unscrupulous landlords from profiteering at the expense of tenants on low incomes in the housing benefit system, but that is too much to hope for from this Government. Instead, they propose to penalise the tenant if the landlord forces him to pay an excessive rent.

    Rents are certain to increase under the Bill. That is the deliberate strategy of the Government. Indeed, such rudimentary controls as used to exist to prevent rent increases of more than 25 per cent. in any one year are being swept away elsewhere in the Bill.

    The innovation is taking place against the background of the drastic cuts in social security and housing benefit to be introduced in a few weeks' time. We are indebted to Edinburgh city district council for making figures available showing exactly how the new system will bear on those claiming housing benefit in the city of Edinburgh. Of a total of 24,000 housing benefit claimants, no fewer than 19,000 will be worse off as a result of the changes to be introduced next month. Some 2,000 of those claimants will lose housing benefit altogether, while 17,000 will lose a proportion of their benefit. The average loss to the 19,000 who will be worse off will be £6·42 per week.

    If any of those people happen to be private sector tenants in a house which, strictly speaking, is bigger than they need, or in a house of good quality in a high value area of the city, the landlord will be able to force the rent up under the assured tenancy system that the Government have so generously provided. The Government talk about "freely negotiated rents" and the assured tenancy system. We know what that really means : in areas where there is a shortage of housing—in most areas of Scotland, that is—the landlord will be able to dictate the rents and tenants will find themselves having to offer a high rent or do without housing.

    The local authorities, which act as the Government's agents in the housing benefit system, will be obliged to take direction from the rent officer on the level of rent that can be subsidised. The rent officer will have no power to restrict the rent, regardless of the quality of the housing or the means of the tenant. He will, however, have a duty to assess whether a tenant is living in a house which is too good or too big and in those circumstances he will have no option but to direct the district council to restrict the payment of housing benefit accordingly.

    I was interested to read the advice given by the director of housing for East Lothian, my own district council, to members of that council:
    "People in situations of severe housing stress such as the homeless are liable to agree to unaffordable rent levels in order to put a roof over their families' head. Without the fairness introduced into the rent fixing process by the Rent Officer they may quickly find arrears building up. If the rent is considered too expensive they may not even be entitled to full Housing Benefit and the new legislation will speed up the eviction process."
    My local authority is right to fear the prospect of an increasing number of evictions under the assured tenancy system.

    The East Lothian director of housing continues:
    "It is intended by government that Housing Benefit will be restricted if applicants are living in accommodation considered too large or too expensive for their needs. Any excess Benefit paid over fixed thresholds will only be subsidised by central government at a rate of 25 per cent. compared to the standard rate of 97 per cent. The Council will therefore have to devote extra resources to these cases and it is not yet clear how such actions will be viewed by auditors.
    Consequently it is possible that an elderly widow in a three bedroom house no longer occupied by her family will not receive full Housing Benefit and will be forced to move to smaller accommodation perhaps in another town or village."
    Presumably it is indeed the Government's intention to force people on low incomes into ghettos of cheap housing. I was interested to read in the Edinburgh evening newspaper on Tuesday 8 March that Edinburgh city district council has found a private sector landlord who had acquired some property designed not to house people but to house pigs — a pigsty on a farm — which he intended to convert into bed-sits for the unemployed, who would then benefit from the housing benefits system. That is an example of the kind of landlord that the Bill will encourage. Such activity would be deplored by any responsible Government, but unfortunately this Government cannot be described as responsible.

    I am especially worried about the position of elderly or disabled people who have moved into sheltered housing on the understanding that their rent will be covered by the housing benefit system. I suspect that more and more of them will find themselves in difficulties, as has happened already under recent changes in the housing benefit system.

    A further clear illustration of the Government's twisted thinking on the subject is to be found in the Scottish Development Department consultation document "Deregulation of the Private Rented Sector: Consultation Paper on the Implication for Housing Benefit", which was issued in December 1987. Paragraph 3 of that document says:
    "With an increasing proportion of rents in future not subject to statutory rent control, it will be particularly important to ensure, where a tenant's rent is being met, in whole or in part, by public funds through housing benefit, that the rent which attracts such support is not unreasonable."
    So far, so good. One might conclude that it would be logical to do something about excessively high rents, but that is not going to happen.

    Paragraph 5 of the consultation paper says:
    "The Government also intend to provide, as soon as the necessary information for setting limits is available, that benefit should not be payable in full on the rents for the most expensive privately rented properties in each local authority area. The Government will introduce further limits on benefit should that prove necessary."
    That seems to us to be the wrong way of approaching the problem.

    Paragraph 23 states:
    "In due course it is intended that regulations will he made by the Secretary of State for Social Services specifying where the necessary limit will be set. Once such regulations are made, in cases where the rent is above the limit, the local authority will calculate benefit on rent only up to the limit specified."
    But here comes the rub:
    "If the claimant chooses to remain in accommodation with a higher rent, he will have to make up the difference from his own resources. Subsidy will, of course, only be paid on benefit awarded on rent up to the limit."
    One can imagine a father desperate to house his family finding that his only choice was to avail himself of overpriced private rented housing. Within weeks of taking on that commitment he could find that his rent was not covered by housing benefit. He would then be in terrible trouble because he would not be able to pay his rent and his family would face the prospect of homelessness all over again. That would be tragic and the Government should be ashamed of themselves for creating circumstances in which that kind of thing can happen.

    It is all too cruelly clear that tenants who depend on the housing benefit system will not have the means to pay higher rents and will therefore face the prospect of losing their homes. Clause 64 is a vicious clause which should be taken out of the Bill, and I sincerely hope that the House will find ways of compelling the Government to think again.

    I fully support everything that my hon. Friend the Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) has said about the clause, which is offensive even judged by the standards of the rest of the Bill. As I understand it, two sets of circumstances will be dealt with by the clause. I hope that the Minister will not just read out from the bits of paper in front of him when he replies. That is exactly what he did last night in speaking to new clause 16, which is closely related to this amendment. Had new clause 16 been accepted, there would be no need for clause 64, even on the Government's arguments. I hope that the Minister will answer the points put to him.

    Clause 64 is offensive in two respects. First, it provides for a judgment about whether accommodation is excessive. There is no such judgment in relation to mortgage interest relief. When one applies for mortgage interest relief no one asks whether one really needs such a big house and whether one should not perhaps move into something smaller and cheaper and have one's mortgage interest relief reduced.

    Many private tenants live in very poor conditions— they will continue to do so under the assured tenancy system—and I find it very offensive that they should be asked to justify the accommodation in which they live, given that the desperate shortage of rented accommodation means that many of them will have been forced into the houses that they occupy. That is offensive enough, but what the Government intend to do with rent levels is more than offensive—it is a scandal.

    The clause can operate in terms of rents only if the rent officer determines that the rent is excessive. One would imagine that there would be a mechanism for reducing rents. Why should an unjustifiably high rent, as determined by a rent officer, continue to be paid, irrespective of whether the tenant is on housing benefit? The Government, however, propose that, if a rent officer decides that the rent is too high, housing benefit should be reduced accordingly, but the rent should remain the same. There will then be a gap between the housing benefit payable and the rent. As we are talking about poorer people, the difference obviously cannot be made up out of income. Tenants will therefore be pushed out of their homes.

    Clause 64 protects taxpayers in that housing benefit is controlled. It protects landlords with a vengeance, because even when it is seen that they are taking an unjustifiably high rent, that rent will remain in force. The power of the clause is directed against tenants. We did not get anything like a satisfactory explanation from the Minister last night. He talked about a free market and a willing landlord and a willing tenant negotiating rents on equal terms, but that is a travesty of the facts.

    I have experience of these matters from my constituency. We had an unscrupulous and crooked landlord in my constituency. I am glad to say that he is now serving a prison sentence. Tenants are often on social security, and many are vulnerable for other reasons such as physical or mental disability. In those circumstances, and when there is a desperate shortage of housing, it is ludicrous to pretent that there can be free negotiations between a willing landlord and a willing tenant.

    This scandal has been exposed time and again, but the Government have done nothing about it. Now they are doing something about it, the changes are at the expense of tenants rather than at the expense of landlords. We must have a proper explanation of the clause. Regardless of any explanation, however, the clause is so deeply offensive that I shall vote against it.

    I entirely agree with what has been said about clause 64. If the amendment is pressed to a Division, I shall support it and recommend that my right hon. and hon. Friends do the same.

    I also am worried about the judgment that is to be made by the rent officer. Nothing can amend that power adequately. The only way forward is to remove the clause. The clause embodies a worrying principle, which could be extended. If private tenants are to be affected, what is to stop the principle being extended to private owners who may receive housing benefit but live in mansions? The Government seem to be treating tenants and private owners differently.

    6.45 pm

    I am worried about subsection (4), which extends the power of rent officers to make investigations and seek information or evidence to determine a claim. We are all familiar with the housing benefit and social security system and section 51 of the Social Security Act 1986. I served on the Committee which considered that Bill, and we spent some time on section 51 because it provides some far-reaching and unconstrained powers for the DHSS concerning inquiries into people's personal circumstances.

    The House should be careful about extending such powers to rent officers. We are involving a new type of public official in far-reaching investigations into personal lives. We should not do that lightly, not least because rent officers are not trained in the same way as social security and adjudication officers.

    Subsection (3) worries me because it involves the Secretary of State for Social Services in the rent allowance subsidy paid to local authorities in Scotland for housing benefit. The Secretary of State for Social Services will find it difficult to discover what happens in Scotland, where special conditions prevail. How does the Minister envisage subsection (2)(b) being implemented? It refers to making
    "different provision for different cases or classes of case and for different areas".
    What will that mean in terms of the power available to the Secretary of State? These are far-reaching powers. We discussed them in Committee, but the Government have not yet made it sufficiently clear what they mean in practice.

    I should like to repeat the now familiar point about the negative resolution procedure provided for in subsection (2)(a). Such regulations should be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

    Clause 64 gives the Secretary of State wide powers. It is wrong to give powers willy-nilly by statutory instrument when it would be perfectly easy to set out on the face of the Bill what the Secretary of State wants to achieve. There are several real difficulties with the clause. There are plenty of bad clauses in the Bill, but clause 64 is probably the worst in that it empowers rent officers to make judgments about what level of housing benefit tenants should be entitled to.

    I agree that clause 64 is the most detestable in the Bill. The very idea of a public official being sent around to label people as unfit to occupy their accommodation is thoroughly offensive.

    The clause really has all the hallmarks of stigmatising poverty that I thought society was beginning to leave behind. When local authorities used to have the power to clothe children whose parents were too poor to provide clothing for them, some local authorities were insensitive enough to make those children go to one particular retailer to get one particular type of clothing. Therefore, those children were easily spotted at school and were stigmatised for being poor. That was deeply resented by poor people. Clause 64 will also be deeply resented if the Government do not back down.

    Will the Minister clarify the point that I raised with him in Committee? During Second Reading, the Secretary of State for Scotland was very clear about how he interpreted clause 64. He said:
    "a local authority will be required to refer to the rent officer every rent for which it has received an application for housing benefit. The rent officer will then determine whether the rent payable is appropriate for the property."
    The rent officer will consider whether
    "the tenant is … over-accommodated or … the accommodation is of a quality that few people could ordinarily afford."
    That seems quite clear, but the Secretary of State for Scotland qualified that by saying:
    "We are talking not about existing tenants, but about a new tenancy."
    That suggests that clause 64 will apply only to those tenants who move into new assured tenancies and short assured tenancies that will be prevalent in the private rented sector.

    In Committee, when I pressed the Minister on that point, I used as an example my parents who live in a council house and receive housing benefit. The house used to accommodate all my family, but now it accommodates only my mother and father. Therefore, they would be over-accommodated. The Minister assured me that it would not apply to them.

    On Second Reading my hon. Friend the Member for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) gave the Secretary of State for Scotland the example of his parents, who also live in a council house in which they brought up their children. My hon. Friend asked the Secretary of State for Scotland:
    "If one of them should die, the other would be left occupying a house with three bedrooms, a dining room, a kitchen and a sitting room. Will that be gross over-accommodation for the partner who is left?"
    If the Secretary of State had known what he was talking about, he would have said that it would not apply to my hon. Friend's parents because they are renting in the public sector and clause 64 does not apply to the public sector. However, the Secretary of State did not say that. He said:
    "I will not try to give a definition … For the simple reason that Opposition Members would attack any definition that I might give as showing an indefensible rigidity and inflexiblity of approach." — [Official Report, 11 January 1988; Vol. 125, c. 50–53.]
    The Secretary of State's answer implied that clause 64 will apply equally to the public sector and the independent rented sector.

    Will the Minister make absolutely clear to which sector clause 64 will apply and will he explain why the Secretary of State for Scotland did not know what he was talking about on Second Reading?

    I can tell the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) straight away that clause 64 has nothing to do with public sector tenants and with registered rent tenants in the private sector. When the Secretary of State was asked that general question, I think that he was thinking in terms of the definition of over-accommodation. I shall come to that later in my remarks.

    The right hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Milian) obviously disagrees with the policy. I respect his point of view, but I must say that the premise upon which the Bill is based is that the private rented sector will he substantially increased. The right hon. Gentleman may find it offensive that the market should play a part in this matter, but if a landlord imposes an excessive rent, in future there will be increased opportunities for tenants in the private rented sector. I will be happy to be reminded of these remarks in a few years' time, when the effects of the Bill will be seen very much more clearly.

    The hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) asked about qualification. I will look into the matter, but my interpretation of the subsection to which he referred is that account must be taken of particular special circumstances. That certainly should happen.

    I appreciate the active imagination of Opposition Members about clause 64. The Government's intention is certainly not sinister; it is simple and reasonable, and seeks to prevent abuse of the housing benefit system.

    I invite the House to consider the scope for abuse in the system as it now operates and as it would operate in future without the protection of the powers to be taken under clause 64. In future, a tenant who applied for housing benefit would have his application assessed according to his ability to pay the rent for the accommodation where he has chosen to live. The actual level of rent would not affect his entitlement.

    The rent could be for excessively large or expensive accommodation, or quite ridiculously high for the accommodation itself, but the rent would be paid in full or in part from housing benefit unless the local authority decided to restrict the benefit. The system would he wide open to abuse. I challenge Opposition Members to adduce any good reason for the taxpayer, through the State, to pay rents which are obviously excessive or rents for people living in accommodation which is far beyond their needs.

    The Minister must realise that single parents and unmarried mothers have children at university who come to stay with them when the universities are in recess; therefore, they keep a spare room for their children. Under the Bill, many people would be deemed to have over-provision in their homes because they wanted to keep a spare room for one of their kids to join them during the holidays. That could happen under clause 64.

    In relation to over-accommodation, I am pleased to tell the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McTaggart) that we are aware of the difficulties which might arise in such circumstances —for example, if someone dies or if relatives move out because they are students or for some other reason. That is one of the many subjects which are now being carefully considered in the discussions with local authority associations. I can say no more than that at this stage.

    No. I should like to move on to my next point.

    Clause 64 gives the Secretary of State the power to require rent officers to perform such functions as he may specify by statutory instrument. The intention — I am talking about the procedure—is that rent officers will make an assessment of rent whenever a tenant of a private landlord applies for housing benefit. If the rent officer considers that the rent may be unreasonably high, he will carry out a valuation. If that establishes that the rent should be lower, the maximum rate of Exchequer subsidy will be paid only on housing benefit in respect of the assessed rent.

    However, local authorities will still have the discretion to pay benefit in respect of a higher rent, but I should make it quite clear in this connection that local authorities will have the flexibility to assist in special cases — for example, with higher rent for a few weeks to give the tenant the time and opportunity for the situation to be sorted out. It is quite possible that local authorities might wish to use that flexibility, but there will be no Exchequer subsidy on the excess.

    Rent officers will assess reasonable rents on the basis of guidance issued by my right hon. and learned Friend. A reasonable rent will be the market rent. Where there is insufficient evidence of market rents for comparable properties, the rent officer will make an assessment by taking account of appropriate yields which might be expected from investment in the private rented sector.

    When they assess the rent, will the rent officers make sure that the money that the tenants receive from the Government will be decreased? The local authorities will have the right to assist for a couple of weeks until things are sorted out. What does that mean? Who sorts out what? A landlord can charge whatever he wishes, so who sorts out the difference between what the Government will pay and what the tenant has to pay the landlord?

    A local authority will have the flexibility to assist in special circumstances—for example, if a tenant's circumstances change. We believe that the provisions will act as a brake on excessive rents and make it very much harder for rents to be increased.

    Will the orders that the Secretary of State will be able to make under clause 64 make clear the procedure that is available to aggrieved tenants who wish to appeal against a rent officer's decision?

    7 pm

    The answer is probably no, but I shall look into the matter and write to the hon. Gentleman.

    The rent that is set by a rent officer will not be the maximum rent that can be charged for a house. The landlord will be able to charge a higher rent if he can find a tenant who is willing to pay it, but in practice we believe that these provisions will act a serious brake on private sector rents generally, because tenants receiving housing benefit will continue to be a very significant proportion of all private sector tenants.

    When examining a claim for housing benefit, the rent officer will also have to consider whether the tenant is over-accommodated. Again, the rent officer will apply the criteria to be laid down by my right hon. and learned Friend. If, according to these criteria, the claimant is found to be over-accommodated, housing benefit subsidy will be restricted to the rent that would have been payable on a house of a size that is appropriate to the claimant's need.

    Opposition Members have expressed concern about the position of somebody who is living in over-large accommodation, purely because the house was a family home but the other members of the family have moved away or died. I fully understand that point and it is being considered in the discussions that are taking place between Government Departments and local authority associations.

    The Minister is telling us that if an old person is living in a house or apartment that is too big for him, the adjudication officer will be able to say that, rent-wise, that person, in his opinion, requires different accommodation and should be evicted.

    That is not what I am saying. The matter is being discussed with the local authorities. The points that were raised in Standing Committee and in the House will be taken into account.

    I am now in a position to give an authoritative answer to the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood). It is that this matter is under consideration. I shall make certain that he knows what the final outcome is.

    Contrary to what has been suggested, there is nothing draconian about the new tests of excessively large or expensive accommodation. The tests will be applied fairly and with discretion. They are necessary because the Government are obliged to support tenants and also to prevent the abuse of public funds.

    I think that that was a plea of guilty, but it was a confused plea of guilty. The answer to the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Dunnachie) is that it must be the bailiff who will have to sort out the problem. If a tenant were in an assured tenancy, he would have no security if he was unable to pay his rent. He would be put out into the street. That is the serious answer to the serious question that was asked by my hon. Friend. Not for the first time during our deliberations, the Minister refused to answer the question and to face up to the consequences of his legislation.

    Surely my hon. Friend is wrong to suggest that it would be up to the bailiff. However, it is for the Minister, with all the knowledge that he has displayed at the Dispatch Box, to rise and contradict him.

    I should be very happy to give way to the Minister if he would like to refute that point, but I am afraid that there is absolutely no way in which he can do so. It is irrefutable. That is what the Government are legislating for, and the Minister knows it. He must be even deeper into cloud cuckoo land than we thought he was if he is suggesting that the private rented sector will produce a large amount of low-priced rented accommodation to deal with Scotland's tragedy of over 30,000 people becoming homeless every year.

    Because of the present shortage of rented housing in Scotland, a shortage that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, the Minister knows that it is a seller's market and that the market rent is likely to be high. Desperate people will have to pay rents that they cannot afford. As they will have no housing benefit to help them to pay the rent, they could face the prospect all over again of being homeless.

    The Government recognise that landlords may try to extract high rents from claimants, but it is bizarre that, instead of penalising landlords, they intend to penalise tenants. That says all that needs to be said about this Government's philosophy and about the sick minds of the unrepresentative, minority regime in the Scottish Office. Clause 64 is an affront to the people of Scotland. I invite the House to delete it from the Bill.

    Question put, That the amendment be made:—

    The House divided: Ayes 198, Noes 226.

    Division No. 243]

    [7.07 pm

    AYES

    Abbott, Ms DianeFoulkes, George
    Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Fraser, John
    Allen, GrahamGalbraith, Sam
    Archer, Rt Hon PeterGalloway, George
    Armstrong, HilaryGarrett, John (Norwich South)
    Ashdown, PaddyGarrett, Ted (Wallsend)
    Ashley, Rt Hon JackGeorge, Bruce
    Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
    Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Godman, Dr Norman A.
    Barron, KevinGolding, Mrs Llin
    Beckett, MargaretGordon, Mildred
    Beith, A. J.Gould, Bryan
    Benn, Rt Hon TonyGraham, Thomas
    Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
    Bermingham, GeraldGriffiths, Win (Bridgend)
    Bidwell, SydneyGrocott, Bruce
    Blair, TonyHardy, Peter
    Boyes, RolandHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
    Bradley, KeithHealey, Rt Hon Denis
    Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)Heffer, Eric S.
    Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Henderson, Doug
    Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)Hinchliffe, David
    Buchan, NormanHogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
    Buckley, George J.Home Robertson, John
    Callaghan, JimHood, Jimmy
    Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
    Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
    Campbell-Savours, D. N.Howells, Geraint
    Canavan, DennisHoyle, Doug
    Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
    Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
    Clay, BobHughes, Roy (Newport E)
    Clelland, DavidHughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
    Clwyd, Mrs AnnHughes, Simon (Southwark)
    Cohen, HarryIllsley, Eric
    Coleman, DonaldIngram, Adam
    Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Janner, Greville
    Cook, Robin (Livingston)John, Brynmor
    Corbett, RobinJones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
    Corbyn, JeremyKinnock, Rt Hon Neil
    Cousins, JimKirkwood, Archy
    Cox, TomLamond, James
    Crowther, StanLeadbitter, Ted
    Cryer, BobLestor, Joan (Eccles)
    Cummings, JohnLewis, Terry
    Cunliffe, LawrenceLitherland, Robert
    Dalyell, TamLivingstone, Ken
    Darling, AlistairLivsey, Richard
    Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
    Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H't)Loyden, Eddie
    Dewar, DonaldMcAllion, John
    Dixon, DonMcAvoy, Thomas
    Dobson, FrankMcCartney, Ian
    Doran, FrankMacdonald, Calum A.
    Douglas, DickMcFall, John
    Dunnachie, JimmyMcKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
    Dunwoody, Hon Mrs GwynethMcKelvey, William
    Eadie, AlexanderMcNamara, Kevin
    Evans, John (St Helens N)McTaggart, Bob
    Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)McWilliam, John
    Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)Madden, Max
    Field, Frank (Birkenhead)Marek, Dr John
    Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Marshall, David (Shettleston)
    Flannery, MartinMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)
    Flynn, PaulMaxton, John
    Foot, Rt Hon MichaelMeacher, Michael
    Foster, DerekMeale, Alan

    Michael, AlunSkinner, Dennis
    Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
    Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
    Millan, Rt Hon BruceSmith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
    Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)Snape, Peter
    Moonie, Dr LewisSoley, Clive
    Morgan, RhodriSpearing, Nigel
    Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Steinberg, Gerry
    Mullin, ChrisStott, Roger
    Murphy, PaulStrang, Gavin
    Nellist, DaveTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
    Oakes, Rt Hon GordonTaylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
    O'Neill, MartinTurner, Dennis
    Orme, Rt Hon StanleyVaz, Keith
    Parry, RobertWall, Pat
    Patchett, TerryWallace, James
    Pendry, TomWalley, Joan
    Pike, Peter L.Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
    Powell, Ray (Ogmore)Wareing, Robert N.
    Primarolo, DawnWelsh, Andrew (Angus E)
    Quin, Ms JoyceWelsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
    Radice, GilesWilliams, Rt Hon Alan
    Randall, StuartWilliams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
    Richardson, JoWilson, Brian
    Robertson, GeorgeWinnick, David
    Robinson, GeoffreyWise, Mrs Audrey
    Rogers, AllanWorthington, Tony
    Rooker, JeffWray, Jimmy
    Ruddock, JoanYoung, David (Bolton SE)
    Salmond, Alex
    Sedgemore, BrianTellers for the Ayes:
    Sheerman, BarryMr. Frank Haynes and
    Sheldon, Rt Hon RobertMr. Ken Eastham.
    Shore, Rt Hon Peter

    NOES

    Adley, RobertCarlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
    Alexander, RichardCarrington, Matthew
    Alison, Rt Hon MichaelCarttiss, Michael
    Allason, RupertCash, William
    Amess, DavidChannon, Rt Hon Paul
    Amos, AlanChapman, Sydney
    Arbuthnot, JamesChope, Christopher
    Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
    Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
    Ashby, DavidColvin, Michael
    Atkinson, DavidCoombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
    Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Cope, John
    Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Cormack, Patrick
    Baldry, TonyCran, James
    Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Critchley, Julian
    Batiste, SpencerCurrie, Mrs Edwina
    Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyCurry, David
    Bendall, VivianDavies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
    Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Davis, David (Boothferry)
    Benyon, W.Devlin, Tim
    Bevan, David GilroyDorrell, Stephen
    Biffen, Rt Hon JohnDouglas-Hamilton, Lord James
    Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterDover, Den
    Bonsor, Sir NicholasDunn, Bob
    Boscawen, Hon RobertDurant, Tony
    Bottomley, PeterEggar, Tim
    Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaFallon, Michael
    Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)Farr, Sir John
    Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Favell, Tony
    Bowis, JohnField, Barry (Isle of Wight)
    Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir RhodesFookes, Miss Janet
    Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardForman, Nigel
    Brandon-Bravo, MartinForsyth, Michael (Stirling)
    Brazier, JulianForth, Eric
    Bright, GrahamFowler, Rt Hon Norman
    Brooke, Rt Hon PeterFox, Sir Marcus
    Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Franks, Cecil
    Browne, John (Winchester)Freeman, Roger
    Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)French, Douglas
    Budgen, NicholasFry, Peter
    Burns, SimonGale, Roger
    Burt, AlistairGarel-Jones, Tristan
    Butler, ChrisGill, Christopher
    Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Glyn, Dr Alan

    Goodlad, AlastairPatten, Chris (Bath)
    Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesPawsey, James
    Gorman, Mrs TeresaPorter, Barry (Wirral S)
    Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)Porter, David (Waveney)
    Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Portillo, Michael
    Grylls, MichaelPowell, William (Corby)
    Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Price, Sir David
    Harris, DavidRaffan, Keith
    Haselhurst, AlanRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
    Hayward, RobertRathbone, Tim
    Higgins, Rt Hon Terence LRedwood, John
    Howard, MichaelRiddick, Graham
    Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
    Hunt, David (Wirral W)Ridsdale, Sir Julian
    Hunter, AndrewRoberts, Wyn (Conwy)
    Irvine, MichaelRossi, Sir Hugh
    Kellett-Bowman, Dame ElaineRyder, Richard
    Kilfedder, JamesSackville, Hon Tom
    King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Scott, Nicholas
    King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)Shaw, David (Dover)
    Knapman, RogerShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
    Knight, Greg (Derby North)Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
    Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
    Knox, DavidShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
    Lang, IanShersby, Michael
    Latham, MichaelSims, Roger
    Lawrence, IvanSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
    Lee, John (Pendle)Soames, Hon Nicholas
    Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
    Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkSquire, Robin
    Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)Stanbrook, Ivor
    Lightbown, DavidSteen, Anthony
    Lilley, PeterStern, Michael
    Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
    Luce, Rt Hon RichardStewart, Ian (Hertfordshire N)
    Lyell, Sir NicholasStradling Thomas, Sir John
    McCrindle, RobertSumberg, David
    Macfarlane, Sir NeilSummerson, Hugo
    MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)Taylor, Ian (Esher)
    McLoughlin, PatrickTaylor, John M (Solihull)
    McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
    McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
    Madel, DavidTemple-Morris, Peter
    Malins, HumfreyThompson, D. (Calder Valley)
    Mans, KeithThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
    Maples, JohnThornton, Malcolm
    Marshall, John (Hendon S)Tracey, Richard
    Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Tredinnick, David
    Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Twinn, Dr Ian
    Mawhinney, Dr BrianVaughan, Sir Gerard
    Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinWaddington, Rt Hon David
    Mellor, DavidWakeham, Rt Hon John
    Meyer, Sir AnthonyWaller, Gary
    Miller, HalWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
    Miscampbell, NormanWarren, Kenneth
    Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)Watts, John
    Mitchell, David (Hants NW)Wells, Bowen
    Moate, RogerWheeler, John
    Monro, Sir HectorWhitney, Ray
    Montgomery, Sir FergusWiddecombe, Ann
    Morrison, Hon Sir CharlesWilkinson, John
    Moss, MalcolmWilshire, David
    Neale, GerrardWolfson, Mark
    Nelson, AnthonyWood, Timothy
    Neubert, MichaelWoodcock, Mike
    Nicholls, PatrickYeo, Tim
    Nicholson, David (Taunton)
    Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)Tellers for the Noes:
    Onslow, Rt Hon CranleyMr. Alan Howarth and
    Oppenheim, PhillipMr. David Maclean.
    Page, Richard

    Question accordingly negatived.

    Clause 67

    Finance

    Amendment made: No. 74, in page 37, line 28, leave out `in consequence of' and insert 'under' — [Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

    Schedule 1

    Scottish Homes

    Amendment made: No. 27, in page 42, leave out lines 19 to 26 and insert

    ' Execution of Documents

    18. A document is validly executed by Scottish Homes if it is subscribed on its behalf by one of its members or by any other person duly authorised in that behalf.
    19. A document shall be presumed, unless the contrary is shown, to have been validly executed by Scottish Homes if it bears to have been subscribed on its behalf by one of its members or by any other person duly authorised in that behalf and to have been sealed with its common seal (whether attested by witnesses or not).'. — [Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

    Schedule 3

    Scottish Homes: Amendments Of Housing Associations Act 1985

    Amendment made: No. 146, in page 46, line 49, at end Insert

    '10A. In section 15A—
  • (a) in subsection (3), for the words from "is", where second occurring, onward there shall be substituted the words—
  • "(a) was, prior to the specified date, designated as such by the Housing Corporation; or
  • (b) is, on or after that date, designated as such by Scottish Homes,"
  • and, in this subsection, "specified date" has the same meaning as in section 3 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988; and
  • (b) in subsection (4)—
  • (i) for the words "The Housing Corporation" there shall be substituted the words "Scottish Homes"; and
  • (ii) in paragraph (b) after the word "designation" there shall be inserted the words "(including a designation made by the Housing Corporation under subsection (3) above as originally enacted)".'. — [Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]
  • Schedule 4

    Tenancies Which Cannot Be Assured Tenancies

    Amendments made: No. 138, in page 49, line 42, leave out from 'house' to end of line.

    No. 141, in page 50, line 3, at end insert—

    `(bb) that, at the time when the tenancy was granted, there was an ordinary means of access—
  • (i) to or from the house by way of that other house; or
  • (ii) to or from that other house by way of the house
  • (whether or not that access was available to the tenant as of right'.

    No. 142, in page 51, leave out lines 6 to 8.

    No. 76, in page 51, line 26, leave out from 'Association' to end of line 27.

    No. 77, in page 51, line 33, leave out lines 33 to 36. — [Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

    Schedule 5

    Grounds For Possession Of Houses Let On Assured Tenancies

    Amendments made: No. 79, in page 52, line 29, after `tenant', insert

    `not later than the date of commencement of the tenancy'.

    No. 80, in page 53, line 50, leave out 'money or money's worth' and insert 'value'.

    No. 82, in page 54, line 25, leave out from 'hearing' to `in' in line 26 and insert

    `at least three months rent lawfully due from the tenant is'.

    No. 3, in page 54, leave out lines 27 to 30.

    No. 84, in page 54, line 32, at end insert—

    'Ground 11A

    Suitable alternative accommodation is available for the tenant or will be available for him when the order for possession takes effect.'.

    No. 85, in page 54, line 32, at end insert—

    `Ground 11B

    The following conditions are fulfilled—
  • (a) the tenant has given a notice to quit which has expired; and
  • (b) the tenant has remained in possession of the whole or any part of the house; and
  • (c) proceedings for the recovery of possession have been begun not more than six months after the expiry of the notice to quit; and
  • (d) the tenant is not entitled to possession of the house by virtue of a new tenancy.'.
  • No. 86, in page 54, line 32, at end insert—

    'Ground 11C

    Whether or not any rent is in arrears on the date on which proceedings for possession are begun, the tenant has persistently delayed paying rent which has become lawfully due.'.

    No. 87, in page 55, line 27, leave out from `situated' to end of line and insert

    `or, where the house in question is in a new town, of the development corporation established for its purposes under the New Towns (Scotland) Act 1968 or, in any case, of Scottish Homes, certifying that the authority, the Corporation or, as the case may be, Scottish Homes'.

    No. 88, in page 56, line 2, after 'authority', insert

    `or development corporation or by Scottish Homes'.

    No. 89, in page 56, line 11, after 'authority', insert

    `or development corporation or of Scottish Homes'.

    No. 90, in page 56, line 12, leave out 'the authority' and insert 'that body'.

    No. 91, in page 56, line 15, leave out 'the authority' and insert 'that body'.

    No. 92, in page 56, line 22, after 'authority', insert 'or development corporation'.

    No. 93, in page 56, line 23, after 'therein', insert 'or of Scottish Homes'.

    No. 94, in page 56, line 24, leave out 'authority' and insert 'body'.

    No. 95, in page 56, line 26, leave out 'A local authority' and insert

    `Local authorities, development corporations and Scottish Homes'. —[Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

    Schedule 6

    Amendments To Schedule I To Rent (Scotland) Act 1984

    Amendments made: No. 96, in page 57, line 26, leave out from 'as' to second `by' in line 27 and insert

    `then has occupancy rights under section 18 of the Matrimonial Homes (Family Protection) (Scotland) Act 1981 (rights of cohabiting couples) or, if neither or none of them has such rights, such one of them as may be decided'.

    No. 144, in page 57, line 34, leave out 'five' and insert `two'.

    No. 145, in page 58, line 4, leave out 'five' and insert `two'.

    No. 97, in page 58, line 13, at end add—

    `PART II'

    STATUTORY TENANTS BY SUCCESSION: MODIFICATION OF ENACTMENTS

    10. In relation to the assured tenancy to which the person becomes entitled by succession, section 18 of this Act shall have effect as if in subsection (3) after the word "established" there were inserted the words "or that the circumstances are as specified in any of Cases 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, and 21 in Schedule 2 to the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984".
    11.—(1) In relation to the assured tenancy to which the person becomes entitled by succession, any notice given for the purpose of Case 13, Case 14 or Case 16 of Schedule 2 to the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 to the original tenant (within the meaning of Schedule Ito the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984) shall be treated as having been given for the purposes of whichever of Grounds 4 to 6 in Schedule 5 to this Act corresponds to the Case in question.
    (2) Where sub-paragraph (1) above applies, the regulated tenancy of the said original tenant shall be treated, in relation to the assured tenancy of the person so entitled, as "the earlier tenancy" for the purposes of Part IV of Schedule 5 to this Act.'.—[Lord James Douglas-Hamilton]

    Schedule 7

    Minor Amendments To The Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 (C 26)

    Amendments made: No. 98, in page 59, line 10, at end insert—

    `14A In section 250 (repairs grants in housing action areas), in subsection (7), in paragraph (b) for "249(5)" there shall be substituted "250(5)".'.

    No. 14, in page 59, line 14, at end insert—

    '16A. In section 268 (notice of determination) in subsection (4) for the words "1 to 3" and "281, 283 and 284(1)" respectively there shall be substituted the words "2, 3 and 7", and "282, 284 and 285.'

    No. 15, in page 59, line 14, at end insert—

    `16AA. In section 281 (effect of repurchase on certain existing tenancies) in subsection (2)(b) for the words "34(1)(d) of the Tenants Rights Etc. (Scotland) Act 1980" there shall be substituted the words "9(1)(d) of the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984".'.

    No. 99, in page 59, line 14, at end insert—

    '16A. In section 276 (repurchase by authority other than local authority), in subsection (3), in paragraph (a), for '21' there shall be substituted '20'.'.

    No. 16, in page 59, line 21, after '1980', insert

    `(notice that tenancy is to be a protected shorthold tenancy)'.

    No. 17, in page 59, line 22, after '1984', insert

    `(notice that the tenancy is to be a short tenancy'.

    No. 18, in page 59, line 22, at end insert—

    `18A. In section 285 (request for tenancy under section 282 or 283) in subsection (1)(a) for the words "paragraph 4" there shall be substituted the words "paragraph 3".'.

    No. 19, in page 59, line 25, at end insert—

    `19A. In section 338 (interpretation) in the definition of "standard amenities" for "244(5)" there shall be substituted "244(6)".'.

    United Nations precedents offer the best guarantee that the No. 20, in page 59, line 30, after '8', insert

    '(as the case may be)'.

    No. 21, in page 59, line 31, at end insert—

    '20A. In Schedule 20 (assistance by way of repurchase) in paragraph 3 for the words "a notice" there shall be substituted the words "an offer to purchase".'.—[Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

    Schedule 9

    Minor And Consequential Amendments

    Amendments made: No. 100, in page 62, line 36, at end insert—

    '(5A) In section 177 (statutory tenant to be regarded as lessee for purposes of the Act), in paragraph (a), after '1984' there shall be inserted the words 'or Part II of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988'.'.—[Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

    Schedule 10

    Repeals

    Amendments made: No. 139, in page 64, line 1, column 3, at end insert —

    'In section 68, the words "or the local authority".'

    No. 140, in page 64, line 3, at end insert—

    'In section 71(1) the words "or the local authority".'
    No. 101, in page 64, column 3, leave out lines 33 to 35.
    No. 123, in page 64, line 33, column 3, at beginning insert—
    'Section 62(11) to (13).'. — [Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

    Title

    Amendments made: No. 102, in line 5, after `tenants;', insert

    `to make new provision as to limit on discount on the price of houses purchased by secure tenants;'.

    No. 103, in line 5, after `tenants;', insert

    `to abolish, and make interim provision for the capitalisation of, certain subsidies and contributions relating to housing;'. —[Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.]

    Order for Third Reading read.[Queen's consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified.]

    7.19 pm

    I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

    This is a major Bill. Indeed, it is the most important housing legislation for Scotland since the Tenants' Rights, Etc. (Scotland) Act 1980. That legislation was badly misjudged by the Opposition of the time, who said that there was insufficient demand for the right to buy. We know now how wrong they were. I am confident that the current opposition to this Bill will, in time, be seen to be equally misjudged as the provisions bring a better quality of life to those living or wishing to live in rented homes.

    The Bill has received a detailed and thorough examination by the House. No fewer than 600 amendments were considered in Standing Committee and more than 190 were dealt with on Report. The Bill has been improved substantially as a result of the debates that those amendments generated. We have listened carefully to views expressed both by hon. Members and by interested parties who have followed our debates. I think it right at this point to mention the considerable effort that has been put into the Bill by many groups who have assisted all parties in the House. I should mention specifically Shelter, Age Concern, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, the Lands Tribunal for Scotland, the Law Society, the Scottish Special Housing Association, the Housing Corporation and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

    In many cases, we have been able to respond to reasonable suggestions by making amendments to the Bill, and I have been happy so to do. In all, more than 66 amendments of this nature have been made, although some, of course, were of a minor or technical nature. We have also had a number of matters drawn to our attention on which it may be possible to bring forward further amendments in another place.

    In relation to Scottish Homes, the general nature of the legislation within which the new body will work has been confirmed. This will give it the flexibility that we regard as necessary in the future housing scene. At the same time, through amendments, it has been given specific functions in relation to training and research, and its role in relation to all forms of housing has been clearly established. That was the result of an amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Griffiths).

    The doctrine of tacit relocation, one of the ornaments of Scottish law for which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Perth and Kinross (Mr. Fairbairn) made a passionate appeal, has been accepted. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] My hon. and learned Friend is temporarily absent, but I suspect that he will be tacit only until he is relocated.

    In part II, the new tenancies for the private rented sector have drawn much comment. We have been able to respond to many of the suggestions made, and on Report the House approved a broad package of improvements to the assured and short assured tenancy regimes. In addition—the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) raised this in Committee—we have recognised that it was unnecessarily stringent to require a successor to a regulated tenancy to have lived with the tenant for five years. We have therefore reduced the period to two years. That matter was also raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) and by the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood).

    The provisions of part III, which deals with tenants' choice, have been simplified. There has been recognition that the arrangements proposed in the Bill will meet the needs of Scotland more closely than those proposed for elsewhere. Amendments have been made to give effect to policy proposals in the White Paper which were not in the Bill on its introduction. We have been able to provide for the abolition of certain Exchequer subsidies under arrangements which are acceptable to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

    The Bill now incorporates a reasonable compromise between the aspirations of tenants to purchase their homes at a discount and the needs of local authorities. The new provisions for the cost floor should enable more tenants to exercise their right to buy, without their discount being restricted. The Bill gives effect to the majority of the proposals in the White Paper, but legislation alone does not achieve the improvements in the quality of life that we seek. The legislation enables tenants and others seeking a home to exercise more choice and opportunity, and enables those providing homes to do so with greater diversity. Above all, it enables individuals to take greater responsibility for their own homes.

    It cannot go unremarked that the Opposition have no comprehensive policy for housing in Scotland. They are full of criticism for the constructive policies that the Government have put forward and they are always trying to drag down any attempt to move forward in providing better housing, but they have failed to produce one new idea to make progress on the remaining problems of today.

    It came as no surprise, therefore, to see the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) claiming recently that, in the unlikely event of his party forming a Government, they will promote housing choice by encouraging local initiatives to develop co-operatives, housing associations and owner-occupation. Having failed to devise policies of its own, the Labour party adopts those of our policies which seem most popular—those which we have pursued successfully since 1980. I am only sorry that the hon. Member for East Lothian does not acknowledge that and join us in achieving what appear to be our common aims.

    Instead, there has been a continuing campaign of misinformation bordering on the irresponsible. Despite repeated assertions to the contrary from the Opposition and irresponsible interests outside, the Bill contains not a word of compulsion on tenants—[Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) wishes to know, the leaflet put out in the summer by NALGO to SSHA tenants was highly irresponsible. There are many copies of that leaflet available.

    My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State has given clear and personal assurances that the rights of SSHA tenants in particular are in no way diminished by the Bill. The Bill expands the opportunities available. The Opposition claim that there is no call for those opportunities. They said the same about the Tenants' Rights, Etc. (Scotland) Act 1980, and they will be proved equally wrong now.

    7.26 pm

    I feel as though I have just been savaged by a pet lamb. The Minister's harangue would have been more convincing if he had been able to deliver it with a straight face, but I suspect that he found it no more convincing than the rest of the House did. He claimed to have listened to representations made in Committee and on the Floor of the House. He claimed to have listened to Shelter, to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, to the housing associations, to the Scottish Council for Single Homeless and all the rest, but there is precious little evidence that he understood or responded in any way to the positive representations made to him about housing in Scotland.

    The Bill has been exposed as an irrelevant, dangerous and doctrinaire measure. In particular, it has highlighted the glaring deficiences in parliamentary scrutiny of Scottish legislation. Yesterday and today, the House has been voting through a measure which will have drastic effects on housing in Scotland, but without paying any attention to the arguments. Repeatedly, both yesterday and today, the Minister found himself in solitary splendour on the Conservative side with only a Whip from an English constituency to keep him company. Yet hundreds of English Conservatives poured into the Lobbies to vote on a measure which has no bearing on their constituents but which will have a far-reaching effect in Scotland.

    As for the Committee stage, it is worth putting it on record that the people of Scotland elected 50 Labour Members of Parliament, 12 Members representing the so-called minority parties and only 10 Members from the real minority — the Conservative party. The Standing Committee, however, consisted of 11 Conservatives, six Labour Members and just one alliance Member. It is interesting to consider how the Tories managed to get 11 Members on the Committee when they have only 10 Scottish Members, two of whom are members of the Cabinet. To get their work through, they had to add two English Members—[Interruption.] I will not be lectured by the Minister of State, Scottish Office, the hon. Member for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale (Mr. Lang), about insults to the House. The hon. Gentleman represents a minority Administration in Scotland. He constantly treats the people of Scotland with abuse. He was not elected to do that, and I am not taking any nonsense from him. The Government managed to get their business through Committee only by adding two English Tories to its membership. That is just within Standing Orders, but it is an affront to the principles of democracy in Scotland.

    The House and the Government should be warned about the strains that result from such provocative conduct by the minority Administration in the Scottish Office. The nation of Scotland does not have to put up with such abuse. Ministers are always quick to criticise the Opposition for any mention of civil disobedience in Scotland. The time is long overdue for Ministers to show some obedience to the electorate of Scotland — something that is lacking in this Bill and in other policies.

    The Bill began life with a travesty of a consultation process. Ministers paid no heed to those who know and care about Scottish housing. Parliament has failed to carry out its duty to prevent the passage of bad legislation for Scotland. Part I creates a monstrous housing quango, Scottish Homes, whose board will be personally nominated by a Secretary of State who does not represent any more than a tiny rump of a minority in Scotland. That quango will have the full range of powers over housing in Scotland, but there will be no representation on its board from the tenants of Scotland. The powers of locally elected authorities are being savagely curtailed and SSHA tenants are being cynically manoeuvred into an uncertain future under Scottish Homes.

    Part II provides for a new framework of so-called assured tenancies, which will be anything but assured. They are specifically designed to undermine tenants' rights and security and to force up rents to encourage the redevelopment of private landlordism in Scotland. The Government are running a terrible risk of encouraging the worst features of Rachmanism in Scotland. Clause 33 provides for damages for unlawful eviction, but it is clearly little more than a fig leaf. What is the point of protection against unlawful eviction when it will be all too easy to evict lawfully under schedule 5?

    The Opposition, who are the majority in Scotland, want to put on record a clear warning to speculators that we will introduce a new framework of security and rent control as soon as possible, either in this Parliament or in a directly elected Scottish assembly. The Government are pinning their hopes on an upsurge in the provision of private rented accommodation by a sector that has been in decline since the beginning of the century and that now holds only 6 per cent. of the rented housing stock in Scotland.

    The Government are establishing a mechanism under Part III which will allow private speculators to acquire public sector housing stock at a cut price. That demonstrates the Government's lack of confidence that the private sector will invest in building or in improving rented accommodation. The private sector cannot and will not rise to the challenge, and the Minister knows it. Even if it did, tenants could not afford the increased rents.

    If the Minister will not take that from me, perhaps he will take it from the chief executive of the Nationwide Anglia Building Society, Mr. Tim Melville-Ross. The Scotsman states that during a speech at the Institute of Housing conference in Aviemore recently, he called for
    "a significantly more generous housing benefit system to help people on modest incomes meet the higher rents likely under the Government's policy."
    The article stated :
    "The head of one of Britain's biggest building societies gave warning yesterday that the Government's planned housing reform would fail unless more financial help were given to both tenants and the providers of private rented houses."
    We keep hearing about Nationwide Anglia, but that is what its chief executive said about the Government's proposals. Of course he wants more concessions, but, to his credit, he is also calling for better support for tenants.

    The Minister has rejected an appeal to reconsider the impact of the legislation on housing benefit. The Government are not interested in that. They may not want to recognise it, but there is a mounting housing crisis in Scotland. Those of us elected to serve Scottish constituencies come face to face with it every day of the week. More than 30,000 people in Scotland become homeless every year, and their number has increased relentlessly during recent years. More than 200,000 people are on waiting lists and more then one quarter of the population is living in overcrowded accommodation.

    Scotland probably has about 500,000 damp houses, but it is difficult to establish the facts and figures because the Government refuse to conduct a house condition survey similar to those carried out in England and Wales. The position is deteriorating because of the Government's refusal to invest in housing in Scotland. The Bill offers no hope to Scots who face homelessness or who are stuck in bad or overcrowded accommodation. It is simply a threat of unaffordable rents and eviction as the Government sacrifice tenants' right in their reckless endeavour to encourage private landlordism in Scotland.

    The Government are sacrificing everything — fair rents, security, local control, and even the precious right to buy that Ministers keep praising. That right would be lost to tenants who transferred to the assured tenancy system. The Government are unleashing born-again Rachmanism in Scotland because there is no provision for effective regulation of the private sector.

    We welcome the spectacular new motivation during recent months among tenants' organisations in Scotland which have been provoked by the Government's proposals. The Labour party strongly supports the rebirth of the tenants' association movement, which is a welcome development. I will not take any chiding from the Minister or from anyone else about the Labour party's housing policies. It has had positive achievements in housing in Scotland. We are happy to stand by the record of Labour-controlled authorities which, in all parts of Scotland, have made remarkable achievements, despite the interference and hostility of the Government.

    Glasgow city district council, in particular, has made spectacular progress in difficult circumstances by developing and diversifying both public and private sector housing in partnership with housing associations, housing co-operatives and the private sector. It is a similar picture in many other areas. There is a stark contrast between the practical achievements of Labour-controlled authorities which want to provide for the needs of people in their localities and the negative approach of the minority Conservative Administration in the Scottish Office, who are interested only in encouraging their friends, the private property speculators. We stand for investment, for development and for tenants' rights. We reject the Bill.

    7.37 pm

    I do not intend to follow the typical carping speech of the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) because we all know that homes, houses, waiting lists, condensation and dampness are all run-of-the-mill subjects with which we have to deal as constituency Members of Parliament. Any Bill that will improve the position must be welcome, and I certainly welcome this one. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Minister for piloting his first Bill through the House with such success.

    I am glad that this year my hon. Friend has provided additional money for housing in Scotland. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State made an important announcement yesterday on urban aid. I understand that the additional money for non-housing revenue account money and improvement grants will be welcomed by local authorities as it will enable them to improve their housing stock. It is a rapid move in the right direction.

    I am glad that the Bill includes an extension of our most successful policy of council house sales, which has done so much to grant the wish of many Scots to own their homes. I am also glad that my hon. Friend has dealt with choice of tenure, choice of landlord and rented accommodation generally. I do not know why the Opposition are so opposed to rented accommodation, which is important in Scotland, and in which the private sector plays as important a part as the public sector. As an immense number of people want to be mobile and to move from one job to another, rented accommodation available at reasonably short notice is important, but we must have the right structure for that to happen.

    It is disappointing that all Opposition parties keep shouting alarm and despondency and creating a great deal of comment in Scotland that the Bill might be disadvantageous to the average Scots household. Of course it is not. It is there to help. Its whole objective is to improve the quality of Scottish housing. That is why the most important part of the Bill is the setting up of Scottish Homes, bringing together the Scottish Special Housing Association and the individual housing associations that are doing so much throughout Scotland to improve the quality of homes, especially for the less fortunate and for handicapped people. That is one of the most important and dramatic developments in Scotland over the past ten years or so—long may it continue. I hope that my hon. Friend will continue to make substantial sums of money available to the housing associations.

    All in all, I congratulate my hon. Friend and the Secretary of State for Scotland on promoting the Bill, and I wish it well in another place.

    7.40 pm

    I shall be brief, but I want to address the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland who has piloted the Bill through Committee and through our proceedings. I might be using the word "piloted" loosely, because a pilot usually achieves his objective by getting the ship into port safely, with the crew happy. The crew that I am speaking about are hon. Members — in this case, those representing Scottish constituencies. I would not describe it as a happy crew. Indeed, the Minister's own crew have deserted—

    There are not many Opposition Members present.

    If the Whip would stop interrupting from a sedentary position, he would realise that it is not the Opposition's responsibility to carry the Bill through. He has that responsibility. Quite noticeable in our previous debate were some of the more knowledgeable English Members. I am referring, among others and in his absence, to the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) who must have got material for three or four articles while listening to the Minister's erudite reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. Dunnachie). When my hon. Friend asked the Minister a question about clause 64, the reply from the Box was, in effect, "We do not really know the answer. After all this time, we are considering it." That is the level of debate and assistance that we have had from the Government.

    The Under-Secretary of State, whom I have known for a considerable time, bears among his names a name that I bear also. Throughout history, the Douglases have fought for Scotland and Scotland's interests—

    Yes, ruthlessly, it is true. However, I do not think that the way in which the Under-Secretary of State is fighting at present is in Scotland's interest or that it is doing the Douglas name any good. He knows that I respect him highly, but he should consider his position. In a way, his piloting of this Bill is a triumph of our liking for him over his intellectual grasp of the housing issue.

    The Under-Secretary of State mentioned a whole host of organisations that had been consulted about the Bill, not one of which supported the measure. The Scottish Special Housing Association initially thought that it was quite a useful measure, but on examining it in detail, it turned against it.

    The hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) has left the Chamber and deserted the ship, but I pick up some of his strictures that we should all be concerned about the future of housing and that we should be flexible and not have a doctrinaire aproach. However, what concerns me about the thrust of the Bill, and about when it becomes an Act, is that it goes against the cohesion that we have kept in Scotland, in terms of a sense of community.

    The Bill means that people will be able to move out of the local authority sector into Scottish Homes. It is possible—indeed, I would say, probable—that there is a dual thrust out of the local authority sector because people will move out of the local authority sector into Scottish Homes, either through housing associations or in another way and, because of the discounts, people will buy themselves out of the local authority sector, which will be ghettoised. People who are concerned about a sense of community should be concerned about that. Only the poorer sections of the community and the worst type of housing will remain in the local authority sector. I advise the Minister that if he is concerned about communities, he should take that on board.

    Moreover, as we saw in debating clause 64, the local authority will have burdens placed on it in relation to care of the homeless and vexatious aspects of rent control and rent legislation. People might be considered to be living in over-luxurious accommodation and be asked to move out. It is the local authority, not Scottish Homes, that will have the responsibility of looking after them.

    What the Tories are doing to Scotland, not only in housing, but in education and in all aspects of Thatcherite policy, is destroying our sense of community. We did not vote for that in 1987. There is no majority in Scotland for that thrust and that approach. I warn my colleagues that we have suffered this for eight long and dreary months, but I doubt whether we can suffer for long an approach such as we have witnessed today — in the article in the Glasgow Herald and in the speeches that the Prime Minister has made in Scotland. I doubt whether the Douglases — people who have fought ruthlessly for Scotland—can stomach that for much longer.

    7.47 pm

    Although I believe that the Bill is a missed opportunity, I begin by agreeing with the Government at least in so far as their stated objectives were made clear to the Committee, to the House on Second Reading and in subsequent stages. First, it is obviously right, in the context of the condition of Scotland's housing at the moment, that increased home ownership should be given a degree of priority by the Government, and by local authorities and housing agencies.

    Secondly, it is also true that increased diversification of forms of tenure is a perfectly proper and laudable objective. Finally, the geographical locations require urgent attention and priority, whether relating to legislation, resources or anything else that should be given to the peripheral housing schemes, especially in our bigger cities. I believe that all hon. Members would find it easy to agree with those things.

    However, when we take the stated objectives and consider the content of the Bill as it has been produced by the Second Reading and Committee stages in the House, we are looking at the introduction of the new organisation, Scottish Homes. I believe that it would be possible for another Government with a different social and economic perspective, in office in Scotland, to make Scottish Homes a force for change for the better. However, because of the Government's track record on economic and social issues, I have substantial doubts that they will manage to achieve anything positive.

    I believe that the proposals for Scottish Homes will have little impact on my constituency. I hope that I am wrong about that. The housing association movement has made a small but meaningful change for the better in rural areas and small towns in south-east Scotland and the border areas. I hope that that will continue. But even the housing associations are anxious about the application of the new assured tenancy scheme to their future tenants.

    The Minister said that he will continue to consider the matter. I implore him to get that consideration right. He must deal with the loss of security and succession rights. I warn him that, if he does not, he will lose the cooperation of housing associations. They will be in the same boat as local authorities which have, to all intents and purposes, lost any meaningful relationship with central Government. If the general powers and specific functions of Scottish Homes cannot be implemented with the agreement of local authorities and housing associations, the prospect of its succeeding are negligible. I hope that I am wrong, but I say that to the Minister with all the conviction that I can muster.

    The Minister must also consider the balance between private and public sector investment. Of course, private sector investment should be brought in. I agree with the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) that to make public sector investment meaningful for investors, the Government will have to provide financial inducements over and above anything that they have considered to make substantial inroads into housing investment. That would cause me some anxiety. Although I do not mind allocating public funds to support housing provision in Scotland, it is wrong to give tax breaks and financial handouts to companies and individuals simply because they are prepared to consider moving into the private housing sector.

    The balance of landlord to tenant in the new assured tenancy scheme is out of kilter. Time will tell whether I am wrong about that, but I believe that the Minister has gone too far in the wrong direction. I concede that to develop the philosophy that is contained in other parts of the Bill, there may have been arguments for considering how to free the private rented sector. I do not necessarily agree with it, but I concede that some adjustment may have been necessary. I think that the Minister has overdone that adjustment, and time will prove me correct.

    What causes local authorities most anxiety is part III. The prohibition of opting into the public sector is unnecessary to achieve the Minister's aims. If his analysis is right and the public sector has been found wanting in the past—there have been legitimate criticisms of some local authorities, especially in the central industrial belt, in relation to repairs and maintenance — it must be unnecessary to proscribe people's ability to return to the public sector. It would have cost the Minister nothing to make the choice a genuine one, and he could more easily have defended himself against attacks on the issue from the Opposition. It was a bad tactical mistake, and I believe that the House will wish to reconsider the matter in the future.

    I implore the Scottish Office, and the Minister's Department, to pay more attention to the processes of consultation. There is a widespread feeling, which I support entirely, that the Bill has been rushed through in an indefensible manner. I cannot understand what the hurry was. There are at least two, three or even four years remaining of this Parliament, and it would have served the interests of his Department better if the Minister had taken his time over consultation and introduced the Bill next Session. That would have allowed the organisations to which the Minister paid tribute—I endorse that tribute—more time to discuss the issues. A much better Bill would have followed the Green Paper consultation and White Paper processes. If the Minister has any influence with his Department, I hope he will never again allow such scant consultation on Scottish legislation.

    The parliamentary process of the Bill was disgraceful. The Committee stage got into a bit of a fankle for the first two weeks, and we could have made better progress then. But thereafter the Opposition were as constructive and positive as they could have been. The Minister said that about 190 amendments were tabled on Report, 88 of which were from the Government. Of course, there should be half a dozen or even a dozen amendments that derive directly from discussions in Committee, but the tabling of so many amendments on Report and the charade that we had last night sent me home deeply frustrated and despairing of what people outside this place—interest groups and the public—must have made of our proceedings.

    The Minister must bear responsibility for that. If his Department comes to him and suggests that future legislation should be handled in that way, he should say, "No. I am not prepared to legislate in that fashion on important issues." If we do not protest vigorously against such procedures, the Government will have recourse to such tactics even more regularly. The Minister will take up my points later, but I believe that it does the House no service to legislate as we have with this Bill.

    I hope that the Bill will succeed. I fear that it will not, but time will tell.

    7.57 pm

    The Bill will do almost nothing to solve Scotland's undoubted housing crisis. It will do almost nothing to help the thousands of homeless people, or the thousands of people threatened with homelessness, or the thousands of people living in what they consider to be inadequate accommodation, or the thousands of people on house waiting lists whose only hope of getting a home lies in the public sector through either the local council or the Scottish Special Housing Association. Not only will the Bill do almost nothing to help them; in many instances it will make matters considerably worse.

    I shall confine most of my remarks to SSHA tenants, of which there are more than 1,000 in my constituency. The creation of Scottish Homes will be of no advantage to those tenants. Although the SSHA is far from perfect—I and many other Opposition Members have criticised it for being a quango and for being non-accountable, without any elected representation on the board—with the Bill we are coming out of the frying pan into the fire.

    The SSHA will be replaced by a bigger bureaucracy. Scottish Homes will be the biggest landlord in Scotland. Sadly, the Minister refused to accept a succession of amendments in Committee — others were tabled for Report stage, but unfortunately were not selected—that would have introduced at least some elected representation on to the board of Scottish Homes. Instead, the membership of that board will be determined by the patronage power of the Secretary of State for Scotland. That is symptomatic of what is happening in Scotland, which is being governed by patronage rather than democracy.

    We see that in the Health Service, where the Secretary of State's planted men have been put on the health boards, and those that disagree with him have been removed. I can imagine the type of pussy-footing people he will put on the board of Scottish Homes. They will be a crowd of yesmen.

    Yes, indeed. He was quite rightly booted out of this place by his constituents. Sooner or later he will no doubt inherit a seat along the Corridor. In the meantime, as a result of the Secretary of State's abuse of patronage, Ancram is in danger of obtaining powerful positions such as membership of the board of Scottish Homes or other quangos and wreaking havoc until such time as true democracy is introduced to Scotland.

    I agree with the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) about the quality of consultation—it was an absolute farce. I have yet to find one SSHA tenant in my constituency who is in favour of the proposals in the Bill. I wonder whether the Minister could give us the name and address of one SSHA tenant anywhere in Scotland who is in favour of the proposals.

    How can tenants say that they are in favour of the scheme when the options have not even been put before them?

    The proposals are in the Bill. If the Minister is saying that the Bill is simply a series of options, I am afraid he has misunderstood the concrete legislative proposals contained in it. It is not a Green Paper, a White Paper or a consultation document. A consultation document was published a year ago. There were a series of phoney consultations as a result of which a White Paper was produced prior to the publication of the Bill.

    As far as I am aware, no SSHA tenant is in favour of the proposals. The Minister has failed to give us the name and address of one such tenant, but perhaps his officials can give him that information. There are more than 83,000 such tenants throughout Scotland. Surely one of them has written to St. Andrew's house to say that they support the proposals.

    As my hon. Friend has great mathematical skill, would he care to evaluate the probability of not one person in more than 80,000 being in favour of the proposals?

    It is certainly formidable. It is incumbent upon the Minister to tell us why not one SSHA tenant has written to support the proposals.

    Despite what the Minister may have said about listening to people, there is still a great deal of concern, particularly among SSHA tenants, about the effects that the Bill will have on their security of tenure, on future rent increases and the threat of privatisation. Tenants are also concerned about the Bill's lack of commitment to additional resources. Such a commitment is essential if we are to get to grips with the current housing crisis that besets the Scottish people.

    The Government are not prepared to listen to the views of SSHA tenants. The consultative procedure has been an absolute farce because no significant concessions have been made in the Bill. The Minister has referred to Government amendments, but, by his admission, most of them were due to errors made in the original drafting of the Bill. Those amendments are technical and do not represent concessions.

    On occasions I went upstairs to see how the Bill was faring. I have described the consultation process outside this House as farcical, but what took place in Committee was an insult to the Scottish people. Despite my hon. Friends' efforts to put up an excellent case, based on well-researched material and articulated arguments, there did not appear to be any meaningful dialogue. The Minister got up and read from prepared Civil Service scripts. Sometimes it appeared to me that the contents of those scripts did not even address the arguments my hon. Friends had made in Committee.

    In Committee there did not appear to be any dialogue or meeting of minds. I have noticed that before, especially during Scottish questions. At Question Time, we all know that the Minister has about 12 options to answer possible supplementaries to a question put down two weeks in advance. Sometimes the answer that the Minister reads out to those supplementaries bears no relation to the question asked because he has got the wrong page. I believe that, all too often, that also happened in Committee. The Minister picked up the wrong brief and as a result there was no debate. He simply read prepared statements, some of which bore no relation to my hon. Friends' arguments.

    When one is faced with such a situation it is difficult to wring concessions out of a Minister. I was not surprised on Report to discover that hardly any concessions had been made. The Government appear to treat parliamentary debates and the normal customs and traditions of the House with absolute contempt.

    On one occasion when I visited the Committee I noticed an hon. Member whom I had not seen before and have not seen since. Someone told me that he represented Wanstead and Woodford. I thought Patrick Jenkin represented that constituency, but someone told me that he has been translated to another place. No doubt he is brushing his teeth in the dark, or in the sunlight of the House of Lords. The presence of not just one, but two English Tory Members, on that Committee was breaking a longstanding tradition of the House.

    My hon. Friend is correct. We can argue about whether that should be so, but this was certainly a breach of custom and tradition. It is more than a quarter of a century since the last precedent for drafting in English hon. Members to a Scottish Standing Committee dealing with Scottish legislation.

    The Government have scant regard for long-standing parliamentary traditions. They were reduced to a discredited rump of 10 hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies at the last general election. If they had an ounce of democratic decency left in them, they would have humbly accepted defeat and admitted that they had received no democratic mandate for housing policy, or anything else, from the people of Scotland. They would have abandoned the plans to introduce this sort of Scottish legislation, which the majority of Scots clearly do not want and which is being imposed on them by a Government whom they rejected at the last election. Instead of that, the Government have abandoned longstanding traditions and customs of the House.

    We are often criticised by Conservative Members for having too little respect for this place, but the Government have shown less respect for the long-standing traditions of the House than the Opposition in this case. If that were not so, the Bill would not have had the relatively smooth passage that it has had.

    We shall never get good housing policy in Scotland until we have a Government who are democratically accountable to our people and who are charged with drafting and implementing Scottish housing policy. That means that continuing efforts must be made in and outside the House for the establishment of a Scottish Assembly, or a devolved Scottish parliament, with powers over housing policy and many other aspects of life that affect the people of Scotland.

    8.12 pm

    The vast emptiness of the Conservative Benches sums up Conservative Members' attitude to Scottish housing and the way in which they treat our country and its housing needs. The Minister called this a most important Bill, but it is more important because of the potential damage it can cause to Scottish housing strategy and because of its failure to deal with Scottish housing needs.

    The Bill disappoints. It fails to deliver anything substantial for the Scottish people or their housing. It does not live up to the worthy principles of the original White Paper and fails to meet Scotland's massive housing problems. It does nothing to combat dampness, overcrowding, growing waiting lists or any of the other all too obvious housing problems that afflict our nation.

    Worse, homelessness will be exacerbated by many of the Bill's provisions. I regret that the Government have turned their back on the reasonable amendments that would have prevented further homelessness and helped local authorities to deal with the problem. The Government are making a serious and basic mistake in failing to prevent the financial haemorrhaging that will take place in council house sales at less than outstanding debt. That in turn will do great harm to house building and maintenance programmes.

    I am disappointed at the Minister's failure to emulate his Welsh and English counterparts in various matters, including a clear commitment to allowing transfer back to public sector housing if that is chosen by a tenant. The Government also completely failed to accept any commitment to a housing conditions survey — an outstanding omission from the Bill.

    The Government have wasted valuable legislative time that could and should have been put to better use. The Bill extends but fails to provide a real choice to tenants, and opposition to it has been well justified.

    8.15 pm

    I do not want to prolong the debate, but I should respond to it.

    To the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) I say that I did not have to say a word in Committee on the day when we both arrived there because he disrupted the proceedings that morning; so it is ironic that he should talk to us about the customs of the House. The doubts that he expressed about whether people would want to exercise increased choice in future were the same sort of doubts that were expressed during the passage of the Tenants' Rights, Etc. (Scotland) Act 1980 about whether there would be a take-up for the right to buy. Since that time, there is evidence that 107,000 people have taken up that right. Similar take-up will follow here in the future, provided that better detailed options are put before the tenants concerned. I take the hon. Gentleman's point that tenants will have abundant common sense and will not choose better options unless they are clearly put before them.

    I agree with the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) that many amendments were tabled on Report, because he and his hon. Friends contributed to the debate in such a way that some of the points that they raised were worthy of incorporation in an amended form, and it was only fair to respond to the good points that were made in Committee.

    This is not the end of the Bill. The points that have been made will be further considered in another place and will return to the Chamber, when we shall have an opportunity to consider the Bill again in due course. The point that the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire made about housing associations was important.

    Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

    The House divided: Ayes 229, Noes 192.

    Division No. 244]

    [8.17 pm

    AYES

    Adley, RobertChannon, Rt Hon Paul
    Aitken, JonathanChapman, Sydney
    Alexander, RichardChope, Christopher
    Alison, Rt Hon MichaelClark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
    Allason, RupertClark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
    Amess, DavidColvin, Michael
    Amos, AlanCoombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
    Arbuthnot, JamesCope, John
    Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Cormack, Patrick
    Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Cran, James
    Ashby, DavidCritchley, Julian
    Atkinson, DavidCurrie, Mrs Edwina
    Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Curry, David
    Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
    Baldry, TonyDavis, David (Boothferry)
    Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Day, Stephen
    Batiste, SpencerDevlin, Tim
    Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyDouglas-Hamilton, Lord James
    Bendall, VivianDover, Den
    Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Dunn, Bob
    Benyon, W.Durant, Tony
    Bevan, David GilroyEggar, Tim
    Biffen, Rt Hon JohnFallon, Michael
    Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterFarr, Sir John
    Bonsor, Sir NicholasFavell, Tony
    Boscawen, Hon RobertField, Barry (Isle of Wight)
    Bottomley, PeterFookes, Miss Janet
    Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaForman, Nigel
    Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
    Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Forth, Eric
    Bowis, JohnFowler, Rt Hon Norman
    Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir RhodesFox, Sir Marcus
    Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardFranks, Cecil
    Brandon-Bravo, MartinFreeman, Roger
    Brazier, JulianFrench, Douglas
    Bright, GrahamFry, Peter
    Brittan, Rt Hon LeonGale, Roger
    Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Garel-Jones, Tristan
    Browne, John (Winchester)Gill, Christopher
    Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)Glyn, Dr Alan
    Burns, SimonGoodlad, Alastair
    Burt, AlistairGoodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
    Butcher, JohnGorman, Mrs Teresa
    Butler, ChrisGrant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
    Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
    Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Grylls, Michael
    Carrington, MatthewGummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
    Carttiss, MichaelHargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
    Cash, WilliamHarris, David

    Haselhurst, AlanPorter, David (Waveney)
    Hayward, RobertPortillo, Michael
    Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Powell, William (Corby)
    Howard, MichaelPrice, Sir David
    Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)Raffan, Keith
    Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
    Hunt, David (Wirral W)Rathbone, Tim
    Hunter, AndrewRedwood, John
    Irvine, MichaelRiddick, Graham
    Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyRidsdale, Sir Julian
    Kellett-Bowman, Dame ElaineRoberts, Wyn (Conwy)
    Kilfedder, JamesRoe, Mrs Marion
    King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Rossi, Sir Hugh
    King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)Ryder, Richard
    Knapman, RogerSackville, Hon Tom
    Knight, Greg (Derby North)Sainsbury, Hon Tim
    Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Scott, Nicholas
    Knox, DavidShaw, David (Dover)
    Lang, IanShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
    Latham, MichaelShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
    Lawrence, IvanShephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
    Lee, John (Pendle)Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
    Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Shersby, Michael
    Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkSims, Roger
    Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
    Lightbown, DavidSoames, Hon Nicholas
    Lilley, PeterSpicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
    Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Squire, Robin
    Luce, Rt Hon RichardStanbrook, Ivor
    Lyell, Sir NicholasSteen, Anthony
    Macfarlane, Sir NeilStern, Michael
    MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
    McLoughlin, PatrickStewart, Ian (Hertfordshire N)
    McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)Stradling Thomas, Sir John
    Madel, DavidSumberg, David
    Malins, HumfreySummerson, Hugo
    Mans, KeithTaylor, Ian (Esher)
    Maples, JohnTaylor, John M (Solihull)
    Marland, PaulTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
    Marshall, John (Hendon S)Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
    Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Temple-Morris, Peter
    Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
    Mawhinney, Dr BrianThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
    Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinThornton, Malcolm
    Mellor, DavidTracey, Richard
    Meyer, Sir AnthonyTredinnick, David
    Miller, HalTwinn, Dr Ian
    Miscampbell, NormanWaddington, Rt Hon David
    Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)Wakeham, Rt Hon John
    Mitchell, David (Hants NW)Walker, Bill (T'side North)
    Moate, RogerWaller, Gary
    Monro, Sir HectorWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
    Montgomery, Sir FergusWarren, Kenneth
    Morrison, Hon Sir CharlesWatts, John
    Moss, MalcolmWells, Bowen
    Neale, GerrardWheeler, John
    Nelson, AnthonyWhitney, Ray
    Neubert, MichaelWiddecombe, Ann
    Newton, Rt Hon TonyWilkinson, John
    Nicholls, PatrickWilshire, David
    Nicholson, David (Taunton)Wolfson, Mark
    Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)Wood, Timothy
    Onslow, Rt Hon CranleyWoodcock, Mike
    Oppenheim, Phillip
    Page, RichardTellers for the Ayes:
    Patten, Chris (Bath)Mr. David Maclean and
    Pawsey, JamesMr. Stephen Dorrell.
    Porter, Barry (Wirral S)

    NOES

    Abbott, Ms DianeBarron, Kevin
    Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Battle, John
    Allen, GrahamBeckett, Margaret
    Alton, DavidBeith, A. J.
    Anderson, DonaldBenn, Rt Hon Tony
    Archer, Rt Hon PeterBennett, A. F. (D'nf'n & R'dish)
    Armstrong, HilaryBermingham, Gerald
    Ashley, Rt Hon JackBidwell, Sydney
    Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Blair, Tony
    Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Boyes, Roland

    Bradley, KeithHughes, Simon (Southwark)
    Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)Illsley, Eric
    Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Ingram, Adam
    Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)Janner, Greville
    Buchan, NormanJohn, Brynmor
    Buckley, George J.Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
    Callaghan, JimKinnock, Rt Hon Neil
    Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Kirkwood, Archy
    Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Lamond, James
    Campbell-Savours, D. N.Leadbitter, Ted
    Canavan, DennisLestor, Joan (Eccles)
    Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Lewis, Terry
    Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)Litherland, Robert
    Clay, BobLivingstone, Ken
    Clelland, DavidLivsey, Richard
    Clwyd, Mrs AnnLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
    Cohen, HarryLoyden, Eddie
    Cook, Frank (Stockton N)McAllion, John
    Cook, Robin (Livingston)McAvoy, Thomas
    Corbett, RobinMcCartney, Ian
    Cousins, JimMacdonald, Calum A.
    Cox, TomMcFall, John
    Crowther, StanMcKelvey, William
    Cryer, BobMcNamara, Kevin
    Cummings, JohnMcTaggart, Bob
    Cunliffe, LawrenceMcWilliam, John
    Dalyell, TamMadden, Max
    Darling, AlistairMarek, Dr John
    Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)Marshall, David (Shettleston)
    Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)Maxton, John
    Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)Meale, Alan
    Dewar, DonaldMichael, Alun
    Dixon, DonMichie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
    Dobson, FrankMichie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
    Doran, FrankMillan, Rt Hon Bruce
    Douglas, DickMitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby}
    Dunnachie, JimmyMoonie, Dr Lewis
    Dunwoody, Hon Mrs GwynethMorgan, Rhodri
    Eadie, AlexanderMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
    Eastham, KenMullin, Chris
    Evans, John (St Helens N)Murphy, Paul
    Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)Nellist, Dave
    Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
    Field, Frank (Birkenhead)O'Neill, Martin
    Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
    Flannery, MartinParry, Robert
    Flynn, PaulPatchett, Terry
    Foot, Rt Hon MichaelPendry, Tom
    Foster, DerekPike, Peter L.
    Foulkes, GeorgePowell, Ray (Ogmore)
    Fraser, JohnPrescott, John
    Galbraith, SamPrimarolo, Dawn
    Galloway, GeorgeQuin, Ms Joyce
    Garrett, John (Norwich South)Randall, Stuart
    Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)Richardson, Jo
    George, BruceRobertson, George
    Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr JohnRobinson, Geoffrey
    Godman, Dr Norman A.Rogers, Allan
    Golding, Mrs LlinRooker, Jeff
    Gordon, MildredRuddock, Joan
    Gould, BryanSalmond, Alex
    Graham, ThomasSedgemore, Brian
    Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Sheerman, Barry
    Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
    Grocott, BruceShore, Rt Hon Peter
    Hardy, PeterSkinner, Dennis
    Healey, Rt Hon DenisSmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
    Heffer, Eric S.Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
    Henderson, DougSmith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
    Hinchliffe, DavidSnape, Peter
    Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Soley, Clive
    Home Robertson, JohnSpearing, Nigel
    Hood, JimmySteinberg, Gerry
    Howarth, George (Knowsley N)Stott, Roger
    Howells, GeraintStrang, Gavin
    Hoyle, DougTaylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
    Hughes, John (Coventry NE)Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
    Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Turner, Dennis
    Hughes, Roy (Newport E)Vaz, Keith
    Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)Wall, Pat

    Wallace, JamesWise, Mrs Audrey
    Walley, JoanWorthington, Tony
    Wardell, Gareth (Gower)Wray, Jimmy
    Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)Young, David (Bolton SE)
    Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
    Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)Tellers for the Noes:
    Wilson, BrianMr. Frank Haynes and
    Winnick, DavidMr. Allen McKay.

    Question accordingly agreed to.

    Bill read the Third time, and passed.