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Mr. Raynsford: The hon. Gentleman is wrong on both counts. As I hope he knows, the Bill has been warmly welcomed by local authorities throughout the country. They see it as a means of increasing investment in housing, which has been scandalously neglected for the past 18 years.

My point was not about bureaucracy, but about the need to ensure effective measures to extend accessibility standards in new housing and in the conversion of older housing without imposing unreasonable costs that would hit the consumer and possibly harm the housing market. That is a sensible concern. We are working in everybody's interests to improve accessibility for people with disabilities in a practical way.

8 Jul 1997 : Column 777

I was assuring the hon. Member for Torbay that there were safeguards on all new housing association developments. Similar standards apply to new housing developments by housing associations supported by local authority social housing grant. Any housing associations developments with funding from supplementary credit approvals under the capital receipts initiative will have to meet those standards. The standards of accessibility that the hon. Gentleman is seeking in new investment undertaken as a result of the initiative will be guaranteed.

In the light of my explanation of why the problem cannot be dealt with in the way that the hon. Gentleman suggests and my assurances that the Government already have that important matter under active consideration, I hope that he will agree not to press the new clause.

Mr. Sanders: I thank the Minister for that comprehensive explanation, but the purpose of the new clause is not just to focus on developments that are specifically designed for people with disabilities, but to ensure that a person who acquires a disability in later life can remain in the home that they had lived in until they acquired that disability. For example, stairways should be designed with possible later adaptation to add a mechanical stairlift in mind. That would ensure that people with disabilities could remain in the community and would not be ghettoised in housing for the disabled. We look to the Government to bring in such standards, because they have been lacking until now.

Whether or not the Bill goes that far, cycleways should be accessible to people with disabilities. If it does, all well and good, but, although we take on board the Minister's comments--and I thank him for his reply--we wish to push the new clause to a vote. It is an important marker which demonstrates our slightly different approach. We do not want people with disabilities to be ghettoised; everyone should have the possibility of their housing being adapted if that is required at a later date.

Let me give a wonderful example from my constituency. Some houses had supposedly been designed for elderly people, but no provision to that effect had been made in the building regulations. The kitchen cupboards were too high for elderly people to reach, as elderly people are not quite as tall as younger people; we lose a few inches as we get older. The food cupboard was in front of a water heating pipe, so it was useless for the storage of food. Such incidences require local authorities to spend money on adjustments that would not be required if standards had been laid down before construction.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:--

The House divided: Ayes 38, Noes 303.

Division No. 48
[3.55 pm


Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Mrs Jackie
Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Brake, Thomas
Brand, Dr Peter
Breed, Colin
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burnett, John
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife)
Chidgey, David
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Fearn, Ronnie
Foster, Don (Bath)
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gorrie, Donald
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Charles (Ross Skye)
Kirkwood, Archy
Livsey, Richard
Llwyd, Elfyn
Maclennan, Robert
Moore, Michael
Oaten, Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Rendel, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Stunell, Andrew
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Webb, Professor Steve
Wigley, Dafydd

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Paul Tyler and
Mr. Paul Burstow.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne (Aberd'n S)
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Bennett, Andrew F
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Boateng, Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond (Kilmarnock)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Byers, Stephen
Caborn, Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chisholm, Malcolm
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Colman, Tony (Putney)
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Ms Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunliffe, Lawrence
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dewar, Rt Hon Donald
Dismore, Andrew
Donohoe, Brian H
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Ms Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Michael John (Worcester)
Fyfe, Maria
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Godman, Dr Norman A
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Grant, Bernie
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hanson, David
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Home Robertson, John
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian (Tamworth)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Ms Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Ms Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Mrs Ann (Brentford)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McCartney, Ian (Makerfield)
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Ms Rosemary
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marek, Dr John
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Meale, Alan
Michael, Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Alan
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Mrs Sandra
Pearson, Ian
Pendry, Tom
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, Rt Hon John
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie (Scarborough)
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rogers, Allan
Rooney, Terry
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stott, Roger
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela (Edgbaston)
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vaz, Keith
Vis, Dr Rudi
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wright, Tony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Graham Allen and
Mr. Greg Pope.

Question accordingly negatived.

8 Jul 1997 : Column 780

New clause 2

Local authority debt reduction strategies

'After section 55(3) of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 there shall be inserted--
"(3A) Supplementary credit approvals shall only be allocated to authorities which have published and submitted to the Secretary of State a five-year strategy for debt reduction.".'.--[Mr. Chope.]
Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Christopher Chope (Christchurch): I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time. The new clause is designed to be helpful to the Government, because its purpose is to ensure that local authorities have the chance to participate in the Chancellor's five-year deficit reduction strategy. In essence, the new clause would require local authorities seeking supplementary credit approvals to submit a five-year debt reduction plan to the Secretary of State. Debt is a massive problem for local authorities. The "Financial Statement and Budget Report" produced by the Government shows in table 4A.3 on page 115 that local authority interest payments amount to £4.4 billion a year. That compares with some £6.7 billion of gross capital expenditure before depreciation. In other words, interest payments are almost as great as the capital expenditure or investment each year. We have tabled the new clause to try to get local authorities to concentrate their minds on the need to reduce that debt burden. The latest figures which I have for the total of local authority debt, which were published in the Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin for November last year, show that at the end of March 1996 it was some £49,563 million, or £49.5 billion. That is a very high figure indeed. Table 1.1 on page 12 of the Red Book shows the projected change to the public sector borrowing requirement forecast for this year as a result of the latest Budget compared with the November 1996 Budget. It puts the issues in context, because it shows the extent to which the Government have been generous by giving £200 million extra under the local authority capital receipts initiative. The table shows that there is, indeed, a £200 million increase in the PSBR forecast as a result of that initiative, but, as a result of everything else, it is reduced by £8.3 billion. At a time when the total PSBR is falling by £8 billion because of the previous Government's prudent budgeting, the Government find only £200 million extra for local

8 Jul 1997 : Column 781

authority capital expenditure under the local authority capital receipts initiative. I suspect that, having looked at the figures more closely, housing authorities and people concerned about local authority housing will express disillusion and dismay at the fact that they have been misled by the Labour party into thinking that there would be a substantial input of extra money, whereas it is £200 million this year, which is paltry in the context of the PSBR forecast.

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