I apologise to the House for interrupting the very interesting debate that was taking place on defence, but it occurs to me that the interruption may have occurred at a convenient moment. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that you and the House will be glad to know that it will not be necessary to detain the House very long either on consideration or on Third Reading of this Bill.
We had a long debate on Second Reading and I am glad to say—and here I speak for my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Reynolds) and my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. A. Evans)—that as a result of that debate certain developments have taken place and certain changes have been introduced into the Bill now before the House.
I am happy to say that the Minister of Agriculture has now acquiesced in the view that the Caledonian Market site would not have been a suitable alternative for Covent Garden Market. Thanks to the activities of the London County Council and the co-operation of the City Corporation, the Minister was able to announce to the House on 20th July that an alternative site for the annexe to Covent Garden Market had been found at the junction of Old Street and City Road. The Minister was also able to announce that he was hoping that legislation would be introduced shortly vesting in the new market authority the freehold interest in the City Road site.
The Committee was sitting when the Minister of Agriculture made this announcement. As a result certain developments took place in Committee upstairs and I should like to summarise the result of the discussions. With the Minister's announcement about the City Road site, it was realised by the City Corporation, the London County Council, the Islington Borough Council, and all the market users in Covent Garden, that it would be unnecessary to proceed with the plan for using the Caledonian Market site for any purpose except perhaps a very temporary purpose relating to Covent Garden Market activities.
It was hoped by some of us that because of this development the City Corporation would be willing to withdraw Clause 9 of the Bill which we found so objectionable on Second Reading. It was, however, represented that there might be some delay before the City Road site could be acquired, the purchase completed, the work of demolition put in hand, and the new erection put up. It might be possible for a strictly limited time to use the Caledonian Market site. It was also pointed out that such temporary use would not jeopardise the ideal of everybody, which is that as soon as practicable the Caledonian Market should be made available for use as an open space with perhaps some housing and some educational development in the heart of Islington.
I want to pay tribute to the London County Council for finding the alternative site, and to the City Corporation for agreeing, in particular, to the Amendment to Clause 9. The Amendment reduces the token powers of the City Corporation from five years to four years. This is a very happy result.
Now that this controversy has ended I hope that it will not be long before the City Corporation and the London County Council between them are able to find some method of removing the abattoirs from Islington thereby enabling this valuable site in Islington, a site of great natural beauty and attraction, to be developed as the London County Council and the people of Islington have always wanted it to be, as a large open space with amenities for the people of Islington
I rise for only a moment to say that I welcome the comments made by the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletoher), and to say that we are extremely happy that a site has been found.
I listened with keen attention to the hon. Member's words of thanks which went out to the City Corporation and the London County Council. I did think that the Ministry of Agriculture might have come in for some thanks, but I take that as read.
I am as pleased as the hon. Member for Islington, East, that a site has been found. It has always been our desire not to inhibit the people of Islington in whatever use they might make of that site, and I hope that this will be a happy conclusion.
I propose to be exceedingly brief The Bill has already been considered for a very long time by various Members of the House and I think that we can now part with it. It was carefully considered by the Private Bills Committee and I should like to acknowledge the work that was done by hon. Members on the Committee. I should like also to thank the Chairman of Ways and Means, and the promoters of the Bill, for their cooperation in making an Amendment to meet the objections that were raised. Finally, I wish to congratulate the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on having adopted the course which I urged on Second Reading.