On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, if the appropriate authority were at this stage to ask for a Motion to be introduced to extend the time allotted for this debate today, would you be prepared to accept such a Motion, having regard to the fact that some time has already elapsed, and that many hon. Members for London constituencies who have a real interest in and knowledge of matter in hand are anxious to speak on behalf of their constituents?
The hon. Member receives my sympathy in every respect. I think that he knows with what enthusiasm I listen to short speeches, because they permit more hon. Members to get into the debate. I could not accept a Motion of that kind now, because we are already on the Bill. We are past the business stage.
I think that the plea of the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Lagden) demonstrates the point that it is for the Government to facilitate his plea by ensuring that the Bill should be considered by a Committee of the whole House.
I reopen the debate by commenting on the fact that on this bench we happen to be the same team which opposed the Government's proposals when they were first presented to the House in February. In fact, we are following the same batting order, but there is a different row of Ministers facing us. Gone is the right hon. Member for Luton (Dr. Hill). This is a pity. I enjoyed his endearing charm. I am sure that he would not take offence if I said that he always reminds me of a character in Durham market who used to sell half-hunter gold watches. One had to follow him carefully to appreciate that the gold was Californian gold, whatever that may be. Gone is Lord Eccles. Most of us will remember his languid disinclination to support the Government's proposals vigorously. The Leader of the House intervened only to assure us that Middlesex would still play at Lords, but he has retired from this battle.
In their place we have the "new look". We have the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Housing and Local Government, who, at any rate, presents his Departmental brief very seriously, and we know that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Education always treats himself very seriously. We are to await the winding-up speech of the Minister of Health, who, again, will be very serious, wearing his hair shirt and reminding us how wretched things are under a Tory Administration. But this is just a new look, just a new appearance, that is all. The Government are putting on respectable clothing. The bottles and labels are new, but the wine is no better. It is the same old poison.
What we had hoped for was something better than we considered as the Government's proposals when we last debated this very difficult problem. I concede that it is a difficult problem, and I continue this bipartisan approach by emphasising two things. I concede—I am not making a party political point—that both parties have failed to grasp the nettle of local government reform. It follows that this is piecemeal, partial, local government reform, but for this reason we have to consider what the Government are doing in the context of their general policy.
We talked yesterday about housing, development, and so on. We know the problem of south-east England—the drift of population—but this is a difficulty which is not to be tackled only at the receiving end. My constituency is on the North-East Coast. When the Government spokesman, the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, visited the North-East Coast recently, the only advice he gave us was that if we could not find jobs we should migrate. This is the problem. If we are concerned about the drift of population, we want action by the Government to provide more effectively for the location of industry.
Again, we know that one of the major problems affecting Greater London is that of transport and traffic, but, as was pointed out yesterday, this is a problem more of the ring encircling London than of London itself, and it is not reassuring to us to reflect that the Minister of Transport has brought upon us a chaos which would have been quite unbelievable only a few years ago.
Again, if we are talking about development, and the difficulties of authorities in this densely built-up area, we must be concerned about the use of urban land, but we have endured this Parliament so far without any Government proposals to assist authorities which are faced with the appalling problem of the best use of urban land, and of overcoming the rocketing prices for it.
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned—as though it were a revelation—that this was a preliminary step to a correlation of the problems affecting south-east England. If that is the problem that he is tackling here, he is tackling it the wrong way round. He is dealing with the part before dealing with the whole, and we are entitled to know, first, what proposals the Government have in mind for regional organisation.
There has been a deterioration in the position since our last debate, when I referred to the Tory slogan, "Conservative Planning Works". That has been withdrawn by Tory Central Office. The Government are not making any effort. That is why the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that no helpful measures can be taken in the next few months. Steps have not been taken. We have had an abandonment of effective economic planning, and this bears heavily upon the situation in London.
I emphasise again the cardinal point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), that the primary need is to direct our attention to the services provided by local authorities. The Commission concluded that the most important of all local government functions was education. My hon. Friend the Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter) said that probably 60 per cent. of the total expenditure of all the local authorities within the Greater London area is devoted to education. That may well be an underestimate.
What we must remember is that although the most important of all local government functions is indisputably edu-
cation, it was not because of any difficulties which arose in the administration of education that the Commission was driven to make its recommendation. On the contrary, the advice that the Minister of Education tendered to the Royal Commission was:
There is no part of the area in which the present system of educational administration does not work at least tolerably well. The weaknesses that exist are either not of such a nature or not so serious as to call for a surgical operation to cure them. Accordingly the Ministry are not disposed to suggest on education grounds any division or amalgamation of the areas of the existing local education authorities.
The Commission recommended the creation of a Greater London Council not on the ground of any difficulties in the administration of education, but on other grounds. The Government, however, seem to have failed to appreciate that this recommendation, concerning the transference of responsibility of the most important local government function to the Greater London Council, was absolutely essential to the recommendations. It was only with that recommendation that the Commission's proposals had any validity.
We must remember that we are now considering an enormous local government authority with a direct election from enormous constituencies. We must, therefore, consider the character of the organisation, to see whether it can sustain itself. The Commission rightly came to the conclusion that if such a local authority, directly elected, were to be created it would inevitably have to carry with it responsibility for education.
This is the dilemma that faces the House. I want to remain bipartisan in my approach. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House agree that this proposal cannot be accepted on educational grounds. Hon. Members on both sides have stated repeatedly that the Commission displayed a lack of appreciation of local government administration of education. That is why this proposal fails absolutely; it would not provide a proper form of local government to administer the main function of local government.
But if we abandon the Commission's recommendation with regard to the Greater London Council we abandon it entirely, because it no longer has validity. The House must realise what it is doing by setting up an authority such as this with such limited powers. We must consider the relationship of this body to the admittedly new and powerful borough councils. Education is the key to the relationship between the two bodies.
The proposed new council has been described as a Frankenstein monster. This is not being melodramatic. I warn the Government that if they create this body it will prove to be very rapacious. An inherent instability will be created within local government if the Government pursue their present objective. We must reserve the right to recast the preposterous shape of local government that the Government are intent on providing, but the impetus and drive towards such recasting lies within the organisation itself.
I now turn to the Commission's complementary proposal, which is all part of the pattern. The Commission said that for education there should be a two-tier, divided responsibility, although—as I pointed out when we last debated this point—the boroughs were being provided with minimal powers in the day-to-day running of education. The Commission was trying to provide an organic relationship between the boroughs and the Greater London Council, and in this respect it accepted the advice which the Minister of Education conveyed to it.
But the Government now say, "Not only do we reject the major proposal of the Royal Commission but we also reject its further proposal," on the rather remarkable ground—in view of the advice tendered to the Commission by the Minister—that the Government are against divided responsibility in education. We have a complete abandonment of the Commission's proposal. What nonsense for the Minister of Housing and Local Government to tell us that the basis of the Bill is the unanimous recommendation of the Royal Commission.
The right hon. Gentleman is talking through his hat. If he had attended the debate we held in February he would have known that the Government then reiterated the slogan, "Challenge the pattern—challenge the principles." That is what the Government have done, and it is of essential importance to this present proposal. It means that the Government are proposing to legislate solely on their own responsibility. They cannot call in aid the Commission's Report. They cannot call in aid any substantial volume of local government opinion in London. This is an entirely novel situation, and it is entirely contrary to what is happening to local government in the rest of the country.
On top of that, it is implicit in the Government proposals that they have rejected the two cardinal principles which run through the Commission's Report. In whose mouth does it lie to make an allegation of politics? This is politics. The Government have the right to do it, but they must at least recognise what they are doing. They are making a political proposition which runs counter to the Commission's principle of healthy Government as far as the Greater London Council is concerned and counter to its principle of efficiency as far as the education services of the boroughs is concerned. This is not only politics, but politics in face of such advice as the Royal Commission gave.
It is not only in face of the advice of the Royal Commission—and I make no party point about the Greater London Council in this context, for we all agree that the Royal Commission's proposals for it were untenable—but in face of all the advice tendered by the Minister of Education to the Royal Commission. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Ministry was not disposed to suggest any division or amalgamation of areas. The Ministry went further. It submitted a glowing testimonial to the work of the London County Council. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman intends to retract any of that testimonial, but it is on record. Dealing with comprehensive secondary education, the right hon. Gentleman paid tribute to the tactfulness and exercise of discretion by the L.C.C. in implementing its policy.
When the right hon. Gentleman dealt with Middlesex, we got an historical review of the difficulties of divided responsibility there. What we are concerned with is the conclusion which the Minister of Education offered to the Royal Commission, and I quote:
There is no reason why the present system of divisional administration should not operate
well—as it does in some other parts of the country. Every effort needs to be made by all concerned to improve its working in Middlesex.
Again, that is not a proposal for reorganisation but an appeal, to which there would have been a ready response, to improve the working of divisional administration.
Then, when dealing with the county borough to be created on the fringes of Essex, Surrey and Kent, what did the right hon. Gentleman tell the Commission? He said that such a cluster of county boroughs would bring "serious educational disadvantages."
The hon. Gentleman keeps on saying "What did the right hon. Gentleman tell the Commission?" For the sake of accuracy it should be made plain that it was the last Minister of Education but one, and not me. I shall have something to say. I do not want to run away from the evidence which my Department presented to the Royal Commission, but for the sake of accuracy I hope that the hon. Gentleman will make it clear that the "right hon. Gentleman" he keeps mentioning is not me.
It is true that the Minister concerned was not the present holder of the office. Of course, we all know that the present Minister has had previous responsibility as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman intends to discount that as well. We know that his appointment to his present office was subsequent to the last debate we had on London government.
Undoubtedly, whatever the case may be for the Government's proposals in other services, they will seriously prejudice the administration of education as a local government responsibility, notwithstanding the fact that it is conceded by everyone that education is the most important local government service. Why should the Government do this? Why should they not only abandon the advice of the Royal Commission, but reject the advice tendered by the former Minister of Education?
There are probably three essential reasons. The first is something I have complained about repeatedly but unavailingly during the life of this Government. This is that we get far too great a bureaucratic interference in political decisions. I am convinced that the bureaucracy is afraid of a too powerful independent local government.
The second reason bears more closely upon the Minister of Education. We all know that over the next years we must face a rapidly increasing expenditure on education. I believe that the bureaucracy is, however, afraid of this.
I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman should seem so surprised. This was a major argument in our debates on the block grant. We know that the pace in education has been forced in by some of the authorities now threatened with destruction. I believe that the Treasury is unhappy that there should be education authorities who, in the need for increasing expenditure on education, can force the pace.
The third reason is that there is a clear, doctrinaire determination to destroy the London County Council—and that cannot be denied. It is not an exaggeration. Let us recall earlier debates. We had, first, the proposal to create the boroughs as single-tier education authorities. But it was obvious to everyone that this would cause absolute chaos in Central London. So the Government then brought forward their half-baked and meaningless proposal to set up an authority to be responsible for "a population of about 2 million people". That was absolute nonsense, but it was politics. The Government were making quite clear to their supporters that there was no question of a reprieve for the London County Council. That was the only purpose of the exercise.
Then we got the reprieve announced on 3rd May last, and I welcomed it. Yet it is different from the sort of reprieve exercised on condemned criminals. It is not absolute—one need only look at the Bill to see that. I shall not waste time discussing the proposals of the Bill. [Laughter.] Yes, it would be a waste of time, and the Minister of Education knows why. We have only to look at the form of the proposed education authority and the method of financing it to realise that it will only be temporary. Yesterday, the Minister of Housing and Local Government himself revealed that it would only be temporary.
There is another illustration of this—the preposterous divorce between care committee work and education committee work in the central area. The school health service provisions are, purposely designed to provide for the breakup of the central London area as an education authority.
Lord Eccles spoke about the necessity for planning fifty years ahead. But here, at the heart of the Commonwealth, where the education facilities and provisions are greater than anywhere else in the Commonwealth, the Government are not looking fifty years but five years ahead. They know the effect of their proposals. They mean the breaking of the morale not only of the architects, but of the whole of the education administration. I emphasise, as the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor emphasised, that we are not talking about an establishment on paper but about an establishment that has been built up over the years, a team with balanced, expert knowledge. That is being broken up and will be further broken up over the next few years as this threat lies over the heads of this magnificent, excellent and unparalleled administration.
When Lord Eccles looked fifty years ahead, he said that we must have a large education authority which would provide variegated services and a wide freedom of choice. In a philosophic sort of way he said that we have to temper this prophetic vision by having regard to the desires of parents. Let us return to the central London area. We know the views of parents. There has been a demonstration by parents in the area which was quite unprecedented. They have said that they do not want any change. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Education can tell us what the London teachers told him last night.
The purpose of the Bill—let us be frank about this—is not to temper this prophetic vision to the will of parents. On the contrary. It is to thwart and frustrate the expressed wishes of parents in the Central London area. It is hoped to gain a few years and then quietly to dispose of the inner London education administration.
That is not only my view. It is the view of the The Times Educational Supplement, which stated:
It seems likely that primary and secondary education will eventually become a borough responsibility throughout Greater London.
I call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to something significant in that conclusion. It is confined to primary and secondary education. There is no assumption that further education will survive within the Greater London area as a local government responsibility. This, again, will give those who have a bureaucratic dislike of the exercise of the functions by local authorities an opportunity to exploit the inability of the boroughs to provide further education and to take this away from the local authorities to hand over to Whitehall. If we consider the proposals of the Government in this light, obviously the only motivation is political.
As was said yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, this was admitted by Lord Eccles. I will remind the Minister of what he said:
I am sorry to have to say this"—
at any rate, Lord Eccles expressed regret—
but I am aware—because they have made me aware of it—that some of my hon. Friends feel that the L.C.C. has shown itself so doctrinaire in its educational planning that it would be worth almost any price to hand over its responsibilities to the new boroughs."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th February, 1962; Vol. 654, c. 245.]
"Worth almost any price". Worth the disruption of the present services and the fragmentation of the provision of education in the Greater London region.
In anticipation of what the Minister may well say, I will say at once that this had nothing to do with the efficiency of the county boroughs. Here we are not dealing with local government reform. We are dealing with London. I represent a county borough, and if we are to justify my own local authority, as my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham said, bring me a map. Incidentally, I have been given some good arguments in favour of the expansion and extension of the boundaries of my local authority. But here we are dealing with a continuously built-up area within which the Minister of Education said that the education authorities should be for 1 million to 1¼ million.
First, let us think about disruption, the literal destruction of some of the finest education authorities, if not the finest, in the country; and their replacement by 32 new authorities, 32 directors of education and 32 education departments. This will land a heavy load of trouble on the shoulders of the Minister. Why do it now? At the moment, the right hon. Gentleman faces appalling difficulties, including the teacher shortage, which could be called his personal responsibility because of the critical time when he was Parliamentary Secretary. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman now appreciates the difficulty that at short notice we have to create with speed variegated and different forms of education. This will make intensive demands on the Ministry of Education and those who have to administer education locally, and it is at this time that in London we are to be faced with this frightful disruption.
Last night we were told that there were 130 vacancies in architects' departments. Here we are dealing with what are unquestionably the finest architectural departments in the country, those of London and Middlesex. If we think of the authorities to replace them, we have to face the position that at present only 13 of the existing borough and urban district councils in Greater London have architects' departments with an architect as the chief officer. If we contemplate the 20 new boroughs in outer London which will undertake housing and educational building, only five can be said to be certain to form an architects' department. What a prospect.
The Minister of Education's predecessor—I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will do the same—properly called attention to the magnificent work on school building which has been achieved since the end of the war. This work has been done, not by his Department alone, but by his Department and these magnificent teams of architects which have been working for these authorities. This is what the Minister proposes to break up, and, as his Ministry expressed as its opinion to the Commission, we cannot create these teams overnight. An education administration and an architectural administration has to be built up.
All this is to be torn down, and it will take years to re-create it. During these years his Department will face immense difficulties because of the demands upon education. If we are to face this disruption surely it is a burden on the Government to say that as a result, consequent upon the disruption, there will be an immense improvement. I have listened to the debates, but that has never been argued from the benches opposite. The most that has been done is to say, "We will cause this fragmentation and, with a great deal of hard work, things may not be much worse than they are now." That does not justify the enormous disruption of education, which is an essential fundamental local government service within the London region.
Recently, the right hon. Gentleman will remember, we debated the situation of deaf children. Such handicapped children will suffer most, the children attending special schools and, as was said in the debate in February, the children attending denominational schools also will suffer. We know what the Ministry envisages in relation to secondary schools as the minimum size for an authority to provide secondary education with sufficient choice. We know her Department's view about technical education. I wish to remind the Minister of what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Southall last night. Unfortunately, this break-up will react particularly harshly on those who can least protect themselves.
All we have by way of a reply is that these authorities will do their best to mitigate the harm that is expected. The right hon. Gentleman knows all the difficulties there are about extra-district schooling. I know that he will use his good offices as an arbitrator in helping in those difficulties. My constituency is not only a county borough, it is a shipbuilding centre. All the difficulties we have in demarcation in shipbuilding are as nothing compared to the difficulties that the Minister will have to face if he remains responsible for education in London when these proposals are carried out.
These changes will provide a less efficient, less imaginative, less sensitive and less sympathetic form of administration of education. The real tragedy is that this will not be the result of the administrators being less imaginative, less sensitive or less sympathetic, but merely because of the conditions imposed on them, which will deny them the opportunity of doing what many of them are able to do now.
There has been no question about arguing against the necessity of some real improvement of local government in London. I am convinced that if we concentrate attention on the major function of local government, that of education, we can see quite clearly that what we needed was an adaptation of a form of government which has been patiently and laboriously built up by people of all parties over the past few years.
Lord Eccles said that the two tests were efficiency and humanity. There is not the slightest question that the result of the Bill, if implemented, will be to lessen efficiency. There is not the slightest question, in the light of this debate, that it will lead to less humanity. It will particularly affect the old and the young. It will particularly affect the handicapped and the specially talented. I am convinced that there is a fourth reason, a fourth motive, which has impelled the Government to take this action. By doing this they believe they can contain and limit the further growth of the Welfare State.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] I believe that that is what they are deliberately doing.
Some of the great London authorities have set the pace in the administration of the welfare services. They have also set the pace in providing an opportunity for children on as broad a base as possible. In resisting this Bill, we are not only seeking to protect the people of London but we are seeking to protect the people everywhere.
I know that there are many hon. Members who wish to take part in this debate and I therefore propose to confine myself to those provisions in the Bill which relate to education. I must say, however, that few hon. Members present this afternoon while the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) was speaking would have imagined that this was to be one of the Opposition's great demonstrations in the course of this Session.
Hon. Members will have seen that the main provision in regard to education is in Clause 30. The effect of that Clause will be that in outer London education will be administered by 20 new boroughs instead of the present eight local education authorities, while within the present L.C.C. area education will be administered by an ad hoc body to be called the Inner London Education Authority. As the hon. Member rightly pointed out, this is quite a different scheme from that recommended by the Royal Commission. The Royal Commission advocated a two-tier system whereby the Greater London Council would itself have acted as the local education authority for the whole area, both outer London and the present L.C.C. area, with statutory delegation to the London boroughs of most matters of day-to-day administration.
This always seemed to me a surprising recommendation because the Commission, having started by being highly critical of the Middlesex system, seemed to come down eventually on the side of wishing to extend that type of arrangement over the whole Greater London area. To judge from past debates, which I have read, I think that hon. Members on both sides of the House were critical of the Royal Commission's proposals in this respect and saw the force of the Government's reasons for rejecting them.
However—this is why I begin with this point this afternoon—I have detected during recent weeks some lingering support here and there for a two-tier system, mainly on the ground that certain parts of the education service, especially further education, ought to be administered on a regional scale.
There is already regional machinery for the co-ordination of further education, and I think that it is significant that the region which includes London extends far outside Greater London as defined in this Bill. The truth is that for the purposes of regional coordination Greater London would not be large enough; whereas for the purposes of administration—as Lord Eccles so rightly pointed out—an authority area containing more children than in the whole of Scotland must be too large. In any case, I am sure that it would be a very great error to attempt to separate the administration of further education from that of the schools.
One of the developments which have struck me most on my return to the Ministry has been the steady extension during recent years of co-operation between the schools and the colleges of further education. I am sure that it would he quite wrong, in any part of the country, to attempt to separate the administration of these two stages of education. I think it even more misleading to suppose that, within the purview of local education authorities, there is something rather mysteriously called "higher education" which could be administered separately from the rest of further education. I very much hope that I shall at least carry the whole House with me in resisting any proposal for a divided local education service, either in the Greater London area or anywhere else.
Instead of the Royal Commission's scheme, the Government are proposing two different solutions to deal with the respective circumstances of outer and inner London. In outer London there will be a cluster of contiguous local education authorities. In inner London we shall have one single local education authority whose constitution has no precise parallel elsewhere, since the Inner London Education Authority will have no other functions apart from those of a local education authority.
I think that the reasons why the Government are proposing two different solutions for outer and inner London are by now fairly well known to the House. Obviously, we have to strike a balance between two sets of considerations. On the one hand, there are the advantages of an all-purpose borough authority where all the human services are the responsibility of the same council. On the other hand, there are the advantages of an ad hoc local education authority which can cover a much wider area. The Government's approach has been, in general, to prefer the borough solution, which avoids the problems of dividing one human service from another, but they have also recognised that inner London constitutes a special case.
The reason, as my predecessor so clearly pointed out to the House, is that as one gets towards the centre of London so the pattern of schools and technical colleges becomes less and less related to borough boundaries. Furthermore—again, this was a point Lord Eccles made in the February debate—the transport system gets more and more closely integrated so that parents in inner London now take it for granted that their children can travel quite long distances to school.
So much for the general principles behind the Government's proposals. I now want to deal in rather more detail with the arrangements for outer London. I fully realise that there is bound to be some concern at the prospect of the education service in this area being divided among 20 local education authorities instead of eight as at present, but I think that there are a number of points to be made on the other side. Surely no one can pretend that the pattern of local authority administration in outer London is satisfactory as it stands. It surely could not make sense for the three County Boroughs of Croydon, West Ham and East Ham, to go on being treated entirely differently from the rest of the built-up areas of outer London.
I think that the House has recognised this on a number of occasions. During the first two Parliaments which I can remember, between 1950 and 1955, there were a number of Private Bills promoted which were designed to give county borough status to Ealing and Ilford. I think that most of us in the House at that time, whichever way we voted on those occasions, recognised that we should not try to deal with Ealing or Ilford in isolation, but that here was a problem which would have to be faced in terms of outer London as a whole. I also think that the two tiers of educational administration in outer London were somewhat difficult to defend. In Middlesex there are at present, besides the County Council, no fewer than 20 divisional executives, of which 16 are excepted districts. Metropolitan Kent, Surrey and Essex are also at present divided into divisional executives.
As things are now, voluntary organisations, like the Churches, with schemes affecting a wide area may need to get the agreement not just of one or two councils, but of several different bodies to what they propose. In future, the total number of different councils involved, taking both tiers of administration together, will be considerably smaller than at present, and I believe that there will be real advantages in this.
My next point—it is one which the hon. Gentleman particularly mentioned this afternoon—concerns the size of the new outer London education authorities. I think that the hon. Gentleman gave perhaps a slightly false impression in repeatedly using the word "fragmentation", because I think that we have to remember that the new local education authorities will all be substantial in size and some of them will rank with the largest county boroughs in the country—apart from half-a-dozen cities like Birmingham or Manchester which, from the point of view of size, are in a class by themselves. Even the smallest of the new outer London boroughs will be larger than, say, Brighton or Reading. Most will be of the size of Plymouth or Portsmouth and, incidentally, all but one or two will be larger than Sunderland, so I think that the reference to fragmentation was in a way an unfair one. The largest will be about the size of Nottingham or Coventry.
I do not take nearly such a gloomy view as the hon. Gentleman about the future of London. I want to refer to a point which the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) made yesterday. He raised the point about the provision of highly specialised forms of education and he suggested that the ending of the county services in outer London would make this much more difficult. I make two points to the hon. Member in reply. One is that these highly specialised demands are met not by a centralised staff of the local education authority but by specialist teachers in colleges of further education and to some extent in the schools. These will be quite undisturbed by the changes. The provision in Clause 31 (7) for pupils and students to be able to cross borough boundaries will surely mean that the facilities will be just as widely available as they are now.
Secondly, the existing county advisory services, which are not mainly concerned with such specialised courses as the hon. Gentleman referred to, are certainly doing excellent work which I would want to see continued in the new boroughs. Boroughs of a population of 250,000 are really quite large enough, as provincial experience shows, to provide good advisory services, and in any case I certainly intend to encourage them to club together to provide an even wider spread of specialised services than they would be likely to have individually.
The hon. Member for Fulham said yesterday that this shows that the idea of sovereignty is an illusion. It is surely accepted by all of us that no local education authority lives entirely to itself. There is no inconsistency in believing on the one hand, that a borough of 250,000 can handle an adequate education service, and, at the same time, recognising that local authorities, like nations, must recognise a considerable degree of interdependence.
There are two things which I would add on these boroughs. Of course, the minimum standards laid down by my Department will apply to these new authorities as they apply everywhere else. I hope that no one will underrate the importance of the pressure of public opinion in these new boroughs in pressing for higher standards. I judge from letters from hon. Members that those who live in outer London are very well aware of the importance of higher educational standards and educational advance, and I hope that the pressure of public opinion will do a great deal to hasten the development of the service in the new boroughs. There will remain, I agree, a number of problems which can be resolved only by co-operation. I know that many hon. Members are anxious about them. For example, there is the situation where an existing school draws its pupils from an area which the boundaries of the new local authorities will bisect.
I am thinking here especially of voluntary schools, aided denominational schools, and I know that a number of those who are responsible for these schools are worried about the possibility that in future their catchment areas may be restricted. Then there are also the Middlesex special schools to which the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter) referred yesterday, many of which could not be run economically unless they served more than one local education authority. And the same is true of several of the courses at colleges of further education.
Let me take the special schools first. This is an aspect of the service about which we in this House feel a particular concern and we are aware that it is especially important to get our arrangements right. It is no new problem for special schools to serve an area wider than that of the authority responsible for maintaining them. I do not myself expect any serious difficulty over day special schools. For example, there is already a regular movement of children into some of the Middlesex day special schools from the London County Council area and vice versa.
The new borough authorities which assume the responsibility for taking over schools of this kind will do so on the clear understanding that they are catering for a much wider area than their own, within which all children must be given the same chance of admission. I agree with the hon. Member for Southall that a rather more difficult problem arises in the case of the 11 boarding special schools maintained by Middlesex. Why this is more difficult is because 10 of these are located right outside the Greater London Area. This is a matter which clearly needs discussion, but as I see the position each of these schools will have to be taken over by one of the new boroughs within the present Middlesex County area, and it will have for the time being to continue to serve the areas which it serves at present.
More generally, there is the provision in Clause 31 for the outer London boroughs to review the needs of their areas for schools and for further education and to submit their plans to my Department, just as the present local education authorities did originally with their own development plans. In those cases where this review affects voluntary schools, the local education authority must first consult the voluntary school interests, and the revised plans will be subject to my approval. I hope that this part of the Bill will reassure the Churches, because it will ensure that voluntary school provision in one area is planned with due regard to the needs of its neighbours, too; and that, I think, is of very great importance to the Churches.
My last point on the arrangements for outer London is the most important of all. In accordance with the general approach which I outlined in the early part of my speech, I am especially concerned to safeguard the freedom of choice of the individual parent. A fairly large minority of children at present cross what will become a borough boundary to get to a school, and I know that some parents are worried lest this may not be possible in future. Lord Eccles gave an undertaking to see that the existing range of choice was safeguarded, and hon. Members will have seen that this undertaking has been honoured in Clause 31 (7), which provides that within Greater London borough boundaries shall not in themselves constitute a reason for refusing a child admission to a school.
Of course, this will not guarantee automatically that a parent can get a place in any school he wants, any more than now—for example, if a school is full or if his child does not measure up to the standard of entry. But Clause 31 (7) means that the fact that a parent lives on the wrong side of a borough boundary will not of itself handicap him in getting a place.
I know that some of my hon. Friends are concerned that this provision in Clause 31 (7), enabling pupils to go to schools and colleges outside their own areas, does not apply to those parts of Surrey, Kent and Essex outside Greater London, and I will say a word about this. The reason for this is simply that this Bill deals with local government in Greater London and the Government did not feel that it would be suitable in such a Bill to place obligations on authorities which will be wholly outside Greater London. But I am sure that the county authorities will agree that they should make sensible arrangements to admit pupils from Greater London boroughs and to pay in appropriate cases for their own children to be educated within Greater London. I can tell my hon. Friends that when the new authorities are formed, I intend to discuss the operation of this Clause with them, and I hope that the outer counties will join in the discussions, too, so that as far as possible the distinctions which we have to make will not matter too much to the parents and the children concerned.
So much for outer London. Now I turn to the arrangements for inner London. Here, of course, there is one major difference between the proposals in the White Paper which the House debated last February and the proposals in the Bill. The White Paper envisaged a single local education authority for a central area with a population of about 2 million, whereas the Bill proposes a single authority for the whole area at present administered by the London County Council. I make no apology for the Government's change of mind on this point, partly because it was a genuinely difficult matter to decide and still more because I am convinced that the Government's final proposals are entirely reasonable.
I said earlier that the whole system of schools and colleges in the L.C.C. area has been developed to meet the needs of the area as a whole and bears little or no relation to borough boundaries. That is why we are deliberately avoiding any disruption of the existing education service in the inner London area. The Inner London Education Authority, that is, the special committee of the Greater London Council which will administer education in the present L.C.C. area, will take over the education service of the L.C.C. as it stands, together with its staff.
The Inner London Education Authority will consist of the 40 councillors elected to the Greater London Council from the inner London area together with 13 nominated representatives of the inner London boroughs and—in the absence of the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson), I may add—the City.
As for the functions of the Inner London Education Authority, these can be described under two headings. First, the Inner London Education Authority will appoint its own education committee in just the same way as do other local education authorities—that is to say, the Education Committee of the Inner London Education Authority will have the same power as other education committees to co-opt members with experience of education, such as teachers and the representatives of the churches.
Secondly, the Inner London Education Authority will decide how much money it needs and how much of this money should be raised by loan; and the Greater London Council will then precept for it on the inner London boroughs. In effect, therefore, the whole control of the education service in inner London is placed in the hands of the Inner London Education Authority, for all practical purposes exactly as it is entrusted elsewhere to a county or county borough council.
The Greater London Council, as a whole, will have no residual functions relating to the administration of education. It is true that the Greater London Council will raise the money required, but the sums raised will have to be those specified by the Inner London Education Authority. Hon. Members may ask why, in that case, the Government have linked the Greater London Council with education at all, and why they have called the I.L.E.A. a committee of the Greater London Council.
There are two reasons for this. The first, as I have said, is that 40 out of the 53 members of the I.L.E.A. will be the constituency members elected to the Greater London Council by the inner London boroughs, and it is because they have been elected as members of the Greater London Council for the inner London boroughs, and for no other reason, that they will also have their responsibilities as members of the Inner London Education Authority.
The second reason why we have called the authority a committee of the Greater London Council is that there is the practical advantage of preserving some formal link between the Greater London Council and education, in that it will facilitate the joint use of same common services—for example, an architect's department. But I emphasise once again that the preservation of this formal link does not mean that the Greater London Council has powers over education which it has remitted to a committee. On the contrary, the whole control of the education service in inner London under the Bill will be placed in the hands of the inner London education authority.
At this point I will refer to the review and report to Parliament specifically required of the Minister in Clause 30 (5). I know the interest which has been felt over this subsection, quite irrespective of political considerations, by a number of teachers in the London area. I will state the doctrine first and then will answer the hon. Member for Fulham on what I might call the points in the text.
It is surely reasonable that the inner London boroughs should have an interest in education matters, partly because of the heavy precept which they will have to pay to the Greater London Council towards its cost and partly through the members whom they will nominate to the inner London education authority. But it is too early to say whether it would be right at some later date to arrange for them to participate more directly.
I say to the hon. Member for Sunderland, North that this is particularly in my mind since I talked with the deputation of London teachers last night: the idea may be in some people's minds that, because of the general nature of the Government's proposals for Greater London, there must be a presumption that education will itself become a borough service after the review. I can assure hon. Members that such a view is mistaken. There has been no change in the Government's policy since my right hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Dr. Hill) made his statement.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman will listen to the whole of my statement. I am saying that the presumption to which I have referred is mistaken. The special nature of the Government's proposals for education in inner London would seem to me to justify the proposal for a review when we have had some years' experience of the new local government organisation for Greater London as a whole. It will be perfectly open to the Government of the day to advise Parliament in 1970, if they so decide, that the balance of advantage lies in retaining a single local education authority in the inner London area.
Will my right hon. Friend clear up one point? From what he has said, I think that we can assume that the fear which teachers have been under recently about their own personal future is not warranted.
What is not warranted is the fear that because of the general lines of the Government's proposals there must be a presumption that education will become a borough responsibility after this review. I believe that there is a strong case for having this review, but as I have just said, it will be perfectly open to the Government of the day in 1970, if they so decide, to advise Parliament that the balance of advantage lies in retaining a single local education authority.
No. What I am saying is that it is wrong to make presumptions at all. The presumption has been made by many people that education will become a borough service after 1970. I am pointing out that such a presumption is entirely unjustified, because the purpose of subsection (5) is to hold the position open without prejudice.
The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the fears of teachers and others are not allayed and that the uncertainty will remain until 1970 is reached and passed.
Obviously, I am not able today to give a pledge about what will happen in 1970, but I am concerned to make this point. It would be quite wrong to suppose that the general nature of the Government's proposals for Greater London make it reasonable to assume at the moment that education will become a borough service after 1970. This matter is left open without prejudice by the provision in subsection (5). In 1970 it will be open to the Government to give whatever advice to Parliament they like when they have considered where the balance of advantage lies from an educational paint of view.
Yesterday the hon. Member for Fulham raised the question of the wording of subsection (5) and said:
The clear implication of that Clause"—
the hon. Gentleman meant the subsection of that Clause—
is that the Minister has not to decide whether the service should be broken up but to what extent it should be broken up."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th December, 1962; Vol. 669, c. 76.]
I have taken advice on this point since yesterday and I can now say this to the hon. Member for Fulham. I have been advised that the words "if any" in page 41, line 18, apply to the phrases
to what extent
in what part or parts of that Area
as well as to the immediately preceding phrase
subject to what conditions".
I am perfectly ready with my right hon. Friend to look at this drafting before the next stage of the Bill. But I do not want to leave the House today in any doubt as to what is the unequivocal intention of the Government. The firm intention of the Government and the purpose of subsection (5) is to hold the position open without prejudice.
Will the Minister clear up this point? Earlier he gave some reasons why it is important to treat education in inner London today as a unit. He mentioned, for example, the ease of travel in that area and the fact that parents and children can travel long distances. Are there any grounds for supposing that those causes which make it desirable to treat education in the middle of London as a single unit today will be less operative in five years' time? For instance, will it be more difficult after the Bill has been in operation for five years for children to travel long distances in central London than it is today?
Obviously I cannot anticipate the discussions that we shall have when the review takes place. The hon. Member cannot reasonably expect me to do that. On the other hand, I have absolutely no doubt that when the review takes place the sort of considerations to which the hon. Member has just referred will be highly relevant, just as some other matters may be relevant. The hon. Gentleman is asking me to prejudge the result of that review. That I cannot do. He gives me the opportunity to repeat once again, which I gladly do, that this decision, when the time comes, will be taken purely on educational grounds on the basis of what is best for education in inner London and will not be governed in any way by the decisions which have been taken on other services in the London area.
There is one other Clause connected with education to which I want to refer. Hon. Members may have noticed that there is a special provision in Clause 32 for co-ordinating the school health service in Inner London, which is the responsibility of the I.L.E.A., with the public health service which is the responsibility of the London boroughs. I must say that the London County Council has very exaggerated ideas as to the purpose of this Clause. In its memorandum to its members it said:
It will be observed that, as regards the School Health Service, the break-up is threatened not at some unknown date but in 1965.
Let me make it quite clear that the Government have no intention whatever of breaking up the School Health Service in inner London, Which will be the responsibility of the I.L.E.A. All the Bill does is to require the I.L.E.A. to prepare schemes jointly with each of the constituent boroughs and the City for the joint use of professional staff and buildings, and for consultation as to the qualifications of the professional staff concerned with both health services. [Interruption.] I can assure the House that there is nothing sinister about this. It is the normal practice throughout the country for the School Health Service and the general Health Service to share their professional staff, and this works perfectly well. There is nothing special
to London about this. The only reason for making it a statutory requirement in inner London is that in this case different councils are involved, instead of, as elsewhere, different committees of the same council.
The right hon. Gentleman cannot see the faces of his hon. Friends behind him. That is just as well. If he could, he would see they look pretty sick. I am all for a central authority having a greater measure of control, but this breaks down the whole Tory concept of having more control concentrated in local hands.
It is always a pleasure to watch the hon. Member opposite, though I sometimes regret that I cannot see my hon. Friends more often. I was simply pointing out that the London County Council had read something sinister into this simply through failing to understand the reason for making this a statutory requirement. The Clause does not in any way preclude the appointment by the I.L.E.A. of some staff who will not be shared by the local health authorities. For example, they may very well need a medical officer to supervise their special schools. But this is a matter which my Department will be very ready to discuss with the I.L.E.A. when it has been sot up and when the time comes to prepare the schemes required by Clause 32.
I should like finally to add a personal word. Education in the London area is not, to me, just an academic subject. I have already spent more than three years at the Ministry of Education, either as Parliamentary Secretary or as Minister. During that period I suppose I have visited more schools and colleges in the London area than anywhere else. When I look back on my visits, the schools that remain longest in my memory are not only what one might call the showpieces, the fine new schools, of whatever denomination, built since the war, impressive though many of them are.
I have been just as impressed with the work done in many of the older schools in the central areas, schools in which a devoted staff have not only equipped children to take their place in the world but have also met with real success in doing something to compensate many of these children for the narrowness and limitations of their home lives. I also know very well the great contributions to educational progress which have been made by the counties surrounding London. I have seen for myself the work done by Surrey in its special schools and Hertfordshire in acting as pacemaker in school building.
I have every sympathy with those who are determined that London and the area surrounding it should continue to make this great contribution to a service on which not only our economic efficiency but the whole social health of our community so largely depends. That is why both my predecessor and I have regarded it as one of our major responsibilities to ensure that the Government's plans for London government were of such a kind as fully to safeguard the interests of education. I am convinced that we have carried out these responsibilities and that those who care most about educational progress can confidently give their support to this important Bill.
I intend to make a short speech on what is the most tremendous Bill I have ever been faced with in this House. Here we have 205 pages in a Bill divided into nine Parts, with 86 Clauses and 17 Schedules. If ever a Bill was introduced marked by the Chief Whip for speedy transport by the tumbrels to the Guillotine, this is the Bill.
I dislike being faced with a Measure on which I do not think it is possible to arrive at a voluntary timetable. I believe, and have practised the belief, in a voluntary timetable in dealing with important Government Measures, for that is the only way to ensure that a Bill will be adequately discussed in Committee. I am uttering no threats. I am making no promises. But ask anyone who has ever been confronted with a Committee stage of a Bill how many days in Committee this one warrants if it is to be properly discussed and I am quite sure that the absence of the Chief Whip this afternoon indicates that he knows that no answer that could be given to that question would be helpful to him.
I have read the Bill and I have come across two lines with which I am in cordial agreement. Clause 3 (1, d) states:
the urban districts of Staines and Sunbury-on-Thames shall become part of the county of Surrey".
I congratulate the two urban districts but regret to say that the teachers involved have written privately to me to express the wish that I will see that they do not suffer under that transfer.
We have listened to the right hon. Gentleman and the Minister of Education and I was particularly impressed by the right hon. Gentleman's peroration a moment ago. But I ask myself how can he give such a promise when he tells us that we must make no presumptions about what will happen in 1970. Between now and 1970 the education of London will be lived in the knowledge that in 1970 a decision will be reached on the future. One can rest assured that those who believe in two-tier and one-tier Government for education will each be trying during those eight years to see that the scheme is so manipulated as to give them a good chance of getting their view adopted in 1970.
I sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman in this terrible task of arranging for the administration of education. The present Chief Secretary in 1944, when we considered Clause 6 of the Education Bill of that year, gaily announced to the Committee that that part of the matter was the responsibility of the Parliamentary Secretary; that he would be dealing with it—and the First Schedule of the Education Act, 1944, is my major contribution to the legislation of this country. I see, though, that the Government are now trying to use it for the reverse process to that for which it was designed. It was the price the education service had to pay to secure that education should be conducted on a county and county borough basis. There is now an attempt being made in Part IV to use that Schedule for the reverse process and in Clause 30 (4) of this Bill we read:
Part II of Schedule 1 to the Education Act 1944 shall have effect in its application to the Inner London Education Area as if—
When I examine the First Schedule and strike out the words now to be omitted I am astonished to find that the Government should have thought that what is left will enable them to deal with the problems raised in that Part.
and Part III of the said Schedule 1 (which relates to the delegation of functions of local education authorities to divisional executives) shall not apply to Greater London.
I am concerned with the effect of the Bill on education in what I regard as the most important part of the development of education in the next 20 years—the filling out of the proposals of 1944 with regard to further education. I always regard the people who come within the purview of these provisions as being the most important in education. They come within it because they want to. There is no compulsion about it. They come because in the course of their work, to which they will devote their lives, they find that, no matter what schools they come from, there are some subjects in which they are lamentably deficient. They come along and take classes in various technical colleges and other institutions to equip themselves for their part in the commercial and industrial life of the nation.
They are very important people indeed—people who have that willingness to fit themselves for the part they have to play in our economic development. It is gratifying to see the way, since the Act of 1944 was passed, in which those pupils have come forward and the way in which local education authorities and the Ministry have had to make provision to meet them.
In spite of what the right hon. Gentleman says, there will remain the great difficulty of arranging these institutions in such a way that there is no wastage of staff owing to the unnecessary duplication of opportunities as, for instance, where an institution now exists but local pride makes the people somewhere else want a similar institution, although the existing body could well cater for them.
I was faced with the same thing over the renewal of local government of fire brigades. After I had seen my friend Herbert Morrison, now Lord Morrison of Lambeth, climbing the ladders to the turntables, I was convinced that if I returned the fire service to every urban district council and borough in Surrey there would be at least one such machine in every one of them. I therefore decided that it was best to make it a county service and so avoid unnecessary duplication.
That is one of the things we have to avoid in the extension of further education. A teacher may occasionally get the great responsibility of having to deal with a pupil who is naturally gifted in some of the more abstruse subjects, such as mathematics. He will find that he will have to work very hard at his subject in order to keep just one jump ahead of that pupil. There is nothing more humiliating for any teacher than to be told, "I said all that yesterday".
These exceptional pupils ought, as far as possible, to be grouped into an institution that can carry teachers of adequate professional calibre to deal with their problems. Unless we are very careful, we shall see that force of educational service dissipated over a far wider area than it should be. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, who, I know, has this problem of further education very much at heart, will see that the really first-class teachers in these subjects that we deal with in the further education institutions will be so situated that they can use their tremendous talents to the great advantage of the population over a fairly wide area; and that institutions will be encouraged to recognise that there is in an individual institution a man or woman who is capable of dealing with that type of student. I am quite convinced that the demand for further education of the kind of which I have been speaking will not decrease in the 10 or 20 years immediately ahead of us.
I wish the right hon. Gentleman well in his efforts to arrange for sound educational administration, but I think that he will have to look well outside the pages of this Bill if he is to succeed in his efforts, and I should not be surprised to find amending Bills being proposed in the next four or five years to free him from some of the limitations that Part IV places on him.
Apart from that, I regret to find that Epsom and Ewell, the borough in which I reside, and its inhabitants, my fellow burgesses, will suffer under the Bill an indignity that the Leader of the House
promised us was unlikely to befall anybody. There is a proposal to divide Epsom and Ewell. If hon. Members will turn to Part II of the First Schedule—page 91—they will read
The boundary of the London borough numbered 23 in the said Part I in the existing borough of Epsom and Ewell shall be a line beginning where the existing borough boundary departs from the centre for the time being of the left bank tributary of the Hogsmill river below the site of the former Ruxley sewage works and running north-eastwards along that centre to the junction of that tributary with that river, thence along the centre for the time being of that river to the eastern boundary of the railway between Ewell West and Stoneleigh stations, thence northeastwards along that eastern boundary to the north-eastern edge of Kingston Road, thence south-eastwards along the north-eastern edge of that road and of the Ewell by-pass (passing between that road or by-pass and the service roads) to the north-western edge of London Road, and thence north-eastwards along that north-western edge to the point where it crosses the existing borough boundary.
I have traced that boundary on the map, and it looks like the edge of a very old and badly-used saw. It pays no respect to history. It does not group a community. Local government in that area has, since the Surrey Review Order of 1933, devoted its energies with great success to creating a community within the borough as it exists now—and in local government there is nothing more important than the creation of a community which is inspired with the knowledge and belief that it is a community.
When the area was being created in 1933 under the Surrey Review Order, the inhabitants of the area now forming three wards of the borough urged the Surrey County Council Review Committee to include them in the new urban district—this was before the place was incorporated—of Epsom and Ewell, because they felt that that was the place with which they had most affinity, and although efforts have since been made by the Parliamentary Commissioners and others to lop off some of those wards and put them elsewhere, they have consistently resisted at every public inquiry any effort made to break up the borough. I was first elected a councillor of that borough in 1908, and I have seen the place develop, the community grow, and the community spirit obtain greater recognition amongst the inhabitants.
What this astounding new boundary does is this. Merely to make up the numbers in a borough that is centred on Kingston, it is proposed to lop off these three wards, and the inhabitants of the wards have not been slow in making their point of view known. In the three wards there are 14,824 electors on the register. A local committee, consisting of the representatives of the three political parties, all the residents' associations and many other organisations connected with the social life of the neighbourhood, carried out a referendum. It managed to obtain from the 14,824 electors the voices of 10,260, which is a very high percentage for any municipal matter at all. Of those, 9,779 expressed a wish to remain in the borough of Epsom and Ewell and in the county of Surrey, 200 expressed the wish to go into Greater London, and 281 said that they did not know what future they would prefer. They were people like the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Education who put it off to 1970.
One could not have a more explicit expression of the views of the inhabitants on what they want with regard to their future. Recalling what the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Sir G. Black) said last night, if they were in Malta or in one of the emerging States of Africa, Ministers would be rushing off every day to inquire what local opinion was and how it was arrived at. I say to the Government that self-expression and self-determination ought to be recognised in this country as well as elsewhere and that a voice as big and as loud as the one I have just quoted ought to be respected by them.
I hope that the House will allow me to quote some words written by Hilaire Belloc about just this kind of problem. They are:
It has been debated and cannot be resolved, why these great lines of chalk north and south of the Weald achieve an impression of majesty. They are not very high. Their outline is monotonous and their surface bare. Something of that economy and reserve by whose power the classic in verse or architecture grows upon the mind is present in the Downs. These which we had travelled that day were not my own hills—Duncton and Bury, Westburton, Amberley and all—but they were similar because they stood up above the sand and the pines and because they were of that white barren soil clothed
in close turf, wherein nothing but the beech, the yew, and our own affection can take root and grow.
I believe that there is in this borough for which I speak vicariously tonight that deep affection for the community which they have created and for the land on which it has been built.
I shall oppose the Bill, and I urge the Government to see that some Amendments will be put down to rectify the injustice which is being done to my fellow-burgesses so that it may not be perpetuated in this Measure.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) said that he would make a brief speech. I am not complaining, but he spoke for 24 minutes. If I do not comment on his speech it is out of respect for my colleagues on both sides of the House who equally wish to speak, and I shall therefore speak more briefly.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government will be very relieved that at least one hon. Member on this side of the House will support the Second Reading. This being so, I hope that he will listen to my pleas with respect, in order at least to retain my support in the later stages. I am a Surrey Member, like my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General for whom the right hon. Member for South Shields spoke in the latter part of his speech. My own constituency is not within the review area and is not affected other than consequentially. I also served briefly on London County Council in the distant past, and in even the more distant past I was a member of a metropolitan borough council. At least, I can say that I see the problem from various angles.
London government, of course, needed reform. It has been for 30 years as more unrelated to the geographic and demographic realities, which incidentally were substantially accentuated by the changes brought in, mainly by the party opposite, after the war, which in their turn made for the withering away in many respects of the lower-tier authorities. The hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) in his extremely able speech yesterday spoke of "thinking in terms of a regional authority for the whole of South-East England" but let hon. Members note that the word is "thinking" and not "acting". Regionalism may come, but let us face it that an elected regional authority today would be premature and quite impracticable. If the present Bill is two generations overdue, at least it is in some way consonant with reality.
The trouble is that all of us are for reform of some sort provided our own area and our own authority and its functions are in no way changed. It is rather like St. Augustine who prayed:
Give me chastity and continency, but not yet.
So it is here. "Let us have reform but do not in any way affect my particular parish interests." No reform of any sort will take place without treading on many toes, and I think that we all admire the courage of the Government in carrying out this major reform in the teeth of various vested interests.
If I criticise the details of the Bill it is against the background of wholehearted support for the principles.
London has always grown at the expense of its neighbours. I had a great uncle who was a Surrey Member of Parliament. He sat for Battersea. Then, in 1887, he was transformed into a London Member. This is a reminder of how London has grown. I well understand the feelings of my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black) who suffers the same fate as my great uncle and will find himself overnight a London Member instead of a Surrey Member. My hon. Friend is not now in his place, but may I say that he has rendered very great services to the county. If there were any justice in the world we ought at least to be able to exact a handsome transfer fee for his services.
I should also like to echo the tribute which the Royal Commission paid to the Surrey County Council, in contrast with some other authorities, for having achieved such happy relations with the lower-tier authorities. I see no reason why they should not continue in the new county. The fact is, however, that the new Surrey will be, or should be when suitably amended, what the old Surrey has not been—a true county far more homogeneous when it has shed its metropolitan fringes. We must be realistic and must appreciate, when it comes to planning or traffic or roads and very many of the local government functions, that there is little in common between the metropolitan fringes and the country outside in the green belt. Therefore, the boundaries must be drawn as realistically as possible between the urban and the rural districts. It is not possible to draw them exactly right, but they should be drawn as realistically as possible.
The Minister has greatly improved the proposals by excluding many of the peripheral authorities within the green belt. I urge him to make further concessions in order to be consistent. If Esher is excluded, why not Coulsdon and Purley, which is identical in situation and characteristics? If my right hon. Friend says that that is impossible, then can he, if necessary, divide the district along the built-up line? If his reaction to that is that he is not willing to divide local authorities, then why is he doing it to Epsom? He must try to be rather more consistent than his Department has been so far. I remind my right hon. Friend that the more consistent he is in the drawing of the boundaries the more likely is he to find his proposals acceptable.
Now, finance. Obviously, I welcome Clause 66, which provides for transitional assistance to certain of the counties affected, although I say frankly that the scale seems to me to be niggardly. There is a reference, first, to 6d. in the £. I take it that that is after the new valuation and not on the present valuation. I should like to know, because it makes a substantial difference. Why have a minimum, anyway? Why only five years? It sounds a lot, but it is bogus because it involves a tapering contribution and it is, in fact, equivalent, to only three years' purchase of the rate loss. In my view, it should be at least five years in full and then taper away.
The difficulty is to see what is the true bill. The Surrey County Council, in the course of its campaign against the Bill, made the flesh of the outer districts creep by telling them that the rate would go up by 1s. 10d. in the £. The effect of this bombshell was slightly muffled by the fact that it coincided with a rate increase of 2s. in the £, anyway. I now understand that the Surrey County Council's estimate is 1s. 4d. in the £ for the outer districts.
Whether the county council has been conducting similar propaganda in the inner districts and breaking the news to the metropolitan areas that they have been subsidising the outer areas for years I rather doubt; nor am I entirely satisfied that even then this figure represents a true bill. One can calculate where the rates are paid, but one cannot be sure where they are spent.
There will be dislocation, expensive in all probability, and I think that the losing districts should be compensated during a reasonably generously computed interim period. Compensation should be levied on those districts which gain from the separation. However, I see no reason why Bermondsey or Fulham should compensate Guildford, though I see every reason why Wimbledon should. I think that that would meet with some approval even on the benches opposite.
In considering the structure of local government under the Bill, I shall carefully try not to repeat arguments which have already been used. I welcome the reforms for two main reasons. First, we are now to have a more or less—I choose my words with care—unified responsibility for traffic. All of us have cursed the Minister of Transport for his failures without realising how much his hands have been tied by his obligations to the multiplicity of authorities in the Greater London area. But I still have qualms about whether the Bill goes far enough in its rationalisation and whether it leaves too much to the Minister.
I echo the plea made by the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) that at least control of street lighting in London should be centralised. Let us get rid of the kaleidoscopic chaos from which we have suffered for many years. It is really intolerable. One is bathed in orange light in one borough, in green light in another, and then one may be plunged into "darkest" Chelsea before one knows where one is.
At least, in parts of it. I apologise to my hon. and gallant Friend.
I welcome the return of the personal health services to the boroughs. I was on the London County Council when, in 1948, the county councils, including the London County Council, protesting quite a bit, surrendered their hospital services to the National Health Service. It seems that, as a quid pro quo, the county councils were then given charge of the personal health services. Those services, which are essentially personal, were torn from the boroughs. The London County Council very soon divided London into administrative areas which were, as I remember them, roughly the size of the boroughs proposed under the Bill. That was obviously right and, if the metropolitan boroughs were too small, then the county council was obviously too large.
I welcome Clause 23, which holds out a ray of hope for those authorities which have Landon County Council out-county estates. I shall not elaborate the point because, if he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) will, I am sure, deal with it.
As to membership of the Greater London Council, I echo the plea in The Times that here should be no aldermen but more elected councillors. The aldermanic principle is well established and very useful in certain authorities, but there is no reason and no need for it in this completely new organisation. The idea behind having aldermen can and should be met by co-option to the committees of the council.
Also, I make a very strong plea for the payment of members of the Greater London Council. Membership of the London County Council is not full-time but, as I know from experience, it is what one might call rather distracting from other employment, and membership of the Greater London Council will be even more so.
I am glad that the Greater London Council is to take over the Metropolitan Water Board, on which also I sat once, which suffers from having far too many committees, anyway. But what an opportunity has been missed in not making the Greater London Council the central markets authority for London, including, incidentally, the new Covent Garden Market Authority, which is busy doing now what the Minister of Agriculture so foolishly would not let it do, that is, looking forthwith outside the area for a site for a new market.
I add a further plea in support of what the right hon. Member for South Shields said, perhaps in a rather different spirit. We have already been told that we are to have extra time on the Floor of the House for Clause 1 and the First Schedule. We have had a warning that the Bill will be fought line by line. I hope that the Leader of the House will take steps early to see that there is a proper timetable for the Bill so that those of us who support its main principles, but have detailed criticisms, may have a chance to voice our views.
Finally, I want to refer to the London County Council's curious attitude in refusing to co-operate with the Government during the transitional phase. I am delighted that the Surrey County Council, as I would expect, is showing common sense and reason in this matter. It seems to show that the L.C.C. is interested only in perpetuating itself. It proves that in this matter it is reckless of the well-being of its citizens and, above all, of its own staff and employees.
In this matter, history is repeating itself. During the last few days, I have been reading some of the early history of the L.C.C. The creation of that body in its day was fought tooth and nail by the vested interests of the existing parish pump. Punch had a cartoon at the time. It showed a memorial tombstone to the Metropolitan Board of Works, which was the precursor of the L.C.C. From the epitaph I cull words which apply to the L.C.C. so well seventy-five years later:
Fighting to the end, it was more anxious to leave an inheritance of spite to its successor than to retire from the scene of its late labours with dignity to itself.
I do not want to enter into a debate with the right hon. Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan), but I recall a period, a very short period, during which he served on the London County Council. Perhaps that accounts for his showing such lamentable ignorance of the value of the services created by the London County Council for the people of London.
I assure the right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members that in its attitude to this legislation the L.C.C. has been actuated by a realisation that there is about to be destroyed something fundamentally good in the nature of existing local government in the central London area. It sees that as a tragedy for the people of London and is, therefore, opposed to the scheme root and branch. It would not have been helpful in these interim stages to have offered co-operation to the Government, which could have been only a matter of constant argument between the parties about whether to proceed with the scheme.
The L.C.C. can and does praise itself on occasion, but a number of tributes have come from outside sources during the course of all the proceedings in connection with the proposals for the reorganisation of local government, right back to the evidence given by Government Departments themselves to the Royal Commission and extending to bodies of architects, child care workers, teachers' unions and all those with an intimate knowledge of the efficient and humane work of the L.C.C. Those tributes to the work of a great Council have been spontaneous and sincere.
While hon. Members can easily say that the machinery of local government in London is out of date because the built-up area now extends further than it did in 1888, may I remind them that in 1920, only thirty-two years after the creation of the L.C.C., the built-up area extended far beyond the L.C.C.'s boundaries of those days. Is that to be an argument for a complete upheaval in local government every thirty years? If so, I beg the House to beware, for there will be other extensions and other developments in the South-East.
The unit of local government now chosen is seven times that of the L.C.C. area, though it is not to have as much power as it should if it is to be of any use. However, it will undoubtedly acquire those powers, because they will be seen to be necessary for the welfare of the Greater London area. One must foresee the possibility of that authority in its turn being replaced by an even greater authority, so that the country ultimately becomes saddled with the kind of regional authority which most people consider to be not democratic local government.
I was extremely disappointed with the speech of the Minister of Education. He is a man for whom I have a great deal of respect, and I can only imagine, knowing his clear foresight, that he, like his predecessor, has been dragooned into supporting a case in which he does not believe. What an exposure of a desperate effort to repair the damage being created by the Bill. He tried to show that the L.C.C. had given a wrong impression about the school health service. Has it? The right hon. Gentleman said that the Inner London Education Authority, together with 13 boroughs, including the City, must prepare joint schemes to share buildings and staff, buildings and staff belonging to the boroughs, but no longer under the complete control of the educational authority.
The right hon. Gentleman even said that the service might have a medical officer of its own for special schools. The special school service in London is such that it will need a medical officer's department, not just a medical officer. If it is to have a medical officer's department for special schools, the authority might as well continue to look after the health of the school children by one unified service.
The right hon. Gentleman was far too hopeful about special education, namely, that the boroughs will provide accommodation, which they need in only a small degree, for other boroughs. The L.C.C. does this now. It provides remand homes and approved schools for other authorities. It does not do so with any great ease, and L.C.C. members do not like it very much. They like to provide something which is under their control and which provides for their own citizens. The new proposal is contrary to the nature of autonomous local government and I hope that the Minister of Education does not place too much reliance on such a system.
That is education as the Minister sees it, but the London County Council and I see it in a different light. We see it as a closely integrated service with 15 other departments of the Council. It is integrated with the staff and finance department, which utilises the services of well-qualified clerks and controllers; with the school medical service, served by qualified doctors and specialist staff; with the school meals service, served by specialist catering staffs; with the town planning, architect's and surveyor's departments; with the engineer's, valuer's and solicitor's departments; with the department for the provision and maintenance of new schools and colleges; with the services of the housing department which rehouses families when sites have to be cleared to provide new buildings; with the materials, fittings and equipment which the supplies department obtains in large quantities, and cheaply; and with the parks department, which lays out and maintains the playing fields.
I also see education as a service which, because of its unique size and resources, is able to maintain an independent inspectorate which once carried out its own inspection of schools but relieving the Government inspectors of this job, although it has agreed not to do so any longer. It acts as a watchdog or guardian service. It carries new ideas from school to school, arranges training courses and gives teachers the benefit of the experience of other teachers all over the area. It is a service which has the use of a fine education library. It can avail itself of the resources of the supplies and equipment division. It can have the benefit of the nature study scheme and many other things.
We see the London education service not as an ad hoc service on its own, but as an integrated service benefiting from the skill and knowledge of the specialist and highly qualified staffs of all the other departments of the Council. Surely the Minister must take this into consideration.
The L.C.C. is, naturally, anxious that this service should continue. We are told that it will last in its truncated form for at least five years, during which time there will be the greatest uncertainty about its future. At the end of that time, as we have heard, there is no guarantee of what will happen to it. The only guarantee is that by then the Minister of Education will not be Minister of Education. This uncertainty must hit the staffs on the administrative side of the education authority. I assure hon. Members that an administrative staff of high quality and with skill and experience is essential if the education service is to continue with the same degree of quality which has earned it not only the admiration of the Royal Commission, but the Government's grudging concession to continue it in part.
As with education so with the other services of the L.C.C., although there is so much in the Bill that one is not able to understand exactly what will happen. A quick survey shows 108 instances enabling directions to be given by Ministers, or requiring consultations, consents or agreements to be obtained or reached between the Greater London Council, the London boroughs, the Common Council and the Minister. While it is extremely difficult to visualise the effect that the Bill will have, there is no doubt that the Government have been obliged to revise their idea about creating new boroughs and a Greater London unit and transferring certain services to the secondary units and certain services to the larger authority.
There is a number of instances of this. They concern not only special arrangements for education, but arrangements for the parks. The idea was that responsibility for the parks should go straight away to the boroughs; they were to belong to the boroughs. But closer examination shows that this process, if it is to be accomplished, must be accomplished over a course of years in the light of experience. The same thing applies to the London County Council's stock of houses. My hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Mr. Ledger) has been agitating over this matter for many years, and I have opposed him vehemently on it in the House. He hoped that his authority would get the thousands of houses which belonged to the L.C.C. and which are monopolising his borough. The L.C.C. has always sympathised in this matter and has tried to do its utmost about it. However, this stock of houses is not to be released far the simple reason, I suppose, that it would not do the job which the Government know must be done.
One of the objects of the Bill is to secure the proper development of the London area. Another object is to give the Greater London Council certain power in the important road programme. Another is to ensure that the education authority has sites on which to build new schools. It would not be possible to rehouse families on sites where roads have to be constructed or widened, where new schools have to be built, in areas where the development plan requires the relocation of industry without any housing profit or in areas whore there are houses but which the plan says should become open spaces. For all these purposes the Greater London Council will require in the area of London alone precisely the same number of houses as the L.C.C. has required, and will go on requiring, each year. As far as I can see, it will need that pool of houses for many years.
The Government have been forced to admit that certain things which look easy are not so easy and must be carried out gradually over a period of years. They have had to give housing powers to the Greater London Council at which, I understand, the boroughs are looking askance. I do not think that the boroughs can deal with their own slum clearance programme. The L.C.C. has dealt with more than half of slum clearance. It always carries out the bigger schemes. It always carries out the schemes from which there is no profit. It always carries out schemes in areas which are zoned not for houses but for industry, open spaces, school building or roads. The Council has done the major portion of all this and has done more slum clearance than all the Metropolitan boroughs put together. Even if some boroughs can cope with it, it is doubtful whether other boroughs can do so.
Part of my case is that it appears to be necessary for the Greater London Council to have powers which were not contemplated in the first instance. One of those powers is to carry on for an indefinite period with the schemes which the London County Council has in hand. There are a great many such schemes, including, for example, the new Erith scheme, which, incidentally, the Greater London Council would not be able to do because the land would not have been its own, it would not be able to build in another borough without consent and it would not have the planning powers that the London County Council now has, because these will pass to the individual boroughs. Such a scheme as Erith would want a great deal of putting together again. Humpty Dumpty would have to be pieced together carefully to allow of such schemes to be carried out in future.
Not only are the Government bestowing extra housing powers upon the Greater London Council, but critics are saying that it will not have sufficient power given to it by the Government to build as the London County Council has done. The L.C.C. builds not with the consent of the boroughs, but as it judges to be right and proper. The Council has never built against the will of the boroughs. Although there has been no requirement for consent, the Council has always taken great care to be friendly with the boroughs and to agree what parts should be done in the boroughs by the boroughs themselves and what part should be done by the Council.
I stress precisely what the hon. Member for Putney (Sir H. Linstead) said yesterday. The hon. Member said that there was no blueprint for a coherent London plan because there is no coherent London area or unity.
The Royal Commission theoretically spent three years—it spent a few days in between with each local authority—in finding out the things that the local authorities knew. There was no need to have taken three years. The Royal Commission could have been told or could have read what was happening. The Royal Commission came out with one scheme, the Government produced another in their White Paper and now they have brought forward yet another. There is no doubt that before we have finished and by the time they have taken account of the representations of all the bodies affected—for example, the services and departments relating to children, teachers, architects and all the others, as well as the people who are worried about the boundaries and size of their boroughs—there will be another great change in the arrangement.
Do not the Government consider that they would be wise to take the advice of the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black)? Should they not have done so before? The hon. Member spoke about a round table and of the possibility of getting a measure of agreement that would have enabled us to keep all that is best of what we now have, to which modifications could have been introduced without this tremendous upheaval.
Sir Percy Rugg makes no bones about admitting that it will be a tremendous upheaval. He says that that is what London needs. A tremendous upheaval is the last thing that London needs. What it wants is the necessary modification made with the least possible disarrangement of a system of local government that is functioning reasonably well—at least, a system of government at which nobody has cast a stone, except in two directions, one of which is traffic.
I could have told the Royal Commission about the traffic because I travel by ordinary transport. I could have told the Royal Commission what I have observed over the years at the Oval. For thirty years, I suppose, I have been travelling to Camberwell, my constituency, via the Oval. I have counted the cars with only one occupant as against the number of buses. I have done it for years. I am now watching the results of the direction of traffic by the Minister of Transport in the centre of London, where it is moving more quickly. What is happening to traffic at the Oval or as far out as Mitcham or Purley, which, one hon. Member has said, is not part of the built-up area? It is one long stream of traffic, blocked up in the outer London areas as a result of what a traffic director is managing to do in the centre. I do not know the answer to this.
The other day, during another debate, I heard an hon. Member make a very interesting point. All sorts of things are reported in the Press, but, unfortunately, that was not. I have not been to Philadelphia, but if Philadelphia has managed to restore the priority of public transport above that of private transport, surely, if that is the answer—and it is not an answer that any local authority in the London area has the power to put into effect—that power could have been given to local authorities years ago had the Minister so desired.
There is no traffic authority in London. There never has been. The only traffic authority in London is the Minister himself. The London County Council is not a traffic authority; it has no power. It is purely a highway authority for the construction of highways, but not for their maintenance. The borough councils have certain traffic powers, but only to recommend certain schemes, to argue against schemes, to ask for traffic lights and be refused them by the Minister or by the police or to ask for a pedestrian crossing to be installed, again to be refused by the Minister or by the police.
Local authorities have been asked by the Minister and by the Government to deal with parking, which is a highly expensive matter, so much so that St. Marylebone the other day had to abandon a projected multi-storey car park. The local authorities were asked to deal with parking without any grant from the Government.
There is chaos because no Minister has ever had the courage to get up and say that what is needed in London is a director of traffic. What will happen with the Greater London Council I do not know, because, unless I am mistaken, it is not to have a director of traffic.
I am sorry. Of course, the Greater London Council is to appoint a director of traffic. He will have a whale of a job unless he is to be free of all the representations of the local areas, even though there will be only 32 instead of the existing 100 or more. Every district will create the same fuss as the inhabitants of Highgate Hill or the people of Oxford Street do whenever the Minister wants to run lorries in certain areas or to introduce a one-way traffic scheme.
A director of traffic, to produce anything at all sensible, must be a real dictator, and must not listen to anything whatever in the way of representations from local authorities. But this is a problem in which traffic cannot be allowed to dictate to London. London's amenides must be preserved, and this is where the London County Council comes in. The body which looks after the amenities of a neighbourhood is the planning authority. This is the authority which sees to it that people's lives are not ruined by the needs of traffic, and where we shall get when the Greater London Council has a director of traffic, and the boroughs, for the purposes of Part III of the Bill, are the actual planning authorities, I do not know. This is a lack of co-ordination and a divorce of the planning work which the London County Council now does and which has enabled it to deal with the question of amenities on any road traffic scheme. This divorce will be disastrous.
I have talked much too long, and I am sorry, but the House will recall that I have a very great interest in the affairs of the L.C.C. I have been on that body for nearly thirty years, and I do know a bit about it, not everything, by any means, but something. I have an intense love for it and also a great admiration for its services. I beg the Government to think carefully before they destroy the fine services for children, housing, welfare, health and education which have been built up so patiently over the years, not by the members of the L.C.C., but by the staff, who have been of such quality because, owing to the size of the resources of the L.C.C., it could command the best.
The staff have been inspired by a progressive Council, and, not only have they been inspired, but they have done the job well. They constitute the teams that ought to be held together. What is done to us as members of the L.C.C. we will accept, but what is done to these fine teams may be a loss to London. I beg the Government to think carefully and not to perpetrate this mischief.
I will endeavour to be as brief as I can on this very important subject, because I appreciate that there are many of us who have sat here for the greater part of two days hoping to say our pieces on it.
I support the Bill, not without reservations, but because I think that it is long overdue, and I join with those hon. Members who, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan), have commended the Government's courage in bringing it in. It is quite a feat to legislate in respect of recommendations which a Royal Commission has made, even if not in quite the same terms, within a couple of years of receiving its Report. Usually, the complaint has been the other way. Usually, a distinguished body spends years making its report, which then moulders away in a Government pigeonhole because nobody has the political courage to implement its findings and to do the things that have to be done.
The background to all this is that Government after Government have failed for years to grasp this nettle, and we on this side of the House have a share of the blame for it. We have failed to grasp the nettle, and I am glad that it is being done now. There is not an hon. Member of the House with any sort of interest in this debate who has not got his own private reservations about the Bill, whether he supports or opposes it in principle or not. Indeed, the proper time and place to bring these matters out is during the Committee stage, and, therefore, I shall confine my remarks to the broad principle of the Bill, and also say a word or two about a particular constituency interest which I have.
I am sure that the question to which we must apply ourselves is simply this. Do we want to bring the good government of London today into line with the contemporary environment and conditions of today or not? If the sum total of our personal objections to doing anything at all is allowed to mount up, we might as well say that there is no hope at all, with any kind of local government basis, be it central, regional, or the structure proposed in the Bill, of solving the housing, the traffic and the other problems which the passage of time since the 1880s, when the present structure, broadly, was set up, has so greatly exacerbated.
The fact is that there can be no change in the present situation which does not cause some misgivings in many quarters, but even if we sought another kind of solution, if we went in for the regional one for the whole of the south-east area, to which the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) made reference yesterday, or if we went the other way and chose a very much stronger authority at the centre, which I suppose hon. Members opposite would like to see, in the form of an expanded and greatly fortified L.C.C., we should all be here making our individual points because the alterations in boundaries, the transfer of powers and the rest would certainly cut across some constituency interests if we were in any way involved in the Greater London area.
I have said that, whatever view one takes of these proposals, such sweeping proposals were long overdue and had to come. There is no hope whatever of bringing rationality and sense into the arrangements for the government of Greater London unless we do something on a big and imaginative scale. The sheer physical spread of bricks and mortar outwards has had as much to do with creating these new conditions as anything else, and the other thing has been the impact of the motor car which has made absolute and complete nonsense of the original conception on which the powers of the local authorities in this area were founded. I very much fear that, unless we seek a drastic solution like this, we shall find that local government, which, I should have thought, most of us here are anxious to preserve, will wither away because it will not be capable any longer of dealing effectively with these new challenges presented to it.
The hon. Lady the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet), who spoke so eloquently and feelingly, related most of her arguments to the L.C.C., which is quite understandable, but she also had a word to say about traffic and was good enough to refer to a speech of mine in which I mentioned the way in which the Americans handle these things in Philadelphia. The fact is that the Minister of Transport was compelled, under the Road Traffic Act, 1960, to remove practically all the powers of the local authorities and to arrogate them unto himself for a period of five years, because there is no possible sense in having 90 or 100 or more authorities all with limited powers in this field. That could not make any possible sense.
I fear that unless we do something like this reorganisation over the whole area we may find that other Ministers will make raids into local authority responsibilities. We shall then see very considerable responsibilities belonging to local authorities being filched to the centre simply because the local authorities in today's conditions can no longer carry them out properly.
I said I would say a word about a constituency theme, and I am glad that I have had the opportunity of catching your eye, Mr. Speaker, because the County Borough of Croydon, which I have the honour to represent, with two other hon. Members, is one of the three county boroughs, which, under these proposals, is vitally affected. It will become a Greater Landon borough. It will lose its county borough status and will undergo some changes in its boundaries.
I ought to say that if my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. F. Harris) were here—the is unavoidably abroad, on doctor's orders—the would certainly be adding his voice in opposition to the scheme, which would be consistent with what he has said in the past. Again., if my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice Admiral Hughes Hallett) were able to speak in this debate—he cannot because he is a member of the Government—he would most certainly support the scheme. I have the permission of both my colleagues to say what their positions would be.
The difficulty of Croydon is that its present system of administration, its county borough status, dates from a time when it was wholly outside, physically and in every other way, the great wen of London. Naturally, a county borough type of administration has grown up there, which encourages its citizens to believe, quite rightly, that they are a wholly separate entity, having nothing to do with London. I can well understand and applaud that belief, but the difficulty has been, once again, that the remorseless spread of bricks and mortar over the past seventy years has engulfed the borough. That is at the bottom of Croydon's difficulties.
My right hon. Friend the Member, for Reigate said earlier that in the 1880s his uncle was a Member of Parliament for Battersea, which was at that time part of the County of Surrey. Soon after it became part of London. This, at several years removed, is what is now happening to Croydon. The remorseless spread of bricks and mortar, wily-nilly, is taking Croydon into the great London complex.
Croydon has every reason for wishing to remain a completely independent authority. It is an extremely progressive, first-rate authority, with a most enviable record in health, education and social services. Quite recently, it has been working out a most imaginative scheme for entirely redesigning and reconstructing the centre of the borough. I am glad to say that that scheme is very nearly completed.
In the course of it, the council has not only put up more commercial property, but has catered for the arts as well, which not many local authorities do. It has built a theatre—imagine a theatre in the provinces—which is a marvellous thing. It has built a great concert hall. It has built a great art gallery. The practical side to serve these things is a new multi-storey car park. It is catering for on the most imaginative scale and the Council naturally feels that a county borough capable of producing all this is giving the surest possible demonstration of its ability to manage its own affairs without particular help from anybody.
I can well understand that sentiment, but, of course, the council's very success in a way has sown the seeds of the very process which is engulfing Croydon, because, in putting up these vast office blocks—I wish that it had managed to include a little more housing as well, but perhaps that is almost carping criticism—it has encouraged hundreds, indeed thousands, of people outside the borough to come into it. These people formerly worked in London and now, gratefully I think, work in Croydon. Indeed, it has had the effect of bringing Londoners into Croydon in enormous numbers in a way which would have been inconceivable before the great reconstruction scheme was launched.
I think that in all this it is not so much the loss of the powers which will go to the Greater London Council that irks. There is a perfectly sound technical argument for the transfer of such things as the ambulance service, the fire service, refuse collection and overall planning. There is a perfectly sound technical argument that in an immense urban mass these services are better run centrally, because such things as ambulances and fire engines do not always confine their activities within the boundaries of the borough in which they originate.
There is a great deal of give and take now, as there should be if these things are to be efficiently run. But I think that what really sticks in the craw of Croydon is the loss of county borough status. Status symbols are enormously important in the world today and however much the other Greater London boroughs may be upgraded and enlarged it is galling to feel that one is losing one jot or tittle of one's influence and reputation.
It is said that there is not much in a name. But I wonder whether my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government could not think of a more imaginative name than "Greater London borough". Frankly, the people of Croydon do not consider themselves Londoners. One may consider that sentimentality, but I do not agree. They are, historically, not Londoners. If my right hon. Friend could think of a more imaginative name, it would do a great deal to remove this feeling that people in Croydon do not want to become just another part of the great conurbation. If my right hon. Friend agrees to think on those lines, I may be able to offer some suggestions in Committee if I am so fortunate—perhaps that is the wrong word; if it so turns out that I am selected to be on the Standing Committee considering the Bill.
Nevertheless, I am sure that in the long run the town stands to benefit from the better ordering and better development of the community by which it is now, willy nilly, surrounded. I know that I shall not carry my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty) with me when I say that, personally, I think that it makes sense for the Coulsdon and Purley urban district to be added to Croydon.
I am, naturally, aware that Croydon Borough Council is washing its hands of any desire to take in Coulsdon and Purley and is marching arm in arm with Surrey County Council, which, no doubt, is opposed to giving Coulsdon and Purley up. I did not suggest that I was carrying Croydon Council with me. I was acknowledging that my hon. and learned Friend would not wish to see this development. Nevertheless, it makes sense to me.
The people involved in Coulsdon and Purley already, to a very great extent, regard Croydon as a centre, for it is already part of a built-up line extending as far out as Purley, and they utilise Croydon for its incomparable communications, excellent shops and magnificent facilities for recreation and amusement.
One more thing. If there is a tendency in the Croydon development plan which is unwelcome, it is that it is producing a certain imbalance in the borough. Almost too many office blocks have been put up in the centre and all the people working in them have to live somewhere. The whole object of the decentralisation from London operation will be lost if the people concerned have to travel far to come to work.
In the Coulsdon and Purley area there are certain facilities for additional residential buildings. I know that a great deal of the area is green belt, but not all, and I believe that it would be welcome to the borough, and very valuable. It would provide, were it sensibly used, a counterpart to the enormous commercial development which is going on.
If my hon. Friend will visit my constituency some day he will know what nonsense he is talking. We regret that most of the trains stop at East Croydon. Apart from that, there are no additional facilities which could be provided. Our own shopping facilities are excellent. The whole nature of the two places is entirely different.
I did not hope to carry my hon. and learned Friend with me 100 per cent. and I readily acknowledge that he may see this situation through a different pair of spectacles. Even so, I adhere to my view that this is a sensible development, and I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will not be deflected from his plans in this respect.
I end as I began, by welcoming the Bill. During the Committee stage I hope to be able to bring forward many other matters which may be discussed more appropriately at that stage. I believe that such proposals may improve the Bill and make it more acceptable to those of my constituents who question its value. I hope that all hon. Members, at any rate those on this side of the House, will signify their approval of this great measure of London reform by firmly deciding in favour of it in the Division Lobby.
We have heard from the speech of the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. R. Thompson) and from the interventions by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty) that in Croydon opinions on this subject are as divided as in other parts of the Greater London area. I suppose that in a county borough, or a constituency forming part of a county borough, one's attitude is likely to be slightly different from that which would be adopted by a representative of an urban constituency. I did not think that the exact title to be given to the Greater London boroughs was a matter of very great importance. I thought that matters in the Bill which would concern us were other than that.
The hon. Member for Croydon, South said one thing with which I agree, that Governments over many years have failed to grasp the nettle of local government in the Greater London area and, as was said by one hon. Member, this Measure is at least two generations too late. It is quite probable that the Bill will prove the most controversial to come before this House during the whole of the lifetime of the present Parliament. The hon. Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) said that it was politics in the raw, and a number of hon. Members who have spoken seem to me to confirm that impression.
But I wish to echo what was said by the Minister of Housing and Local Government, in his opening speech, that anyone who opposed the Bill should do so on constructive grounds and not merely for the sake of preserving ancient institutions and customs to which one might be attached. I have a personal interest in this matter, in that my grandfather took the chair at the very first meeting of the London County Council. But I should be extremely ashamed if sentimental associations of that nature were to influence me and prevent me from forming a dispassionate view of the proposals contained in the Bill.
The enormous spread of Greater London across the existing administrative boundaries would be a good enough reason for us to doubt whether the machinery set up at the end of the last century is any longer appropriate in 1962. From speeches made so far we seem to be agreed at least that some measure of re-
form is necessary. Nevertheless, it would be quite wrong to ignore the continuity which has given life and vigour to the institutions of our capital for many centuries. Merely to replace these institutions by tidier administrative arrangements would, in the words of the Royal Commission, be
as unwise and unrealistic as it would be to drive a motorway through St. Paul's.
I wish to consider some of the constructive suggestions for altering the proposals in the Bill and I am encouraged to do so by the promise of the Minister of Housing and Local Government, who said that constructive criticism with a view to improving the Bill would be welcome. It has been axiomatic among all the investigators of this problem that the area of Greater London forms one unit and that the upper tier authority to replace the London County Council should have jurisdiction over the whole area. It seems to me that that is about the one point on which there is common agreement among those people who accept the need for these measures of reform.
When we come to consider the exact boundaries of the Greater London area, that may be the subject of many different opinions, each of which may be supported by strong arguments. Some consider that the whole of the south-east region should form one large administrative unit with very wide powers which are at present national responsibilities.
Among the experts who take this view is the Greater London Group of the London School of Economics, which says in its report that this does not weaken the case for an authority to cover the built-up area alone. Yesterday, the Minister of Housing and Local Government said that there must be correlation in planning, transport, overspill and housing on a regional basis and so, perhaps, the right hon. Gentleman is himself thinking in these terms; and we have the assurance that it is not the end of the story and that we need something else to cater for these problems.
At the other end of the scale people believe that some of the areas, included in the orbit of Greater London, should have been excluded from it and should remain within the counties from which they have been detached. I wish to return to this question later and to illustrate it from the point of view of my own constituency. Meanwhile, it appears to me that insufficient attention has been paid by the Minister and his predecessor to the views expressed in very strong terms by some people who live in the areas of the peripheral authorities. These views should be given the greatest weight in determining any question of outer London and Greater London.
A second essential keystone to any plan for Government in Greater London is the size of the second tier authorities. We have heard of a difference of opinion between the Royal Commission and the Government. The Commission came to the conclusion that a population range of between 100,000 and 250,000 was appropriate. It thought that there was a certain minimum size below which boroughs could not have the resources to discharge the responsibilities which would devolve upon them.
On the other hand, the Commission said that at the upper end of the scale there was a limit beyond which boroughs would have no cohesion or unity. Something of a disadvantage would then ensue. In paragraph 238 of its Report the Commission stated:
Unless the body of councillors is to be unmanageably large, each councillor will represent a large number of people spread over a wide area. If this number or area becomes too big it is impossible for the councillor to be fully aware of their needs.
I do not think the Government have taken this point of view into account sufficiently in making their decision to have much larger boroughs than those recommended by the Royal Commission. Nearly all the revised boroughs will have populations above the upper limit set by the Commission. Yet the Minister, in his opening speech, said that the services about which he was speaking need to be conducted by a local authority in as local a way as can conveniently be arranged. By increasing the size of the boroughs, he is departing from this principle.
A second feature of the Royal Commission's proposals has been disregarded. It was contained in paragraph 930 of the Report, which said:
We are also of opinion that there is generally a strong case for creating boroughs of greater population in the inner areas, where the populaton is closer together, than on the periphery, where an equivalent population would mean that many of the citizens would be remote from their centre of government.
In my constituency this principle has certainly not been followed, because we are to be part of borough No. 19, which is right on the edge of the review area. In spite of that, we are the eighth largest of the 32 metropolitan boroughs to be created, in terms of population, and the largest of all in terms of area.
The terms of reference given to the four town clerks, when they reviewed the proposed groupings, set out in the Ministry Circular 43/62 said that, inter alia, they should have regard to the pattern of developments within the boroughs. The town clerks no doubt would have been informed that the population of Orpington is estimated to be rising at such a rate that it will reach 100,000 in the early 1970s. In fact, if the rate of increase continues to follow the trend which has been established in the last decade, that figure will be reached by an earlier date.
Nevertheless, the four town clerks, in their Report, opposed the suggestion, which has been made by my council to the effect that Orpington should be joined with Chislehurst and Sidcup to form one of the new boroughs. They opposed it on the general ground that it would divide metropolitan Kent into three boroughs instead of two and leave those three boroughs seriously deficient both in population and, even more so in financial resources, by comparison with the other boroughs. That view fails to take into account the explicit statements of the Royal Commission, which I have already quoted, or the expected growth of population in metropolitan Kent as a whole.
If one looks at the populations of Orpington, Chislehurst and Sidcup at the moment, one finds that there is a combined total already exceeding that of borough No. 23, and the two remaining boroughs in metropolitan Kent would be of a greater size than borough No. 23. With these expected growths of population, by the time the Greater London plan takes effect it is very likely that our combined population will be larger than that of borough No. 21 and approaching that of borough No. 16. We would by no means be the smallest.
The financial argument used by the town clerks is, in my view, a "red herring", because of two factors. One is the increase in rateable value which will result from this certain rise in population. The other, and main one, is because of the powers under Clause 64 of the Bill, by which the Minister can make schemes for the purpose of reducing disparities of rate incomes.
The right hon. Lady the Member for Chislehurst (Dame Patricia Hornsby-Smith) made a different proposal in her speech yesterday. Her council believes that it would be better if the whole of Chislehurst and Sidcup were to be merged with borough No. 19. I disagree with that view, because in that event the combined total population of borough No. 19 would be 338,000. It would be the second largest authority in the whole London area. That would be directly contrary to the principle which the Royal Commission enunciated, and with which I entirely agree, that the peripheral authorities should be of a smaller size than those at the centre.
It seems as I look at the map which accompanied the circular from the Ministry that the arguments I have employed in the case of Orpington apply with almost the same force to some other groupings. The third largest of the groupings is to be formed in our neighbour, Croydon, with Coulsdon and Purley with a combined population of 327,000. On the northern periphery of the Greater London area we would have the fourth largest borough, No. 30—Hendon, the Barnots and Finchley, with a population of 318,000.
Neither of those two very large boroughs will be anything like equal in area to borough No. 19. Conversely, we have in the centre of the Greater London area boroughs with very small populations, such as Bethnal Green, Poplar and Stepney, which could muster a population of only 205,000 among them. I dare say that it was very difficult for the Royal Commission and the Government to stick to the principle laid down to achieve the grouping which follows the principle of correlating population with distance from the centre and, at the same time, to adhere to the principle that the
existing boroughs and county districts should be retained or amalgamated without a change of boundaries.
That was a principle which the Government have stuck to with very few minor exceptions, most of which have caused
a little heart-searching on the part of hon. Members whose constituencies have been divided.
Without prejudice to what I said about borough No. 19, I think that a better solution could have been achieved if a more flexible approach had been made towards the question of the boundaries and, indeed, if greater attention had been paid to the natural affinities of various districts. In my constituency the Royal Commission pointed out the contrast between the northern parts, which are primarily built up, and the southern parts, which are almost entirely rural. It admitted that there were some grounds for debate whether the southern parts should he excluded from the review area.
The Commission made the same point about Caterham and Warlingham and Banstead urban districts, but in those two cases the Government decided to exclude the districts altogether from Greater London. They could not find any such tidy solution in the case of Orpington which has a very much larger built-up area in its northern parts. It would have been illogical to exclude the whole constituency. In spite of repeated requests I have made to the Minister, he has refused to consider, prior to the passing of the Bill, any approaches which have been made by the villages which would like to remain in Kent. He has left the matter open, however, to be re-examined after the passage of the Bill.
A letter has been sent by the Ministry to the clerk of my council, in which the writer says:
I am directed by the Minister to say that he does not propose to pursue these suggestions …"—
suggestions for altering the southern boundary—
as part of the re-organisation of London government. He has come to no conclusion, however, as to the merits of the proposals and it will be open to one or more of the local authorities concerned to bring the matter forward at a later stage.
If the Minister has come to no conclusion it means that he must require additional information on which to base a final judgment. If he tells us now that no modification's are to be allowed, we might as well know about it because it would save us putting forward Amendments when the First Schedule to the Bill comes before the Committee.
Clause 6 provides the mechanism by which alterations to the boundaries can be achieved after the passing of the Bill. One sees that agreement between the various local authorities is required. They can then make a proposal to the Minister who will institute an inquiry. He may give effect to the proposal by advising an alteration of the boundary. It seems to me quite inevitable that with the volume of work which will face the new authorities and this unavoidably complicated procedure which they will have to follow with regard to boundary alterations that this protest will have to wait for many years in the queue. I should have thought that at least some of the adjustments which are desired by some of the local population in these areas concerned could have been written into the Bill in the first place.
I do not think that the Government have appreciated that we are not planning for five or ten years but for fifty years, although Lord Eccles has been quoted as having said this very thing. On these matters, I think that we are bound to run into trouble a long time before fifty years is up, and probably our children will be just as loud in their criticism of the present Government as we have been of previous Governments, when the long sequence of inquiries and Royal Commissions has to begin again.
Before I leave the question of boundaries, there is one other glaring defect in the Bill on which I must comment. That is the failure to take the opportunity of integrating the City of London into its neighbouring borough. The hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson), in a speech yesterday, called the City of London a "ludicrous anachronism," which, I think, is a very good phrase. There are certainly no logical grounds for preserving the City as a separate entity. If we are to bring local government in the Greater London area up to date, we cannot permit the continued existence of an institution, whose main object in life is in the words of Professor Robson, "to oppose, change and preserve its privileges".
Professor Robson's idea of a large central borough which would include the City and would also take in Holborn, Finsbury, Westminster and parts of Marylebone, St. Pancras, Shore-ditch and Stepney seems to me an excellent one because these areas include the whole of the buildings and places of historical and national importance. When we talk about the importance of tradition and the reputation which the City has abroad, surely this large borough would have a much higher reputation and standing with our friends in other countries, and it seems to me that this modification which I am proposing would be entirely practicable in the framework of the Bill, if we could abandon our rigid adherence to the existing boundaries.
I turn to the division of responsibility between the boroughs of the Greater London Council under the Bill. We on this bench endorse the view expressed by the Royal Commission and echoed by the Government in their White Paper that the borough ought to be the primary unit of local government, possessing as wide a range of powers as it can conveniently undertake, and that the Greater London Council should be responsible for those functions which are best dealt with over the whole area.
Following this line of reasoning, the Government's main difference with the Royal Commission was, of course, their manner of treating education, which they delegated entirely to the boroughs. In the words of the White Paper the Governnment
… think that, given larger boroughs, education could and should, over the greater part of the area, become a borough service.
Under the Bill the principle will be established that the outer boroughs will be responsible for education and the Inner London Education Authority will be established.
There are two criticisms which I should like to make of the proposals as they stand. First, I do not think that it is necessary for boroughs to be as large as 200,000 in the outer London area in order to discharge adequately most of the duties of an education authority, and secondly, the provision which is made for a review of the Inner London Education Authority before 1970, which, as so many hon. Members have said, is bound to cause uncertainty and anxiety.
Taking the first point, there are many county boroughs with populations of fewer than 200,000 which are providing an adequate and efficient education service now, and the Minister of Education made that point in his speech. He said of the outer London education authorities that the smallest was larger than Brighton or Reading and that all but one or two were larger than Sunderland, and, therefore, the Minister of Education is himself supporting the argument which I am putting forward.
I do not believe that it is necessary to have such a great increase in the size of the boroughs merely to make them responsible for education. Naturally, with smaller boroughs there would have to be more co-operation in providing some specialist services, particularly for further education, but, in my opinion, this sort of co-operation will be necessary even with boroughs as large as 300,000. I am sorry, but so far as I can see there is no provision for co-operation between the outer London boroughs in providing these services under the Bill. I do not see how they are to provide within their own boundaries the technical colleges, the schools for handicapped children and so on.
The sensible answer is that they should not all try to provide the full range of educational facilities, but that they should divide the responsibilities among them in a logical and orderly way. The Minister talked about encouraging the local education authorities in outer London to club together. I cannot see anything about that in the Bill, but I think that it would be a good thing if we could have this point amplified. All this can be done just as well if the minimum size of the boroughs were reduced, and I suggest that there should be a minimum of 150,000. Whatever size one suggests, it must, of course, be a matter of compromise.
As regards the possible break-up of the L.C.C. education service, there is unanimity among responsible authorities in condemning this as likely to have a serious effect on the high standard which has been set, and I can see no reason why it should be disturbed, other than administrative tidiness. I quote one letter which I have received out of many from teachers who are constituents of mine and who serve the L.C.C. This correspondent writes:
I have served the L.C.C. as a teacher for fourteen years and I can cite many instances of this authority's progressive outlook, under-
standing and generosity. I have held my present post for over six years and I have seen my present school grow into a fine educational institution.
This is a comprehensive school.
Many '11+ failures' have passed their O-levels, some have gone on to A-level and four of these boys have obtained State scholarships, one of the latter obtaining an open scholarship as well. These achievements are the result of team work between the officals at County Hall and much devoted teaching.
That expresses the concern that I feel at the possible demise of the Inner London Education Authority. I think that there is a very real reason for regarding education in inner London as different in character from that suitable for the outer boroughs. I hope that the Government will remove this sword of Damocles which they have suspended over the Inner London Education Authority by deleting Clause 30(5) of the Bill. The Minister says that it is wrong to make presumptions about how this Clause is to be operated. Why, then, was it put in? There are many other aspects of the Bill which will require to be reviewed over the next five years, but this is the only one singled out for mandatory review on all these important matters.
Much the same arguments I have used in discussing education apply to the accommodation and welfare of the old and disabled and also to the care of children. In all these spheres the L.C.C.'s existing services should be preserved intact and there should be statutory provision for co-operation between the outer London boroughs. We are talking about responsibilities which require the employment of specialist personnel and specialist teams and we should do this without considering any forms of arbitrary boundary divisions.
The architects' services come into this category. I would like to emphasise that the L.C.C.'s architects' service has expanded in such a way that it has helped with the school building programme of the whole of the Greater London area. Everyone has said how marvellous has been the co-operation between the Northampton County Council and some of its neighbours in its school building programme and what a tremendous effect this has had on the costs of that programme. We now have a chance to do something on a much wider scale.
I now deal with road traffic. Part II of the Bill starts off well, by saying:
It shall be the duty of the Greater London Council so to exercise the functions conferred on them by or by virtue of sections 10 to 19 of this Act as to secure so far as practicable the expeditious, convenient and safe movement of vehicular and other traffic (including foot passengers) and the provision of suitable and adequate parking facilities on and off the highway …
That sounds fairly comprehensive, but if one reads a little further one finds that the Minister is retaining powers over trunk roads, that he can revoke or vary any order made by the Greater London Council for traffic regulation, that he can direct the Council to make any orders he considers necessary and that the control of parking is divided between the Council and the boroughs.
On this subject The Times of 23rd November used fairly strong language. It said:
… it appears that the Minister of Transport is to be left in possession of his dictatorial powers".
This was in spite of the fact that the White Paper, Comnd. 1562, stated that the
ultimate responsibility for traffic management and main roads should be placed on the Greater London Council.
That certainly does not seem to have happened and the advantages which might have been secured under the Bill—of a unified control of the whole road communications system—seem to have been partially lost.
A surprising omission in this connection is the absence of any reference to co-operation between the Greater London Council and the public transport undertakings operating within Greater London. I hope that when the Bill is in Committee machinery for such co-operation will be written into the Measure and made mandatory. It would be impossible, in a short speech, for me to cover all the points that I would have liked to have dealt with. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I have been waiting for two days to speak—
—and although I have the Floor it would be impossible for me to cover all the relevant points. I have no doubt that I will be told later, "You have not put forward a view on such-and-such." I can assure the House that had I had time there would have been many other topics that I would have liked to have spoken on.
I want, however, to refer to the question of the granting of planning applications. This is made a borough responsibility and this seems right in principle. However, in the central area of London there are planning problems which are very different from those obtaining in the outer London area. As the Bill stands, as many as six different authorities are concerned with planning in the hub of the capital and this is a strong argument in favour of the proposal I made earlier for a strong and large central London borough to include all the areas of historical and national importance.
Even if this were done we should consider whether the Greater London Council should retain certain reserve planning powers. Among these might be included the right to veto buildings which would not be in aesthetic harmony with the surroundings, particularly in the Central London area. While considering planning problems, why should we not write into the Bill a categorical statement to the effect that no compensation is payable under the Third Schedule to the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act when the planning authority refuses to permit the extension of an office building by 10 per cent. of its cubic content? This is necessary if proper control is to be exercised. The planning authority should have power to prevent an increase in the floor area of commercial property and I hope that the Government will add a Clause to this effect.
Since time is pressing, I will leave out a lot of what I had intended to say, but I must add a few words about the position of the professional staffs in the reorganisation. I can assure the Minister that, from the conversations I have had with friends who are officers of the L.C.C., the metropolitan boroughs and the urban districts, there is a great deal of apprehension about the effect of these proposals on the careers and lives of the men and women concerned. I have already said that it would be folly to break up the specialist departments of the L.C.C. which have been built up over many years merely for the sake of administrative tidiness.
The Government must also seek to convince the staffs of the outer London boroughs, urban districts, the L.C.C. and others involved that the opportunities open to them will be greater and not lesser than before. This is by no means the impression which has been given to them by the Royal Commission or the Bill and I believe that the Government have a duty to give specific assurances to those whose livelihoods will be effected. That means particularly that the terms and conditions which they will be offered when they are re-employed by the Greater London Council will be at least as good as those they now enjoy in their employment with the L.C.C.—and there must be an adequate mechanism to negotiate compensation for those who are not so re-employed.
The local government of London is a complex and enormous subject and we are touching only the fringes of it in a debate of a few hours duration. My party has always claimed that successive Governments are to blame for failing to initiate the radical alterations which have been so badly needed. The present Measure falls short of what we would like to see in many ways, some of which I have touched on in my speech.
Nevertheless, with all its faults, the Bill is the first new approach to the subject since it was tackled by the young radicals of the late 1870s and 1880s. Vested interests of all kinds have inhibited successive Governments from tackling the subject and even now the retention of privilege has out-weighed the need for reform. There have been many obsolete forms and traditions retained and it is our hope, albeit a remote one, that the defects in the Bill may be rectified in Committee. I therefore recommend the House to give the Measure a Second Reading. If, how-over, our efforts towards reform are ignored by the Government, I may as well warn them now that we shall vote against the Third Reading.
If I may say so with respect to the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) I am glad that I am able at any rate to congratulate him on his honesty, for he did not begin his speech by saying that it would be a short one. However, I intend to be rash and say that mine will be a short speech.
I am one of two hon. Members in the House who is proud to serve on the London County Council. I have not served for nearly as long as the hon. Lady the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet) but I am as proud as she is to have served on that Council. Many who serve on the L.C.C., on both sides of it, are proud of the work it has done and I am especially proud because since I joined that body I have served on the education committee. I have also served all that time on the staff sub-committee and its head teachers' section, which sees every teacher who applies for a head teacher's post in the London area. I know very well, as we all do, the fine calibre of the people we have working in London and the tremendous work which the staff, the committee and the Council have done over the years.
That is not to say that we should stand still. The hon. Lady the Member for Peckham—she is not in her place, but this is no criticism of her—said that by 1920 the London area had swollen to such an extent that the old 1888 boundaries were useless to all intents and purposes. It is fair to comment that Lord Morrison in the 1920s expressed the opinion that it was about time that something was done about London government.
We on the London County Council have a habit—I was about to say "a bad habit"—of talking about ourselves as representing the people of London. This is not true. I am lucky in being a Member for a constituency which I regard as in London. Ten minutes' walk down The Mall will take me into Middlesex. A walk across the bridge to Barnes will take me into Surrey. They are both built-up areas completely contiguous with and almost exactly like the area which is still London just across the border. London has obviously expanded and the London County Council has produced a tremendous pattern for government of its type.
Many points which have been raised in this debate are really Committee points. The one thing which I regret, and which I take time on Second Reading to mention, about the L.C.C.'s attitude is not necessarily its present attitude but its attitude when it appeared before the Royal Commission. I am sure that if the L.C.C. had then said, "Not only are these the facts"—the L.C.C. did put facts before the Royal Commission—"but from our experience we recommend so-and-so", we should have had a far better Bill to start with.
I do not want to expand on this, because the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) is not in his place, but he implied that the borough council representatives and their employees were not as humane and efficient as those of the L.C.C. I am sure that he did not mean it as bluntly as that, but if he reads his words tomorrow he will see the implication of saying that this transfer to the boroughs means greater inhumanity and less efficiency.
It does not mean that at all. I am proud to represent a part of a borough, namely Fulham, which, although it has not opted for the Bill as a whole and is already in communication with me about possible Amendments, has said that it welcomes this opportunity to do something forward-looking for the government of London. This is the attitude of mind which one ought to expect from boroughs all over this great—I am sorry to use the word—conurbation. When talking of London we who are London Members tend to think in terms of a very much smaller area than that which is now the built-up Greater London. Not only in the centre, not only in the present L.C.C. area, but right outside, boroughs are capable of taking on the jobs assigned to them in this Greater London government and are more than anxious to do so. I see no reason why doubt should be cast on that.
Finally—I really mean that, Mr. Speaker—one thing has been said more than once which has caused some people a great deal of worry. There has been an implication that the small unit is not efficient. I do not believe that this is true. I do not believe it is true educationally. I do not believe it is true of the welfare services. We in education—in special education, at any rate—and in welfare services have been moving for years towards the smaller unit. We do not want large institutions where children are kept in large numbers. I personally am, and always have been, a supporter of the comprehensive school. I do not believe in the very large comprehensive school, but I have always believed in the comprehensive school, and I have always said so.
We have tended to split up the comprehensive school internally into small and manageable units. This has been the modern trend. I do not believe that a small welfare home for a dozen children with a housemother, or a small special school—of necessity small, because there are only small numbers of these children in a borough—is any the less efficient than one which has been made small by logical progression by a larger authority such as the L.C.C. We have been keen to have small units in the L.C.C. and I see no reason why we should have inefficient units in these new boroughs.
The hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) mentioned autistic children, in whom he knows I am interested. In the L.C.C. area we can have only two or three autistic children per teacher, because that is the only way one can deal with them. If a borough has only two or three autistic children, the mere fact that there is a specialist for those two or three children does not make for less efficiency or detract from the personalised treatment which they require.
Mr. Speaker, I have been watching the clock very carefully. I have not taken the 10 minutes which I allotted to myself. I am grateful for the opportunity of saying these few words. I shall be very happy now to give way to others.
In the interests of brevity I am sure that the hon. Member for Barons Court (Mr. Compton Carr) will not mind if I do not pursue the line of country which he followed, for I, too, promise to be as brief as I can in the interest of hon. Members on both sides of the House who want to make contributions to the debate. I shall not even make a constituency speech. I shall eschew the temptation to get my name in the local papers by making some flattering remarks about my own constituency.
I want merely to say this specifically. The Government propose that in the interests of bringing local government and the constituent closer together the people of Deptford will now have to take a 9d. bus ride to get to the town hall instead of walking there quite easily. The character of my constituency is bound to be altered, because it is to be amalgamated with a much larger area which is regarded by many of my constituents as being pretty well foreign territory.
I want now to direct myself to some of the remarks made by hon. Members opposite. It has been interesting to note how many Conservative Members have praised the Bill with faint damns, have expressed reservation after reservation about it, although making it clear that ultimately they will support it, but who have also said that it is a most forward-looking Measure. They claim that we are deliberating a Bill which will revivify the whole of local government; they say that it is a courageous and progressive move.
I have my suspicions about this. One of my first suspicions is the speed with which the Government have produced the Bill on the basis of a Royal Commission Report. It is not customary for the Government to act swiftly on the publication of a Royal Commission Report. Their desks are cluttered with Royal Commission Reports, and it is therefore a matter of suspicion that so soon after the publication of the Herbert Report the Government have produced the Bill.
The readiness of Conservatives in London to support the Bill adds to my suspicions. Is this a forward-looking Bill? The Minister of Housing and Local Government has left the Chamber, but I ask the Minister in charge for the time being whether I may have a reply to this question: is it wise when basic changes are being made in the structure of London Government, to base them on a situation assessment which was made beginning in 1957, especially when it is not proposed to bring these changes into effect until 1965? I believe that this means that the Bill is not forward-looking. One of the great features of the Bill is the absence of power given to the Minister, by orders needing affirmative Resolution, to make necessary changes arrived at as a result of experience gained over the years. I think that what the Bill will do is to ossify London government for a long period. It may well be that at the end of the decade we shall find that there will have to be another drastic upheaval, possibly followed by another Royal Commission and another long and tedious period of debate.
The needs and context of London local government are developing so rapidly that we should not ossify the structure for the 1970s and the 1980s on the experience of the 1950s. This is not a flexible Measure; it is quite inflexible.
Let me give an example where it applies to education. The Government have recognised, belatedly enough, the dangers of the fragmentation of the splendid administration built up by the L.C.C. Nevertheless, they say that by 1970 there will be an investigation into the way in which the inner boroughs are carrying out their educational functions. The Minister of Education this afternoon stated that it would be unwise—I am paraphrasing his words—to forecast what the position will be in the 1970s. But why is it that the administration of only the inner boroughs' educational service will be judged? Why not the outer boroughs? There is nothing in what the right hon. Gentleman said this afternoon or in the Bill which entitles the Government to say to the outer boroughs, "You are doing a bad job and we shall change the structure." They would have to introduce a new Measure, presumably after another inquiry, before they could do that. This is not flexibility. It is a one-way stretch. It is not working in the interests of ensuring that both the London inner and outer boroughs are doing their jobs properly.
The Bill also proposes to make child welfare a wholly borough service. Supposing the experience of the next few years shows that the Home Secretary is not satisfied with the service given in this respect? Supposing that the boroughs themselves agree that they are not capable or competent to carry out the sort of service which ought to be provided. The Greater London Council will have no power to go into the business of looking after children. The Bill specifically excludes the Council from operating a child care service. The Greater London Council will not be able to provide a clearing house of information for children's officers throughout the whole of London. They will not have the power to do it. They could not maintain an accommodation register, or even provide a committee clerk for a consultative joint committee. None of these things could be done unless the Government introduced fresh legislation.
I believe that in the Bill the Minister should have variation powers under affirmative Order procedure and so be able to tell the House, "Both in the inner and outer boroughs there are failures in the operation of their services, and in the light of experience we have to deal with these immediately". I hate giving Ministers too much power, but I would rather that the Ministers had these powers than see what I regard as the ossification of London government. I am not arguing against changes in the structure of London government. But these arguments come ill from some hon. Members who today and yesterday have talked about the necessity of reform but who have resisted reform. I want to see change, but I do not want to see changes made in such a form and such a manner that we find ourselves lagging behind, as one hon. Member said this afternoon, the needs of the people because we are shackled by a Bill which is so rigid in its conception and so out of date in the information on which it is based that nothing can be done in a reasonable time to alter it.
I have another suspicion about the Bill. When I received it, I did what I always do with Bills—looked at the names of the sponsors. I recognised that the main sponsor was the Home Secretary and that we were therefore up against something pretty suspicious for I recalled, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Skeffington) yesterday, the Home Secretary's statement in 1945 that his job was to destroy the Labour majority on the L.C.C. for ever. When I listened to the Minister of Housing and Local Government speaking, it was clear to me that although the voice was the voice of Joseph, the hand was the hand of Henry. This Bill has been in the office of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government for some time.
Perhaps even further back than that. I can see in it the malign inflluence of the Home Secretary. It is suspicious that this Bill, which proposes the reform of London government is sponsored by the man who is responsible for the fact that 20,000 tenants in London today suffer each year from the creeping decontrol which he introduced, that the man who had been responsible for making a daily occurrence of evictions should now be sponsoring a Bill that is supposed to deal with the reform of London local government.
I think that the task of those unfortunate enough to be drafted to the Standing Committee that will deal with this Bill will be difficult. It will be difficult to make the Bill as flexible as is possible. I hope that long before the terms of this Measure come into operation there will be a change of Government which will mean a change in the attitude of the House to the Bill.
I want first to deal with one or two matters mentioned by hon. Members opposite. First, the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock), echoing the voices of several hon. Members opposite, criticised the Bill's treatment of the City of London. I thoroughly disagree with that criticism. I speak as one who has been a City of London local government elector for many years, and I am at this moment a Parliamentary elector there.
The City of London is neither illogical nor an anachronism. It is peculiar, because it is the centre of the world's commerce, where the biggest banking, insurance and other trades are carried on by people who do not reside there. It cannot be combined properly with any other boroughs in that part, with which it has no affinity—
I suggest that it would be an excellent idea, and would certainly be an improvement on the present proposals, if Shoreditch, Finsbury and the City were joined, rather than being dealt with as is proposed in the Bill.
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will not expect me to tell him, in the Chamber, what I think of that idea. To suggest that we should join the City with Shoreditch and Finsbury, which have no relationship at all to the City, which are highly populated, and which are certainly not centres of trade and commerce, as is the City—
That is true, but that is one part of Finsbury. I am against dividing boroughs. I agree that there is the argument that one could take small parts of those boroughs into the City, but I am sure that Shoreditch and Finsbury would object to that, and that there would be a great deal of strength in what they said. The City of London is neither illogical nor an anachronism. It is extremely old, and it is democratically run. I have frequently voted in the elections there. It may be that the results of the elections do not always please hon. Members opposite.
The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) always interests us on whatever matter he speaks, and whether or not we agree with him. He referred to the length of this Bill, and to the time-table that might possibly be put on it. The Bill is extremely long, but I do not think that such a complicated matter could have been dealt with more shortly. Whether or not a time-table will be put on it has nothing to do with me, but I do not think that our Parliamentary system is capable of dealing with a Bill of this length.
Even assuming—and I always assume the best of everything in the best of all possible worlds—that there will be no delaying tactics, that nobody will try to spin out discussion on any Clause, I do not believe that we have the time to go fully into the Bill, because I say at once that it requires many Amendments. I agree that the Government have taken a very bold step in tackling the problem of Greater London, but many changes will have to be made in Committee, though I shall not go into them now.
This problem has not been tackled since the 'eighties. Since then there have been enormous changes in the size, type and spread of population in what is called Greater London, but it is when we come to consider Greater London that we face the difficulty. What is Greater London? Where are the boundaries? This Bill is founded on the Herbert Report, in whose terms of reference we find one of the fundamental errors that we are still trying to correct but have not yet finally succeeded in correcting.
The Herbert Committee's terms of reference gave as the area into which the Committee was to inquire the area of Greater London. I do not believe for one moment that the Herbert Committee would have reported on those boundaries if it had been able to decide for itself. The Report is extremely well written, but there must be many matters in dispute, because on such a subject as this no one can be in complete agreement. Indeed, the Government themselves have not accepted all the Committee's findings. When we look at the map of London and appreciate that in the Herbert Committee's terms of reference are included thousands of acres of green fields, the Epsom racecourse and part of the North Downs, it will be seen that those terms of reference are indefensible and unmanageable.
When they came to the point, the Government could not accept that definition of Greater London at all, and the White Paper of November, 1961, scrapped all those boundaries. Paragraph 25 of the White Paper told us that larger boroughs were to be formed and that the peripheral areas were to be loft for future discussion. Those discussions took place, and on 19th and 20th February last we had a debate when, unfortunately, I was unable to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker.
Those resident in the peripheral areas, and concerned with their affairs, have made it abundantly clear from the start—and I have been concerned with this matter now for over six years—that they do not want to be part of Greater London, and are not geographically part of it. The present Leader of the House was then right to say, speaking on behalf of the Government:
The intention and, indeed, the sense is to include in London only the area enclosed by the green belt. There is, of course, the difficulty, which my hon. Friend recognised
—I have it in my own constituency in relation to these problems—that many of the boroughs and districts round the edge include, in varying proportions, parts of the continuous built-up area and parts of the green belt. This is true of my constituency. …
As he was referring to his own constituency, I went so far as to refer to my own constituency, an area very similar to Epsom, saying:
What my right hon. Friend has just said will give tremendous satisfaction to tens of thousands of people who live in such areas"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th January, 1962; Vol. 654, c. 330–1.]
So it went on, and my right hon. Friend said that the Government did not intend to divide boroughs whose shoulders were in the green belt and whose feet were in Greater London.
I then thought—as, I am sure, many others did—that areas like Coulsdon and Purley, which are in my constituency, must be excluded, because the green belt goes right through there, and the only built-up area, in the sense of continuous housing, is on the north side, where we have the Brighton road. They did not want that little bit taken off, and they had had that assurance. One can imagine the astonishment of myself and those who live there and are concerned with the affairs of the district, when they found that it was included in the Greater London area, of which it forms no part, and was to be joined on to Croydon, despite what the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. R. Thompson) said—about which I shall have more to say in a few minutes.
This area is 55 per cent. green belt and open spaces, and nowhere is the building continuous with any part of the rest of the Greater London area according to the plan, except in the north on the Brighton road. Even that road cuts off a great deal of open space on the north where the old Croydon Airport stands. The only bit that joins it with any part of the rest of what is now proposed as the Greater London area is a strip a few hundred yards wide between there and Croydon. The population of the area is nearly 74,000. I assure the Minister, and he must accept it from me, and if not he can go and find out for himself, that the vast majority of that population have no wish to be included in the Greater London area.
We are not dealing here with lines on a map but with people, and when we are dealing with people we cannot ignore their views entirely. We are dealing with people who wish to have their views expressed, and as far as lies in my power I shall express them here. I had the honour yesterday to present a Petition signed by nearly 23,000 local government electors in that area. They were petitioning against this plan. This was the voice of the people explaining fully to the Minister that they are not and have no wish to be part of the Greater London area. I assure the Minister that these are genuine views expressed by the people of the locality.
There are many reasons why Croydon, Coulsdon and Purley should be left out, and I appeal to the Minister not to make up his mind to include this part of Surrey. I have already referred to the fact that it is against the wishes of the inhabitants. As my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black) so carefully put it, if they had been peoples of a dependent territory they would have had better treatment in the discussions.
I am not criticising the Minister. He has only recently taken over this unfortunate and difficult task, I believe that if he had been there earlier we would have had more discussions and agreement than we have had in the past. Contrary to what my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South said, it is against the wish of Croydon to join Coulsdon and Purley. The Croydon Corporation has expressed the view that the grouping of the Borough of Croydon with Coulsdon and Purley is neither desirable nor necessary. I agree with that view. I have told the Minister that Croydon could be more efficiently administered as an effective and convenient local government unit if it were allowed to continue as now, instead of being enlarged by a grouping with other authorities.
I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South is not in his place. He might have guessed that if I were called in the debate I should be referring to him after what he said in his speech. I am also sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. F. Harris) is not here. He would have joined me in criticising the inaccurate remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South, who cannot know his neighbours in Surrey if he passes remarks like that. His reference to residential land, where there is none, will increase fears that people from London boroughs will come out to that area to change its character completely.
A shotgun marriage of the kind proposed in the Bill between Coulsdon, Purley and Croydon can never be successful, and I hope that rather than have divorce proceedings later we shall not go through with the marriage ceremony in this Bill. The two areas are completely different. The Borough of Croydon has three times the density of Coulsdon and Purley and is of an entirely different character. Except for this slight jarring note in the debate from my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South, we have always had the best relations between the Members and the people of Croydon, Coulsdon and Purley, but that does not mean that we want to be in the same borough.
If the change I ask for were made, it would remove a quite irregular part of the proposed outer boundary which at present abuts into other parts of Surrey land it would make no consequential changes beyond that. This is important, because I see that last night in his winding-up speech my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government said:
One cannot consider even minor alterations to single boroughs unless one is satisfied that the ramifications throughout the neighbouring boroughs and beyond will not produce an impossible pattern elsewhere."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th December, 1962; Vol. 669, c. 162.]
There is absolutely no pattern to be changed elsewhere here, because the County Borough of Croydon has a population of over 250,000 as it is, and it can be left as it is now as a borough without the inclusion of Coulsdon and Purley.
The change I suggest would prevent the formation of a borough which would be very unwieldy and unworkable. The area would stretch from Norbury and Norwood in the North to Merstham in the South and would prevent the inclusion of part of the County of Surrey which is not in any sense of the word part of London. Many arguments have been put forward to try to stretch points almost to the ridiculous. It is said that many residents of Coulsdon and Purley work in London and therefore that area should be included. On that basis, Brighton, Haywards Heath, nearly all of Kent and an area to the North up to 40 or 50 miles from London should be included. We can dismiss that remark as showing the weakness of the case.
The plan proposed under the Bill would prevent good local government. The distance which local people have to travel to council offices would increase the remoteness of local government. At present they have it on their doorsteps, and they have their councillors on their doorsteps. They would have to go quite a long way into Croydon if this plan were carried out.
It would cause a certain amount of resentment among those concerned with education, because Croydon has a plan—though admittedly it is only a plan—for education which would abolish grammar schools, and there are two excellent and popular grammar schools in Coulsdon and Purley. It would cause grave local resentment if anything were done gradually to abolish them. I am sure that if they remained in Surrey nothing of that sort could possibly happen.
I am sure that if I took longer over my speech—which I do not propose to do—I could enunciate many more reasons against this plan. One should not pass one's own opinion about one's own remarks, but I think that my remarks are unanswerable. This plan is a mistake. It is something left over from the original mistake in the terms of reference given to the Royal Commission. Gradually these mistakes are being whittled away. This is one of the last. I believe that if this one is taken away finally there will be a much better boundary for the Greater London area.
The hon. and learned Member has persuaded me that the constituents of that part of his constituency believe this proposal to be a bad thing and that they ought not to be asked to join it. I am sure that if it is such a bad thing for them they would not want to fasten it on to anybody else. Would the hon. and learned Member be willing to vote against the Bill in defence of other people even if Coulsdon and Purley are left out?
The affinities of Coulsdon and Purley go south, not to the north and east. This is a very bad part of the Bill. Even though I have been called late in the debate and we shall soon come to the closing speeches, I hope that I may still hear something from the Minister, or whoever is to wind up, on his directions, which will enable me to do what I should like to do. If not, in the interests of those whom I represent, I shall have to take the final and only step which a Member can take when he disagrees or finds something which sticks out of a Bill like a sore thumb and which he regards as quite indefensible.
The hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty) has left me a little puzzled about whether he is for or against the Bill. He began by congratulating the Government on what they had done, but he went on to criticise all the proposals and recommendations. If there is any doubt about the sort of thinking which the Tories are presenting not only in the House, but in the country—
I did not criticise the whole thing. I said that there were so many details that I did not propose to go through them all. What I criticised, and criticised strongly, was the inclusion of a particular area in the south. That is all.
All I can say is that the hon. and learned Gentleman's contribution to the debate was critical of what the Government are attempting to do even if his criticisms related only to that small area.
I hope that the Minister of Education will forgive me if I do no more than congratulate him on at least having avoided proceeding with the original proposals for the complete fragmentation of education in London. Now, there need not be such anxiety since there is no likelihood that education will go to the local borough councils, as was originally feared. I am convinced that the Government's change of mind is the result of pressure from this side of the House, from the parents of children attending schools in London and, not least, from the teaching profession itself. The opposition became too strong for the Tories to face and they ran away from it.
I shall prove what has been suggested many times by my hon. Friends and has been suspected in the whole London area, that the entire exercise upon which the Government have embarked is designed, first and foremost, to get rid of the London County Council as it now is. The boroughs have been brought in as an incidental merely to give the idea that this is not the intention, but I shall establish that what has long been suspected is the fact.
As regards the local authority services, there are no differences at all in the measures proposed with the exception of that which deals with personal services. As a local government man who has been leader of the council for fourteen years in a central London borough and chairman of the housing committee, I say quite definitely that, if the Government continue with their present proposals for the return of the personal services to the boroughs, they will do the greatest possible disservice to all the disabled and the many who depend upon the established institutions to which they can go today for proper treatment, care and attention.
Quite apart from the financial implications, about which nothing is said in the Bill, where will the boroughs find the staff or the premises? There will be eleven months between the establishment of the new borough councils and the time when the Greater London Council comes into being to take over its responsibilities. Do the Government seriously believe that it is possible for the boroughs to take over these responsibilities, which it has taken years to develop and fulfil? How can the boroughs find the people to staff the services in the time available?
The right hon. Lady the Member for Chislehurst (Dame Patricia Hornsby-Smith) congratulated the Government because, she said, they would bring real government to London. Nothing can be further from the truth. What is proposed in the Bill is a deception, as we suspected all along. The Government party cannot win control of the London County Council by the accepted processes of democracy, so they are trying to do it by legislative means in the House of Commons.
Turning to the other services, I take, first, housing. At present, the local authorities have to prepare plans and submit them to the London County Council for approval. They have to get the Minister's approval in order to qualify for the necessary grants. It is said that, under the new proposals, the enlarged local boroughs will be town planners. Possibly—I do not wish to be rude—they could build toilets and that sort of thing without offending anyone or doing a great deal of harm. But the powers will remain basically with the Greater London Council. It is said that the Greater London Council will be able to do comprehensive development in the boroughs if they obtain the consent of the boroughs, and, in the event of failure to reach agreement with a borough council, the Greater London Council will be able to take the matter to the Minister for decision. This merely follows the pattern of what is done today. There is very little difference, except that the Government are trying to convince the local authorities that they will now be town planning authorities for building purposes.
I am very proud of London's achievements for old people. No other place in the world, I believe, has done for its old people as much as has been done by London, despite all the restrictions put upon it by the Government. In my capacity as a leader of a council, I know of the many schemes which have been instituted to provide old people with a fortnight's holiday for the nominal sum of £1, and so on. Such schemes are constantly being introduced and developed in many directions. The London County Council has given a tremendous amount of encouragement to local authorities in the efforts which they have made. By virtue of its measure of control over the area, the L.C.C. has made it possible for land to be used for the development of old people's services whenever this was called for.
The only difference I can see in the new proposals is that, according to what the Government say, we in the boroughs will be able to provide more accommodation for old people. I have never heard such nonsense. I say that it is a deception, and here is evidence of it. There is not a single local authority—I am prepared to give the same credit to the Tory boroughs within the metropolitan area—which is not anxious to provide accommodation for old people. What are the restrictions? In the first place, they already have thousands of people on their present housing lists. In the second place, perhaps most important of all, there is no land available for building purposes. There is nothing there to build on. To put something on the Statute Book when it is impossible to carry it out is a piece of utter deception.
On 19th and 20th February it was said that responsibility for open spaces was to go to the local boroughs. I am convinced that the idea was to reach some sort of understanding between the local authorities and the London County Council. However, it is now suggested that when open spaces cut into two boroughs, they should remain the responsibility of the Greater London Council. This sort of example could be repeated with all the services, with the exception of those which I mentioned earlier, and I am sure that most of them will remain very much as they now are.
I am one of those unfortunate hon. Members who, when able to take part in local government debates, are called very late in the debate and then asked to speak for only five minutes. Nevertheless, before I conclude I want to say a few words about boundaries. Although the right hon. Member for Luton (Dr. Hill), who was then the Minister of Housing and Local Government, praised to the hilt the tremendous work of Sir Edwin Herbert, one can see from the Bill that the Royal Commission was wasting its time, because the Government have completely run away from the findings of its Report which they themselves have described as a great and cogent document.
With the exception of one or two Conservative-controlled boroughs, and then with a good deal of reservation and largely more out of party loyalty than acceptance of the logic of the proposals, London as a whole has objected to the boundary proposals. My constituency has a history as long as that of any London constituency, and although the hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East said that it was facetious to suggest that the City should be included with Shoreditch and Finsbury, I think that it is an excellent idea.
If the Conservative Government are to destroy one of the world's finest institutions, the L.C.C., I see no reason why the City should be considered sacrosanct simply because it is the hub of the Commonwealth, merely because the Bank of England, the Mansion House and the Stock Exchange are there. People speak of the, Lord Mayor of London, but he is the Lord Mayor of one of the smallest bits of London. I was the mayor of a borough with a population much larger than the City's. It would be a wonderful thing if Shore-ditch and Finsbury were linked to the City of London. We could spend a great deal of the City's money which is made on the Stock Exchange. The money is made quickly enough there and we could help spend it in those boroughs where it is needed.
If there were a constituency of Shoreditch and Finsbury and the City of London, my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Cliffe) would obviously become its Member of Parliament, and that would give him the right to wear a top hat and sit on the Front Bench and tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer what to do with his Budget.
I would walk about the City of London and Shoreditch and Finsbury, and even go to Bermondsey, wearing a bowler hat and carrying a rolled umbrella.
However, I do not want to delay the House by being facetious, because there are other hon. Members who wish to speak. I conclude by saying that there is a marked difference between our way of life and that of the totalitarian countries. The totalitarian countries may have a praesidium, or a central committee, and the Right-wing totalitarian States, the Fascists, their little groups of thugs, to decide what is to be done. People are instructed, and heaven help those who do not obey the instructions!
In spite of the fundamental political differences between the two sides of the House, what we have in common is that we treasure democracy. Only 5 per cent. of the review areas agree with the Bill and 95 per cent. are opposed to it. There is not a single professional organisation which is not on record as protesting against it—the architects, the teachers and the doctors. Even today I have had letters from the teachers asking me to oppose the Bill.
What kind of democracy can we claim to have when, against the wishes of everyone, the Government say, "We know what is best for you and you are going to have it whether you like it or not". That is dangerous thinking. The Bill is not only bad for London, but it is bad for the country. If this is the kind of democracy which the Tories practise when they are in power, heaven help us if we cannot get rid of them at the next General Election.
The hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Cliffe) knows a great deal about local government and speaks with knowledge about it. However, I ask him and those who agree with him to consider the Bill from a different angle. We should not decide about the Bill's merits merely by considering it in terms of existing local authorities, existing municipal politicians, existing staffs and existing employees. We must take a wider view and consider the existing pattern of local government and ask ourselves whether it makes sense in the conditions of 1962.
When one considers the matter, the first thing which emerges is that this pattern is over 70 years old. When this House, in 1888, decided to create the London County Council, by what yardstick did it create its area? Did it inquire to find out to whether the area which it was giving to the new L.C.C. was the effective area of London? No, it did not. All that it did when it created the frontiers of the L.C.C. was to say that it should have the same frontiers as the Metropolitan Board of Works, which it was superseding.
The Metropolitan Board of Works was created in 1855, so that the L.C.C. took over as the basis for its administration an area which Parliament created in 1855. If one goes back to 1855 in order to discover how Parliament decided the frontiers of the Metropolitan Board of Works, one finds that it simply said, "We will give the Metropolitan Board of Works the frontiers given to the Commissioners of Sewers in 1848". Therefore, the frontiers of the L.C.C. are precisely the same as those which were given to the Commissioners of Sewers in 1848.
I invite hon. Members on both sides to agree that, whatever may have been the merits of saying that the area of the L.C.C. was London in 1848, it is idle to say in 1962 that the frontiers are the same now. Obviously, the L.C.C. was obsolete as an administrative area from the moment it came into existence, and even before. It was far advanced in obsolescence when it was created and it has been moving nearer the grave ever since.
Plainly, in the more than 70 years since the L.C.C. came into existence, the whole pattern of London has been transformed. It was probably accurate to say in the middle of the nineteenth century that London was a small area administered by the Commissioners of Sewers, but this was long before the railways, before the tubes, before the motor car and before the great expansion of London which has been continuing steadily decade after decade. Yet in more than 70 years we have never attempted to make the administrative pattern of local government in the London region correspond to any of these changes. That is the basic case for the Bill.
Like other hon. Members, I have been sitting in the Chamber during the last two days of criticism, most of it special pleading on behalf of this or that threatened vested interest, but no one, as far as I can recall, has asked the question which seems to me to be fundamental to these changes, namely, do we or do we not want municipal democracy in the London area? I understand that the basic purpose of the Bill is to create units which will have not only a democratic basis but also powers which will make democracy sufficiently magnetic to get people to vote. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I invite hon. Members to listen to what I have to say on this point because it is central to the argument.
The L.C.C. has existed since 1888. It holds elections every three years. In the more than 70 years of L.C.C. elections, only once has it been possible to get 55 per cent, of Londoners to take part in them. Never in the history of L.C.C. elections has 60 per cent. of the voters participated in them. The last time that it was possible to get 50 per cent. of Londoners to take part in of L.C.C. elections have 60 per cent, of century ago. The usual percentage of Londoners taking part in L.C.C. elections is about 33. In the last election I believe it was 36 per cent.
We therefore have a settled pattern for L.C.C. democracy, which is that one Londoner in three takes part and two Londoners in three do not.
I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows better than I do why the number of people voting in L.C.C. elections is as low as it is. The reason is that the Press, with the exception, perhaps, of one newspaper which claims to support the Labour movement, deliberately plays them down. If L.C.C. elections had anything like the publicity given to General Elections, the number of people taking part in them would be greater. As I say, the Press plays down L.C.C. elections. The hon. Gentleman, through his connection with the Press, might know that.
I am not talking about now and generalising about the present position. I am dealing with the whole pattern. When the L.C.C. was created there were not two but nine evening newspapers in London. A newspaper was created for the exclusive purpose of reporting the L.C.C.
No one bought it because no one was interested in it. That was the trouble. It died because no one took any interest in it. If there was a public interest in the proceedings of the London County Council, two things would follow. First people would vote, which they do not do now, and secondly, it would be worth while for newspapers to report what the Council was doing, because people would be sufficiently interested to buy those newspapers.
There is a lot in what the hon. Member says about the apathy of Londoners at municipal elections. Let us assume for the sake of the argument that we agree with the hon. Member. Is he saying that with the Greater London Council the electorate will be much more enthusiastic with one councillor for 80,000 electors and diminished powers? Is the hon. Member suggesting that in these circumstances everybody will dash to the poll?
I am glad to hear that intervention and will be happy to deal with the point later. I am asking the House to agree that a system of administering London which fails to attract two-thirds of the electorate to take any part in London County Council elections is a system which, on that ground alone, is not compatible with any idea of democracy.
What would we do about the House of Commons if in our elections it was impossible to get more than 50, 40 or even 30 per cent. of the voters to take part? We all know that at every General Election it is easy enough to get 80 per cent. of the voters to participate. That is the normal figure.
If we take the London County Council area and elections, we find that over the whole area about one-third of the electorate participates. I am saying that by contrast in a Parliamentary election, over the whole country about four-fifths of the electorate participates. I am inviting the House to agree—it seems to me to be pretty well self-evident—that if we ever reached a state of affairs when two-thirds of the voters did not take any interest whatever in Parliamentary elections, we would say that Parliament was moribund and that Parliamentary democracy was pretty well finished.
When we consider the proposals in the Bill, we have to look primarily at the question of whether those proposals appear likely to generate interest in local government. That is the primary test. For myself, I decline to measure the Bill by reference to the vested interests that are involved in it. Important as they are, however, I do not dismiss them.
The primary test must be whether it is likely that the boroughs which we create will generate an interest in muni- cipal democracy greater than the interest which is now shown in the London County Council mechanism and, to be fair, in the county council mechanisms around it, because the London County Council is no worse than the Middlesex County Council. It is just as difficult to get people to take part in county council elections and in borough elections, too. [Interruption.] The figures for the metropolitan boroughs are no better, as the hon. Lady the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet) knows.
We have to reckon in the London region that municipal democracy has become very largely a sham. It is becoming more and more of a sham. I suggest that the Bill deserves support primarily because it gives us at least a chance of revitalising democracy in local government.
I invite the House to consider the ways in which, as I think, the proposals in the Bill will reactivate local government. The basic proposal in the Bill as far as most of us are concerned is that instead of the administrative jungle of authorities scattered all over the London region—the county councils, the local authorities and the ad hoc bodies of one kind or another which have been set up over the last 70 or 80 years—the Bill substitutes two lots of local authorities.
The Bill proposes to give to the enlarged boroughs powers as education authorities. I invite the House to agree that by putting education into the hands of the enlarged borough councils, which the Bill will create—
I shall deal with that point presently. Meanwhile, I invite the hon. Member to let me put my case in my own language. I did not barrack him and I ask him to allow me to put my case without interruption. I am saying that, leaving out the Inner London Education Authority, in all the rest of the area it is intended by this Bill to make education a borough council responsibility. I suggest that by do so we shall take an immensely important step towards re-magnetising local government. Again, I suggest that in this matter we have to consider What the ordinary Londoner is like, what pattern of life he or she has now adopted and the ways in which the ordinary Londoner now looks upon local government.
I suggest that, for a variety of reasons, partly because of increasing affluence, partly because of the greater dispersal of population and partly because of the coming into existence of the self-centred family, which now looks inwards, assembles at home and takes little interest in the outside world—because of all these changes—we are finding it harder and harder to get the ordinary household to take any part in local government.
When we look at this kind of family, what do we find? We find that what they are interested in more than anything else is the education of their children. I do not want to quote, though I could very easily, the verdict given by a good many sociologists on the sort of family pattern now forming in the England of the 'sixties, but I suggest that we are seeing—and we can see it throughout the Greater London area—the creation of this new pattern of family, the inward-looking family, which does not want, if it can help it, to take much interest in external affairs.
The way to get that family interested in local government is to give that family an educational reason for being interested. By making education a local responsibility, I suggest that we stand a very good chance of getting these withdrawn families to take an interest in local affairs. I do not believe that it is much good talking as if education was something in which most people are not interested, and as if, in order to get more money for education, we have to smuggle it through block grants or out of the taxpayer in a way which does not allow the people to know what is being spent. I believe that if we are to have an educated democracy, we have to recognise, and not only to recognise but to encourage, the interest which the normal family is now taking in education. In order to tap that interest for the benefit of municipal democracy, I suggest that we must welcome the proposals in this Bill to make education a local responsibility.
I want to deal with one other point about the Bill, but I do not want to make any criticism in detail of it. There are a lot of criticisms in detail which we could make, but we shall have the opportunity of doing so at a later stage. I want to make one criticism which I think is almost the only valid criticism that can be made of the Herbert Report. I wish very much that when Sir Edwin Herbert and his colleagues were doing their study of local government they had gone to America and had had a look at the ways in which the Americans had approached the problems, which are very similar to our own, of generating and maintaining interest in local government.
It is broadly true to say that if we want to see what England will be like tomorrow, we look at what America is like today. The Americans have had to cope, as we have had to do, with the decline of interest in local government, brought about by the same general reasons—the dispersal of population, the increased popularity of television, the motor car and the absence of sense of locality. All these things threaten the vitality of local government. I wish that the Herbert Commission had gone to America and had seen how the Americans have tackled what are very much the same problems as our own, because it seems to me that, in making its proposals for the reform of local government, the Herbert Commission has not given sufficient weight to what is really the basic problem—how to get people of sufficient competence to take part in it.
How are we to man these borough councils and the Greater London Council? How are we to get people of sufficient confidence to do the job? In answering these questions, one should look at the United States, which has been driven to adandon the idea that local government can be run efficiently by large numbers of unpaid volunteers.
In New York City, for instance, which in many ways faces the same kind of problems as London does, the citizens have long since abandoned as impracticable any idea that they can get effective local government by electing a large number of unpaid amateurs. With the people of other American cities, they have put their local government into the hands of a small number of persons elected for four years and paid substantial salaries.
The contrast between the methods by which New York City is administered and those by which it is proposed that London should be administered is striking. The Greater London Council will consist of about a hundred members. The City of New York governs itself with a council of 25 members, elected for four-year terms and each paid a salary of the dollar equivalent of £2,500 a year, with office expenses and other facilities.
New York City also found that in order to generate interest in local government it was necessary to have a four-yearly election for mayor. Apparently the process of electing a mayor generates a great interest in local government. In this country, however, we have always taken it for granted that a mayoral chain should be passed from hand to hand like a baton in a relay race, on the principle of "Gubbins's turn next".
I wish that the Royal Commission had looked at the possibility of electing the chairman of the Greater London Council by direct election. If we were to do that we might well succeed in generating greater interest in the process of government in London than there is at present.
It will be necessary to face the question of whether we will get people of sufficient confidence to devote themselves to service on the new council unless we are prepared to make payment for their services. As far as I can see, members of the council will probably have to meet in daytime and devote a great deal of their time and energy to the job. What are our prospects of getting sufficient numbers of competent people to do this unless we are prepared to make some payment? I am not answering the question but asking it, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will take up the point in reply.
I think that all those with municipal experience will agree that it is becoming steadily harder and harder to get people to take part in local government. There are a variety of reasons. But if we want to reverse the trend it will be necessary not only to revitalise the interest of the voters by putting real power, especially power over education, into the hands of the local councils, but also to make it easier for people to take part in local government. We shall thus have to consider the question of payment.
I wish to try to reinforce the Minister, who has been much attacked, and who, I am sure, will be continually attacked by all who have a vested interest in the existing set-up. I wish to remind my right hon. Friend that not all the people who contemplate London's local government take the same view as that adopted by some of his critics. I should like to quote from a book, a municipal classic, called, The Government and Misgovernment of London. It is, I think, the most interesting book about the government of London ever written. The author is Professor Robson, Professor of Administration at the London School of Economics, who wrote the book before the war. It was published in 1939.
Professor Robson is certainly not a man of the Right. I do not presume to define his politics with precision, but he is not carrying any torch for the Tory Party. He is one of the editors of the Political Quarterly, a journal which is certainly not run by the Tory Party or controlled by Tory Central Office. Professor Robson makes a devastating analysis of the jungle of local government in London and I wish to quote a few phrases from his book.
It is utterly impossible to reform local government in London on the basis of agreement among the existing authorities because the strongest opposition to reform is likely to come from the local authorities in the Metropolis. They are inspired by a common desire to survive at all costs. From the county council down they all regard the continuance of their own existence not merely as an absolute good in itself but somethng compared with which any scheme of reform intended to benefit the larger metropolitan community is but dust in the balance.
Professor Robson insists that if any action is to be taken to reform the administrative jungle of Greater London it must be taken by a Minister prepared to act, even though vested interests are in opposition to him. He states:
The Minister who treads warily in case he should disturb sleeping dogs may save himself the trouble. The path to safety and sanity is more likely to be gained by facing obstacles in administrative demeanour than trying to slink round by the side door while nobody is looking.
I suggest that the Minister in charge of the Bill might well remember that if he is to cope with this jungle he will not do so simply by trying to placate and conciliate vested interests. After all, this is primarily a question not of existing authorities or their members or
staffs or officials. It is primarily a question of what pattern of government is good for London.
I should like my right hon. Friend to remember something said by a former Member of this House after having had experience on the Government Front Bench as a member of the Cabinet. It was Lord Macaulay who said:
No man is fit to take public office unless he is prepared to disoblige the few who have access to him for the sake of the many whom he will never see.
I suggest that is a good maxim for my right hon. Friend. Instead of listening attentively and exclusively—I will leave out "attentively"—to the few who have access to him, to the few who are able to put pressure on him, I invite him to think of the 8 million Londoners whom he does not see, whom he will never see, but whose interests, as I believe, will be furthered by the proposals contained in the Bill.
I hope that hon. Members will not mind if I leave out a number of things I wanted to say and make a short speech, because I have sat here for two whole days, trying to get into the debate.
In reply to the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Curran), may I say that we on this side of the House resent the Bill because we believe that it is a party political Bill. We have been told that it is "politics in the raw". It certainly is. If London County Council can be destroyed for political reasons, so can the City of London Common Council. We on this side of the House, when we get back into power, could also play politics, just as hon. Members opposite.
Although the London County Council boundaries go back to 1848, the boundaries of the City of London have been unchanged since the time of Edward IV, and they were already out of date in the reign of Henry VIII. I do not think that anyone can say anything in favour of the City of London that cannot also be said in favour of the London County Council.
In Dagenham, there is a great deal of feeling about being wiped out as a community. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), who said that in the outer London area many communities have come into being during the last twenty or thirty years. I have had the honour of being Member of Parliament for Dagenham for twenty-seven years. When I first came here, Dagenham was just a slice of a London County Council estate, but during the period since the estate has been completed by the L.C.C., there has grown up a sense of community which is very strong. That is due largely to the energetic work of the local council building up its services and giving the people a sense of belonging. That will be destroyed by merging with other bodies.
I wish to make one or two criticisms of points in the Bill. First, the Greater London Council. In the debate in February much was said about the need to strengthen the Greater London Council. The original proposals would have given the new Council mainly administrative services. I said then that it would be very difficult to get good councillors to serve on it because of lack interest. Now it is to have a lot more powers. It is to deal with the provision of water and with education in the old L.C.C. area; the Metropolitan Police are to deal with the whole Greater London area. But, as the Observer said, it will still be a very anaemic body, for its powers are not great enough to make it a really effective body to do its job properly.
We have been told in this debate that the powers over transport and planning are not adequate. The same applies to education. In regard to the children's service it should be remembered that London has one of the highest illegitimacy birth-rates of the country. That is largely because a great many unmarried women come to London to have their babies. The areas in which the rate is high are around the big railway stations. Are we to divide up the way in which illegitimate children and their mothers are treated in the London area? We should have a common policy throughout this area, not a different one in one part of London from another. That is a further argument for keeping the children's service as a complete unit.
We are told that the areas not now in the Metropolitan Police area are to be brought in, but, on the other hand, those parts outside the new Greater London Council area will still remain in. Why not tidy up the whole thing and make the boundaries of the police area coincide with the area of the Greater London Council? It seems ridiculous not to do that. Why should we keep a separate City police force? At present, the Fraud Squad is subordinate jointly to the Metropolitan Police and to the City Police. The Home Secretary can get away with it when questioned, because it is a joint committee for the Metropolitan area and the area of the City of London police. That ought to be rectified.
The uncertainties which are left by all these Government proposals extend over a wide field. That is so in connection with education and we also do not know which parks will be under the Greater London Council and which are to be administered locally. We do not know which housing estates will be transferred. I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet). We ought to have the L.C.C. estates in Dagenham handed over to us as soon as possible. For thirty years we have been a transit camp to which the L.C.C. has brought new tenants while our own young people have had to go elsewhere to find homes. That is not a satisfactory arrangement. It ought to be altered as soon as possible. I hope that the Bill will be amended in Committee to deal with that point.
We are told that the Greater London Council is to have 100 members. Is it always to have 100 members, or can it be enlarged as the population grows? Are its constituencies always to coincide with the parliamentary constituencies? Is it the intention eventually to cut down the representation of London in Parliament? I support the view that Greater London Council members should be paid to do their job properly.
In regard to local Dagenham boundaries, the town clerks suggested in their Report two important changes, but they were to be considered after the Bill has been passed. If we are to have changes made in boundaries they should be made in the Bill. Otherwise, we should find that words which have been decided on will be upset afterwards. Any such changes of boundaries should be incorporated in the Bill. I hope that the Government will look sympathetically in Committee on suggestions made about boundaries.
We have had several debates on this matter. This is not the first but it is the latest in a range of debates, and equally it will not be the last. My feeling, as I come towards the end of it, is that each of these debates produces a tremendous effect of cynicism. One gets the impression that the Government are not listening to anything that is being said in the House or to criticisms outside. We get Ministers reading competently, but with no feeling, the briefs that have been written for them, sometimes introducing—I will come back to this in a moment with regard to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Education—some suggestions that they are not involved, which is hardly justified, and one begins to wander what a free Parliament can achieve.
Let us establish what we are talking about. We are talking about how more than 8 million people are being locally governed. We are talking about a vast area of our rateable value and a vast area of our population. I have heard the figures one-fifth and one-third mentioned. This could not be a more serious, a more drastic business. We are to upset, rightly or wrongly, an established way of handling their affairs.
Party politics aside, my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) yesterday, by all accounts—not just ours—made a tremendously powerful critique of the Bill. If the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health, who is to follow me, did not hear him or does not believe that, he has only to read today's Daily Telegraph, which is not normally biassed in our favour in writing up speeches which we make from this side of the House. There has been absolutely no answer to it; there has been virtually no reference to it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) followed today on the subject of education. Maybe it was too much to expect the Minister of Education to reply to what he had not heard. It is for the Minister to reply tonight. The look of surprise on the Minister's face shows that he will not reply to those criticisms.
The hon. Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black) made a tremendously powerful speech from the other side of the House. The Joint Parliamentary Secretary did not even pretend last night to deal with it. He just assumed that it had never been made. Outside this House, the teachers, every kind of social worker, magistrates, local government officials, members of local government bodies—all of them have been critical and condemnatory. This has all happened since the White Paper, and yet we get the Bill virtually as though none of this has happened. Briefs are read which do not relate to the criticisms, and one gets the impression that the Government intend to force through a Measure which everybody who cares and knows about London believes to be wrong.
I could have said "everybody except the A.M.C.", and if the hon. Member takes credit from that, let him do so. It is not the London boroughs. If it pleases the hon. Member to have the A.M.C. exempted, we will exempt it. But the A.M.C. has offered two major criticisms and has said that it will support the Bill "only if" … It does not appear to be very strongly in support of the Bill.
The impression is that the Government are forcing through the Bill without listening to the criticisms. The right hon. Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) called upon the Leader of the House today to produce a timetable early and I suspect that this is what is in the Government's mind and that they intend to force through the Bill in every single sense of the word. I believe that they are already thinking of forcing it through by the Lobby fodder behind them. We shall see. The right hon. Member asked them to do it earlier, and if they are not thinking of it they will have to show much more willingness to listen to argument than they have shown as yet.
The hon. Member for Wimbledon suggested that the reason for all this was the feeling of prestige in the minds of hon. Members opposite. I think that there is a much simpler explanation. Two points arise: first, some, but not all, of them hate the words "London County Council", and I suspect that the present Home Secretary is more responsible for this Bill than is anybody else; and secondly, they are devoted to the writings and speeches of the Minister of Health on dismantling the Welfare State. He has written so much and said so much about parents paying for their children at school, about charging for in-patients' board and lodging, about hating the poor, the sick and the lame. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I did not write it. He wrote it.
It is not without significance that he is to reply at the end of the debate. The Minister of Health does not normally reply to a debate as constitutionally wide-ranging as this. He is the man more than anyone else, except the present Home Secretary, who is devoted to the idea that we are spending too much money on the Welfare State and that people could be made to pay more. Of course, if the Government break down the machinery by which the Welfare State is operated, they are going a long way towards breaking down the Welfare State. I think this is what is behind it. In this I differ from the hon. Member for Wimbledon.
Yesterday the Minister kept on praying in aid the Royal Commission. The Bill is not the Royal Commission's Bill. The Government have overthrown the Royal Commission on almost all the big issues. This is their own party political Bill. On the area to be involved they have thrown out the recommendations of the Royal Commission. On education in London they have thrown down the Royal Commission. After two bosh shots of their own, they have still thrown down the Royal Commission. On the number of boroughs and on the size of boroughs they have thrown down the Royal Commission. On the traffic powers and on the planning powers they have thrown down the Royal Commission. This is not a Bill which can be fathered on the Royal Commission.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham said yesterday, many of the arguments, which we thought were wrong, which were produced in favour of the results which the Royal Commission represented, have been totally destroyed as a result of the Government's actions in the Bill. They are now in form recommending what the Royal Commission recommended but far reasons totally different and with supporting evidence totally different from that which the Royal Commission represented. So they must stand up for this by themselves.
During the course of this debate many objections have been registered to the Bill. I repeat that none of them has yet been answered. At this stage of the debate I can only list what seem to me to be the major ones, but there have been many other than those I can now mention. They have not been answered. I do not know whether it is the intention of the Minister of Health to answer them or to give us another Departmental brief. We have already had three. When we get to a situation of debate in the House where every Minister Who speaks reads a Departmental brief and no Minister answers the debate, we are getting a very long way from a genuine and free Parliament.
I will introduce no new matter. Indeed, I will not canvass the whole of what has been said. I will try to reduce it to five major points. The first clearly is the question of education in the inner London area. Here the great problem is one of uncertainty. Yesterday the Minister of Housing and Local Government said this:
… let me make it plain that the Government have always had in mind that there should be a central area for education. The only thing they have had to consider has been the precise size it should be.—"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th December, 1962; Vol. 699, c. 61.]
That was not what we thought. It was not what many other people thought.
Today the Minister of Education made very heavy weather of allaying teachers' fears which he had heard last night. Incidentally, he did something which I have seldom heard in the House. When my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North said, "The right hon. Gentleman gave evidence to the Royal Commission on behalf of the Ministry of Education to say how good the L.C.C. education service was", the right hon. Gentleman rose and said, "It was not me. It was my predecessor but one". When I asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he intended to tell us whether he disagreed he said, "Yes, I will come to that in my speech". He did not come to it in his speech.
Since then I have done a little research. The right hon. Gentleman was the Parliamentary Secretary at the time that the evidence was tendered. The right hon. Gentleman, who was then the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Education, was in that office from 1957 to 1959. The evidence I have with me was tendered on 10th June, 1958—half-way through his tenure of that office—so what was the point of him saying that it was his predecessor but one?
The point is that when the Minister was in that office, the Ministry, on his behalf and in his name, said that it was such a good thing that it should not be interfered with. However, it is being interfered with—or it was until the right hon. Gentleman got into difficulties. Now he says that he met the teachers last night and that he thought they had some misconceptions and had made a presumption. Their presumption was that in 1970 the Inner London Education Authority would be broken up. The right hon. Gentleman said today that that was a totally wrong presumption for them to have made. Nevertheless, under pressure from my hon. Friends, he finally said that there was no presumption; that it could not be presumed that it would be broken up or kept, for the whole thing was totally open.
Surely the Minister of Health, when replying on behalf of his colleagues, will clear this up. The Minister of Housing and Local Government said, in effect, "Let me make it plain that the Government have always had in mind the fact that there should be a central area but the only issue has been its precise size." Now that the Government have decided on that precise size, why should there be a review in five years' time? Why, as the Minister of Education said, should it be open for consideration?
In any case, what is open for consideration? Is it the extent of the area or whether there should be an Inner London Education Authority at all? What is open? The Minister of Education said that the whole question of whether there should be an Inner London Education Authority was open for consideration in five years' time. The Minister of Housing, on the other hand, said that there had never been any doubt, and that there would always be one. What is the position? Let the Minister of Health now say just what is open, why it is open and why there should be this uncertainty for the service—a service which the teachers, parents and everyone concerned, including the Ministry of Education when the present Minister was Parliamentary Secretary, have said is the best education service we have.
Then we must consider the children's service. We have received no answer from the Government on this topic and the Minister of Health must surely deal with this when he replies. Some time ago I took a deputation—of friends of mine, admittedly—comprised of people of tremendous experience and devotion to the children's service in London to meet the present First Secretary, who was then the Home Secretary. The Under-Secretary was there.
I do not intend to trespass on what exactly transpired, although it was an official and not a private meeting. We expressed to the then Home Secretary our worries about what was to happen to the children's service in London if it was not treated in the same way as the education service. I do the First Secretary no disservice if I say that he persuaded us that he, his Under-Secretary and his officials all shared our concern. And I came away feeling clear in my mind that the present Home Secretary, the Prime Minister and various other hon. Members opposite were obstinate and difficult.
Nobody told us at that interview, nor have we been told since, why the arguments which apply to education do not apply to the children's service. I have in mind the arguments concerning cross-posting and cross-provision. There are difficulties caused by having the facilities in one borough and the problem in another. I have with me certain figures to prove this and, although I do not have time to elaborate the statistics, the Under-Secretary knows about them. He knows that the boroughs in the East End will have a tremendous problem if they are divorced from the facilities at present provided by the L.C.C.
The Minister of Housing and Local Government was much less than fair yesterday to the London County Council when he talked of these five large homes. He must know that in recent times the L.C.C. has built 125 small homes. He must know that it cannot board out as easily as outer authorities can, yet it has 3 per cent. of its children totally boarded out, which is a bigger percentage than others have. The night hon. Gentleman talked of five large homes, but he must know that those large homes are themselves sub-divided into cottages, and that the cottages themselves are again subdivided into smaller units. But the Minister did not say that. He spoke of these large homes in order to introduce a piece—
No, I cannot give way. I held back, and I have not much time.
But the children's service and the mental health service have as much to be said in favour of being kept as centre area services as has the education service, and nobody has yet explained—and I hope the Minister of Health will—why the Government are doing for those services what they are not doing for education. My own explanation is that the parent-teacher associations terrified the life out of them politically and, regrettably enough, there are not the same pressure groups in the other two services, so the Government are not acting in the same way.
Housing is a major issue. My brother leads one of the boroughs of London where housing is a great problem, and it does the best it can but, good gracious me, think of the confusion this Bill will create, and of the additional problems it will create. If we strip the L.C.C. of housing estates, at some stage—admittedly, it has not yet been said when—some boroughs will have enormous housing lists but will not get many houses or flats because they will not be built there. Others will get new houses and flats on new estates that will be loaded with enormous debt, while others will get older houses and flats virtually free of debt. There will be no one to build the houses for the homeless or others in need of houses irrespective of where they live, because the authorities getting the houses and flats will look after their own people in their own boroughs. This will add tremendously to the existing problems.
We are to give to the new London authority the business of housing outside its area, and that housing will be built at present-day costs. The authority will have no older houses with which to average out, which is what the councils now do. The rents will be enormous. It is the most ridiculous way of trying to tackle London's housing problem, and no one has told us why it is being done—no one at all. There is no reason for ii unless, as I said at the beginning, one hates the words "London County Council" and must break up the L.C.C. The Minister must tell us how this housing problem is to be dealt with.
Another issue is the size of boroughs, We are told so much about making local government truly local. I live in Camberwell. That is to be put in with Bermondsey and with Southwark—and the party opposite thinks that that will look and seem local. And we are not the worst, by any means. The Minister had better walk the boundaries. Where does he think the town hall will be, and how far does he think our people will be from it? This will never be a local government. The Government could make it far bigger than that if they really wanted to be big; they are now well over the region of local government. It is absolutely absurd.
Then there is the size of the Greater London authority. I discussed this on the last occasion and I hate to repeat these things, but to regard an area stretching from Epsom to Barnet as a local authority is totally absurd. This is not a local authority at all. It is not big enough to do the traffic and planning jobs, which is the only explanation for setting it up, and it is too big to do the real local jabs, which are what, in the end, it will get to do. This is totally absurd.
Then there is all the planning confusion. This is no planning authority. We shall have all this moving up and down, with the Greater London authority supposed to be making the overall plan, the London boroughs doing the survey, and the whole thing pushed up to the Minister whenever they disagree about what comes out, as they always will. This, apart from such things as the L.C.C. architect's department, are the remaining outstanding criticisms of this scheme to which no Minister has yet given an answer. We wait to see whether the Minister of Health tonight will take it on or give us another Departmental brief.
Again, there is the degree of opposition to the whole scheme, and here I pray in aid again the remarkable speech of the hon. Member for Wimbledon. Unlike many of my hon. Friends, I did not need his last night's speech to know. I always knew that he had it in him. He showed in his speech the degree of opposition. It is not we on this side of the House who are against this: all who care within the London area about their community or about the services are against it.
I received tonight, by a happy accident, a circular from the Streatham Conservative Association. He is not here, but the circular starts prefectly properly by saying, "Dear Member." It goes on:
The Streatham Conservative Association has at all times supported the main aims of the Government in the proposed reorganisation of local government. We are however aghast at the proposed division of the Borough …
Later, it says:
Looking at the matter from a purely party point of view (which is not unimportant) the proposals of the Minister are disastrous.
Hon. Members opposite do not need me to tell them. The Local Government Chronicle of 24th November reported at great length a discussion at the Conservative Local Government Conference, under the heading:
Local Doubts at Stormy Session
After Sir Percy Rugg had argued the matter, it was decided not to put the issue to the vote. If hon. Members read the rest of it they will not be at all surprised.
There is no support for the plan, not even in the ranks of the party opposite where people are concerned about local government. There is no mandate for it and hon. and right hon. Members opposite might now look up the speeches which they made against us when they thought we had introduced a Bill for which we had no mandate. There is no claim that this plan will improve the services. Not one of the three Ministers who have spoken has claimed that it will. What they have said is, "When we have pulled it down, if we work very hard and we create new joint bodies and an ad hoc body, and everybody co-operates, it ought not to be very much worse than it is now". I am not misrepresenting them. That is certainly what two Ministers said this afternoon and yesterday.
Why go to all this trouble to tear down what exists in order to say, "If we put ourselves out a whole lot, it may be that we can make it not very different from what it is now"? Why do it unless they hate the London County Council? That is the only reason. They are trying to put back what exists minus those words.
This is an attempt at gerrymandering. The City remains. There is no case for the City remaining and having these powers except that it is a Tory stronghold which the Government believe they can hold. But are they sure that what they are doing will work? This will not be the first attempt at gerrymandering which did not work. It is worth remembering why the London boroughs were first set up. They were established in 1899 because the then Lord Salisbury wanted to thwart the radical and Socialist London County Council at that time. The London boroughs were set up in the hope that they would get in the way. What happened in fact? Forty-five years later, they gave us the strongest area of consistent Labour government which has ever existed in this country.
The Government should not be too sure about the outcome. They can make their attempt at gerrymandering, but they may find a similar result in the end. As the Streatham Tories say, the boroughs may well be—I think that they will be—continuously Labour. This is what upsets the Streatham Conservative Association. The Greater London Council could well be a Labour authority. The Inner London Education Authority will have a built-in Labour majority. Since the reason that the Tories want to destroy the London County Council is that they do not like comprehensive schools—[Interruption.] This is what disturbs them. As one of my hon. Friends put it this afternoon, that is what they object to. This is what they said they would pay any price to destroy. But the Inner London Education Authority will have a built-in Labour majority, as it happens. The Tories may well find that their attempt at gerrymandering, like others before it, will rebound upon them.
The Government have put no case for the Bill at all. They have answered none of the criticisms which have been made. Many hon. Members opposite have grave doubts about it. We ask hon. Members in all parts of the House to join with us in rejecting the Bill as a totally unworthy Measure.
I now turn to the Liberals. I heard this afternoon a speech that I thought I never should hear. The hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock), after say-that he was against the Bill on every ground that I take in opposing it, said that he would vote for the Second Reading. I ask Liberal Members, as I ask every good supporter of decent government for decent Londoners, to join us in the Lobby in voting against what is a most unworthy and disgraceful Bill.
The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) seemed surprised that it was I, as Minister of Health, who was to wind up the debate on the Bill. I will tell him why. As Minister of Health, I am happy and proud to wind up this debate and to commend the Bill to the House because I know that in the whole range of the health services there is no more important element, no element which is changing and developing more rapidly, than the health and welfare services of the local authorities which are part of that growing body of what are known as the community services. In all the range of services of local government, none stand to gain more than these from the reorganisation of the government of Greater London which is enshrined in the Bill.
The challenge has come from the other side of the House that we should show not merely that the services which Greater London enjoys will be maintained at their present level, but that they will be improved and made better as a result of the Bill. I accept that challenge with enthusiasm, on no ground more—[HON. MEMBERS "How?"]—on no ground more—[Interrupton.] If hon. Members opposite thought that there was a case to answer that they had made in these two days of debate, they would be prepared to listen. In no area is that claim more valid than in that of the services for which I am responsible.
First, I make a general observation from which I imagine, there is no dissent on either side of the House. It is this: that it is overwhelmingly desirable, wherever it is practicable, that all the personal and human services of local government in an urban area should be administered by the same authority, an authority not too large to be in touch with the people served. One can illustrate the rightness of that proposition over a wide field. The relationship of housing with the welfare services, particularly those for the old, is so intimate that the two ought not to be divided where that can be avoided. The services for children—and I am coming to them in more detail later—cohere intimately with the other services which tend to the support and preservation of the family.
True as this was in the past, it will be true even more with the development of the children's services which will come about as a result of a Bill now in another place. Child health, school health, all the elements of the human services hang together, and where they can be administered by the same authority, an authority in touch with those whom it serves, that is overwhelmingly the best farm of organisation.
The benefit of this form of organisation is given by the Bill to Greater London, not only to inner London—with the sole exception of the special education arrangements which are there necessitated by the way in which the education services have grown up over two or three generations—but also for the first time, to the larger area and the greater population of outer London, which has never enjoyed these benefits in the whole of its history, with the exception of the three county boroughs of East Ham, West Ham and Croydon.
To obtain these undoubted benefits of local government in an urban area it is necessary that the administrative areas should be neither too large—the objections to that are obvious enough—nor too small for the effective conduct of all the services. This is, therefore, essentially a matter in which a mean must be struck, a mean between administrative areas which are too large and those which are too small and weak and limited to administer the whole range of the human and personal services. I maintain that the mean which has been struck in the Bill fully secures effective administration over the whole range of the personal services.
I will take, first, the health and welfare services, together with the public health and housing functions—other than overspill and major redevelopment—functions which should go with health and welfare and which are already exercised by the second-tier authorities both in inner and outer London.
I noticed that the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), who contributed in an important way to the former as well as to the present debate, said that
the transfer of power in the health or welfare services to the boroughs is something practicable and to be welcomed".
How I agree with him. I agree with him for the reason which he went on to give in a specific example. It happened to be that of welfare services for old people. The hon. Member referred to an authority which
was able to close down a large, depressing old people's home
and to replace it
by 15 smaller homes to accommodate the people."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th February, 1962; Vol. 654, c. 66–8.]
The whole modern trend today in the development and expansion of these services is away from the institutional approach, which is obsolete and which we are rapidly getting rid of, towards the truly community form of services which bring care and support to the individual or the family in the home or in circumstances as near to those of home as can be contrived.
Does not the Minister understand that the breaking down of a large home into 15 small units can only be done by an authority which can find 15 sites? That is much easier if the authority is the size of a county rather than of a borough. If the right hon. Gentleman reads exactly what I said, he will find that that was what I was arguing.
I hope that it is not the hon. Gentleman's contention that old people in the boroughs of both inner and outer London, whose numbers will grow, have to be collected together and exiled from the places where they have lived, perhaps, for all their lives.
This trend, which characterises the whole development of the community services in our time, will be powerfully assisted and pushed forward by the pressure of public opinion and local interest in the new boroughs which will be administering these services. For a time it will be necessary to have joint use of the existing, particularly the larger existing, establishments of the L.C.C. in inner London. But that is essentially a transitional situation which will be superseded as those homes are replaced by the new and better methods of caring for and housing our old people and as the development of the community services goes on.
I am sorry, I cannot give way. I have little time and I have a lot of ground to cover.
What I have just said applies to the great majority of those for whom these services will care, but, of course, there is a minority—those, for instance, who are specially handicapped, people who are doubly and trebly or severely handicapped—for whom there will always be a need for specialised care and specialised institutions.
But it was always the case that, in order to give these people the best care and attention, we necessarily had to draw from a very large catchment area and that their special services had to be provided co-operatively on a regional, and sometimes even on a national, basis. That is why the L.C.C. used many such establishments which were far outside its own boundaries and outside its own control. I will not weary the House with many examples. I merely recall such examples as the school at Leatherhead for those both blind and otherwise handicapped, the residential centre at Croydon for severely handicapped spastics, and the epileptic institutions in various parts of south-east England.
All these specialised institutions, which are not L.C.C. institutions and which are already, and are bound to remain, co- operative in the South-East, as in the rest of the country, are of the essence of providing for these special requirements; but they are no criticism of the principle, nor in any way inconsistent with it, that for the great majority of those for whom these services care, borough administration and borough authorities are the natural, competent and proper providers.
Two special cases were mentioned in the debate last night by, I think, the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish), to which I would like to reply, as in both cases there was, possibly, a misunderstanding, which it is good to remove. One related to the Camberwell centre. That is a centre provided not under local government powers, but by the National Assistance Board through the agency of the London County Council. The Assistance Board can either continue to provide it through the agency of a local authority—the Board pays the costs entirely—or the local authority can provide it or make other arrangements. The future of the centre is in no way affected by the reorganisation.
The second point made by the hon. Member was the question of the 24-hour continuous mental health service for dealing with emergencies. It is the duty of all mental health authorities to make provision for emergency cases. Indeed, all mental health authorities have arrangements whereby there is access round the clock to specialised help. There is no reason why this service should be affected under the organisation which the Bill proposes.
Therefore, I make perfectly plain that in the Government's view the London boroughs will be entirely adequate, authorities for the health and welfare services and will be able, just because they are more local, to develop these services more rapidly and bring them to a more satisfactory development than they have attained at present. All the trends which we are seeking to favour in these services will be assisted by the reorganisation under the Bill.
I therefore do not propose to use my powers under Section 19 of the National Health Service Act to create joint health authorities. This does not prejudice the question of the future constitution of the Health Service executive councils. This was referred to by a number of hon. Members during the debate and I should like to make it clear that other considerations there apply. Before taking a final decision, however, as to the new organisation of the executive councils, it would clearly be right to take the views of the embryo health authorities which will be coming into existence.
Despite what the right hon. Member for Belper has said, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education this afternoon dealt thoroughly with the organisation of education which the Bill will bring about. I only emphasise again that in outer London—the greater part of the population and of the area concerned—the Bill will bring education together in the same hands with the health and family services and with the children's services, with which they naturally belong. This is guaranteed in the outer London boroughs by the organisation proposed.
So important is this that, in the inner area, despite the common organisation of the education service, the Government have thought it right to provide specifically in the Bill and in mandatory form—the word is "shall"—that there shall be common use of both medical staff and premises, so that there is as close as possible a coherence between the health and welfare services which the boroughs are providing and the health and welfare aspects of the education service.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me a specific question regarding the five-year review of the inner London education organisation. The review will relate to the question whether the inner London boroughs will be able in future to participate more fully or directly in the administration of the education service. It would be wrong, and no hon. Member of the House should associate himself with the proposition, that we should at this stage close our minds entirely to the possibility that we can find some effective way of bringing the boroughs, who will be administering all the other human and personal services, still more closely into contact with the administration of education.
I come now to the children's services. It has been said that the new boroughs will be too small effectively to discharge these important tasks, which are growing in importance. In fact, the London boroughs will have an average of 450 children in care, which is far above the average for county boroughs with these powers in the country as a whole. The great majority of them will have considerably more than most county boroughs. Here again, there will be transitional use, perhaps for a considerable time, of the larger homes—as well as direct use of the many smaller homes—which are at present provided by the L.C.C. outside the London county.
The use of these homes will be nothing exceptional in the exercise of children's powers. East Ham which, at the moment, has powers as a children's authority, has four-fifths of the children under its care outside its own boundaries. But gradually, as these larger homes are run down, they will be replaced by smaller ones, more suitable and more conveniently situated. Borough control will speed up this provision and this improvement. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because there will be local interest and local pressure of opinion, the thing which is the great driving force in local government.
Here, again, the specialised services for the small minority of children, either with physical handicaps or mental defects, can be provided, as they are provided throughout the country, cooperatively, without prejudice to the rightness of the general administration of the children's service by the London boroughs.
In general, the contention of the Opposition that the London boroughs cannot discharge the whole range of functions in the personal and human services is really grotesque. The average population of these boroughs will be nearly 100,000 larger than the average for county boroughs in the rest of the country. There will be only six county boroughs larger than these anywhere in Britain; and there will be only about a score larger even than the smallest.
I must say that, coming as I do from a borough with a population of 150,000, which may be increased on present proposals to 225,000, which has long believed that it has provided this range of services and has developed them with great enlightenment and a progressive mind, it strikes me as astonishing that hon. Members opposite should argue that boroughs of this size, and with these resources, are not fit to be trusted with these powers. I believe that their contention will be widely resented.
A vote tonight in the "No" Lobby is a vote of censure upon local government in this country as it is carried on in wide areas of urban Britain.
I have only five minutes left.
Why have the Opposition got themselves into this ridiculous position? They pretend to treat this Bill as a political manoeuvre. Well, they have had their answer today from the organ of their own party, in words which they are now trying to drown, because they are afraid of them. This is the Daily Herald of today:
It is backward-looking and unrealistic of Labour critics to treat proposals for change as if they were only a Tory Guy Fawkes plot to blow up a Labour political stronghold.
The gravamen of the charge has been that it has been the object of the Government and of this party to destroy the L.C.C. Whence came the proposition that the L.C.C. was obsolete and must he superseded? Somebody said, "From the London boroughs." No, it did not. It came from the unanimous opinion of the Royal Commission. The great central proposition of its Report was that London government could not be effectively carried on with the present L.C.C. or L.C.C. area.
In the formation of the boroughs the Government have adopted without alteration the recommendations of the Town Clerks who were asked to work out these boundaries, though, of course, as the Bill is now submitted to the House, it will be right for the House to consider in detail proposals for boundaries. These matters must be looked at in detail on their merits in Committee. Finally, the areas which have been excluded from the review area in the Bill
I do not conceive that the Opposition seriously believe that there is a party political motive behind this Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh".] The reason for their opposition is their determined reluctance to recognise the facts of change over seventy years in the metropolitan area. They refuse to recognise that seventy years of growth of London and of development of local government services have rendered the present system of London government utterly inadequate to give the people the services needed in the remainder of this century. They refuse to recognise that, so far from being the best of all organisations in the best of all possible worlds, as it still seems to he to the hon. Lady the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet), in the words, once again, of the Daily Herald,
the plain fact is that a revolution in the government of London is needed.
The principle of the Bill recognises the two undeniable facts about London as it is today. First, that the continuous built up area, inhabited by 8 million people, calls far a single administration of the strategic and planning services. Secondly, that within this Greater London there is the potentiality and opportunity for unified administration of all the personal services by authorities which can bring the pressures of local opinion, local ambitions and local vision to bear upon the development of local services.
This Bill offers to the Metropolis the renewal of civic life in modern terms. To large parts of Greater London it offers for the first time the opportunity of government which is at once really local and really responsible. I ask the House not to deny these benefits to the capital city of the Empire.
|Division No. 15.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Atkins, Humphrey||Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton|
|Aitken, W. T.||Awdry, Daniel (Chippenham)||Bell, Ronald|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Balniel, Lord||Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)|
|Allason, James||Barber, Anthony||Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian||Barlow, Sir John||Berkeley, Humphry|
|Arbuthnot, John||Barter, John||Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Batsford, Brian||Bidgood, John C.|
|Biffen, John||Green, Alan||Maginnis, John E.|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gresham Cooke. R.||Maitland, Sir John|
|Bingham, R. M.||Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Marlowe, Anthony|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. C.||Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest|
|Bishop, F. P.||Gurden, Harold||Marshall, Douglas|
|Bossom, Clive||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Marten, Neil|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)|
|Box, Donald||Hare, Rt. Hon. John||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Boyle, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Braine, Bernard||Harvey, Sir Arthur vere (Macclesf'd)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. c.|
|Brewis, John||Harvey, John (Walthastow, E.)||Mills, Stratton|
|Bromley-Davenport, M.-Col. Sir Walter||Harvie Anderson, Hiss||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hastings, Stephen||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Brooman-white, R.||Hay, John||Morgan, William|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Morrison, John|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Bryan, Paul||Hendry, Forbes||Nabarro, Gerald|
|Buck, Antony||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Neave, Airey|
|Bullard, Denys||Hiley, Joseph||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Burden, F. A.||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Noble, Rt. Hon. Michael|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron Warden)||Hirst, Geoffrey||Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Hobson, Sir John||Oakshott, Sir Hendrie|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Hocking, Philip N.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Holland, Philip||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian|
|Cary, sir Robert||Hollingworth, John||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Holt, Arthur||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hooson, H. E.||Page, John (Harrow, West)|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Hopkins, Alan||Partridge, E.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence(Portsmth, W.)||Hornby, R. P.||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Peel, John|
|Cole, Norman||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Percival, Ian|
|Cooke, Robert||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hughes-Young, Michael||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Pilkington, Sir Richard|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Pitman, Sir James|
|Corfield, F. V.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pitt, Dame Edith|
|Costain, A. P.||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Coulson, Michael||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Pott, Percival|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||James, David||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch|
|Crawley, Aidan||Jennings, J. C.||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Critchley, Julian||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Crowder, F. P.||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho|
|Curran, Charles||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S)||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith||Pym, Francis|
|Dance, James||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Ramsden, James|
|Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F.||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Redmavne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|de Ferranti, Basil||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Rees, Hugh|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kershaw, Anthony||Renton, Rt. Hon. David|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Kimball, Marcus||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kirk, Peter||Ridsdale, Julian|
|du Cann, Edward||Kitson, Timothy||Rippon, Rt. Hon. Geoffrey|
|Duncan, Sir James||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Healey)|
|Eden, John||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Elliott, R.W.(Nwcastle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Leavey. J. A.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Emery, Peter||Leburn, Gilmour||Roots, William|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Ronner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Rovle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Lilley, F. J. P.||St. Clair, M.|
|Farr, John||Lindsay, Sir Martin||Sandys. Rt. Hon. Duncan|
|Fell, Anthony||Linstead, Sir Hugh||Scott-Honkins, James|
|Fisher, Nigel||Litchfield, Capt. John||Sharples, Richard|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield)||Shaw, M.|
|Forrest, George||Longden, Gilbert||Shepherd, William|
|Foster, John||Loveys, Walter H.||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh(Stafford&Stone)||Lubbock, Eric||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Smithers, Peter|
|Freeth, Denzil||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Smyth, Rt. Hon. Brig. Sir John|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Gammans, Lady||McArthur, Ian||Speir, Rupert|
|Gardner, Edward||McLaren, Martin||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Stodart, J. A.|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk Central)||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy(Bute&N. Ayrs.)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Goodhart, Philip||McMaster, Stanley R.||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Goodhew, Victor||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold(Bromley)||Talbot, John E.|
|Gough, Frederick||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Gower, Raymond||Macpherson, Rt. Hn. Niall(Dumfries)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Grant-Ferris, R.||Maddan, Martin||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)||van Straubenzee, W. R.||Whitelaw, William|
|Teeling, Sir William||Vane, W. M. F.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Temple, John M.||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Vickers, Miss Joan||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Thomas, Peter (Conway)||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis||Wise, A. R.|
|Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)||Wade, Donald||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Thompson, Richard (Croydon, s.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Thornton. Kemslay, Sir Colin||Walder, David||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Walker, Peter||WooHam, John|
|Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek||Worsley, Marcus|
|Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Ward, Dame Irene||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Turner, Colin||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.||Webster, David||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Tweedsmuir, Lady||Wells, John (Maidstone)||Mr. Chichester-Clark and|
|Abse, Leo||Forman, J. C.||McLeavy, Frank|
|Alnsley, William||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Albu, Austen||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Galpern, Sir Myer||Mallalieu, J.P.W. (Huddersfield, E.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Ginsburg, David||Mapp, Charles|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Marsh, Richard|
|Baird, John||Gourlay, Harry||Mason, Roy|
|Barnett, Guy||Greenwood, Anthony||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, w.)||Grey, Charles||Mellish, R. J.|
|Beaney, Alan||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Millan, Bruce|
|Bence, Cyril||Griffiths, W. (Exchange)||Milne, Edward|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Gunter, Ray||Mitchison, G, R.|
|Benson, Sir George||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Monslow, Walter|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hannan, William||Moody, A. S.|
|Blackburn, F.||Harper, Joseph||Moyle, Arthur|
|Blyton, William||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mulley, Frederick|
|Boardman, H.||Hayman, F. H.||Neal, Harold|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. C.||Healey, Denis||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S.W.)||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)||Oram, A. E.|
|Bowles, Frank||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Oswald, Thomas|
|Boyden. James||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Owen, Will|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Padley, W. E.|
|Bradley, Tom||Hilton, A. V.||Paget, R. T.|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Holman, Percy||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Houghton, Douglas||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr)||Parker, John|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Hoy, James H.||Paton, John|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Pavitt, Laurence|
|Callaghan, James||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Carmichael, N. G.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Hunter, A. E.||Peart, Frederick|
|Chapman, Donald||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Pentland, Norman|
|Cliffe, Michael||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Collick, Percy||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Popplewell, Ernest|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Janner, Sir Barnett||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Cronin, John||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Probert, Arthur|
|Crosland, Anthony||Jeger, George||Proctor, W. T.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Rankin, John|
|Dalyell, Tam||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Darling, George||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Reid, William|
|Davies, G. Eifed (Rhondda, E.)||Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Reynolds, G. W.|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Rhodes, H.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Deer, George||Kelley, Richard||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Delargy, Hugh||Kenyon, Clifford||Robertson, John (Palsley)|
|Dempsey, James||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Diamond, John||King, Dr. Horace||Rodgera, W. T. (Stockton)|
|Dodds, Norman||Lawson, George||Ross, William|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Ledger, Ron||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)|
|Doughty, Charles||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Russell, Ronald|
|Driberg, Tom||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Edelman, Maurice||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Lipton, Marcus||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Loughlin, Charles||Small, William|
|Evans, Albert||Mabon Dr. J. Dickson||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||McCann, John||Snow, Julian|
|Finch, Harold||MacColl, James||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Fitch, Alan||MacDermot, Niall||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mclnnes, James||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Steele, Thomas|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Mackie, John (Enfield, East)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Storehouse John||Tomney, Frank||Williams, Ll. (Abertillery)|
|Stones, William||Wainwright, Edwin||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Warbey, William||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|stross, Dr. Barnett(stoke-on-Trent, C.)||Watkins, Tudor||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Swain, Thomas||Weitzman, David||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Taverne, D.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||White, Mrs. Elene||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)||Whitlock, William||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Wigg, George||Zilliacus, K.|
|Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Thornton, Ernest||Willey, Frederick||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Timmons, John||Williams, D. J. (Neath)||Mr. G. H. R. Rogers and|
The right hon. Gentleman raises a very difficult point for me. So far as I know, none of my predecessors has ever been faced with tit. I have looked at it with some diffidence. Regarding Standing Order No. 38, as a whole, I cannot find in it a sufficient indication of legislative intent on the point. I shall have to take refuge in the practice of the House—I am sure that that is right—by which I look first in the direction of the hon. Member in charge of the Bill. I am afraid that that means that the answer is, "No".
I understand that, Mr. Speaker. But may I, further to the same point of order, ask—although I understand why you have ruled as you did—whether I may be allowed to move a manuscript Amendment to the Motion which you feel that you have to accept by practice to leave out the words:
Clause 1 of, and Schedule 1 to,
which would make it much easier for us since we do not want to vote against this Motion? We could then test the theory of the House by means of a manuscript Amendment.
I follow the delight of doing so from the point of view of the right hon. Gentleman, but I do not think that under paragraph 3 of the Standing Order it is open to me to do so. It leaves no room for me to adopt that course.
I beg to move,
That Clause 1 of, and Schedule 1 to, the Bill be committed to a Committee of the whole House; that the remainder of the Bill be committed to a Standing Committee; and that, when the provisions of the Bill considered respectively by the Committee of the whole House and by the Standing Committee have been reported to the House, the Bill be proceeded with as if the Bill had been reported as a whole to the House from the Standing Committee.
As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has already explained, the Government have taken the view that it will be for the convenience of the House if Clause 1 of the Bill and the First Schedule, which affects the interests of hon. Members who sit for constituencies in the Greater London area, be taken in the Committee of the whole House.