I thank the Minister of State for the kind things that he has said about hon. Members on this side of the House. On the whole, it would be fair to say that, in Committee and today, the House dealt with this matter in an entirely co-operative manner without any animosity.
There has only been one major problem about which we had considerable argument and which I do not think we are entirely satisfied about yet. This, of course, concerns the figures quoted by the hon. Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Freeson) in his Second Reading speech. I do not want to prolong the debate unduly, but there are two points should make. When one takes the larger figures, one is misinterpreting statistics about the building firms with headquarters in London by crediting to their headquarters staff office building whether in London or anywhere else. That is the only way in which one can reach such a figure as suggested by the hon. Member for Willesden, East.
I ask the Government whether they believe that the hon. Member was right. We do not think that he was. I do not want to introduce a note of animosity at this hour, but it is not good enough that this claim by the hon. Member has not been withdrawn. I appreciate that the Minister of State has said that he will write to my hon. Friend the Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Costain) but I would point out, in passing, that this matter was raised in Committee on 2nd March, so that the hon. Gentleman has had some time in which to look into the point.
We accept the wish of the Government that there shall be limitation on the movement of population to the South-East. That is a principle we have stated ever since Second Reading, and we have not deviated from it. From that point of view we welcome the Bill. Nevertheless, we believe that the Bill still needs a great deal of improvement.
It contains no compensation; no return on reasonable expenditure; no special provisions to deal with applications under the Shops, Offices and Railway Premises Act; no appeal procedure against decisions by the Board of Trade. The Government have refused to include the provision suggested by the Franks Committee—that when permission is refused the reasons should be stated. We attach great importance to that and we must emphasise that it is the Government who have decided not to include it. Indeed, there is still no limitation of the power to introduce this Measure to other areas.
On Part II of the Bill, dealing with industrial development certificates, we believe that if the Government pursue the proposal to reduce from 5,000 to 1,000 square feet in the large area they intend to cover, this will stifle a considerable amount of modernisation of industry and the fostering of the growth of smaller firms. Indeed, we believe that the limitation of these smaller industrial estates which have encouraged firms to grow will, in fact, cease, or be very strictly limited.
I do not want to rehash the whole of this, but it must be right and proper that we on this side of the House, although we accept the Bill, should say quite frankly that even now there are these weaknesses which I have enumerated.
To conclude, may I turn to what I hope may be a much more pleasant and reasonable approach. I should like to thank the President of the Board of Trade, the Minister of State and the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. They have had a very hard task, not least in keeping their own back benchers quiet in Committee so that they might get the Bill through at even greater speed.
I thank them for the extremely pleasant and reasonable manner in which they have tried to meet the points we have raised, and for that reason I would urge my hon. Friends not to vote against the Bill on Third Reading.