Orders of the Day — London (Government Assistance)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:15 am on 4th August 1980.

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Photo of Mr John Hunt Mr John Hunt , Bromley Ravensbourne 2:15 am, 4th August 1980

I shall be reasonably brief as I wish to allow ample time for the 19 Opposition Members who wish to take part in this debate. Some of them have been unaccountably detained at meetings elsewhere, but no doubt they will contribute to our proceedings later.

I congratulate the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) on initiating this debate. I always regard him as one of the original prophets of doom. Whether he is speaking about the Common Market or housing in Wandsworth he always seems to paint the same dreary picture and he was his usual lugubrious self tonight.

I shall not follow in the parochial matters which the right hon. Gentleman raised, but I think that the first thing that should be said is that the problems of London cannot be considered in isolation. Of course, London will benefit when the upturn in economic activity comes. We shall have to wait a little longer for it but not too long, I hope. But it would, surely, be unrealistic to expect Government assistance at present to be directed specially and specifically to the capital.

I take up two points on housing made by the right hon. Gentleman. First, there is the matter of the transfer of GLC properties to the boroughs. I think that he misunderstands the views of most tenants in greater London. Those with whom I have contact have welcomed the fact that they will not now be administered from what they regard as the remote area of county hall but will instead have more direct, and personal, contact with their own boroughs. I think that most of them prefer that.

When the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the private sector I was sorry to note that he made no mention of the provision in the Housing Bill for shorthold tenancies. That is a provision that will be of direct help and benefit to people like teachers, nurses and students who will never be able to accumulate sufficient points to be rehoused from a council waiting list and who will, therefore, be looking to this provision to enable them to move into the accommodation for which they yearn. I believe that the Labour Party has done a great disservice to those people by threatening to repeal that provision and I hope that it will have second thoughts on the matter.

As this debate is about Government assistance to London we should range a little wider than housing, upon which the right hon. Gentleman concentrated in opening the debate. I wish to mention particularly the enterprise zones which have been proposed and which are in the process of being set up.