Orders of the Day — Local Government Bill

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4 December 1984.

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Order read for resuming adjourned debate on amendment to Question [3 December], That the Bill be now read a Second time.

Which amendment was, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Local Government Bill because of the centralisation of powers, attack on local democracy, threat to the quality of local services and employment prospects, and the additional costs to ratepayers inherent in its proposals, which are without any proper justification';

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Before I call the Secretary of State, I announce to the House that I propose again today to operate the 10 minute limit on speeches between 7 and 9 o'clock.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury 3:31, 4 December 1984

Before I turn to the subject of the debate, I think that the House would like me to say that a serious railway accident occurred at 10.45 this morning at Eccles, near Manchester. The 10.05 Liverpool to Scarborough passenger train, which consisted of a diesel locomotive and seven coaches, ran into the back of a stationary oil tank train. The locomotive and the first two coaches of the passenger train were derailed, as were a number of the oil tank wagons. Spilt gas oil from the tank wagons caught fire. The local signalman was able to stop other trains from approaching. The emergency services were quickly on the scene. The traffic on the M602 motorway which runs immediately adjacent to the railway was stopped and as a precaution residents were evacuated—

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I must stop the Secretary of State. I called him to open today's debate. I had no knowledge that a statement was to be made.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I do not suggest that this is a statement, but I thought that the House would like to be informed.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. In fairness to the House, I think that the Speaker should be informed and also hon. Members. I called upon the Secretary of State to speak to the amendment to the Second Reading. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will now proceed.

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Davyhulme

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the tragic loss of life and the severe injuries resulting from the rail accident in Manchester this morning, would it be possible at some stage in the near future for the Secretary of State to make the statement which he had in mind?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

That is a very different matter. As the Leader of the House is present, he will have heard what has been said.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Brent South

May I seek your advice, Mr. Speaker? We have had a statement. Would it be out of order in the debate to comment upon the statement made by the Secretary of State in his opening remarks?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I am afraid that it would be out of order. It does not touch upon the debate itself. I am very sorry about this, but it is the normal tradition of the House that we are informed if a statement is to be made. It goes on the annunciator in order that we may all know. I am afraid that I was not informed.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

On a further point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not within your discretion to put it to the House that, with the leave of the House, a statement of this nature should be made?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I have already proposed that the debate be resumed. I do not believe we can do that at this stage.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

In view of the fact that the Secretary of State made a statement initially about the matter, and since some of us believe that it is important that questions should be asked, it will be a one-sided affair if the debate continues in this way. In order to get out of this impasse, I suggest that perhaps the Secretary of State ought to make it clear to you, Mr. Speaker, that he has made a grave error and that he should make his statement so that our principal spokesmen will have a chance to cross-question him and also so that others who are materially involved in the various constituencies concerned will also have a chance to do so—

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I understand the difficulty in which we find ourselves. Perhaps the simplest thing would be for the matter to be discussed by the usual channels. The Leader of the House is present and, as we are having some difficulty, perhaps the Secretary of State can make a statement tomorrow.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson , East Lothian

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. There is nothing further to be said now. I cannot say any more on the matter.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

The debate on the abolition of the higher tier authorities has ceased to be argued rationally by most of the Opposition. No doubt the speech we are to hear from the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) will be no exception.

The tactic is to invent a lot of myths about what will be the result of abolition, then to spend millions of ratepayers' money on leaflets, posters, advertising and propaganda to try to make innocent people believe those myths and scare stories. That is not only a scandalous waste of public money but a cynical manipulation of innocent people whom we ought to protect from deliberate misinformation. For example, last Session we removed responsibility for London Transport from the GLC and transferred it to the Government. Labour Members prefer to forget the sorry stories of the GLC's constant political interference in the management of London Transport and the sorry tale of see-sawing fares and soaring rates.

Six months ago, the GLC and GLC-funded groups such as Capital were covering London's streets and buses and newspapers with expensive posters predicting that when the Government assumed responsibility for London's public transport there would be massive route cuts and station closures and old-age pensioners would lose their concessionary bus passes. There were firm statements that fares would rise by 25 per cent.

Now, six months after takeover, where have all those scare stories gone? Where are the massive route cuts and station closures? Where is the danger to pensioners'a concessionary passes? When fares go up on 6 January, they will still be 8 per cent. lower in real terms then in May 1981.

Of course, there were never any proposals or plans for massive route cuts or station closures. There was never any threat to concessionary fares. But, unrepentant, the GLC's propaganda machine is being primed with ratepayers' money again to play the same shabby game over the abolition Bill, as I will show. But I predict that in 18 months time, when the GLC and metropolitan counties no longer exist, all the myths will be dropped. As before, they will vanish into thin air. Perhaps ratepayers will wonder why so much of their money was wasted on such a worthless cause.

Our proposals for abolishing the metropolitan counties and the GLC are reasoned and in the best interests of local people, local ratepayers, local businesses and, in the case of transport, local travellers. In fact, today I read an excellent summary of our case in The Times:Despite multi-million pound propaganda campaigns, elective support for the GLC and metropolitan counties is minimal. Functions, boundaries and relations with district authorities are ill-defined. Problems of finance, urban renewal, transport, housing, environment, education and training, youth and community, have been badly tackled. Those are not my words. They are the words of the right hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Freeson), the Minister for Housing and Construction in the Labour Government. I commend his article to the Opposition as the best possible statement of our case.

Yesterday my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment told the House why we believe that there is no useful future for the GLC and the metropolitan county councils. I want to explain why that applies particularly in transport matters.

Photo of Mr Clive Soley Mr Clive Soley , Hammersmith

The Secretary of State began by implying strongly that the Government wanted to get rid of the GLC not least because they believe that ratepayers' money was being badly used. Other Conservative Members have made the same point. If that is correct, why do not the Government let the electorate decide? If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that the electorate should not be allowed to decide, what is the difference between that principle and the electorate not being able to decide whether the Government use taxpayers' money correctly?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I regard the electorate as having decided. It voted the Government into power with a large majority on the basis of the manifesto pledge to abolish the councils.

The matter is important because transport functions account for more than 40 per cent. of GLC and metropolitan county council expenditure. When those bodies were set up, the fashion was to think that roads, traffic management, and public transport needed to be co-ordinated across the whole area of the major conurbations and, moreover, that they had to be integrated — the fashionable word in the 1960s'—with land use matters in comprehensive plans.

In my view, the case for that sort of comprehensive planning was always spurious. The thick volumes of plans and studies now gathering dust on GLC and metropolitan county council shelves achieved little, except to create work for the armies of planners who laboured to produce them.

Obviously, new road schemes and traffic movement measures cannot always be confined within the boundaries of individual boroughs and districts. Obviously, many local bus services cross borough and district boundaries, which were not drawn to reflect trave-to-work or travel-to-shop patterns.

However, that does not mean that we need grandiose plans produced by upper tier county councils which are desperately anxious to justify their own existence. It simply means that borough and district councils need to talk to each other and to co-operate sensibly in those transport matters which affect their neighbours. That is true wherever a local government boundary is drawn.

As far as roads and traffic management are concerned, we propose to transfer responsibility to the boroughs and districts, which are in many cases doing much of the work already. They will need to make their preparations well in advance of abolition day in consultation with neighbouring districts. I hope that once the House has approved the principle of the Bill today the process of consultation will begin in earnest. This is particularly important where joint arrangements will need to be made for such matters as urban traffic control and the collation of transport data on a compatible basis.

We heard a great deal yesterday from Opposition spokesmen about the need to co-ordinate services. We were told that the measures that we were proposing would not be adequate. Are the Opposition really saying that they do not trust elected borough and district councillors to act sensibly? There is not the slightest evidence from the years that elapsed before the metropolitan county councils were set up — only 10 years ago—for such a cynical and pessimistic view. I simply do not believe that great city councils like Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield, whatever the eccentricities of their political masters, cannot manage their own roads and traffic in sensible co-operation with neighbouring districts without the county council looking over their shoulders. Indeed, most of them already do much of the highways maintenance on an agency basis and have considerable engineering resources which are wastefully and extravagantly duplicated in county hall. They did it before the metropolitan counties were set up, and they can do it and want to do it in the future.

The London boroughs are already major highways authorities in their own rights, with responsibility for about 7,000 miles of London's roads, compared with the 895 miles currently controlled by the GLC.

In some cases the districts may need to recruit a limited number of specialist county council staff. But many boroughs and districts have made it clear to us that they will not need anything like the numbers—nearly 9,000 in total — currently employed by the GLC and metropolitan county councils on road and highways work. I confidently predict substantial savings in that area.

Therefore, in general, I am quite certain that the boroughs and districts will be able to handle the management of roads and traffic far more effectively than the GLC and metropolitan county councils. Financial arrangements will be made to ensure that they have the resources to do so. The Bill provides for the boroughs and districts to receive the support, through block grants and transport supplementary grant, previously available to the upper tier authorities.

The Bill also contains a number of detailed roads and traffic measures to ensure that problems do not arise. In London, as we have explained in our consultation document, which has been generally well received by boroughs, I propose to take direct responsibility for about 7 per cent. of the GLC's roads—65 out of 895 miles. The remaining 830 miles will go to the boroughs, although on 300 miles of major strategic importance they will need my consent before introducing measures which would seriously affect through traffic.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford (Mr. Howell) mentioned yesterday the guidance on traffic management which the Bill enables me to give to the London boroughs and metropolitan districts. This is not a matter of excessive centralisation. I am confident that in nearly all cases the boroughs and districts will co-operate sensibly where their proposals affect their neighbours. But there have to be reserve powers to solve occasional disputes and to provide a sensible framework for co-operation. Referring to The Times leader yesterday, I assure the House that I do not want to run the traffic lights in Huddersfield. The reserve powers apply only if authorities do not make satisfactory arrangements properly to run a computerised system going beyond their boundaries.

What has been the GLC's record on highways? The GLC, of course, argues that its presence is required as the strategic highway authority for the capital. Yet the GLC has done virtually nothing about London's roads and the problems sorely need tackling. I quote the right hon. Member for Brent, East again: London has been without strategic road planning for more than 10 years. I agree. The GLC has in recent years seen its strategic responsibilities in terms of spending money on political campaigns suggesting that the Government intend to carpet London with motorways. The GLC is giving £122,000 to TRAFIC, an organisation purportedly seeking improved transport but actually paid to frighten people into believing that the Government are about to embark on a huge motorway programme. It is, of course, another silly myth and complete and dangerous rubbish. The GLC has also seen its strategic responsibilities in terms of giving ratepayers' money to organisations like the New Archway road residents association and the North Circular road Ealing action group to fund their campaigns against the Government's proposals to improve certain roads in London. Never mind whether the roads are needed or not —if the Government propose, the GLC will oppose.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

If the Department proposes motorways throughout London and through parts of my constituency, surely it is only fair that those who object to the Government's plans but have not the Government's resources should have some funding so that they can argue the case on an equal footing with the Government at a public inquiry?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

In that case, people who wish to circulate along London's road to carry out their business also deserve a grant from the GLC. It might be better to call it a day and give neither side any money.

The GLC has failed to recognise the need to tackle the appalling conditions for travellers and residents around London's major roads. In its ideological refusal to come to terms with the existence and the dependence of London's economy on the lorry and the motor car, it has done nothing, presumably seeing congestion as the way to tackle London's traffic problems. It has sought to cure the problem by choking off road usage, which also chokes off public transport, and has thus worsened environmental problems for people living near congested roads, irritated motorists and further worsened economic problems for London's businesses.

My hon. Friend the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey) mentioned the need to do something about the south circular road, which he rightly described yesterday as a mere collection of signposts. As hon. Members know, two weeks ago I announced the appointment of consultants to carry out a series of assessment studies to review the problems on some of the worst congested corridors of traffic movement in London, to review options for improving conditions for those living or working in or near heavily congested roads and to ensure that traffic moves as quickly and smoothly as possible within London.

On public transport in the metropolitan counties a great deal of irresponsible and alarmist nonsense is being talked. Myths are being created. I have just seen a particularly misleading leaflet issued by the passenger transport committee of the West Midlands county council which alleges that the county council will be replaced by a non-elected board and that "real power will be in the hands of Whitehall Civil Servants".

What rubbish. The leaflet does not mention that fact that the passenger transport authorities will consist entirely of elected councillors from the districts whose ratepayers will have to meet the bills. How can such an arrangement possibly be described as a quango? As my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Thornton) pointed out yesterday —and he has practical experience as an ex-member of Merseyside passenger transport authority — there is nothing new about joint authorities. This is, in fact, a straightforward reversion to the system introduced by the Labour Government in the Transport Act 1968. Actually they went further and had Government nominees on their passenger transport authorities as well as elected councillors, whereas we propose to have none.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Could the Secretary of State say how the situation differs from what it was in 1962, when his right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State for Education and Science (Sir Keith Joseph) spoke on this point? The right hon. Gentleman said: The Government agree with the Royal Commission in rejecting"— the solution of joint boards, because— No solution can be found by submitting these great tasks to delegates of local authorities responsible for part only of the area and its problems and some of which have responsibilities which are not only different from but often in conflict".—[Official Report, 10 December 1962; Vol. 669, c. 53.] Why does not the criticism expressed by one of the right hon. Gentleman's Cabinet colleagues at the time of the origination of these proceedings in a Bill 22 years ago still apply today?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Oh dear, Mr. Speaker. If I had to be responsible for everything that I said 22 years ago, or everything that my right hon. Friend may have said—

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

—let.alone what the hon. Lady may have said, life would be very difficult.

I now want to nail another myth. The joint PTAs will inherit in full the county councils' powers to provide concessionary fares for the elderly and the disabled, so there is no reason at all why the present arrangements should not continue if that is what the local people want. The districts also have powers to provide such concessionary fare schemes direct, if they prefer. There is no threat in the legislation, or in any other forthcoming legislation, to concessionary fares.

This brings me incidentally to two more myths being propagated by the Opposition — about our proposed move to capital-only transport supplementary grant and our alleged intention to abolish section 20 grants to the railways. As the House will know, in previous years transport supplementary grant covered capital and current expenditure. I would like to make it clear that money that would have gone to support public transport and concessionary fares through transport supplementary grant will be paid instead through block grant. New GREs will be introduced to cover it.

As for section 20 grants, we have no proposals to abolish them. Hon. Members will see nothing in the Bill to suggest that they will be abolished. Of course joint boards will have to decide on their priorities, as they have to now. The amount of section 20 assistance is, and will remain, entirely up to them.

There is a myth about the Tyne and Wear metro, too. The hon. Member for Houghton and Washington (Mr. Boyes) expressed concern yesterday about its future when the county council is abolished. He need have no fears. The PTE will continue to run the metro; it will be responsible to a joint board of districts, as it was under the 1968 Act. Of course, the metro will have to face open competition from bus operators, but that will give it a real opportunity to prove itself. [Laughter.] I am glad to hear hon. Gentlemen laughing so confidently.

I confirm further that we are seeking economies in the cost of public transport support in the metropolitan areas. At present, revenue support amounts to £267 million a year — plus £190 million more for London Regional Transport. Some of that extravagance is accounted for by low fares policies—that of south Yorkshire in particular.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Sir J. Osborn) referred yesterday to the extravagant subsidy policies pursued by South Yorkshire county council. I entirely agree, and so in fact did the previous Labour Government, by virtually freezing fares for nearly 10 years the council has laid an appalling burden on the local ratepayers, with serious consequences for jobs.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Subsidy this year is nearly £60 million — not counting concessionary fares — and if present policies continue this would rise to over £80 million during the next three years. This is why we need precept control.

Photo of Mr Bill Michie Mr Bill Michie , Sheffield, Heeley

The Secretary of State is talking about south Yorkshire and Sheffield in particular. Can he give any evidence of policies or rates in those areas removing job opportunities and damaging businesses? In rateable value terms, more jobs can be created in rate-capped authorities than in non-rate-capped ones because, in the south, it costs more to create a job in an area such as Reading than in south Yorkshire, with its so-called high rates.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

The agreed figure is £60 million. Irrespective of whether that money comes from ratepayers, taxpayers or a combination of both, it represents spending that might have created demand, and therefore jobs, through the supply of goods, or savings that might have arisen for investment to provide new jobs in other industries. The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. We believe that the money is better spent in productive investment than subsidies.

So much can be saved by bringing fares up to the sort of levels that the rest of the country has to pay. Further savings will become available as a result of the policies in the Public Transport Bill which is soon to come. The Opposition never acknowledge that it is possible to save money by greater efficiency. We have demonstrated that now. In London, the fall in revenue support to LRT will be from £190 million to £95 million over three years, so we intend to give the metropolitan areas the benefit of the best way of all to get their costs down—competition. But that is another subject for another Bill. It is nothing to do with this Bill, except that we want to help the joint boards make the savings that will be necessary.

In addition to their main responsibility for bus and rail services, the relevant PTAs will be given responsibility for the Mersey tunnels and the Tyne tunnel. For the five Metropolitan airports, I expect that in most cases the districts, some of which already have an interest, will wish to make alternative joint arrangements, but if they cannot agree, responsibility will rest with the PTA.

Photo of Robert Wareing Robert Wareing , Liverpool, West Derby

There is nothing in the Bill to tell the people of Merseyside who will run the Mersey tunnels if the Bill unfortunately becomes law. Can the right hon. Gentleman clarify the matter?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I just have. I have just said that responsibility for the Mersey tunnels will pass to the PTA.

The Government have made it clear that if, after abolition day, any district can demonstrate that it would provide its own bus services more effectively and economically either by taking over an appropriate share of the PTE assets or by contractual arrangements with other operators, it will be allowed to do so. Clause 40 enables districts to withdraw in this way from some or all of the functions of the passengers transport authorities, but we shall of course need to consider separately and carefully the effect on local railways services and on the financing of facilities such as the Mersey and Tyne tunnels before agreeing to secession.

Photo of Mr Barry Porter Mr Barry Porter , Wirral South

I appreciate that the passenger transport authority will take over responsibility for the Mersey tunnels. One of its great problems will not be with reduced costs but an ongoing cost in financing the tunnels. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is time that we examined the fundamental issue concerning all estuarial crossings as it is impossible on any rational fares structure for the capital cost ever to be repaid?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I am aware of that problem. The crossings, tunnels and bridges were undertaken by local authorities in the full knowledge of the financial regime that would govern them. The local authorities undertook those risks. Moreover, I believe that charging policy can have a considerable effect on whether the deficit increases or reduces. In that respect, my hon. Friend can hardly say that the Mersey tunnels have been administered with complete financial prudence.

In summary then, these are the proposed arrangements for transport services. Roads and traffic responsibilities will go in the main to the boroughs and districts, which are well able to discharge them and to co-operate sensibly with their neighbours on proposals with wider ramifications.

In the case of public transport in the metropolitan counties, the PTEs will remain in existence, although they will operate in a more bracing competitive climate, which will follow the deregulation of the bus industry. The county councils will be replaced not by quangos but by passenger transport authorities consisting entirely of elected councillors. Districts will be allowed to secede from the PTA if they can make a good case for doing so, in respect of some functions if not all. These arrangements are democratic, practical, and flexible in substitution for a cumbersome, extravagant and ineffectual two-tier system, which is now totally discredited.

Before the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich speaks—she is clearly raring to go—I hope that she will desist from myth propagation and discuss rather more constructively the Bill's proposals. I realise that it is asking a great deal of her. She does not know entirely what our proposals are. After all, it was only two weeks ago that she spoke to the Bus and Coach Council conference where, I read in Local Transport, she made a: strong but thin speech. She has yet to acquire the mastery of the subject. Let us see whether she is any further up the learning curve now.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Crewe and Nantwich 4:01, 4 December 1984

Arrogance is an unlovable quality, whether it is found in individuals or in Government. It is arrogant of the Secretary of State to assume that he can introduce what is probably the most controversial Bill ever, certainly one of the most far-reaching, with such an incredibly superficial and muddled speech. We have already seen today that he is singularly uninterested in consulting the House of Commons about those aspects of the Bill that are vital to every hon. Member. It is clear that this particularly ambitious Bill will be an interesting litmus test of the Government's approach to a whole range of issues.

Transport spending makes up 45 per cent. of the budgets of the metropolitan county councils. Therefore, it is an ideal sector in which to check how serious is the Government's approach to their custody of our institutions. The Government can be tested on three separate criteria. First, on their attitude to wielding power, we have seen today that even in his dismissive mutterings the Secretary of State is not prepared to make clear the full implications of the legislation. Secondly, one of the spurious arguments eternally brought forward is that such and such will encourage efficiency. Thirdly, and much more importantly, the Bill is a sign of the concern—or rather the lack of it—that the Government feel for those who voted them into power. On all the three tests, the Bill is a clear sign that the Government have failed.

One could almost feel a certain amount of sympathy for the Secretary of State for the Environment because — [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We could almost feel sorry for him when we realise that he inherited this rag-bag of incompetent, ill-thought-out, arrogant nonsense, except the he did not have the guts to tell the Prime Minister that one line in a manifesto is an astonishingly bad preparation for one of the most major Bills that the country has seen. He should have had the courage to tell her that the creation of a Bill based on prejudice and malice is a bad test of a Government. We would have thought more of him if he had at least spoken out when he took over the Bill.

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Wanstead and Woodford

I may have news for the hon. Lady, because I took part in the year-long discussions before the election which led to this commitment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] As Secretary of State

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Wanstead and Woodford

As a former Secretary of State for Industry, I know that these proposals have the overwhelming support of all the bodies that represent industry and commerce, and pay the bulk of rates. Therefore, I can tell the hon. Lady that I am wholly in support of this measure and I have always had faith in it. I believe that it will be a good thing for the country.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Crewe and Nantwich

Are we therefore to conclude that, when Ministers came to the House shortly before the legislation was introduced and said that they had no intention of bringing in major changes, they were seeking to mislead us and that the Secretary of State knew about it and did not seek to come here and make a statement on his own account? That is hardly a good sign of responsibility.

Let us talk about the Government's attitude to democracy. They have decided to abolish the metropolitan county councils and the GLC. For public transport, we are told that passenger transport authorities will be created in each individual metropolitan county. The membership of these bodies will be nominated from the constituent councils, and we are assured that this will be fully democratic. Each one will provide members in proportion to the parties on that council. However, in effect this will reduce the true democracy of the PTAs. If the Government are not to be condemned for opposing democracy, they must have alternative justifications for this move. They have created governmental problems by removing a strategic transport authority, which is why they have openly admitted that one of the essentials of the Bill will be some co-operation between the councils to make up for this loss.

The consultation paper "Reallocation of Transport Responsibilities" mentioned the problem of the inherited debts from major projects such as the Mersey and Tyne tunnels and asked for agreement on how best to meet those. Clause 39 asks councils to agree on the operation of airports. Schedule 4(52) asks for co-operation in agreeing responsibility for bridges crossing boundaries. The consultation paper says that urban traffic control systems need to be centrally managed". However, the only response that it suggests is joint committees, despite having devolved the power for decisions on highways down to district level. This ensures that even the democracy of the lower tier powers will be subverted.

Some suggestion is made about road safety projects. For traffic monitoring, the paper that is doing away with proper planning suggests that the authority should set up a small central team, perhaps based on staff previously employed by the metropolitan county councils. In other words, on the one hand the Secretary of State does away with proper planning authority, and on the other he says that the new councils may have to set up teams, probably employing the staff who have been previously employed by metropolitan county councils.

In all these cases, failure to solve the problems of power in the new democratic state means the Secretary of State removing all control from the councils, and in effect taking unto himself the power to take all the major decisions. Whenever the councils cannot agree, the people who have brought about this enormous muddle will be those who will take the final decision.

A great deal of this legislation is irrelevant, because the Government never intended those councils to be making decisions in a free and open manner. Clause 64 means that the PTAs will be rate-capped for three years. So much for the Secretary of State's suggestion that they can decide on their own priorities. However, the wording on authorities being assessed differently implies that different councils within a passenger transport authority might be treated differently by the Secretary of State—especially if one of them decided to pull out of the passenger transport authority. That is a good example of the "Alice in Wonderland" degree to which the Government have been prepared to push this bizarre Bill.

Let us consider what would happen if one particular council decided that it would not accept the decisions taken by the councils on either side. It does not matter whether we are talking about manpower—because the Secretary of State will have the power to control manpower for three years—or the purchase of supplies and services or the operation of management. In future, if one council decides to opt out, it will be able to do so, with the agreement of the Secretary of State, irrespective of the interest of the people with whom it is supposed to be working.

What will happen if two authorities decide that they want a particular service and discover that the council in between is not prepared to agree? Under this legislation, there will be no conceivable way that they can reach agreement without going to the Secretary of State, who will exercise arbitrary powers to decide whether they should be allowed to go ahead. Even if the passenger transport authorities survive all that, the Secretary of State has written into the Bill an extra little power. Under clause 93 he may take general power to make any changes that appear to him to be a good idea in relation to any other Bill, whether or not it has been published. In other words, he could take decisions, using the powers in the legislation, which would affect something as basic and important as the buses Bill.

The conclusion to be drawn is very simple. The Government have reduced direct democracy and they plan to remove any part of the democracy that they dislike at any level. The Secretary of State's arbitrary decision-making powers will be the only thing that will decide the future in relation to very basic services.

A further argument used by the Government is that it is being done to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness. The consultation paper promises more efficient economical and convenient transport". The White Paper promises savings of £120 million, and the Secretary of State this afternoon has repeated the boast that we do not, of course, need 9,000 staff. None of the things claimed will happen and the Secretary of State knows that that is so.

The financial structure will certainly be changed but it will not be improved. The financing of transport structures will now become very isolated one from another for both passenger and road transport. It will be impossible for an authority trying to develop an area for business to spend cash for business aid in providing a better road network. That problem will be made far worse by the isolation of the financial structures at a lower level. Road planning has been separated from passenger transport. The Secretary of State said that integration was simply a fashion and that there was no need for an integrated transport system. That is very different from the sort of thing that he has been saying in regard to London.

When it is a Labour authority that is providing an integrated passenger transport system, such as Tyne and Wear, it must by definition be bad, but when the Secretary of State is talking in the abstract about the need to change the existing legislation, he feels that he can defend it on the basis that somehow or other open competition will provide a better service.

We know that it is not much use having one bus every five minutes if the roads are so congested that all the buses are late and many of them have nowhere to park. Tyne and Wear metro could not have been created if this legislatiion had been on the statute book. In 1976, in return for a promise to use the cash required to build the metro system, the authority gave an undertaking to the then Minister that it would not expand any of its major roads while the metro was under construction. That would not have been possible if this arbitrary legislation had already been in operation.

Merseyside shows why a strategic authority for both road and passenger transport is needed. In order to help reduce urban decay in Kirkby, the metropolitan county council electrified the rail link and increased the passengers by 300 per cent. It reorganised the bus services into the area and rebuilt the roads into the industrial estates, with massive motorway links. Those things could be done only by using an integrated planning system for both road and passenger transport facilities. The results were an immediate improvement, not only in jobs but in facilities.

Let us consider the suggestion that somehow or other the provisions of the Bill will make road organisation much easier. Highways are to be controlled not by the metropolitan county councils and the Greater London council but by the individual councils themselves. Instead of six authorities, there will now be 36 councils with responsibility for roads. For example, a non-trunk road which is essential to two non-adjacent councils can be undermined by the council in the middle deciding not to spend cash on the upkeep. The only answer there is for central Government to take over.

Traffic flow, which is improved by the urban traffic control systems, will be materially damaged by the proposed changes. The urban traffic control systems have made an enormous impact and brought about easier road travel. Merseyside has 3 million journeys a day, 90 per cent. of them by road. Urban traffic computer control systems have increased the traffic capacity by 20 per cent. That is far higher than the effects of building new roads, but they cost a great deal of money. Manchester pays £5·5 million. To maintain that system in future, every one of the 36 councils will have to find that kind of money. But the White Paper said that reorganisation provides the opportunity to eliminate the duplication of services". In addition, many of the councils will be rate-capped. Even if they needed to spend £5·5 million, the effect would be a 20 per cent. increase in traffic congestion from 1 April 1986.

There will be total chaos emerging from the lack of specialised units. The metropolitan counties are big enough to afford teams of engineers constantly checking and improving the road network. Those teams will now have to be duplicated or in some way or other supplanted. The consultation paper actually suggests employing the same people. The effect will be felt even in simple things such as the monitoring of traffic movements. It is financially viable at present because of the economies of scale, but it will be impossible for individual councils to employ people to carry out those basic and important services.

The Government say that it is essential for the councils and for Whitehall to have the information but, as the Secretary of State admitted today, he is going back to the system that existed before 1974, which led to the changes that were incorporated in the legislation at that time. As small councils did the road work, co-ordination was sadly lacking.

There were examples such as the west midlands bridgeguard project to protect bridges over the canal network. Monitoring did not happen, and the result was a build-up of massive problems requiring major studies. In the final analysis, Whitehall had to find 50 per cent. of the funding because of the extent of the job that was needed. We have been told today that the transport supplementary grant will be the system of payment for all that chaos, but the recent changes mean that the Government are committing themselves to checking projects individually—not from six councils but from 36 councils. That is what happened under the specific grants system in the 1960s. The result was that Whitehall was overwhelmed by paper and responded passively to the bids of the various councils. The tendency was to give in to the bigger councils. The other effect was that an inflation of bids was built into the system, so that every authority attempted to get the best slice of the cake.

There is a serious question as to whether the Government can cope with the detail of regulation involved. Figures for capital road spending in west Yorkshire show that the annual variation is large. In Leeds, capital road spending in 1976–77 involved £30 million; in 1978–79, £12 million; and in 1980–81, £58 million. Yet, we are told that by some magic planning, the Secretary of State will be able to sit in Whitehall and decide what should happen in these areas.

In case we are taken in by the suggestion that the business friends of the Secretary of State think there will be an improvement, it is interesting to note the comments of the Freight Transport Association, which stated: Our members' experience … since reorganisation in 1974 … has been very favourable. The association said that the metropolitan counties and the GLC were far less prone to make parochial decisions. Even transport circular No. 2/82 suggested appointing a freight officer. West Midlands took up the idea and produced plans for improving the opportunities for business to expand and create jobs. All that will be abandoned because the Secretary of State thinks that it is better to have many small, unviable, disorganised units.

The Bill will lead to increased costs, increased inefficiency and duplication and will harm business. There will be even greater problems for those people in the centre of large conurbations. The consultation paper makes it clear that more motorways and trunk roads for London are on the way. The metropolitan county councils are unlikely to be affected, although the Government retain powers to change that if they wish. Schedule 4 gives the Secretary of State power to make roads trunk roads—under his control—on abolition day. For London, schedule 5 adds on to that power clear powers to enforce the types of traffic regulation that the Secretary of State feels are apt, with the ability to do the work himself and to charge the councils if they refuse to comply.

The withdrawal of the Archway inquiry merely provides a little breathing space to allow a major London inquiry to go through. We shall then see the rebirth of the London motorway box. It will be the Secretary of State who will come to the House to say that it is important that people should be able to move through London to carry out their duties. The subsequent public inquiries, with many years of total disquiet for home owners, will be the legacy of this damaging change.

These major plans for London are meant to aid traffic flow and to reduce congestion, yet the GLC and other Labour-controlled metropolitan county councils have shown a far more effective method of cutting congestion in towns. The London transport "Fares Fair" policy cut the number of cars on the roads by 8 per cent. Since 1980, the number of people in Tyne and Wear preferring passenger transport to their own cars has risen by 7 per cent. The urban motorway costs £11 million a mile, but the GLC policy on fares brought in extra profits of £45 million in one year and did the same job that the Government's intended motorway policy was to do.

The Government are willing to throw away the benefits of public transport. Before 1974 in the west midlands even the five municipal operators followed different policies. The structure of the metropolitan counties allowed Tyne and Wear to integrate bus services to feed the metro. The four major interchanges all have car parks. In Sunderland, which lacks a metro, the metropolitan county councils fund British Rail to provide an alternative, but still integrated, service. Through ticketing becomes possible, because everything lies within the control of one authority. In a period when the Government said that public transport has declined, the effect has been an increase of 29 million journeys on the system between 1974 and 1983, when it reached 311 million journeys.

Once the passenger transport authorities are created, councils will be able to opt out if the Secretary of State says that they can. What happens if a bus route goes over a council boundary? Does the council still have to pay for it? Will the fares remain the same in all the areas? Clause 93 gives the answer. The Government are using the Bill specifically to give extra teeth to the enforcement of the as yet unpublished buses Bill. The deregulation of services can be enforced and the passenger transport authorities will have to comply. The White Paper on buses is central to the plans that have been written into the Bill.

On top of that, we should be aware that the level of grants implies that there will be a cut of between 25 and 30 per cent. during the next three years. For Tyne and Wear that means, at worst, a £23 million cut in fares. The effect will he that at least 1,000 staff will be made redundant at a cost of £8 million. The Coopers and Lybrand report shows, however, that a Government inquiry in 1982 into the five metropolitan counties revealed that every extra £1 of subsidy could give an extra £1·20 or £1·30 worth of extra services. That is real efficiency, and the Government's blank refusal to accept it owes everything to prejudice and nothing to common sense.

While Labour's metropolitan county councils and the GLC have been much more efficient, they have also been a great deal more caring. We have always been told that this is the Government who care for the people. What do the Government plan to do to those who rely on public transport? The London Regional Transport Act 1984 led London boroughs into agreeing to pay collectively for a basic scheme, but there has been no such promise for the metropolitan county councils. On 21 May 1984, in an oral answer, the Minister of State, Department of Transport, said that after abolition the maintenance of a concessionary scheme was entirely up to passenger transport authorities … I believe that these matters are rightly decided by district councils". —[Official Report, 21 May 1984; Vol. 60, c. 669.] The hon. Lady gave a written answer on 23 October in which she stated: It is for the local authorities concerned to decide the extent to which they are prepared to fund concessionary travel". — [Official Report, 23 October 1984; Vol. 65, c. 533.] Yet, we were told later: Concessionary fares for the elderly are of great importance." —[Official Report, 25 November 1984; Vol. 49, c. 631.] There are 1 million people involved, but the Government are totally uninterested in and indifferent to the needs of those people. Worse still, the Government's consultation document on concessionary fares makes it plain that, in a deregulated and privatised environment, the travelcard approach to concessionary fares will be much too complex to operate, because far too many companies will be involved. Therefore, we are told that everyone can have a nice little book of tokens. It is important for us to ensure that all the old-age pensioners who at present rely on their bus passes, and all those other people who need public transport to get to the shops, to take their children to school and to get to work, understand how indifferent the Government are to their true needs. The Government's attitude is simple: "You will be given a book of tokens, and once you have used your tokens, that is unfortunate. That will be the end of your concessionary fare."

I doubt whether one Conservative Member has ever in his life been solely dependent on public transport.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

Does my hon. friend agree that the reply many of us are receiving from the Secretary of State or one of his Ministers about the issue of concessionary fares once abolition occurs is unsatisfactory? It explains why so many of our constituents are worried and why there is a heavy constituency postbag of letters from pensioners along the lines I have just mentioned.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Crewe and Nantwich

Many old people will find themselves trapped in their homes if they are deprived of their concessionary fares. [Interruption.] It is all very well for the Secretary of State. He plans to deprive the rural poor of any bus services, so why should we imagine that he is interested in saving fares or transport for the people who live in the cities?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

The hon. Lady must learn to get her facts right. Let me tell her what we have said about concessionary fares. They will remain, as the Labour party has already said that they should remain, the responsibility of local authorities. It will be for local authorities to decide whether to have a pass or a token scheme. In no sense are any of the arrangemens of local authorities for token or pass schemes being changed. Concessionary fares remain exactly as they are, both under this Bill and future Bills. Will the hon. Lady now stop trying to stir up this myth and frighten old people, because it is a wicked and uncaring thing for her to do?

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Crewe and Nantwich

The Secretary of State may find it uncomfortable that many people are now beginning to understand the extent of the damage that he is going to do. He should have thought of that before he allowed himself to be involved in this appalling legislation. The effect of the concessionary fare changes is simple. They will deprive the elderly and the disabled and, in the final analysis, they will make many of the basic services, which make all the difference to the quality of life of such people, unattainable over a certain point. If he is ashamed—

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Crewe and Nantwich

I shall give way in a minute.

If the Secretary of State is really ashamed of what he is doing, let him not try to hide it. Let him apologise and agree to remove all of this from the Bill.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

My complaint about the hon. Lady is that she is not telling the truth. The Bill contains no alteration to the system of concessionary fares, nor does our White Paper on buses. That system remains exactly as it is. Will she please accept that that is the case and stop trying to twist what I have been saying simply for her own purposes of stirring up trouble?

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Crewe and Nantwich

It is true that the system will be the responsibility of councils, which will be rate-capped. It is true that there will be a system of tokens. That is not the same as a bus pass or a concessionary fare, which allows people to travel freely. It is true that the Secretary of State is now uncomfortable because that is becoming public knowledge.

Photo of Robert Wareing Robert Wareing , Liverpool, West Derby

Will my hon. Friend comment on the position in the Sefton metropolitan district in Merseyside, where the deplorable voucher system that she has just explained to the House appertained until the Labour-controlled Merseyside county council came on the scene and subsidised the concessionary fares which are being phased in for pensioners? That is the sort of policy that the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Thornton) defended yesterday when he attacked the Merseyside county council in his speech.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Crewe and Nantwich

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. We should be clear that that is the sort of change that will follow in the wake of the Bill. We shall have to make it clear to the public at large that local councils will have to decide not their priorities but which of the necessary services they will have to abandon. Passenger transport authorities could find themselves losing their homes because they will be rate-capped under existing legislation.

Let us look at what is happening to some of the services that are provided in London. The dial-a-ride scheme is available for those who cannot use buses because of their disablement. After three years that service serves 6,000 people a month in 30 boroughs. The GLC provides 90 per cent. of the funds. But those who run the dial-a-ride scheme have already gained the impression from councils, even those that helped to set it up because they believed in it, that they will be unable to fund it after the change has taken place. Yet the service costs the GLC only £3·5 million compared with the £400 million subsidy on the main London Transport network. Disabled people are paying for the other transport systems but are unable to use them.

The London taxicard system costs the GLC £2·5 million and has 26,000 members. That gives disabled people £6-worth of travel for £1. In case there should be any argument about who takes advantage of such systems, I should point out that they are available only to those with a mobility allowance and a general practitioner's note. That scheme, like so many others, will be abandoned because of the Government's complete lack of interest in the needs of the elderly and the disabled.

Let us look at the real implications of the Bill. It is not about improving local transport. It is not about lowering rates. The Bill is about the power of the Secretary of State to impose upon democratically elected councils his despotic and arrogant views. It is about the vindictiveness of those who cannot control democratic authorities that have taken basic decisions in transport to the advantage of those who elected them. The price of this legislation will be far too high for the people of the metropolitan counties and the GLC. It will leave large conurbations without properly planned transport systems. It will leave large numbers of the electorate unable to decide the future of the systems that they particularly want. Basic decisions will be taken, not by the people for whom the electorate voted, but by those who are arbitrarily appointed by the Secretary of State.

The cost of the Bill to the electorate will be high. But, as usual under the Government, the highest cost will be paid by those less able to cope. The cost of the Bill will be discomfort and unhappiness for the old, lack of transport for the disabled and arrogant insensitivity to the real transport needs of the people of the metropolitan counties.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup 4:37, 4 December 1984

I intervene, I hope briefly, in the debate, speaking as a London Member. I have represented Bexley now for nearly 35 years and the last 20 of them have been with Bexley in the Greater London area. During the first 10 years we were in Kent, the county where I was born. When the Conservative Government of 1959–64 introduced their local government reforms, when the London county council became the GLC, they did so because it was clearly seen at the time that it was necessary to have a wider area with an overall authority in order to provide the services required in the modern world by London as a capital and by all the people who live there. That was based on the Herbert report. It was done quite determinedly. Of course, there was at the time some criticism, including some from my area which disliked leaving Kent and becoming part of the GLC. But the purpose was clear and the Government of the time knew what they were doing.

I would like to say to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment that many Conservative Members, particularly London Members, are not concerned with all the contradictions which the Opposition have uttered from time to time. We are not at all concerned when Mr. Ken Livingstone makes idiotic remarks about what should or should not happen to the GLC. We are concerned with the good government of London, and this is for us a deep anxiety.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, in what can only be described as a pathetic image of a speech, made great play about the Greater London council having a plan to deal with heavy lorries, but he has been complaining that no authority has ever made any attempt to deal with the problem of London's traffic. It interested me that my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Transport, for whom I have great respect and affection, was asked about this question. It was put to her that Mr. Livingstone was proposing to take action to deal with heavy lorries. What was her reply? It was sensible and reasonable. She said that there should be a full public inquiry immediately into the control of lorries in London. I entirely agree with that and that is what the Government are now saying. However, they are prepared to wipe out the GLC and the government of London without any public inquiry. What a contradiction! This is why the Government have landed themselves continuously in a ghastly mess.

What grieves me about it is that some of my right hon. and hon. Friends who have worked most closely with me and who I respect and admire have allowed themselves to be embroiled. The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave), who is not present in the Chamber, was mixed up with the paving legislation. He was obviously in an impossible position. He had earlier expressed clearly in a book his views about democracy, which involved decreasing the power of central Government and increasing the power of local government. He then found himself asked to handle the paving legislation. He had to stand on his head to do it and the contents of his book were thrown at him to show him that he should not be standing on his head. Yesterday my right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government had his entire book thrown at him, whereupon he denied it all and said, in effect, "I have been standing on my head all the time". He implied that it was all our fault for not realising it. My great and right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment says, "It does not matter whether I am standing on my feet or on my head. That makes no difference." This is embarrassing to someone who is trying to be helpful.

The Bill contains proposals for a major constitutional change and it comes without precedent because no public inquiry has been carried out as a basis for it. What is more, the case against the GLC and the metropolitan counties remains unproven. No substantial evidence has been produced for abolishing the GLC or the metropolitan counties. If the case is proved, why do not the Government abolish the shire counties as well, some of which are larger than the metropolitan authorities? Some of them have larger populations than those of the metropolitan counties and they are more remote from the people than the authorities that are to be abolished. There is no logic in the Government's approach to local government. That is why I repeat that the case against the GLC and the metropolitan counties remains unproven.

On what grounds are we being asked to abolish the GLC and the metropolitan counties? This is the third stage of a long and sad saga. The first stage involved the Inner London education authority. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science, with an insight which he developed with extraordinary rapidity and which I hope will be revealed on future occasions, agreed at once that there should not be an appointed ILEA. He announced that he would have a directly elected ILEA. The second stage was the paving legislation. The Government's arguments were advanced and not accepted. The Lords intervened to good effect and killed that nonsense. The last sad part of the saga is being justified on the ground that the proposals were set out in the Conservative party's manifesto. They were put in nine days after the election was called against the wishes of the party policy committee. They were inserted without the general agreement of those who had been London Conservative Members. The consequences are now apparent for all to see.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup

No, I shall not give way.

The argument cannot be sustained that something must be done because the proposal has been placed in a manifesto. First, everyone knows that the general election was not about this issue. That is revealed in David Butler's authoritative account of the general election, which appears after each general election has taken place. These proposals are not even mentioned. I was asked once or twice about the matter in my constituency and I said, "I am not prepared to accept this until I know what will be in its place." That was my position and everybody knows that.

If my right hon. Friends say that the issue played some part in the election, they must recognise that a democratic Government still have to justify to the House what they are doing even though proposals were set out in the party's manifesto. No democratic Government have ever been able to say, "It was in the party's manifesto so we shall do it." The case has not been proven and there is no satisfactory action being taken. That which appeared in the manifesto does not prevent there being an overall body for London or for the metropolitan counties.

I have one word of advice for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment which I hope he will find helpful. If those in another place throw out the Bill, he will not be able to do anything; but if they amend it, he should be ready with a plan for the overall government of London together with the rest of the Bill. I give him that simple and straightforward advice. Let the Government not come forward with the idea that the House of Commons should have a London Committee. We all know that that is not to the point. Such a committee would not have been democratically elected for London. Furthermore, such a committee could be altered. We all know that the Scottish Grand Committee has often been adjusted by various Governments to suit their own purposes. We need an overall elected body for London and, I believe, for the metropolitan counties.

What justification is there for saying that there will be better or more economical administration if we remove six metropolitan counties and appoint 18 joint boards with an unnumbered series of committees? There have been various costings, but no one can prove any figures because there has not been an independent and impartial inquiry. Two of the largest firms of accountants have produced different answers. The cost of the changeover is being grossly underestimated. I am talking not of the sum which the Government hope to save when the Bill has been implemented but the cost of changing a local government system and the disturbance cost, which continues. We learnt all about this in 1963–64 and 1973–74. The cost of the disturbance is extremely high. I know that it will be far greater on this occasion than the cost which was incurred in 1963–64 or 1973–74.

Will local government be brought closer to the people by these means? Most forms of local government will not come closer to them. A large amount of it will go to bodies of councillors who will be indirectly elected. They will not be closer to the people. Most of our constituents have the utmost difficulty in knowing who their councillors are, and they will certainly not be able to find out who their indirectly elected councillors are. In the London area—I cannot speak for elsewhere—GLC councillors are often much better known than the councillors of individual boroughs.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup

I am saying only that the chances of an indirectly elected councillor being known and of people being able to go to him are very remote. That is why I do not approve of creating a mass of indirectly elected bodies.

I deplore what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport and others have said about Conservative councillors and about these bodies when they had Conservative majorities. I believe that they did excellent work and that their achievements were remarkable. That applies to the former Conservative-controlled GLC as well as to some of the metropolitan counties. I see no reason why Ministers should stand at the Dispatch Box and abuse Conservative councillors for the work that they have done. I find that deplorable. To say that those councils that have had Conservative councillors for so long are no longer creditable is a condemnation of what our own party has done, and I repeat that I find that deplorable.

The Bill will put an extraordinary accretion of powers into the hands of the Secretary of State. Very well—I trust my right hon. Friend; but what will happen when another party comes into power?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup

No democratic body is entitled to say that there will never be another party in power. The powers will be there to use, and it will use them deplorably.

Photo of Mr Tony Marlow Mr Tony Marlow , Northampton North

It can take them anyway.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup

How can my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow), even with his might and massive intellect, take away powers when he is in opposition? We are witnessing the complete fragmentation of local government for one reason — which the hon.

Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) touched on — so that the Government can have more power over local authorities to deny them the money that their electors want them to have to carry out the services that are needed. That is the situation into which we are gradually being dragged, and it is more damaging than anything else.

I shall make one last point about the politics of the issue. I have so far tried not to introduce party politics into the debate, but I must ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to consider what will happen as a result of the legislation. What will be the political influence in London? The hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) smiles. Of course he does. The London Boroughs Association will be Labour controlled. That is what will happen.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup

I must be honest with my Front Bench. What will happen in Manchester? With additional powers, Manchester city council will be far more extreme than the Greater Manchester council. That is what will happen. As a Conservative, I do not see the point of this. Of course, I value integrity in politics enormously, but this Bill seems to be carrying integrity just a little too far. I have no desire to hand over such a large area of local government, with more and more power, to our adversaries, yet that is precisely what the Government are doing. The Government have enough things to look after — quite hard things—and we already seem to be upsetting quite a number of people without any need to upset them further with all this.

I therefore ask my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to think ahead to the point at which he will be forced to have an overall London authority, which will then be a reformed one. Such a reform should have been carried out earlier in a different way. Provision was made for that to be done, but the Government did not pursue it. In local authority matters one should always, above all, move slowly and cautiously. I am afraid that that is what the Government have failed to recognise on this occasion. Accordingly, I ask my right hon. Friend to think ahead to the stage at which he will be required to provide an overall authority for the greatest capital in the world and for the metropolitan boroughs.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 4:55, 4 December 1984

I hope to refer a little later to the speech of the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), but I should like first to refer to the comments of the Secretary of State, because he came to the Dispatch Box again today to reiterate what he had said during the early life of these proposals.

Yet again, the right hon. Gentleman says that the plans for abolition were the most carefully thought out part of the Government's manifesto. Those few lines in the Tory manifesto claiming that the metropolitan counties and the GLC were wasteful and unnecessary led the Secretary of State into the early confident prediction that abolition would lead to savings of many millions of pounds for the ratepayers of those areas. Unhappily for the Secretary of State, the responses to his White Paper and to the Bill all seem to be out of step with what he tells us are the most carefully researched conclusions, which he himself was involved in.

I believe that only a very small percentage—about 10 per cent. out of over 5,000 responses, some of them coming from closely involved financial bodies — favoured changes such as the Government intend in the Bill; and the findings of the independent management consultants show that the case for change is both overstated and misleading. In fact, there are unlikely to be savings. It is more likely that significant extra costs will be placed on ratepayers if the Government get the changes that they are demanding. To some extent, the Secretary of State has now changed his tune. Yesterday, when presenting his Bill, he no longer insisted that abolition would lead to savings of many millions of pounds. He was much more modest than that, and simply said, "There will be savings."

But there has also been an admittance that expenditure issues are no longer central to the right hon. Gentleman's case for abolition. What, then, is the central issue? It could be, as many of my hon. Friends have suggested, that he simply wishes to get rid of Labour-controlled councils and that legislating them out of existence is a sure way of doing it. I think that there may be something in that. Or it could be, as the Minister says—he said it yesterday, too—that it was a commitment on which the Conservative party fought and won the last election, and that the Government have a duty to uphold the rights of majorities.

The right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup was very interesting today on that point, just as he was during the television debate on Friday evening. I agreed with what he said then, which was that there is nothing wrong with upholding the rights of majorities in many cases; but that is not what is happening with regard to the GLC and the metropolitan counties. He said that in this case the Government were not upholding the rights of democratic majorities, because it had been made quite clear that people want their local organisations to stay and do not want to put the power into the hands of central Government. Indeed, they believe that central Government already has too much power. I do not want to misquote the right hon. Gentleman, but I understood him to say that whatever a majority Government do—it is a most important point—is not a doctrine that he, as a democrat, can accept and that the criteria of democracy should be applied to what an elected Government do with that majority. He reminded those viewers that that was what Lord Hailsham was getting at when he talked about an "elective dictatorship". It seems to me that the central issue is also one of dogma.

Those few lines in the Tory manifesto which bring major changes are to be implemented and the checks and balances of public opinion which a democracy by its very nature has to take into account are being pushed aside by the Government who are replacing an elective democracy with an "elective dictatorship".

I want to restrict my remarks to some of the sections dealing with the transfer of powers and, particularly, with the transfer of powers of the trading standards officers and the effect that the legislation is likely to have upon those whom I represent.

Not long ago, I was at the west midlands county analytical laboratory. It is a laboratory which is equipped with some of the latest computerised, scientific instruments. Apart from analysing many thousands of samples of food products each year, it leads the fight in exposing many falsely described products, some of which are produced in this country, but especially those which are manufactured cheaply abroad and come flooding into the country because of the relaxation of import controls.

I have masses of evidence of offences committed under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 by the sale of many goods which do not meet the safety regulations. There are poisonous items which contain in many cases more than 10 times the permitted level of lead. The county council can bring prosecutions. It does so successfully. How can the system operate in future when that laboratory—it is rather like the golf course which my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) mentioned yesterday—is broken into seven parts, and when seven technicians and seven legal experts are required, and when seven back-up services are needed because the service that the laboratory provides is being broken up?

Other hon. Members have seen the work that goes on at Garratt green and at that laboratory. I was pleased to see also that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) shares my views about the laboratory and has gone on record to say that the laboratory cannot possibly be recreated in smaller parts. That is what is being suggested by the transfer of power clauses in the Bill.

The Minister talks about costs. The Under-Secretary may have already received estimates from the West Midlands county council which tell him that the trading standards department will have to provide 15 per cent. more money a year if the service is to be transferred to the districts. That is an increase of 15 per cent. to provide an existing service at district level.

I know that much of that detailed evidence is the result of work that will be of use in Committee, but it must also be placed on record here because many of the people whom I represent live in those areas which will be badly affected if the Government get their way.

More recently, prosecutions have been brought against some supermarkets operating in the black country towns — some, of them in my constituency — where it was found that 11 stores were selling items at a price higher than that shown in the local promotional advertising and, of course, contravening the Trade Descriptions Acts.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

My hon. Friend and I are in virtually adjoining constituencies. Has she had the experience that I have had? Although I have received a large number of letters from constituents about the abolition of the county council and the danger to bus passes, I have yet to receive a letter supporting the Government's proposal.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

That is so, and it is one of the reasons why I went to see what was happening in the consumer departments so that when we were discussing the Bill—if I happen to be involved in Committee — I should know a little more detail about it.

If the Government were to get their way, it would take seven district councils to ensure that the housewife was not being cheated. That will not happen in the event of a break-up, because districts will not be able to provide services on a district basis, and many district councils do not have the will, the ability or resources to perform the specialised service that is carried out by one organisation.

The Minister yesterday spoke of sucking power upward away from the people. He is attempting to diffuse power and deny people the specialist service that they have the right to expect. In my area of the west midlands — I shall repeat this about an area that I am proud to represent —there are high levels of unemployment. The people in that area have little enough money in their purses right now. They have the right to expect value for that money. Some of the social structure that supports them in this way is being removed.

I wish to turn to the effect that the Government's changes will have on industry. As the Minister will be aware, the west midlands is the centre of the weighing machine manufacturing industry. Manufacturers in my constituency welcome the expertise of the council's staff not simply in testing the accuracy of weighing machines — whether they are accurate in weighing a pound of flour or 10 tonnes of steel—but because in recent years they have moved into a whole new ball game. The trading standards department and the manufacturers work together on advances in technology and what requirements are needed to make machinery suitable, adaptable and legally acceptable in future developments.

There is no business man I know in that region who relishes the idea of dealing with seven local authorities. They want uniformity. They do not want seven hands on the tiller; they want one hand on the tiller. The CBI has made it clear that it does not relish the idea either because it will produce inconsistency of enforcement and it will be costly. They need to make the best use of equipment and specialist staff.

I have a submission from the CBI which recommended that the trading standards functions should continue to be carried out on a country-wide level. It has already told the Government of the poor record of voluntary co-operation in the London boroughs where all but one of the voluntary arrangements have broken down. The CBI submission says that its experience leads us to believe that devolving this service to the districts will not achieve the consistency we need and will increase costs. The CBI could not have made it clearer than that.

The CBI is not the only friend of the Government to be vocal in its concern about this. The Retail Consortium added its voice and said that the present system was working well and allowed for development of specialist areas of expertise which smaller units would dissipate. It expressed anxiety in seeing that the enforcement of existing law is as consistent as possible. In its submission it went so far as to say that with the proliferation of complex EEC directives the need for uniformity of approach is all the more vital. All those who are familiar with the system and who use it routinely and daily know that it cannot work well if it is broken up into 36 parts, and they know that the Government have it wrong.

Voluntary joint arrangements will not continue for long, and the quality of service is bound to fall as a result because districts of differing party hues and persuasions will have different views on the level of resources that they feel they should provide. That has proved to be the position in London. There is every reason to believe that the same will take place in the county areas unless the service is properly co-ordinated and given the statutory powers of enforcement.

Whoever has drawn up the transfer proposals in the schedule does not know how the system works. They have not looked at the progress that has been made in the past 10 years. The proposals are imprecise. They are woolly. The Minister must take a more realistic look at them before the Bill gets to the Committee stage. He must use his common sense. We want less interference from central Government, not more. We need one committee in each of the metropolitan county areas, backed up by statutory powers to get on with the job. I hope that the Minister will not break up this area of service to the people of this country, to industry and to the many who regard it and use it every day as a vital part of their work and their daily lives.

Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Hornsey and Wood Green 5:10, 4 December 1984

I trust that my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) will forgive me if I do not follow his line of argument on the Bill. He will recall that for many years I have always taken a consistent and independent line on these matters. I believe that I am able to claim—or, dependent upon one's point of view, to confess—that I am the only Member of this House who was deeply engaged in London local government, both as a borough councillor and as a county councillor, at the time of reorganisation in 1964–65.

I well remember the trauma of those days and my own feeling of great sadness, tinged with some anger, that so many good men and women of both major political parties, who had given many years of dedicated service to their local communities, should suddenly find themselves with no further outlet for their desire for public service. Therefore, I can well understand the feelings of GLC members today who have devoted many years of their lives to their authority. However, I have to say that my nine years of experience in local government led me to the clear conclusion in 1965 that a two-tier system for London was quite wrong, that it had led to unnecessary duplication of functions, over-large bureaucracies, and inevitable conflict between the two tiers. That conflict was particularly bitter between the old metropolitan boroughs and the LCC. It was less bitter but still present between Middlesex and the district council upon which I served.

My hopes for reorganisation in those days were to give county borough status to enlarged district councils. I was very much in the minority in my own party over this, mainly because of the fear of the precedent that this might create in respect of the counties outside London. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup referred to that point. The Labour party was totally opposed to the creation of the GLC, mainly because it saw that body, as it was first envisaged with areas of Hertfordshire and Surrey included, being under permanent Conservative control. My own feelings ran so deep that, when I came to this House in 1966 and was offered an aldermanic seat on the Greater London Council, to act as a liaison between that body and the shadow Cabinet here, I declined. I suppose that refusal of an immediate entrée to shadow Cabinet meetings is not the most auspicious way for a young, newly elected Member of Parliament to commence his parliamentary career. Certainly I recall receiving the message that the Chief Whip of that day was not best pleased with me, yet the whole of my political experience to that date militated against my being a party to those new arrangements.

Moreover, some of my hon. and right hon. Friends will recall that in 1976, when I hope I waxed eloquent from the Opposition Dispatch Box against the iniquities of the Labour Government daring to propose the cancellation of the GLC elections for the following year, when the whole of London was crying out for the right to exercise their vote against a wasteful and incompetent Labour-controlled authority, I promised for the Opposition that sooner or later this House would have to consider the abolition altogether of the Greater London council, not merely put off its elections. And so it has come to pass.

I have put my credentials on this issue before the House in this way because of the suggestion that my hon. Friends are motivated by political spite. I trust that I have shown that I am motivated and have been consistently motivated by what I believe, from my own experiences, to be in the best interests of local government in London and of the people of London. It is the Labour party which has completely changed its stance, for clearly political reasons. It is my own party which has eventually recognised the wisdom of giving to borough councils the powers which should have been vested in them in 1965. Certainly housing, development control and local traffic management are matters which should never have been with the Greater London council. To that extent I welcome and rejoice today in the Bill.

Furthermore, I do not share the misgivings of some that certain and specific Londonwide functions should be put under the management of non-elected bodies. I recall that at one time the London ambulance service was run by an elected LCC, and subsequently by the GLC. When the responsibility for this service was transferred a few years ago to the non-elected health authorities, there was no great outcry. Nor, I venture to suggest, has any London Member received any representations from his constituents that the ambulance service should be returned to the GLC.

The London fire service is a comparable service. The structure of the service is well established. What is required is efficient management. Many believe that this kind of service can be better provided by professional management which does not have to waste its time upon preparing innumerable memoranda for ceaseless rounds of committee meetings. Certainly the experiment, for a few years, of putting London Transport under an elected body led only to its becoming a political football between the parties, to the detriment of the service provided.

Also the docklands development board, which I urged should be created, has proved to be a success in a way that the GLC, because of all the bitter squabbles with the boroughs concerned, was not able to show. If that development had been left with the GLC and the boroughs, I dare say that the London docklands would still be an area of abysmal dereliction and devastation.

However, I have to say to my hon. and right hon. Friends that the detailed proposals before us do give rise to some concern. I regret that greater attention has apparently not been paid to the proposals of Frank Marshall, now Lord Marshall, of 1977. I personally have little confidence in joint boards because, psychologically, councillors feel that they owe their first loyalty to the councils to which they have been elected. I realise the fear of my right hon. Friends that another Londonwide authority might grow into another GLC, but I do wonder how much study has been put into the possibility of a Greater London assembly to deal with essentially strategic matters without it necessarily being a local authority, with all such powers being grafted upon it by the general body of legislation. I should be far happier if I could be assured that this option had been explored and researched in depth and not merely dismissed out of hand through unfounded fears and lack of time.

To turn to a more specific matter, I am extremely apprehensive about the proposals for the funding of voluntary organisations under clause 46. I fear that some very important voluntary organisations may have to wait for ever and go into liquidation before two thirds of the councils of the London boroughs can be persuaded to agree to joint funding.

I have an interest to declare. I am a patron of the Greater London Association for the Disabled which does invaluable work co-ordinating and acting as an advisory service for small, voluntary organisations concerned with disabled people throughout Greater London. I first became fully aware of its activities when I was Minister with responsibility for the disabled and I was anxious to fund it by what are known as section 64 grants. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment will recall from his days at the DHSS that those grants are given by the Department to approved voluntary bodies undertaking work that the Department might otherwise have to do for itself.

I was unable to give assistance to GLAD because of the rule that such grants may be paid only to voluntary organisations that operate nationally. With the disappearance of the GLC and the met counties, it would be far better to extend the rule so that section 64 grants may be paid on a regional as well as a national basis. That would be far more satisfactory and a more helpful proposal than that contained in clause 46 for joint funding by the boroughs.

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith , Islington South and Finsbury

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the major problem in the proposals in clause 46 is subsection (3), which instructs the Secretary of State to place a maximum limit on the grants that can be made available by the new process? Is not the hon. Gentleman worried that the amounts announced by the Secretary of State so far are wholly inadequate to replace the grants currently made available by the GLC?

Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Hornsey and Wood Green

No, I am not worried about that. I know the generosity of the DHSS to voluntary organisations that are doing a useful job. Those organisations are not such doubtful bodies as are some of the voluntary groups sponsored by the GLC. I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman. The matter could be left to the Secretaries of State concerned.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment will also recall that in the recent debate on his departmental Estimates I proposed, on behalf of the Select Committee on the Environment, that power be given to the Department of the Environment and the Home Office to make section 64 grants.

I conclude with a parochial matter—the future of Hampstead heath, part of which is in my constituency. I note from clause 42 that Kenwood, which adjoins the heath, is to be vested in the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, along with an unspecified amount of land. I ask that the whole of Hampstead heath should become the specified land. It would be undesirable for Hampstead heath to be split between the three boroughs whose boundaries it crosses — Barnet, Camden and Haringey. That would be a recipe for disagreement and inaction.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Crewe and Nantwich

That is what the Bill is about.

Photo of Mr Hugh Rossi Mr Hugh Rossi , Hornsey and Wood Green

If the hon. Lady had listened to my speech, she would have heard me express my views on the Bill.

If Hampstead heath cannot be transferred to the commission because that body is not designed to husband large acreages of land, I suggest that the Secretary of State for the Environment should consider designating the heath as a royal park, so that it can be taken over by his Department.

I welcome the Bill's overall objective of the abolition of the GLC, which I have sought for many a year—if I had had more influence at the time, the council would never have come into existence—and I welcome the transfer of most of its powers to the borough councils. However, there are improvements to be made to the Bill which I invite my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to consider and about which he should have second thoughts.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 5:24, 4 December 1984

It was originally proposed that this year's House of Commons Christmas card should show the fire that destroyed the Palace of Westminster in 1834–150 years ago last month. Instead, our Christmas card shows an etching made in 1889 and the note inside the card says: In this vintage year, Barnum and Bailey's Circus opened at Olympia; Gilbert and Sullivan's Gondoliers enjoyed its first night; and the London County Council was formed. As the card states, Lord Salisbury was the Prime Minister at that time; the LCC was set up under a Conservative Government. The card records other notable events of that year, including the birth of Charlie Chaplin— in my constituency — and the writing of "Three Men in a Boat".

Since 1889, there have been 28 occasions when the citizens of London have voted for their council. The Government propose that that will not happen again. Since 1962, after the publication of the Herbert report, my party has argued consistently that there should be regional government throughout Britain, including London, and, at the lowest possible level, a single tier of local government for local services.

That view was also put forward by the present Secretary of State for Education and Science when he was the Minister of Housing and Local Government. Moving the Second Reading of the London Government Bill, the right hon. Gentleman said that there was wide acceptance of the Government's conclusion in 1957 that a Royal Commission was needed. He said: The Commission sat for nearly three years and received evidence from a wide range of local government and other bodies and individuals. In a masterly Report … the Commission set out its reasons for its unanimous conclusion that the present structure is inadequate to deal with the many major problems of the present day. The right hon. Gentleman said: We must be sure that the structure of local government allows locally elected people to play their part in tackling these great problems, which go to the very root of all that makes for the character of a town and, in large measure, for the quality of living which its people enjoy. The obvious basic requirement … is that the organisation should provide the means for the interlocking problems of local government to be comprehensively studied over a sufficiently wide area to make possible both effective planning and the effective execution of the plans. The right hon. Gentleman concluded: …Greater London is, in a very real sense, a single city. Admittedly, it embraces many places of distinctive character which attract strong loyalties. However, the right hon. Gentleman suggested that it should be considered for strategic and Government purposes as one area. He pointed out that the Royal Commission had rejected the alternative of central Government filling the gap in the local administrative structure, because that would be the death knell of responsible local self-government in Greater London. The right hon. Gentleman said on this point that the commission was "plainly right". The commission also decided that ad hoc authorities were unacceptable and, in the passage that I quoted earlier to the Secretary of State for Transport, the Minister gave a good and continuingly convincing reason for rejecting joint boards.

Local government reform should be judged by a simple test. I am happy to agree that test by quoting from the speech made on Second Reading of the London Government Bill by my predecessor for the Bermondsey part of my constituency. Mr. Robert Mellish said that there could be only one test: the real test, and the only test, is whether the new structure will mean services as good as we are getting now or better than we are getting now … if the Bill fails on this test, there is no case which can be sustained for saying that these London boroughs and the outer areas all have to be changed." — [Official Report, 10 December 1962; Vol. 669, c. 51–143.] The then hon. Member for Orpington, now my noble Friend Lord Avebury, whose grandfather was the first chairman of the LCC spoke for the Liberal party. With some reservations, we supported the Bill. The Labour party opposed it.

Less than 10 years later the Redcliffe-Maud Commission reported, and in November 1971 the present Secretary of State for Energy, then the Secretary of State for the Environment, introduced another Bill. This Bill dealt with a much greater range of local government reform, including the establishment of the six metropolitan county councils. I could make many relevant comments about that debate, but I shall make only two.

The Labour party and my colleagues in the House at the time opposed the reform in relation to the metropolitan counties because it fell short of our objective of having proper regional government and real local government. However, we accepted the point made by the Secretary of State for the Environment when he said: I do not believe that people in Whitehall are particularly good at fixing matters like this"— referring to minutiae, such as fixing ferry fares, approving burial fees and fees for markets— which would be much better left to local discretion. Many of the proposals now before the House are of the same level of local detail, but will end up being decided by Secretaries of State for the Environment. On that occasion the Labour party voted against the Bill, describing it as having the uninhabitability of the half-way house." — [Official Report, 16 November 1971; Vol. 826, c. 234–250]. We agreed with that criticism then, and now make the same criticism of this latest Bill.

The Bill could have achieved a great deal. It could have provided for regional councils for London, the north-west of England, Yorkshire, the north-east, the west midlands and the rest. It could have created regional government. London comes closest to it at the moment; that is why we in the Liberal party have only ever supported the disappearance of the GLC if it were to be replaced by a fully regional government in London. In abolishing the metropolitan county councils, the Bill could have transferred strategic regional powers to regions and the remaining powers to the districts. It could and should have set up urban or parish councils in all metropolitan areas. People often say that their nearest tier of government is far too big. They say it in Southwark and I know that they say it elsewhere. They want to have a very local tier of government, which deals with local matters that affect the community that they know and love. The Bill could have achieved that, but it has not.

The Bill seeks to abolish the GLC for no good reason. I remind the Government that the share of the vote that the present GLC administration received at the last GLC election was higher than that which the Government got at the last general election when they sought their mandate. The Bill seeks to abolish the metropolitan counties, but offers no proper democratic regional structure in its place. Unlike the two previous pieces of legislation, which were at least progressive and therefore merited their names, the Bill is wrongly named. It should be called, "Interference with Local Government Bill".

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright) who spoke yesterday about the principles to which any such Bill should adhere. There should have been proper deliberation, but there was not. The argument that there will be savings has hardly been made and has certainly not been proven. There will be more central control, not less, more muddle and less clarity. There will be quangos; such as the planning commission in London. The Secretary of State knows how often planning decisions made by him when a matter goes to him after a public inquiry are greatly resented by local communities.

There will be joint boards, such as that for the police. I was amazed that yesterday the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) made a speech in relation to the police that completely vindicated the Opposition's position on everything else, when he described as a danger the fact that local police authorities would be able to opt out in metropolitan areas. My hon. Friend the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) and my colleagues on Wigan borough council and in the peripheral areas of metropolitan counties may not find it difficult to advance the argument that their boroughs could sustain a local police force, and that that is what local people want. There are to be residuary bodies which will have ever-increasing powers. Finally there are the enormous powers of the Secretary of State.

Even more worrying, it appears from clause 86(2)—I stand to be corrected by the Minister if I am wrong—that the Bill is to be retrospective. Clause 86(2) states: if at any time since 23rd July 1984 and before the passing of this Act any of those councils has done anything that would have been a contravention of the foregoing provisions … the same consequences shall follow as if those provisions had been contravened". It cannot be right that, in addition to providing that the Act governs other Acts passed in the same Session, it should have retrospective effect.

The Bill is so bad that it has apparently united the Opposition parties. All Opposition Members must agree that the majority groups on metropolitan county councils are opposed to the Bill but that many of their colleagues in the districts support it because they would like to have back the powers that the metropolitan county councils have had. There is also a further contradiction in the Labour party because on the one hand it protests that it will not co-operate, and on the other it appears that the west Yorkshire county council policy committee will pass later today or tomorrow a motion that its senior officers and members should co-operate with the Secretary of State.

The Bill would have been unnecessary if the Secretary of State had accepted the validity of proportional representation. Foolishly he prefers to deal with those he dislikes in this more complex and convoluted way.

The hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Sir H. Rossi) alluded to one of the fundamental proposals about which there is much objection. The Bill provides no guarantee for many voluntary organisations in the seven counties. At the moment about £60 million is supplied from the seven counties to fund voluntary organisations. In Greater London £24 million is spent on agencies of great importance, £3·7 million is allocated to help the single homeless, £ 1 million to assist with curing drug abuse, £2 million to deal with the problem of alcohol abuse and £1·5 million to help the elderly.

Many information or advice centres and support agencies need money, yet there is no guarantee in the Bill that they will get it. The Government suggest that £5 million a year for the four years after 1986–87 is sufficient to ease transitional problems following abolition. The Government will fund 75 per cent. of that directly, but that is the total that they guarantee to make available.

Photo of Mr Chris Smith Mr Chris Smith , Islington South and Finsbury

Would the hon. Gentleman like to comment on the fact that the Minister of State, Home Office, in "Voluntary Action" in June 1984, was recorded as saying in relation to the GLC's funding of voluntary organisations that he would not describe the vast majority of bodies funded by the GLC as anything other than sensible? Does he agree that that makes nonsense of the Government's claim that the GLC dishes out money to unworthy organisations?

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The hon. Gentleman is correct. There has only ever been valid criticism against a small minority of the grants made by the metropolitan councils, or by any county. Another important point for those organisations and the people whom they serve is that there will be uncertainty.

The Liberal party is strongly represented in each of the metropolitan county councils. In metropolitan counties, there are more than 250 Liberal councillors. They are represented in each metropolitan county, including London, and on nearly every metropolitan district and London borough council. In many cases they hold the balance of power. They are certain that the problems of London and each of the metropolitan counties are different. The Government should have allowed for that diversity, and recognised that difference. Those regions and cities have different histories, separate characteristics and different needs. If a Royal Commission had been set up or if a series of public inquiries were now initiated, that would be the conclusion, not this sledgehammer approach to the problem.

As well as its reputation for supporting voluntary bodies, the GLC has a responsibility for planning and especially for roads in London. The people of London are unwilling to hand over that responsibility to the Secretary of State. The Government's proposal to make trunk roads of already overcrowded London roads is greatly resented.

Time does not permit me to deal with the many other powers that make ILEA and other agencies dealing with specific services extremely unhappy about the way in which planning and services in London will be run in the future. Not least among their worries is the planning commission—on which everyone will be appointed by the Secretary of State — which is to replace a democratically elected planning authority.

From my borough, as from every other, a large number of groups have written to the Secretary of State seeking assurances for the future. They include the local council for voluntary service, the Cambridge University Mission in Bermondsey and the Greenhouse Trust, a Christian youth organisation which wrote to me describing the answer that it received from the Secretary of State as All frustrating waffle and no concrete basis to launch such a change". The job creation agency, Elephant Jobs, Tooley Street tenants association, housing societies and consortium have all expressed great dissatisfaction, because they fear that the services that they provide will not be able to continue.

Criticisms can be made of any elected authority, but the Government seem not to accept that there have also been many achievements. Greater Manchester, for example, is in a radial metropolitan county in which some services cannot be segregated. Public transport in Salford, just across the river, cannot be separated without making nonsense of transport planning in the city, although other approaches might be adopted in areas such as Stockport, Wigan and Rochdale. There have been achievements in dealing with river valleys and country parks. There has been work on the central station to deal with urban decay. One of the best science museums has been established. Clearly, the districts cannot possibly cope with refuse disposal in the Greater Manchester area. Arts support has been generous but it seems that the arts, like sport, will suffer considerably as a result of the Bill. The transport policies for rail support as well as for buses will also suffer. As in the west midlands, there are many other specialist services — the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) referred to consumer services — which will not be replaced by anything so satisfactory.

Most important, as in all other counties, the economic development needed for the more deprived, less well off and less well supported areas will no longer be provided in the absence of the agencies that at present are at least trying to co-ordinate what is being done for the economy and infrastructure of our urban centres. It was a Tory Administration who set up the economic development corporation for Greater Manchester. Clearly, the Tories there regarded that as a good idea. The GMC is also fighting for the third airport to be somewhere away from London, where it will be more used and needed rather than at Stansted.

On Merseyside, there have been objections to the county council from my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton), because the Liberal party on Merseyside has always opposed the creation of a Merseyside authority rather than a fully-fledged regional authority. None the less, the county has espoused some valid causes —the airport, the ferries, the tunnels and economic development generally — and there is good reason for services at that strategic level to continue to be provided regionwide.

I am aware that other hon. Members wish to speak, but I make no apology for speaking at some length as there will be only two or three opportunities for alliance members to speak in the debate and I must speak on behalf of colleagues in Tyne and Wear, south Yorkshire and the west midlands, on both county and district authorities. In the west midlands Liberals appreciate the merits of the enterprise board, the black country route, the new airport terminal and the consumer services department. Last of all, I speak on behalf of my colleagues in west Yorkshire, one of whom has brought to the attention of my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) the fact that, as with so many other services, the Government's proposals for the archive service have not yet been thought out at all. Having encouraged the district to put their archives with the county, the Government are now saying that that was thoroughly foolish and that the archives should have remained with the districts.

Photo of Mr Derek Fatchett Mr Derek Fatchett , Leeds Central

The hon. Gentleman referred to west Yorkshire. He also said that he spoke on behalf of Liberal councillors throughout the country. In view of his prominence within the Liberal party on local government matters and, apparently, his national reputation on these matters, what advice will he offer to Liberal district councillors on whether they should encourage their councils to enter into discussions with the Government about, for instance, provision of transport services in the future?

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

That has been discussed. My colleagues and I agree that until the Bill becomes law there is no duty to comply when there are not yet legal requirements. When there is a duty to comply, they will do so, but not before then.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

No, I will not give way again as other hon. Members wish to speak.

The White Paper was entitled, "Streamlining the Cities", but the result of this Bill will be fragmentation of local government. The Secretary of State for Education and Science used an amazing phrase in yesterday's debate. Perhaps he will tell us whether the 64 statutory instruments and the 59 ministerial directions, approvals, consents and guidances foreshadowed by the Bill are at the democractic or the autocratic end of the spectrum. The Government's attitude was made clear to my colleagues and me when we went to the Department of the Environment last week. The Under-Secretary of State told Liberal metropolitan county leaders and the Liberal leader on the GLC, You put up the arguments and we will knock them down". Various analogies have been made with regard to the roles of the Secretary of State, who is just leaving, and the Minister for Local Government. Perhaps the Secretary of State should be seen as the Water Rat while the Minister of State plays the Mole of Mole Valley. The following passage would then be appropriate, with the Rat speaking first: 'Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.' … 'Look ahead, Rat' cried the Mole suddenly. But it was too late. The boat struck the bank full tilt. The Water Rat and the Mole are steering the boat of local government into the bank. Not many weeks ago, one of their Tory colleagues wrote a pamphlet saying that London should have a voting people. So should all the counties. That is what local government should be about.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham 5:48, 4 December 1984

I hope that the House will forgive me if I do not follow the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) on all the points that he made; but he has certainly made it clear that there is a wide range of anxieties among hon. Members about the application of the Bill.

There is nothing especially sacrosanct about the boundaries or functions of local government. They are frequently changed in the same way as—sometimes to our cost — constituency boundaries are changed as circumstances alter. I make it clear from the outset that I have no objection in principle to this Bill such as I had to the paving Bill. As I have already explained on many other occasions, I do not subscribe to what the Lord Chancellor has called the false doctrine of the mandate. My right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) pointed out that the fact that a suggestion is made in a manifesto goes no further than to show the general lines of policy. He was right to tell his constituents that before he would support this measure he would want to know what is to replace the Greater London council and the metropolitan boroughs.

The most that can be said—and I am prepared to say it tonight—is that the Government have the authority to introduce for Second Reading a Bill with these purposes. However, I am bound to say that, like many other right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House who have already spoken, I would expect the Bill to be subjected to radical change before it was presented to us for a Third Reading.

It may well be that the Government are right to abolish the GLC and the metropolitan counties. Those authorities, over a period of time, have become in many ways remote and bureaucratic. Many frequently and seriously abuse their discretionary powers, some of which there may be justification for curbing; but if that was thought necessary it would be a comparatively minor matter of altering the terms of section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972.

I do not believe that the arrangements in the Bill as it stands can be said by the Government to be either more democratic or more effective, or more likely to be more efficient or less costly. The onus of proof is on the Government to refute, as the Bill is discussed, the case about the cost which is brought against them.

I have no objection to joint boards. Historically, in the 19th century and thereafter, they played a useful role. I used to be a member of the Hogsmill Valley joint sewerage board, which fulfilled a worthy function in a creditable way. However, while there may be a case for joint boards in certain cases, I abhor the proliferation of bodies envisaged in what one can only describe as likely to be a veritable witches' cauldron.

I feel desperately sorry for the unfortunate Ministers who have been designated—it is not just a question of giving them fatigues, because they are good chaps—to bring the cauldron to the boil. They will have a miserable time, whether they are standing on their heads or their feet — and I am not sure in what position my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup left them.

I am especially concerned about the increase in the number of bodies which are, for example, to have rate-precepting powers or the equivalent. There will be about six non-elected precepting bodies in the metropolitan area of London. That arrangement will bring no joy to the ratepayers.

Even on the Government's most optimistic estimate of savings — which I do not at the moment believe is credible—the savings to ratepayers will be minimal. It should be made clear to the ratepayers that the Bill is not designed to reduce rates, and is unlikely to do so. There may be a slight reduction for some people, but many more will certainly pay more because of the way in which the equalisation grant operates. The truth is that there will be no joy at all for the ratepayers until my right hon. Friend the Minister of State carries out the substantial reorganisation and review of local government finance which is necessary and which should have preceded the presentation of the Bill.

Meanwhile, we can look forward to added confusion. I cannot count the number of separate organisations which are to do what is now done by one. I thought that the number was 60. The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) spoke of 59. It is hard to count the number of bodies, powers and functions being shifted around. There will have to be an army of co-ordinators between the bodies. I remind the House of the American definition of a co-ordinator: "A man with a desk between two expediters". He will have to be paid for by the ratepayer.

It is the proposals relating to the structure that is to replace the GLC that are most open to objection. Last night, I listened with interest to my hon. Friend the Member for Broxbourne (Mrs. Roe), who is a Conservative member of the GLC and who made it clear that the majority of Conservative members are not opposed to the abolition of the GLC as such. However, the Government should give great weight to the case presented by the leader of the Conservative party on the GLC. Mr. Alan Greengross, who has said that there should be a Londonwide body to pick up those Londonwide functions which cannot be devolved to individual London boroughs. That is a reasonable summary of the sort of amendment to the Bill that is required.

There has long been a better case for abolishing the Inner London education authority altogether than for making it the one directly elected body in London which will have responsibility for speaking for and representing London as a whole—which is what it will do if it is the only directly elected body for the whole of London. That collectivity of educationists of all parties will express its views on a wide range of topics.

Those may be regarded as matters of organisation about which there may be legitimate differences, rather than matters of high principle. However, there is one respect in which the Bill strikes at the heart of our democratic society. Many hon. Members have referred to the powers given in the Bill to the Secretaries of State. I believe that those powers are intolerably far-reaching and unacceptable.

The Times rightly denounced those blank cheques in a leading article yesterday: Exception should be taken whenever the phrases 'The Secretary of State considers' or 'joint arrangements' crop up. They are a recipe for private government and the abuse of power. To many of my right hon. and hon. Friends, Professor F. A. Hayek is the great guru of the modern Conservative party. I was glad to see that Professor Hayek was made a Companion of Honour in the new year's honours list. He was honoured for his services to economics, but it is his services to political philosophy that we ought to honour and that should be fundamental to Conservative thinking.

If there are some members of the Government who believe that they are in the Hayek tradition I must advise them to re-read carefully Professor Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom". Perhaps some of them have not yet read it at all. Referring to what he called the deadly blight of centralisation", Professor Hayek claimed: Nowhere has democracy worked well without a great measure of local self-government, providing a school of political training for the people at large as much as for their future leaders". I regret the way in which the Government, perhaps unintentionally, have appeared from time to time to underestimate the work that councillors do. I should like to refer to a journal which is neither Left-wing nor anti-Government. On 28 August, the Daily Telegraph said: The Conservative Party has found that fighting local elections is no longer just a matter of winning votes. There is now a major preliminary hurdle: finding people willing to stand as candidates. We have to bear that factor in mind.

The Bill certainly contains, by any definition, what Professor Hayek called the deadly blight of centralisation". There are more than 60 powers available to control essentially local decisions, including the manpower, management and organisation of the joint boards, and there are sweeping powers to amend legislation by order. It is not just a case—as the Secretary of State has said —of the Opposition attacking clauses 80 and 93. There are other clauses that were referred to in the leader in The Times yesterday—for example, subsections (1) and (4) of clause 59, and clause 88. I believe that the reserve powers given to the Secretary of State should be cut to ribbons in Committee. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup said, Parliament should not grant powers to Ministers who it believes will use them wisely, as is the case with my right hon. Friends, but withhold power from bad Ministers who might abuse them.

The idea which is sometimes promulgated, that, once the views of the majority are known, they must prevail, is not a true or correct view of democracy. My message to the Conservative party today, as it has been since I abridged "Road to Serfdom" for the great man, is, "Get back to Hayek". He said: Democratic government has worked successfully where, and so long as, the functions of Government were, by a widely accepted creed, restricted to fields where agreement among a majority could be achieved by free discussion". The alternative, as he said, is a plebiscitarian dictatorship in which the head of the government is from time to time confirmed in his"— I was about to say "her"— position by popular vote". Let us hope that never in our lifetime do we have to heed the final warning that Professor Hayek gave: Hitler did not have to destroy democracy; he merely took advantage of the decay of democracy". My final observation to the Government is that they can say that they have a sufficient mandate to introduce a Bill of this kind and for these purposes, but there is a need for much more effort to achieve agreement, in Professor Hayek's terms, by free discussion, before the Bill is fit to go on the statute book.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford 6:01, 4 December 1984

Last May, when I had the privilege to speak on the Local Government (Interim Provisions) Bill, I described it as bad and nasty. My description of this Bill is bad, nasty and mean. It is clear that, after about 11 hours of debate on the Bill, no Conservative Member can put up a case for it. Some of the younger elements on the Back Benches, who have their eye on political careers, have attempted to make a case for it, but they would be wise, as would the Government, to listen to the elder statesmen of their party whose political futures are behind them. We can always rely on hearing a little more of the truth from those who have no more political ambitions.

The Government have tried to make respectable the case for the abolition of the GLC and the six metropolitan counties. They have failed miserably. We have had the geriatric mumblings of the Secretary of State for Education and Science and the peak of arrogance, even by his standards, of the Secretary of State for Transport. The Secretary of State for the Environment told us that he was discussing and considering such a Bill 12 months before the last general election. The House will recall that my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) nailed that one yesterday when he referred to the answer given by the Minister of State, Home Office, who was a Minister in the Department of the Environment in February 1983. The Minister said that the then Secretary of State, now the Secretary of State for Defence, had no plans to alter the present system. If "lie" was not an unparliamentary word, I should be tempted to use it. It is clear that that was an attempt not to tell the whole truth.

I can understand why the Conservative Benches are now sparsely populated and why members of the Conservative Front Bench are running for cover having listened to the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) and the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon). Although the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham said at the beginning of his speech that he does not oppose the Bill in principle, he ended up by telling us that he does. I hope that, at this late stage, if it is not possible to persuade the Government to change their mind, they will at least listen to the wise counsels of some of the elder statesmen in their party. The Minister for Local Government is smiling. I take that as meaning that he has no intention of listening to them.

If there were a miracle and we could sway the House so that everyone told the truth, we should come to only one conclusion—that the Bill was conceived and born purely and simply for the Government to settle scores with the leader of the GLC. The six metropolitan counties have fallen victim to the Government's desire to do that. The case for the GLC has been covered. I shall consider the metropolitan counties and especially West Yorkshire.

I represent a met county area constituency which bears the scars of the industrial revolution. There is much derelict and despoiled land and there are limited job opportunities. West Yorkshire metropolitan county council, through its strategic planning, transport, environmental and economic development programmes, has done a great deal to improve matters in the past 10 years. Major land reclamation and environmental improvement work has been completed in my constituency at Pontefract park and at the old Prince of Wales colliery site. The Government have tried to frustrate such activity by axing the council's programme. Elsewhere, the Government have abdicated their responsibilities completely. When Government policies have created unemployment in my constituency the council, through innovative schemes such as its small firms employment fund and job incentive scheme, has tried to create jobs.

The Minister for Local Government, who has sat through most of the debate, said in an article in last Thursday's Daily Telegraph that the metropolitan councils were busy inventing roles for themselves. There is no need for them to invent roles. The Government are hell bent on abandoning roles and responsibilities. Socially responsible local authorities of all political views at district and county level are stepping into the vacuum that the Government are leaving.

What will happen if West Yorkshire metropolitan county council is swept away? It is most unlikely that Wakefield metropolitan district council, one of the smaller district councils in west Yorkshire, will be able to recruit the specialist expertise that is currently deployed by the county council in strategic planning, environmental improvement and economic development. With a budget of only one third of that of the county council, the district council will not have the financial muscle or flexibility to maintain the programmes it inherits from the county council.

At present, the county council invests in new schemes in the light of a conurbation-wide assessment of need. If the Wakefield area happens to have the worst problems of dereliction, as is the case, the county council gives priority to schemes in the Wakefield area. Under the Bill, strategic planning, environmental improvement and economic development responsibilities are to be fragmented between the five west Yorkshire district councils. Moreover responsibility for deciding whether schemes in Wakefield should have priority over schemes in Leeds, at present a responsibility of directly elected members, becomes the responsibility of Whitehall civil servants. That is wrong in anybody's language whatever his political views. Locally elected members are in the best position to make these decisions.

This is a badly drafted Bill. Anybody who doubts that should look at schedule 1(12)(3). More importantly, the Bill raises fundamental value-for-money and constitutional issues, and its sheer complexity is another worry. In the explanatory and financial memorandum, the Government assert that abolition of the six metropolitan county councils and the GLC will save £100 million per annum. Half of this sum is supposed to be attributable to the six metropolitan counties. Where is the evidence for that? The Government's analysis in the five pages published last Friday provides no answer.

Coopers and Lybrand has costed the Government's proposals. I have a copy of its report, and no doubt most other hon. Members will have one as well. It says that at the best there will be minimal savings. At worst, the more likely option, there will be additional costs of up to £69 million a year, £6·12 per annum for every man, woman and child in the metropolitan counties. There is no doubt that the Government have lost the argument on savings. In fact, they have lost the argument on every other part of the Bill.

As I said in May this year, the Government, by denying metropolitan county electors the opportunity to vote on policies about fire, police, and public transport functions, are creating a category of second-class citizens. On top of this attack on the electors themselves, the Government are proposing, in the main body of the Bill, to take 67 additional controls over the operation of services in the metropolitan areas. These controls are not to apply to the shire county areas yet.

Clauses 40, 80, and 93 offer wide-ranging powers to the Secretary of State. The proposal that such wide discretion should be allowed to the Secretary of State is pernicious and must be resisted.

One issue overlooked in the media coverage of the Bill's provisions is the way in which embedded in it is a new town and country planning Bill. The proposals for a unitary development plan scheme should be the subject of separate legislation. To try to slide these changes through in the context of an abolition Bill reflects poorly on the Government. If changes are to be made to our town and country planning system, they should be applicable to all parts of the country.

The provisions of the Bill, if they are implemented, will complicate local government administration in the metropolitan areas. That assertion has not been refuted, and no case has ever been put against it because it is not possible to put one.

In west Yorkshire, the Government's proposals, will mean that, instead of two bodies—the county council and the district council—competing for the pound in the ratepayers' pocket, seven bodies will be doing so. As hon. Members are aware, these bodies are the fire, police and public transport joint boards, the probation and grants to voluntary bodies joint committees and the residuary body. How on earth are electors and ratepayers to be able either to understand the new system or to find those responsible for running a particular service? The proposals are a nightmare.

We have all had experience of what has happened with the water authorities. It is a nightmare for any consumer who wishes to get in touch with anybody who can give him guidance and advice outside the local office. There are no elected members, so there is nobody to whom the consumer can go. We cannot read the deliberations and results of the meetings in the media and press because the meetings take place behind closed doors, as will those of the quangos. The quangos will also be situated miles from the consumer and public whom they are supposed to help.

Last week, I received a letter from the Yorkshire and Cleveland Local Councils Association; many other hon. Members may have received it. We are all aware that it is the umbrella body for parish and town councils. It wrote to urge me to oppose the legislation, declaring that it strongly feels that the proposed legislation will be detrimental to the metropolitan areas. This is the grass roots showing concern about the Bill and saying that they believe that it will be a retrograde step.

No case has been made out for the Bill. I do not think that the Government themselves believe the case that they are putting. The reason for it is spite and malice and an attempt to get back at individuals they do not like. This is similar to the way in which they have caused great tragedy and chaos in the mining industry. The only way out is for an in-depth inquiry to be held before the legislation is put on the statute book.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Finsberg Mr Geoffrey Finsberg , Hampstead and Highgate 6:16, 4 December 1984

I hope that the hon. Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Mr. Lofthouse) will forgive me if I do not follow what he said, except to say that, knowing the leader of Wakefield council and its Member of Parliament, I think that they can cope with most things.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Sir H. Rossi), but probably pre-date him in my opposition to the concept of a GLC, because I never thought that that body was worth creating. Therefore, I am delighted to welcome the Bill. This day has long been awaited by most Londoners—not the few thousand who have answered the loaded and slanted public opinion polls paid for by ratepayers.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Finsberg Mr Geoffrey Finsberg , Hampstead and Highgate

No, I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman, who gave an interminable speech yesterday.

The Bill is welcomed by genuine Londoners. not by those who mindlessly tear out coupons or sign duplicated letters, which are often sent to the wrong Member of Parliament anyway, so little do these people understand the workings of parliamentary democracy. Many of those people are innocent dupes, duped by the £10 million that the GLC and other Labour authorities have spent. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) will no doubt agree, that was never the way that somebody such as Ike Hayward would have permitted a penny of ratepayers' money to be spent.

A reading of the election manifestos of both the Labour party and the alliance parties shows clearly that there were moves to a unitary form of local government which must have involved the disappearance of the Greater London council. Only the Conservative party was honest enough to spell it out directly, and in this, when we put it to the electorate, we were supported by over 2·25 million voters.

Much of the campaigning against the Bill and the White Paper that went before it has been by a barrage of terminological inexactitudes and half-truths. Some Socialists even imply that my constituency GLC member, Alan Greengross, is against abolition. That is wholly untrue. He has been quite specific in saying that he supports the manifesto commitment for abolition.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Finsberg Mr Geoffrey Finsberg , Hampstead and Highgate

My right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) puzzled me. I say with great sadness that I think that he is wholly wrong not to support the Bill. I am sad because he put himself out in 1970 to help me win back Hampstead, and I shall never forget that. However, he is wrong because the commitment was in our election manifesto, and having looked at his election address, I have found that he did not dissociate himself from that commitment. It may be that, as he said, he addressed meetings, but every one of his electors will have had his views by post, and he did not dissociate himself from the manifesto.

More than that, my right hon. Friend participated in the drawing up of four general election manifestos. He knew what was behind general election manifestos and he intended, when he was leader of the party, that they should be implemented. Indeed, as a candidate who fought three elections under his leadership, I know that it was made very clear that he expected total adherence to what was in the manifesto. I understand that before my time, when he was Chief Whip, he was even more firm, and that there were many hon. Members who smarted under him in regard to the EEC, for example. So I do not want to hear him dissociate himself in that way.

It is interesting to see my right hon. Friend's new-found interest in London and London's local government. I found his personal attack upon my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport one of the lowest points that I have encountered in 14 years in this House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame".] It may be done by Labour Members but I have never heard it done by colleagues and Privy Councillors in this House before.

The subject of London local government reform has been under discussion by London Members of Parliament in the London Members group for many years. I do not recall seeing my right hon. Friend once at the London Members group. Therefore, it ill becomes him to say that he believes that London Members are behind him in his attitude. It may be that ex-Prime Ministers do not attend meetings of party groups, but the favourite refrain of Chief Whips and Whips is, "If you have a point to raise on something that you do not like, go to your party group meeting." My right hon. Friend did not do that.

My right hon. Friend also forgot to tell us that his own London borough of Bexley supports the abolition of the GLC and opposes a second-tier elected authority. That is what local government people in his own constituency have to say about the issue.

I want to deal with two London issues and one constituency issue. On London issues, I want to talk first about street names. It may be very unimportant to some people, but it is of importance to those who live in streets such as Rhodesia road in SW9, where Lambeth borough council decided to change the name overnight, in spite of the objections of a Jamaican, a Pole, an Italian, an Irish person and a Russian Jew, all living in the street. The whole street was determined that it did not want the name changed to Zimbabwe road. They at least have a right of appeal at present to the Greater London council. So far, I have not been able to find in the Bill what right of appeal they would have in future. I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to say that they can go to the courts to get some sort of justice if they object to what is being proposed by a loony council such as Lambeth.

Hampstead heath is an issue on which I feel deeply. As my hon. Friend knows, I have made representations to him and his right hon. Friend since "Streamlining the Cities" was produced. I do not believe that Hampstead heath can be taken over by the boroughs of Camden, Barnet and Haringey. [Interruption.] Unlike some Labour Members, I have always said that a variety of options are possible. I think that the best option is the one that I put to my right hon. Friend—that Lord Montagu's Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission ought to have the rest of Hampstead heath, along with Kenwood. I remind the House that those responsible for Kenwood, not those in the present GLC who try to flog off some of its treasures—[Interruption.] The Friends of Kenwood and the relations of the Iveagh family supported the transfer to Lord Montagu's commission, and I think that it could run Hampstead heath.

With regard to clause 64, it is very necessary for the Secretary of State to have control over the budgets of the new authorities for the first three years in order to stop the nonsense that, for example, took place in Camden under the reorganisation of London local government, when we ended up with three town clerks, three borough treasurers and a couple of engineers. That is the sort of nonsense that has to be stopped. [Interruption.] In my 25 years in local government, officials were not appointed because they were party politicians. They are now—for example, the new director of social services of Camden, who is a Hackney borough councillor and has made some appalling political statements. Officials of local authorities, like civil servants, ought to be above and beyond party politics.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Finsberg Mr Geoffrey Finsberg , Hampstead and Highgate

Then there is the issue of the Londonwide bodies. [HON. MEMBERS: "Give way".] In 1965, the London county council was vehemently supported by the London Labour party. In the years 1949 to 1965, when I served on the Hampstead borough council, nobody on either side of the political fence in London believed that the London county council was a voice for London. Indeed, it was hated by members of both sides and by officers, and it was described as "Big Brother". People did not think that it spoke for them. In fact, the person who spoke for them was Norman Pritchard, the Labour leader of Battersea borough council, who was the chairman of the metropolitan boroughs standing joint committee. That represented London far better than the London county council. What voice, in that sense, is needed?

The GLC has been in existence for 20 years. What has it done? It has been disliked almost as much as its predecessor, irrespective of political control, in spite of what Desmond Plummer and Horace Cutler have valiantly tried to do. Is it a vehicle for promoting legislation for London boroughs? Of course it is, because it is convenient. There is absolutely no reason, however, why one London borough could not do it in exactly the same way as the GLC now does.

Photo of Mr Hugh Dykes Mr Hugh Dykes , Harrow East

Is my hon. Friend aware that Sir Horace Cutler is very much opposed to the Bill and has said so publicly?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Finsberg Mr Geoffrey Finsberg , Hampstead and Highgate

Is my hon. Friend also aware that Harrow borough council supports the abolition of the GLC and does not want a second-tier authority? That is the point that I want to make. It is important to realise that the ordinary people of London want the Bill to go through and want the abolition of the GLC.

I want to come to a conclusion, because I know that other hon. Members wish to speak in the debate. I believe that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment needs to consider whether the London Boroughs Association requires some statutory backing in regard to some of the issues that it may have to undertake.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green was worried about grants. When I served on the LBA, there were no interminable delays when organisations wanting grants put their budgets to us—none at all. I see no reason why there should be in the future. If a co-ordinating body is needed, it certainly ought not to be directly elected. That is the view of 19 Conservative-controlled borough councils in Greater London.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

Will my hon. Friend agree that ILEA should not be directly elected?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Finsberg Mr Geoffrey Finsberg , Hampstead and Highgate

My right hon. and learned Friend touches a rather sore point. Long ago, I believed that ILEA should not have been created. That was when my right hon. and learned Friend was a Minister in the Government that did it. I fear that he, along with others, succumbed to the blandishments of the other place, so I would rather not reopen that argument, if he will forgive me. We crossed swords then and we shall go on crossing swords now.

I believe that it is possible that the so-called residual functions could be looked after by the London planning commission, with elected councillors appointed to it. That is a policy for my hon. Friend the Minister to consider, as also is the idea of a London Grand Committee, suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Sir. P. Goodhart).

Of one thing I am certain. I have no doubt that the GLC's abolition will come on the appointed day. Its abolition will save money. Although my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham, who is a brilliant lawyer, a superb politician and a good local government man, did not believe the savings that are in the Bill, he must realise that those savings are possible just as a result of the elimination of duplication. The policy changes will add tens of millions of pounds extra savings for the ratepayers. I believe that the ratepayers will find a change in their rate bills after abolition.

Abolition will place power in the hands of those who matter—the London borough councils. I think that that is the level of democracy that our mutual friend, Professor Hayek, talks about.

Photo of Cyril Smith Cyril Smith , Rochdale 6:29, 4 December 1984

I hope that the hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) will forgive me if I do not follow him, if only because all his remarks dealt with the issue of the GLC. As the hon. Gentleman properly dealt with the area he represents, I propose to do the same with the area I represent. That area has nothing to do with the GLC. In view of the hon. Gentleman's comments about the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), his election address and manifesto, the line I propose to take is the one I took in my election address in 1983 and in speeches during that election.

For 21 years, before I became a Member of this House, I was a member of the Rochdale county borough council. For 116 years that county borough council did a superb job. It existed until the Tory Government of the time abolished it. Labour opposed the abolition and the creation of the metropolitan county councils. Having come to know this place during the past 12 years, I suppose that that follows. Attitudes are usually decided by the two main parties, according to the side of the House on which a party is sitting when a Division is called.

I was one of those people in 1970–71 who gave evidence to the present Secretary of State for Defence, who at that time had a lesser role in the Department of the Environment. I pleaded then for the county boroughs to retain their status and for the metropolitan county councils not to be established. Nothing I have seen or experienced since that time has convinced me that I was wrong on that occasion.

Too often, politicians fiddle with local government. The trouble is that, when they do so, they are concerned with government and not the local aspects of government. I have always believed, and I believe now, in one-tier local government. I believe in councils big enough to be economically viable but, within that confine, as small as possible so as to be as close to the people as possible.

I am the Member for Rochdale, not for one of the London boroughs, and I view the Bill on the basis of what I believe is necessary for the people of Rochdale. I therefore welcome and applaud the abolition of the Greater Manchester county council. That is not a criticism of the officers of that county council—I have always found them to be extremely helpful and efficient—or even a criticism of the council's decisions. I believe that local government should be local.

Having said that I take this stand not because I criticise the GMC's decisions, I do not mean that I agree with all its decisions. Frankly, some of the county council's recent decisions appal me, if only because they have nothing to do with local government. One decision which is going through at the moment convinces me that the present set-up is wrong. I shall not bore the House with all the details. Suffice it to say that in Rochdale there is a three-way dual carriageway known as Newgate that the county council believes should be a two-way system. That scheme is opposed by the Rochdale borough council — across parties—by the local police, the borough engineer and the chief executive, but it will go through. That will happen because the county councillors who are passing that measure have no connection with Rochdale, know nothing about Rochdale and live 30 miles or more from Rochdale. That is what is wrong with metropolitan county councils. Local government is not local any more. People at county council level are taking decisions affecting the local community of which they know nothing and when they live 30 miles away.

I shall now consider what is to replace the county councils. The proposals are not ideal.

Photo of Cyril Smith Cyril Smith , Rochdale

My attitude will not surprise the hon. Member. We have debated this issue on television in the north.

Photo of Mr Peter Snape Mr Peter Snape , West Bromwich East

I apologise for interrupting the hon. Gentleman. Before the hon. Gentleman leaves the question of the county council's attitude towards Rochdale's transport, will he tell the House how much financial support the county council gives to the Rochdale-Oldham-Manchester railway line? Would the borough council of which he was a proud member have ensured the line's survival in the same way as the county council has?

Photo of Cyril Smith Cyril Smith , Rochdale

The borough council of which I was a proud member would not have secured that line simply because it had nothing to do with us. It was run by a railway system. I keep hearing the Labour Front Bench yapping on about concessionary fares. I must tell the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) that my borough council pays the Greater Manchester council transport committee for the concessionary fare passes that are given to old-age pensioners in my constituency. It is the borough council, not the county council, that pays the concessionary fares in my constituency. Let us have no more claptrap about that.

What is to replace the county council? I accept entirely that the proposals are not ideal. Frankly, there is not the slightest reason why bus services and fire services could not be returned to the county boroughs. There is a need for cross-borough interconnection of county transport services and county fire services. That existed before we had county councils controlling county boroughs, and could exist again. There were always, for example, arrangements in the fire industry for one station's fire engines to be put on alert when another station's engines were all out. Local authorities are perfectly capable of making those arrangements across boundaries. They do not need a county council to do so, nor did they ever need one.

The membership of joint boards is to comprise elected councillors, not councillors appointed by ministerial decree. That is why I do not believe that "quangos" is the correct description for those joint boards. The joint boards will be comprised solely of councillors who have been elected by people. Since such boards are hardly new or unheard of, I do not view them with the same apprehension as some of my colleagues. I am, however, apprehensive about the representation of minorities on those joint boards, especially police committees. I hope that the Minister will take on board this extremely important point. I believe that there should be some mechanism within the Bill to enable representation on police committees of certain minorities. — [Interruption.] I think that some Labour Members will not disagree with the point I am about to make. I believe that it would be possible to provide for two, three or four members to be appointed by the Minister, providing the Bill lays down specifically who those appointees should represent. Under this Bill the ethnic minorities in this country, and certainly those in my area, are not likely to have any voice on police committees. I hope that the Minister takes the opportunity to give those minorities direct representation in that way.

Whatever one's views of joint boards, they are certainly better than the water authorities and health authorities which have been supported by both the major parties. The appointments to those authorities are on the basis of who one knows, to which party one belongs and the party in power at the time the appointments and paid chairmanships are given out.

I make one last vital point. If joint boards are to be set up, they must fairly represent all authorities. Under part II of schedule 10, Rochdale is denied fair representation. No authority should have fewer than three members on a joint board, otherwise the opposition on those authorities is likely to be completely denied representation. Even paragraph 3.2 of the White Paper "Streamlining the Cities" says: This will, in general, that is, the right of the three seats to be shared between the opposition and the party in office— have practical effect only where an authority is making nomination for more than two seats for a joint board. Therefore, if Rochdale is denied the right to have three seats on joint boards, the opposition in Rochdale—at present it is Labour, next time it may be Tory or Liberal —will be for ever denied the right to have a seat on the joint boards. I hope that as the Bill goes through that number will be altered.

The right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) talked about treading slowly in the area of local government reorganisation. I agree with him. It is not a bad maxim to take one step at a time. If the Bill does nothing else, it takes one major step—the abolition of the metropolitan county councils—and that is why I shall vote for the Second Reading tonight.

Photo of Mr Roy Galley Mr Roy Galley , Halifax 6:41, 4 December 1984

The approach of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) was refreshing. It was important that he should point out that much of the Bill makes local government more local rather than centralising it. That is a point upon which many Labour Members have concentrated so far.

I support some of the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg). It ill becomes certain right hon. and hon. Members to oppose the Bill when they have no connection whatever with metropolitan county councils. They seem to do so simply for the sake of opposition.

Were those right hon. and hon. Members to be ratepayers in Sheffield, they would have a different view of the situation. Many of my friends and relatives are hard-pressed by the dual impositions of the county and district authorities. The combined effect of those authorities since 1974 has been to make Sheffield a ghost of its former self.

My area of west Yorkshire is the most efficient of the metropolitan county councils. Nevertheless, it is a remote authority which unnecessarily duplicates some aspects of local government. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State could have achieved his objectives by different means.

The activities of the councils could have been curtailed and greater controls on spending could have been imposed without some of the details in the Bill. Alternatively, the Government could have established unitary boards instead of a plethora of boards, but with similar tight financial controls. My right hon. Friend has taken a different course. He would have been wise to vary his proposals, but nevertheless I heartily support the principle that he is putting forward this evening.

It is surprising how few friends metropolitan county councils have when one gets down to the nitty-gritty. It is surprising how few people would accept their irresponsible spending, of which we have seen so many instances. In west Yorkshire £50,000 worth of free travel has recently been provided for miners' families. It is surprising how profligate the authorities can become and few people support them. My surprise is increased by the fact that Labour Members have made no commitment to reinstate the bodies for which they have such a great love. When the Bill eventually becomes law, the voters of west Yorkshire will wonder what on earth all the hullabaloo was about. They will be angry about the amount of money which has been spent on their behalf in opposing the Bill.

The buses will still run, perhaps more cost-effectively. The police will still operate efficiently, with less interference from extreme Left-wing county councils in their operations. West Yorkshire will continue to have an excellent fire service and to dispose of its waste.

Apart from those activities, which will continue regardless, the public's perception of the county council's activities in my area relates to highway maintenance, planning and traffic management. In those matters the west Yorkshire county council has imposed upon my constituency a series of measures which have practically no public support.

We have seen an aloof authority littering Halifax with controversial traffic management schemes which few wanted. Those decisions, and so many others, should have been made in Halifax town hall by Calderdale councillors, and that should be the case in other places too.

Photo of Mr Roy Galley Mr Roy Galley , Halifax

No, I shall not give way.

Coming from a small metropolitan district, I must put two or three small anxieties to my right hon. Friend. There is no doubt that Calderdale, which includes Halifax, has had its capital works subsidised by other parts of west Yorkshire because of its location and topography.

First, will my right hon. Friend ensure that the debt repayments on capital works will be so arranged that the smaller authorities will not be disadvantaged? The large authorities, with large populations, which can afford to pay should pay substantially. I hope that my authority will not be greatly disadvantaged.

Secondly, will my right hon. Friend ensure that factors such as location and topography will be taken into account in determining grant-related expenditure formulas? In addition, I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to give me some assurance that the proceeds from the sale of assets, which I hope will take place, will not be frittered away. I hope that there will be a fair share-out to the local authorities which make up the county councils.

It would be disastrous if my authority, a small one in west Yorkshire, were, through a quirk of the system, to be faced with an increased rate demand as a result of the Bill. I know that my right hon. Friend will take his usual care when he deals with consequential matters after the Bill receives its Second Reading tonight.

Another anxiety that I want to press upon my right hon. Friend relates to the work load of local councillors who take on additional work. Being a district councillor is a time-consuming activity and bears heavily, particularly on those with full-time employment. Further responsibility could make those burdens intolerable and deter good quality candidates from standing for election. That may be particularly true in a small authority. Therefore, I urge my right hon. Friend to consider, now or at some stage in the near future, proposals for allowing more councillors in some of the districts which will be affected by the Bill.

Another problem that is faced at present by the district council is the smooth transition to the new arrangements. Information and co-operation are needed now in order to prepare for 1986. My conversations with officials at the county council and district councils convince me that they know that the county council will be abolished and they are ready and willing to get under way the work of organising the successor authorities. I hope that today the West Yorkshire county council will agree to co-operate and that my right hon. Friend will be careful in ensuring that that co-operation takes place.

I have two more small concerns about west Yorkshire. Art and culture thrive north of Potters Bar and we need to preserve and enhance west Yorkshire's cultural heritage. District councils will need to take a lead, but it is important that Arts Council resources are not concentrated in London and the south-east. Adequate measures must be taken to sustain regional and sub-regional arts activities in the north of England.

Photo of Mr Derek Fatchett Mr Derek Fatchett , Leeds Central

The hon. Gentleman has expressed some concern because the district in his constituency is one of the smaller ones. Does it not follow from the Government's proposals that, without countywide provision for the arts, district councils such as Leeds, which are larger and have more resources, may he able to provide for the arts while Calderdale, which is smaller, may be unable to do so? One of the arguments for a county council — the county council's arts committee has proved this—is that it is able to allocate finances. The arts committee has been able to direct money to Halifax and Calderdale. I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman is supporting the Bill. Surely he does not want to cut the supply of money to his area.

Photo of Mr Roy Galley Mr Roy Galley , Halifax

I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman should choose to intervene on the arts. West Yorkshire county council has done nothing for the arts in Calderdale.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be aware that west Yorkshire has a valuable archaeology service, which should be continued. I hope that he will produce some firm proposals for continuing it.

In west Yorkshire there is considerable concentration of expertise, especially in textile labelling which states content. It is important to protect that expertise and to make it available to the whole of west Yorkshire. That expertise should not be broken up. I hope that it will be possible for one authority to take a lead on trading standards and provide an agency service to other district councils.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will take my concerns into account. I assure him of my support for the Bill. It is right that local decisions should be made in Halifax and in many other towns in west Yorkshire which are presently subject to the decisions of a remote, aloof and careless authority.

Photo of Mr Ron Leighton Mr Ron Leighton , Newham North East 6:54, 4 December 1984

I am beginning to wonder who wants the Bill to be enacted. Can it be said that there is any popular support for it? It seems that the Government are relying on 66 obscure words in the Conservative party's election manifesto. Only a minority of the electorate voted Conservative in the 1983 general election and very few did so because of those obscure words. I am sure that only a few knew that they were there.

When the White Paper entitled "Streamlining the Cities" was issued, how many submissions supported abolition? There were so few that an embarrassed Government did not publish any evidence. In London, there has been remarkable unanimity against abolition, all of which has been studiously ignored by the Government. The voluntary organisations, the chambers of commerce, the organisations of architects and town planners, the Civic Trust, road federations, the churches and even the Conservative group on the GLC have been part of that unanimity. Individual Londoners have made their views clear at the by-elections.

Who is in favour of the Bill apart from the Prime Minister and a few Conservative Members who do her bidding? Against them, there is an impressive body of opinion on the Conservative Benches that is against abolition. They include a former Prime Minister, a former Chief Whip and various ex-Cabinet Ministers. We know that this unloved measure finds no favour in another place. Why?—because it has no merit. There is no evidence that it was thought through, or given any proper thought. This was illustrated graphically in the answer given by the Prime Minister to my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) on 23 October. My hon. Friend asked the Prime Minister on what date she was committed to the abolition of the GLC and she replied: On 18 May 1983."—[Official Report, 23 October 1983; Vol. 65, c. 539.] That was nine days after the announcement of the general election. That shows the grotesque and arbitrary manner in which the issue was decided.

The Bill was conceived in political spite and malice without any proper thought or public debate by someone who cannot tolerate dissent. The right hon. Lady cannot tolerate anyone who thinks differently from her. She finds consensus a dirty word. She is someone who must be obeyed. That is realised by ex-Cabinet Ministers when they reflect on their careers on the Government Back Benches. The Prime Minister has an authoritarian and intolerant outlook and she cannot abide another view of life that is flourishing across the river.

The right hon. Lady decides to act and so it is off with their heads without any ballot or election. In this instance we can throw the ballot boxes away. The GLC and the metropolitan counties are to be abolished by an abuse of power, at a stroke, by diktat. This will happen because they think differently and because the London public have had the impertinence to support the GLC.

I think that the Government will realise that that is not a good way of doing things. They will learn to regret their decision. I am sure that many Conservative Members will regret the decision as we move towards the next general election. As this grisly saga drags on, it will drive nails into the Government's coffin. They will pay a high price for this petulant and dictatorial piece of folly. Instead of being a quick surgical operation, it will be a long drawn-out gory mess. It will be a shambles because the Secretary of State will botch it up in his own inimical manner. The right hon. Gentleman's coffin does not need many more nails. The GLC is being abolished, and along with that goes the right hon. Gentleman's political career as the Bill passes through the House. The proposal has not been thought out properly. It has been given no proper scrutiny. It has not had the advantage of reliable study.

The London Government Act 1963 established the GLC. It was preceded by the Herbert commission. The Local Government Act 1972 was preceded by the Redcliffe-Maud commission. Both commissions produced principles and plans for reorganisation which were publicly debated. In this instance there has been no study, no blueprint, no debate and no discussion of merits. The Bill is a hastily cobbled together diktat, and it is not surprising that it is badly constructed. It is no wonder that it will cause chaos and confusion. It is because the cat's cradle of quangos, consultative arrangements and joint boards will not work that the Secretary of State is taking powers to act himself. He knows that that is necessary because of the disruption that will be caused. This is the greatest move towards centralised power in Whitehall that we have seen since the war. Any pretence of democracy is being destroyed.

The Secretary of State is arrogating to himself a huge battery of powers. He will be the single arbiter. He will be able to do virtually what he likes. Especially in the first years he will have dictatorial powers. It is that which so many on both sides of the House find offensive and distasteful. The right hon. Gentleman will have the most sweeping order-making powers. We cannot but be astonished at the breathtaking range of powers that is being taken. Some of these powers will be subject to affirmative or negative procedure in the House, but on other occasions there will be no parliamentary scrutiny or approval at all.

In clause 21, the Secretary of State has power to abolish ILEA. He will be able to do so after a one-and-a-half-hour debate on a motion that will not be subject to amendment. Under clause 9, he will be able to set up a waste disposal quango if the proposed arrangements do not work. Under clause 40 he will be able to dismantle the London fire and civil defence authority. Clause 59 gives him complete control over the London residuary body.

This is an unprecedented accretion of power. The Secretary of State will be able to direct, charge, veto, regulate, intervene, abolish and give what is euphemistically described as guidance. He will be able to enforce his will and do roughly whatever he likes. It would seem that that is what modern Conservatism is about. A good example is the power over roads. Some roads are trunked, which means that the Secretary of State has complete control. Some roads are handed to the boroughs, but he then gives guidance and if it is not taken he can direct them to take specific steps in a specific period. He can take over road schemes and charge the cost to the boroughs. He can also designate roads, and as a result veto any borough proposal.

No one can deny that this legislation will make local government less accountable and less democratic and will give power to the state, to Whitehall and to central Government. It takes London back over 100 years to prior to the setting up of the LCC.

The Government seem to claim that they will save money, but typically they provide no evidence. There is no breakdown, explanation or itemisation. I suggest that that claim is the biggest delusion of all. All experience points to the reverse being true. We can remember previous reorganisations, and also what happened in the National Health Service. Indeed, hon. Members might recall what happened more recently when the changes in housing benefit were supposed to save money and staff. They are now costing us £400 million more, and thousands more staff are being employed. I would cheerfully wager with any hon. Member that this legislation will prove to be more and not less expensive.

The prospective upheaval, bureaucratic muddle and disruption will be extremely costly. Michael Wheeler, the Conservative spokesman on finance and general purposes on the GLC, wrote a very interesting letter which appeared in The Guardian on 1 December. He looked at all the services that have been taken away from the GLC and found that they had all become much more expensive and that their cost had increased faster than the rate of inflation.

It is surely obvious that if services are not to be abolished and will still have to be paid for, but are to be reallocated to some amorphous mass of joint boards, quangos, boroughs, Departments and consultative arrangements, they will be less cost effective. All those other bodies will have to be staffed up. We shall probably end up with many more staff than we began with.

Therefore, structural changes will not lead to savings. Indeed, the reverse is true. Some 50 successor bodies have been identified. There will be an endless duplication of expertise and management. There will also be a need for co-operation between all of them. That, in turn, will involve a network of consultative machinery and its administration will come on top of that. There are no savings to be made by virtue of abolition. There are no savings inherent in abolition per se. The services will be there, but they will be delivered less efficiently. Only by lowering the level of services could savings be made. I believe that the most likely result is that we shall pay more for less.

It must now be obvious that political spite is a bad adviser. When hon. Members consider the chaos that will ensue and the continual effort that will be made to obtain co-operation and co-ordination from 32 boroughs that have different policies and mandates from their electorates, they will realise that that is not a stable basis for metropolitan government. The mixture of quangos and boards is totally inadequate and inapproprite to deal with metropolitan-wide matters.

Therefore, I believe that the proposals will not endure. London is not just the sum or aggregate of 32 boroughs. It is one of the greatest cities in the world, and it is impossible to deny it a voice. It has had one for a century, and it is impossible to abolish the voice of London just because the Government do not like what it says. If the Government do not like what Mr. Livingstone and his colleagues say, they should try to put better arguments and to persuade people in a ballot or election. But denying the people the right to throw out or to keep Mr. Livingstone must be wrong, and they are making an appalling mistake.

Several Hon. Members:


Photo of Mr Ernest Armstrong Mr Ernest Armstrong , North West Durham

I remind the House that from now until 8.50 pm all speeches will be subject to the 10-minute limit.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle 7:04, 4 December 1984

When I came into the House, I thought that manifestos were designed to enthuse supporters and bemuse opponents, but should not form a detailed blueprint for legislation. Thus, I believe that the time has almost come for us to free the legislative progeny of that manifesto from the mistaken belief that Londonwide democratic government is wrong.

We can relieve ourselves quite simply from that manifesto commitment. As the hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) said, the commitment was only 66 words long. It told us that we should abolish the GLC. I have no objection to that, because I believe that it should be abolished, but it did not say what should he put in its place. To some extent that manifesto commitment has already been abrogated, because it said that ILEA should be abolished, and ILEA is not to be abolished. But I cannot see why we cannot remain loyal to the manifesto and still legislate, as the Bill goes through Parliament, for a London assembly that is democratically elected to take over those residual powers that cannot be given to the boroughs by reason of their Londonwide status.

How do we arrive at that point? It is easy to look at the situation with the benefit of hindsight. At the time, it was easy to think that Mr. Livingstone could perform his last service to the Conservative party by being sacrificed on the altar of the failure to abolish rates. But the trouble with English people is that they love an underdog. They also love an eccentric underdog that is due for slaughter. Livingstone meets all of those criteria. There is no doubt that the commitment to abolish the GLC has become deeply unpopular with the vast majority of Londoners. The time has come to take stock and to see how the Bill can be improved. After all, we can improve it.

Why has the Bill become unpopular? London is a unit, and it is simply not good enough to say that it is a collection of villages. London has pride of place as one of the great capital cities of the world. It is a unit. I see no reason why we should not say that that unit should be kept as one, and that whether people live in south-east or north London they are living in one unit. The Government say, "All right, it's a unit. There are some powers that cannot be given to the boroughs and they can be safely vested in indirectly elected boards." But then one is up against the constitutional difficulty that a councillor can be elected to run local services in one part of London and can arrogate to himself control of Londonwide services. That is the fundamental constitutional difficulty that the Government labour under.

But there is a further difficulty. It is easy to say that one is on the horns of a dilemma, and that on the one hand the GLC will be left with insufficient powers while on the other it will be left with too many, and will become a load on top of the boroughs. But I do not think that a Londonwide assembly would be left with insufficient powers. Is it right to say that a Londonwide assembly would not have enough to do when it would have to run the arts, historic buildings, main roads and refuse disposal? Is not that enough for any assembly to do? I believe it is. The proposal might have been more attractive if we had talked about privatising refuse disposal, but there is nothing about that in the Bill. The Bill is not radical and is intensely unattractive.

Therefore, London is a unit and some powers simply cannot be given to the boroughs. There are those residual powers, but it is argued that there is insufficient for a London wide assembly to do. I sat on the GLC for many years, and I remember that when I was a member of the Conservative GLC between 1977 and 1981 the then leader of the Conservative opposition referred to us, and the GLC, as the jewel in her crown. We were proud of that role. We were the forerunners of what the Conservative Government would do. It seems that some of our work was not as appreciated as it should have been.

What is wrong with there being a focus of opposition to the Government in the city? We do not have a written constitution. Mayor Chirac performs that function in Paris. What is wrong with it? A great deal of what Mr. Livingstone has been producing has been disgraceful, one-sided and all the rest. If a Labour Government were going to abolish the shire counties, Saatchi and Saatchi would never produce such one-sided stuff.

There is a threat to those of us who represent shire counties. If a Government are seen to abolish metropolitan counties and a Labour-controlled GLC, is there not a danger that a future Labour Government will feel that they have every justification for abolishing the shire counties? I fear that.

Those of us who represent the shire counties should also bear in mind the fact that there is little doubt that, with the complex equalisation functions that the GLC performs all over London, in the year of abolition—the year of the borough council elections—the rates in many London boroughs will have to rise if the present grant formulas are allowed to stand.

No Government who introduced this measure for the precise reason that they were bringing power closer to the people, getting rid of a whole tier of government and all those things, could allow the grant formulas to stand. They will have to be changed somewhat, but at whose expense? At the expense of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer? I doubt it. I fear that it will be at the expense of the shire counties. That is why, as a Member for a shire county, I am worried about the Bill.

I am also worrried about the future of the City of London. When the GLC is abolished, there will be no Londonwide assembly. Will there not be some voices questioning on the international stage the fact that there is a Lord Mayor of London who became an elected official—an alderman—on the basis of 18 popular votes? Some aldermen are elected by just 18 votes. I fear that the City will be in an exposed position if the GLC is swept away.

All those factors lead me to question what we are doing. I am not an embittered former Minister; I am a hopeful new Member. I wish to be helpful to the Government. I do not see why we could not create an assembly—I put this point to my right hon. Friend yesterday and I am glad to know that it can be talked about in Committee, because presumably he has not said goodbye to it altogether—which would not be a local authority for the purposes of the Bill; would not have powers under clauses 137 or 142; could not give grants to the Gay Liberation Front, or whatever, but would simply be a tightly knit authority performing the functions that must be run Londonwide. It would, above all, be democratic and directly elected.

I cannot see why we cannot amend the Bill. If we amend the Bill in that way, there is one person who will be sorry, and whose campaign will have been finished, and that is the present leader of the GLC. I hope that the Government will think again.

Photo of Mr Allen McKay Mr Allen McKay , Barnsley West and Penistone 7:13, 4 December 1984

I am pleased to be following the hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh), because I enjoyed part of his speech. The Opposition would not look at local government in the way that his Government have. We would not make changes in local government without thinking carefully about it and without having an inquiry to see what the causes, needs and effects of change would be. The Bill is ill-thought-out and ill-conceived.

We ask ourselves, why introduce this Bill? Why introduce the devastation that it will cause? Why create the years of problems that it will cause to the localities? It is because the Government could not find a way to fulfil their promise of putting something else in the place of local rates. That has been tried for years and years and the Conservative Government fell into the trap of saying that they could do it when others who have considered the problem for many years have not found a suitable alternative.

The Government had to do something to smooth the hairs that were beginning to rise when people found that the Government could not do what they had promised. Local government has always changed itself. We do not say that there is no need for change, and no need to consider local government's functions, because there is always need for change for reasons of efficiency and economy.

Local authorities do that. They consider the needs of the areas that they represent; they look at the provision of services needed by the people, the majority of whom elected them; and they look to the welfare of their electors and their families. Before 1974, I was a member of a small, progressive, efficient and economic local urban council—Hoyland Nether. It had a population of about 16,500 and 12 councillors for four wards. In addition, we had an elected West Riding county councillor who had his separate responsibilities. Then came 1974, with the reorganisation which, like the present proposals, was meant to increase efficency and reduce costs. Unfortunately, it did neither. Costs increased and up went the rates. In came new systems and regulations that people could not understand or did not want. People received less for more money. Councillors in Barnsley were accused of sitting on their bums instead of going round and about and looking after the locality as they used to. They were not seen as regularly. A valuable focal point of urban life disappeared and along with it community life and community functions. The 12 representatives were, unfortunately, reduced to three.

The county council's only sin is that it is successful. It successfully supplies the people's needs. My county council has a successful cheap fares policy, which has been voted for time and time again by the people whom it represents.

The county council is, and always would be, if it were not for abolition, Labour-controlled. The Government are doing away with county councils because they are Labour-controlled and because the Prime Minister does not like Ken Livingstone or the successful cheap bus fares policy that the South Yorkshire county council is following. If she cannot change it, she gets rid of it. All county councils have to go together.

The county council is also successful in other ways—with the creation of country parks, and reclamation schemes, which in my constituency are badly needed, and consumer protection, environmental, recreational and employment measures. I have always believed that if we are to return to full employment it will be through the measures that local government introduce and not those introduced by central Government.

Rather than abolish the county councils, the Government should be seeking ways to strengthen them. Some of the county councils' functions are to be transferred to district councils, but 82 per cent. of the expenditure for which the county council is responsible will be removed from directly elected bodies to selected bodies—police, fire and public transport, to name but three.

The Bill introduces 40 new powers which will enable central Government intervention. There will be over 18 joint bodies. Central Government mean to keep tight control of those bodies by bringing them into the rate-cutting provisions for the first three years of their life. The Government mean to control the number of employees of those bodies and their structure. That will all be under the direct control of the Secretary of State.

There will be fewer local representatives who may or may not be appointed to the joint bodies. What we regard as the democratic freedom of the people is being eroded once more. That started in 1963, continued in 1974 and is carried on in 1984. That is why the Opposition say that the Bill is undemocratic.

I should like to ask the Minister a number of questions. Councillors are part-timers. They have regular occupations. What does the Minister believe will happen to them when he piles on them the extra responsibilities from the counties? What does he think that employers will say to those people who ask for extra time to carry out those extra duties? Are the Government to seek to protect those councillors? Or are we to have the democratic proposition of "Take it or leave it: either be a councillor and have no job, or have job and cease to be a councillor?" And what of the district councillors employed by the county council? With abolition, they, too, stand to lose their jobs. According to present legislation, they cannot be seen to employ themselves. Will a person who is working for the county council and who is a member of a district authority be able to apply for employment under the jurisdiction of the joint boards? Will he be able to do so without being disqualified, taking into consideration that the joint boards are joint boards and not the responsibility of one particular authority?

I turn to the effects that abolition will have on my area economically. What will the Secretary of State do about it? The Secretary of State is confident that millions of pounds will be saved by abolition. That was said in 1974. The only way that savings can be made is by a reduction in staff and personnel, or by a reduction in services, or both. Barnsley became a county town in 1974. We were proud of it because it brought into the area much-needed employment, spending power, which was greatly needed and, most important of all, people and businesses. After abolition, all that will go.

What will happen to this area? There will be vacant office accommodation. This will lead to a loss of rate income and a drop in rateable value. It means that the people and businesses that came into Barnsley will move to other areas and that there will be empty houses and a lowering of values and standards in the area. The policies of the Government have been devastating for Barnsley. The present mining dispute is taking its toll. That is the result of Government policy. It is now proposed that the counties should be abolished. The privatisation of the national bus company will mean that a third of the work force will be lost. That, too, is Government policy. What the Government have done for the people in my area will not lead to dancing in the streets. Abolition means that we shall lose out financially. We shall lose out on property values and we shall lose out upon representation and recognition. That is why the Bill should not be altered. It should be thrown out until a more sensible way of looking at the problems that abolition will cause is found.

Photo of Mr Patrick Ground Mr Patrick Ground , Feltham and Heston 7:23, 4 December 1984

The hon. Member for Barnsley, West and Penistone (Mr. McKay) has mentioned a number of the human problems which will beset councillors as a result of this legislation. I believe that they deserve very much more attention than they have so far received. But that is not the point I wish to make about the Bill. As a Member for a London constituency I am unhappy about the arrangments for London which are contained in the Bill. I should like to support those who have spoken on this side of the House in favour of the creation of an elected authority to run, on a Londonwide basis, those servicese which cannot be run by individual London boroughs.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said yesterday: Anyone who favours a slimmed-down upper tier for its own sake has to tell us what such weak authorities would actually do. If they had substantive functions, how could they avoid the duplications, conflict and bureaucracy of which it is the Bill's intention to rid us? If they had no substantive functions, what sort of people would waste their time serving on them?"—[Official Report, 3 December 1984; Vol. 69, c. 28–9.] In other words, the Secretary of State asks what those authorities would do. I suggest that the answer to that question lies in the analysis which the Government have made, which demonstrates conclusively that there are a number of very important functions which cannot be carried out by individual London boroughs. I shall take three of those important functions which have been so identified: strategic planning for London, historic buildings and conservation areas and traffic management.

I would suggest, first, that the advantage of having such a slim-line authority is that it would be a more efficient and effective way of exercising those functions than the mixture of joint boards and ministerial intervention which is proposed by the Bill. It would be more streamlined than what is proposed. Specifically, the position on planning in which a London borough would find itself after these provisions have been implemented will he more complicated. Instead of having three authorities concerned with planning — the London boroughs, the Greater London council and the Secretary of State—we should have four bodies responsible for planning: the London boroughs, the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, the London planning commission and the Secretary of State.

Every planning application which is to be made in a conservation area—one must remember that in some boroughs conservation areas represent a large amount of the area — will have to be referred to the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission before it can even be considered by the planning authority. I suggest that it would be much simpler if we had an elected, streamlined body for the whole of London to carry out the planning functions which are proposed for historic buildings and conservation areas, which at present are run by the Greater London council, than the system proposed in the Bill.

Secondly, I suggest that the proposal for a streamlined body is more satisfactory because it is undesirable for central Government to become involved with the details of local plans or the intricacies of traffic management. In 1968, when the Minister of State, Ministry of Housing and Local Government sought to justify the distinction between local plans and structure plans, he said: It is, of course, one of the main purposes of separating structure plans from local plans to rid the central Government of the responsibility for a mass of detail which is better dealt with and decided at local level." — [Official Report, Standing Committee G; 29 February 1968, c. 186–7.] By making the Minister directly responsible for the local content of the unitary plans which will be produced by the London boroughs, the effect is precisely to make the Minister responsible for a mass of detail which hitherto it has been thought wise for central Government to avoid.

The same is true of traffic management. When one considers that the effect of what is proposed in the Bill will be to make central Government potentially capable of intervening in traffic management schemes relating to no fewer than 8,529 miles of road in London, one can see that again there is a real danger of central Government becoming involved in far too much detail.

Thirdly, I regard it as undesirable for the only Londonwide elected authority to be responsible only for education. After what has been said by Ministers in the past, even by the Prime Minister, I find it strange that the. Bill should propose the creation of an elected ILEA. I share the views of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) and my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) who have stressed their reservations about the establishment of such an authority. It would be much more desirable to have an elected Londonwide authority with a variety of essential functions, so that Members could make sensible judgments between different services and not be concerned only with education.

I am unable to support the Bill. I shall not vote against the Second Reading, but unless the Bill comes back to the Floor of the House with a clearly defined and strong role for an elected Londonwide authority, I shall vote against Third Reading.

Photo of Nick Brown Nick Brown , Newcastle upon Tyne East 7:31, 4 December 1984

I respect what the hon. and learned Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Ground) said. He made special reference to the difficulties of London and I hope later to make special reference to some of the problems in Tyne and Wear.

The Government's proposals are indefensible. The Government should have addressed themselves to the commitment in a previous Conservative manifesto to look at the basis of rates as a method of raising taxation. The Government have failed to do that, despite having promised their supporters that they would do so. The Bill and the Rates Act 1984 are intended to make up for that failing.

Secondly, the Government should have conducted a review of the structures that were changed by a previous Conservative Administration. We should have sought the views of interested parties and discussed them. Only then should the Government have come forward with legislation to build on the strengths and reform the weaknesses of the present system. The Government have lamentably failed to do that.

If there had been a review of existing local government structures, the Government's attention would have been drawn to the unique problems and stresses that confront our great conurbations. All the metropolitan areas have within their boundaries areas of great deprivation, areas where the average age of the population is increasing, areas where the density of population presents problems and areas that are blighted by high unemployment and attendant poverty. The need for an authority to take an overview of those issues, which transcend district boundaries, is widely recognised in the northern region.

The Tyne and Wear county council has performed its functions and served our region well. The House is not discussing the replacement of the county council by a more comprehensive successor authority. We are discussing giving much more power to the Secretary of State and setting up an absurd joint boards structure for the rest of the powers.

Everyone knows that the Secretary of State's powers will not be exercised by him, agonising over every decision that has to be made in our areas. His civil servants will play an important part in decision making. No one in Tyne and Wear elected the Secretary of State, let alone his civil servants.

The Government cannot claim that they have a mandate from Tyne and Wear for the Bill. The whole county returned only one and a half Conservative Members. No hon. Member from the northern region has a mandate for the Bill.

The joint boards will undoubtedly be inefficient, costly to convene and even more costly to service. They will be a recipe for endless procrastination and will lead to a slow expansion of staff, district by district, as each district authority says that it needs just one extra officer to help service its role on the joint board.

The lead authority scheme will turn out to be a load of nonsense. Does anyone imagine that the district councils in Tyne and Wear will sit down together and agree, for example, that Gateshead will get the archives, north Tyneside will have the incinerator and south Tyneside will take trading standards? We know what will happen: another authority will say, "We want trading standards." Another will say, "You can have trading standards, but we want to employ an extra officer to service our involvement in that area." Such a system cannot work. It will be a pathetic shambles.

The county structure brings together services that are delivered on a county level. It is gross folly to interfere in that mechanism for no reason except political spite. I have sat through most of the debate and I know that the Government have not come up with convincing reasons on costs or efficiency for claiming that the proposed reforms are in the public interest.

Photo of Nick Brown Nick Brown , Newcastle upon Tyne East

The hon. Gentleman refused to give way to me yesterday, but I am more generous than he is.

Photo of Mr Piers Merchant Mr Piers Merchant , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. After abolition, would the hon. Gentleman support the reconstitution of the Tyne and Wear county council in its present form?

Photo of Nick Brown Nick Brown , Newcastle upon Tyne East

That matter was ably dealt with yesterday by the Opposition spokesman, my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham). I endorse what my hon. Friend said.

I wish to refer to two important matters in our county. The first is Tyne and Wear's economic development functions. There is no reference in the Bill to economic development. Those functions may be devolved to the district councils, but the budgets will not. District authorities on Tyneside are close to being rate-capped. No one in the northern region believes that we would have had Nissan or Findus, which are welcome to the region and have brought us employment opportunities, if it had not been for the stupendous efforts of the county council which encouraged those companies to come to our region.

We shall not be able to do that in future, because the mechanism under which the county council operates is being removed by the Government. Rate-capped district authorities will not be able to provide it.

Secondly, the county council has provided a forum for promoting the cause of a region whose industrial base is under structural attack. The "save our shipyards" campaign has been endorsed by industry and trade unions in the region and by Conservatives on Newcastle city council and Tyne and Wear county council. That has been an important forum for putting the case of the shipbuilding industry. I know that the Department of Trade and Industry is not happy with the campaign, so the Department of the Environment is seeking to ensure that it will be abolished. That will be yet another blow to a region which has already sustained far too many blows.

In Tyne and Wear we are justifiably proud of our integrated passenger transport network, especially the metro. People come from all over the world to look at it. It is of especial pride to Labour representatives. The metro was fought for at the ballot box and the Labour party won the election having made a commitment to provide it. In an area where the rate of car ownership and personal transport is one of the lowest in Great Britain, it is not surprising that the electorate voted for a party which would provide good, solid, public transport. By undermining our ability to fund that transport and by taking power out of the hands of local representatives, the Minister is undermining something for which the region has voted. That must be wrong.

My final charge is that if Governments genuinely care about the nation's democratic institutions, especially its local government structure, they have a duty to embark upon change with care and to ensure that any contemplated change is not introduced in an authoritarian manner. The Government must take care to avoid the charge that they are abolishing institutions primarily because they are controlled by the Government's political opponents. Lamentably the Government fall short of that test.

There is no justification for the Bill except political expediency. It is yet further evidence that this most authoritarian of Governments will tolerate no dissent, even from councillors and authorities which can also claim a democratic mandate.

Photo of Mr Colin Moynihan Mr Colin Moynihan , Lewisham East 7:41, 4 December 1984

I hope to serve on the Standing Committee which will consider the Bill in detail. Nevertheless, I wish to react to the implications of the speech of the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) about sport and recreation, and to talk about the important issue of the excellent and necessary provision of sport and recreational facilities in London in future.

It is important to place the matter within an overall strategic policy and to understand the substantial changes in socio-economic policy which have led to the need for a sports and recreation strategy. There has been a marked shift in the House from quoting the 1944 White Paper on employment to quoting Lord Stockton's maiden speech in the other place. However, he was right to say: the third phase has come, based upon the computer, silicon chips, automation … We have got from now to think out what this means in human terms … It is a complete revolution in thought…We shall refer to the proper use of leisure, and how to deploy it. We shall wish to ensure that this new leisure which man at last will be able to enjoy is properly used for his mind and education, for sport and other leisure purposes." — [Official Report, House of Lords; 13 November 1984, c. 240.] A recreation policy is essential to such a vision. It must stretch from assistance for our international athletes to the promotion of participation among all ages and sections of the population. Therefore, I was concerned yesterday when the hon. Member for Copeland said that the Government's proposals constituted an attack on sport and recreation which would diminish the quality of life in London.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House whether any significant sports organisations support the abolition of the GLC or any of the metropolitan councils?

Photo of Mr Colin Moynihan Mr Colin Moynihan , Lewisham East

When the hon. Member has heard my speech, he will be able to draw to the attention of any sporting or governing body what I am about to say and the figures which I shall quote. He will then be able to persuade it otherwise.

The most crucial statement on the subject was made on 11 April 1984 by the Secretary of State for the Environment. He said that it would be for the boroughs and districts to take over the sports and recreational responsibilities of the GLC and MCCs, but that proposals would be brought forward in consultation with the Sports Council and other interested organisations for a limited extension of central funding via the Sports Council to complement the contribution of boroughs and districts towards some sports facilities, events and schemes of wider local interest.

In the same announcement, the Secretary of State made it clear that the Government intended that the Sports Council should consider the importance and continued use of Crystal Palace. It has already been announced that Crystal Palace will survive strongly, not least because Bromley council, with its vigour, enterprise and energy, will assist the Sports Council to ensure that. The figure, which the Sports Council has considered, for the amount spent nationally on events and schemes of wider than local interest is crucial.

It is interesting that the figure nationally for events and schemes of wider than local interest is less than the central administration budget of the GLC for leisure and recreation last year. We should consider last year's figures. A figure of about £40 million has been bandied about as that spent on sports and recreation. By the GLC's own figure, last year's budget on sports and recreation was not £41 million but £13·275 million. To achieve the £41 million figure, one must include all the arts centres, the cultural facilities, grants and contributions, promotion for tourism, central and departmental catering, other recreation, leisure and cultural facilities and £6·7 million worth of central and departmental administration.

For every £100 which the GLC spends on sport and leisure, £15 is spent on administration, despite its having an opportunity to centralise and reduce the overheads. The 32 separate boroughs spend £10·50 of the £100 on administration.

If one considers the £40 million, one sees that the arts facilities and arts grants are the responsibility of the Arts Council. Crystal Palace has been announced separately as a continuing and important contribution to sport and recreation.

The proposals for Lea valley have been announced and clear guidelines set down. The master of misinformation, Mr. Pitt, has again reacted by wrongly stating three important points in his press release. He talked about 80 per cent. of total annual running costs which are to be split between 32 London boroughs. That is not true. London's share of the £3·7 million quoted is 80 per cent. of net costs. The park authority already raises £2 million through income from facilities.

Mr. Pitt talked about the 27 remaining authorities having never been forced to contribute before. That is not true. Since 1967, through the precept on the GLC, all London boroughs have contributed to the parks authority since it was established. He then asked if the boroughs had been consulted. I know from experience on the Sports Council and the Central Council for Physical Recreation and the voluntary body, the Sports Aid Foundation, that great consultation and thought, and in-depth analysis, went into the White Paper "Streamlining the Cities".

The enrichment of the environment is obviously better handled by the Countryside Commission, Thames water authority or the British Waterways Board. Tourism is the province of the London tourist board. Only two parts of the budget are relevant to sports and recreation, and they do not add up to anything like £41 million. They are playing fields and open spaces. The recreation grants for playing fields and open spaces are £13·8 million. It is important to review the rate support grant on a case by case basis, and to use governing bodies and their expertise—many of them have far more money than before—to see how we can identify schemes and events which use those facilities, which one could get potential Sports Council assistance and funding for and governing body interest in.

On recreation grants, it is not strategic to London to finance a host of different sports organisations which are primarily the concern of local boroughs. It is surely not right for the people of Lewisham to have to pay for the Lambeth peace run. If the people of Lambeth want a peace run, they should establish it as a priority and pay for it themselves. They should not expect £10,000 from the GLC and thus from those who are precepted through the rates.

It is for the people of Camden and their elected representatives to decide whether to sponsor what the GLC describe as sports organisations, such as the Camden Chinese community or the Kentish Town city farm. It is for the people of Greenwich to decide through their councillors whether they want to spend money on the Pakistan Muslim Welfare Association. I am surprised to find overt political discrimination in funding for sports organisations. It is surely for the people of Wandsworth to decide whether to provide financial assistance for the bowls section of Battersea Labour club. The essence of the Bill is to decentralise such decisions—especially with regard to local sports organisations—to those at local level who should be best capable of determining local priorities.

The Sports Aid Foundation and the Sports Aid Trust have been mentioned by the Opposition. Since the Sports Aid Trust was established under the chairmanship of my right hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Parkinson), its committee has obtained more voluntary pledges for the future of the Sports Aid Foundation than the GLC has ever provided. I do not for a moment seek to undermine the vital importance of the initial funds for the London and south-east body, but the foundation's fund-raising effort must not just subsidise the elite. It must encourage the boroughs, local banks, schools and shops and above all the local press to move forward along the lines that I have described.

In conclusion, the future of sport in London and throughout the country rests on four important bodies. First, the governing bodies, through sponsorship and television, have achieved a considerable increase in financial assistance. Through television, £10·5 million has been provided for the Amateur Athletic Association, Secondly, we have the Sports Aid Foundation and the Sports Aid Trust. Thirdly, there is the Sports Council, with its real increase in income. Finally, the London boroughs in their own right last year gave more than £100 million to sport and recreation.

Photo of Mr Ernest Armstrong Mr Ernest Armstrong , North West Durham

Order. Is the hon. Gentleman about to conclude?

Photo of Mr Colin Moynihan Mr Colin Moynihan , Lewisham East

Yes, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

With those four wheels to the policy firmly in place, there is no need for a fifth wheel, just as the GLC has proved an unnecessary and expensive fifth wheel on the vehicle of London government.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton 7:52, 4 December 1984

I intend to take just eight minutes and to sit down at 8 o'clock.

Yesterday's Liverpool Daily Post carried an interesting series of articles on the future of Merseyside in a four-page special entitled: Your county: right or wrong? and featuring a debate that included the Secretary of State for the Environment and various other people. The editorial states: Leaving aside the disputed savings issue— the proof of this will not be evident until well after March 1986—there are a number of disturbing issues which the answers in our four-page report highlight, particularly in relation to the joint boards which will run the police, fire and transport services.These boards will comprise councillors appointed by the district councils. Many district councillors and their officers are deeply concerned at the extra work which will be forced upon them, commenting that they have enough problems to tackle without taking on extra. It concludes: The Government maintains the abolition of the county councils will mean local democracy is strengthened. The evidence so far, and admittedly Mr. Jenkin has been criticised for not presenting the Government's case very forcibly, is woefully thin. We all agree on that. The Secretary of State stated that some metropolitan councils had promoted policies which conflict with national policies that should be left to the concern of democratically elected central government. That is the key to the matter.

Let us consider some of the policies carried out by the Merseyside county council. It established an economic development committee, which has created 8,000 permanent jobs in an area in which 150,000 people are out of work, largely due to Government policy. No wonder the Government are complaining that local authorities are interfering in matters which should be left to central Government, because central Government are happy to see unemployment building up whereas Labour authorities adopt positive policies to reduce unemployment without any great assistance from central Government. Merseyside council has also established 30 workers' co-operatives, all of which are functioning very well. If the county council is abolished and the transport authority handed over to some ad hoc body, the cheap fares policy of the county council, which has done such a good job in keeping fares down, will disappear along with many other achievements.

The Government's attitude is one of pure political spite. They believe that any centre of resistance to their policies must be destroyed. The same syndrome is operating in their attempts to weaken the miners' union and the trade union movement generally. It is important to realise exactly what the Government are trying to do.

The Minister for Local Government gave a very smooth performance on television, dragging up previous statements made by Mr. Livingstone. The Minister was quite wrong, of course, and indulged in all kinds of exaggerations. Nevertheless, he may as well know that many years ago, as a city councillor in Liverpool, I moved a resolution opposing the setting-up of the county council. The Conservatives established it all the same and initially it was controlled by them. A few years later, however, when my predecessor in the House, Sir Kenneth Thompson, was leader of the county council, I became convinced that it was doing a very good job. I was convinced by practice. We always have to be convinced by practice. The Secretary of State argued that there had been conflict between the metropolitan councils and the local authorities, but that is certainly not true on Merseyside. They have worked together hand in hand to do positive things for the area and it should be placed clearly on record that they have done a tremendous job.

The real reason for the Government's attitude is that they favour centralised control. If I were a Minister, having heard the speech of the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), I should withdraw the Bill, give it up and pack it in. The Opposition entirely agree with the case so conclusively made by the right hon. Gentleman when he said that the Bill was really about centralised control by the Government. The Government are showing their authoritarian streak.

There are about 70 references in the Bill to increased centralisation. The Secretary of State is to have powers to make orders, issue directions, monitor expenditure and manpower, give guidance and make appointments and nominations. The Government want to tell the people what is good for them and what is not. We say that that is not good enough for the people, and that we intend to fight the Bill every inch of the way.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt , Bury North 7:59, 4 December 1984

There are a number of tests of the worth of a piece of legislation. I need not list them all, but two of them could be described as acceptability to the public and popularity. From time to time, the Government have stumbled over those two hurdles. Popularity must never be the sole determinant of Government policy, but acceptability to the people will be the most important test of all when elections are fought. With my constituents, the Bill passes the tests of acceptability and popularity. Like the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith), I shall speak for my own area and not refer to the position in London.

As is well known, the metropolitan authorities have a shorter history than the regional authority in London. In my own area, there was much concern in the early 1970s at the proposal to take powers away from local authorities and give them to a body to be called the Greater Manchester council. Greater Manchester is not a unified whole. There are considerable differences between Ramsbottom and Tottington in the north, parts of Stockport in the south, Rochdale in the east and Wigan in the west. The misgivings were echoed in my own constituency by Conservative and, it should not be forgotten, Labour councillors.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd , Stretford

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt , Bury North

No. The hon. Gentleman must wait until I have developed my argument.

Those misgivings by Labour councillors are not often referred to now. If anything in this matter has been cobbled together, it is Labour Members' opposition to proposals which do not deviate very much from what they themselves had in mind.

The feeling that Greater Manchester had no identity with which people in the area could sympathise persisted and still persists. It has been difficult for people to appreciate why councillors elected in Stockport and Wigan should necessarily decide whether an estate in Ramsbottom should have double yellow lines to protect residents from bad parking.

The lack of acceptance of the Greater Manchester council was proved during the 1983 general election. Whether or not it was an issue elsewhere, the abolition of the met counties was certainly an issue in my constituency. I would not make great claims for the concept of a mandate. No one disputes that, in general terms, a mandate put forward by a winning political party at an election has some sway over the legislative programme of the following few years. It is sometimes difficult to pin down every aspect of a manifesto. It is certainly wrong to demand that legislation must be passed purely because of some reference in the manifesto. However, I myself tested the Bill on many doorsteps. When life became difficult, and my arguments for the Conservative party seemed less persuasive than usual, the greatest single successful response was always brought out by the question, "Would you like us to abolish the Greater Manchester council?" The answer was almost always positive. I can say confidently that most of my constituents knew very well that the Conservatives were proposing this measure. My constituents support it, and want to see it carried into law.

That cannot conclude the argument. There are other things to say. What is so good about the Greater Manchester council that it should be retained? What is so difficult about the legislation that it should not be carried through? There is the complexity argument. I have never sought to portray the task of abolition as a simple one—there are a number of difficulties to be fairly faced—nor have I gone on record as saying that everything that the Greater Manchester council has done is bad. A number of my constituents work for the council. I acknowledge that in many areas their work has been good.

The Government's proposals will be carefully examined in Committee, as they should be, but merely because a task is complex — and clearly transferring powers to the district authorities will be a complex matter —one should not conclude that that task should not be attempted. The task would have been a great deal easier if the Greater Manchester council had co-operated with the Government from the word go and tried to ease the passage of the legislation instead of adopting a stupid and unco-operative attitude.

The Greater Manchester council cannot claim that the Bill does not embody everything that it wanted and cannot allege that it is a dog's breakfast when it made no attempt to co-operate with the Government or attempt to improve the legislation. Let me quote two areas of concern. I hope that in Committee the Government will pay attention to the question of refuse disposal. Major gains have been made through dealing with the matter on a regional basis. Those gains should not be lost. Last week, I visited the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology to look at a project dealing with the conversion of waste material into energy. Good work is being done there, and it should not be wasted. It would be possible to keep the waste disposal function, as opposed to waste collection, on a regional footing by privatising the disposal operation. That option should not be ignored.

When the question of the privatisation of refuse collection was raised in Bury, the council refused to adopt it because a better option has been provided, involving a revolutionary wheeled bin process, with co-operation from the unions. So there is no dogma on my side. But the Government should consider whether the waste disposal function regionally could be better carried out by a private body.

A second area of expertise concerns highways and, specifically, bridges. Before reorganisation, a number of bridges were neglected. Now, however, the Greater Manchester council has a good team, and it is important that its work should be continued. I hope that the Government will bear that point in mind, too.

I should now like to consider some of the nonsense talked by the Opposition. First, there is the anti-democratic argument. I have never found it convincing. There has been a scare campaign designed to fool people into believing that they would lose all right to vote locally. That was nonsense. People will have the right to vote for district councillors, who will have increased powers. There has also been the accusation about political spite.

Photo of Robert Wareing Robert Wareing , Liverpool, West Derby

Did not the hon. Gentleman hear the speech of the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath)?

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt , Bury North

I shall answer the points made by my right hon. Friend.

If they were motivated by political spite, the Government could simply seek to abolish Labour opposition. However, it is clear that, in an area such as mine, most members of the joint boards will be Labour. The Labour influence will not be lost, and it is wrong simply to say that Labour opposition has been removed. That was pointed out to the Government by my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) who suggested to the Government that they might have made an error. That point certainly proves that there is no political spite behind the legislation.

Four factors have led my constituents to have no great regard for the Greater Manchester council, and have contributed to the lack of the sympathy that it was originally hoped the body would enjoy. First, like other Labour-controlled authorities, the Greater Manchester council constantly claims to be starved of funds. However, in combination with other metropolitan authorities, it can find £2·5 million to spend on an advertising campaign. That shows an element of deviousness. The council lacks the money, or so it says, but then finds it again. Secondly, it has put out utterly misleading advertising telling pensioners that they will lose their concessionary fares and others that there will be no buses. That is completely false and it has made no attempt to justify its claims. Thirdly, it has advanced the argument that the ends justify the means and that we must defeat the Bill in any way. A union member of the GMC staff circulated a letter to his colleagues in which he said that the recipient must write to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and added: You might add that when you voted Conservative (it doesn't matter whether you did or not) you were not aware that you were voting for the cancellation of elections.In any of the letters, do not describe yourself as an employee of GMC. That was devious and wrong. GMC staff who have written to me from my own constituency have told me who they work for—I respect them for that.

Lastly, the GMC's abuses and the £50,000 of ratepayers' money that it offered, with no consultation, to the striking miners' fund caused great annoyance to the ratepayers. They have no sympathy for the GMC. They regard it as a body that should be abolished and which has done nothing but try to create jobs for itself. That criticism might not be fair—the GMC has done good things—but my constituents regard this as an opportunity to do away with a body which they never accepted and which they knew we would abolish when they supported us in 1983. We shall carry the Bill through with the full support of Bury, North and its Member of Parliament.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Eastham Mr Kenneth Eastham , Manchester, Blackley 8:11, 4 December 1984

The other day I watched the Conservative party political broadcast. It was an utter disgrace. The Conservative propaganda machine distorted the facts. It concentrated on the GLC and emphasised the minority groups that it supports and completely ignored voluntary and church organisations, which are vital to a balanced community and which the GLC also supports.

The Minister for Local Government had the cheek to say that the Government were not getting rid of any services. The programme did not mention the metropolitan counties and the many services that they provide. Such distortion is becoming the norm. They have resorted to a smear campaign and undue emphasis of detail, thinking that that fortifies their case. They omitted to say that it was the Conservative reorganisation of 1974 — which cost hundreds of millions of pounds—that has taken many years to settle down. They intend to put the nation into turmoil at a cost of another several hundred million pounds.

I shall not develop any sophisticated arguments as it is clear that the Government will force Conservative Members through the Lobby. However, some facts must be put on the record before the Government's can of worms is kicked over as the Bill goes on the statute book. Most people realise that the Bill is motivitated by the Government's hatred of Labour-controlled local authorities. Local authorities are often far more efficient than the Government. Local government is always found to be more accountable than the Government after the auditors have been in.

The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) said that he would support the Government. He said that the Bill would enable his area to have its own fire service. In what is now the Greater Manchester area there will be 10 fire services, 10 chief fire officers and no doubt 10 police organisations and 10 chief constables. The metropolitan counties appointed a firm of private consultants to investigate the validity of the Government's proposals. The Goverment are fond of private consultants and private companies but when these consultants asked the Government whether they wanted to check the figures and conclusions, the Government declined.

Planning is a major issue. I remember from my days in local government that one of the greatest arguments among districts was the strategy for a balanced philosophy. Before co-ordination, one district would vie with another because there was no such planning philosophy. The same was true for land use, housing and overspills. Inquiries and appeals caused delays that cost ratepayers fantastic sums of money. I am aware that most Tories do not like planners. They traditionally dislike control of development because plot density ratios mean profits. They always want more floors, and therefore more profits, in office blocks. I therefore understand why the Government are not keen on a co-ordinated planning system.

Transport should be co-ordinated, but the Bill will result in massive fare increases and neglect of the aged, the infirm and families without cars, of which there are many in the north of England. The problem of crossing district boundaries when negotiating concessionary fares for pensioners will re-emerge. We are also worried about what will happen to consumer protection services which have helped to establish responsible trading standards. Such services will probably go to the wall.

Greater Manchester has devoted £2·4 million to the arts. That money is now at risk. The result will be the inadequate funding of noble organisations such as the Manchester Royal Exchange theatre, the Oldham Coliseum, the Bolton Octagon and the Museum of Science.

Two clauses in the Bill should not be passed over, although the Bill is a long document and we need considerable time to examine it in great depth. Clause 93 has been described as the Reichstag clause, and gives sweeping powers for subsequent Government actions. It is the kind of dictatorial power that this Government will undoubtedly take up and which has now become the norm when they deal and liaise with local government.

Clause 83 is a recipe for local disagreements and conflicts. It refers to research and information. It uses the laboured solution that two thirds of the district must agree to whatever is suggested before it can be done. There will be conflicts and difficulties when the district representatives meet and there is no longer a co-ordinated planning authority.

The Bill will lead to fragmentation and consequential indecision, wasting of resources, duplication, added costs and chaos. All hon. Members, including Conservative Members, have received many communications from organisations, and not necessarily political organisations. I have received scores of letters about the Bill and only one has supported the Government. That letter comes from the chamber of commerce, which is the Government's only serious supporter. Naturally, the letter says that there will be savings, but, from my experience in local government, I know that organisations such as this, which are complete scoundrels, say that we should spend less, but are the first to demand more.

It would be useful—

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I hate to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but would he come to his last sentence, please?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Eastham Mr Kenneth Eastham , Manchester, Blackley

I was going to mention bodies such as the CBI council, which met in January 1984, the Trafford district council, which is Conservative-controlled and many other organisations whose views I should like to quote to the Minister. This is bad legislation and a disgrace. I hope that it will be kicked out tonight.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South 8:22, 4 December 1984

I take issue with the hon. Member for Lewisham, East (Mr. Moynihan), who has now, alas, gone, because his speech illustrates the superficiality of so much of what we have heard from the Bill's supporters. The hon. Gentleman convicted himself out of his own mouth. He said that every borough provides its own sports facilities. I agree that boroughs provide tennis courts and bowling greens, but suppose somebody wanted to row an Olympic rowing course. I doubt that every borough in London could provide that facility. I hope that my borough will shortly be providing that facility, which will be a London regional facility. I have no doubt that in Mole valley there are facilities for sailing, as there are in the Lea valley. That is a service for the whole area.

The Herbert commission report has not been fully quoted in this debate. It advocated the creation of a Greater London council, but said that the boroughs should be the primary authority for services except those which can only be effectively performed over the wider area of Greater London or which could be better performed over that wider area. That is the essence of the argument. Certain things can only better be performed over a wider area. For example, there is traffic management. The hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel) and I had experience of the Greater London council in this subject. The GLC has been active in traffic management which can only be arranged over a wider area than a borough. If one is co-ordinating traffic signals, dealing with traffic management schemes, lorry routes and parking, one can deal with it only over a relatively wide area.

The hon. Member for Bury, North (Mr. Burt) said that people did not like the Greater Manchester council. It is often true that people living in a lower tier authority resent the upper one, because the upper one, whether it is the Surrey county council, the Hertfordshire county council or any other of the shire councils, is responsible for wider reconciliation of interests. The Government are to remove that from the process of democratic control.

Much has been said about quangos. I have a quango in my constituency, the London Docklands development corporation, which is responsible, alas, not just for strategic planning, but for detailed planning, which is an important countywide role, particularly in urban areas. It appointed a new member to the authority the other day, no doubt an excellent gentleman. The salary that he is being given for half a day a week is equivalent to £30,000 a year. I learned about his appointment through a press release. That is how the Government go about dealing with a quango, which has been set up to deal with, as they call it, the inadequacies of borough administration.

The very creation of a London Docklands development corporation shows that even this Government recognise that there are problems that cannot be dealt with on a borough basis. They have also recognised this in taking away the ambulance service from the LDDC and giving it to a quango. I bet that few people know who runs the ambulances in London. They may be surprised to know that it is a quango, the South West Thames regional hospital authority. I shall quote from its strategic planning framework, to show what the Government quangos are: There is therefore an urgent need to re-appraise the use of the non-emergency ambulance service, whether or not charging arrangements are introduced as a result of the Rayner Scrutiny … Demand for non-emergency services is therefore likely to outstrip supply. Proposals for acute, geriatric, mentally ill and mentally handicapped services, community services and particularly for developments in day care that increase demands for ambulance transport must not be included in plans unless there is a commitment in principle from the managing authority that adequate ambulance resources can be provided. The Government are cutting the ambulance service and restricting its proper use. It should be the responsibility of the GLC. Instead, the ambulance service has been taken away from the GLC. Not much change will come from the quangos.

Last night I had exchanges with the Secretary of State for Education and Science about the Inner London education authority. Having been mauled by the other place and by people in his own party, the right hon. Gentleman has said that everything will be all right because there will be a directly elected ILEA. However, it will be "cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd" and capped by the Government. The new ILEA is to be without the borough representatives. I am not sure whether it is easy to be a borough representative on ILEA, but at least that is a link with the boroughs. Clauses 17, 18 and 19 do not provide for such a link.

Under clause 20 there is to be an annual consultation between the new directly elected ILEA and the boroughs, the members of which are not elected to deal with all ILEA matters. The Secretary of State will be able to intervene to say which policies can be a matter of consultation.

With regard to clause 21, it was made clear by the Secretary of State last night after great pressure —despite his giving the so-called concession that there will be a directly elected ILEA—that in a couple of lines of subsection (5) he can disperse that ILEA to the boroughs.

By combining clauses 20 and 21, the Secretary of State will be able to say, "If you do not do what the boroughs want, or what I think you should do, or if you do not want to spend what I say you should spend, or if you do not want to concentrate on the policies on which I think you should concentrate, then I will chuck you up and give you to the boroughs." The Secretary of State can do that under clause 21(5) by means of a debate for one and a half hours in this House and one vote — a package deal. That is authoritarianism. That is the centralisation of government that the Conservative party says that it does not want to see, yet it is doing it.

I believe that we can see in the Bill the influence of the Prime Minister. She is the authoritarian voice inside the Conservative party. She is divisive not only in the country but in her own party. As the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) said, the policy contained in the Tory manifesto was cobbled up and inserted less than three weeks before the election. It is said that it was on her insistence. Her vindictiveness against the ILEA and her contempt of parliamentary procedures have put into the Bill clause 21(5), which is one of the most authoritarian and anti-parliamentary measures in the Bill, which itself is unworthy of parliamentary consideration for that reason, if for no other.

Photo of Mr Michael Shersby Mr Michael Shersby , Uxbridge 8:32, 4 December 1984

I should like to speak briefly in what has been a long debate on a long and complex Bill. I intend to vote for the Bill on Second Reading tonight. I am committed to do so and my intentions have been made clear in my speeches and in my election address in June 1983.

The main reason for my support for the Bill on Second Reading is that I believe that the London boroughs are the primary authorities in London, that they should have full responsibility for local government in London, and that they can do the job at a much lower cost to the ratepayer than the Greater London council, under its present administration or under any previous administration. I say that because it may well be that some colleagues in the House are unaware of the size of the London boroughs.

My constituency is situated in the London borough of Hillingdon. It is 15 miles long and has a population of over 200,000 people. It is by most standards a very big unit of local government.

My views are based on my 12 years' experience as a London borough councillor, between 1959 and 1971, in two of the old metropolitan boroughs. In those days there was constant conflict between the metropolitan boroughs and the old London county council. A feeling grew up —shared by politicians across the political spectrum—that perhaps the time had come for a different form of London government. Following the report of the Herbert commission, we embarked on the creation of a big, new strategic authority that would cover not only inner London but the old counties of Middlesex and Surrey of blessed memory.

Strategic planning was then very much the vogue, and it was that impetus that led to the creation of the GLC. We have been able, over the past 20 years, to observe how the GLC works, under the present administration and under the previous administration of my noble friend Lord Plummer and Sir Horace Cutler.

Many of us from London — those who sit in this House and those who serve on borough councils—have come to the conclusion that the GLC has not been a success. The feeling among the people of London in June 1983 was made very clear to me during the first week of the election campaign. It was that the GLC and its work was remote from their daily lives. They did not understand it. They felt that it was all taking place a long way from where they lived. My constituency of Uxbridge is 18 miles from the centre of London, and people still feel that that is quite a long way.

The only reason why the work of the GLC has become better known has been that during the life of the present administration at county hall a very large sum of ratepayers' money has been spent on a massive propaganda campaign.

During the past 20 years substantial powers have been transferred from the GLC to the London boroughs — housing, children's health, welfare and so on. I was the first chairman of the children's committee in the London borough of City of Westminster following the abolition of the London county council. Everybody said that the services would never be the same; that they would not be properly organised; that there would not be people of sufficient calibre to run them. It was said that we would not be able to cope with the out-town homes. The City of Westminster owned homes in towns as far away as Slough —then in Buckinghamshire and now in Berkshire. The fears proved to be unfounded, because we had— and still have—in that marvellous city people who were enthusiastic about the personal services, and who gave a great deal of their time to making them work, with tremendous success. Who today can point to the personal services in the London boroughs and say that they are not as well run as they were by the GLC? No one can say that.

I have given a very good example of the way in which the boroughs can handle very important services. I believe that the remaining functions, with certain exceptions, can be handled by the boroughs, and that where necessary there will be proper and adequate co-operation through the London Boroughs Association, which should be able to speak for London.

When the Bill is enacted, the electorate will be able to look to their local councillors to take local decisions. In my borough there are 69 councillors and they are accountable to the electorate. They are local people who understand local needs. People can walk round the corner to see their councillors, or they can see them locally whenever they wish to do so. That should be adequate in terms of local democracy.

I have some reservations about the Bill; I imagine that there are very few hon. Members who have not. I ask my right hon. Friend to give the House four assurances: first, that the existing balance between the London ratepayers will be maintained; secondly, that the grant-related expenditure assessments of successful authorities and any expenditure targets will be adjusted to reflect their increased responsibilities, including grants to voluntary organisations; thirdly, that there will be real financial benefits to successful authorities; and, fourthly, that there will be an acceptable distribution of block grant, which can command the full support of the London boroughs and the electorate.

I believe that the fourth assurance is perhaps the most important of all. The present system is a blunt instrument that needs very considerable reform. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government knows my views on the subject. I say to him in all sincerity that I hope very much that between tonight and the night when we sit here for the Third Reading of the Bill he will be able to give me some very clear assurances on that point, because my feelings about the Bill will be coloured by them more than by anything else.

The green belt is a treasured possession of the people of London. My borough, Hillingdon, has more green belt than any other London borough. I want assurances from my right hon. Friend that the green belt will be fully protected from erosion. I shall study the proceedings of the Standing Committee with the greatest possible care to ensure that those points are covered.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

I give my hon. Friend that assurance now. About three weeks ago my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment stated in a parliamentary answer that the green belt land owned by the GLC, when it is transferred either to the London boroughs within the GLC's boundaries or to the shire counties outside London, will be considered inalienable.

Photo of Mr Michael Shersby Mr Michael Shersby , Uxbridge

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for reminding the House of that assurance. The Hillingdon Federation of Residents and Tenants Associations will be glad to hear that, because it is one of the principal bodies to have corresponded with me, my hon. Friends the Members for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) and for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Dicks) and my right hon. Friend the Minister.

I speak as one who has spent many years of his life in London local government. The Bill has many provisions. It is complex and obviously arouses uncertainty and causes misunderstanding. I am confident that, if we pass the motion for the Second Reading, the House will have the opportunity to study matters relating to London government which are long overdue for consideration. I want a better deal for London ratepayers. I want the money to be spent sensibly and local people to be accountable for local public expenditure.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood 8:41, 4 December 1984

I do not normally rise to speak on local government issues, because I am aware that many hon. Members have previously served in local government. It seems right that we should respect their expertise and listen to them rather than take up their time. I must, however, speak on this Bill for a number of reasons.

There is enormous antagonism in my constituency towards this legislation. My constituents are not generally the type of people who rush to take pen to paper and write letters about broad political issues. I have received a massive number of letters on this subject, often painstakingly written by people who normally do not write letters to their Member of Parliament. Those letters started with the paving Bill. People deeply resented in an instinctive and healthy way the fact that their vote would be taken from them and the fact that matters they could control by their vote would no longer be controlled in that way. Since then, I have received more letters and have met lobbies of members of voluntary organisations who are deeply worried that their work will not be sufficiently funded in future.

In the west midlands black organisations have been insufficiently funded in the past. The west midlands county council has a good record of funding such bodies. Many black organisations in the Birmingham area that are doing good work fear for their future and do not believe that they will receive adequate funding.

The issue that is causing massive concern for all the pensioners who live in the Birmingham area is the threat to their bus passes. I have received many letters on that subject. I listened carefully today to the Secretary of State for Transport when he suggested to my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) that her alarm about the threat to pensioners' bus passes was false. Nothing the right hon. Gentleman said assured us. He simply said that that matter would be up to the district authorities to consider.

We know what the Government are doing to local authorities. They are constantly taking money from the local authorities but leaving them with statutory responsibilities that they cannot fulfil. Local authorities up and down the land are agonising about which law they must break—the statutory obligations imposed on them over the years by the House to care for people, or the new laws introduced by the Government restricting their spending so that those services cannot be adequately provided. We know that that process will continue. In telling us that it will be up to the district authorities to provide these measures, the Secretary of State for Transport is telling us nothing about whether there will be sufficient money to guarantee pensioners' bus passes.

In answer to a question, the Secretary of State for Transport said: In setting precepts for passenger transport joint boards following the abolition of the metropolitan county councils, I shall have regard to the level of national resources which it would, in my view, be appropriate to make available for the support of public transport in those areas."—[Official Report, 17 May 1984; Vol. 60, c. 218.] The right hon. Gentleman went on to talk about efficiency and the need for savings. Nothing that has been said today allows me to write honestly to my pensioners who are deeply worried about this issue telling them not to worry. It is wrong to suggest that it is irresponsible of us to put this matter forward. Pensioners are deeply worried, and no assurance that has been given can make them less worried.

Conservative Members try to suggest that this measure is popular. I apologise to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) for not knowing about his Birmingham roots, but the way in which he was talking led me to believe that he could know little of Birmingham. Conservative Members have suggested that people in Birmingham and, indeed, around the country are in favour of this measure. Our postbags and the polls tell us how people feel. Polling has occurred in the west midlands for a considerable time. National Opinion Polls has conducted the polling.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short , Birmingham, Ladywood

No; I have only 10 minutes.

In October 1983, people were asked a simple question. It has been suggested that the questions were biased. People were asked: Should the county councils be abolished? The result was that 33 per cent. said yes and 46 per cent. said no. By June 1984, when we had been arguing about this matter and people were clearer about the powers and responsibilities of those councils, 19 per cent. of people in the west midlands said that they thought that the metropolitan county councils should be abolished and 63 per cent. were opposed to the idea. One thing that the Government certainly achieved in the process of going about abolition was a massive increase in the popularity of those authorities about which people did not know as much before this argument began. The Government are going against public opinion in every way in which it can be expressed. This is an unpopular measure. People in Birmingham and in my constituency do not want it.

Another point that has arisen repeatedly in the speeches by Conservative Members is their massively undemocratic argument. One Conservative Member says "My county council is giving money to the miners." Another Conservative Member says "I object to the fact that there is a nucler-free zone in my area." Another raises the issue of grants for day groups, and another refers to black projects and art projects, which Conservative Members do not consider desirable. Most Labour Members believe, as I do, that this is the most extreme and most dogmatic Government that we have had, certainly in my lifetime. I never imagined that I would see such a Government in my lifetime. They are doing unending harm to our country, people and economy. That harm will continue for a long time. We should say, when we take power, "We shall abolish the right of the Conservative party ever to return to government." Its policies are unacceptable and what it is willing to do to our people is unacceptable. The fact that Conservative Members can make such arguments shows the smallness of their attachment to democracy.

I wish to make it clear that the Government Front Bench have used quotes to show that we have not always thought that this was the best model of local government imposed on us by them. The Ministers have suggested that any of us who have ever said that the metropolitan county councils might not be the perfect form of local government — we have said that openly — are in favour of the abolition of democracy and of a tier of local government that is not accountable through elections. That is a hypocritical and dishonest argument. We have never pretended that this form of local government is the one we would have chosen. We are united in the House and up and down the country against the move to retain a second tier of local government and to abolish democratic accountability.

As a sponsored member of the National Union of Public Employees—I am proud to hold that office—I know that large numbers of people working in the public services for disgracefully low rates of pay and doing honourable work to care for our fellow citizens are deeply threatened by this measure. They fear that their jobs will go. In this day and age, with unemployment at an intolerable level, the Government proudly tell us that they are bringing in a measure that will destroy more jobs.

It is a highly contested matter whether the Bill will save the country any money at all. We know that Coopers and Lybrand has analysed the Bill and said that it does not believe the Government's figures, which claim to show that savings will be made. At the end of the day the only possible way that savings will be made is by abolishing jobs. I notice that on 1 October The Guardian said that the Treasury was reported as saying that manpower control is the only way of delivering the savings promised from abolition.

I fear that I have used up my time. There are many more arguments against the Bill, but let the Minister be clear. The people of the west midlands, and, it is pretty clear, the people of Great Britain, are against him on this measure. If he goes through with it he will pay the ultimate price. He will pay the political price of alienating the people as a result of bringing in this unjust and unacceptable measure.

Photo of Mr Toby Jessel Mr Toby Jessel , Twickenham 8:50, 4 December 1984

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short). She said that she was proud to be sponsored by the National Union of Public Employees. I was proud to be a member of the GLC for six years from 1967 to 1973. In those days we had a great deal to do, but there has since been a huge erosion in the functions of the GLC, particularly within the past 10 years.

There was a vast heritage of council housing which used to belong to the former London county council, which the GLC inherited when it came into being in 1964–65, with a population of 1·25 million. That amounts to one sixth of the population of Greater London and is equivalent to the population of Birmingham. That was virtually all handed over to the 32 London boroughs, as were most of the GLC's parks.

The ambulances, about which we have heard during the debate, were handed over to the NHS, which the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) described as a quango. I have never heard the NHS described as that before.

Sewerage, for which the GLC used to be responsible, has gone to the Thames water authority. Within the past few months, the responsibility for London's buses and tubes has left the GLC and gone to another authority.

There are now few if any big new road schemes. When I was a member of the GLC with the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), 15 or 17 years ago, the GLC evolved plans for three ringways—the inner London motorway box, the improved north circular to be linked with the new south circular, and an outer London circular, to be called ringway 3, which gave way to the M25 motorway. The three London ringways, with the exception of a few small bits of the inner London motorway box, were dropped. The construction of ringways and motorways around London was the main point of setting up a strategic planning authority.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that the 1972 plans for ringways 1, 2 and 3 were thrown out in 1973 because London's electorate rejected them? Is the hon. Gentleman now saying that, by abolishing the GLC, the Government can do what they have always wanted to do, which is to destroy homes, shops and jobs in London by concreting them over?

Photo of Mr Toby Jessel Mr Toby Jessel , Twickenham

I did not say that at all. I said that the GLC, which it was intended should deal with traffic problems in Greater London, had failed to do so because it dropped the ringway plans which the Labour party in county hall campaigned against. That was why it was not done. That simply augments the case for saying that the GLC has now far less of a role than was originally intended for it.

The Thames barrier was discussed and decided upon within the GLC many years ago and constructed at a cost of between £400 million and £500 million of public money. One quarter was provided by the GLC and three quarters by the Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Nine or 10 days ago, despite flood conditions in my constituency at Twickenham and Teddington, that barrier was not used. A few days ago I went to see Lord Belstead, the Minister of State, who promised to look into the matter. I hope that he will ensure that once the GLC has gone and the barrier comes under the control of the Thames water authority, it will be used to prevent flooding. It is ludicrous to spend between £400 million and £500 million on a barrier and then have flood conditions and not use the damn thing.

Photo of Mr Toby Jessel Mr Toby Jessel , Twickenham

No, I have given way once and I have only a few minutes. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be kind enough to excuse me.

Whenever any of the 32 London boroughs wants a pedestrian crossing, yellow line, no right turn, one-way street or traffic lights, under the present regime it must have permission from the GLC. It usually seems to take between six and 10 months to decide on such a simple matter. It is ludicrous that large London boroughs, with populations of between 150,000 and 300,000—the size of Bradford, Nottingham, Portsmouth, Southampton or Aberdeen—are not allowed to make up their own minds about such matters.

Many hon. Members from Greater London constituencies will have had the experience of parents with children at school campaigning for a pedestrian crossing. The local borough council highways committee decides that it wants to go ahead, but it takes 10 months to get permission from the GLC. That duplicates work, adds to cost and causes delay. It is time all that went.

The same is true of planning applications, whether for small places of work, houses along main roads or metropolitan roads within Greater London. All those can be handled by the large London boroughs. So can licensing applications for places of entertainment.

What is left? The fire brigade is important, but what people want from a fire brigade is not democracy but efficiency. Just as the ambulances were handed over to the NHS, so can the fire brigade be handed over.

The arts are important within Greater London. The hon. Member for Newham, North-West often speaks on the arts and the work of the GLC. Under both Labour and Conservative regimes the GLC has had an excellent record in dealing with the arts. Let us remember that, of the 20 years of its existence, for almost precisely 10 years the GLC has been under Conservative control and for almost precisely 10 years under Labour control. But recently there was an act of atrocious vandalism by the present regime at the GLC when it booted out the Arts Council at a few months' notice from the Hayward gallery, where two or three years preparation is required to stage an exhibition. This act of gratuitous vandalism shows that the group now running the GLC is unfit to run an art gallery of any sort.

On Sunday evening I went to a concert at the Queen Elizabeth hall. I intended to enjoy some Mozart and other music. I went into the foyer and was confronted by a vast number of enlarged photographs on a large display about some scrap in a banana republic in central America. That is a foolish use of London ratepayers' money. It is time that that sort of nonsense was stopped once and for all. The GLC has some useful functions but certainly not enough to justify a huge bureaucracy of 7,500. It has outlived its usefulness, and it is time that it went.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 8:59, 4 December 1984

We are nearing the end of 14 hours of debate on perhaps the most crucial and controversial piece of legislation to come before the House this Session. The debate has been marked by the excellence of the Opposition, with powerful, passionate and thoughtful speeches from 25 of my right hon. and hon. Friends. I include within the general opposition the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath), who made a powerful and sustained invective against the Government of a sort that is heard only rarely in the House.

The right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup got a few things off his chest about his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport that obviously he meant to say to him when he sacked him 12 years ago for his failure as a Minister in the Department of Industry. If there is one piece of advice that the Prime Minister should take from her right hon. Friend, a previous Conservative Prime Minister, it is to get shot of the Secretary of State for Transport. She should do so for the damage that he is doing to the Tory party. The right hon. Gentleman is entering the Chamber; perhaps it is appropriate to say that he has missed the bus.

The debate was opened by a speech which was poor even by the standards of the Secretary of State for Transport. It was closed last night by a 35-minute effort by the Secretary of State for Education and Science. It was as excruciating for those of us who had to listen to it as it was sadly humiliating for the man who had to deliver it. Today there was the speech— I think that it can just about pass that description—of the Secretary of State for Transport. After his performance this afternoon, he is running the Secretary of State for the Environment a close second as Labour's favourite Minister. It was his former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup, who described his contribution — and well described it was—as a pathetic image of a speech and unworthy of any man occupying the Treasury Bench.

It was a leading Conservative member of the GLC, Mr. Rodney Gent, who, in a well-titled pamphlet—"'How do we get out of this mess without appearing disloyal'", which I do not think the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup has read — complained that the abolition proposals were politically unpopular because people had woken up to their implications, which would be to hand a political advantage to the Labour party. He wrote that they gave such an unfair political advantage to our opponents that the party has turned into a charity. That is right. Labour's dramatic revival in London and our other great cities has been built upon the exposure by the Secretary of State for the Environment of the centralist and authoritarian nature of modern-day Conservatism. What the Secretary of State for the Environment has done for London and the metropolitan areas, the Secretary of State for Transport is surely about to do in the shire counties with his proposals to cause chaos and anarchy in bus services across the country.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

We look forward with relish to putting the proposals of the Secretary of State for Transport on bus services in Lancashire before the electorate.

Photo of Mrs Elaine Kellett Mrs Elaine Kellett , Lancaster

Despite the extremely expensive and entirely misleading campaign—it has cost the ratepayers £135,000 — which has been indulged in by the Labour-controlled council in my constituency, my right hon. Friend's proposals will be carried over-whelmingly by the majority of well-balanced Lancastrians.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I do not think that there is any need for me to answer that intervention, save to say that I shall see the hon. Lady on 3 May.

The demoralisation of the Conservative party has been nowhere better reflected in the past two days than in the Chamber. Yesterday—and it will happen today —the Tory party voted with its feet and stayed away. The Conservative party has nigh on 400 Members of Parliament. At times yesterday and today it could not even muster a dozen hon. Members in the Chamber to debate the "jewel in the crown" of the Government's legislative programme. As for the alliance—at present, all one of it — it showed its true concern for London and the metropolitan areas by the failure of its members to attend. Yesterday, at most, two alliance Members were present, but for part of the time there were none at all. Today the alliance had four hon. Members present. The Liberals had two spokesmen here today: the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) is in favour of the Bill and the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) is against it.

It was the Secretary of State for the Environment who, at last year's Conservative party conference, said: I am a Tory, and I have been brought up as a Tory, and I believe the burden of proof is upon the man who advocates change, and if he does not satisfy that burden of proof, then change should not be made. By the Secretary of State's own standard of proof, the case for this change has certainly not been made.

There is, first, the record of these authorities, to which yesterday the Secretary of State made the scantest reference. He chose simply to ignore his own deep involvement in their establishment as a senior Minister throughout the Administration of his right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup. No wonder the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) said of the Secretary of State: no matter what its destination, Mr. Jenkin always had a ticket on the train". Of course the metropolitan counties, like the GLC before them, faced teething problems. They are inherent in any large organisational change and are another reason why further upheaval should not be forced upon those areas without the most careful consideration and the widest possible agreement.

But the authorities have made good progress, as their electors will surely discover if and when the Bill goes through. For the past four years all seven authorities have been Labour-controlled — the real reason and only motivation for the Bill. We stand by the achievements of our colleagues. Without their policies, the quality of life in London and the great towns and cities that the councils cover would have been significantly worse. There would have been fewer jobs, much worse public transport services, inadequately funded police forces, and fire brigades unable to provide proper cover.

Yes, overall, those authorities have increased their spending by more than the average, but the reasons are clear and entirely justifiable. Indeed, 60 per cent. of the expenditure of the metropolitan counties goes on highways, fire and the police service. The Department of Transport continually presses authorities to improve their highway maintenance. The pay of firemen and police officers is effectively in the hands of central Government alone, and in expanding their police forces the metropolitan counties have been directly meeting the wishes of central Government.

The remainder of the metropolitan counties' expenditure—and the vast bulk of the GLC's increase—is accounted for by public transport. In 1981 the electors in those areas were offered a clear choice by Labour. They were offered better and cheaper public transport services to be paid for by increases in the rates. They voted for the changes, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) spelled out today, they have proved popular. They have saved money overall.

The Department of Transport's study in December 1982 showed that for every £1 in transport subsidy spent in the Labour-controlled metropolitan areas—this is a Department of Transport study, not one of ours—the economies of those areas benefited by between £1·20 and £1·30. The Government worry away about wage increases, but do not they realise that the employers' own research organisation in London has pointed out that London weighting has had to be increased by far less than normal over the past two years because of the cuts in fares introduced by a Labour-controlled GLC?

Of course, in pursuing their policies over the past 10 years—or 20 years in the case of the GLC—the upper tier authorities have sometimes been in conflict with the districts and boroughs. I know that, because I used to serve both as a member of the Islington borough council and as a borough representative on ILEA. But that is no argument against these authorities. Within a democracy, tension between different centres of power can itself be creative, and can lead to a better standard and quality of decision. The Secretary of State for Transport could not understand the meaning of democracy if he tried.

Within the great conurbations of this country, there are three dimensions of the issues affecting the physical environment and the delivery of personal services—the local community, central Government and the conurbations. The present Secretary of State for Education and Science—I am sorry to see that he has not bothered to turn up for the wind up—

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

It is cheap. He is sponsoring the Bill; he spoke about introducing major changes. It was the present Secretary of State for Education and Science who, in moving the Second Reading of the London Government Bill on 10 December 1962, said: Yet Greater London is, in a very real sense, a single city. Admittedly, it embraces many places of distinctive character which attract strong loyalties. Nevertheless, the whole of the great urban area, which spreads out to and is contained by the green belt, is one metropolis." — [Official Report, 10 December 1962; Vol. 669, c. 52.] That is as true now as it was then. It is a comment which applies equally to the other conurbations of this country, as Redcliffe-Maud recognised in his report.

The Government recognise that, inasmuch as most of the functions of the present metropolitan counties and the GLC will be continued to be administered at strategic conurbation level. It is because of that reality that we as a party are committed to the re-establishment of an elected strategic authority for London and to the re-establishment of the democratic control of the strategic services in London and the metropolitan areas.

Photo of Mr Roger King Mr Roger King , Birmingham, Northfield

What the hon. Gentleman is saying in effect is that the powers that the Government are seeking to give to the people of Birmingham will be snatched back by a future Labour Government .

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I do not recall saying that for a single second. What I said, and what is plain beyond peradventure, is that there are many services which even this Government recognise must be run at conurbation level. The suggestion that the Secretary of State is returning services to Birmingham is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) made clear, a canard — a myth. The Government are transferring three quarters of the functions to unelected or indirectly elected quangos but still preserving those functions at strategic levels.

In yesterday's speech the Secretary of State justified the proposals in the Bill on two grounds—that they would lead to an increase in the devolution of power to district authorities, and that they would save money. Neither argument can withstand the most cursory of examinations. The Secretary of State went on yesterday to say: the central purpose of the Bill is to provide a more local and a more accountable system of local government". — [Official Report, 3 December 1984; Vol. 69, c. 35.] In support of that, the Secretary of State claimed that, measured by expenditure, only 5 per cent. of the GLC's services would pass to Government Departments or agencies and that 95 per cent. would be devolved directly to London boroughs and the joint fire authority. He implied that a similar proportion would apply to the metropolitan areas, although, significantly, he gave no figures. Perhaps he had been too embarassed by the figures that the Minister of State gave. He gave two sets of completely contradictory figures on 28 November. He told one of my hon. Friends that 75 per cent. of services would pass to the boroughs and districts. Only a few minutes later he said that, in respect of the west midlands, only 40 per cent. of net current expenditure would be controlled by the districts. The Minister can perhaps explain his contradiction when he replies.

Just who is the Secretary of State trying to mislead? Detailed and independent analysis shows that only 31 per cent. of the GLC's powers will fall to the direct responsibility of the boroughs, and that 67 per cent. will go to quangos, and appointed and indirectly elected boards. For the metropolitan areas, the proportion is even worse. The calculations of PA Management Consultants show that 82 per cent. of the spending of the metropolitan areas is being removed from directly elected bodies and that only 18 per cent. will go to district councils.

"Ah, well," says the Secretary of State "but we have had joint boards before". That is true, but what we have never had before, and what makes the Bill such a terrifying monster for centralising power, is the controls over those joint boards which this Bill gives. The Secretary of State sought to make light of the draconian powers which he is given in the Bill by clauses 20, 21, 64, 76, 80 and 93. However, when the Secretary of State for Education and Science spoke last night he let the cat out of the bag. He said: Clause 80 is a manpower control, which has been included in case the precept or rate-capping powers are not effective enough. If the rack and the slow-burning fires do not work, the Government intend to apply the thumbscrews.

Since Conservative Members are so confused about the powers contained in the Bill, let me spell them out. By clause 64, all 18 new joint boards are automatically rate-capped, despite the fact that rate capping was designed to deal with authorities with a record of overspending. By definition, those authorities can have no such record. Even the minimal safeguards in the Rates Act by means of clearly stated and universally applicable principles are excluded. The power is arbitrary. By clause 76, every principle about the establishment of rate support grant for these authorities is thrown out of the window. The power is arbitrary.

If that were not sufficient, by the infamous clause 80 the Secretary of State is given power to prescribe, by regulation, the manpower of the authorities— the authority's arrangements for obtaining any services, or any supplies or facilities and the authority's organisation and its arrangements for managing its affairs". Yesterday the Secretary of State sought, at best, to confuse the House about the nature of these powers. However, they are contained in the Bill. They give power to him to control who are employed, how they should be employed, what they should do and how they should spend their money. These powers are unprecedented. They are a negation of local democracy.

The Secretary of State knows this. So does his party. The Conservative representative on the GLC for Wanstead and Woodford, the Environment Secretary's own constituency, is Mr. Robert Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell was chosen by the same Conservative association as the Secretary of State. But the Secretary of State has not even been able to convince him of his views. Quite the reverse. In a scornful, contemptuous article, which measured up to the invective of the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup, Mr. Mitchell said: the alleged transfer of GLC functions to the boroughs to give the electorate more direct control is, quite simply, a deception". It was the cost savings which would arise from the abolition of the metropolitan counties and the GLC which used to be the main plank in the Government's case. They even put out a briefing note through the Whips Office in January of this year in which they claimed savings of £120 million and 9,000 jobs. However, while they used to concentrate on the alleged savings, the Government have, as my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland made clear yesterday, suddenly gone all coy about the savings and could scarcely find time yesterday or today to justify those claims. I am not surprised.

The Secretary of State knows, and the Government know, that the figures of alleged savings from this proposal were plucked out of the air to provide a figleaf for a commitment forced into the manifesto by the Prime Minister without consultation or consideration, even within the Conservative party. The right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup revealed today that this manifesto commitment not only got into the manifesto nine days after the election was called but had actually been opposed by the party's policy committee. In other words, the leader rode roughshod over the views of the party machinery.

The Secretary of State said today—we all heard him —that there had been a year-long consideration before the election of this change. If that is the case, I ask the Secretary of State why Mr. Alan Greengross, the Conservative leader of the Greater London council, only found out about this year-long consideration and this election commitment three days before it was made public in the Conservative party's election manifesto on 18 May 1983.

If we are wrong and there was a year-long consideration, perhaps the Secretary of State will explain why, when I asked him in February to spell out the details of the calculations behind the £120 million figure, the hapless Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Waldegrave), was put up to answer for him.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Yes. The hon. Gentleman is reading his book and translating it for his hon. Friends.

All that the hon. Gentleman could say was that he had nothing to add to the answer that he had given to his hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Lester), in which all that the Government could do was to repeat the original assertion.

Ten months later, despite repeated requests, all that we have had to justify the wild claims of savings is a written answer pushed out at the last moment on Friday, which tells us nothing more than the original wild claim.

In contrast, the metropolitan counties and the GLC have had their claim that reorganisation will cost money and jobs thoroughly investigated by outside accountants of the highest reputation. The metropolitan counties and the GLC have offered — I repeat their offer — to have a further joint, independent investigation of the finances of the authorities and the costs and savings of abolition. If the Secretary of State cared about the good government of the cities, and if he knew what was good for his own political career, he would accept that invitation with alacrity.

The Secretary of State should also examine his own record. He has already presided over a reorganisation, not in the Government of the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup, but under the present Prime Minister. He has a track record in these matters. The right hon. Gentleman introduced the reorganisation of the Health Service. He told us that that reorganisation would save administrative jobs. It is painful for me to reveal the facts, but there were 105,000 administrators before the reorganisation of the Health Service and 109,000 afterwards.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I can lip-read quite well. The right hon. Gentleman said, "Proportionately." The Government's expenditure plans for 1984–85 to 1986–87 and the annual report of the NHS in England show that, as a proportion of NHS staff, the number of administrators has gone up, not down. I give the Secretary of State the figures. Perhaps he would care to study them before the Minister for Local Government replies.

The Bill is a disreputable and unworthy measure. It is a recipe for chaos and mismanagement. Nothing more characterises its hapless progeny than the position in which the new Minister for Local Government finds himself. The right hon. Member was once the PPS to the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup. Indeed, he led the right hon. Gentleman's campaign for re-election as leader of the Conservative party.

Yesterday, my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland quoted the right hon. Gentleman's pamphlet "Maybe it's because we're Londoners" in which he said: the strategic role of the GLC should be enhanced … far from the GLC being allowed greater independence, Whitehall has quite wrongly interfered more and more … The GLC must become a proper strategic authority. The right hon. Gentleman has gone on in less than complimentary terms about what the present leader of the GLC once said about the authority that he now leads. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman devoted a whole party political broadcast to it recently, and no doubt such references will appear in his speech tonight.

However, there is one important difference—among many others — between Mr. Kenneth Livingstone and the Minister for Local Government. Mr. Livingstone has had the guts to admit to the words quoted against him and the honesty to say that he has changed his mind. Not so the Minister. In a display of the political frights, more craven than any I have ever witnessed in the House, the Minister sought yesterday to set the record straight by asking us to believe that in that pamphlet, in which he is clearly marked not only as a joint author, but as the single publisher, the sections of which we complain were written not by him, but by one of his co-authors.

Perhaps they were drafted by someone else, but is the right hon. Gentleman asking us to believe that he disagreed with those sentiments? If so, where is the exclusion to that effect in the pamphlet? Where, in all the right hon. Gentleman's self-serving publicity, was there a footnote to say that, although he put the pamphlet together and led the publicity, he profoundly disagreed with one of its central sections?

There are other things which the right hon. Gentleman has no doubt never written. I dare say he never wrote of the GLC: It has progressive and expanding programmes, it is making life better for Londoners, and it will make it infinitely better for Londoners in the 1970s and the 1980s."—[Official Report, 18 March 1971; Vol. 813, c. 1741.] He said that when he sponsored the Greater London Council (Money) Bill, and piloted it through the House.

The right hon. Gentleman expects us to believe his claim, made on BBC's "Today" programme on Radio 4 the day after the GLC by-election. He said: I believe and have always believed in the abolition of the GLC consistently since I represented London back in the 1960s. The right hon. Gentleman does not know what "consistently" means. The words which I quoted were not an aberration, nor a momentary brainstorm in a political career which was otherwise unsullied by support for the GLC. In speech after speech, year after year, while he sought to ingratiate himself with the previous leadership of the Tory party, he supported the GLC.

When the right hon. Gentleman moved the Second Reading of the Greater London Council (Money) Bill, he applauded the doubling of the GLC's capital expenditure. He said: however concerned the Conservative party … are about … the rise in public expenditure, how important it is to spend sums of this sort in the centre of our cities to maintain and improve the basic public services."—[Official Report, 25 May 1971; Vol. 818, c. 303.] He did not stop in the early 1970s. In a lengthy speech he concluded: That is why the Conservative Party in London wants the opportunity to have a GLC election this year." — [Official Report, 4 February 1976; Vol. 904, c. 1364.] The right hon. Gentleman—he will not be right hon. for much longer—has complained outside the House and in a few minutes will undoubtedly complain in the House about the excellent initiatives of the GLC to fight unemployment in London. He has complained about the Greater London enterprise board and the work of the GLC.

How different it used to be! The right hon. Gentleman did not complain about the initiatives on unemployment by the GLC, but said: the recent conference was the first GLC initiative on unemployment matters—and it was taken by the Conservative-controlled council under Mr. Cutler and Mr. Brew." —[Official Report, 1 August 1978; Vol. 955, c. 391.] It would have been wiser of him to follow the advice which he gave the House when he said: We should resist the imposition of new taxes and new systems of government." — [Official Report, 13 February 1975; Vol. 886, c. 715.] The right hon. Gentleman is a self-proclaimed compiler of anthologies and a writer of doggerel verse. He has written two volumes on the subject. However, one poem is strangely missing from the collection, considering it provided him with the guiding light, the political inspiration and the moral framework for his career. I speak of the "Vicar of Bray", of whom it is written: old principles I did revoke set conscience at a distance. The right hon. Gentleman should perhaps have tried his hand at updating that excellent and still contemporary work, as follows: For in my faith and loyalty,

I never once will falter

But Margaret my lawful leader be

Except the times will alter

And this is law I will maintain

Unto my dying day, sir:

That whosoever leader be,

I'll still be Minister Baker. This measure is without principle or conviction, brought in by men without principles or convictions. It has been damned by the Conservative party's friends as well as by its enemies. It flies in the face of the century-old Conservative tradition in favour of local government. It is undemocratic and it centralises power. It will undermine vital services and cost money and jobs. We oppose it today and we shall oppose it at every turn. We invite Conservative Members to join us in the Lobby to vote against it.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley 9:30, 4 December 1984

This has been a good debate. I have listened to every one of the 59 speeches yesterday and today. If the debate had a wider audience, I believe that the House could be proud of the standard of debate and the quality of the speeches.

I appreciate that in the course of the debate the collective works of K. Baker have been dipped into fairly frequently. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) for his reference yesterday to my anthology of verse, I Have No Gun But I Can Spit", copies of which are still available in bookshops at £2·95. I am sorry that no mention was made of "London Lines", my anthology of the poetry and songs of London over the years, which shows above all else that one can love London without loving the GLC.

The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) made some play of words that I have uttered about the GLC in the past. Many Conservatives had hopes of the GLC, which the past 20 years have proved ill-founded. As several of my right hon. and hon. Friends have said, there has been a growing realisation that our aspirations for the GLC have not been met. I shall deal with that aspect later in my speech, with particular reference to the comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath).

I wish first to deal with two points about staffing. The hon. Member for Copeland, the right hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Freeson) and the hon. Members for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) and for Barnsley, East (Mr. Patchett) all asked about the position of staff after abolition. I am very conscious of the anxiety felt by staff likely to be affected. That is why I have placed in the Library a paper spelling out in some detail how the transfer of functions will affect GLC and MCC staff. I will outline the procedure very briefly, but I hope that hon. Members will read the paper in the Library.

Most staff will obtain jobs in the new structure. The great majority of operational staff required by the new joint authorities and the new Inner London Education Authority will be transferred by order on abolition day with no change in their terms and conditions of service but merely a new employer. Other staff will be needed by the boroughs and districts and by the residuary bodies, which will recruit them. It is important to note that those bodies will recruit within ring fencing procedures devised by the staff commission to give GLC and MCC staff the first chance of such jobs. Most staff will have continuity of service for pension and other purposes and if individuals have to accept lower-paid jobs they will receive appropriate compensation.

There will be some genuine redundancies. We estimate that about 7,000 fewer jobs will be available in the new structure. Compensation on terms outlined in the paper that I have issued will be paid by the residuary body. To date, the unions and associations have declined to talk to us, despite the fact that their members need to know where they stand. We have put our cards on the table and I urge them to reconsider their attitude. As my right hon. Friend has already done, I also urge them to talk to the staff commission, which exists to safeguard their members' interests.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Will the Minister say why he has rejected the proposal acceptable to the present Secretary of State for Defence on housing transfer orders in 1982, when the Crombie code was in force? He has rejected it, and so can offer staff far less than they were given then.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

The hon. Gentleman anticipates my next point. We have not finally decided on the terms for compensation for redundancy. However, we have set out in the recently issued paper called "Staffing the New Structure" what we propose that they might be. The basis of the compensation terms will be the existing day-to-day arrangements prescribed in current regulations that apply to redundancies in local government. Local authorities have powers at their discretion to enhance the compensation payable under the statutory redundancy payments scheme. They are permitted to waive the upper earnings limit for the purpose of calculating the lump sum payments, and they have discretion to award added years for the calculation of pension. We propose to prescribe in regulations that for those made redundant by abolition these hitherto discretionary elements will be available to everybody. We are also prepared to consider some special further enhancement for those in the 41 to 49 age group. What we propose is not out of line with the comparable public service arrangements generally. We have yet to determine the terms for compensation for detriment—that is to say, the lump sum compensation payable to ex-GLC or ex-MCC staff moving to lower-paid jobs in local government after abolition. These are matters that we wish to discuss with the unions and the staff associations before taking final decisions.

There are four criticisms in the amendment moved by the official Opposition. I have dealt with one of them—that dealing with the staff side. Another has been raised by many hon. Members on both sides of the House. It relates to the centralising powers that hon. Members have claimed lie within the Bill. The point was raised by the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright), the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) and the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett). They focused on two clauses — clauses 80 and 93. I shall deal first with clause 80. As the hon. Member for Blackburn correctly said, the clause creates a system of manpower controls for the joint authorities and ILEA for the first three years. The controls are therefore transitional. The clause allows the Secretary of State to impose manpower ceilings on those authorities, and it has been criticised as interfering with the activities of the joint authorities.

Some of those who have criticised the clause have been inconsistent, in that they have been among those who have said that the Bill would result in a great expansion of local authority manpower. We introduced the clause to ensure that there is no such expansion. There was a very large expansion of local authority manpower, following the passage of the 1972 Act, in town hall jobs. We do not intend to allow that to happen this time. Yesterday there was much talk from the Opposition about councils and the rights of councillors, but no mention was made of the ratepayers. At the end of the day, the ratepayers will have to face the bill if there is a substantial expansion of manpower. We are not prepared to allow that.

Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that clause 80 does not just give the Secretary of State power to control manpower—objectionable though that is—but also gives him power to control the authority's arrangements for obtaining any services, supplies or facilities? The Secretary of State could order from whom supplies were to be taken. He could order privatisation.

Secondly, the Bill gives the Secretary of State power to provide regulations relating to an authority's organisation and its arrangements for managing its affairs. In other words, it gives the Secretary of State power completely to control the organisation of local authorities.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

The clauses to which the hon. Gentleman has referred must be read in the context of clause 81, which establishes the full scheme for manpower control. If the hon. Gentleman is saying that this control should be taken out of the Bill, the result would be a substantial increase in the manpower of joint authorities, the bill for which would have to be met by ratepayers.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) and others who asked about clause 93 have failed to see how the power can be used. It is alleged that Ministers could use the power, and the order-making powers given by clause 93, to take over county council functions or lower tier functions. Clause 93 is more or less identical to section 84 of the 1963 Act and section 254 of the 1972 Act. Nobody regarded the provisions then as sinister implements for making major changes behind the back of Parliament. Moreover, clause 93 is for incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary purposes. It is also for the general or particular purposes of the Bill. Therefore, any order under clause 93 has to pass both of those tests. The Bill provides the framework, which cannot be altered under clause 93. I must emphasise that to dispel misunderstanding. Clause 93 can be used only to implement what Parliament approves.

I shall illustrate that point as the powers are, for the most part, minor and transitional. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hexham was Secretary of State for the Environment from 1972 to 1974 and had these powers at his disposal. They were used after the 1974 reorganisation for such things as the appointments made by the local authorities to the Chichester Harbour conservancy and the court of the University of Hull. One order was laid to dissolve the Osgoldcross joint cremation board, which had no place in the new structure. I shall give another riveting example of the powers which were used by Socialist Ministers, as they laid certain orders under these powers. One provided that for: The Rural District Council of Chipping Sodbury and the Parish Meetings of Chipping Sodbury, Old Sodbury and Little Sodbury", there shall he substituted The District Council of Northavon and the Parish Meetings of Sodbury[Interruption.] I can only tell those who have expressed anxieties about the powers conferred by clause 93 that the examples that I have given do not represent a powerful attack on local democracy. They are incidental and consequential.

Photo of Mr Ron Leighton Mr Ron Leighton , Newham North East

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain the principles and philosophy of the Bill and not hide behind details about Chipping Sodbury?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

I am trying to answer the debate. Several right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House have argued that we are taking enormous and sweeping powers. My argument is that we are taking powers that are no more wide and sweeping than were provided by local government legislation in 1963 and 1972. These well precedented provisions are not about altering the main destination of functions or changing the principles in the Bill.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

I said that it was not just a question of the powers in clause 80 or clause 93, but of a whole host of other provisions, to which The Times referred yesterday, including clause 59 (4) which says: The Secretary of State may by order confer on a residuary body any statutory functions which before the abolition date were exercisable by the Greater London Council or a metropolitan county council Those are very wide powers.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

My right hon. and learned Friend has held office as Secretary of State for the Environment, and he must appreciate that nearly all local government legislation must be framed with order-making powers to transfer functions and responsibilities or properties. This is how it has always been done. My right hon. and learned Friend exercised those powers when he was Secretary of State.

There have been claims that there is a centralising force in this legislation. However, the purpose of the Bill is to devolve responsibilities. Reference has been made to the fact that about 5 per cent. of the GLC expenditure is going to statutory bodies such as the Sports Council and the Arts Council. I confirm those figures as correct. Last night, the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Sedgemore) made an interesting and amusing speech about the Arts Council and said that it should not have new powers. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester) welcomed the fact that the Arts Council in Manchester was taking over responsibility for the Hallé orchestra. I am sure that, for Londoners, the south bank complex is safer in the hands of the Arts Council than with the GLC arts committee.

There have been arguments that we are devolving little to the lower tiers, but I remind Labour Members how much we are devolving to the lower tier in the metropolitan districts. Responsibilities for the following things will now be carried out by the metropolitan districts: airports, archaeology, archives, arts, assistance to industry, civil defence, coroners, county analysts, emergencies, green belt, gipsies, highways, land drainage, local valuation panels, maps, rights of way, museums and galleries, planning, probation service, recreation service, registration of commons, rent officer service, road safety, safety of reservoirs, safety of sports grounds, school crossing patrols, supplies, sport, trading standards, traffic management and waste disposal.

Photo of Robert Wareing Robert Wareing , Liverpool, West Derby

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

If the hon. Gentleman will forgive me I shall not give way, as I am about to move on to the GLC and the points raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup.

Photo of Robert Wareing Robert Wareing , Liverpool, West Derby

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. He has given that long list, but will he confirm that only 15 per cent. of the expenditure of the Merseyside county council will go directly to the five district councils, which comes out at about 3 to 4 per cent. for each district council? That is the total.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

I read out the list of responsibilities that will be transferred from the Merseyside county council, and the individual district councils in Merseyside will be responsible for the funding of those responsibilities, the joint boards and the residual debt.

My hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Sir P. Goodhart) spoke about a possible London Grand Committee.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

My right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup dismissed this too lightly. The idea of the Committee stands apart from this legislation, and there is a general dissatisfaction—

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

—over the way London matters are being debated in the House. London Members on both sides of the House will agree on one thing—that the way that the House debates these matters is unsatisfactory.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

With respect, no.

My hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham has made a suggestion that should be discussed by the authorities of the House because it is essentially a matter for the House and not for the Government.

With regard to a possible successor to the GLC, my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup has said in a speech today tht we shall need some sort of overall authority. He has been supported by my hon. Friends the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) and by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Ground). I listened carefully to what they said and to the speeches of other London Members—my hon. Friends the Members for Hornsey and Wood Green (Sir H. Rossi), for Surbiton (Mr. Tracey), for Harrow, West (Sir J. Page), for Beckenham, for Broxbourne (Mrs. Roe), for Westminster, North (Mr. Wheeler), for Hampstead and Highgate(Sir G. Finsberg), for Lewisham, East (Mr. Moynihan), for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) and for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel)— all of whom said that they did not want the GLC or a directly elected successor authority.

My right hon. Friend urged me to listen to Conservative councillors on the GLC. I meet them frequently. But I also have to listen to Conservative London borough councillors. There are 41 Conservative councillors on the GLC. There are 972 Conservative borough councillors. The leaders of the 19 borough councils in London where we have control have all written to me saying clearly that they do not want the GLC or a directly elected successor. That includes the leader of the council in Bexley.

I thought that the weakest point in my right hon. Friend's speech was when he said, at the end, that we might be abolishing bodies to replace them by bodies that would fall into Socialist hands at the next election. There are 19 Conservative-controlled boroughs in Greater London, and I find his defeatism—the prospect that we might lose one of them—bitterly disappointing from a former leader of my party.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

I turn now to the metropolitan counties. In doing so, may I ask the hon. Member for Copeland to clarify now the Labour party policy on the metropolitan county councils? [Interruption.] Will the Labour party restore the metropolitan county councils or will it not?

Photo of Dr Jack Cunningham Dr Jack Cunningham Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment

Why should the right hon. Gentleman think that we are defensive about our commitment to return services to democratic control? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Why should the right hon. Gentleman think that we are defensive in not rushing into a commitment — [Interruption.] — to re-establish the status quo? I am not at all defensive about that. Why does the right hon. Gentleman think that, after six, seven or eight years of this Government undermining local democracy and local democratic control, we shall act in the way that they have acted and cobble together—[Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. The hon. Gentleman is making an intervention, not a speech.

Photo of Dr Jack Cunningham Dr Jack Cunningham Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment

I am just saying, Mr. Speaker, that we shall not write our manifesto commitments with the naked expediency of the right hon. Gentleman, who cobbled together this Bill to disguise the fact that all the people on the Treasury Bench and the Prime Minister have ratted on their commitment to abolish the rates.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

All Opposition Members from the metropolitan counties who have spoken in the past two days—not the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith), who is in favour of the abolition of the Greater Manchester council—[Interruption.] All the Labour Members have said that they want the metropolitan counties preserved. They have been putting forward the case for the metropolitan counties. May we please have some plain words from honest Jack? Will Labour restore the metropolitan counties, or will it not? I have looked at what the hon. Member for Copeland said yesterday in Hansard. He just added layers of gloom. He said that he wanted to return to democratic control, management and responsibility for services at a strategic level".—[Official Report, 3 December 1984; Vol. 69, c. 40.] The hon. Gentleman has the opportunity to do that in this Bill, but, as I understand it, the official position is—

Photo of Dr Jack Cunningham Dr Jack Cunningham Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment

Not only will I not rat on party policy, as the right hon. Gentleman has done, but I will not rat on former leaders of my party either. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear".]

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

The hon. Gentleman has not answered the question—[Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. There are only a few more minutes left to this debate, and I cannot hear what is going on.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

The hon. Member for Copeland has not answered the question I put to him: what is Labour policy on the future of the metropolitan county councils? This is another example of the indecisiveness of the Labour Front Bench. Its policy on this Bill towards the metropolitan county councils is a journey into the unknown. The Labour party does not know what its policy is.

Frankly, the Labour party argument that I found most repulsive during the past few days was that this legislation would reduce democracy.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Baker Mr Kenneth Baker , Mole Valley

I will not take lectures on democracy from the Labour party. I will not take lectures from the Labour party which, at its last party conference, would not even stand by the principle of one-man, one-vote in selecting candidates for Parliament. When Mr. Ken Livingstone stands for selection in one of the five seats that have been lined up for him by his colleagues — five Labour Members will be "dead"—it will not be on the basis of one-man, one-vote. He will, in fact, be selected by a caucus of a minority. Where is the democracy in that?

Hon. Members have asked me during the debate: what is the role for the GLC? Is there a strategic role for the GLC? I say only this to them. Over the years in the debates on the GLC everyone has been searching for a role. In fact, from 1964 the GLC lost power after power. — [HON. MEMBERS: "You have taken it away".] No. The first power was taken away by the Labour Government in 1965. What used to be the largest landlord in the Western world has now virtually no houses or flats to let.

What is the role for which Labour asks? Mr. Livingstone clearly knows what the role is. He wants the GLC to be an interventionist, economic and social planning unit. He wants the GLC to extend itself into policies. Mr. Livingstone has a foreign policy for the GLC. He has views on Nicaragua, on South Africa and everything else. Mr. Livingstone has a defence policy. He has a food policy, and has set up a food commission to advise Londoners on their vitamin intake. The GLC has created an absurd role for itself. There is no doubt that there is no real function for the GLC. It is agreed that there is no function for the metropolitan county councils. There is no doubt that we intend to take the Bill through and to abolish the councils. They will come to an end on 31 March 1986.

Photo of Sir John Cope Sir John Cope , Northavon

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 353, Noes 221.

Division No. 33][9.59 pm
Adley, RobertChalker, Mrs Lynda
Aitken, JonathanChannon, Rt Hon Paul
Alexander, RichardChapman, Sydney
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelChope, Christopher
Amery, Rt Hon JulianChurchill, W. S.
Amess, DavidClark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)
Ancram, MichaelClark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Arnold, TomClark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Ashby, DavidClarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Aspinwall, JackCockeram, Eric
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.Colvin, Michael
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Conway, Derek
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Coombs, Simon
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)Cope, John
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Corrie, John
Baldry, TonyCouchman, James
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Cranborne, Viscount
Batiste, SpencerCrouch, David
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyCurrie, Mrs Edwina
Beggs, RoyDickens, Geoffrey
Bellingham, HenryDicks, Terry
Bendall, VivianDorrell, Stephen
Benyon, WilliamDouglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Best, KeithDover, Den
Bevan, David Gilroydu Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnDunn, Robert
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnDurant, Tony
Blackburn, JohnEggar, Tim
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterEmery, Sir Peter
Body, RichardEvennett, David
Bonsor, Sir NicholasEyre, Sir Reginald
Bottomley, PeterFairbairn, Nicholas
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaFallon, Michael
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)Farr, Sir John
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Favell, Anthony
Boyson, Dr RhodesFenner, Mrs Peggy
Braine, Sir BernardFinsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Brandon-Bravo, MartinFletcher, Alexander
Bright, GrahamFookes, Miss Janet
Brinton, TimForman, Nigel
Brittan, Rt Hon LeonForsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Brooke, Hon PeterForsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)Forth, Eric
Browne, JohnFowler, Rt Hon Norman
Bruinvels, PeterFox, Marcus
Bryan, Sir PaulFranks, Cecil
Buck, Sir AntonyFraser, Peter (Angus East)
Budgen, NickFreeman, Roger
Bulmer, EsmondFry, Peter
Burt, AlistairGale, Roger
Carlisle, John (N Luton)Galley, Roy
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Carttiss, MichaelGlyn, Dr Alan
Cash, WilliamGoodhart, Sir Philip
Goodlad, AlastairMacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Gorst, JohnMacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Gow, IanMaclean, David John
Gower, Sir RaymondMcQuarrie, Albert
Grant, Sir AnthonyMadel, David
Greenway, HarryMaginnis, Ken
Gregory, ConalMajor, John
Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)Malins, Humfrey
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)Malone, Gerald
Grist, IanMaples, John
Grylls, MichaelMarland, Paul
Gummer, John SelwynMarlow, Antony
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Mather, Carol
Hampson, Dr KeithMaude, Hon Francis
Hanley, JeremyMawhinney, Dr Brian
Hannam, JohnMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hargreaves, KennethMellor, David
Harris, DavidMerchant, Piers
Haselhurst, AlanMeyer, Sir Anthony
Hawkins, C. (High Peak)Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Hawksley, WarrenMills, Iain (Meriden)
Hayes, J.Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Hayhoe, BarneyMitchell, David (NW Hants)
Hayward, RobertMoate, Roger
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidMolyneaux, Rt Hon James
Heddle, JohnMonro, Sir Hector
Henderson, BarryMontgomery, Fergus
Hickmet, RichardMoore, John
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Hill, JamesMorrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Hind, KennethMoynihan, Hon C.
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Mudd, David
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)Murphy, Christopher
Holt, RichardNeale, Gerrard
Hooson, TomNeedham, Richard
Hordern, PeterNelson, Anthony
Howard, MichaelNeubert, Michael
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)Newton, Tony
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)Nicholls, Patrick
Howe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyNicholson, J.
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)Norris, Steven
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)Onslow, Cranley
Hubbard-Miles, PeterOppenheim, Phillip
Hunt, David (Wirral)Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)Osborn, Sir John
Hunter, AndrewOttaway, Richard
Irving, CharlesPage, Sir John (Harrow W)
Jenkin, Rt Hon PatrickPage, Richard (Herts SW)
Jessel, TobyParkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyParris, Matthew
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Pattie, Geoffrey
Jones, Robert (W Herts)Pawsey, James
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir KeithPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs ElainePercival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Kershaw, Sir AnthonyPollock, Alexander
Key, RobertPorter, Barry
King, Roger (B'ham N'field)Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)
King, Rt Hon TomPowell, William (Corby)
Knight, Gregory (Derby N)Powley, John
Knowles, MichaelPrentice, Rt Hon Reg
Lamont, NormanPrice, Sir David
Lang, IanProctor, K. Harvey
Latham, MichaelRaffan, Keith
Lawler, GeoffreyRathbone, Tim
Lawrence, IvanRees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)
Lawson, Rt Hon NigelRenton, Tim
Lee, John (Pendle)Rhodes James, Robert
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lightbown, DavidRidsdale, Sir Julian
Lilley, PeterRifkind, Malcolm
Lloyd, Ian (Havant)Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Lord, MichaelRobinson, Mark (N'port W)
Luce, RichardRoe, Mrs Marion
Lyell, NicholasRossi, Sir Hugh
McCrindle, RobertRost, Peter
McCusker, HaroldRowe, Andrew
Macfarlane, NeilRyder, Richard
Sackville, Hon ThomasThorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Sainsbury, Hon TimothyThornton, Malcolm
Sayeed, JonathanThurnham, Peter
Scott, NicholasTownend, John (Bridlington)
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Tracey, Richard
Shelton, William (Streatham)Trippier, David
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Trotter, Neville
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)Twinn, Dr Ian
Shersby, Michaelvan Straubenzee, Sir W.
Silvester, FredVaughan, Sir Gerard
Sims, RogerViggers, Peter
Skeet, T. H. H.Waddington, David
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)Waldegrave, Hon William
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Walden, George
Smyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S)Walker, Cecil (Belfast N)
Soames, Hon NicholasWalker, Bill (T'side N)
Speller, TonyWalker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Spence, JohnWaller, Gary
Spencer, DerekWalters, Dennis
Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)Ward, John
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Squire, RobinWarren, Kenneth
Stanbrook, IvorWatson, John
Stanley, JohnWatts, John
Steen, AnthonyWells, Bowen (Hertford)
Stern, MichaelWells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)Wheeler, John
Stevens, Martin (Fulham)Whitfield, John
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)Whitney, Raymond
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)Wiggin, Jerry
Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)Winterton, Mrs Ann
Stokes, JohnWinterton, Nicholas
Stradling Thomas, J.Wolfson, Mark
Sumberg, DavidWood, Timothy
Tapsell, PeterWoodcock, Michael
Taylor, Rt Hon John DavidYeo, Tim
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)Young, Sir George (Acton)
Temple-Morris, PeterYounger, Rt Hon George
Terlezki, Stefan
Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.Tellers for the Ayes:
Thomas, Rt Hon PeterMr. Robert Boscawen and
Thompson, Donald (Calder V)Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones.
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Abse, LeoCarlile, Alexander (Montg'y)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Carter-Jones, Lewis
Alton, DavidCartwright, John
Anderson, DonaldClark, Dr David (S Shields)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterClarke, Thomas
Ashdown, PaddyClay, Robert
Ashley, Rt Hon JackClwyd, Mrs Ann
Ashton, JoeCocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Cohen, Harry
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Coleman, Donald
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.
Barnett, GuyConlan, Bernard
Barron, KevinCook, Frank (Stockton North)
Beckett, Mrs MargaretCook, Robin F. (Livingston)
Bell, StuartCorbett, Robin
Benn, TonyCorbyn, Jeremy
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Cowans, Harry
Bermingham, GeraldCox, Thomas (Tooting)
Bidwell, SydneyCraigen, J. M.
Blair, AnthonyCrowther, Stan
Boothroyd, Miss BettyCunliffe, Lawrence
Boyes, RolandCunningham, Dr John
Bray, Dr JeremyDalyell, Tam
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)Davis, Terry (B'harn, H'ge H'l)
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)Deakins, Eric
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)Dewar, Donald
Buchan, NormanDobson, Frank
Caborn, RichardDormand, Jack
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)Douglas, Dick
Campbell, IanDubs, Alfred
Campbell-Savours, DaleDuffy, A. E. P.
Canavan, DennisDunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Eadie, AlexMaynard, Miss Joan
Eastham, KenMeacher, Michael
Edwards, Bob (Wh'mpt'n SE)Meadowcroft, Michael
Ellis, RaymondMichie, William
Evans, John (St. Helens N)Mikardo, Ian
Ewing, HarryMillan, Rt Hon Bruce
Fatchett, DerekMiller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Faulds, AndrewMorris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)Nellist, David
Fisher, MarkOakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Flannery, MartinO'Brien, William
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelO'Neill, Martin
Forrester, JohnOrme, Rt Hon Stanley
Foster, DerekOwen, Rt Hon Dr David
Foulkes, GeorgePark, George
Fraser, J. (Norwood)Parry, Robert
Freeson, Rt Hon ReginaldPatchett, Terry
Freud, ClementPavitt, Laurie
Garrett, W. E.Pendry, Tom
George, BrucePenhaligon, David
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr JohnPike, Peter
Golding, JohnPowell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Gould, BryanPrescott, John
Gourlay, HarryRadice, Giles
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)Randall, Stuart
Hancock, Mr. MichaelRedmond, M.
Hardy, PeterRees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Harman, Ms HarrietRoberts, Allan (Bootle)
Harrison, Rt Hon WalterRoberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Hart, Rt Hon Dame JudithRobertson, George
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyRobinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Healey, Rt Hon DenisRogers, Allan
Heffer, Eric S.Rooker, J. W.
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Home Robertson, JohnRowlands, Ted
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)Ryman, John
Howells, GeraintSedgemore, Brian
Hoyle, DouglasSheerman, Barry
Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Hughes, Roy (Newport East)Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)Short, Mrs R. (W'hampt'n NE)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Janner, Hon GrevilleSkinner, Dennis
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
John, BrynmorS'mith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Johnston, RussellSmith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)Snape, Peter
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldSoley, Clive
Kennedy, CharlesSpearing, Nigel
Kilroy-Silk, RobertSteel, Rt Hon David
Kinnock, Rt Hon NeilStott, Roger
Kirkwood, ArchyStrang, Gavin
Lambie, DavidStraw, Jack
Lamond, JamesThomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Leadbitter, TedThomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Leighton, RonaldThompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Lewis, Terence (Worsley)Tinn, James
Litherland, RobertTorney, Tom
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Wainwright, R.
Lofthouse, GeoffreyWallace, James
Loyden, EdwardWardell, Gareth (Gower)
McCartney, HughWareing, Robert
McDonald, Dr OonaghWeetch, Ken
McKay, Allen (Penistone)Welsh, Michael
McKelvey, WilliamWhite, James
Maclennan, RobertWigley, Dafydd
McNamara, KevinWilliams, Rt Hon A.
McTaggart, RobertWinnick, David
McWilliam, JohnWoodall, Alec
Madden, MaxYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Marek, Dr John
Marshall, David (Shettleston)Tellers for the Noes:
Mason, Rt Hon RoyMr. James Hamilton and
Maxton, JohnMr. Don Dixon.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 219, Noes 354.

Division No. 3410.14 pm
Abse, LeoEvans, John (St. Helens N)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Ewing, Harry
Anderson, DonaldFatchett, Derek
Archer, Rt Hon PeterFaulds, Andrew
Ashdown, PaddyField, Frank (Birkenhead)
Ashley, Rt Hon JackFields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Ashton, JoeFisher, Mark
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Flannery, Martin
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Forrester, John
Barnett, GuyFoster, Derek
Barron, KevinFoulkes, George
Beckett, Mrs MargaretFraser, J. (Norwood)
Bell, StuartFreeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Benn, TonyFreud, Clement
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Garrett, W. E.
Bermingham, GeraldGeorge, Bruce
Bidwell, SydneyGilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Blair, AnthonyGolding, John
Boothroyd, Miss BettyGould, Bryan
Boyes, RolandGourlay, Harry
Bray, Dr JeremyHamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)Hancock, Mr. Michael
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Hardy, Peter
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)Harman, Ms Harriet
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Buchan, NormanHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Caborn, RichardHealey, Rt Hon Denis
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)Heffer, Eric S.
Campbell, IanHogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Campbell-Savours, DaleHolland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Canavan, DennisHome Robertson, John
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Carter-Jones, LewisHowells, Geraint
Cartwright, JohnHoyle, Douglas
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)
Clarke, ThomasHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Clay, RobertHughes, Roy (Newport East)
Clwyd, Mrs AnnHughes, Simon (Southward)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)Janner, Hon Greville
Cohen, HarryJenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)
Coleman, DonaldJohn, Brynmor
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.Johnston, Russell
Conlan, BernardJones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North)Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)Kennedy, Charles
Corbett, RobinKilroy-Silk, Robert
Corbyn, JeremyKinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Cowans, HarryKirkwood, Archy
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)Lambie, David
Craigen, J. M.Lamond, James
Crowther, StanLeadbitter, Ted
Cunliffe, LawrenceLeighton, Ronald
Cunningham, Dr JohnLewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Dalyell, TamLewis, Terence (Worsley)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)Litherland, Robert
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Deakins, EricLoyden, Edward
Dewar, DonaldMcCartney, Hugh
Dixon, DonaldMcDonald, Dr Oonagh
Dobson, FrankMcKay, Allen (Penistone)
Dormand, JackMcKelvey, William
Douglas, DickMaclennan, Robert
Dubs, AlfredMcNamara, Kevin
Duffy, A. E. P.McTaggart, Robert
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.McWilliam, John
Eadie, AlexMadden, Max
Eastham, KenMarek, Dr John
Edwards, Bob (Wh'mpt'n SE)Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Ellis, RaymondMason, Rt Hon Roy
Maxton, JohnSedgemore, Brian
Maynard, Miss JoanSheerman, Barry
Meacher, MichaelSheldon, Rt Hon R.
Meadowcroft, MichaelShore, Rt Hon Peter
Michie, WilliamShort, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Mikardo, IanShort, Mrs R.(W'hawpt'n NE)
Millan, Rt Hon BruceSilkin, Rt Hon J.
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)Skinner, Dennis
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Nellist, DavidSnape, Peter
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonSoley, Clive
O'Brien, WilliamSpearing, Nigel
O'Neill, MartinSteel, Rt Hon David
Orme, Rt Hon StanleyStott, Roger
Owen, Rt Hon Dr DavidStrang, Gavin
Park, GeorgeStraw, Jack
Parry, RobertThomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Patchett, TerryThomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Pavitt, LaurieThompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Pendry, TomThorne, Stan (Preston)
Penhaligon, DavidTinn, James
Pike, PeterTorney, Tom
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)Wainwright, R.
Prescott, JohnWallace, James
Radice, GilesWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Randall, StuartWareing, Robert
Redmond, M.Weetch, Ken
Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)Welsh, Michael
Richardson, Ms JoWhite, James
Roberts, Allan (Bootle)Wigley, Dafydd
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)Williams, Rt Hon A.
Robertson, GeorgeWinnick, David
Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)Woodall, Alec
Rogers, AllanYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Rooker, J. W.
Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)Tellers for the Ayes:
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)Mr. James Hamilton and
Rowlands, TedMr. Sean Hughes.
Ryman, John
Adley, RobertBrandon-Bravo, Martin
Aitken, JonathanBright, Graham
Alexander, RichardBrinton, Tim
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBrittan, Rt Hon Leon
Alton, DavidBrooke, Hon Peter
Amery, Rt Hon JulianBrown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)
Amess, DavidBrowne, John
Ancram, MichaelBruinvels, Peter
Arnold, TomBryan, Sir Paul
Ashby, DavidBuck, Sir Antony
Aspinwall, JackBudgen, Nick
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.Bulmer, Esmond
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Burt, Alistair
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Carlisle, John (N Luton)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)
Baldry, TonyCarttiss, Michael
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Cash, William
Batiste, SpencerChalker, Mrs Lynda
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyChannon, Rt Hon Paul
Beggs, RoyChapman, Sydney
Bellingham, HenryChope, Christopher
Bendall, VivianChurchill, W. S.
Benyon, WilliamClark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)
Best, KeithClark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Bevan, David GilroyClark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnClarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnCockeram, Eric
Blackburn, JohnColvin, Michael
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterConway, Derek
Body, RichardCoombs, Simon
Bonsor, Sir NicholasCope, John
Bottomley, PeterCorrie, John
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaCouchman, James
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)Cranborne, Viscount
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Crouch, David
Boyson, Dr RhodesCurrie, Mrs Edwina
Braine, Sir BernardDickens, Geoffrey
Dicks, TerryHunter, Andrew
Dorrell, StephenIrving, Charles
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Dover, DenJessel, Toby
du Cann, Rt Hon EdwardJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Dunn, RobertJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Durant, TonyJones, Robert (W Herts)
Eggar, TimJoseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Emery, Sir PeterKellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Evennett, DavidKershaw, Sir Anthony
Eyre, Sir ReginaldKey, Robert
Fairbairn, NicholasKing, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Fallon, MichaelKing, Rt Hon Tom
Farr, Sir JohnKnight, Gregory (Derby N)
Favell, AnthonyKnowles, Michael
Fenner, Mrs PeggyLamont, Norman
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyLang, Ian
Fletcher, AlexanderLatham, Michael
Fookes, Miss JanetLawler, Geoffrey
Forman, NigelLawrence, Ivan
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)Lee, John (Pendle)
Forth, EricLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanLewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)
Fox, MarcusLightbown, David
Franks, CecilLilley, Peter
Fraser, Peter (Angus East)Lloyd, Ian (Havant)
Freeman, RogerLloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Fry, PeterLord, Michael
Gale, RogerLuce, Richard
Galley, RoyLyell, Nicholas
Gardiner, George (Reigate)McCrindle, Robert
Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)McCusker, Harold
Glyn, Dr AlanMacfarlane, Neil
Goodhart, Sir PhilipMacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Goodlad, AlastairMacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Gorst, JohnMaclean, David John
Gow, IanMcQuarrie, Albert
Gower, Sir RaymondMadel, David
Grant, Sir AnthonyMaginnis, Ken
Greenway, HarryMajor, John
Gregory, ConalMalins, Humfrey
Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)Malone, Gerald
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)Maples, John
Grist, IanMarland, Paul
Grylls, MichaelMarlow, Antony
Gummer, John SelwynMarshall, Michael (Arundel)
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)Mather, Carol
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Maude, Hon Francis
Hampson, Dr KeithMawhinney, Dr Brian
Hanley, JeremyMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hannam, JohnMellor, David
Hargreaves, KennethMerchant, Piers
Harris, DavidMeyer, Sir Anthony
Haselhurst, AlanMiller, Hal (B'grove)
Hawkins, C. (High Peak)Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Hawksley, WarrenMills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Hayes, J.Mitchell, David (NW Hants)
Hayhoe, BarneyMoate, Roger
Hayward, RobertMolyneaux, Rt Hon James
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidMonro, Sir Hector
Heddle, JohnMontgomery, Fergus
Henderson, BarryMoore, John
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Hill, JamesMorrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Hind, KennethMoynihan, Hon C.
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Mudd, David
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)Murphy, Christopher
Holt, RichardNeale, Gerrard
Hooson, TomNeedham, Richard
Hordern, PeterNelson, Anthony
Howard, MichaelNeubert, Michael
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)Newton, Tony
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)Nicholls, Patrick
Howe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyNicholson, J.
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)Norris, Steven
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)Onslow, Cranley
Hubbard-Miles, PeterOppenheim, Phillip
Hunt, David (Wirral)Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)Osborn, Sir John
Ottaway, RichardStern, Michael
Page, Sir John (Harrow W)Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Page, Richard (Herts SW)Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Parkinson, Rt Hon CecilStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Parris, MatthewStewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Pattie, GeoffreyStewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Pawsey, JamesStokes, John
Peacock, Mrs ElizabethStradling Thomas, J.
Percival, Rt Hon Sir IanSumberg, David
Pollock, AlexanderTapsell, Peter
Porter, BarryTaylor, Rt Hon John David
Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Powell, William (Corby)Temple-Morris, Peter
Powley, JohnTerlezki, Stefan
Prentice, Rt Hon RegThatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Price, Sir DavidThomas, Rt Hon Peter
Proctor, K. HarveyThompson, Donald (Calder V)
Raffan, KeithThompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Rathbone, TimThome, Neil (Ilford S)
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)Thornton, Malcolm
Renton, TimThurnham, Peter
Rhodes James, RobertTownend, John (Bridlington)
Rhys Williams, Sir BrandonTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Ridley, Rt Hon NicholasTracey, Richard
Ridsdale, Sir JulianTrippier, David
Rifkind, MalcolmTrotter, Neville
Rippon, Rt Hon GeoffreyTwinn, Dr Ian
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Robinson, Mark (N'port W)Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Roe, Mrs MarionViggers, Peter
Rossi, Sir HughWaddington, David
Rost, PeterWaldegrave, Hon William
Rowe, AndrewWalden, George
Ryder, RichardWalker, Cecil (Belfast N)
Sackville, Hon ThomasWalker, Bill (Tside N)
Sainsbury, Hon TimothyWalker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Sayeed, JonathanWaller, Gary
Scott, NicholasWalters, Dennis
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)Ward, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Shelton, William (Streatham)Warren, Kenneth
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Watson, John
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)Watts, John
Shersby, MichaelWells, Bowen (Hertford)
Silvester, FredWells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Sims, RogerWheeler, John
Skeet, T. H. H.Whitfield, John
Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)Whitney, Raymond
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)Wiggin, Jerry
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Winterton, Mrs Ann
Smyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S)Winterton, Nicholas
Soames, Hon NicholasWolfson, Mark
Speller, TonyWood, Timothy
Spence, JohnWoodcock, Michael
Spencer, DerekYeo, Tim
Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)Young, Sir George (Acton)
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)Younger, Rt Hon George
Squire, Robin
Stanbrook, IvorTellers for the Noes:
Stanley, JohnMr. Robert Boscawen and
Steen, AnthonyMr. Tristan Garel-Jones.

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 41 (Amendment on Second or Third Reading):—

The House divided: Ayes 354, Noes 219.

Division No. 35][10.27 pm
Adley, RobertAshby, David
Aitken, JonathanAspinwall, Jack
Alexander, RichardAtkins, Rt Hon Sir H.
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelAtkins, Robert (South Ribble)
Amery, Rt Hon JulianAtkinson, David (B'm'th E)
Amess, DavidBaker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)
Ancram, MichaelBaker, Nicholas (N Dorset)
Arnold, TomBaldry, Tony
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)
Batiste, SpencerForth, Eric
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyFowler, Rt Hon Norman
Beggs, RoyFox, Marcus
Bellingham, HenryFranks, Cecil
Bendall, VivianFraser, Peter (Angus East)
Benyon, WilliamFreeman, Roger
Best, KeithFry, Peter
Bevan, David GilroyGale, Roger
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnGalley, Roy
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnGardiner, George (Reigate)
Blackburn, JohnGardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterGarel-Jones, Tristan
Body, RichardGlyn, Dr Alan
Bonsor, Sir NicholasGoodhart, Sir Philip
Bottomley, PeterGoodlad, Alastair
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaGorst, John
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)Gow, Ian
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Gower, Sir Raymond
Boyson, Dr RhodesGrant, Sir Anthony
Braine, Sir BernardGreenway, Harry
Brandon-Bravo, MartinGregory, Conal
Bright, GrahamGriffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)
Brinton, TimGriffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Brittan, Rt Hon LeonGrist, Ian
Brooke, Hon PeterGrylls, Michael
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)Gummer, John Selwyn
Browne, JohnHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Bruinvels, PeterHampson, Dr Keith
Bryan, Sir PaulHanley, Jeremy
Buck, Sir AntonyHannam, John
Budgen, NickHargreaves, Kenneth
Bulmer, EsmondHarris, David
Burt, AlistairHaselhurst, Alan
Carlisle, John (N Luton)Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Hawksley, Warren
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)Hayes, J.
Carttiss, MichaelHayhoe, Barney
Cash, WilliamHayward, Robert
Chalker, Mrs LyndaHeathcoat-Amory, David
Channon, Rt Hon PaulHeddle, John
Chapman, SydneyHenderson, Barry
Chope, ChristopherHickmet, Richard
Churchill, W. S.Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)Hill, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Hind, Kenneth
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Cockeram, EricHolt, Richard
Colvin, MichaelHooson, Tom
Conway, DerekHordern, Peter
Coombs, SimonHoward, Michael
Cope, JohnHowarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Corrie, JohnHowarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Couchman, JamesHowe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Cranborne, ViscountHowell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Crouch, DavidHowell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Currie, Mrs EdwinaHubbard-Miles, Peter
Dickens, GeoffreyHunt, David (Wirral)
Dicks, TerryHunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Dorrell, StephenHunter, Andrew
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.Irving, Charles
Dover, DenJenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
du Cann, Rt Hon EdwardJessel, Toby
Dunn, RobertJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Durant, TonyJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Eggar, TimJones, Robert (W Herts)
Emery, Sir PeterJoseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Evennett, DavidKellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Eyre, Sir ReginaldKershaw, Sir Anthony
Fairbairn, NicholasKey, Robert
Fallon, MichaelKing, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Farr, Sir JohnKing, Rt Hon Tom
Favell, AnthonyKnight, Gregory (Derby N)
Fenner, Mrs PeggyKnowles, Michael
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyLamont, Norman
Fletcher, AlexanderLang, Ian
Fookes, Miss JanetLatham, Michael
Forman, NigelLawler, Geoffrey
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Lawrence, Ivan
Lawson, Rt Hon NigelRenton, Tim
Lee, John (Pendle)Rhodes James, Robert
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lightbown, DavidRidsdale, Sir Julian
Lilley, PeterRifkind, Malcolm
Lloyd, Ian (Havant)Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Lord, MichaelRobinson, Mark (N'port W)
Luce, RichardRoe, Mrs Marion
Lyell, NicholasRossi, Sir Hugh
McCrindle, RobertRost, Peter
McCusker, HaroldRowe, Andrew
Macfarlane, NeilRyder, Richard
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)Sackville, Hon Thomas
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Maclean, David JohnSayeed, Jonathan
McQuarrie, AlbertScott, Nicholas
Madel, DavidShaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Maginnis, KenShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Major, JohnShelton, William (Streatham)
Malins, HumfreyShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Malone, GeraldShepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Maples, JohnShersby, Michael
Marland, PaulSilvester, Fred
Marlow, AntonySims, Roger
Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Skeet, T. H. H.
Mather, CarolSmith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Maude, Hon FrancisSmith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Mawhinney, Dr BrianSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinSmyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S)
Mellor, DavidSoames, Hon Nicholas
Merchant, PiersSpeller, Tony
Meyer, Sir AnthonySpence, John
Miller, Hal (B'grove)Spencer, Derek
Mills, Iain (Meriden)Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mitchell, David (NW Hants)Squire, Robin
Moate, RogerStanbrook, Ivor
Molyneaux, Rt Hon JamesStanley, John
Monro, Sir HectorSteen, Anthony
Montgomery, FergusStern, Michael
Moore, JohnStevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Moynihan, Hon C.Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Mudd, DavidStewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Murphy, ChristopherStokes, John
Neale, GerrardStradling Thomas, J.
Needham, RichardSumberg, David
Nelson, AnthonyTapsell, Peter
Neubert, MichaelTaylor, Rt Hon John David
Newton, TonyTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Nicholls, PatrickTemple-Morris, Peter
Nicholson, J.Terlezki, Stefan
Norris, StevenThatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Onslow, CranleyThomas, Rt Hon Peter
Oppenheim, PhillipThompson, Donald (Calder V)
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Osborn, Sir JohnThorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Ottaway, RichardThornton, Malcolm
Page, Sir John (Harrow W)Thurnham, Peter
Page, Richard (Herts SW)Townend, John (Bridlington)
Parkinson, Rt Hon CecilTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Parris, MatthewTracey, Richard
Pattie, GeoffreyTrippier, David
Pawsey, JamesTrotter, Neville
Peacock, Mrs ElizabethTwinn, Dr Ian
Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ianvan Straubenzee, Sir W.
Pollock, AlexanderVaughan, Sir Gerard
Porter, BarryViggers, Peter
Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)Waddington, David
Powell, William (Corby)Waldegrave, Hon William
Powley, JohnWalden, George
Prentice, Rt Hon RegWalker, Cecil (Belfast N)
Price, Sir DavidWalker, Bill (T'side N)
Proctor, K. HarveyWalker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Raffan, KeithWaller, Gary
Rathbone, TimWalters, Dennis
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)Ward, John
Wardle, C. (Bexhill)Winterton, Nicholas
Warren, KennethWolfson, Mark
Watson, JohnWood, Timothy
Watts, JohnWoodcock, Michael
Wells, Bowen (Hertford)Yeo, Tim
Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wheeler, JohnYounger, Rt Hon George
Whitfield, John
Whitney, RaymondTellers for the Ayes:
Wiggin, JerryMr. Robert Boscawen and
Winterton, Mrs AnnMr. Archie Hamilton,
Abse, LeoDunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Eadie, Alex
Alton, DavidEastham, Ken
Anderson, DonaldEllis, Raymond
Archer, Rt Hon PeterEvans, John (St. Helens N)
Ashdown, PaddyEwing, Harry
Ashley, Rt Hon JackFatchett, Derek
Ashton, JoeFaulds, Andrew
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Fisher, Mark
Barnett, GuyFlannery, Martin
Barron, KevinFoot, Rt Hon Michael
Beckett, Mrs MargaretForrester, John
Bell, StuartFoster, Derek
Benn, TonyFoulkes, George
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Bermingham, GeraldFreeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Bidwell, SydneyFreud, Clement
Blair, AnthonyGarrett, W. E.
Boothroyd, Miss BettyGeorge, Bruce
Boyes, RolandGilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Bray, Dr JeremyGolding, John
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)Gould, Bryan
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Gourlay, Harry
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)Hamilton, James (M'well N)
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)Hancock, Mr. Michael
Buchan, NormanHardy, Peter
Caborn, RichardHarman, Ms Harriet
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Campbell, IanHart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Campbell-Savours, DaleHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Canavan, DennisHealey, Rt Hon Denis
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)Heffer, Eric S.
Carter-Jones, LewisHogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cartwright, JohnHolland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Home Robertson, John
Clarke, ThomasHowell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Clay, RobertHowells, Geraint
Clwyd, Mrs AnnHoyle, Douglas
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)
Cohen, HarryHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Coleman, DonaldHughes, Roy (Newport East)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Conlan, BernardHughes, Simon (Southwark)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North)Janner, Hon Greville
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)
Corbyn, JeremyJohn, Brynmor
Cowans, HarryJohnston, Russell
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Craigen, J. M.Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Crowther, StanKennedy, Charles
Cunliffe, LawrenceKilroy-Silk, Robert
Cunningham, Dr JohnKinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Dalyell, TamKirkwood, Archy
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)Lambie, David
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)Lamond, James
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)Leadbitter, Ted
Deakins, EricLeighton, Ronald
Dewar, DonaldLewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Dixon, DonaldLewis, Terence (Worsley)
Dobson, FrankLitherland, Robert
Dormand, JackLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Douglas, DickLofthouse, Geoffrey
Dubs, AlfredLoyden, Edward
Duffy, A. E. P.McCartney, Hugh
McDonald, Dr OonaghRooker, J. W.
McKay, Allen (Penistone)Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
McKelvey, WilliamRoss, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Maclennan, RobertRowlands, Ted
McNamara, KevinRyman, John
McTaggart, RobertSedgemore, Brian
McWilliam, JohnSheerman, Barry
Madden, MaxSheldon, Rt Hon R.
Marek, Dr JohnShore, Rt Hon Peter
Marshall, David (Shettleston)Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Mason, Rt Hon RoyShort, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)
Maxton, JohnSilkin, Rt Hon J.
Maynard, Miss JoanSkinner, Dennis
Meacher, MichaelSmith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Meadowcroft, MichaelSmith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Michie, WilliamSnape, Peter
Mikardo, IanSoley, Clive
Millan, Rt Hon BruceSpearing, Nigel
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)Steel, Rt Hon David
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)Stott, Roger
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Strang, Gavin
Nellist, DavidStraw, Jack
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonThomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
O'Brien, WilliamThomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
O'Neill, MartinThompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Orme, Rt Hon StanleyThome, Stan (Preston)
Owen, Rt Hon Dr DavidTinn, James
Park, GeorgeTorney, Tom
Parry, RobertWainwright, R.
Patchett, TerryWallace, James
Pavitt, LaurieWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Pendry, TomWareing, Robert
Penhaligon, DavidWeetch, Ken
Pike, PeterWelsh, Michael
Prescott, JohnWhite, James
Radice, GilesWigley, Dafydd
Randall, StuartWilliams, Rt Hon A.
Redmond, M.Winnick, David
Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)Woodall, Alec
Richardson, Ms JoYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)Tellers for the Noes:
Robertson, GeorgeMr. Robin Corbett and
Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)Mr. Ray Powell.
Rogers, Allan

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read a Second time.

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Wanstead and Woodford 10:41, 4 December 1984

I beg to move, That clause 1 be committed to a Committee of the whole House:That the remainder of the Bill be committed to a Standing Committee: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. The Bill is clearly of great interest to a great many right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House. Therefore, in accordance with precedent, we suggest that the main provision, which is part I of the Bill, should be taken on the Floor of the House. Clearly it is impracticable that the whole Bill should be taken on the Floor of the House, and, I would suggest, quite inappropriate that such a Bill should be referred to a Select Committee.

Photo of Dr Jack Cunningham Dr Jack Cunningham Shadow Secretary of State, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment 10:42, 4 December 1984

I understand what the Secretary of State has said about its being inappropriate for the whole Bill to be taken on the Floor of the House. Clearly we agree that clause 1 should be taken on the Floor of the House. However, will riot the right hon. Gentleman accept that there are good arguments for clause 21, which refers to the future of the Inner London education authority, clause 40, which refers to the future of police and fire authorities which will be designated under the Rates Act 1984, clause 64 and clause 80 also being considered by a Committee of the whole House?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I hope that it is a point of order, and not a speech.

Photo of Mr Michael Meadowcroft Mr Michael Meadowcroft , Leeds West

It is a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I understand that according to Standing Order No. 42, which relates to the committal of Bills, the motions in the name of my right hon. and hon. Friends cannot be voted upon or even debated. If the Secretary of State's motion is carried, only clause 1 will be taken on the Floor of the House. If that motion is defeated, the entire Bill will go to a Standing Committee. It seems strange that the Standing Orders do not permit any addition to the motion to enable us to take more than clause 1 on the Floor of the House. Should there not be some way in which the House could vote on whether it wished to take the whole Bill on the Floor of the House?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

That is not a matter for me. If the House wishes to change the Standing. Order, it may do so.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 42 (Committal of Bills):

The House divided: Ayes 351, Noes 196.

Division No. 36][10.43 pm
Adley, RobertBrittan, Rt Hon Leon
Aitken, JonathanBrooke, Hon Peter
Alexander, RichardBrown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBrowne, John
Amery, Rt Hon JulianBruinvels, Peter
Amess, DavidBryan, Sir Paul
Ancram, MichaelBuck, Sir Antony
Arnold, TomBudgen, Nick
Ashby, DavidBulmer, Esmond
Aspinwall, JackBurt, Alistair
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.Carlisle, John (N Luton)
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)Carttiss, Michael
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Cash, William
Baldry, TonyChalker, Mrs Lynda
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Batiste, SpencerChapman, Sydney
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyChope, Christopher
Beggs, RoyChurchill, W. S.
Bellingham, HenryClark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)
Bendall, VivianClark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Benyon, WilliamClark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Best, KeithClarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Bevan, David GilroyCockeram, Eric
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnColvin, Michael
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnConway, Derek
Blackburn, JohnCoombs, Simon
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterCope, John
Body, RichardCorrie, John
Bonsor, Sir NicholasCouchman, James
Bottomley, PeterCranborne, Viscount
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaCrouch, David
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Dickens, Geoffrey
Boyson, Dr RhodesDicks, Terry
Braine, Sir BernardDorrell, Stephen
Brandon-Bravo, MartinDouglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Bright, GrahamDover, Den
Brinton, Timdu Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Dunn, RobertJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Durant, TonyJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Eggar, TimJones, Robert (W Herts)
Emery, Sir PeterJoseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Evennett, DavidKellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Eyre, Sir ReginaldKershaw, Sir Anthony
Fairbairn, NicholasKey, Robert
Farr, Sir JohnKing, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Favell, AnthonyKing, Rt Hon Tom
Fenner, Mrs PeggyKnight, Gregory (Derby N)
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyKnowles, Michael
Fletcher, AlexanderLamont, Norman
Fookes, Miss JanetLatham, Michael
Forman, NigelLawler, Geoffrey
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Lawrence, Ivan
Forsythe, Clifford (S Antrim)Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Forth, EricLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanLewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)
Fox, MarcusLightbown, David
Franks, CecilLilley, Peter
Fraser, Peter (Angus East)Lloyd, Ian (Havant)
Freeman, RogerLloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Fry, PeterLord, Michael
Gale, RogerLuce, Richard
Galley, RoyLyell, Nicholas
Gardiner, George (Reigate)McCrindle, Robert
Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)McCusker, Harold
Garel-Jones, TristanMacfarlane, Neil
Glyn, Dr AlanMacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Goodhart, Sir PhjlipMacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Goodlad, AlastairMaclean, David John
Gorst, JohnMcQuarrie, Albert
Gow, IanMadel, David
Gower, Sir RaymondMaginnis, Ken
Grant, Sir AnthonyMajor, John
Greenway, HarryMalins, Humfrey
Gregory, ConalMalone, Gerald
Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)Maples, John
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)Marland, Paul
Grist, IanMarlow, Antony
Grylls, MichaelMarshall, Michael (Arundel)
Gummer, John SelwynMather, Carol
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)Maude, Hon Francis
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Hampson, Dr KeithMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hanley, JeremyMellor, David
Hannam, JohnMerchant, Piers
Hargreaves, KennethMeyer, Sir Anthony
Harris, DavidMiller, Hal (B'grove)
Harvey, RobertMills, Iain (Meriden)
Haselhurst, AlanMills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Hawkins, C. (High Peak)Mitchell, David (NW Hants)
Hawksley, WarrenMoate, Roger
Hayes, J.Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Hayhoe, BarneyMonro, Sir Hector
Hayward, RobertMontgomery, Fergus
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidMoore, John
Heddle, JohnMorris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Henderson, BarryMorrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Hickmet, RichardMoynihan, Hon C.
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Mudd, David
Hill, JamesMurphy, Christopher
Hind, KennethNeale, Gerrard
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Needham, Richard
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)Nelson, Anthony
Holt, RichardNeubert, Michael
Hooson, TomNewton, Tony
Hordern, PeterNicholls, Patrick
Howard, MichaelNicholson, J.
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)Norris, Steven
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)Onslow, Cranley
Howe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyOppenheim, Phillip
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Hubbard-Miles, PeterOsborn, Sir John
Hunt, David (Wirral)Ottaway, Richard
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Hunter, AndrewPage, Richard (Herts SW)
Irving, CharlesParkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Jenkin, Rt Hon PatrickParris, Matthew
Jessel, TobyPattie, Geoffrey
Pawsey, JamesStewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Peacock, Mrs ElizabethStewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Percival, Rt Hon Sir IanStokes, John
Pollock, AlexanderStradling Thomas, J.
Porter, BarrySumberg, David
Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)Tapsell, Peter
Powell, William (Corby)Taylor, Rt Hon John David
Powley, JohnTaylor, John (Solihull)
Prentice, Rt Hon RegTaylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Price, Sir DavidTemple-Morris, Peter
Proctor, K. HarveyTerlezki, Stefan
Raffan, KeithThatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Rathbone, TimThomas, Rt Hon Peter
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Renton, TimThompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Rhodes James, RobertThome, Neil (Ilford S)
Rhys Williams, Sir BrandonThornton, Malcolm
Ridley, Rt Hon NicholasThurnham, Peter
Ridsdale, Sir JulianTownend, John (Bridlington)
Rifkind, MalcolmTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)Tracey, Richard
Robinson, Mark (N'port W)Trippier, David
Roe, Mrs MarionTrotter, Neville
Rossi, Sir HughTwinn, Dr Ian
Rost, Petervan Straubenzee, Sir W.
Rowe, AndrewVaughan, Sir Gerard
Ryder, RichardViggers, Peter
Sackville, Hon ThomasWaddington, David
Sainsbury, Hon TimothyWaldegrave, Hon William
Sayeed, JonathanWalden, George
Scott, NicholasWalker, Cecil (Belfast N)
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Shelton, William (Streatham)Waller, Gary
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Walters, Dennis
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)Ward, John
Shersby, MichaelWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Silvester, FredWarren, Kenneth
Sims, RogerWatson, John
Skeet, T. H. H.Watts, John
Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Wheeler, John
Smyth, Rev W. M. (Belfast S)Whitfield, John
Soames, Hon NicholasWhitney, Raymond
Speller, TonyWiggin, Jerry
Spence, JohnWinterton, Mrs Ann
Spencer, DerekWinterton, Nicholas
Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)Wolfson, Mark
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)Wood, Timothy
Squire, RobinWoodcock, Michael
Stanbrook, IvorYeo, Tim
Stanley, JohnYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Steen, AnthonyYounger, Rt Hon George
Stern, Michael
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)Tellers for the Ayes:
Stevens, Martin (Fulham)Mr. Robert Boscawen and
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)Mr. Ian Lang.
Abse, LeoBray, Dr Jeremy
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)
Alton, DavidBrown, Hugh D. (Provan)
Anderson, DonaldBrown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterBrown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)
Ashley, Rt Hon JackBrown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)
Ashton, JoeCaborn, Richard
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Campbell, Ian
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Campbell-Savours, Dale
Barnett, GuyCanavan, Dennis
Barron, KevinCarter-Jones, Lewis
Bell, StuartClark, Dr David (S Shields)
Benn, TonyClarke, Thomas
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Clay, Robert
Bermingham, GeraldClwyd, Mrs Ann
Bidwell, SydneyCocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)
Blair, AnthonyCohen, Harry
Boothroyd, Miss BettyColeman, Donald
Boyes, RolandConcannon, Rt Hon J. D.
Conlan, BernardMcKay, Allen (Penistone)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North)McKelvey, William
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)McNamara, Kevin
Corbyn, JeremyMcTaggart, Robert
Cowans, HarryMcWilliam, John
Cox, Thomas (Tooting)Madden, Max
Craigen, J. M.Marek, Dr John
Crowther, StanMarshall, David (Shettleston)
Cunliffe, LawrenceMason, Rt Hon Roy
Cunningham, Dr JohnMaxton, John
Dalyell, TamMaynard, Miss Joan
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)Meacher, Michael
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)Michie, William
Deakins, EricMikardo, Ian
Dewar, DonaldMillan, Rt Hon Bruce
Dlxon, DonaldMiller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Dobson, FrankMorris, Rt Hon A. (Wshawe)
Dormand, JackMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Douglas, DickNellist, David
Dubs, AlfredOakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Duffy, A. E. P.O'Brien, William
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Eadie, AlexPark, George
Eastham, KenParry, Robert
Ellis, RaymondPatchett, Terry
Evans, John (St. Helens N)Pavitt, Laurie
Ewing, HarryPendry, Tom
Fatchett, DerekPike, Peter
Faulds, AndrewPrescott, John
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)Radice, Giles
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)Randall, Stuart
Fisher, MarkRedmond, M.
Flannery, MartinRees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelRichardson, Ms Jo
Forrester, JohnRoberts, Allan (Bootle)
Foster, DerekRoberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Foulkes, GeorgeRobertson, George
Fraser, J. (Norwood)Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Freeson, Rt Hon ReginaldRogers, Allan
Garrett, W. E.Rooker, J. W.
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr JohnRoss, Ernest (Dundee W)
Golding, JohnRowlands, Ted
Gould, BryanSedgemore, Brian
Gourlay, HarrySheerman, Barry
Hamilton, James (M'well N)Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Hardy, PeterShort, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Harman, Ms HarrietShort, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)
Harrison, Rt Hon WalterSilkin, Rt Hon J.
Hart, Rt Hon Dame JudithSkinner, Dennis
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoySmith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Healey, Rt Hon DenisSmith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Heffer, Eric S.Snape, Peter
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Soley, Clive
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)Spearing, Nigel
Home Robertson, JohnStott, Roger
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)Strang, Gavin
Howells, GeraintStraw, Jack
Hoyle, DouglasThomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Hughes, Roy (Newport East)Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)Tinn, James
Janner, Hon GrevilleTorney, Tom
John, BrynmorWainwright, R.
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)Wallace, James
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldWarden, Gareth (Gower)
Kirkwood, ArchyWareing, Robert
Lambie, DavidWeetch, Ken
Lamond, JamesWelsh, Michael
Leadbitter, TedWhite, James
Leighton, RonaldWigley, Dafydd
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Williams, Rt Hon A.
Lewis, Terence (Worsley)Winnick, David
Litherland, RobertWoodall, Alec
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Young, David (Bolton SE)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Loyden, EdwardTellers for the Noes:
McCartney, HughMr. Robin Corbett and
McDonald, Dr OonaghMr. Ray Powell.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Ordered,That clause 1 be committed to a Committee of the whole House;That the remainder of the Bill be committed to a Standing Committee;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.