Short Title, Commencement and Extent

Clause 2 – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 25th November 1987.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 5:45 pm, 25th November 1987

I beg to move amendment No. 5, in page 2, line 4, at end insert— '(3) Section 1 of this Act shall expire three months after the day it was passed, unless continued in force by an order under this section.(4) The Secretary of State may by order provide that section 1 of this Act (whether or not in force by virtue of an order under this section) shall continue in force for a period not exceeding 12 months from the coming into operation of the order—

  1. (a) that section 1 of this Act shall cease to be in force; or
  2. (b) that if section 1 of this Act is not for the time being in force it shall come into force again and remain in force for a period not exceeding 12 months from the coming into operation of the order.
(5) Where section 1 of this Act expires by virtue of subsection (3) above or ceases to have effect by virtue of an Order made under sub-section (4) above, the provisions which it replaces shall revive.' You, Mr. Speaker, and hon. Members will realise that this amendment is moved in a form that is not unusual in the House, in order to try to ensure that there is a regular opportunity to debate the provisions of the Bill. The wording is not mine. The Minister knows that the wording of the amendment is to be found in other legislation. The most specific and obvious example is the wording that is to be found in the emergency provisions legislation relating to Northern Ireland. The Act continues in force only by order of the House

I have sought to amend the Bill in this way because of the general issue that we debated to some extent on Second Reading and again in Committee: the change in the procedure whereby, instead of the grant-funding of urban development corporations being subject to specific approval by order of the House, it will be controlled by other methods, to which the Minister referred when he opened the Second Reading debate.

One of the significant elements of the Government's inner-city policy is that they intend to use urban development corporations — I accept that they have a right to do that—as a major platform for regenerating inner cities. There are two original ones, four more recently established and there may be some others established. The mechanism in the past has been that, both in the original Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 and in the New Towns and Urban Development Act 1985, there was an upper limit to the amount of grant, variable by order to a second limit, and that within the constraints of both Acts Ministers have been able to come to the House to seek approval to increase the amount. The Bill proposes that the grant funding process will go. The Minister has conceded that the House will exercise control in future, first, by the general voting of Supply in the general Estimates debates and votes, and, secondly, by any control mechanism that is able to be exercised through Select Committees, in particular the Select Committee on the Environment.

As all hon. Members know, there is always a problem about considering in detail in general debates the votes of funds for specific projects. A debate about how much money should be given to the programmes of the Department of the Environment would not be able to concentrate in the same way as debates in the past about specific funding for the six or more urban development corporations.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

It could be more than six.

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

I agree with the Minister that there is a control mechanism. However, there are all sorts of other matters that hon. Members may wish to raise in general debates, and the ability to focus on the specific issue of the funding of urban development corporations will not be there. As the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) said, there may well be more than six urban development corporations. The more there are, the less likely it is that concerns will be able to be explicitly voiced and answered by Ministers, and that is because of the time given to debate Supply.

The Minister can probably anticipate my objection about debates before Select Committees being adequate. Of course, all hon. Members are not able to take part in debates in Select Committee as they are not members, unlike debates on orders in the House, which are open to all hon. Members. The more urban development corporations there are, the more hon. Members there will be with constituency interests who will want to intervene. However, they may not be members of either the Select Committee on the Environment or the Public Accounts Committee and it is inevitable that some hon. Members will not be able to raise their concerns in Committee and that the debate that we have had in the past on the Floor of the House will be lost.

The best way of voicing the concern that I expressed on Second Reading and that my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick upon Tweed (Mr. Beith) expressed in Committee is to urge the House to give hon. Members an opportunity to renew the Act annually. That is how the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973 applies. The Government bring before the House an order to renew, vary or reactivate the Act. The debate would take an hour or so and would be limited to those hon. Members who wanted to attend. The debate is about accountability.

The hon. Member for South Hams (Mr. Steen) said earlier that the Government are concentrating an enormous amount of public resources on urban development corporations. There is not only the general public concern about the sheer relative size of the public Exchequer contribution but the explicit local concern about the local regeneration of areas by Government agencies. Particularly when the Government agency meets in secret, there clearly is a risk that what it does is not open to proper debate and that the progress, success, failure or relative benefit or otherwise will not be able to be debated properly. It cannot be debated in the local authorities because they are not empowered to do that, so it has to be debated here.

I ask the Minister to say that there is a proper concern for the accountability for the funding of development corporations, whatever their number, that the experience of the six years of their existence confirms that concern, and that therefore the Government will accept the amendment to have an annual debate and an annual vote on the continuance of the change in procedure that is proposed in the Bill.

Photo of Mr David Trippier Mr David Trippier , Rossendale and Darwen 6:15 pm, 25th November 1987

It is clear that the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) and I will not agree. I do not want to catalogue the various mechanisms that are available to hon. Members, as I touched on them on Second Reading and again in Committee. The bottom line of what the hon. Gentleman is suggesting is why the system has changed since 1980. The simple answer is that there were features that, with the benefit of experience in those seven years, could be improved. Since the UDC concept was introduced in 1980, there have been three pieces of primary legislation.

As I have indicated, there are plenty of opportunities for hon. Members to raise the issue of urban development corporations. The hon. Gentleman has catalogued the two most important ones, but there is the investigation by the National Audit Office on behalf of the Public Accounts Committee, which very much involves the House and—I know that the hon. Gentleman will smile when I say this —there are Opposition days when hon. Members may choose to debate UDCs, and there are also opportunities during Adjournment and other debates.

I urge the hon. Gentleman to reconsider his amendment. If he will not withdraw it, I urge my hon. Friends to vote against it.

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

I anticipated the Minister's resistance, and I have consulted my colleagues. We will exercise our opportunities to debate the matter on Adjournment debates and on whatever other occasions arise. Opposition days are inevitably limited to the major Opposition party. The National Audit Office is conducting an investigation at the moment on behalf of the Public Accounts Committee and I understand that it is to report in January. However, our experience has been that those opportunities for debate have not been sufficient. I ask that the amendment be put to the House.

Question put.That the amendment be made:—

The House divided:Ayes 18, Noes 202.

Division No. 81][6.20 pm
Alton, DavidMichie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Ashdown, PaddyNellist, Dave
Beith, A. J.Salmond, Alex
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)Skinner, Dennis
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Steel, Rt Hon David
Clay, BobWallace, James
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Fearn, Ronald
Howells, GeraintTellers for the Ayes:
Jones, Ieuan (Ynys MÔn)Mr. Simon Hughes and Mr. Matthew Taylor.
Kirkwood, Archy
Alexander, RichardDorrell, Stephen
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelDouglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Allason, RupertDunn, Bob
Amess, DavidDurant, Tony
Arbuthnot, JamesDykes, Hugh
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Evennett, David
Ashby, DavidFairbairn, Nicholas
Atkins, RobertFallon, Michael
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Favell, Tony
Batiste, SpencerFenner, Dame Peggy
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Benyon, W.Fookes, Miss Janet
Bevan, David GilroyForman, Nigel
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnForsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Blackburn, Dr John G.Forth, Eric
Body, Sir RichardFowler, Rt Hon Norman
Boscawen, Hon RobertFox, Sir Marcus
Boswell, TimFranks, Cecil
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaFreeman, Roger
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)French, Douglas
Bowis, JohnFry, Peter
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardGarel-Jones, Tristan
Brazier, JulianGill, Christopher
Bright, GrahamGoodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Brooke, Hon PeterGorman, Mrs Teresa
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Gorst, John
Browne, John (Winchester)Gow, Ian
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)Gower, Sir Raymond
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon AlickGreenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Burns, SimonGreenway, John (Rydale)
Burt, AlistairGregory, Conal
Butcher, JohnGriffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Butler, ChrisGround, Patrick
Butterfill, JohnGrylls, Michael
Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Carrington, MatthewHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Chapman, SydneyHanley, Jeremy
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Hannam, John
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Harris, David
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Haselhurst, Alan
Cope, JohnHayward, Robert
Cran, JamesHeathcoat-Amory, David
Critchley, JulianHeseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Currie, Mrs EdwinaHicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Curry, DavidHicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Davis, David (Boothferry)Holt, Richard
Day, StephenHordern, Sir Peter
Devlin, TimHowarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Dickens, GeoffreyHowell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Portillo, Michael
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Powell, William (Corby)
Irvine, MichaelRaffan, Keith
Jack, MichaelRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
Jackson, RobertRedwood, John
Janman, TimothyRhodes James, Robert
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Jones, Robert B (Herts W)Riddick, Graham
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelRidsdale, Sir Julian
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs ElaineRifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)Rowe, Andrew
Kirkhope, TimothyShaw, David (Dover)
Knapman, RogerShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Knight, Greg (Derby North)Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Knowles, MichaelShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Knox, DavidShersby, Michael
Lang, IanSmith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Latham, MichaelSoames, Hon Nicholas
Lightbown, DavidSpeed, Keith
Lilley, PeterSpeller, Tony
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)Stanbrook, Ivor
Lord, MichaelSteen, Anthony
Lyell, Sir NicholasStevens, Lewis
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
McLoughlin, PatrickStradling Thomas, Sir John
McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)Tapsell, Sir Peter
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Mans, KeithTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Marland, PaulTemple-Morris, Peter
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinThurnham, Peter
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir PatrickTownend, John (Bridlington)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)Trippier, David
Mitchell, David (Hants NW)Twinn, Dr Ian
Moate, RogerWaddington, Rt Hon David
Monro, Sir HectorWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)Waller, Gary
Neubert, MichaelWells, Bowen
Newton, TonyWheeler, John
Nicholls, PatrickWiddecombe, Miss Ann
Nicholson, David (Taunton)Wiggin, Jerry
Nicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)Wilshire, David
Oppenheim, PhillipWinterton, Mrs Ann
Page, RichardYeo, Tim
Patnick, Irvine
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyTellers for the Noes:
Pawsey, JamesMr. Mark Lennox-Boyd and Mr. David Maclean.
Porter, David (Waveney)

Question accordingly negatived.

Order for Third Reading read.


Photo of Mr David Trippier Mr David Trippier , Rossendale and Darwen

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I am anxious to be brief. We had a long debate on Second Reading, we had a longish debate again today while considering some of the amendments that have been tabled. I have already mentioned the constructive contributions that have been made in the various debates by hon. Members.

I am anxious to outline three main points. First, the primary legislation to amend paragraph 8 of schedule 31 to the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 is necessary if expenditure plans for UDCs are to be carried through. The Bill removes grant-in-aid received by UDCs from the cumulative total that is subject to the statutory limit. In the Government's view the combination of the public expenditure planning process and Parliament's various controls over voted money are fully adequate in themselves. A further statutory limit of this nature is unneccessary and is an inappropriate means of controlling the grant paid to a collection of bodies.

Secondly, the Bill defines the borrowing that is subject to this statutory limitation.

Thirdly, given the role of borrowing in UDC financing, it sets a lower statutory limit on the total amount of outstanding borrowing by UDCs.

This is a simple Bill, designed for all UDCs to carry on their vital task of regenerating urban areas. It rationalises the statutory financial limit while retaining a proper degree of parliamentary control.

Photo of Mr Bill O'Brien Mr Bill O'Brien , Normanton 6:30 pm, 25th November 1987

I do not intend to detain the House long. Suffice to say that the business in Committee covered the important point that we wanted to raise—the involvement of local authorities in UDCs and the great need for local communities' interests to be taken into consideration on any development. The amendment that we tabled in Committee expounded our concerns about the financing of UDCs.

Reference has been made to the introduction of mini UDCs, and we hoped that the Minister would give more information about their involvement and introduction. Sadly, that has not been forthcoming, but we are advised that we may receive some information shortly. Again, I plead with the Minister for more involvement with local authorities. A number of hon. Members who have spoken today and in Committee have served on local authorities. I hope that local authorities will be more involved in any further introduction of UDCs.

Hon. Members have expressed doubt about whether there would be any impact on or advantage to local communities by introducing further UDCs. Reference has been made to the rate support grant orders that were administered under a former Labour Government. I should make it clear that rate support grant orders under the Labour Government were more substantial than they are under the present one. I hope that the Minister will consider allowing local authorities to have some input into the development of UDCs.

As to local authorities and their partnership with UDCs, I must tell the hon. Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Holt) that there is ample evidence that that partnership is developing in inner cities and urban areas. A splendid understanding has developed between local authorities and private developers, which has led to much co-operation between local authorities and the private sector. There is no reason why that co-operation should not be allowed to continue. A substantial number of Labour-controlled authorities have entered into agreements with private operators to develop town centres and urban areas. I make a plea that that co-operation should be allowed to continue.

If local authorities were allowed sufficient resources, there could be continuing co-operation and a greater interest in community development on behalf of people in those communities. It is important to encourage development and urban regeneration in local authority areas.

The Minister referred to the Tory party manifesto. One must take note of what was expressed in it. It said that the Tories want to set up UDCs where local authorities are failing to tackle the problems. Will the Minister say what local authorities are failing to tackle the problem, and perhaps we could analyse why they are experiencing difficulties with urban regeneration in their areas? It is unfair and not good practice to commit local authorities to redevelopment in urban areas because of the Tory manifesto. Can we identify how local authorities have been failing in their responsibilities? Will the Minister explain why the Government believe that local authorities have not been carrying out urban redevelopment?

If local authorities were given the same resources as UDCs, we would obtain better results for communities than is presently the case with regard to mini UDCs. I hope that the Minister will take note of what the Tory manifesto says.

My hon. Friend the Member for Houghton and Washington (Mr. Boyes) asked about the introduction of UDCs and what, if a local authority suggested that there was no need for a mini UDC in its area, the outcome would be. The Minister replied that there would be a mandatory introduction of UDCs if local authorities objected to such a development. However, will the Minister take into consideration the interests of the community? My hon. Friend referred to a letter from Martin Laing in The Timeson 6 October. It said: The success of London Docklands, which is a uniquely favoured area next to one of the world's major financial centres, should not lead the Government into believing or expecting that £1 of public expenditure will produce the same £4 to £6 of private investment in less favoured areas". He referred also to the deprived areas of the north.

Against that background, I suggest that there should be greater consultation of and involvement with local authorities because everyone in them — particularly in the north, but throughout the United Kingdom — is concerned about what is taking place in communities. Martin Laing said that the Government should not model UDCs on the London Docklands development corporation because they will not work out the same. Those are the words not of Labour Members, but of the chairman of John Laing plc.

I appeal to the Minister to consider the issues with regard to urban regeneration and communities. The people who have been elected in these areas want to bring about their redevelopment. The Minister has seen the results of what can happen if there is co-operation between local authorities and private operators. I hope that such co-operation will be allowed to continue. I hope that some of the resources given to mini urban development corporations and major urban development corporations will be directed towards local authorities and that they will be given a fair opportunity to develop their areas. It is important to allow local authorities to develop their communities. I hope that the Minister will consider the points that we have raised.

Photo of Mr Irvine Patnick Mr Irvine Patnick , Sheffield, Hallam 6:39 pm, 25th November 1987

Members of Sheffield city council are allowed four minutes to speak. As a member of that council, I know that if one's speech is not finished within four minutes the silence is deafening. I shall try to finish this speech within four minutes.

Land and buildings in inner cities are a jigsaw of ownership and problems. Somehow, the road layout and services do not match what is needed now or in the future. A method of bringing them into common ownership for redevelopment is needed, and urban development corporations provide it. As my hon. Friend the Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Holt) stated in similar vein, although my area has not agreed to have a UDC, it would be grateful to have a UDC, whether it be mini, maxi, GT, GL, saloon or estate. We are prepared to accept one, whatever its form.

Sheffield has been making noises about the form of an urban development authority. As one who lives in Sheffield and works in the east end of the city, from which the heart of its former industry has been torn, I appreciate the fact that there are derelict buildings and derelict land and the remains of the names of famous companies, which are either in the shadows or no longer exist. Rejuvenation is necessary. The only way in which I can envisage that happening in Sheffield, if what is happening there is symptomatic of the problems in other areas, is through urban development corporations. I hope that Sheffield will be considered for one.

The Opposition's argument is that the pudding must be tested, examined and improved. That will not give the impetus needed in inner cities and inner urban areas to enable them to progress. The Government are prepared to prime the pump and businesses are prepared to set up in those areas. In the east end of Sheffield, developers are prepared to move in, with council approval, to create jobs in a £160 million scheme. Those jobs will spin off into the outer urban areas, to suppliers, manufacturers, contractors, utilities, transport—the list goes on. That does not differ from the UDC concept. I hope that the funds that are made available will be flexible. By "flexible" I do not mean that the money should be made to go a long way. I hope that money will be found for other areas.

My hon. Friend the Minister, when he tours Sheffield on 7 December, will see that something is needed to bring the city back to its former glory. Sheffield is not on its own; other areas need the injection of an urban development corporation to return to their former prosperity. Sheffield is bidding to stage the World Student Games, and Government co-operation and funding are needed. Sheffield needs some form of cash through an urban development corporation. Other areas are in a similar position. Therefore, I urge hon. Members to support the Bill.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South 6:42 pm, 25th November 1987

The speech of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Patnick) illustrates the dilemma of hon. Members in dealing with the Bill. We all want to talk about urban development corporations. But the Bill is not about that; it is about how the Government will be enabled to finance them. The Bill does not contain a penny more for UDCs. The estimates deal with that. The Bill gives the Minister power to provide bigger globules of money without coming to the House. Despite my hon. Friends' aspirations, I fear that the Bill, in giving those greater globules of money, will be contrary to the interests of local government and against the interests of parliamentary scrutiny, despite what the Minister said.

More money means more cash means more power to the Minister in bigger blobs. It means fewer statutory instruments to come before the House, less scrutiny and less "glasnost", to use the present jargon. But that is what the House is about in terms of democracy. Although I understand my hon. Friends' aspirations, in view of my experience of the London Docklands development corporation, I regard the Bill as a step backward in terms of parliamentary scrutiny and expenditure of taxes. Hon.

Members have lost sight of that fundamental point, but it is worth putting it on record on Third Reading, because that is what Third Reading is about.

The Bill will give the Minister greater arbitrary powers. He will be able to scatter patronage around and to consult all sorts of people with ideas in local government, asking, "Would you think of this? Would you think of that?" If I were the Minister, I would scatter these mini UDCs around like sweeties from a tin. I asked the Minister whether he could tell us how many mini UDCs there were, but he did not give the answer. I wonder whether he would like to give it now.

Photo of Mr David Trippier Mr David Trippier , Rossendale and Darwen

The hon. Member for Houghton and Washington (Mr. Boyes) asked that question as well. I am certainly not in a position to give the number. I simply stick by what I said on Second Reading and in Committee: that we hope to make an announcement before the end of the year.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

I am not surprised by that. It probably supports my thesis, which, I hasten to add, is based not on any leaks from Whitehall but on my knowledge of how these things happen.

I raised these problems before and the Minister replied on 3 July 1987 in column 193 of Hansard.He said that £7·9 million was spent by the LDDC on consultancies. Imagine an area in London the size of Hyde park, Kensington gardens and Green park put together and being given planning permission for development without a public inquiry having been held. That is what we face in the royal docks in the area given over to planning for the LDDC. Some of the orders made under this legislation will not apply to that area, but that is the sort of animal that is rising statutorily from section 135 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980.

The Bill involves statutory slippage. Clearly, we are losing control over the way in which the hard-taxed taxpayers' money is spent. This legislation will act in a derogatory way towards local government. But it is not just this legislation. The housing action trusts may be given powers by Parliament and will probably act in much the same way as the UDCs. The White Paper said that they would, although it remains to be seen whether they will get such huge sums — up to £100 million — without being subject to parliamentary control. The money will not go far if there is a 15 per cent. tax on new build—just as there is 15 per cent. VAT on repairs. We may have to face that next week or in the new year if the European Court imposes that decision on the House.

Photo of Anthony Steen Anthony Steen , South Hams 6:48 pm, 25th November 1987

It is probably fitting that I am the last Conservative Back Bencher to speak in the debate. Unlike some Opposition Members, I do not ask that the Bill be scrapped. I support it. Under the previous legislation, expenditure in inner urban areas could not exceed £600 million or a greater sum not exceeding £800 million as specified by the Secretary of State, by order subject to approval by the House. We are talking about putting more public money into urban areas without reference to the House, and I have nothing against that.

I have been a Member for over 12 years, and during that time the House has debated urban areas and inner cities ad nauseam. We have had the urban aid programme, community development projects, the young volunteer force, neighbourhood studies, quality of life studies, inner-urban area studies, references to the cycle of their deprivation, comprehensive community programmes, partnerships — I do not know what has happened to them—a White Paper in 1977 on the inner cities, the Inner Urban Areas Act 1978, enterprise zones and freeports, and there are now urban development corporations.

There has been a huge spectacle of Government-financed schemes. Some of them have been very good. However, the inner cities continue to decline. They look worse and the people who live in them are deprived. The urban development corporations, which I fully support, represent another means of pouring public money into the inner cities. I remain unconvinced that they will have better results than the other schemes on which tens of thousands of millions of pounds have been spent. I would support the Minister wherever he cares to take me. I would support him in any worthwhile scheme because he is a Minister with flair and imagination, as well as courage. However, I question whether the UDCs will lead to a greater revival of the inner cities than other schemes have achieved.

One of the beauties of the urban development corporations, evident in the London Docklands development corporation area, is that they have attracted private funds. Their importance must lie in the way in which they have levered private money behind public money. No doubt the Minister would say that he is so enthusiastic about urban development corporations because of the leverage of private money behind public money. What interests me is whether the leverage could be in a different form and whether the funds could be used through the urban development corporations in better ways. For example, perhaps the Government could provide money to be used by the urban development corporations in the form of industrial revenue bonds or municipal bonds—a subject raised during Question Time this afternoon. In that way, private investment could be pumped into inner-city areas. Private individuals, companies and institutions could invest in the inner cities by purchasing tax-exempt bonds.

I question — although not critically — whether £800 million or £1,000 million pumped into inner areas will really change them. Of course, if we pump £100 million into the environment it is bound to change, but that will not necessarily revive the inner cities. I believe that we shall not revive the inner cities by pouring public money into them. We shall revive them if that public money is poured in with private sector money coming in behind and if the people who live there are involved not only in decision-making but in helping themselves. The Conservative Governments philosophy is to help people to stand on their own feet and to help them to help themselves. I support the urban development corporations but there is a danger that the corporations will exclude the community and will simply go into areas and do their own thing. If that happens, areas may be tidied up or cleaned up and new buildings may be built, but we shall not achieve the revival that is so much needed in the run-down inner-city areas.

My experience of the House is that when one is asked to speak for a long time, the Whips are very clear about what one should be doing, and that the same applies when one is asked to speak for a short time. I can see by the expression on your face, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I have perhaps said enough to make my point plain. The Minister is smiling, and it is quite clear that he agrees with some of my comments. I support the Bill, but I hope that the Minister will bear in mind that pouring more money into the inner cities will not solve problems.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 6:52 pm, 25th November 1987

Nobody can deny that the inner cities need regenerating, that part of that process requires money and that some of that money will have to come from the taxpayer, via the Government. It is quite clear that some of the money must come from the private sector, too. However, as the hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) said, the Bill does not concern any of those propositions. It deals with the regulation of the process by which public money goes into the UDCs. As the Minister knows, he and I take different views about the mechanism that he has chosen in the Bill.

In 1980, when the original procedure was set up, and in 1985, when the procedure was amended by further legislation, we gave the Government the power to make £800 million available. My hon. Friends and I argued that the decision about the amount of taxpayers' money that should be made available via the Government to the urban development corporations as a means of regenerating the inner cities should be made by the House. That is why, on Report, I sought to amend the Bill to include a provision to give us that controlling mechanism. The amendment was defeated and the Bill remains unamended.

My scepticism, doubts and dissatisfaction remain. The Bill does not provide for sufficient scrutiny. As the hon. Member for Newham, South said, it will place too much power in the hands of the Government and not enough in the hands of other agencies. The Minister will know that my view is taken on the basis not of remote observation but of practical day-to-day participation in the life of a constituency where a development corporation has been at work for six years. It is noticeable and interesting that the people who are most critical of development corporations are those who live in and represent the areas in which they operate. Those who observe from afar are less critical.

I shall not congratulate the Minister as much as some of his Back Benchers have congratulated him, but I respect his commitment to his job and his enthusiasm. However, the Government's approach is sometimes in danger of being superficial. The time that they spend on the inner cities is sometimes encapsulated in timetables, such as the Minister's timetable for his visit to the London Docklands development corporation last week. His office was kind enough to send me a copy. It reads as follows:

  • "10.30 You arrive at the Visitors Centre, Canary Wharf, Isle of Dogs to be met by Chairman and Chief Executive. Coffee. View. Audio visual.
  • 11.30 Depart for helicopter tour over Docklands at 11.40
  • 11.55 Ground tour of Docklands.
  • 1.00 Lunch aboard the Dutch sailing barge 'Leven'.
  • 2.30 Depart."
I do not think that the Minister can have met hundreds — he certainly cannot have met thousands — of real docklands residents or workers. Like the Prime Minister at the beginning of the general election campaign, Ministers are in danger of falling into the trap of seeing those who manage developments without speaking to the recipients of the developments—the local residents.

On Second Reading I put to the Minister the figures that showed a net loss of jobs in London docklands since 1981.1 note that the Department of the Environment press release about the Minister's speech to the CBI last week, which must be true, says: He drew the conference's attention to Urban Development Corporations which have brought new life to areas which have suffered serious decline. And he urged the conference to look at London's Docklands and the 10,000 jobs created there. That is perfectly true, but the Minister did not tell the CBI the net figure for jobs created because it would have been a negative number. As people in America have discovered, half the truth is often nowhere near the whole truth.

It is interesting to compare unemployment in the docklands boroughs with unemployment in the area of the docklands boroughs covered by the LDDC since it was set up. In Tower Hamlets and Southwark, unemployment rose by 42·5 per cent. and 49 per cent. respectively. Those are large figures. In September 1987 the figure for Southwark was 19·1 per cent.—more than it was in 1983, once the docklands had got going, when it was 17·8 per cent. The same applies in Tower Hamlets and Newham. There has been no marked decline in unemployment.

The most telling figure is that relating to the areas of the boroughs in the development corporation area. The number of unemployed people has increased in two of the three boroughs. In Southwark the figure has increased marginally from 1,506 to 1,519. In Newham, the figure has increased from 1,669 to 1,789. Overall, the number of unemployed in London docklands areas has risen from 6,997 in 1983 to 7,012 in 1987.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that that is not at all surprising to us in docklands? People outside think that the development corporation s working for local people, but we know that the LDDCs plans are designed not to help local people but to enable developers to come in and get as much as they can. Therefore, we hope Ihat any mini UDCs elsewhere will have different purposes.

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

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. It is an indicator that, even though there are party political differences, there has never been a difference in understanding of or reaction to the LDDC between the four London docklands Members of Parliament. They have been equally critical, for the same reasons, because they have observed the same consequences. I wish to make a couple of points, which I hope the Minister will take on board as they reflect the concerns that we have expressed over many years.

Photo of Mr David Trippier Mr David Trippier , Rossendale and Darwen

The hon. Gentleman has raised an additional point, but what he said was not true. The authority currently controlled by the alliance has, while being controlled by it, worked extremely closely with the LDDC. I am therefore surprised that the hon. Gentleman did not make that point on behalf of his party. Of course, in the past there was animosity, but we hope that that is gradually being blown away.

If the hon. Gentleman wishes to make comparisons, he must compare like with like. My figures are that more than 10,000 jobs have been created since 1981, with only 3,500 lost. If he is taking 1981 as the base date, that is the comparison that he should make.

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

The Minister and I debated the figures on Second Reading. He knows that many of the new jobs are transferred jobs—jobs that bring workers with them. The number of jobs created and available for the local work force has actually declined. I am happy to go through the figures with him, but the ones that I have seen —they are Government figures, not my figures—show that the number of new jobs has declined, not risen. That is a severe indictment of the past six years.

The Minister's point about co-operation and collaboration is, rightly, very important. We must ensure that we maximise future benefits for the local communities—in labour, housing, environment and regeneration. That is why there was such a furious debate yesterday, during the Local Government Bill Committee, about the local labour clause in relation to local government powers. We wait with interest to hear what the officials said at the European Commission today when it debated that very subject.

I and my colleagues have always argued—and it is why Tower Hamlets has practised it—that partnership is needed. There should be a three-way partnership in regenerating all inner cities and urban areas — central Government, local government and other agencies, be they the private sector, voluntary bodies or the like. It is because local authorities have no power to intervene in the docklands area decisions and in the development corporations that the concept of development corporations, as presently constructed, has met with objections.

It is true that my colleagues in Tower Hamlets have co-operated and nominated someone to sit on the board. They have worked with the LDDC much more than the Labour administration in Southwark — an administration that I have criticised since the day I was elected to this House. However, there has been no real partnership and, because of that failure, I and my colleagues are unhappy about the Bill.

I understand that an announcement about further UDCs is imminent. It may include a provision for the LDDC area to be extended. If that is true, it would be a significant announcement. Whatever areas the Government have in mind, I ask that, before making any final announcement, the Minister should put the proposals out to consultation — the areas, the budget and the corporate plan—so that there can be real partnership in the further extension of urban development.

I am not against urban development, but I am against a change in the structure that takes away accountability. As I said, if the Minister is not prepared to concede that, the matter should be more accountable, for that reason specifically. I and my colleagues will divide the House.

Question put:

The House divided:Ayes 186, Noes 20.

Division No. 82][7.10 pm
Alexander, RichardBody, Sir Richard
Allason, RupertBoscawen, Hon Robert
Amess, DavidBoswell, Tim
Amos, AlanBottomley, Peter
Arbuthnot, JamesBottomley, Mrs Virginia
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)Bowis, John
Ashby, DavidBraine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Brazier, Julian
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Bright, Graham
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Benyon, W.Browne, John (Winchester)
Bevan, David GilroyBruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Blackburn, Dr John G.Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Burns, SimonKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Burt, AlistairKirkhope, Timothy
Butcher, JohnKnapman, Roger
Butler, ChrisKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Butterfill, JohnKnight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Knowles, Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Knox, David
Carttiss, MichaelLang, Ian
Chapman, SydneyLatham, Michael
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)Lawrence, Ivan
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Lilley, Peter
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Cope, JohnLord, Michael
Cran, JamesLyell, Sir Nicholas
Critchley, JulianMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Currie, Mrs EdwinaMcLoughlin, Patrick
Curry, DavidMcNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Mans, Keith
Davis, David (Boothferry)Maples, John
Day, StephenMarland, Paul
Devlin, TimMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Dorrell, StephenMates, Michael
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Dunn, BobMayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Durant, TonyMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Dykes, HughMoate, Roger
Evennett, DavidMonro, Sir Hector
Fairbairn, NicholasMorris, M (N'hampton S)
Fallon, MichaelMorrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Favell, TonyNelson, Anthony
Fenner, Dame PeggyNeubert, Michael
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Nicholls, Patrick
Fookes, Miss JanetNicholson, David (Taunton)
Forman, NigelNicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Oppenheim, Phillip
Forth, EricPage, Richard
Fox, Sir MarcusParkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Franks, CecilPatnick, Irvine
Freeman, RogerPattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
French, DouglasPawsey, James
Fry, PeterPorter, David (Waveney)
Garel-Jones, TristanPortillo, Michael
Gill, ChristopherPowell, William (Corby)
Goodlad, AlastairRaffan, Keith
Gorman, Mrs TeresaRaison, Rt Hon Timothy
Gower, Sir RaymondRhodes James, Robert
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Greenway, John (Rydale)Riddick, Graham
Gregory, ConalRidsdale, Sir Julian
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Grist, IanRoe, Mrs Marion
Ground, PatrickRyder, Richard
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynShaw, David (Dover)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Hanley, JeremyShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Hannam, JohnShephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Harris, DavidSoames, Hon Nicholas
Haselhurst, AlanSpeed, Keith
Hayward, RobertSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidSteen, Anthony
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)Stevens, Lewis
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Holt, RichardTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Hordern, Sir PeterTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)Thurnham, Peter
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)Townend, John (Bridlington)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)Trippier, David
Irvine, MichaelTwinn, Dr Ian
Jack, MichaelWaddington, Rt Hon David
Jackson, RobertWarren, Kenneth
Janman, TimothyWells, Bowen
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyWheeler, John
Jones, Robert B (Herts W)Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Jopling, Rt Hon MichaelWinterton, Mrs Ann
Yeo, TimTellers for the Ayes:
Young, Sir George (Acton)Mr. David Maclean and Mr. David Lightbown.
Alton, DavidMahon, Mrs Alice
Ashton, JoeMichie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Beith, A. J.Nellist, Dave
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Primarolo, Ms Dawn
Clay, BobSkinner, Dennis
Cohen, HarryTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Corbyn, JeremyWallace, James
Cryer, BobWise, Mrs Audrey
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Heffer, Eric S.Tellers for the Noes:
Howells, GeraintMr. Simon Hughes and Mr. Malcolm Bruce.
Kirkwood, Archy

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.