Order. I was about to put to the House the Question that the amendments be considered. If the hon. Gentleman will let me put that Question, he can then make the points that he wishes to make.
I hope that whoever is in charge of the Bill will take this opportunity to explain its finer details.
What does the proposed amendment on all-night cafés entail? I used to be a lorry driver and when I was working I liked to call into a café. I am not sure what restrictions the Bill seeks to place on them and I should welcome clarification on that. I should also like to know the extent of the powers that the Bill gives local authorities to restrict all-night cafes. Many tourists frequent London, our capital city, and they will want the cafes to be open, serving good quality food and tea.
The Bill talks about the restoration of gas and electricity supplies, but I am not sure whether the privatisation of the electricity and gas industries will have any effect on it. I am not sure when it kicked off in the Private Bill Office.
The Question, on the motion before the House, is that the amendments be made. The hon. Gentleman ought to speak to the amendments that are before the House. If, however, he wishes to deal with wider issues, it may be admissible, in a wider debate, for him to do so under the next motion for Third Reading.
I am grateful for your clarification of the proceedings, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, I should like whoever is promoting the Bill on the Government side of the House to say why the amendments have been tabled. I understand that the promoters of private Bills are lawyers. I am anxious to know whether the amendments have been tabled on account of bad drafting. I keep asking that question, but I am only getting blank looks from that side of the House.
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman appreciates that, because he has the Floor, no other hon. Member has so far had the opportunity to respond to him. When he has finished his speech, we may find that an hon. Member is in charge of the Bill and is able to answer his question.
But when I sit down you will certainly not allow me to stand up again Mr. Deputy Speaker, if no hon. Member on the Conservative Benches answers my questions. There is no certainty that any hon. Member who is sitting on the Government Benches will be prepared to explain why the amendments have been tabled.
I am grateful for your guidance, Sir. However, as the amendments have been tabled, they will be incorporated in the Bill. If a Conservative Member had clarified the amendments, I should not have had to stand up and ask questions. There have been occasions in the past when we have sought clarification from Conservative Members but have received none. My worry is that by means of these amendments somebody is trying to sneak something through.
I am not sure how we can help the hon. Gentleman. He has referred to hon. Members on Conservative Benches. Is he not aware that schedule 1 lists the participating councils? They include every single London borough—both those that belong to the Association of London Authorities, which is Labour-controlled, and those that belong to the Lond Boroughs Association, which is Conservative-controlled. I am sure that all hon. Members would like to help the hon. Gentleman if he could explain which of the amendments cause him concern.
The hon. Gentleman is correct when he says that all the London boroughs are participating, but the lead authority is Westminster. I have grave reservations about an authority that is prepared to sell cemeteries so cheaply, without giving any thought to the consequences. I wonder, therefore, whether Westminster council, the lead authority, will make similar mistakes here.
It may assist the hon. Gentleman if I explain that the city of Westminster is promoting the Bill on behalf of the other London authorities. That has been the practice since the abolition of the Greater London council. The hon. Gentleman can rest assured that it is a necessary technicality that Westminster is taking the lead. By that means, all the London boroughs, controlled by whichever political party, have been given the opportunity to place this important Bill before the House.
I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman. The tragedy is that earlier I saw no movement on the Conservative Benches. Had there been any movement, I should have remained seated and would have listened carefully to the explanations. My suspicions about the amendments are understandable when one reflects on what has happened in the past. We can only draw conclusions from those events. We must take great care when private Bills are considered. However, the hon. Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler) has assured me that he will explain why the amendments have been tabled. I intend, therefore, to sit down and to listen carefully to what he has to say. I shall then have to decide whether to divide the House on one or all of the amendments.
With the permission of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall address it on the amendments before us. They are essentially minor and purely technical, and are designed to improve the Bill. For example, the amendment on page 2, line 16, invites the House to leave out "1989" and to insert "1990". That is the nature of most of the amendments that the House is considering.
However, there is a slightly more substantial amendment at page 8, line 27. It relates to the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority. The promoters of the Bill—the city of Westminster, on behalf of the 30 London boroughs, including all the Labour-controlled boroughs and all the Conservative-controlled boroughs, as represented by their two associations, the Association of London Authorities and the London Boroughs Association—have agreed the contents of the Bill and the amendments that the House has been invited to consider.
The substantial amendment that relates to the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority has been tabled by the promoters because they are anxious entirely to meet the worthy objective of the authority, that the aims of the Bill should be clear and unambiguous. Therefore, I invite the House to approve the amendments. If I am required to deal in greater detail with the purpose of the Bill, I shall do so. However, I have reason to believe that the Bill is supported by the London boroughs and by all the others who are concerned with the good government of London.
I warmly welcome this Bill on behalf of the borough of Hillingdon, in which my constituency is situated. It is a very useful and important Bill which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler) said, has the support of all London local authorities.
I am particularly glad to see clauses 23 and 24, which enable London local authorities to deal with the difficult problems of street trading and licensing street traders to operate in designated streets where it is believed that that is desirable. This is a separate question from the one asked by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond), who was referring to something quite different—night cafés.
No. As I understand the Bill—this has been the subject of considerable discussion over the past five years or so—it gives local authorities in London the power to license those street traders. Westminster council, on which I had the privilege of serving for about 12 years, has very close contact with street markets in places such as Soho and elsewhere.
I am addressing the House on a quite different matter—street trading in the outer London boroughs such as Hillingdon, where the need for licensing has been clearly identified and is highly desirable. It is encouraging that all the London boroughs have signified their approval not only of this aspect of the Bill but of its many other apsects.
The Bill will benefit not only my constituents but all those who engage in street trading in one form of another by providing a proper system that is clearly understood by those involved in selling food and drink and those who wish to buy it.
I commend the Bill to the House.
In the past I have taken an interest in street trading matters and I know that the relationship between street traders and local traders has not always been very happy. I have a few questions which I expect the hon. Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler), speaking for the promoters of the Bill, will be able to answer.
First, I heard what was said about all London local authorities now supporting the Bill. I should be grateful if it could be clarified whether, not only formally but, as far as the hon. Member for Westminster, North is aware, informally, there is no dissent from the provisions of part III, which deals with street trading. There were negotiations on, amendments to and a petition against the Bill on behalf of street traders, who were concerned not just about ice cream trading, which I know was a separate matter, but about street trading generally. The first assurance that I seek is that, as far as anybody concerned with the promotion of the Bill is aware, there is no remaining discontent among street traders.
I represent a division of the city of Westminster where there are many street traders and I know that on previous occasions there were objections. I have received no objections in respect of this Bill and I am reliably informed by those responsible for the promotion of the Bill that they have had no objections either. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will feel reassured on that very important point.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman.
Secondly, I wish to make a few comments about the relationship between local authorities and street traders. I speak from experience in Southwark and from having watched the local authority, which is controlled not by my colleagues—we are the official opposition in Southwark—but by the Labour party. Street traders have had a very unhappy relationship with their local authority for many years.
Street trading is an integral part of the variety of commerce in London, but an even more important element is that it is part of the continuing employment of people in family businesses. It is often a matter of significant pride to people that they inherit a business that was set up by a father or mother, grandparents, an aunt or uncle, or the like.
Clause 26 deal specifically with provisions governing succession. It provides that, although the holder of a current licence may have given the name and address of a relative to whom he desires the licence to be granted when he dies, retires or gives up his pitch through ill health, the borough council cannot grant that licence until a certain period has elapsed. Have the boroughs given any assurance that they will support rather than oppose the carrying on of businesses in street markets by the relatives of those who currently hold the licences? One controversial issue is that there has been some very sharp practice over the years, wrapped up as non-discriminatory practice but often precluding the carrying on of family businesses by the people who have the most obvious claim to do so.
I am perfectly content that we should expand the possibilities for people to get into street trading. Like many other hon. Members representing London constituencies, over the years I have been approached by people who want to have a stall or a pitch in a street market and have found it difficult to do so. However, sufficient opportunities arise in the normal course of events, so it seems to me to be improper and unjustifiable that people who have built up a market stall as a family business should not be assured that they can transfer the business to a member of their family. Members of the family are defined in clause 26(2). They are all sufficiently proximate in terms of affinity to be eligible.
I hope that I can have some assurance before we end this debate that local authorities are committed to and support the principle that, where appropriate family members wish to take over such a business, the authorities should be positively disposed towards them and not make life difficult.
Thirdly, we now have a set of regulations in substantial detail about designating licensed streets, the way in which applications should be made to local authorities for street trading licences, the conditions that shall be applied, and so on. Street trading requires common sense, as does the relationship between the licensing authority and street traders. It is no good taking an antagonistic and parochial attitude to such obvious problems as how the streets are to be cleaned either during or immediately after a market. These are matters of dialogue.
I wonder whether an assurance has been given to street traders by London local authorities that they will always seek properly to include street traders in the local authority committees, sub-committees and working parties that make the decisions on these matters.
I appreciate that under the new legislation that will come into effect this spring it will be impossible for people who are not elected councillors to be full committee members. I support that. Those who are elected should be ultimately responsible, and it should be impossible to fiddle the numbers by co-opting people. None the less, if local democracy is to work well, it is important for street traders to be involved in the decision-making process. Have assurances been given that street traders will be properly involved? In Southwark, the system has certainly been rigged against them on many occasions, and they have unreasonably been excluded from those parts of the decision-making process in which they have a justifiable case for inclusion—often with surprising ingratitude for what street traders do.
Street traders do not simply set up stalls and sell food, vegetables, clothes and other wares. They often make substantial contributions to the local community. They arrange outings for underprivileged or deprived people and collections of money for people in the community. I have never found street traders to be unwilling to co-operate or to collaborate with people who are reasonable to them. It is a pity that in Southwark things often came to such a sad pass; there was a great deal of acrimony because there was no proper consultation and dialogue. I hope that some assurance will be given during the passage of the Bill that street traders will be involved in decisions about fees, charges, the siting of pitches and which streets are designated.
The fourth matter on which I seek information from the promoters is whether there was any discussion behind the scenes on the view of local authorities—if there is a collective one—about the fees and charges to be imposed. In my constituency, there is a designated street market in Albion street, which is very near the mouth of Rotherhithe tunnel. It provides for a small number of pitches, but because of population change and the Surrey docks development, the market has not been running for some years now and the number of street markets in my constituency has been reduced.
The variety and benefit of shopping in the locality has been diminished by the absence of pitches and stalls there. One factor which has determined that—although it is by no means the only one—is the fees charged by local authorities. I am not arguing that there should be a centrally determined standard fee for 33 London local authorities. That would be against my philosophy, illogical and probably impossible to enforce. I am seeking information on whether any guarantees have been given that there will be no unreasonable increases that will freeze out street trading.
One conflict that is below the surface of all the legislation is the battle between street traders who want to retain street trading, which is very popular with local people and visitors as part of the commercial life of London, and the local authorities, for which street trading often represents a nuisance. They sometimes deal with it by encumbering it with so many regulations and administrative difficulties that people are dissuaded from trying to get through the process, and then by adding charges and increasing them so unreasonably above inflation that street traders are driven away.
Although some people have stalls and pitches in more than one market, more than one borough or all over a large city, most traders make their living from one stall. If they cannot continue in the borough where they are traditionally known, or they are frozen out, that is the end of their business. I hope that assurances can be given about the positive attitude of local authorities in London towards street trading.
The House should take note of the valuable role of street traders. I recall a controversial debate about earlier legislation promoted by the hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton) on behalf of the Greater London council, which proposed changes to street traders' patterns of occupation and licensing. The hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright) and I managed to persuade the House to adopt an amendment that was supported by both sides of the House. It was supported by the hon. Member for Lewisham, East (Mr. Moynihan) who is now the Minister for Sport, although I do not know for how much longer. We had to take on the GLC, which was acting insensitively towards street traders. I hope that those days are over and that the Bill does not presage a further series of battles—although this time they would be fought local authority by local authority in boroughs where street traders hope to hang on to the important role that they play.
My final point relates to procedure. I was present at the end of last Session when the House passed motions which, for the first time, carried over private legislation into this Session. Perhaps the sponsor of the Bill can tell us how often we have proceeded immediately to consider and approve such a motion—if the Chairman of Ways and Means' motion is approved by the House.
At the end of last Session, the motions were introduced on the basis that it was a precedent and that we had never before reached the stage where so many Bills had been blocked. When we returned this Session, we had a resurrection motion, which was also unprecedented. Unless there have been one or two others since that resurrection motion, the motion of the Chairman of Ways and Means is unusual, to say the least. May we have some information on whether it is unique or unprecedented or whether there have been precedents for considering amendments and moving straight into a Third Reading debate without giving hon. Members the opportunity to consider the Bill as amended? It is unusual.
In a debate last night, when the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) was certainly present, we discovered that some statutory instruments that had been debated in Committee only the day before were being considered forthwith without hon. Members having had the opportunity to see the Hansard reports of the debates in Committee. It may be that they were considered in the. wrong order and that we considered some tertiary legislation before we had enacted the treaty that made it possible.
These are important matters, and I hope that we are given some reassurance that we are not acting over-hastily. No great disservice would be done to legislation if we could consider it in Committee one day and on Third Reading another day. Even if some hon. Members wished to speak against the amendments or Third Reading, surely it would be better to proceed stage by stage in the traditional way of Parliament, rather than trying to avoid, ambush or hijack difficulty by concertina-ing two stages together.
I should be concerned if this was the only opportunity for the House to debate a motion that brings together consideration and Third Reading. I ask hon. Members to reflect on whether that is a wise precedent for private or other legislation, and whether there will soon be the reform of the private Bill procedure that we all expect.
If the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) has queries about the procedure, he should have consulted you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as the guardian of the procedure on private business. I assume also that the hon. Gentleman consulted members of his party who control certain London boroughs, and who support the Bill, about the subjects tht he raised. I should like to emphasise that the Bill, which we hope will shortly be on the statute book, is welcomed and promoted by all London boroughs.
I am grateful; we are indeed on Third Reading.
I wish to welcome the Bill in principle and highlight clause 42, which will bring welcome relief to people in London because it deals with discarded shopping trolleys—the misguided monsters of London streets.
Shopping trolleys litter our streets, and it is time we gave local authorities power to deal with them. They are a boon to shoppers, but they are left in the most extraordinary places, not least in my front doorway. I welcome the fact that something will be done to remove them.
Shopping trolleys disfigure the environment when they are left lying around. They pose a danger to blind people, who trip and fall over them, and others with partial or full sight can equally suffer injury. They should not be left lying around. They pose a danger when they are tipped into rivers and streams, thereby damaging the creatures that live in them, not least swans. Many swans have been killed as a result of anglers' fishing lines getting hooked round trolleys and wrapping around a swan's neck, causing it to drown.
Today, projectiles are flying around because of the gales and causing damage and danger. We have the opportunity to remove shopping trolleys from our streets, so that, on days such as this, they do not contribute to the damage that the people and property of our capital city are suffering.
I have never been able to understand why we do not adopt the French system, whereby one pays the equivalent of £1 when taking a trolley, which is returned when one returns the trolley.
The hon. Gentleman has taken the point that I was about to make. The hon. Member for Battersea and I have Texas do-it-yourself stores in our constituencies. The Earlsfield store operates that system, and I rarely see its trolleys discarded. That is a simple method of preventing people from discarding trolleys.
I wish to deal with clause 41, the first four lines of which say:
In the case of any market or fair held in pursuance of any statute, royal licence, royal charter or letters patent, or as of right from time immemorial, nothing in this Part of this Act shall affect the sale or exposure or offer for sale of goods in any such market or fair".
I am a member of the all-party Showmen's Guild. Its large membership is made up of members of all political parties and its regular meetings are well attended. Fairs and markets are held throughout the year in the constituencies of hon. Members representing London. Many of them have traditions going back hundreds of years and are part of the history of those areas. Local authorities, irrespective of which political party controls them, by and large welcome fairs, which have large public support. Children and families enjoy the events that fairs and markets offer.
Clause 41 outlines what should be the position, but sadly it often is not. The all-party Showmen's Guild held a meeting in the House in December, at which showmen informed us of a problem that they face in Northallerton. However, the problem could equally apply to any part of London. The local authority in Northallerton claims that fairs and markets, which have been held there for hundreds of years, are causing too much congestion. In the eyes of the local authority, they are becoming a nuisance and it does not want them to take place.
Hon. members may ask, "Surely the royal statute gives showmen a guarantee. For hundreds of years they have been able to hold fairs and markets in that area, so why should they worry?" Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that, because I understand from the latest information that I have been given that the local authority has become bloody-minded. It is not prepared to hold the meetings that the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain has repeatedly requested to discuss the problem. It is saying to showmen, "We are not concerned about the traditions. Your fairs are causing too much congestion in our area. Therefore, we will no longer allow them."
That has caused much worry, not only to people whose livelihoods depend on fairs and markets but to local businesses, which often benefit from them, because they attract people who spend their money in those local businesses. I understand that this will cost the showmen a great deal of money because they intend to contest the actions of that local authority.
Clause 41 clearly outlines a showman's rights, but when those rights have been outlined before, they have not always been observed. I understand that the hon. Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler) is the sponsor of the Bill. Will the hon. Gentleman give me and other London Members a clear assurance that what is said in the Bill is what is meant, and that this group of honourable men and women, who follow a tradition in fairs and markets that have existed for hundreds of years, will not find itself in Northallerton? It could cost the guild an enormous amount to defend what has generally been accepted as a basic right. As a London Member, I feel that I have the right to seek the clear assurance that clause 41 will be adhered to by the London boroughs that have supported the Bill.
I hope to bring this short but useful Third Reading debate to its conclusion. First, let me seek to respond to the hon. Member for Tooting (Mr. Cox), who has expressed an interest in clause 41. He is absolutely right to address the House in such terms: we all know and understand the value and importance of the Showmen's Guild and the contribution that it makes to the quality of life.
The hon. Gentleman asked me to say, on behalf of the promoter, whether clause 41 means what it says. I believe the words therein displayed to be wholly accurate and a proper reflection of what is intended. I believe, too, that the 32 London boroughs will endeavour to operate not only to the letter of the clause but to its spirit as well. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept that I have made those remarks in good faith, in the belief that the promoters of the Bill believe that what they propose is proper.
The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) spoke eloquently in support of the work and life style of street traders, and the House will remember his contributions on previous occasions. I need hardly tell the House that that part of the Bill dealing with street traders seeks to enshrine in law a clear statement of how street trading should be practiced in the 32 London boroughs, and will introduce for the first time scope of the legislation shoe shines and ticket touts, who will also require a licence. The purpose of the exercise is to protect and enhance the activities of the genuine street trader and to keep off the streets of London, to the benefit of the public as well as of street traders, the humbugs and scoundrels to whom we object.
As the hon. Gentleman knows, I am just passing through the Chamber. I was interested in something that he said about licences for ticket touts. Is it really the case that one can get a licence to practise something which, if not wholly illegal, certainly approaches illegality?
Our proceedings are greatly enhanced by the passage through the Chamber of the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks). The Bill would require ticket touts to apply for licences but I have not said whether they would be granted licences. The hon. Gentleman may conclude from that that the Bill may be regarded as a means by which to deal with a difficult and unpleasant social problem.
Let me return to the speech made by the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey and to his concern for street traders. He is right to say that clause 26 deals with the family relationship of traders who succeed one generation after the other. The Bill seeks to define that succession. Let me try to help the hon. Gentleman by explaining that the intention in the Bill is to protect those who have a proper succession but allow the licensing authority to protect the public interest by preventing the charlatan and the rogue from usurping the privilege. The hon. Gentleman will have noted that clause 30 provides for a developed and detailed appeals system so that the aggrieved person can properly press his claim should he wish to do so.
The hon. Gentleman also asked whether there would be consultation between the 32 London boroughs and the street traders. That is a more difficult question for me to attempt to answer, although I believe that the 32 boroughs intend to have a full and proper working relationship with those who seek to trade within their jurisdiction. As the hon. Gentleman knows, some authorities unfortunately do not seek to establish such relationships at present. We can only hope that the passage of the Bill and the examples of the best in London will encourage those authorities that have been at odds with their traders to find a more satisfactory way of relating to them.
The hon. Gentleman's mention of 32 London boroughs prompted me to check the statement issued on behalf of the promoters. I had assumed that the 32 boroughs and the City were included. Now I see that the City and one borough are not included. Only 31 are mentioned. Can the hon. Gentleman tell the House why the City and one London borough are not to come within the regime?
I am afraid that I cannot help the House with that question. The House will understand from its knowledge of the history of the corporation of the City of London that its activities are invariably separate and distinct from the rough and tumble of the life of the 32 London boroughs. On my present information, I cannot, alas, tell the hon. Gentleman why one of the London boroughs does not fall within the scope of the Bill. The Bill would nevertheless consolidate and improve a number of measures, and it is to the advantage of the people of London and the boroughs represented that we should approve it.
The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey also touched on fees and charges. As I understand it, these must be a matter for the constituent local authority, and I have no authority to say what they should seek to do collectively. That must be a matter for them. I invite the House to give this important local measure its Third Reading.
I thought that I had better say a word or two about the Bill because, when the Leader of the House introduced what was commonly called the resurrection motion some time ago, I pointed out that some of the street traders that I had spoken to during the 12 months since the Bill had started its passage through Parliament had drawn my attention to its inadequacies. I refer in particular to those in the city of Westminster.
There are many Labour local authorities in London. Many street traders in such areas, including those in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), believe that the local authority will do its level best to protect the street trader and others who are affected by the new provisions in the Bill. I had a discussion to that effect with some of the street traders in Westminster—Lady Porter's domain. They are worried about the treatment that they will receive.
We can carry on doing the pantomime act for as long as the hon. Gentleman wants. I spoke to a considerable number of market traders, including many on Strutton ground, not far from here, off Victoria Street. They are worried about registration and licensing. They are also worried about some of the points to which the hon. Gentleman referred. Under the present procedure, people who have licences keep them on until they decide to pack up the licence, retire or pass away. They are worried that under the new procedure they will have that right taken away. Some of the traders may be 60-odd years old and have been on Strutton ground or in other places in the vicinity for many years. A family may have traded there for generations.
Under the Bill, someone from Westminster council who had lost his interest in giving away cemeteries might decide to take it out on the street traders. The traders are worried about that and have made representations to Westminster council on several occasions but not got far.
We must question how the Bill has managed to reach this point, with Third Reading and amendments. The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) referred to the amendments on Third Reading. This is not the first time that amendments have been brought before the House on Third Reading, although it may not have happened on a private Bill.
In the last parliamentary Session, the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter) sponsored a private Member's Bill. It waltzed its way quickly through many of its stages and reached Third Reading. It was suddenly realised that it had gone so fast that the promoters had got the title wrong. They did not simply need amendments: they had to change the title. Some of us who were here on that Friday put a stop to that hanky-panky. The same thing is happening with this Bill. It has come along with amendments on Third Reading, despite the fact that they have not been properly and thoroughly discussed.
To add to the confusion, the Bill did not get through in the last parliamentary Session. What is known as a carry-over motion could have been brought in to allow the Bill to be carried over into the next parliamentary Session. The Government have a massive majority, so one would think they would be able to do the job simply. They have a majority of 150 over the Labour party and the rest—the rag, tag and bobtail—of about 100. With all those Members available, one would think that the Government could get it right. They say that they can whip these things, but it is a different story when the heat is on. They did not bring in a carry-over motion, and then came up with another motion after the new parliamentary Session had begun.
The Government's motion was to the effect, "Let's imagine that we don't have a new Session. We shall carry the Bills over retrospectively." If a Labour Government or Labour manifesto proposed to introduce retrospective legislation to give an amnesty to all the people who will not pay the poll tax, the Tories would play merry hell. An amnesty would not be a bad idea. I am working on it.
I say this only in passing. I am simply drawing a parallel. The Tories' people in the media would want to hang, draw and quarter those who had the gall to propose retrospective legislation. However, that is what the Government have done. The Bill was carried over retrospectively. The Chairman of Ways and Means is knowledgeable about such affairs, and he knows what I am saying.
Does my hon. Friend recall that, on the Housing (Special Provisions) Bill, which became an Act in 1975, restrospective provision was made to allow civil rights to be restored to several local authority councillors, including 11 Clay Cross councillors, in the same way as they were restored to Scottish councillors and others? On that occasion, many Conservative Members said that retrospective legislation was the top of a slippery slope to Fascism. Two different standards are operating here.
Order. I remind the House that we are debating the question, That the Bill be now read the Third time. The remarks to which we have been listening are wide of that question. I hope that we shall return to the question before the House.
Let me explain simply, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Bill before us is unusual. It has been blocked, and the promoters have now come along with amendments. They did not bring them in the normal fashion but on Third Reading. As the Leader of the House had too many Bills before the House and he ran out of parliamentary time, he said that the London Local Authorities Bill would come before the House and would be carried over retrospectively. As Chairman of Ways and Means, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you know what I am talking about. We are talking not about an abstract matter but specifically about the Bill.
When the Leader of the House caught up with the backlog of Bills, he decided not to tell the promoters of this Bill, "Sorry, you will have to start from scratch and bring it in afresh." That is what should have happened. The Leader of the House realised that he might be able to shuffle the Bill through and carry over a whole series of Bills, including this one. It was retrospective legislation.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) was right to draw a parallel with the way in which the Tories, their friends and Lord Hailsham hammered my brothers and their colleagues on Clay Cross council because they had the guts to keep down council house rents in the 1970s. The councillors stopped the Bill's progress. It never reappeared. They did a good service, although they suffered for it.
I remember the incident that my hon. Friend describes. I was a member of a council at the time. We refused to put up the rents and were surcharged, although not at the same penal level—
We are here to discuss the Third Reading of an unusual Bill. On a normal Third Reading, it would be right and proper to discuss the content of the Bill. However, we are talking about an unusual Third Reading. Amendments have been brought in at Third Reading which have not been discussed.
Order. The amendments have been put before the House. They have been discussed by the House and decided by the House. That is now water under the bridge and the debate should be confined to the motion, That the Bill be now read the third time.
The hon. Gentleman has heard me say that the amendments were properly considered at the appropriate stage and have now been decided upon by the House. The motion before the House is, That the Bill be now read the third time, and that is what the debate should be confined to.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The motion is, in fact, slightly different. The motion on the Order Paper, which you confirmed earlier, is
That Standing Order 205 … be suspended and that the Bill be now read the third time.
That is unusual, because we have a Standing Order that requires notice of Third Reading, but this motion will allow us to do without that. However, we have not yet voted on that proposal, just as we have not yet voted on Third Reading.
If the hon. Gentleman is seeking to spell out the full motion, he is quite right, but I remind him that the House considered a similar motion last week, which it discussed and approved, so there is nothing unique about what we are doing this evening.
So, we move on a stage and to the question of the "resurrection motion", if I may use that term, which the Leader of the House introduced after the new parliamentary Session had begun. That too was unusual, that too applied to this Bill and that too was retrospective legislation, which is why I am referring to it. I am speaking on behalf of some of the street traders to whom I referred earlier, and to whom my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting (Mr. Cox) referred. It was because my hon. Friend also showed proper concern that the sponsor of the Bill had to answer some of my hon. Friend's queries.
I want to put on the record the fact that this is not just an attempt by me to talk on generalities. The people at Strutton ground and throughout other parts of the area of Westminster council are concerned about the way in which they might be treated when the Bill has received its Third Reading. They believe that, unlike many others, they will be subject to a series of changes—and they have already experienced a few.
My hon. Friend has said that the Bill has been resurrected. It certainly has, but it is unlikely ever to become an object of worship. The point that I had been about to put to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) before you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, savaged me in a nice and friendly fashion, would not have discussed the difficulties within my hon. Friend's family back in 1974—
Indeed, the heroism of the Skinner family is well known in this House and throughout Derbyshire. What I had been going to say to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover was that, if we get to the point when we can discuss the various recommendations in the report of the Joint Committee on Private Bill Procedure, we will not get ourselves into the sort of difficulties that we are in tonight. I know that my hon. Friend is concerned about that because he asked the Leader of the House questions about it recently.
My hon. Friend has made a fair point. What he is really saying is that an additional reason why we are speaking on this matter, and why my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. Redmond) has spoken about it, is that we are concerned about the way in which the Government are using the private Bill procedure. The Bill is now part of the backlog and, as the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey has already pointed out, it is now being hurried through. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting spoke tonight about a matter that I know he would have liked to speak about on a previous occasion, but did not get the chance. He is concerned about the showmen and the street traders.
This has been a mumbo-jumbo affair. The Bill is being shovelled through the House in the hope that people will not take too much notice of it.
I am also worried because, as a result of this debate, I have discovered that the City of London is not involved in these provisions. Indeed, this is not the first time that we have found out that the people—the yuppies—in the City of London are not included in legislation relating to the London authorities. I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West has had some previous experience of this.
Yes, I certainly have, and I certainly go along with what my hon. Friend has just said about the City of London. However, Camden is also missing from the list of participating councils. Of course, Camden does not have the same political outlook—it is not a totally true-blue Tory council—as the City of London. Although the City of London claims to be impartial and non-political, we know that it has been ring-fenced for the Tory party. The hon. Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler) has just returned to his place, so I wonder whether my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover can draw him out somewhat more on the question of why Camden is not included in the list.
I noticed that the hon. Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler) had gone to speak to some of the people who might have an interest in this matter. Perhaps he has found out why Camden is not included, and perhaps he will tell us. Does the hon. Gentleman have any information to offer us? If he is proposing the Bill, he should be able to tell us why.
We all know why the City of London has been left out. It is because the street traders in the City of London are a different kind of street trader. When we talk about traders in the City of London, we are talking about those in the stock exchange and all the rest of it. They would not like to be described as "street traders", but that is what they are. Many's the time that I have heard on the wireless, "Dealing closed on the stock exchange at 3 o'clock"—that is not a bad time to finish, is it?—"but they are still trading on the pavement." Apparently, that is a metaphorical way of describing it, but it is true. Traders used to leave the stock exchange and deal in shares outside. That was before big bang, which has been a right old carve-up, because the Japs have taken it over now and there have been job losses.
So, there are street traders in the stock exchange and in the stock exchange and in the insurance market at Lloyd's. We should remember that 50 Tory Members are members of Lloyd's—
Yes, that is right—they are names, but I think that they are members as well. There have been one or two swindles there, including the almighty swindle recently involving £40-odd million and the PCW syndicate but of course, nobody has had their collar felt. Those involved are street traders, yet they are not covered by the Bill's provisions. I find it odd that those people who represent the Tory party and who have picked up something like £26 billion in tax cuts along with their friends in the course of the past 10 years are not having a fence put round them as well. Why are the street traders of the City of London not being treated exactly the same—
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for allowing me to intervene in his extremely interesting discourse about the nature of trading in the corporation of the City of London. I am sure that he recalls that the House has approved other measures dealing with those people in the City of London to whom he has just referred. It might help him to know that the Labour-controlled London borough of Camden was not able to participate in the Bill because, as I understand it, it did not want to subscribe to the costs of promoting the Bill. That is all I can offer the hon. Gentleman.
Well, that is an answer as far as Camden is concerned, and I suppose that it has satisfied my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West, but it does not alter the facts about those in the City of London. I want to be able to tell the street traders down at the Cut and the others who are not a hop, step or a jump from this building why the street traders of the City of London and Lloyd's will not be subjected to the licensing arrangements, but I do not suppose that I shall get an answer. Just imagine somebody telling those street traders, "Sorry, your licence is finished." Yet that is what might happen to some of the street traders in the city of Westminster and some of the other Tory-controlled authorities. I want to know why those people are being treated differently.
This is an important point, because there will be a difference in treatment for the street traders in two London authorities. Perhaps Camden's reason is that it would not pay, but the result is that street trading in Camden and in the City will be different. My street traders will want to know whether their colleagues in other boroughs and in the City will be better or worse off. I hope that that question will be answered before the end of the debate, because as the hon. Gentleman has rightly pointed out, we will not have a Londonwide common standard. There will be two or three different standards—one for 31 boroughs, plus different ones, and it is important that we know whether they are better or worse.
That is a fair point. This is what the debate has revealed, although these points should have been discussed earlier, when we might have remedied some of the anomalies. We are now beginning to find out that the City of London and its people are not to be included. We now find that Camden is not included, and perhaps we may find some other anomalies. That only arises out of a debate that was started by, among others, my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley and my hon. Friend the Member for Tooting. They had what I was going to call the audacity—they felt it necessary—to question some of the contents of this Bill.
At the start of this debate, I asked for clarification about the amendments. I said that, if someone had jumped up and explained the amendments, one could either accept them or reject them. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) got up and, among other things, the question of street traders emerged, whether they would be affected and so on. We were given an assurance that there were no objections whatever. Yet we find that there are objections. We find that not all the London boroughs are involved. I am not a Londoner. Perhaps my hon. Friend ought to continue to draw information out. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing out the points that he has, and perhaps if he continues we can elicit more information.
My hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley has a valid point. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will appreciate this as well because, like the hon. Member, you represent a market town. It is not called a market town for nothing; Doncaster has some of the best and biggest markets in the whole of Britain—as many as three or four, I gather. I have been to several. So my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley is knowledgeable about such things. I bet he will want a guarantee for the street traders here equivalent to those given to the traders who come under the aegis of the Labour-controlled Doncaster authority of which he was a member.
That is what we are talking about here: if it is right for those people in the City of London—the moneylenders—to be able to escape from any controls and any licensing, why should these people who have to live under the threat of Lady Porter and her Tory friends be subject to the possibility of losing their licences next week for little or no reason, when one of the local officers comes along and tells them that their licences are up? That is what they worry about. They have asked me to put these questions.
My hon. Friend may recall that, until a few years ago, my constituency had the largest open-air market in the country. He may also recall that only a few months ago in this House we discussed the Redbridge London Borough Council Bill, which sought to implement a market in contravention of a royal charter. My hon. Friend may also recall that Barnsley has a market founded by royal charter—
I appreciate that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I wanted to explain this point about street traders. The Bill will give extra powers to London local authorities and will again circumvent powers which have been granted to certain authorities under royal charter to hold markets and allow street trading. Perhaps my hon. Friend for Bolsover would care to consider that.
My hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley) is absolutely right. We were present on that occasion, when it was apparent that hon. Members on both sides of the House were in competition with one another about the very thing that he points out. It would be absolutely true, as my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, Central has said, that if these powers go through without some of us studying them very carefully, it could well mean, if the Third Reading is agreed, that some of those street traders in authorities other than Westminster will suffer as a result.
It is important that we raise these matters. I know that it is late in the day, but that is not our fault. The whole procedure was, as it were, concertina-ed. Normally, a Bill that goes through the House, whether it is a private or a public Bill or a Private Members' Bill, will take a fairly lengthy time and be discussed, but this Bill has been scuttled through in clandestine fashion, mainly because the Government got all their private Bills piled up and did not know what to do with them. The result is that these promoters, who make a tidy sum out of them, are not too unhappy.
They should have gone back to the street traders to whom I have spoken in the Westminster council area and asked if they could discuss these matters. Some of the traders have been to the council and asked if they could discuss them. I bet the hon. Member for Westminster, North did not know that. He did not know at the beginning of the debate, because he almost suggested that I was not telling the truth; but I have discussed it with these people, and they are very concerned about it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover is on the right lines. Not many days ago, we had a meeting in the House with the Market Traders Association. Because of what my hon. Friend is saying and the kind of information that he is dragging out, I wonder if there was any consultation at all with the Market Traders Association. It is a national organisation which takes in this area.
Apart from the content of what my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes) has said, the most delightful thing about his intervention is that he was standing there with his hand on the Dispatch Box. It would be wrong if that were not recorded in Hansard—the fact that he really did look the part. Although he is not standing at the next election, in the next two years before we take control, my hon. Friend may grace that Dispatch Box on some other ocasion—perhaps not when a Bill is going through its very late stages but right from the very beginning.
My hon. Friend has raised the question of market traders and street traders and the question of Lloyd's. He may recall that, in 1981, a private Bill was brought here by Lloyd's to give it, among other things, additional powers and complete immunity for the council of Lloyd's from any action in law for whatever disciplinary action it carried out, on the basis that Lloyd's could manage its own affairs. In view of scandal after scandal, it is clear that Lloyd's cannot manage its own affairs. That is a very good reason why Lloyd's should have been incorporated into the section on street trading in the Bill, even though its members are called by a posh name in order to avoid offending Lloyd's.
My hon. Friend has hit the nail on the head again; he is talking about the spivs in Lloyds, who make millions and regulate themselves. What would be wrong even at this late stage in telling the street traders that they can operate on a co-operative basis and regulate themselves? We could tell them that they could have an umbrella organisation to make sure that nothing could be regarded as affecting the environment, but that, when it came to control, licensing and regulation of the markets, they could form local co-operatives. If it is good enough for Lloyd's and the moneychangers, why is it not good enough for them? That is the point.
I have had the opportunity while the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) has been speaking to make inquiries about the absence of the City of London from the authorities in the Bill. I understand that the consequence, if the Bill gets a Third Reading tonight, is that the position of market traders, strictly defined, in the City will be relatively worse than in the other authorities which are participants in the Bill, so the logic of the argument holds good.
Sadly, Camden's market traders will also be in a poorer position. When will the City of London make sure that its market traders get the same standards as the Bill would give anyone else in London, and why has it not been willing to give them those same standards at the same time?
I think I said earlier in respect of the absence of the City of London that it has friends on the Tory side and in government. If a body has the support of 50 hon. Members who are Lloyd's names—there are 50 in the Register of Members' Interests; I do not know whether there are any who are not in it—it has real power. It has the power then to say, "Can we be assured that the City of London is not included in the London Local Authorities Bill? We don't want it in. We can look after ourselves."
We hear the arguments about ballots for trade unionists, but not for the Tory party. If the Tory party has a ballot, it does not have a polling booth. The Tory party has double standards. Tory Members have one rule for ordinary, run-of-the-mill street traders who, by and large, are working class, but when it comes to the street traders and the money lenders in the City of London, they have a different set of values.
My hon. Friend is a great defender of parliamentary democracy. Indeed, parliamentary democracy owes him a great debt this evening for having drawn some of these important matters to our attention. He has raised something that I had not thought about until now. If the City of London is excluded, and if the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) is correct in saying that the traders in the City of London are relatively worse off in comparison with traders in other boroughs, how does my hon. Friend think that the Bill will affect traders in other parts of London? He will be aware that the City of London is a market authority. It controls not just traders in the one square mile of the City of London, but has responsibility, as a market authority, for markets all over London. Will those markets be affected by the Bill?
Order. I must draw to the attention of hon. Members the fact that it is the practice on Third Reading to discuss what is in the Bill and not what might have been in the Bill. The appropriate stage to consider omissions from the Bill is earlier than Third Reading.
That is not the point I am arguing, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My point is not that the City of London is not in the Bill. I would be out of order if I were to argue that it ought to be in the Bill. I have not made that point. What I say is that the 31 authorities in the Bill may be affected by the absence of the City of London. The point has to be made over and over again. I would be out of order if I were to say that I wanted the City of London in the Bill. I am not likely to say that, but because it is not in, it means that street traders in this area and elsewhere will be affected in many ways.
Yes, the markets outside the City of London would also be affected.
Some people may ask how we know that the city of Westminster and Lady Porter would deal with the street traders in a way that was disadvantageous to them. I will tell hon. Members why I take that view. It is not because it is a Tory authority, which is bad enough, because of the track record of Lady Porter's administration on cemeteries and other matters; it is because the city of Westminster has already put forward another proposal on Strutton ground. Half the street has already been dug up. I hope my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West is listening, because he is interested in the arts.
Westminster city council proposed to change that quaint little street, which has been there for centuries, into a piazza—not a pizza. The council wanted yuppie stones, coloured stones. The fruit merchants and all the others who have had stalls there for years organised a giant petition to stop the proposal. One thing is certain; there would have been different street traders there after the development. That was the plan. The street traders were told that they would be moved three quarters of a mile away while the work was going on. They would have lost all their trade, and then the yuppie traders would have moved in.
I hope the hon. Member for Westminster, North is listening, because this is important. That was the plan last year. It was thwarted, perhaps only temporarily, because of the petition. I want assurances, because Westminster city council might bring forward a similar proposal. It has already dug up half the street, and some of the traders have been shunted into side streets.
My hon. Friend has mentioned proposals for yuppie stalls somewhere in London, very close to here, I understand. As he well knows, in most developments these days there must be a marina and a parking place for yachts. Were there any such proposals in the plan that he is talking about?
No. However, the Bill is so comprehensive, covering 31 authorities, that it covers much of the Thames and the Embankment. Some Tory Members were tittering when my hon. Friend made that point, but let me make it clear that there is scope in the Bill to do that.
If Westminster's plan is carried out, markets that have existed for generations may be changed in character. My hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) knows what it is like to live in a stable community; he does not knock it. Other hon. Members come from communities where there is not the same mobility. Let us remember that, under this comprehensive Bill, there could be massive changes. Many people who have had stalls for years might find themselves literally on the coloured stones.
I accept that the hon. Gentleman is expressing concerns which should be expressed in the House, but can he explain why the leaderships of the Labour party in Newham, in Barking, in Lambeth, in Southwark and all the other Labour councils who are promoting the Bill have got it wrong?
No, they have not got it wrong. I said at the outset that the Bill deals with many local authorities controlled by the Labour party. My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West told me many months ago that the local authorities felt that they would be able to use their democratic strength to ensure democracy; I am sure the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey would take the same view.
The Labour authorities are worried about the Tory authorities, where the same democratic control might not exist. It is no use someone saying that I have plucked that out of thin air. Hon. Members need only look at the track record of Westminster city council over the past three or four years. There is plenty of evidence of democratic rights being trampled on—even the rights of people who have buried their dead. When peple like that are running local authorities, is it any wonder that street traders think that they cannot have the same protection as street traders in Newham? That is why there is a difference.
I think the hon. Gentleman misses the point—that Labour authorities in London, together with non-Conservative authorities, happen to make up the majority of the authorities sponsoring the Bill. They are sponsoring it on behalf of all London boroughs, including the Conservative boroughs. Yet they do not have the concerns that the hon. Gentleman seems to have.
That is right. They feel that they are making an advance and that they will have democratic control. The Labour groups in Hackney and elsewhere may think that there is only a tiny majority in Westminster and that they will be able to control it. That is not had thinking; it is fairly progressive. It is on the cards, but as Members of Parliament, we have to consider the long term as well.
That is why I am pleased to see my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) come into the Chamber, because there are street markets in Leicester as well. If the proposal was for Leicester, he and his two Labour colleagues in Leicester would not take long to stand up for the rights of street traders there. That is what is significant about this debate: those participating—apart from the hon. Member for Westminster, North—all represent Labour authorities and are Labour Members. They are interested in democratic control and believe in the idea of co-operative movements.
My hon. Friend is making a valid point. Earlier, he talked about the self-regulation of Lloyd's and the legislation for that. Why is it right for Lloyd's in the City of London to have self-regulation in these matters, but not the traders association? Why are we not giving some responsibility and authority in these matters to the traders association—as has been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes)—so that the street traders would be self-regulating and have some influence on their own destiny?
There is a good reason. The people behind the Bill include, as I said earlier, Labour-controlled authorities, which feel relatively happy about the matter, and the minority in the Tory-held areas that we are speaking up for today. We are trying to say to the hon. Member for Westminster, North, who is acting on behalf of the promoters, that we want some guarantees. A few Labour Members expressed fears about the consequences in Westminster, which is why I raised these important matters.
I appreciate the point which my hon. Friend makes about Westminster city council. Before he leaves that point, will he bear in mind the tourist trade within London and surrounding areas? Is it not a fact that Westminster has the vast majority of tourist attractions in London, so its street traders benefit from tourism? If regulations were imposed in Westminster that were not imposed in other Labour-controlled authorities, it could be to the detriment of the tourist industry in and around the capital.
That is an important point; it highlights the fact that sometimes in this place hon. Members stand up and make a point or two about what seems to be an innocuous measure and then, suddenly, the truth is revealed. My hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley) has spotted another factor: tourism in Westminster and other areas.
I do not wish to disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley). However, although many tourists are attracted to Westminster, there are many other delights for them in other parts of London. A walk along the northern sewer outfall in Newham is an interesting treat—wonderful rural life can be experienced.
I am not going to talk about the northern outfall sewer—that may be where my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West got his inspiration the other day when he was on about Ratty, Toad and the rest.
I want to reflect on what my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, Central said about tourism. He made a decent point, but we must remember that, notwithstanding the efforts of the streets traders and their attractive qualities to tourists, tourism receipts in Britain under this Prime Minister have fallen dramatically. Invisible exports—overall tourism in Britain—are down to about £100 million a month, from about £700 million. That is another matter with which we shall have to deal another day.
I did not intend to speak for long, because my hon. Friends have important measures on which they wish to speak later tonight. I have made all the points which need to be made. Will the hon. Member for Westminster, North answer the questions that I have raised to give safeguards to those traders operating in the area of Westminster city council? Will they be given those guarantees that I have demanded? Why has the City of London been removed from the measure? We need those answers. I know that the hon. Gentleman may need the leave of the House to speak again, but we shall probably allow him to do that.
I should be grateful if my hon. Friend would ask the hon. Member for Westminster, North why we should be dealing with a Bill which has extensive powers for the variation of night café licences. As my hon. Friend knows, the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 1982 granted every local authority powers to deal with such establishments. What is different about London late-night café that they need this additonal legislation? I am extremely intrigued to know.
I am not aware of the difference, and I thought my hon. Friend might elaborate on that point; perhaps the hon. Member for Westminster, North, will be able to tell us.
The main concern of those traders I have met is that they have licences—some of which are 60 and 70 years old. They have had the tradition of those licences continuing until the traders die or decide to pack up their market stall. They want that to be guaranteed. They say that under the Bill they do not have that guarantee. They also say—this is important—that with regard to registration, they do not want the strong-arm Lady Porter officers coming to places such as Strutton Ground and elsewhere and saying that because there has been a minor infringement—only alleged—the traders will be removed from the market scene.
Those are real fears, and that is why I am sad that this legislation has not been amended to take account of them, to ensure that those street traders, many of whom have been there for generations, have not had the assurances that they demanded from the Tory-controlled Westminster city council. We need those assurances today.
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak at this stage of the Bill because aspects of the measure continue to need clarification. Despite earlier requests by my hon. Friends for assurances about its effect on, for example, street traders, we continue to have fears about such matters. My experience with Bills has led me to be sceptical lest provisions slip through that we would otherwise oppose.
The activities of street traders provide an attraction for tourists. Market stalls are often colourful and have a pleasant atmosphere. We should try to retain their character. Doncaster has wonderful indoor and outdoor markets, with stalls of great charm. Let us be sure that some of London's streets are not denuded of the stalls that provide colour and enjoyment for tourists. In many areas, market day is a time of enjoyment for many.
I was surprised to hear that no objection to the Bill had been voiced by street traders. I would have thought, from the remarks of my hon. Friends, that a question mark must hang over that statement. It would have been appropriate for a special Committee to examine the Bill in detail in relation to such issues.
It would be a pity if the Bill had an adverse effect on street traders. After all, the concrete block buildings that are going up in London, especially in the City, have no charm or character. They appear soulless to me, and although I am not a Londoner, I want the capital city to retain the charm and the warmth that Londoners can generate.
Let us maintain the fine traditions of street traders. I appreciate that there is the odd cowboy among them, but we should question any measure that would make sweeping changes. It may be said that the Bill would alter nothing. If so, why have the legislation at all? If authorities have permission to alter and tidy up, they may do that. I appreciate that nothing can stand still and that change is unstoppable, but let us ensure that, when change takes place, it is for the benefit of the community at large.
My remarks apply equally to fairs and fairground sites. Regrettably, their numbers have dwindled over the years. What impact might the Bill have on the activities of showground people? They, too, provide colour and charm in our lives, and although I do not support the Prime Minister's Victorian values, I wish to retain some of the family charm that existed in Victorian times. Perhaps we need legislation to ensure that we retain the family charm of those days; I am not sure. One tries to learn a little each day, and if one can do that, the day has not been wasted. Today I have learnt something, if only about the necessity to suspend some of our Standing Orders to enable a Bill to move briskly to its Third Reading.
I agree with those who say that supermarket trolleys can be a hazard. There must be a method, without the need for legislation, to enable local authorities to penalise firms that allow their trolleys to be scattered near and far. A trolley parked on, say, the footpath is a hazard not only for the blind and partially blind but for the elderly, who may not notice it if it is raining and they are walking with their heads down. Althought that problem needs tackling, do we need the sledgehammer of legislation to crack such a little nut?
The hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) is not alone in his complaint—I once had five Asda trolleys in my driveway, so anything that stops that sort of dumping would be welcome. I intend to ask the local legal and administration department whether we can institute proceedings because the trolleys contribute to the litter problem. An abandoned trolley could be classed as litter. We can assume that whoever takes the trolley will dump it. Some onus should be put on the supermarket to ensure that that does not take place. Instead of erecting signs saying, "No trolleys beyond this point," the supermarket should employ someone to tell people not to take trolleys past that point. There are many unemployed people in my constituency and in London, so that would help to reduce unemployment.
Some legislation brings benefits, but we do not need this type of Bill, which I was led to believe was welcomed by all London boroughs. The hon. Member for Battersea said that all London boroughs welcomed it, but it would appear that the City of London and Camden are not party to the Bill. I understand that Camden refused to participate because of the cost of promoting it. I do not know what costs are involved. I know that they are high, but they are not astronomical. There may be a reason other than expense. It appears that there is a practice of making changes to suit the occasion. Certain tactics for the passing of private Bills seem to alter slightly as some obscure rule or regulation is dug out and dusted off so that Bills can make progress. We need to be extremely careful.
Camden may not have participated in the promotion of the Bill because it disliked certain aspects of it. The fact that all 31 boroughs have a Labour majority is not a valid reason. As with other organisations, there is a splintering-off if certain things do not happen. Money may or may not have been the reason why Camden refused to participate—we cannot say. Camden has made no objections, but nor does it support the Bill—if it did, it would have put its name to it.
It is my belief that the London borough of Camden might seek to apply the measures contained in the Bill in its own jurisdiction through another measure on another occasion. If that proves to be the case, all 32 London boroughs will he in agreement.
It was said earlier that one reason why Camden refused to take part was the cost. I know that the people who draft the Bills and shove them through this place get a bob or two, but as 31 boroughs are involved, I assume that the total cost will be split 31 ways. That would bring the cost down. I hardly think that Camden, which could have had a share of this marvellous cake that has been described, would have turned its nose up at a way of achieving a nice Bill at a very cheap rate. I do not accept that Camden said, "Get lost," so that it might have the opportunity of promoting the self-same Bill again, with all the costs that that would involve. There must be another reasons, and one wonders what it is.
Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman. Certainly Camden was involved in the early discussions on the Bill. It agreed with the principles of what was being done but decided that it did not want to contribute to the cost. Every London borough has an absolute right to promote a Bill or to combine with others in doing so. That is provided for in legislation. As hon. Members know, there are two or three London Bills going through the House at the moment. The fact that one of them includes Camden shows that that borough has seen the wisdom of the hon. Gentleman's point about costs being reduced if everyone pulls together.
I accept that Camden was given the opportunity and may have drawn back, but it is still not clear why it took that decision. Given the astronomical costs involved in going it alone, it cannot be the money factor; there must be some other reason.
One or two other things have come out during the debate on this Bill, so it is useful. There has been reference to street traders and fairs. One could talk also about markets. Why did not Redbridge lump together its private Bill with this one? Many other strange things have taken place. Combining with those promoting this Bill would have made the process extremely cheap for the Redbridge ratepayers.
Hon. Members have said that people outside London are taking an interest in the Bill. As Members of Parliament we live in London while Parliament is sitting, so we have some interest in this matter. Obviously we are anxious that there is no sharp practice in the passage of Bills, and that they should be scrutinised fully so that we may, as near as damn it, say, "That is okay and can go on its way." But a Bill should depend for its success on its merits, not on the payroll vote that the Government commands—and uses—in respect of these private Bills.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for intervening from a sedentary position.
If one examined the Bill a little more closely, one would probably find matters about which its promoters, should be informing us. During the passage of the Bill, no one seems to have been anxious to jump up to defend its merits. Only after I had asked for an explanation of some of the amendments did that happen. If the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. McLoughlin) had been in the House earlier, he could have jumped to his feet and explained all the amendments in detail. He could have told us why the amendments were necessary and how they would affect the Bill. I do not think that there was sufficient discussion of the amendments, but they have been made, and that will have a bearing on whether the Bill receives its Third Reading. If we had had an early explanation, we might have been home tucked up in bed by now.
My hon. Friend referred to the role of Members of Parliament from outside London in scrutinising legislation that applies basically to London authorities. I want to reinforce my hon. Friend's point. The Bill refers to the licensing of street traders and markets, and Redbridge is one of the authorities that is a party to the Bill. Last year, my hon. Friend and I took part in a debate on legislation through which the Redbridge authority sought powers to establish markets in its area. The secretary of the National Market Traders Federation has had considerable correspondence with me about London markets and markets outside London. My hon. Friend should emphasise the involvement of Members of Parliament from outside the capital. We receive much correspondence and are lobbied by many people who may be affected if a Bill such as this is extended to other authorities.
My hon. Friend makes an important point. Barnsley and other markets will be affected by this Bill and by the Redbridge London Borough Council Bill. Doncaster has a royal charter and I have had representations from my street traders and market traders—as you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will have had—as a result of the Redbridge London Borough Council Bill.
The Bill could affect such markets. I am no lawyer, but the Bill may contain a small clause that opens the pearly gates and allows markets to spring up all over the country in inappropriate places. We must be careful. Doncaster market is not in my constituency, but in the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Doncaster, Central (Mr. Walker). However, I have a market in the fine town of Mexborough and I want to ensure that the traders there are protected and that nothing in the Bill would bring about the demise of that market.
We have found to our cost that legislation, once enacted, can create many problems and become a lawyer's paradise. I am not a lawyer and I do not have the background to enable me to vet Bills. We need qualified people to explain the impact of the amendments that we have accepted tonight. In the past, several Ministers have had to come back to the House to rectify errors in legislation that the Government have pushed through. If they, with all their lawyers and civil servants, can make mistakes, it is important that laymen such as me should have the opportunity to examine the Bills and ask questions about them. The importance of that is underlined by my experience of private Bills over the past two years. The Bill should not be allowed to pass unchallenged. We should at least register our concern about its effects.
My hon. Friend the Member for Tooting (Mr. Cox) spoke with great feeling about the worries of fairground people. London's green patches are diminishing. The Evening Standard carries articles about angry ratepayers and tenants objecting to motorways being built near their properties, reducing still further the green belt. The number of places where fairs can be held is decreasing. If a block of flats is built on a parcel of land that has been used for centuries for fairs, they go for ever. It would be impracticable for a fair to be held on the roof garden of a block of flats, especially in windy weather such as we have experienced today.
|Division No. 51]||[9.22 pm|
|Alexander, Richard||Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)|
|Amess, David||Buck, Sir Antony|
|Atkinson, David||Burt, Alistair|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Butler, Chris|
|Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)|
|Body, Sir Richard||Chapman, Sydney|
|Boswell, Tim||Conway, Derek|
|Brazier, Julian||Coombs, Simon (Swindon)|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)||Cope, Rt Hon John|
|Couchman, James||Mans, Keith|
|Curry, David||Marlow, Tony|
|Day, Stephen||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Dunn, Bob||Mitchell, Sir David|
|Fearn, Ronald||Monro, Sir Hector|
|Fenner, Dame Peggy||Moss, Malcolm|
|Forman, Nigel||Moynihan, Hon Colin|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Neale, Gerrard|
|Fox, Sir Marcus||Neubert, Michael|
|Franks, Cecil||Newton, Rt Hon Tony|
|Freeman, Roger||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Gale, Roger||Nicholson, David (Taunton)|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Norris, Steve|
|Gill, Christopher||Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley|
|Goodlad, Alastair||Paice, James|
|Gregory, Conal||Patnick, Irvine|
|Hague, William||Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)||Porter, Barry (Wirral S)|
|Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)||Riddick, Graham|
|Harris, David||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Hawkins, Christopher||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')|
|Hayward, Robert||Shersby, Michael|
|Heathcoat-Amory, David||Skeet, Sir Trevor|
|Hind, Kenneth||Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)||Stern, Michael|
|Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)||Stevens, Lewis|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark)||Stradling Thomas, Sir John|
|Irvine, Michael||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Jack, Michael||Taylor, John M (Solihull)|
|Janman, Tim||Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)|
|Jessel, Toby||Thorne, Neil|
|Kilfedder, James||Trotter, Neville|
|King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)|
|Knapman, Roger||Wells, Bowen|
|Knight, Greg (Derby North)||Wheeler, Sir John|
|Lawrence, Ivan||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Lightbown, David||Winterton, Mrs Ann|
|Lilley, Peter||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Wood, Timothy|
|Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Maclean, David||Mr. John Bowis and|
|McLoughlin, Patrick||Mr. Andrew Rowe.|
|Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)||Lewis, Terry|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Cox, Tom||Nellist, Dave|
|Cryer, Bob||Pike, Peter L.|
|Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)||Powell, Ray (Ogmore)|
|Dunnachie, Jimmy||Rowlands, Ted|
|Godman, Dr Norman A.||Skinner, Dennis|
|Gordon, Mildred||Vaz, Keith|
|Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)||Wareing, Robert N.|
|Haynes, Frank||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Hughes, John (Coventry NE)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Môn)||Mr. Eric Illsley and|
|Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)||Mr. Martin Redmond.|