Vesting and Acquisition of Land: Supplementary Provisions

Orders of the Day — Regional Development Agencies Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:30 pm on 1st April 1998.

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Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions)

I beg to move amendment No. 12, in page 36, line 15, at end insert ', if he is satisfied—

  • () that an alternative right of way has been or will be provided, or
  • () that the provision of an alternative right of way is not required.'
In Committee, my hon. Friend the Minister for the Regions, Regeneration and Planning made a commitment to consider further the need for the Bill to give the Secretary of State a power to divert, as well as extinguish, a right of way over RDA land, as the Bill provides powers only for the extinguishment of a right of way.

The amendment contains a new provision that is analogous to an existing power of the Secretary of State in section 251 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Under that provision, the Secretary of State may extinguish a footpath or bridleway over land held for planning purposes by a local authority if he or she is satisfied that an alternative right of way has been or will be provided, or that an alternative is not required. With the introduction of our amendment, no extinguishment of a right of way on RDA land could legally be effected unless and until the Secretary of State had fully considered the alternatives.

The hon. Member for Taunton (Mrs. Ballard) proposed an amendment in Committee that would have allowed the Secretary of State to divert a right of way rather than extinguish it altogether. That amendment was not of itself sufficient to achieve the desired objective. Although our amendment does not give the Secretary of State power to make a diversion over RDA land, we consider it unnecessary to introduce such a power into the Bill, as RDAs will have powers, as owners of the land, to dedicate a new right of way over their own land. In addition, the Secretary of State has powers under section 120 of the Highways Act 1980 to divert footpaths and bridleways in the interests of the owner, occupier or lessees of land, or the public. I believe that the Secretary of State will use that power where he or she considers it necessary to do so.

I emphasise that the power of extinguishment in the Bill will rest with the Secretary of State and not with the RDA. Provision is made in paragraph 6(2) of schedule 6 for publication of the relevant orders and for giving notice to the proper authorities of any such proposals. Paragraph 7 provides for representations or objections to be made, or for them to be heard before an independent person appointed by the Secretary of State for that purpose. Very often, that will lead to a public inquiry which anyone who is interested may attend.

Photo of Mrs Jackie Ballard Mrs Jackie Ballard Liberal Democrat, Taunton

We were told earlier this evening that we had a listening Government and that we should trust the Minister. I welcome the fact that the Government listened to the persuasive arguments made in Committee by me and my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Cornwall (Mr. Breed) when we tabled a similar amendment. I am glad that we trusted the Minister when he said that he would table an amendment that would have the same effect.

The Liberal Democrats welcome the amendment, and I am sure that it will be welcomed by the effective and vocal lobby of people who enjoy walking the rights of way around this country.

Amendment agreed to.

Order for Third Reading read.

Photo of Richard Caborn Richard Caborn Minister of State (Regions, Regeneration and Planning), Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions 10:03 pm, 1st April 1998

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

The English regions have long felt themselves to be the poor relations of the United Kingdom, believing that Scotland and Wales, with their development agencies, have been much better placed to improve their competitiveness. Our task, reflecting our manifesto commitment to set up regional development agencies, is to give the English regions the tools to improve their performance.

The regional economies are the building blocks of a prosperous national economy, affecting the overall UK performance. We must put all our regions in a position to compete with their European counterparts in the global marketplace. The figures for 1995 released by Eurostat and the Department of Trade and Industry in the past few days show that we have inherited a deteriorating situation from the previous Administration. There has been a marked deterioration since 1993, with every English region performing worse than it did then. Before the figures were released, the hon. Member for South Suffolk (Mr. Yeo) assured us in Committee that they would be considerably better and would show that many English regions were performing at or above the European average. The Conservatives have left us with every English region under-performing against the European average. The regions are doing considerably worse than they were, based on comparable figures from two years before.

The figures show that we have not progressed since 1984, when the United Kingdom stood at 96, compared with a European average of 100. The 1995 figures show that position to be unchanged. The previous Administration have left this Government with a pathetic performance from the English regions.

Even the capital, which has performed quite well— standing at 147 in 1993—is down to 139. Even the jewel in the crown is a little tarnished. However, make no mistake, we shall ensure that a twinkle is put back on that diamond when we establish the new mayor of London, the elected authority and the new development agency.

The Bill provides us with a means to tackle that economic deficit, which has plagued the English regions for too long. It provides for RDAs to be established in all the regions of England. The agencies will provide for effective and properly co-ordinated regional economic development and will underpin wider regeneration. They will play a major part in the future economic success of the entire United Kingdom.

The Opposition have argued in Committee and on Report that the Bill damages the interests of our rural areas. I hope that they now understand that, far from being damaging, the advent of RDAs will ensure that rural areas will be more equitably treated within the remit of the new regional bodies, which are charged with taking into account the interests of the whole region. The Government are committed to promoting the interests of rural areas. We believe that that can best be done by addressing their particular needs within an overall framework for development of the regions. Putting urban and rural matters on the same footing will ensure that rural interests are given their full weight.

One of the core functions of the RDAs will be to develop and implement a regional strategy, as provided for in clause 7. They will act in partnership with the stakeholders in the region, such as local authorities, business, industry, further and higher education, training and enterprise councils and voluntary groups. The RDAs will build on the work of existing competitiveness partnerships and other regional development initiatives. Their regional strategies will set a framework for decisions that affect all regional interests, providing for the first time a properly co-ordinated approach. That will ensure more efficient and effective delivery of economic development and regeneration.

The package of functions that we propose will give RDAs considerable influence throughout their regions. We have been asked in Committee and this evening to consider widening their remit further, giving them additional tasks and budgets to control. However, we believe that their package of functions strikes the right balance. It is challenging, but realistic. We do not want to overburden the new bodies in their initial stages.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

Will my hon. Friend assure me, to pick up his theme on Second Reading, that there is room for organic growth? I have mentioned it many times, hinting at the possibility of powers to grow over time. Is my hon. Friend convinced that the Bill will provide such capability?

Photo of Richard Caborn Richard Caborn Minister of State (Regions, Regeneration and Planning), Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

My hon. Friend must have been looking over my shoulder at the next paragraph of my speech.

At the outset, RDAs will need to focus on establishing themselves, building up relationships in regions, formulating their regional strategies and developing their work programmes—getting themselves a track record and gaining the confidence of the people on whose behalf they will work. There is no reason why the role of RDAs should not develop over time, as the roles of the Scottish and Welsh development agencies did. The Bill will allow that, which I think answers the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Sheerman).

In 1975, the Labour Government were far-sighted in creating development agencies in Scotland and Wales. I think that Baroness Thatcher used the model for Northern Ireland because it was so good. The Scottish and Welsh development agencies have stood the test of time, and, indeed, all Administrations. They have an extremely proud record and ensure wealth creation in those countries.

The establishment of RDAs will give English regions and regional interests a new and unprecedented opportunity to influence and improve regional fortunes.

That is what people in the regions want. Our consultation exercise, although ridiculed by Conservative Members, was very extensive; we had more than 1,500 responses. People in the regions clearly understand that RDAs will bring real added value to the UK's economic performance.

Even some former fellow Cabinet members of the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler) have been to see me in my office to extol the virtues of RDAs.

Photo of Richard Caborn Richard Caborn Minister of State (Regions, Regeneration and Planning), Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

I will name them. Lord Young, for example, came to my office but a few weeks ago. The right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield may well blink. Lord Young said that he was asked to go to a meeting with representatives of the Government office for the south east, about which he was very sceptical. He came out of the meeting thinking that RDAs were a good idea. He had the guts to come to my office in the Ministry to say that the idea was good and one to which he would subscribe.

Furthermore, I responded only this week to an invitation from Lord Young to a meeting with south-east business men to discuss the issue. In fact, he has moved the meeting to Gatwick airport so that I can attend it. I suggest that Conservative Members wake up to the real world, as some of their colleagues have. We have such support the length and breadth of England for regional development agencies. Legislation for them ought to have been on the statute book many years ago.

The Bill sets the legislative framework for setting up the agencies as non-departmental public bodies. They will be accountable to Ministers and Parliament for their actions. The Bill also makes provision for RDAs to be properly accountable to their regions through voluntary regional chambers. It provides a mechanism for building on the informal structures that local authorities and their regional partners have set up.

I am delighted to tell the House that the provisions appear to have captured the imagination of local authorities and other regional interests that wish to be involved in the new regional approach. Regions such as the north-east, the north-west and my own, Yorkshire and Humberside, where my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister launched only last week the new Yorkshire and Humberside regional chamber, are building on work that has been developing regional partnerships over a number of years.

Even in regions where identities are less well established, the enthusiasm has been astonishing. Last week, my noble Friend Baroness Hayman attended the inaugural meeting of all local authorities—yes, all local authorities—in the eastern region. I am sure that the hon. Member for South Suffolk knows that region very well. In the south-west region, local authorities are coming together, for the first time, with other regional partners to take forward the regional agenda.

I am delighted to tell the House that we have had an overwhelming response from people who want to nominate individuals to serve on RDAs. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for South Suffolk should not be so cynical; Conservative Members are very cynical. They might even be able to do what Lord Walker did when he was on one of the quangos: he gave something back.

We never know; some of them might even give something back. [HON. MEMBERS: "The Tories?"] Yes, one or two Tories have come on board. They are on the road to Damascus.

Despite all the cynicism of those on the Opposition Benches, some very senior people in business, commerce and finance have seen, as Lord Young has, that our ideas and the organisations that we shall put in place not only will be beneficial in terms of wealth creation but will attack the weaknesses in our competitive base. I am delighted that those high-calibre candidates have come forward to serve on the boards.

As I said earlier, we announced in our White Paper on London our proposals for the new London development agency. The LDA will have broadly the same powers and functions as the other RDAs. Subject to the outcome of the London referendum in May, the LDA will be directly accountable to the mayor, and will implement the mayor's economic development and regeneration strategy for London.

For reasons that I gave earlier, as an arm of the Greater London authority, the LDA will not be established until the mayor and assembly are in place. Its board will be business led, as will the other RDAs, but it will be appointed by the mayor. In addition, Government funds for regeneration, for the promotion of inward investment, for English Partnerships and for tourism will be channelled through the mayor.

The Bill is an important first step in the regional agenda for England that we outlined on 1 May last year, when we had such an overwhelming victory at the general election—an agenda that will bring a new dimension to policy making. There will be development agencies in all the English regions, to match those that have worked so successfully over many years in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

That will enable the English regions to make a full contribution to economic growth all over the United Kingdom, so that the economic performance of the UK as a whole can reach its full potential, and we can hold our head up in Europe again as we reach the average of GDP per capita there. That will be the object of the regional development agencies in England.

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Shadow Secretary of State 10:16 pm, 1st April 1998

In view of the number of hon. Members who want to speak, I shall be brief. I remind the Minister that the debate is not about the importance of the English regions; there is no question about that. I am a west midlands Member, and my right hon. and hon. Friends who have spoken most often in the debates come from regions from Yorkshire to East Anglia.

We want our regions and their industries to develop, and jobs to be created. That is not the question. The question is whether the regional development agencies will achieve that goal. I see no evidence in the debate to suggest that those Government-appointed agencies will bring about the development that we all want to see continue.

I use the word "continue" because, in spite of what the Minister said, what was achieved under the previous Government was formidable. There were record levels of inward investment, creating new jobs and new industries and leading to major exports. I shall describe that record not in the words of the previous Government but in those of the present Government's White Paper. A passage not quoted by the Minister, on page 30, says: The cumulative value of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the UK has risen from %28 billion in 1975 to over %344 billion in 1996. The UK receives the largest share of FDI in the European Union, including about 40 per cent. of US and Japanese overseas investment.In manufacturing, FDI accounts for 18 per cent. of employment, 32 per cent. of capital expenditure and 40 per cent. of UK exports. Over the last decade, FDI has not only created over 600,000 jobs but has helped to develop and modernise the industrial base". I underline the fact that those are not my words but those of the present Government's White Paper on regional development agencies. Let me put it another way: it is estimated that, since 1979, 172,000 jobs have been created or safeguarded in the west midlands, 92,000 in the north-west, 84,000 in the north-east and 40,000 in the south-west.

We have heard much about Ministers' aspirations, but little about the performance indicators by which those aspirations will be judged. Those indicators must include the number of jobs created, the amount of inward investment and the level of training for the work force. The performance of the Government-appointed agencies will be measured against the record of the previous Government, who did not lag in Europe, but set up the United Kingdom as the European leader in inward investment.

There is nothing to suggest that the position of England will be improved by the new RDAs, or that England will be better served by nine competing RDAs that are all not only selling their regions, but comparing unfavourably the position of competing regions. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry) said, that does not even take account of Scotland and Wales. Moreover, all nine RDAs will have their own bureaucracies—chairmen, deputy chairmen, board members and chief executives—and there is nothing to suggest that that will help England to attract investment and create jobs.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

Why does the right hon. Gentleman dwell on inward investment, given that the Conservative Government's problem was that they failed to invest in innovation and change in home-grown industry, which is exactly what the RDAs will be able to spotlight and encourage?

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Shadow Secretary of State

The hon. Gentleman is being idiotic if he seriously believes that RDAs will invest directly—he is out of date, living in the 1960s. He made the same point on Second Reading—I am glad that he is at least consistent. British industry did badly in the 1970s because of the legacy of Labour Governments and their inability to tackle trade union power and all the other problems that brought British manufacturing industry to its knees. Everyone, except a few Labour bigots, knows that the Conservative Government secured recovery.

The board members of the new RDAs will be appointed not in the regions, but by Ministers. They will be the creatures of Whitehall and, above all, they will be unaccountable to the people whom they are intended to represent. None of the board members will be directly elected, and only a third of them will be councillors. Moreover, councillors who are voted out of office will still be able to remain on the board.

I do not believe that, even on its own terms, the Bill deserves support. It will not lead to an increase in inward investment; indeed, there is a real danger that it will lead to a reduction. The Bill does not represent a realistic exercise in devolution; it sets up ministerially appointed quangos, which, only a few months ago, the Labour party said were entirely unacceptable. As we have heard this evening, even supporters of regional governance may think twice before supporting the creation of bodies that are unaccountable and show every prospect of being unsuccessful.

Even less do I believe that the Bill deserves support as a step-by-step process to regional government in England. [Interruption.] I am glad that the Minister seems to agree, as he did not mention it.

The Government appear to want regional government, but they know, and No. 10 knows, that if they had a referendum, they would lose it. They know that the public would reject that proposition, so they have come up with a half-baked proposal: that, at an undefined stage in the future—not in this Parliament—they would, if re-elected, introduce legislation to set up regional government not for the whole country but for some parts of it.

These are not policies for the development of the English regions. They are flawed constitutionally and they do not add up economically or industrially. I believe that the House should reject them.

Photo of Ashok Kumar Ashok Kumar Labour, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland 10:25 pm, 1st April 1998

The Bill has great benefits for my area. As the representative of a northern constituency, I have a special interest in the Bill's success. [Interruption.] I warmly support the Bill, but I want to discuss certain conditions, some of which have been mentioned already, that are necessary for the success of regional development agencies. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order. There is far too much conversation in the Chamber. The hon. Gentleman is addressing the House.

Photo of Ashok Kumar Ashok Kumar Labour, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

Many people believe that the breadth of functions to be exercised by the RDAs should be wider. They point in particular to some existing departmental functions of the Departments of Trade and Industry and for Education and Employment; to the training and enterprise councils; to the networks of business links; and to the universities and colleges.

Together, those bodies wield enormous power, have budgets of many millions of pounds and profoundly shape future prosperity and competitiveness, as well as the technology, business support and skills base of the regions in which they are sited. They are run in the main by unelected people and are too often dominated by the great and the good or, some may say, the usual suspects, appointed by the previous Government.

I recognise that the settlement created in the Bill decrees that those bodies will not be directly integrated into the RDA network, but I and many other Members of Parliament still feel that special attention should be given to formulating ways in which we can guarantee that their work reflects the broad thrust of RDA policy. There is much active and willing partnership, and greater transparency and accountability can be achieved.

I was deeply disappointed by the Minister's response on new clause 5, about the relationship between TECs and RDAs. I am still concerned that a region's TECs should have a structural relationship with the RDA, which should have some input into and oversight of a TECs business strategy and planning. The same is true of business links networks in the regions.

The question of relationships with local universities is more delicate, as they are governed in a collegiate fashion. There need, at the very least, to be instructions to RDAs and universities to use their best endeavours to work together. Their special teaching skills and areas of scientific, technological and business expertise should whenever possible be designed to reflect the needs and specialisms of the wider regional economy. That leads to reflection on the need to ensure that the vital delivery agencies for the RDAs are in place and able to operate coherently from the first day onwards.

It is important not to be prescriptive about the forms of delivery of RDA services, but they should be structured so as to achieve the maximum subsidiarity. In the main, that will mean that those functions will be delivered on the basis of individual towns, cities and conurbations and, outwith highly urbanised parts of the country, on the basis of travel-to-work areas. However, there may well be occasions when some of the functions impinge on discrete areas. At that level, future board members of the RDAs will have to accept that some functions will be delivered at a neighbourhood, village or estate level.

In my area of Teesside, we have effective sub-regional structures covering the former Cleveland county area and the new unitary authority of Darlington. We have a local authority joint strategy unit, which oversees the strategic planning and transportation work for the entire area. We have a training and enterprise council and a business link covering Teesside, a structure that will soon cover Darlington.

We have the Tees Valley Development Company, a tripartite body that replicates and complements the work of the Northern Development Company at the sub-regional level and acts as the delivery mechanism for all inward investment in Tees valley—a mechanism that has brought many jobs to our area and has ensured prosperity in the short years since it was set up.

That network of agencies works harmoniously together and will provide Teesside with an effective sub-regional structure to amplify and complement the work of the northern RDA. However, we have a duty to see that the work of the RDA and the mix of the board members reflect the aspirations of our region.

Fundamental to the debate is the need to ensure that the RDAs do not merely become quangos, but become the people's development agencies. There is strong support for democratic regional government. That support is widespread and, in the north, is not confined to a handful of academics and local councillors. It is vital that the RDAs become ultimately answerable to the people of the region, as well as to the House. The Bill recognises that.

There is cynicism in the wider community towards unelected bodies, and that is unsurprising considering the excesses of the many quangos that prospered under the previous Tory Government. I strongly suggest that the forward plans for the new wave of RDAs should include the proviso that those plans must be acceptable in future to our nominated regional chambers and, if there is the popular will, to directly elected regional assemblies.

In any case, it is imperative that the initial plans are scrutinised by the wider regional community and all regional stakeholders. Thought will have to be given to the best way of ensuring that. We could think of setting up a regional grand committee, made up of all regional interests.

Such an arrangement would be similar to long-standing arrangements in some US states, where state assemblies made up of representatives of the cities, counties, towns and small villages meet to discuss and approve the economic development and planning strategies of the state legislature. They may meet only for a couple of days a year, but they serve a valuable purpose, in that they involve all the stakeholders of the region. They give the seal of legitimacy and acceptance to the work of state senators and their staff.

The RDA must therefore be the first stepping stone to democratic regional government—a concept that is strongly supported in the north. Strong support has come from the North of England Assembly of Local Authorities, the all-party Campaign for a Northern Assembly, trade unions, businesses, the media, the voluntary sector and the professions. That support was demonstrated last year by the sheer numbers of those who signed the "Declaration of the North", sponsored by the Campaign for a Northern Assembly, and which I and many colleagues from the region signed.

This is an historic Bill. For the first time, we see the machinery for modernisation and the renewal of English regions—as my hon. Friend the Minister said earlier— being placed in the hands of the people of those regions. This is an historic step towards a fuller, more participatory democracy, and I am proud to be voting for the Bill.

Photo of Mrs Jackie Ballard Mrs Jackie Ballard Liberal Democrat, Taunton 10:33 pm, 1st April 1998

What is wrong with this Bill is not what is in it, but what is not in it. It lacks measures to make RDAs truly accountable, as opposed to relying on the good intentions of board members or ministerial guidance. It is the first step towards regional government, although the Government sometimes like to pretend that it is not, as when in Committee they refused to accept some of our sensible amendments, which would have strengthened the RDAs' relationships with regional chambers.

Liberal Democrat Members believe that power should be devolved to the regions of England. We welcome the fact that the Bill gives regional bodies the ability to promote economic development, but it does not ensure that they are locally accountable. The Government rejected all our amendments designed to promote increased openness and accountability, including new clause 3.

The Bill's measures on accountability, to regional chambers, offer some hope, but it is vague on those points. Again, we are to rely on the guidance given by the Secretary of State to RDAs. I would prefer to rely on statutory measures to which everyone could look as a benchmark, but we know that the Minister is allergic to having more things written into the Bill. Ministers have said that regional chambers will act as Select Committees, monitoring the work of RDAs. Select Committees in the House have not necessarily led to increased Government accountability, despite occasional and notable embarrassments.

We are also to trust the Secretary of State on the appointment of members of RDA boards. He alone has the power to appoint and deselect members of boards. The history of quangos is the history of the abuse of powers of appointment. As the Minister said in Committee, Ministers have in the past appointed—and, I suspect, will continue to appoint—to quangos a majority of members who can be relied upon to support central Government policy and politics.

The first 11 months of the Labour Government have shown that they, too, are determined to ensure that quangos do their bidding, by packing the boards with their supporters. Only today, I had a reply from the Department of Health that confirmed that in the south-west region, 23 Labour, 11 Liberal Democrat and two Conservative appointments have been made to health trust boards.

Photo of Mrs Jackie Ballard Mrs Jackie Ballard Liberal Democrat, Taunton

My hon. Friend is right. I hope that the political balance on the south-west RDA board will be more in proportion with elected political representation in the south-west. I look forward to receiving the Minister's assurance on that.

We are also worried that RDAs will not pay sufficient attention to sustainable development. Of the four purposes of RDAs as stated in the Bill, only the objective of sustainable development is qualified with the words where it is relevant to its area to do so. We, and many outside this Chamber, believe that that could lead to sustainable development becoming, at best, a separate add-on to the RDAs' purpose.

Photo of Mrs Jackie Ballard Mrs Jackie Ballard Liberal Democrat, Taunton

I am delighted to hear the Minister say, "Rubbish."

We are concerned that sustainable development may be an add-on rather than an integral purpose informing all the actions of RDAs. RDAs could support inappropriate developments on, for example, green-field sites that are damaging to the local environment and contrary to local development plans and regional planning guidance. Our amendments sought to put sustainable development in the mainstream, but Ministers turned them down on the ground that they were too restrictive.

Ministers' support for less strictly worded clauses on the RDAs' responsibilities to regional chambers or sustainable development is in contrast to their attitude to our amendments on the boundaries of RDAs. We sought to add some flexibility to the Bill on the point. The Secretary of State can alter the boundaries of RDAs once established after local consultations, but we believe that a boundary review should be conducted, to ensure that boundaries adequately reflect regional community characteristics and identities. Later, my hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. George) will talk more about regional identity. The lack of such a review threatens the long-term success of the entire regional project if the country is clumsily divided into artificial regions.

The Government intend that RDAs should have a leading role on European Union structural funds. When I met local government regional office staff in Brussels, they expressed concern about the lack of concurrence of RDAs with Euro-constituencies. They believe that there is a need for a strong regional political steer for the work of RDAs and are concerned that economic development should not be separated from community development, tourism or training. That view was shared by the Select Committee on the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs.

We were worried that the Bill could result in powers being given to RDAs from local government. Our main concern was about planning powers, and we welcome the Government's amendments to delete the original clauses giving RDAs those powers.

We remain concerned that the Bill does not offer enough guidance on relations between local government and the RDAs. We shall wait for the Government to give RDAs further guidance, and we look forward to contributing to the consultation process.

We are also concerned about the impact of RDAs on rural areas. We are worried that they will reflect mainly urban rather than rural interests. However, we welcome the Conservatives' new awareness of the problems of rural areas. As my hon. Friend the Member for South-East Cornwall (Mr. Breed) said, many people believe that Conservative politics were largely to blame for the crisis in the countryside. I hope that the Secretary of State has listened to the voices raised, and will ensure that RDA board members will represent all areas of their region, rural and urban. I am pleased that in Committee the Minister confirmed his intention to ring-fence Rural Development Commission funding for economic development, to be spent on rural areas.

Despite those caveats, we welcome the Bill's broad aims, as my hon. Friend the Member for North Devon (Mr. Harvey) said on Second Reading. Many parts of the country suffer from economic under-performance, which should be helped by having a strong regional voice to press their case and to promote economic growth. Regions have suffered from too many players with conflicting functions trying to promote growth. We support the bringing together of those functions, and hope that the functions of the TECs will speedily be brought under the RDAs.

RDAs can act as economic catalysts for development. Britain has suffered from unequal economic development, and our regions have not been adequately represented in the past. We have lost out in the European Union because of a deficiency of regional bodies through which EU development funds can be routed, and which are capable of raising matching funds.

I hope that RDAs will evolve, that ministerial guidance will be as good as has been promised, that the boards will open their meetings to the public, and that our fears will be misplaced. We shall be voting with the Government tonight.

Photo of Joan Walley Joan Walley Labour, Stoke-on-Trent North 10:41 pm, 1st April 1998

I welcome the Bill. I represent both an urban and a rural area, and it is crucial that we benefit from the establishment of regional development agencies. This measure will make a tremendous difference in north Staffordshire. It will help with the case that we shall make for European structural funds.

I look forward to the economic development that will begin to transform our region, especially after all the ravages of the past 18 years. My constituency no longer has a coal industry, and is heavily dependent on the ceramics industry. We desperately need diversification, and we shall look to the regional development agency to give us that. We want a strong representation of local people from north Staffordshire on the RDA.

One aspect of the legislation that the Minister did not mention in his speech but which was extensively covered in Committee is sustainability. I regret that I was not on the Standing Committee to debate this important issue in detail. I pay tribute to the Minister, because, unlike the legislation on Scotland and Wales, this Bill offers great potential for sustainability. The Bill for a Greater London authority also enables us to promote sustainability.

I have some slight concerns about clause 4. It is crucial that sustainability, instead of being one aspect of clause 4, should underpin all that the RDAs do. I hope that, in the short time between this evening's debate and the Bill reaching the statute book, there will be an opportunity to consider that in some detail.

The Bill is a powerful piece of legislation that will give us huge opportunities to provide the organic development mentioned earlier. We must not look only at the large-scale economic development that has characterised so much of our past efforts at the expense of other factors including the environment.

In considering how sustainability can be built into the legislation, I urge the Minister to review the consultation period, and look at the way in which guidance can be used to ensure that sustainability can be made fundamental. I should be grateful if my hon. Friend could give some indication of how the great issue of sustainability will underpin all that is done.

Photo of Robert Key Robert Key Conservative, Salisbury 10:45 pm, 1st April 1998

I have been watching the progress of the Bill through the House with growing incredulity. I have considerable regard for the Minister for the Regions, Regeneration and Planning, and no doubt he is regarded by his constituents as a good Member of Parliament; but the trouble is that he actually believes in the Bill, whereas what worries me is its monumental irrelevance.

The Bill is fundamentally flawed, and I have a fundamental objection to this sort of economic manipulation by any Government. Those of us who are on the wise side of 50 have seen it all before and we thought that the Labour Government might have learnt from their experiences of the Department of Economic Affairs and all that went with that. It is an amazing figment of Ministers' imagination that they believe that they can create a single job through the construction of some bureaucracy out in the country.

The Minister and I share a great deal—we share ancient constituencies in proud cities—but the proud city of Salisbury had eight Members of Parliament when it was first created, and it sent its first Members to Westminster in 1260; at that time, the Minister's city of Sheffield did not have any Members of Parliament. We take the long view, which is quite clear: this sort of irrelevance will not help. Our country, our counties, our cities and our towns will thrive in spite of the Bill, not because of it. The Minister will win the vote tonight—of course he will—but he will not win the arguments, or our hearts and minds.

The other fundamental flaw, and my fundamental objection to the Bill, is the concept, in which the Minister believes, of a region or area. Clause 4 of this wretched Bill contains six mentions of "its area", meaning the development areas. What areas? What nonsense it is to suppose that we in my constituency of Salisbury have anything to do with what is going on in Gloucestershire, or, for that matter, in St. Ives and the Isles of Scilly. Regional identity is thrown to the winds by this ridiculous piece of legislation—it is utterly meaningless. All the Bill will do is suck democracy and accountability out of our districts and put them in the hands, in my case, of an overblown city in the west midlands called Bristol.

This ridiculous Bill is flawed, politically and economically, and will do little good. However, it does great harm to my constituents. The discourtesy of the Department last week in not informing me of the future of the Rural Development Commission is something that I would forgive, were it not for the fact that, after nearly a year of procrastination, those of my constituents who have given their all for the RDC still do not know whether they have jobs, or, if they do, whether those jobs will be with a new rural development agency or the Countryside Commission. They do not know what the RDC-Countryside Commission combination will be called, and they have no notion of what it will do, or of what their jobs will be.

The Bill is a complete mess—if only the Minister would come down out of the clouds, put his feet firmly on the ground and think for once about the economic prosperity of this country, rather than the creation of irrelevant bureaucracies and nonsensical pseudo-Parliaments.

I understand the European agenda to which the Minister must work. I understand that we are all supposed to be reformed in this country, and that we are meant to think that we do not need democratic accountability if we have new Labour. I understand the Minister's agenda: it is wrong, and it will not last. Meanwhile, will the Minister please address the issue of my constituents who have worked for the Rural Development Commission for years promoting the rural areas of this country?

Photo of Ms Jenny Jones Ms Jenny Jones Labour, Wolverhampton South West 10:50 pm, 1st April 1998

I, too, shall be brief, as I know that several hon. Members wish to speak.

Regional development agencies will bring my region and every other region in England something that they have lacked for a considerable time: a coherent, co-ordinated, strategic approach to economic development and regeneration.

Hon. Members will confirm that, under the previous Government, there was no shortage of economic development initiatives. However, they were piecemeal, and were often dumped on local government, with no consultation with councillors and local business people. Experience was never acknowledged, and local people were never listened to. That led to a very divisive approach, duplication of effort and to a waste of resources. Regional development agencies will bring a coherence to the regions that will ensure that the needs of all local people are met and that the regions can compete effectively in Europe.

Regional development agencies will also pose major challenges. As I have said, I recently attended a major conference in the midlands attended by hundreds of business men and people from the voluntary sector, local government, colleges and universities. They were extremely enthusiastic about the proposed West Midlands RDA, but they raised many questions.

There is no doubt that the boards of RDAs have a major responsibility to ensure that they are constituted properly, and that they meet the needs of all the people in the regions. There will also be challenges for the Government offices for the regions. They will have to learn how to work more effectively in order to meet local needs. What is known as the "district commissioner" approach to listening to and working with local people must change.

Finally, I believe that the agencies are the first step on the road to regional government. I am a strong supporter of regional government, and I should like to see it happen sooner rather than later. I hope that the Minister will provide an assurance that regionalism will be brought to the English regions as soon as possible.

Photo of Louise Ellman Louise Ellman Labour/Co-operative, Liverpool, Riverside 10:52 pm, 1st April 1998

Regional development agencies will be a breakthrough for the English regions, because they will combine commitment to an area with the ability to act in relation to investment in companies, the development of property and premises, business support, training and retraining.

I shall illustrate the way in which a development agency can affect an area by referring to Lancashire Enterprises, set up by the county council—of which I was vice-chairman between 1982 and 1997—and its work when Leyland-DAF collapsed in 1993, threatening devastation and the loss of thousands of jobs in Lancashire, and signalling the virtual end of truck making in the United Kingdom.

Lancashire Enterprises worked in partnership with the private sector, and, using its investment, training and development powers, helped to develop the current thriving Leyland Trucks. At the newly developed Lancashire Enterprises business park, nearly 1,900 people are employed by 45 different companies that did not exist in 1993. The area has been transformed, and it is now a centre of manufacturing activity. Truck making has continued, and has been strengthened. Wealth and employment continue to develop in the area.

A regional development agency will bring great support and benefit to the whole north-west. In my area, I look forward to a regional development agency ensuring that the benefits of Ford's major investment in the new Jaguar flow to small and medium enterprises throughout the area.

I look forward to the development of the creative industries. I look forward to the use of the knowledge base in our universities for commercial and community benefit. I look forward to seeing the benefits of the information society extended to all companies in the area. I look forward to the linking of that progress with community-based economic regeneration. I look forward to a much closer link between Manchester and Liverpool airports, for the benefit of Merseyside and the whole of the north-west.

A regional development agency cannot exist in isolation. The present Government's policies of supporting business, especially small and medium enterprises, will be of benefit. It is essential that Government Departments such as the Department of Trade and Industry, as well as the Department for Education and Employment, work closely with the regional development agency. That is one reason why I regard the development and strengthening of regional chambers as an essential part of the strategy.

Regional development agencies have been a long time coming. They started in 1981, with the alternative regional strategy of the present Deputy Prime Minister. In 1996 they moved further, with Bruce Millan's "Renewing the Regions". In 1998, we now have the Regional Development Agencies Bill. It is now time for action and the transformation of the English regions.

Photo of Stephen Hepburn Stephen Hepburn Labour, Jarrow 10:55 pm, 1st April 1998

Considering the Bill from a northern regional perspective, two questions need to be answered: what are the problems with existing regional policy, and do the RDAs, as presented in the Bill, address those problems?

It is plain to see that the present regional policy, which has been in place for many years, has been an abject failure. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the north-east, where I am fortunate enough to represent a constituency, where we have higher unemployment than many regions, lower wages, and a desperate need to improve skills. It is a disgrace, and an indictment of the previous Government, that the average age of the skilled worker on the Tyne is 47; if that is economic decline, we should acknowledge it.

The Government solutions of the past have been parachuted-in, Whitehall-designed schemes, coming down—top-down urban initiatives. We have heard them all before: task forces, urban development corporations, city action teams. The result is that things stay the same. Economic decline continues, local democracy is sidelined, and power is increasingly centralised in national Government.

Government neglect has meant that the regional stakeholders in the area have had to play their part to make up for the deficit of Government action. We have had private-public partnerships and trade union involvement. Eleven years ago, the Northern Development Company was set up by those people—and a successful partnership it has proved, creating 520 investment projects, 75,000 jobs and £9 billion of capital investment in the region. However, they are running hard—although successfully—to stand still.

I support the Bill, because it addresses the real problems of the area. It acknowledges the need for long-term economic planning, the need to involve local stakeholders, and the need to devolve real power to the regions. Finally, it provides a firm foundation on which to establish regional government—a regional government which I and my colleagues in the northern group of MPs will work with the stakeholders of the region to establish, for the better prosperity of the northern region.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Conservative, Meriden 10:57 pm, 1st April 1998

We cannot reach the end of the debate without again expressing our great disappointment at the way in which the Government have consistently rebuffed all our efforts to seek amendments that would protect rural interests. The Opposition have repeatedly drawn attention to those concerns, but all our efforts to have them considered have been ignored.

I make a final request to the Government. I ask them to hear our argument that, as rural Britain faces a fast-growing crisis, they will live to regret the contempt in which they have held the strength of feeling behind our amendments. The regional development agencies, which will be urban dominated, show very little consideration for the minority position in which the rural representatives will find themselves. The Government's proposal that only one of 12 members of each board should reflect rural interests is nothing more than tokenism, and a poor response to the ever-increasing crisis that confronts British agriculture in the wider rural economy. That has been consistently ignored by the Government through all the stages of the Bill. The new clauses moved this evening, which offered one last chance for proper consideration to be given to those rural interests, have once again been rejected.

Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley Conservative, South Cambridgeshire

Is it not a further disappointment that, at this late stage of the Bill, the Government took no opportunity to introduce amendments that would have safeguarded some of the functions of the Rural Development Commission, in particular some of its research and analytical functions? Ministers have been happy to draw on those in recent weeks, but do not seem to be prepared to protect the sources from which such valuable information comes.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Conservative, Meriden

I thank my hon. Friend. Indeed, the debate has revealed that some of the functions of the Rural Development Commission will be lost into the ether. With the passage of the Bill, rural interests will be less well represented. I fear that the Government will find themselves in an impossible position. The Secretary of State will have to direct and guide the boards to resolve the tensions between urban and rural areas.

Photo of Eric Pickles Eric Pickles Conservative, Brentwood and Ongar

The position is worse than that. Those in rural areas will not be able to know what is going on, as members of the public will have no right to attend meetings of the board.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Conservative, Meriden

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. It reveals the lack of openness in the newly generated RDAs, which will compound the gathering crisis in agriculture.

The Government climbdown on planning powers was significant. It would have been too easy for the new RDAs to take advantage of failing farms, and of land becoming available as agriculture slides further into crisis. Opposition pressure in Committee forced the Government to withdraw a clause that would have given RDAs the power to grant themselves change of land use.

We hope that the debate will bring some concessions for rural areas. The other amendments that we tabled would have protected the interests of local government, by recognising that it was unacceptable to transfer powers away in a thoroughly undemocratic fashion.

We register the strongest protest to the Government about the way in which the crisis in rural areas is being ignored.

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Labour, Doncaster Central 11:02 pm, 1st April 1998

I was proud to serve on the Standing Committee that considered the Bill, especially under the distinguished leadership of my hon. Friends the Minister for the Regions, Regeneration and Planning and the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

I know that the Bill will bring great benefit to my area. I was proud to witness the historic occasion in Hull on Friday last week when my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister launched the country's first regional chamber, that for Yorkshire and Humberside. The launch was attended by representatives of all political parties, including the Conservative party. I was astonished by the contribution of the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key), which showed how out of touch Conservative Members are with their rank and file.

The establishment of a regional development agency will bring considerable benefit to the people I represent in Doncaster, Central. The decline of the traditional industries of coal, engineering and rail means that Doncaster badly needs regeneration assistance. Although it has suffered from industrial decline, the town has tremendous potential. There are strong arguments for locating the RDA's headquarters in Doncaster.

Doncaster is a transport hub, with excellent road and rail links to the north, the south, the east and the west. It is a gateway to the region. Through the Humber ports, it has easy access to Europe, and there is now a direct rail link to Europe through the railport. In addition, there are proposals to reopen the Royal Air Force base at Finningley as an airport, which would be a great attraction for inward investment. That is an issue which has already been identified in the annex to the regional development agencies White Paper.

English Partnerships' northern office is already situated in Doncaster. Its staff will be transferred to the RDA, and I believe that that is why we should see the RDAs' headquarters located in Doncaster.

The Bill will make a difference. It is long awaited, and it will do a great deal to alleviate the economic and social problems faced by my constituents.

Photo of Tim Yeo Tim Yeo Vice-Chair, Conservative Party 11:04 pm, 1st April 1998

We have had a valuable Third Reading debate, which was opened with characteristic bluster by the Minister for the Regions, Regeneration and Planning, whose case was rapidly and entirely demolished by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Sir N. Fowler).

The hon. Member for Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East (Dr. Kumar) criticised the undemocratic nature of regional development agencies, and then said that he would support the Bill. The hon. Member for Taunton (Mrs. Ballard) criticised the qualified nature of the Bill's commitment to sustainable development, and then said that her party would support the Bill.

Of those who spoke on Third Reading, only my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key), who criticised the Bill, appeared to have the courage of his convictions in saying that he would vote against it. I was glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) had the chance to expose the failure of the Bill to address the real concerns that exist in rural areas.

There are two abiding themes to the Bill. The first is that it is a centralising measure. It pulls power after power back to the office of the Secretary of State. It is the Secretary of State who appoints the boards, who determines the pay of their members, and determines their pay-offs. It is the Secretary of State who decides the budget, dictates the strategy, chooses the regional chamber, controls the borrowing, and tells the agencies how to keep their accounts. The Secretary of State will decide when they will publish their annual reports, and he will even dictate the form in which the notice of the annual meeting should be drawn up. He will direct how that meeting should be conducted.

The list goes on and on. Every decision of any importance to do with RDAs will be taken by the Secretary of State.

The second theme is that the passage of the Bill was notable for the ignominious defeat of the Government's attempt to take planning powers away from elected local authorities. Only the vigilance of the Conservative Opposition prevented that spurious and fundamental threat to the role of local authorities from remaining in the Bill.

The Bill sets out nine new quangos, which many regions neither need nor want, and whose boundaries bear no relation to the communities that they are supposed to serve. Their accountability to the public is non-existent. The Secretary of State is given huge new powers, which will not help rural areas but will cause duplication of effort and lead to the waste of taxpayers' resources. The Bill should be rejected.

Hon. Members:

No.

Photo of Michael Lord Michael Lord Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I hear dissenting voices. As the leave of the House is not being granted, I must put the Question.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 270, Noes 127.

Division No. 243][11.7 pm
AYES
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)Austin, John
Ainger, NickBallard, Mrs Jackie
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)Banks, Tony
Alexander, DouglasBarnes, Harry
Allan, RichardBayley, Hugh
Allen, GrahamBeard, Nigel
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)Begg, Miss Anne
Armstrong, Ms HilaryBenn, Rt Hon Tony
Ashton, JoeBennett, Andrew F
Atherton, Ms CandyBetts, Clive
Atkins, CharlotteBlackman, Liz
Blears, Ms HazelGodman, Dr Norman A
Boateng, PaulGoggins, Paul
Bradshaw, BenGolding, Mrs Llin
Breed, ColinGordon, Mrs Eileen
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)Grant, Bernie
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Browne, DesmondGriffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Buck, Ms KarenGrocott, Bruce
Burnett, JohnGrogan, John
Burstow, PaulHain, Peter
Byers, StephenHall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Caborn, RichardHall, Patrick (Bedford)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)Hanson, David
Campbell-Savours, DaleHarvey, Nick
Canavan, DennisHenderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Cann, JamieHepburn, Stephen
Casale, RogerHeppell, John
Caton, MartinHesford, Stephen
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)Hinchliffe, David
Chisholm, MalcolmHodge, Ms Margaret
Church, Ms JudithHome Robertson, John
Clapham, MichaelHoon, Geoffrey
Clark, Dr LyndaHope, Phil
(Edinburgh Pentlands)Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)Howells, Dr Kim
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)Humble, Mrs Joan
Clwyd, AnnHurst, Alan
Coaker, VernonHutton, John
Coffey, Ms AnnIddon, Dr Brian
Cohen, HarryJenkins, Brian
Colman, TonyJohnson, Miss Melanie
Connarty, Michael(Welwyn Hatfield)
Cotter, BrianJones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Cousins, JimJones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Cranston, RossJones, Helen (Warrington N)
Crausby, DavidJones, Ms Jenny
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)(Wolverh'ton SW)
Cummings, JohnJones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Cunliffe, LawrenceJones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Davey, Edward (Kingston)Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Davidson, IanKeen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)Kidney, David
Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H)Kingham, Ms Tess
Dawson, HiltonKumar, Dr Ashok
Dean, Mrs JanetLadyman, Dr Stephen
Denham, JohnLaxton, Bob
Dewar, Rt Hon DonaldLepper, David
Donohoe, Brian HLeslie, Christopher
Doran, FrankLevitt, Tom
Dowd, JimLewis, Terry (Worsley)
Dunwoody, Mrs GwynethLinton, Martin
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)Livsey, Richard
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Edwards, HuwLove, Andrew
Efford, CliveMcAllion, John
Ellman, Mrs LouiseMcAvoy, Thomas
Fatchett, DerekMcCabe, Steve
Fisher, MarkMcDonagh, Siobhain
Fitzpatrick, JimMcFall, John
Fitzsimons, LornaMcIsaac, Shona
Flint, CarolineMcNulty, Tony
Flynn, PaulMcWalter, Tony
Follett, BarbaraMcWilliam, John
Foster, Rt Hon DerekMallaber, Judy
Fyfe, MariaMarsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Galloway, GeorgeMarshall, David (Shettleston)
Gardiner, BarryMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Gerrard, NeilMarshall-Andrews, Robert
Gibson, Dr IanMartlew, Eric
Gilroy, Mrs LindaMeale, Alan
Merron, GillianSkinner, Dennis
Michael, AlunSmith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Milburn, AlanSmith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Miller, AndrewSoley, Clive
Mitchell, AustinSouthworth, Ms Helen
Moffatt, LauraStarkey, Dr Phyllis
Moonie, Dr LewisSteinberg, Gerry
Moore, MichaelStewart, David (Inverness E)
Moran, Ms MargaretStinchcombe, Paul
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)Stoate, Dr Howard
Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)Stott, Roger
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Mudie, GeorgeStringer, Graham
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)Stuart, Ms Gisela
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)Stunell, Andrew
Norris, DanTaylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, LembitTaylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Osborne, Ms SandraTaylor, David (NW Leics)
Pearson, IanThomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Pendry, TomTipping, Paddy
Perham, Ms LindaTodd, Mark
pickthall, ColinTouhig, Don
Pike, Peter LTrickett, Jon
Pond, ChrisTruswell, Paul
Pope, GregTurner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Pound, StephenTurner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Primarolo, DawnTwigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Prosser, GwynVaz, Keith
Purchase, KenVis, Dr Rudi
Quin, Ms JoyceWallace, James
Radice, GilesWalley, Ms Joan
Rapson, SydWard, Ms Claire
Raynsford, NickWatts, David
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)Webb, Steve
Rendel, DavidWhite, Brian
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)Whitehead, Dr Alan
Roy, FrankWilliams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Ruane, ChrisWilliams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Ruddock, Ms JoanWills, Michael
Russell, Bob (Colchester)Winnick, David
Salter, MartinWinterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Sanders, AdrianWise, Audrey
Savidge, MalcolmWoolas, Phil
Sawford, PhilWray, James
Sedgemore, BrianWright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, BarryTellers for the Ayes:
Sheldon, Rt Hon RobertMr. David Clelland and
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)Mr. David Jamieson.
NOES
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)Clappison, James
Ancram, Rt Hon MichaelClarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Arbuthnot, James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Collins, Tim
Baldry, TonyColvin, Michael
Bercow, JohnCran, James
Beresford, Sir PaulCurry, Rt Hon David
Blunt, CrispinDavies, Quentin (Grantham)
Body, Sir RichardDavis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Boswell, TimDonaldson, Jeffrey
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen
Brady, GrahamDuncan, Alan
Brazier, JulianDuncan Smith, Iain
Brooke, Rt Hon PeterEvans, Nigel
Browning, Mrs AngelaFaber, David
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)Fabricant, Michael
Burns, SimonFallon, Michael
Butterfill, JohnFlight, Howard
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Chope, ChristopherFox, Dr Liam
Gale, RogerNicholls, Patrick
Garnier, EdwardNorman, Archie
Gibb, NickOttaway, Richard
Gill, ChristopherPage, Richard
Gillan, Mrs CherylPaice, James
Gorman, Mrs Teresapickles, Eric
Gray, JamesPrior, David
Greenway, JohnRandall, John
Grieve, DominicRedwood, Rt Hon John
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir ArchieRobathan, Andrew
Hammond, PhilipRoe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Hawkins, NickRowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Hayes, JohnRuffley, David
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon DavidSt Aubyn, Nick
Hogg, Rt Hon DouglasShephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Horam, JohnShepherd, Richard
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Hunter, AndrewSoames, Nicholas
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Jenkin, BernardSpicer, Sir Michael
Johnson Smith,Spring, Richard
Rt Hon Sir GeoffreySteen, Anthony
Key, RobertSwayne, Desmond
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)Syms, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss JulieTaylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Laing, Mrs EleanorTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Lait, Mrs JacquiTownend, John
Lansley, AndrewTredinnick, David
Leigh, EdwardTrend, Michael
Letwin, OliverTyrie, Andrew
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)Walter, Robert
Lidington, DavidWardle, Charles
Lilley, Rt Hon PeterWaterson, Nigel
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)Wells, Bowen
Loughton, TimWhitney, Sir Raymond
Luff, PeterWiddecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir NicholasWilletts, David
MacGregor, Rt Hon JohnWinterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
McIntosh, Miss AnneWinterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
MacKay, AndrewWoodward, Shaun
Maclean, Rt Hon DavidYeo, Tim
McLoughlin, Patrick
Maples, JohnTellers for the Noes:
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir BrianMr. Stephen Day and
May, Mrs TheresaMr. Oliver Heald.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.