Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment to Question [19th February]:
This this House takes note of the proposals of Her Majesty's Government for the reorganisation of local government in Greater London (Command Paper No. 1562).—[Dr. Hill]
Which Amendment was to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:
considers that the proposals on the White Paper (Command Paper No. 1562) provide no adequate answer to the problems of planning and transport, would wreck the humane and efficient performance of several local government functions, notably education, housing and children's service, in central London and elsewhere, and offer no solution to the difficulties created for the counties of Essex, Kent and Surrey; and, believing that wiser and more effective plans for Greater London government are available, calls on Her Majesty's Government to revise their policy."—[Mr. M. Stewart.]
§ Question again proposed, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)
I am sure that those of us who attended the debate yesterday and heard the brilliant reply of my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Housing and Local Government will agree with me that the debate so far has swung against the Government. I am happy to intervene now and to cross swords once again with the right hon. Gentleman. It is quite a long time since we debated with one another with some regularity in the House. Since then the right hon. Gentleman has been for all practical purposes, admittedly under camouflage, "Minister of Propaganda", a responsibility which he is now discharging in a part-time capacity. I mention this because although the right hon. Gentleman's tone seemed more mellow yesterday I am the last person to suspect him of impartiality.
I remembered something else when I was listening to the right hon. Gentleman. I remembered a broadcast which he made during one of the local government elections. It still remains the most outrageous and disgraceful broadcast in 225 the whole series, and this means that we must be careful when considering any proposals he makes for local government. As for the Minister of Education I will anticipate, having debated with him recently, that he will argue once again that half a loaf is better than none at all. I remind him in advance that even this argument is not very appropriate in the present context, because he will be robbing us of half a loaf which we should prefer to keep.
I should like to begin by putting the argument in its broader perspective. The Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London was bound by its terms of reference, but we as a House are not bound by them. What struck many of us in yesterday's debate was the simple fact, if we are thinking of the difficulties which obtain in the Greater London area, that many of those difficulties are outwith the area itself. I have mentioned the twin responsibilities of the Minister of Housing and Local Government. It is possible, because of the impingement of his Departmental responsibilities on his other responsibilities, as we learn from informed quarters, that the Conservative slogan is to be "Conservative planning works".
Here we have a sphere in which the major trouble is that Conservative planning does not work. We have the whole question of the influx into southeast England of 700,000 people during the past few years and the whole difficulty of there not being sufficient guidance to commercial development as contrasted with industrial development. This imposes problems on London which, even with the provisions of all the best machinery, London could not solve.
Again, if we are to consider the problems within the London area we have to consider the powers of the authorities within that area. It seems to me that most of the problems are concerned with securing the best use of urban land. I am sure that the Minister will have read "Signposts for the Sixties", and that whether he agrees or not with our proposals he must be driven to the conclusion that something must be done about this problem before we can seek a solution to the problems within Greater London.
To give another illustration, the Commission quite properly calls attention to 226 the filching of powers from local authorities since 1945, through legislation creating public corporations and through the Departments themselves. This is something that needs rectification. The initiative has come from within London and in some respects proposals have been made, but these have been resisted and held up by the Government. I make the broad point that if we are concerned with improving affairs within Greater London we must consider what powers the Government are prepared to exercise in planning nationally and also the extent of the powers to be provided for the authorities.
I have dealt with the first of the two principles which are apparent throughout the Report and I should like to deal now with the other—the need for healthy local government. If we want a healthy local government we want a better Press. We are politicians. We know that the Press is increasingly becoming an entertainment vehicle to carry advertisements and is detracting from public interest in political and other public affairs. This is relevant in London, because we have lost the Star. It happens that the Star paid more attention to the affairs of County Hall than either of the other two London evening papers. I do not know how many hon. Members have read the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) on the public relations of public authorities, but this is a subject which we must consider.
We must consider the vehicles of public intelligence. We must consider the fact that television has too wide a coverage to cover effectively the activities of local authorites. We must also consider how local authorities themselves should improve their public relations. This is most relevant because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham pointed out, the evidence presented to the Commission by the Centre for Urban Studies is that although local government may not have a vigorous public following in London it is more lively within the Greater London area than it is outside. This means that if we are concerned about this aspect of the Royal Commission's Report we should be concerned about the public relations of local authorities and the attention given to public affairs in our media of information.
227 Now I turn to the main theme of today's debate, the question of education. I am not concerned in London government. I am a Londoner by adoption. I am one of the people who was attracted here, so I can take a more impartial, detached view. What seems to me remarkable is that these proposals about education, providing for an enormous, unprecedented upheaval and disruption, are made in circumstances which hardly call for them.
I begin by taking the view of the Minister himself, because his Department gave its views to the Royal Commission. It said:There is no part of the area in which the present system of educational administration does not work at least tolerably well. The weaknesses that exist are either not of such a nature or not so serious as to call for a surgical operation to cure them. Accordingly, the Ministry are not disposed to suggest on education grounds any division or amalgamation of the areas of the existing local education authorities.What we are getting, however, is not a surgical operation, but a decapitation destruction of authorities. It may be that we cannot avoid doing this, but in trying to regard the matter in its educational context there does not seem to be a prima facie case for the scale of action envisaged by the Government.
Turning from the best-informed educational opinion which was given to the Royal Commission, we find that in looking beyond the Commission and at the evidence submitted to it there was no suggestion that any such step should be taken. Apart from the L.S.E. "B." which put forward three views—in parenthesis, the L.S.E. is not quite what it was—no proposals were made calling for such action. In fact, the Royal Commission said thatat the end of the day we still find ourselves obliged to make our own diagnosis and to propound our own solutions.That is now academic, because in any event the conclusions of the Royal Commission have been abandoned.
The Commission suggested a two-tier system for education. I have re-read that part of the Commission's Report and I am not persuaded that there was a prima facie case for the Commission to consider. We need not pursue that further, however, because the Government have abandoned it. It is not helpful 228 now to pursue the argument through the Royal Commission.
To refer to another quotation, the Royal Commission said that the most important of all local government functions was education. Education, however, is now being removed from the sphere of the Greater London Council. Education would have affected the whole character of that authority. It will be a different authority if the greatest power that it could have exercised is to be taken from it. If this major responsibility is taken from the Greater London Council, is it a body which we can support over this vast area by direct election? We are to have a very shadowy appeal to the electorate. In any event, the entire recommendation of the Royal Commission concerning the first tier has been invalidated.
The second conclusion reached by the Royal Commission—and this, equally, has been abandoned—was that the boroughs could not be single-tier education authorities. The Commission said that the boroughs should be responsible for day-to-day management. I emphasise what the Commission had in mind when speaking about this at paragraph 807:The day-to-day running of the schools should be the responsibility of the Boroughs By this we mean a large variety of decisions affecting the conduct of the schools, for example, the use of the premises out of school hours, and the acceptance of gifts of apparatus such as a television set from interested parties, parent-teachers' associations, and so on. But there are some matters, for example, holidays and conditions of transport, which need to be settled over a wider area than a Borough.That conception, too, has been abandoned by the Government.
The Commission argued that if the powers were in the hands of a single-tier authority—the borough—there would be far too great a fragmentation of general policy and planning within the Greater London area. That informed view of the Commission has now been abandoned. The Government say that they are now against divided responsibility.
The Minister said yesterday, in convincing tones and in his best manner, that if we challenge the pattern, we challenge the principle. That is what the Government have done about the Royal Commission's Report. They have abandoned the principles and the conclusions accepted by the Royal Commission.
229 In these circumstances, the Government recognise that they face a dilemma. They face a new situation. They say that in this new situation, they will have boroughs larger than was envisaged by the Royal Commission. This goes to the root of one of the two principles which governed the Royal Commission, because it felt that the boroughs should be nearer in size to a population of 100,000 and should consequently be nearer to the electorate. This principle is being discarded.
It is equally important that if the number of boroughs is reduced from, say, 52 to 34, that is a quantitative but not a qualitative change. The fragmentation still remains. We still have the arguments of the Royal Commission and of the Minister's Department against such a fragmentation of planning and of general policy. We still have the argument against these authorities that, granted we have this heavily concentrated urban area, we are unnecessarily providing for an inadequacy of services and for administrative complexities which could otherwise be avoided. This has nothing to do with the argument about what should be the right powers of a county borough.
I represent a county borough which is a first-class education authority, but we are such an authority in the circumstances in which we happen to live. If the right hon. Gentleman's argument is accepted, we must have the fragmentation of cities such as Leeds, Manchester and the rest, because the argument which applies here would also apply there. One has only to mention that to realise how absurd the Government's approach is.
The Government have recognised the dilemma, but in the case of the boroughs they have sought the wrong solution. They have also recognised the dilemma because, as they say in their White Paper, they do not think that such an arrangement would be right in the centre of London. If it is wrong in the centre of London, I cannot see why it can be right in the rest of London. I am certain that both the right hon. Gentleman and his Department take the view that what is wrong in the centre of London would be wrong for Greater London as a whole. It is because the Government have placed themselves in this dilemma and have not escaped through enlarging 230 the size of the boroughs that they have put forward this half-baked proposal for a Central London Education Authority.
The White Paper refers toa population of the order of 2 million.What that means, I do not know. The right hon. Gentleman says that there is room for discussion about size. We know that there is room for such discussion—unless and until anyone suggests that it would be more convenient to retain the old L.C.C. area. The right hon. Gentleman is willing to consider these proposals, provided that the L.C.C. area is broken up.
The right hon. Gentleman says that the form which the education authority will take can be a matter for further consultation, but let us consider some of the difficulties with which we are faced in this connection. Is this envisaged as a single-purpose authority? If it is, the Minister will be the first to recognise that it is open to every conceivable objection. Everyone who is interested in education now agrees that with education ought to go children's care and children's services. I hope that we may have an answer to this question this afternoon. Will there be a further fragmentation of services, or shall we have an authority which will deal not only with education, but with children's care and children's services?
I am sure that the House was impressed by what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham about the personal nature of many of these services, and the need for a large catchment area and a variegated group of services and officials. All that my hon. Friend said is further emphasised by a fine article written by Mrs. Mcintosh in the British Journal of Sociology. We must concede that it will be a considerable sacrifice if these services are also fragmented. If the right hon. Gentleman has been overborne on this matter, and we are to have a purely educational authority, it will be a retrogressive step. We shall be returning to the days of the old London School Board.
If we have a kind of London School Board, will it be elected? If so, an anomalous position will be created. Most people would regard the idea of a directly elected authority, responsible for only one function, within the same area as a county borough authority, as 231 entirely unworkable. If it is not to be elected, how can we claim to be advancing healthy local government? Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with the financial implications?
I am not an advocate of the block grant system, and I believe that the right hon. Gentleman himself would express reservations about it, but if we are to have this new authority it seems as though it will knock a hole in the block grant system. How will the authority be financed? By precept and grant? How will the grant be determined? Have the Government thought out this matter? It is no exaggeration to say that this is a half-baked scheme, thrown in for good measure to the Minister of Education, who did not like the original proposals of the Royal Commission.
Again, we come back to the question: if we are to make this drastic and unsatisfactory change, where is the compulsion for the change? The Memorandum of Evidence which the Minister placed before the Royal Commission said:In most ways London are efficient local education authority. Thus, in school building, they have set as high a standard of design and efficiency as any authority in the country: they are carrying out an imaginative programme for the rehabilitation of old schools; and their proposals for the re-organisation of school accommodation to deal with shifts of population are sensibly conceived and executed. London are also very generous in the freedom of choice they allow to secondary school children and further education students. A child who has qualified for a grammar school can go to any school in London where there is a vacancy, and further education students are permitted to attend virtually any sort of course at establishments inside and outside the L.C.C. area.This, at least in the view of educationalists, does not seem to be a compelling cause for change. Mention was made yesterday of the architects' department of the L.C.C. There is also the education department, and the L.C.C. inspectorate. We do not want to break up such things quite wantonly.
I return to the important question of parents' choice. I have some information on this matter from the London County Council, which I am sure the Minister will appreciate. The Council says:Of over 34,000 pupils entering secondary schools in September, 1961, about 25 per cent. were admitted to secondary schools outside the proposed new London borough in which they live. Excluding the City of London, the 232 percentages varied between 14 per cent. and 36 per cent. For pupils designated as suitable for grammar type courses the percentage varied between 34 per cent. and 62 per cent. No less than 95 per cent. of the pupils admitted to secondary schools in September, 1961, were admitted to the schools of the parents' first or second choice. If new educational authorities were to be created within the existing county, freedom of parental choice on this scale could only be maintained by complex and extensive inter-authority arrangements. For example, it is estimated that, on the basis of the existing movement, inwards and outwards, of secondary school pupils, some 4,500 pupils in the case of one of the proposed new London boroughs, 5,250 in another, and 6,500 in a third would be involved. It is clear that the existing pattern of schools would not permit self-contained secondary education arrangements in the proposed new boroughs.And it is not merely a question of secondary school education; the Council also gives examples concerning primary schools. It says:For example, 587 children now living in one of the suggested new boroughs go to school beyond its boundaries, while 1,128 from outside attend schools in that borough.If the Minister is serious in stressing the importance of parental choice—as he always does—nothing could militate more against that choice than to upset the present arrangements. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey said last night, this is causing the most acute anxiety among the parents of children who wish to send their children to voluntary schools, denominational or otherwise.
Further, it is not merely a question of parents' choice; it is a question of special schools. The L.C.C. has 65 special schools, providing nearly 8,000 places. It has 27 boarding schools, and also playing fields. We only have to think of the provision of playing fields in London to recognise the difficulties that might arise. As the Council points out, in one borough alone 173 acres are devoted to playing fields. We can assume that that borough will not be included in the new area to be designated. Lastly, there is the question of further education.
Why should we break up all these arrangements? Surely we are concerned about children. I remember causing some surprise when I first spoke at a meeting and acquitted myself of my present responsibility, saying that I regarded education as being something to do with children. Surely that is so. We must visualise the hardship that will be 233 caused and the waste of the valuable administrative talent involved in trying to do one's best against overwhelming circumstances.
Let us turn to such advice as we can find. In her evidence before the Royal Commission, the Permanent Secretary to the right hon. Gentleman's Department said:We should not ourselves suggest changes in the educational pattern.The Minister of Housing and Local Government said: "Challenge the pattern: challenge the principle." If the Minister now is challenging the pattern approved by the Ministry he is challenging the principle. He is sacrificing education to other objectives.
The Minister of Education, at any rate, will be anxious to put himself in as much accord as he can with the teachers' organisations. Only a week or two ago, the London Teachers' Association, at its annual conference, resolved that the Government's proposals were "entirely unacceptable and, if implemented, would result in serious damage to the existing services."
We can also get similar opinions from the other county associations, of Middlesex, Kent, Essex and the rest. I think that everyone would appreciate that probably, if we are thinking of parents and the relationships of parents with the education system there is no one more important than head teachers, headmasters. I think that it is in the Royal Commission's Report somewhere that we get a mention of parents going to the town hall. It is more important for them to go to the school to see the headmaster.
We have the opinion of the London Head Teachers' Association, which says:To carve off any substantial portion from the present L.C.C. area would create grave difficulties for the central authority as well as for the area cut off.The Association goes on to itemise its reasons for finding that the proposals of the Government are quite unacceptable. Those are largely the reasons which I have given.
So here we have got not only the parents, but the people who are engaged in teaching, and those who occupy positions of responsibility as heads of schools, all saying that they are opposed to these proposals, and I challenge the 234 right hon. Gentleman to produce any educational opinion in favour of what the Government are now doing.
It seems that we are facing this position. The Royal Commission proposed a Greater London Council which the Royal Commission thought would be an advantage to planning and to the exercise of such like powers within the Greater London area. Having done that it then squeezed the education service to fit. I think that the right hon. Gentleman was quite right in saying that for many reasons that was not an acceptable proposal. As I say, I recognise that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Education has had some influence; he has persuaded his Cabinet colleagues that this, at any rate, would affect adversely the provision of education within the Greater London area.
This seems to be the difficulty of the Government, that having reached that conclusion they could only seek a solution which abolished the London County Council. That was the political terms on which another solution would be acceptable: this is a great political prize. For ill or for better the Conservatives have been starved of control of the London County Council. However, I would say to many hon. Gentlemen opposite that they, too, will pay a very heavy price if the Government pursue this end, because the Government cannot abolish the London County Council without taking other steps detrimental to education in the Greater London area.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be big enough to think about this again. We want not an uprooting and destruction. We want—yes, an improvement; there is room for an improvement; but let us improve by adapting that which people of all political parties have built up laboriously, painstakingly and lovingly for so long.
§ 4.53 p.m.
§ The Minister of Education (Sir David Eccles)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) has made a very interesting speech and raised a lot of fascinating questions about education. As he and I both had to begin somewhat later than we expected, and as I know that there are many hon. Gentlemen who wish to speak in the debate, I hope that the House will 235 forgive me if I cut out a number of the frills which it is, perhaps, customary to include.
I was listening to the debate yesterday and I remembered the discussion we had in this House seventeen years ago, at the end of the war, on local government reconstruction. In that debate a speech was made which I always remember. It came from the then hon. Member for Tottenham, South, Sir Frederick Messer. Sir Frederick, who knows a great deal about local government, told us then that when peace came we should have to take much more care about the difference between the human and the engineering services in local government, and he went on to warn us that even in the human services we should probably require large units, but we must see that efficiency did not get it all its own way.
That is the dilemma we are up against today. The Royal Commission looked at this growing complex of human and engineering services and it recommended us to sort them out between a Greater London Council and about 50 London boroughs. That it is the right time to make a redistribution of functions of that kind I think all the House is agreed. That is the principle on which we are agreed, but we are not agreed entirely on the method by which it should be done.
This kind of redistribution is not only necessary today in regard to education. One finds it in all sorts of our contemporary activities. We meet everywhere these two pressures, the one to grow big for reasons of efficiency, and the other to remain small for reasons of humanity. The Royal Commission found that conflict in an acute form in the present state of London's government.
Where the White Paper diverges from the Royal Commission's very readable and stimulating Report it does so not because we are against the principle of sorting out the functions between a Greater London authority and new boroughs, but because we think that the Commission did not give quite enough attention to the lessons of experience in local administration and particularly in the education service. Indeed, it is mainly out of regard for the education service that we are proposing a major 236 change from the recommendations in the Commission's Report.
Education is, by common consent, one of the human services. It exists to meet the needs of the children and the wishes of the parents, as the hon. Gentleman has just said, and when changes are to be made no one working inside this service challenges the principle that the interests of the children must come first. The teachers, the local authorities, the Churches, hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, are really all agreed about that.
It is also true that education has its share of the problems arising from the same causes which make for take-over bids in industry and larger areas for local administration. In our service, too, efficiency and humanity have to be reconciled, and there is room for some very wide differences of opinion on many of the fundamental issues involved in that reconciliation. For example, what balance should be struck between the needs of the child and the demand for uniformity? How should power be divided between the Minister and the local authorities?
This afternoon we have to pay special attention to the respective merits of large and small local education authorities in a continuous built-up area. On all these issues there cannot be perfect solutions. We have to try to find the best way to organise the education service, taking full account of local and general conditions and of the other services as well as our own. Indeed, education is by no means unique in having to resolve this conflict between efficiency and humanity.
All local services are being affected by technical progress. That is to say, in response to movements of population, improvements in transport, changes in engineering techniques and in the demands of the public, the area over which each service could be most efficiently administered is changing very much, and usually it grows larger. But these changes do not affect all the services equally, or even the same service in the same way in different parts of a vast area like Greater London. For that reason, it is not possible to establish areas of local government which are ideal for all services. There has to be give and take, and to strike a balance 237 between the claims of all those different services is the only practical solution.
In this medley of local services, education is something of a cuckoo. Our service is very large. We are very thrusting, we spend more money than any other service, and we are to spend still more of the ratepayers' money, because we have enormous—I would say unlimited—tasks ahead of us. We affect the homes of every family where there is a child. So it is very natural for experts and educationists, not to mention my own Ministry, to underestimate the legitimate claims of other local services, and even to make their own case as if the others did not exist.
Having put that thought into the minds of hon. Gentlemen, I should like now to describe some of the arguments for the structure proposed in the White Paper for education in London. In the first place, we have to take thought, not for the present, but for a distant future. That is the nature of education, which has very long-range results. Once a child has left school, he cannot go back. He has to make do with the equipment for life which his education has given him.
Therefore, I invite the House to look ahead for, say, fifty years, and to try, as best we can, to imagine the kind of world between now and then which school children will enter and for which our system of education must prepare them. Will it be very different from what we know now, and, if so, how should the prospect of change influence our educational planning for London? I am sure that the stock of knowledge will increase beyond our present comprehension and that this alone, with all the consequential speed-up in technical change, will put on the schools demands which will be new both in kind and in degree. It is these demands, coming over the horizon, for which we must now prepare.
Parents are already beginning to realise how much boys and girls are handicapped whose general education is too slight to fit them to adapt themselves to technical change. One can see already that the demand for better general education is bound to grow very much. And what of the young people themselves? I suggest that they will have to be prepared to leave one skilled job 238 and take up another in response to changed methods, machines and markets, and that that kind of versatility will be required in the distributive and white-collar trades just as much as in industry.
Therefore, employers, trade unions, schools and technical colleges will have to combine and make the acquisition of new skills a great deal easier than it is now. All this, if the House thinks that is the kind of world we are going into, must influence the content and structure of the public system of education, and consequently, the size and organisation of local education authorities. The demand will be for wider variety and choice between schools and between courses in further education.
The impact of the changing world points, therefore, to larger rather than smaller local education authorities. On the other hand, there are strong local factors which will always set a limit on the optimum size of a local education authority. The relations between parents and the authority are the most obvious example, and, the larger the area, the more remote the authority is. Hon. Members should not underestimate the strength of the feeling in London on this very point.
Another factor is the need, which will grow, to prepare children for the employment opportunities in the areas where they live. Employment differs in different parts of an area as big as Greater London, and that is a reason for a large, but not too large, local education authority, because local employers need to enter into consultation with the planning authority.
If I may sum up this part of the argument, the progress of science and technology pushes us towards larger local education authorities, while local considerations, particularly good relations between the parents and the authority, set a limit on how far we should go.
§ Mr. Michael Cliffe (Shoreditch and Finsbury)
Is the Minister aware that the London County Council does, in fact, provide facilities for the things he has referred to—for those children going out into employment in whatever type of industry or profession?
§ Sir D. Eccles
I have some small knowledge of the London County 239 Council further education programme. It is good, but it could be better, and the L.C.C., just as much as I, wish to see it better.
London, of course, is a special case. A great city can always offer a wider choice in education than a small town or a sparsely populated rural area, though whether that compensates the child for the loss of open skies and the feel of the turning seasons is something that I should like to argue on another occasion.
Anyway, for a long time now, Londoners have had a wider choice in education than the inhabitants of any other part of the United Kingdom. That is the result of the history of London's local government. As far back as 1870, the London School Board assumed the administration of education over the area which in 1904 was transferred to the L.C.C., so that for ninety years, a single authority has built and administered the schools in the L.C.C. area.
London's system of transport is important. It has allowed parents a great freedom of choice between schools, greater, I would guess, than is available to any other population of a similar size anywhere in the world. The habit has been formed, and parents now take it for granted, that their children can go quite long distances by public transport to school. The most striking examples are, naturally, to be found in the central area of London. There, the schools and colleges were built up with no particular regard to borough boundaries. The grammar schools and institutions of further education, as the hon. Member told us from the latest L.C.C. Report, draw their students from far beyond the boroughs in which they are situated.
I will come back in a moment to the question—raised last night by the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) and touched on by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North today—whether this breadth of choice now enjoyed by Central Londoners could be preserved if the new boroughs in the central area made arrangements between themselves to secure free trade in children and students. I shall answer that question in the negative.
First, I should like to say a word about the two-tier local administration 240 of the education service. We owe it to the Commission, which took great trouble, to examine its proposals. The Ministry of Education has learnt from experience that in a continuous built-up area divided powers are not so satisfactory as an all-purpose L.E.A. responsible for both planning and administration. The Commission took a different view. It recommended a major extension of the two-tier authority. It proposed that the Greater London Council should be responsible for the policy and planning of all education and for the running of certain institutions of further education over an area which contains 3,500 schools, 43,000 teachers and 1,100,000 children.
The corresponding figures for the L.C.C. area are 1,200 schools, 18,000 teachers and 450,000 children. There are some people with local knowledge who think that the L.C.C. area is too large for a human service like education. But, whether the House agrees on that or not, how could members of the Greater London Council have a real knowledge of the wishes of parents in a vast area containing more children than in the whole of Scotland? If we put the scheme of the Commission into operation, local government for education would have lost its meaning.
The Commission also recommended that the Greater London Council should delegate the day-to-day administration of the schools to about 50 new borough education authorities. We are quite convinced that such delegation would bring much trouble and friction. It is curious that the Commission, which saw how this system was working in Middlesex, should have invented almost the same model for the whole of the review area. I cannot forbear to quote just one of the many passages in its Report which seems to belie its own conclusions:While therefore we recognise that in some areas for some purposes delegation may be useful and even unavoidable we find that it involves inevitable stresses and strains requiring exceptional people to withstand them. Moreover delegation really only exists to paper over the cracks caused by the split of a function between an 'upper-tier' and a 'lower-tier' authority. Wherever possible we would prefer to get rid of the split.I could not have described the hazards of a two-tier authority better myself.
This is a fundamental issue. I hope very much that the House will agree 241 that we should reject a division of powers between an upper-tier and a lower-tier authority for Greater London, and also agree that the Greater London Council itself is too large to be entrusted with the full power of planning and running the schools. I believe that the House agrees about that.
Now we come to the question: how many and of what nature should be the all-purpose L.E.A. to cover the review area? The two main factors in deciding the size of London's local education authorities must be, first, our desire to give the new boroughs the largest complex of duties which they are capable of carrying out efficiently, and secondly, our determination to preserve and promote variety of choice for children and parents. It is impossible to deny that it is extraordinarily difficult to strike that balance. Any Government would find that balance a really hard problem. As I have said, the choice of schools is good and it would certainly be lessened if the whole of Greater London were cut up into anything like 50 separate local education authorities.
From the point of view of education, then, what ought to be the size of the boroughs? There is no analogy between the size of an efficient self-contained county borough and the optimum size of a new L.E.A. carved out of the continuous built-up area of London. Geography has dictated and tradition confirmed that cities like Bath, Norwich and York should be separate local education authorities, and very well they do their job.
The secondary schools and the technical colleges in such a county borough very often serve the villages in the country around. But, even so, the choice for children and students cannot be as wide as in the capital city. Therefore, we aim at a minimum population of about 200,000 for the outer-London boroughs which would be local education authorities in their own right. Some boroughs may be substantially larger, and from the strictly educational point of view we should prefer that they should be larger.
I will return in a moment to some other considerations about these outer boroughs. Now I wish to deal with the centre of London, where we have a unique situation. Here, there is an area much larger than could 242 be envisaged to form one new borough. Yet all the arguments lead to the conclusion that it ought to be treated as a whole for education. We cannot, therefore, escape one of the conflicts, to which I referred when I began my speech, between what is best for one service and what is best for all the others.
The boroughs in the centre of London will be well capable of administering other services. But if the area were split up into a number of separate L.E.A.s, many advantages now enjoyed by parents and children would be lost. In the White Paper we have suggested a Central London Local Education Authority with a population of the order of 2 million. It is impossible to define the authority at the moment, because we do not yet know the new borough boundaries, and the exact size and shape are, therefore, still open.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
The Minister said just now that if the central area were broken up into boroughs many advantages for parents and children would be lost. Would he specify what those advantages are?
§ Sir D. Eccles
I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman has not followed what I said before. The advantages are the way in which children cross borough boundaries and go to schools because of the pattern of schools and the existence of good travelling facilities. I shall come back later to that point.
I have been asked—this, I think, will interest the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew)—whether the boroughs in that part of the L.C.C. area which is outside the 2 million suggested for the new central L.E.A. want to become L.E.A.s themselves. As yet, no one can say, because the new boroughs do not exist. It is possible that some of the smaller boroughs from which the new groupings are to be made might feel that they were not able to take on these responsibilities. Others of them might.
What we shall do when the new borough boundaries are decided is to consult them about all their powers, and if any of them say that they do not wish to be education authorities and would prefer the education of their children to be the responsibility of the central authority, we shall obviously 243 have to take this into account when coming to a definite decision about the size of the central local education authority.
§ Mr. G. W. Reynolds (Islington, North)
This is an important point. The right hon. Gentleman has made a case for retaining a central London education authority. He talked about the London School Board, and so on. Can he explain why this applies to only two-thirds of the old London School Board area, now the L.C.C. area, and not to the whole area?
§ Sir D. Eccles
The main reason is that as one gets towards the very centre of London so the pattern of schools and technical colleges is less and less related to borough boundaries, and, furthermore, the transport system is better and better. When one gets further out from the very centre of London, the transport system is like radial lines coming into the middle, but when one is in the middle there is a good, complex, system of crisscross transport; and if statistics were gathered to show the number of children in schools in the L.C.C. area who come from outside the borders of the borough in which they live, it would be found that the nearer one gets to the middle the more children there are coming from outside.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
The right hon. Gentleman has been saying things about what he calls the very middle or centre of London. He is predicating certain things about the middle or central area. He cannot do that unless he has some idea of what part of the L.C.C. area he means by the very middle or centre. What does he mean?
§ Sir D. Eccles
I cannot answer that without a map. Unless we know the boundaries of these new boroughs, themselves to be formed of groups of existing boroughs, we cannot give the answer, because, obviously, the central area must be composed of complete new boroughs. These are matters which my right hon. Friend is discussing with the boroughs concerned, and as soon as he is in a position to give information to the House I am certain that he will do so.
I come to the question to which the hon. Member for Fulham referred last 244 night, and it is this. Could not the advantages deriving from the present pattern of schools and the good system of transport in the centre be preserved in some other way than keeping a separate education authority—for instance, by joint agreements between the new boroughs within the central area?
The suggestion there would be that the whole of the London education service should be broken up and replaced by voluntary arrangements between the boroughs, which would then be full education authorities, and in that way we would secure the same measure of free trade in children and students as we have now—and indeed it is our duty to get even freer trade.
We did not dimiss this idea out of hand. We looked at it. Free trade between authorities has never been easy, although it is true to say that it is much better accepted now than it was. Naturally, the lower the proportion of an authority's children who go outside its boundary to school, and the lower the number of children that come in from outside the easier free trade is to work, but I am bound to tell the House that the proportion of children who would be exported and imported between the central boroughs in the area, which is roughly 2 million, would be so large as to constitute a new, and, I think, insoluble problem. This is a serious point about the whole structure of London education.
Even if that problem could be satisfactorily solved here and now by some free trade arrangement between boroughs—and I very much doubt whether it could be—it is to the future that we have to look. It is not humanly possible for a local authority to plan developments in its area without caring, first and foremost, for its own constituents. If we had a number of separate L.E.A.s in this central core in London, they would have to plan as much for the children they receive from the other areas as for their own.
Experience shows that this does not happen. The exporting authority wants to build schools and colleges to keep its own children within its boundaries, and the importing authority may or may not make further provision for more children and students wishing to come in from outside. Therefore, looking at the wider 245 choices which the future should bring, the conclusion seems inescapable that we could not rely on inter-borough arrangements to secure either enough free trade now, or the best planning for the years ahead, in this central area of 2 million or thereabouts.
§ Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)
I am following the right hon. Gentleman's argument, and I agree with most of it, but how does he relate it to the 1½ million citizens who are now in the L.C.C. area, and who will come up against the problems about which he is talking?
§ Sir D. Eccles
I said about 2 million. Secondly, it is a fact that as one gets away from the centre of London the proportion of children who go outside the borough boundary to school rapidly diminishes.
The Commission saw the dilemma between local control of the schools and planning over a very wide area, and that is why it proposed to give the Greater London Council the planning powers for education. The Government, on the other hand, think that the review area is much too big for such powers. Equally, we think that boroughs of about 200,000 are much too small to make efficient L.E.A.s. in the Central London area. We therefore conclude that we should establish a single L.E.A. to deal with the greater part of the present L.C.C. area.
I am sorry to have to say this, but I am aware—because they have made we aware of it—that some of my hon. Friends feel that the L.C.C. has shown itself so doctrinaire in its educational planning that it would be worth almost any price to hand over its responsibilities to the new boroughs. I am sorry that the L.C.C. has just restated, in a slightly modified form, its 1947 education plan, which is to close county grammar schools in its area and substitute a series of comprehensive schools. It knows that this plan will not go through so long as there is a Conservative Minister of 246 Education. In fact, we (have allowed a great measure of experiment, but we cannot allow the doctrinaire destruction of good schools.
The L.C.C. knows, too, that it is only an empty gesture to say that it can get rid of the 11-plus examination unless all grammar schools, Church schools as well as county schools are closed. That would arouse tremendous opposition, not least from the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish). In spite of this untimely provocation, I advise my hon. Friends to go for a large central L.E.A. to deal with at least 2 million of the population now in the L.C.C. area.
There are just two matters on which I must say something—special schools, some of which belong to the existing education authorities, but are situated outside London, and playing fields, which are often some distance from the schools which use them. We will see that justice is done here. Where these schools are situated in one of the new boroughs or in the central L.E.A., they will continue to be administered by them. The same applies to playing fields. Where either the special schools or the playing fields are outside the London area, we will provide for an allocation to be made in such a way that the children who now benefit from them will continue to benefit from them. I can give the House an assurance that we will not allow any school to suffer.
§ Mrs. Freda Corbet (Peckham)
Will the right hon. Gentleman clarify that? Who would be responsible for running the special schools, apart from the allocation?
§ Sir D. Eccles
The allocation will give the special schools—whether they are on the South Coast, or wherever they may be—to one or other of the authorities. I would suppose that the central authority will probably get the lion's share. That needs discussion. I do not wish anything of that kind to happen without consultation and agreement.
There are a number of ways in which the central L.E.A. might be constituted. We are very anxious to obtain the advice of the House on this. One possibility is that the authority should be directly elected. A second is that it should consist of members of the Greater London Council who had been elected for central 247 areas. A third is that it should be a joint board made up of nominees of the constituent boroughs.
The hon. Member for Sunderland, North asked about finance. He is quite right. Finance is a critical issue in the consideration of the constitution of the authority. We have to find a way to set reasonable bounds to the money which this single-purpose authority might be disposed to spend. I do not think that there is any technical difficulty over the application of the general grant system. My right hon. Friend and I have had this question looked at for a sample of authorities and our tentative view is that the normal formula for the payment of general grant, combined with a normal system of precept on the boroughs within the central area, will give a reasonably equitable result.
I am sure that the borough councils which levy the rates and receive the general grant will expect some form of consultation on the total of the money to be spent on education. That is one of the matters which we shall bear in mind in thinking of the constitution of the central L.E.A. The most direct way of bringing in the boroughs is to make the L.E.A. a joint board composed of borough representatives. This is a possibility which hon. Members have no doubt thought of.
However the boundaries of a central L.E.A. may be drawn, there will be a still greater population to be cared for in the remainder of the review area. As my right hon. Friend said yesterday, discussions are now proceeding on the size of the boroughs which will make up this outer area. They will have full and great responsibilities in education.
One point was raised last night on which I had intended to say something. Although the transport system in the outer areas is nothing like as complete a network as it is in the centre of London, it has allowed a good deal of travelling to and from school—roughly speaking, about half as much as in the central area. It will therefore be necessary to work out arrangements for school children and students to cross the new borough boundaries, and here the important interests of the denominational schools will be fully safeguarded.
248 I was a little surprised at the way in which the hon. Member for Bermondsey raised this matter last night. The White Paper has been out over two months. We had thought this thing out, but only on Friday did I receive a representation from the Churches. I hope that the hon. Member for Bermondsey will take it from me that the language they used in the letter was, as always, most courteous and reasonable. They merely asked for an assurance which I was already prepared to give them—and to the Church of England, and the Jews, who all have important schools which draw their students over large areas.
§ Mr. Mellish
Let us get this on record. I, too, have seen the letter to which the right hon. Gentleman refers. Of course, the language is very tempered. That is to be expected. But their misgivings and fears are very real and I expressed them forcefully last night.
§ Sir D. Eccles
If the hon. Member was speaking for the hierarchy, I am surprised. It is not the sort of language which we have so long had from them.
Allowing for this form of cross traffic, we think that the total volume of children going outside their borough to school would not be great enough to endanger the efficiency of 20 to 25 borough local education authorities. Therefore—this is the answer to the question which the hon. Gentleman put to me—we believe that we can and should secure the very real advantages of giving education as well as other services to the boroughs outside the central area.
To form these new L.E.A.s, the Middlesex County Education Authority would disappear, as would a large part of Surrey, part of Kent, and part of Essex. I pay a tribute to the fine work which these county councils have done in education. They have established many first-class schools, technical colleges and training colleges. I think that we all understand their reluctance to be parted from work which has given them so much justifiable satisfaction.
I should have thought that Kent and Essex would find their education problems somewhat easier to handle after the proposed changes. Surrey, on the other hand, is hard hit. On the assumption that Surrey loses all the areas marked 249 in the maps as going to the Greater London area—my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House may have something to say about this—Surrey will have to give up rather more than half its children and half its schools.
But it would still be a wealthy and powerful county. It would still have 74,000 children in the public system of education. It is a county where there is a very high proportion of children going to independent schools. I have not the least doubt, and hon. Members who represent the county need have no doubt, that the work Surrey will be left to do will be of a very high order and we shall count on the county to keep up the standard that we know so well.
§ Mr. Norman Dodds (Erith and Crayford)
Will the right hon. Gentleman say something about Kent, because there are deep misgivings in Kent about the parts of north-west Kent which will be swallowed up?
§ Sir D. Eccles
I know that the hon. Member represents a Kent constituency. I have done my best to get information and it is that the Kent authority is not so alarmed about this, but thinks that, on the whole, our proposal makes quite good sense. There is still much to be discussed about the actual peripheral part of the Greater London area and that may help the hon. Member.
I want quickly to sum up. The White Paper is concerned with many services besides education. We have to get all of them into one great reform. This is bound to be a very difficult and strongly contested operation. Nothing arouses more opposition than changes in local government. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) reminded me that when I was Minister of Works he used to say that the thing in public life which arouses more passion than anything else is a proposal to move a London statue. I told him that I thought that the proposal to change London's boundaries and functions was an easy winner. The Commission made an unanswerable case for the extension of the planning and engineering services to a wider area than that now administered by the L.C.C.
As far as I can judge, the House is agreed on that. This afternoon I have been concerned with education which 250 is, of course, the opposite of an engineering service. The House will recognise and welcome that where we have departed from the main recommendations on education we have done so because we believe that the interests of the children and their parents would be better served by a different structure.
First, we cannot accept two-tier administration. On the contrary, we believe that all-purpose local education authorities give the best results. Secondly, we feel that the prospect of rapid technical change in the next half century lays on us the duty to plan for choice and variety in education. We propose, therefore, a large Central Local Education Authority surrounded by a number of quite large efficient borough education authorities.
This will give us a new structure for education in London. The Central Local Education Authority will be a great and promising experiment and I would think that an elected body devoted solely to education would give the Minister quite a lot of trouble, and also good advice. We have inherited a unique pattern of education in London to which all political parties have contributed. There is still a great deal to do in education in London and I hope that the House, building on what has been done in the past, will not be afraid to go forward and suit our structure to the needs of the future.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
I have given the whole of my working life to education in the area under discussion this afternoon. I was educated in this area in the bad old days of the 'eighties and 'nineties of the last century. I taught in the area, I was apprenticed in it and, in 1914, I forsook the practice of education and went over to administration. Since then my life has, in the main, been given either to the administration of education or to legislation in respect of it. Therefore, I know something of the difficulties that confront the Minister.
I wonder what would have been said if the present Home Secretary, in 1943, when he was proposing the new establishment of education, had made a forecast so vague and woolly as the one we have had this afternoon. The scheme under discussion, as the Minister knows, 251 will break down unless it is considerably modified on the problem of extra-district children who are the bugbear of educational administration.
For some family reason certain parents wish to have their children educated three or four miles away from where they live. Perhaps the father went to the school or the mother's father had once been the headmaster. There are all sorts of personal ties in this section of the population—with which we mainly deal in popular education—that make the task of the administrator very hard indeed. The curse of the British education system is that parents will bear children on different days in the year—which makes the administration inside the schools very difficult.
The problem of the 11-plus examination revolves around the fact that one child sitting for the examination may be nearly a year older or younger than the child seated next to him in the examination room. The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) and myself went through that process in the days when it was all comparatively easy, but today there exist these tremendous pressures and the feeling that a child is a failure if he has not managed to pass the 11-plus. This is one of the terrible trials of modern education—and this is the case whatever the Minister may say or whatever views I may express in the areas in which I have some influence. The parents of all the children in any given street sort the children out into the socially inferiors who fail the 11-plus and the superiors who get through.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black) and I have both given our lives to the problem of dealing with the proper allocation of schools in the County of Surrey and for securing that, as far as possible, every child shall be educated according to the wishes of his parents. That mainly affects those for whom my hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) spoke last night. Neither the hon. Member for Wimbledon nor myself belong to my hon. Friend's faith, but the county council about which I am speaking appointed us as governors of both the Jesuit College and the Ursuline Convent which we deliberately brought into 252 the county maintained system so that every Catholic child who passed the 11-plus examination in Surrey would have the advantage of being taught in a school in which the parents had faith in the teachers.
That is no small part of a successful organisation of teaching. My parents did not have faith in the teachers of the school at which I was educated. They were Nonconformists and it was a Church of England school. I appreciate what conflicts and suspicions mean and the hon. Member for Wimbledon and I resolved, as far as we could secure it, that that particular group in the County of Surrey should not have to suffer from that disability.
The hon. Member for Bermondsey is wise. He lives in the County of London which made the arrangement whereby we still reserve six places for children of parents who live in the County of London and the hon. Member for Bermondsey has monopolised two of these places over many years past. As far as I can see, by the time he has completed educating his family many of us will not be taking very much interest in the affairs of this world.
We also have Catholic primary schools in Leatherhead, Dorking, and Caterham and there is one as far away as Camberley. While the right hon. Gentleman may not think very much of our travel arrangements in Surrey, we manage, at any rate, to get these children to Wimbledon, to those two schools and, I believe, there is also one in the constituency of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson).
In future, children educated at the primary stage in schools which I have mentioned will be extra-district children as far as Wimbledon is concerned. The right hon. Gentleman knows what problems extra-district children create—he gave some glimpses of them this afternoon. The new Wimbledon, which is to consist of Wimbledon, Mitcham, Merton and Morden, will be the local education authority containing schools which the County of Surrey brought into its system to deal with the county as a whole. That is the sort of thing that will happen and I mention those things because I can speak of their details from my own knowledge. From time to time the hon. Member for Wimbledon and I go to see 253 the Minister about the problems of these schools.
The communities concerned want a direct relationship between themselves and the Ministry of Education in the matter of capital expenditure. They cannot forget what happened in Liverpool. After the Education Act, 1936, the Labour Party, then in power in Liverpool, provided for Catholic secondary schools to be built under that Act, Mr. Oliver Stanley's Act. But the Orange Party in Liverpool won sufficient seats, as a result of agitation against that proposal, to secure the government of the city for a few years from that date.
Smaller authorities are likely to become involved in gusts of cruel and wrong passion which can wreck havoc on the Minister's best proposals. When the Home Secretary and I were negotiating with the Catholics during the promotion of the 1944 Act, they said that they did not want to get involved in squabbles with comparatively small authorities and preferred to have an Act of Parliament and to negotiate direct with the Government. I hope that the Minister will bear that in mind.
I could not follow the right hon. Gentleman's arguments. He seemed to prove magnificently the case for one education authority to cover the whole area. He then went on to speak about splitting it up into fifty-four boroughs, some of which would be abstracted into the central area so that even at this advanced stage of the consideration of this problem we do not know exactly how many education authorities it is proposed to create, nor what will be the relationship of the boroughs to them, nor what will be the relationship of the boroughs to the areas to be covered by the central authority.
Reading documents about the shift of population in London, my impression over the last twenty years has been that the population is leaving central London, so that this elaborate system which the Government propose to build up will be for an area in which there will be very few children and young people. It will be very helpful for further education and to people leaving full-time education and wanting to continue their education in further education institutes, for they will be able to go to the institute straight from work and then go home 254 after attending their course. But to suggest that this is an area in which there will be great numbers in primary and secondary education is to ignore all the signs of the times of the last twenty years.
There is no real need for much communication between an education authority and parents. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) that what is required is an association between the parents and the school. That is the living contact. What is education these days? Ignoring the old high-sounding definitions, education consists of the contact of a mature mind with an immature mind. Thank goodness, it is sometimes a two-way traffic!
When I address groups of young teachers, I always tell them that if in the first month of their professional careers they do not learn more from the pupils than the pupils learn from them, they should write it off as a failure. Education is this personal contact and the vast administrative empire which has been built on that simple process ought to have only one object—to see that the contact between the mature and the immature minds is made in circumstances in which full apparatus and healthy physical conditions are available for the process to be carried on.
I am not so much concerned with the machinery as machinery. I want to be sure that it can act in the way I have described. We do not want more local authorities than are to be found in the existing county councils and county boroughs. Within their own areas, they should be able to have full charge of all kinds of education, and they should co-operate as they have done in recent years.
My mind goes back to the time when there were great conflicts between outer and inner London over this matter and when children who lived in Surrey and who wanted to attend a London night school used to discover an aunt who lived in the County of London and whose address they could give when they wanted to attend a London evening institute. Those conflicts have disappeared and we have been able to prove that co-operation is possible in these areas and that the financial arrangements, which are inevitable, can 255 be agreed with good will and to the advantage of the population.
I cannot see why the four home counties within the area which may finally be decided to be part of Greater London should not continue to operate and the three county boroughs should not be able to operate in the same way, there being a continuation of the joint bodies which now exist and work freely together, in an effort to secure for the people of the area the best possible education over the widest possible range.
To split this area up into a number of small local education authorities each wondering how many children from the adjoining area it is educating and making quite sure that the bill goes to that education authority in order to pick up such few pounds as it may be able to claim would, I think, be detrimental to any wide concept of education.
The hon. Member for Wimbledon knows, as I do, one school in Surrey the boundary of the southern playground of which is the boundary with East Sussex. One can go along the southern boundary of Surrey a little way and come across another school which is in East Sussex. For years, we used to check very carefully how many attendances of Sussex children in the Surrey school there were and what happened the other way round at the other school. Sometimes, we found that Surrey owed Sussex for three children and the next year Sussex owed Surrey for five. In the end, we gave up the expense of keeping a check which acted only as an irritant and was a tremendous waste of money.
That is the kind of problem which will confront the Minister if he has thirty or forty local education authorities each in its circumscribed area. Although, as an old free trader, I welcome the Minister in his belief in free trade in education just as I welcome his acceptance of the doctrine of comprehensive schools for children at the primary stage, I think it deplorable that he should have declared the kind of political war in the education system which he did this afternoon. After all, a girl from a comprehensive school managed to win an open scholarship to Somerville this year, and any girls' public school able to imitate that would be advertising it fairly generally among parents.
256 We do not desire to destroy any school. We desire to see the grammar school expanded, as it has expanded throughout the ages, to provide in a liberal atmosphere a generous education for our country's children. This scheme stands condemned on the way it has been presented by the Minister to the House today. For my part, I hope that, when the right hon. Gentleman next comes to talk to us in the House about it, he will have thought it out, with all its implications, for until he does that he cannot expect any parent in the area to be covered by the scheme to feel any confidence in the machinery which he has erected.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth (Hendon, South)
The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) complained that the Government's scheme is too vague. Yesterday, from his Front Bench the complaint was exactly the opposite, that the Government had made up their mind and were giving no scope for alterations. One cannot have it both ways.
The matters which we are discussing necessarily impinge on a great number of vested interests, and those which are adversely affected are, naturally, the most vocal. This fact tends, as always, to give a slightly false bias to the appearance of a debate in the House. I cannot speak for all Middlesex Members, but I have spoken to a great number of them about their views regarding the Government's proposals and I can say that the majority have said that they do not propose to intervene in the debate and that they feel general satisfaction with the proposals which have been put forward.
When my right hon. Friend who is now the Chief Secretary to the Treasury announced that he proposed to set up a Royal Commission, I thought that he was wrong. That was my view, not because I thought that a substantial measure of reorganisation of local government was unnecessary; on the contrary, it was so obviously necessary throughout the County of Middlesex that discussions on the matter had been going on for a good number of years before the Royal Commission was appointed. I did not like the appointment of a Royal Commission because I believed that 257 there would be a very general measure of agreement by Middlesex authorities about what ought to be done and I thought that it would be better, on the whole, if such agreement could be reached among the various authorities concerned, whatever their political complexion. I thought also that it was unlikely to be possible to obtain a set of unanimous recommendations from any Royal Commission on such a subject as this.
I am thankful that I was mistaken. Now, with a little hindsight, it is possible to say, I think, that I was inevitably mistaken because the general framework of the recommendations put forward by the Royal Commission is really so obvious that anyone who has considered this matter as a whole, objectively and with a dispassionate mind, cannot escape the conclusion to which the Commission came.
There are two main principles or coordinates—call them what one will—which have been referred to many times during our debate. The first is that a single authority for the whole of this area is essential for some purposes. I think everyone will agree that those purposes must include planning, traffic and population overspill. What is more, such an authority must be an authority with executive powers. It is not the least good trying to have a scheme by which a number of county councils and other bodies work together on a basis which, if it is not merely for the making of recommendations, is a mystery so far quite unexplained by hon. Members opposite.
The second consideration is that there must be a considerable devolution of personal and domestic functions to smaller authorities within the area. By that I mean not mere delegation but devolution, giving these smaller authorities actual control of policy. These are the two main principles on which the present recommendations are founded.
These two broad principles leave a great deal of latitude for discussion of detail—and, indeed, more than detail—of the plan which is to be finally implemented. This applies, for example, in education, concerning the size of the smaller authorities—the boroughs—and also, of course, the possibility of special treatment for special areas, including the central London area. There are many other possibilities of that kind.
258 The Opposition Amendment, though it is dressed up as criticism of the particular detailed proposals, is essentially an attack on the main principles of the Government scheme. I do not say for a moment that it is not necessary for those who support the main principles to prove that there is a case for making a change which will produce such an immense amount of difficulty as this scheme undoubtedly will. But what is certainly true is that it is not necessary to prove that case for every county and for every authority within the area. It is quite easy to point to good work in particular matters done by these borough councils or by the county councils, or indeed, to point to any particular authority amongst this mass of authorities and to say that it is a good one.
For example, it has been argued that the L.C.C. has a good housing record, and I am willing to accept that it has. But it is worth pointing out that it owns a very large number of houses outside the county council area. Indeed, it owns rather more than half the council houses in Hendon, and some of the others are owned by Hampstead. The policy of the L.C.C, naturally enough in the circumstances, is never to give one of its houses in Hendon to a Hendoner. Of course, it is quite easy in these circumstances for the L.C.C. to have a good housing record, but it has it at the expense of other areas. I am not at present criticising the L.C.C. for this.
§ Mr. G. A. Pargiter (Southall)
Would the hon. Gentleman say that any authority other than the L.C.C. ought to have regard for the same sort of factors? Assuming that there was a large private estate in Hendon, would the right hon. Gentleman say that it must give houses to Hendon people?
§ Sir H, Lucas-Tooth
I am not making that point at all. I am saying that it is no use arguing that the L.C.C. has a good housing record and that, therefore, one should leave the Council alone. One cannot look at these matters in isolation. One must consider the area as a whole. It is essential to deal with Greater London as a whole.
Local government in London has not broken down. Indeed, it has not even 259 begun to do so. No responsible Government could possibly have allowed the position to get to that state of affairs. There are some satisfactory parts and some a good deal less than satisfactory. I need only say this to establish the case for having to make some radical changes in this connection: if we look at the amount of homelessness and at the traffic conditions in London we are bound to say that something must be done. It is no good criticising these proposals unless one can put forward other proposals which will hold water and will grapple with these problems.
Those of us who represent London constituencies realise that the position is not getting better but is deteriorating. Besides that, there is a growing tendency to bureaucracy. Last night the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) said that the test was whether these proposals would give the citizen of London a better service than he has today. With great respect, that is not the test because that would mean that the citizen has to take what somebody else regards as better, whether he likes it or not.
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
That is exactly the point I am trying to make—that the real test is whether the citizen of London is getting the services he wants, and that the question should not be judged by some abstract argument about what is better. There is an immense amount of confusion among citizens of London about how London is governed. Everyone who represents a London constituency knows that more and more members of the public are approaching us and asking us questions which are really local government questions.
There is an increasing tendency by citizens to refuse to accept local government decisions. We all of us know individuals who have had planning and other decisions made against them, and who have asked us to take action to get those decisions overruled.
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
It happens elsewhere, but a great deal in London. In local government elections, the number 260 of those who take part each year grows less and less. I think that the figures vary around 30 per cent. in the Middlesex County Council elections. I agree that that is happening elsewhere, but not to the same extent as in London. I have tried to find figures but, unfortunately, it appears that no figures are available to show.
§ Mr. John Barter (Ealing, North)
Perhaps my hon. Friend would like to know the figures in this respect. In the last county council general election, the percentage of votes cast was 37.83 as compared with an average of 36.84 in the borough and district council elections.
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
That is a particular figure in a particular election. There is no value in taking a particular figure for a particular election, any more than it is of value to take a particular council and cite that as an example. I think that my hon. Friend will agree that local government elections are decided more and more on national issues and less and less on the real issues of local government. Of course, that again is not peculiar to the London area, but it is very much to the fore here.
This tendency means one of two things: either local government policy is controlled by national political fortunes, or the elected members of councils are failing to control the policies of their councils. I think that there are some signs of both these tendencies at the present time, particularly among the larger authorities within the area. That leads me to the question of what is the right form of representation on the proposed Greater London Council. However that Council is constituted, its members will be influenced by two broad influences—one is what may be called borough considerations, and the other is party considerations. The Opposition suggest that it is necessary to have a large planning authority to cover the whole area—indeed, more than the area. I think they propose that that authority should be representative, not directly of the people, but of the authorities within the area. I am very glad that the White Paper proposal is that there should be direct representation on the Council for Greater London. I am quite certain that that will give the members of the Council far greater independence than they 261 could possibly have if they were appointed by local authorities and constantly subject to directions by those local authorities.
At the same time, the membership of the Greater London Council should not be more numerous than is actually necessary to do its very substantial duties. It is not at all easy to find good members for this type of authority. I think that everyone who has been concerned with politics in London knows the difficulty of finding people who are able to do the exacting work which membership of Middlesex County Council and other great authorities in the London area entails. These duties will be more exacting on an even wider authority. My view is that membership of one per constituency as recommended would give us a body of about the right size, but I hope very much that they will not be elected by the Parliamentary constituencies for the reason that the Parliamentary constituencies are units of the Parliamentary machine. If we have members of this body elected by the Parliamentary constituencies, they will be elected on a straight party political basis and we shall get even less of the local considerations brought into the election than we should have otherwise.
For that reason, I think that the right way to deal with this problem is to say that we shall have so many—probably, three or whatever the appropriate number—members per borough. I should prefer them to be elected in rotation, as are the borough members. The electors would then know when they voted annually that they were voting for one member for Greater London and one for the borough and the position would be very much clearer to them.
I turn to two particular functions. Certainly the Royal Commission's proposals for education were not satisfactory. I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend on that. I have discussed them with the education officer in Hendon. We were quite satisfied that the result of those proposals would simply be a return to the state of affairs that we now have in Middlesex. The trouble is that education is already far too large a proportion of the whole business of local government and represents far too large a proportion of its costs. It is now approaching something 262 like three-quarters of the whole of the costs of local government. As my right hon. Friend indicated this afternoon, that figure may be even passed in the not distant future.
This is not a London problem; it is a national problem. It has shown itself with particular force in this connection because it was perfectly plain from what my right hon. Friend said that it is simply education which has dictated the size of the proposed new London boroughs. I think that most of us would have preferred to have retained the old boroughs, both for historical reasons and because we should like to have smaller units nearer to the homes of those concerned. It is a pity to have to enlarge the size of the boroughs for one service only when we all agree that they would be better as smaller units for the sake of other services.
That is a compromise one necessarily has to make in this connection. It is a compromise which I should be most willing to accept, but the way in which education is distorting local government as a whole ought to be examined. It cannot be examined in this context, but it ought to be examined as a national problem.
Then there is the question of housing. London County Council owns 4,000 council houses in Hendon. The White Paper says that the local council should have the ownership and management of these houses in due course. That misses the crucial point. It is not ownership and management that really matters. What really matters in this context is the power to allot houses when they become vacant. While I welcome the aim expressed in the White Paper, I do not believe that even the power to allot our own council houses to the full will help us in the long run. The power to put people from Hendon into these houses will, of course, ease the situation for the time being, but it must be admitted that it will create a correspondingly graver problem for the Central London area, whoever controls that area, and over the picture as a whole it will do nothing.
In a borough like Hendon as soon as we had taken up the slack by reason of the advantage of getting these houses under our control, we should find more people trying to come to the borough 263 and very soon we should be back where we started. Homelessness in London is due to our prosperity. That fact has to be recognised.
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
It is not a terrible admission, but merely a statement of fact. London is so prosperous that it is drawing people in from outside all the time. Everyone who represents a London constituency is aware of that. Enormous difficulties will continue in this connection and will require a solution. I do not know whether it will be possible for the Government this evening to tell us something of the reserve housing powers referred to in the White Paper. Is it intended that there should be two waiting lists, one for the borough and one for the area as a whole? This is a fundamental problem and one of great importance.
Whatever our views, whether they are based on sentiment or ideology, we have got to have a single planning authority for London with central powers to deal with this problem. That is the first essential. Once that essential is agreed, all the other arrangements now proposed will fall into place. For that reason, I think that this scheme is on the right lines. I hope that it will have a very large measure of support in the Division this evening.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I realise that a great number of hon. Members with constituencies in the area wish to take part in this debate, so I shall speak very briefly. Although I have lived in London for the last fifty-nine years, I still do not regard myself as a true Londoner, but I think that I ought to intervene, for I had responsibility for two Reports before this Report was issued by the Royal Commission presided over by Sir Edwin Herbert.
First, I was asked by the Labour Government—by Earl Attlee, Lord Morrison and Lord Silkin—whether I would undertake the very responsible and very difficult task of seeing how much of the Abercrombie Plan could be agreed by the 149 local authorities. I am glad to say that with their assistance, and especially that of their planning officers 264 and borough surveyors, much to my surprise and certainly to the surprise of the Government of the day, there was ultimately complete agreement among all the authorities although, as usual among local authorities, there was tremendous local jealousy. But when I handed that Report in to the Government at the time I said, "There is agreement now about the main objects of that plan, the five great belts which Abercrombie has planned, the allocation of population to the various boroughs, and so on, but I do not think that it will last long unless something further is done."
I was then asked by the Prime Minster what I thought ought to be done. I said that it was not much use my saying what ought to be done and that he ought to have an inquiry to obtain a much more authoritative answer than I could possibly give. I felt, in fact, that only one solution was possible. Soon afterwards the Prime Minister asked me to preside over another very able Committee, almost all specialists, to consider that one question. Our powers were very limited. We came to the unanimous conclusion that what was required was one regional authority for the whole of the area. I wish that we could have gone further, but that would have meant taking a very long time and calling a great deal of evidence and, as I have said, our powers were strictly limited.
I had hoped that the Government of the day would follow that up with what the present Government have done—in other words, would appoint a Royal Commission to go at once into the question of the form of the regional authority, the extent of its powers, what other authorities should be under that regional authority and what would be the extent of their powers.
§ Mr. James MacColl (Widnes)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that the Report of his second Committee was unanimous. It is only fair to say that it was unanimous on the general principle of regional government for planning, but that there was a minority Report.
§ Mr. Davies
I quite agree. I am dealing with the later Committee and the regional authority. On that we were unanimous. There was disagreement 265 on other matters, but on the main point there was complete agreement.
I had hoped that what has now been done would be done at that time but, instead, inquiries were made of local authorities, and the proposal fell through. Nothing came of it. As I have said, I had been in charge of the inquiry to see whether local authorities would agree to the Abercrombie Plan.
The Committee over which I presided approached this question in a new way, which was to regard London as one entity and not a mere collection of villages, boroughs or parts of counties collected in one area. The Committee looked at it as one entity of London presenting the most difficult local government problem, perhaps, in the world and certainly the most difficult problem in this country—the problem of housing, of education, of transport, of water, of sewerage and other matters such as were not presented in this way by any other area at that time in this country, although I am convinced that there are now other areas which are rapidly approaching the same position. It was extraordinary that the problem had not been tackled since it was tackled by the young Radicals of the late 1870s and 1880s.
For the first time we began to deal with the whole position of local authorities. The counties had not changed since early Saxon times when their government was in the hands of the sheriff and the magistrates. A few boroughs had a mayor and alderman and some form of corporation and a few of them had two elected bailiffs. These young Radicals of the 1870s were responsible for the first legislation, which began in the 1880s. It began with the Metropolitan boroughs and was followed immediately afterwards by the boroughs which had a charter, namely, the old market towns. We thus had the borough system of government. This was followed in 1888 by the county councils and in 1894 by the formation of rural district councils, urban district councils and parish councils. That was perfect as things were at that time; it could not have been better.
What these men put to themselves was the question which we ought to put to ourselves today: what is the area which 266 can give the best administration and provide the best service to the public? The answer depended in those days on the distance that a man could walk or a horse could travel. That was their limit. Two years after the last Act had been passed in 1894, an Act was passed through Parliament which began to revolutionise the whole position. For the first time the motor car was made free. Up to 1896 it was necessary for a man to walk in front of a motor car carrying a red flag to warn everybody on a horse that this dangerous vehicle was approaching. The Act freeing the motor car altered the situation, but something else altered it even more; the first mention of the telephone in an Act of Parliament was in 1899, and that, too, revolutionised the distance which could safely be undertaken for administration.
From that time no Government has ever tackled the problem in this way. All they have done is to consider the authorities as they were and add to their powers or deal with certain other matters. It never occurred to them that the whole thing needed looking at afresh. It was with respect to London that we had this outlook for the first time, and I congratulate the Government on appointing a Royal Commission, and I thank the members of the Royal Commission for the excellent work which they did. I agree with what they have reported, and I should particularly like to call attention to two paragraphs on page 181, which were mentioned yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Housing and Local Government.
In paragraph 695, we read:At the end of Chapter VI we indicated our general approach. Where things are working well our inclination is to leave them alone.I should not have taken that attitude. I wonder what would have happened to industry in this country if industrial leaders had adopted that attitude—"If it is working well, leave it alone." What would be the position in London today?
When I first came to London it was thought that the fastest vehicle invented, or ever likely to be invented, was the hansom cab. What would have happened if we were all satisfied with it as we had it at the time? But we inquired, "Is it good enough? Should it not be better?"
267 Paragraph 695 of the Report continues:We do not believe that London's problems can be solved merely by improving the machinery of government.I agree with that.Our inclination is to recommend changes only where they appear to be essential.Paragraph 696 reads:In spite of these predilections the facts we have found to exist and the inferences we feel bound to draw from them drive us to the conclusion that, judged by the twin tests of administrative efficiency and the health of representative government, the present structure of local government in the Review Area is inadequate and needs overhaul.That sums up the matter, but I should like to make one other quotation from the Report. Paragraph 326 (9) states:No single body, whether within central government or within local government, is charged with the responsibility for making continuous surveys of land availability, population movements, housing requirements, traffic problems, industrial and commercial development, and the many other matters which affect the Review Area as a whole. No body therefore is charged with the duty of constantly watching and assessing the effect of changing circumstances on the Greater London Plan, which is still accepted as the basic conception in planning.What a reflection on us that paragraph is. What a condemnation of us. It is high time that the Government got to work and introduced their Bill.
I now wish to express dissatisfaction with one thing in the Report. Why did the Royal Commission's consideration stop at the green belt? There are five belts which all local authorities accepted. At that time they regarded the green belt as belonging to London. It was London's green belt and the intention was that it should be protected for the health of London. What is happening? Because industries are not allowed in the green belt and because the building of houses is limited in the green belt, they go beyond the green belt. Therefore, the Abercrombie Committee went beyond it.
The trend today is to go out of central London into the outer belts. Certainly, the trend to go beyond the green belt will continue. What was Abercrombie's plan? The Abercrombie Committee considered a radius of roughly 30 miles from this House. The absurdity of allowing Londoners in that area—they are Londoners and claim to 268 be Londoners—to go for all this time without the true supervision which was necessary is a terrible condemnation of us all.
As an instance of the absurdity of things, I wish to refer to my own county. Within a radius of 30 miles of this House there are between 11 million and 12 million people. In my own constituency, which is of a similar size, there are only 43,000 people, with 11 authorities to look after them. That was perfect when they were formed between 1884 and 1894, but it is absolutely absurd today. There are the county council, four borough councils, the biggest of which has only 5,000 inhabitants, four rural councils and two urban councils to look after 43,000 people.
That illustrates the need for the approach which is being made to the whole structure of local government. I therefore hope that when the Government deal with this matter in a Bill they will not stop where the Royal Commission stopped, but will deal with a larger area. That is needed for the health of London.
Finally, I wish to say a word or two about education. I think that the most ineffective speech from the Minister of Education to which I have listened was the one which he delivered today. Every argument which he used was in favour of the Royal Commission's findings. Every argument was in condemnation of the views which he put forward. Page 140 of the Royal Commission's Report sets out the matter about which I am anxious. It is stated:The essential unity of the educational process from stage to stage, primary, secondary and further, should be maintained and developed, and the administrative organisation should be apt for this purpose. … It is essential that the planning of the institutions appropriate to each stage of education should be conducted as a whole and over an area wide enough to provide the greatest possible variety and range of schools or colleges.I have complained of the handicaps placed on children by the inequality of the educational provision made for them. The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) and myself have taken part in many debates on education. I deplore the fact that the provision which is made for children in Surrey cannot be made for my children in Montgomeryshire. 269 Why should an extra handicap be laid upon them? How right the Royal Commission is in saying the wider the area the better the service, and that at any rate there should be no differentiation between one child and another, that we should get rid of this trouble of what is called the extra district child and, what is more, provide greater scope for allowing a child to be educated where his parents wish him to be educated.
Once again, I thank the Government for setting up the Commission, and I congratulate and thank the Commission on its work.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Sir Cyril Black (Wimbledon)
I graduated to this House through local government, and during the period of twelve years that I have been a Member I have maintained my interest in and contacts with local government. I have served for nearly twenty years, both on the Surrey County Council and on the Wimbledon Borough Council, and on the Divisional Executive for North-East Surrey. I would not claim to be an expert on local government and even less would I claim to be an expert on education, but I can claim to have had some practical experience of the workings of local government and of education in my part of the Greater London area. I do not believe that the plan outlined in the White Paper can work, and work effectively, in regard either to education or a number of the other services.
I am bound to share the view expressed this afternoon by several hon. Members concerning the disappointing character of the speech of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education. I cannot help recalling the episode, possibly apocryphal, which has been related about an event which is supposed to have taken place in the Court of Appeal. The first judge spent a great deal of time in giving a long and not too clear decision on the matter before the Court, whereas the judge who gave the second judgment used only a sentence or two. He said, "For the reasons given by my learned friend, I have come to a conclusion opposite to his." That is exactly my judgment on the speech of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education.
The Minister of Education did not at any point in his speech attempt to 270 demonstrate, nor did he state, that in his opinion the education arrangements outlined in the White Paper would produce a better education service for the children in this area. It is obvious that he could have made no such statement, because the evidence given before the Royal Commission by his own Ministry on this matter is in an exactly opposite and contrary sense. We have already heard this afternoon quotations from the evidence given by the Ministry of Education.
We had the quotation, which I will not read in full, thatThere is no part of the area in which the present system of educational administration does not work at least tolerably well.It goes on to say that…the Ministry are not disposed to suggest on education grounds any division or amalgamation of the areas of the existing local education authorities.But the evidence given by the Minister of Education goes very much beyond that.
I want to bring to the notice of the House a further quotation from that evidence which deals conclusively with the scheme that has been adopted by the Government and is outlined in the White Paper. The Royal Commission, of alternatives to the scheme upon which the Government have now decided, and the Commission sought from the Ministry of Education its judgment on that scheme.
The witness on behalf of the Ministry of Education said thatAny scheme for the creation of a cluster of county boroughs in the Metropolitan fringes of Essex, Kent, Surrey or Herts"—which is the very device upon which the Government have decided—would have serious educational disadvantages.We have not heard one word today, nor do I imagine that at any other stage in the debate we shall hear one word, about why there has been this extraordinary change of policy and attitude on the part of the Ministry of Education.
The Minister used a phrase to the effect that education was the cuckoo in the nest in the reorganisation of local government. That seems indeed to have been the position both with the Royal Commission and in the scheme in the 271 White Paper. The fact is that education requires not too vast an area but an area very much larger than that of a population of 200,000 to give the most effective education service possible to the children of the district.
The Royal Commission had the difficulty that it was dominated in its consideration of the problem by the need to find some overall planning scheme and it regarded other services as being subsidiary to the importance of getting a good planning, roads and traffic scheme. Having found a scheme that met other requirements, particularly planning, roads and traffic, it was left with the cuckoo in the nest of the problem of deciding what to do with education. The Commission said, in effect, that the Greater London Council would not have much to do and what it would have to do would not be very varied or interesting. It said, "We had better give them education and we will fit education into that pigeon-hole". But that solution of the education problem has been rejected, quite rightly, by nearly everybody. I need not spend time in discussing it because I think that there is general agreement on both sides of the House that it is not the right solution.
The Government had the same problem and they resorted to a different expedient. I am not certain whether it is more satisfactory than that of the Royal Commission. I am inclined to think that it is less, because they have adopted the very device which was condemned in specific and categorical terms by the Ministry of Education. They have fragmented the education service and taken it away from the counties and have produced a solution which, as far as I know, has not a single friend among the people who are most competent to speak on the organisation of education. If ever there was a scheme which had no friends among those competent to pronounce upon it, this White Paper scheme qualifies to come out at the very top of the list.
The county education services have never been organised with any regard to district council boundaries, and there was no reason why they should have been so organised. The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) dealt 272 with this matter at some length. However we may try to frame the boundaries of the new and the enlarged boroughs we cannot get a suitable set-up for education within those areas. In some areas there are too many boys' schools and too few girls' schools. In an adjoining district the situation may be the reverse, and the schools are simply not in the right positions.
Unless we are to contemplate an extravagant expenditure on a fabulous scale, which will mean the destruction of a great many schools to build new schools in the right places where they do not exist at present, we cannot get a coherent pattern in education by doing what the Government propose to do. This scheme is opposed, as far as I know, by everyone who is competent to pronounce on the matter. All the teachers' associations in the area are up in arms about it. I know of no responsible educationist who has said one word in support of it.
The Minister brushed aside too lightly the objections of the religious denominations, which will be found to be of a much more serious character than my right hon. Friend was prepared to admit today. I am certain that the parents of the children in the schools will be overwhelmingly against this proposal. The education authorities in the district regard the scheme as being undesirable and reactionary in the extreme. I cannot believe that the Government can contemplate proceeding with this part of the plan which is destructive in large measure of what has been built up over many years in the education service of this area.
The rest of the White Paper has features which are perhaps almost as capable of being criticised as are the education proposals themselves. The White Paper is in some respects just as significant for what it omits to say as for what it says. I want to refer, in this connection, to what it says about attracting people to serve on these new local government bodies. A rosy picture is painted of what the position will be in future.
The White Paper states thatThe Government regard this as a key feature of the Commission's plan, and one well designed to attract into local government more men and women of real ability, by making sure that there are worthwhile jobs for them to do".273 There is an unfortunate innuendo in that statement, because it certainly contains a criticism of the calibre and competency of those many devoted men and women who are serving upon local authorities, many of whom have given a lifetime of devoted service in a completely unpaid capacity and in a work which is often unrewarding, as those who have experience of it must know.
What the White Paper does not do is to draw attention to the vastly reduced opportunities for service in local government that will be available under the White Paper scheme. Let me take the position in my own local authority area. In Wimbledon, we are represented upon Surrey County Council by six people, two aldermen and four councillors. The best guess as to our representation upon the Greater London Council is that we shall have one representative upon the top tier, where at present we have six representatives.
Our borough council consists of 32 members, aldermen and councillors, but it is obvious that an amalgamation of three or four districts cannot possibly lead to the creation of a council of 150 or 200 members. Therefore—and this is general throughout the area—whereas a council may now consist of 30 or 35 members in a borough with a population of between 50,000 and 60,000, its representation in the future will probably be not more than 12 or, at most, 15 seats. No case has been made that we will get a better calibre of public representative in the future. What is not said, and what is undeniable, is that, if this scheme comes into operation, opportunities for this kind of public service will be not more than about one-third of the existing opportunities for people to serve in local government.
There are two other important matters which involve the efficiency and the economy of the local government service. I hope that I am not saying anything that will introduce a party political note into this discussion if I say that one of the reasons—perhaps the main reason—why I joined, many years ago, the party that at present sits on this side of the House is that in terms of efficient administration and economical management I believed that it had advantages over the party opposite. I do not expect some other hon. Members 274 to agree with that, but that was one of the factors which induced me, as a business-man, in common with a number of other business-men, to belong to the party of which I am a member.
Let us consider the efficiency and the economy of the scheme. The Greater London Council, as a planning body, has been justified principally on the ground that at present the Government Departments concerned with planning, highways and traffic have to deal with several authorities. They find that to be an inconvenient arrangement and in the interests of efficiency and convenient management they want to be in the position of dealing with one authority instead of several.
Consider, however, how that plan operates in reverse in regard to all the other local government services. If the argument be right in regard to planning, let us see how wrong it is in regard to the other services. In the area that we are discussing, the Ministry of Education has to deal with nine education authorities. According to the best estimate that I can make, in future it will have to deal with about 30 authorities. The Ministry of Health has to deal with nine authorities in matters of welfare and health. In the future, it will have to deal with 34. The Home Office has to deal with nine authorities in reference to the children's service. Under the Government's proposals, it will have to deal with 34 authorities. There will be a vast increase of going and coming, of consultation, of paper work and of keeping the records between the Government Departments concerned and the local authorities owing to the vastly increased number of local authorities with which, under the scheme, Government Departments will have to deal. I do not regard that as an efficient, sensible or economical form of administration.
Now, let me come to the question of economy. The Minister is naive if he believes that the general public, and the ratepayers in particular, will accept this scheme on the basis of the prospectus that he has put out concerning the cost of the scheme. It may be difficult to make estimates, but estimates have been made about what will be the financial effect on what remains of the counties which are to be truncated. The Royal 275 Commission estimated that in the case of Essex, as a result of the truncation, what was left of the county would have to bear an increased rate of 2s. lid. in the £.
In the case of Surrey, we have made the best estimate we can, and, without making any allowance for the capital expenditure that will be involved in replacing many of the things that will be lost because they will go into the new Greater London Council area, the increased rate will not be less than 1s. 7d. in the £, and may be a good deal more. Of course, the Minister, apart from the most vague generalities, has said nothing about the compensation that will be offered. He is not even clear that compensation will be offered.
When we come to the position in the area of the Greater London Council, the situation is even more remarkable, because this is what the White Paper states:In the Government's view the financial arrangements should follow consequently on changes which are necessary for other reasons. It would be premature at this stage to set out detailed proposals on finance. There are many factors which make a reliable estimate of the financial consequences of reorganisation impossible at the present time. … The future cost of services when they fall to be carried out by altered or enlarged local authorities cannot be very closely estimated.As a businessman, I have had a fair amount of experience of the amalgamation of businesses and companies. This is an amalgamation on a huge scale of county councils on the higher tier of government and of district authorities on the lower tier of government. I am certain that in connection with any amalgamation with which I have ever had to deal, if I had sent out a prospectus advocating amalgamation on those nebulous, indefinite terms, I would many years ago have ceased to be the chairman, and I would have lost any connection with the companies over which I preside.
I have never come across a more naive way of dealing with the House, the general public and the general body of ratepayers than to say to them, "Accept a scheme of this kind and, when it has been accepted, we will get down to thinking about the possible financial consequences." This is not good enough. 276 It is not the kind of scheme which the House or the public ought to be asked to accept in these conditions.
The scheme is condemned at nearly every point. The planning area is the wrong area; the scheme for education, as outlined, is hopelessly wrong and quite destructive of the best interests of the school and education services, and we are left completely in the dark as to its financial implications. As far as I can see, the best thing that the Government can do is to take it away and do some serious thinking, in view of what has been said in this debate, so that a scheme can be produced which is more suited to the conditions that we have to face and more acceptable to the local authorities, the ratepayers, and the general public.
The scheme is condemned, with two abstentions, by the Surrey County Council; it is condemned by 27 of the 33 district councils in the county; it is unanimously condemned by the executive committee of the political association which sent me to the House and—more important than all that, as far as I am concerned—it outrages my idea of common sense and is contrary to my judgment. For that reason, I propose to vote against the Motion and the White Paper and in favour of the Amendment.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Mrs. Freda Corbet (Peckham)
Representing one of the authorities that will be extinguished, and speaking as a member with twenty-eight years' experience of that authority, I, too, would not claim that I am an expert in local government. The best that I can say is that I at least have some conception of what is being done by my authority. That is more than can be claimed by many hon. Members.
I refer, in particular, to the speech made at a late hour last night by the hon. and learned Member for Kensington, South (Mr. Roots). He showed as complete a misconception of the part played by the London County Council in the government of London as it would be possible to imagine. Until we remove such illusions from the minds of people we cannot hope to arrive at a fair judgment of the scheme.
It is evident that the Minister of Education is prepared to sacrifice the 277 schools and the present system of education to the so-called ideal of local interest. Many speakers today have analysed this local interest, and much has been said of the relationship of parents with the schools. To my mind, that sums up the position.
In the past people talked about the large size of an authority as being reprehensible, because the people were not in touch with it. If they meant that the people were not in touch with the members of the authority, I agree; in the case of very large communities, that would be impossible. But what is important to the persons whom local government tries to serve is surely the humanity and the contact that exists between the public and the servants of a local authority, and in this respect I claim that the London County Council has a reputation second to none.
For reasons given by the Minister, the Government are not prepared to take the advice of the Royal Commission on educational matters. Might it not also be the case that the Royal Commission has given advice on other matters which the House ought not to follow? I want to refer to the evidence given by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government on the subject of planning. Planning is put forward as one of the reasons for this drastic reorganisation in the structure of local government. In its evidence the Ministry said:In theory, one might have expected to find in planning some strong argument for some authority with powers over the whole region, But in practice the plans of the various authorities have been co-ordinated largely through reference to the Abercrombie Plan but partly through informal contacts with Government Departments".The Ministry went on to say that in approving various local authority plans the Minister had had to make no fundamental changes from the Abercrombie Plan; the biggest changes were in zoning for industry.
I quote that evidence because a great deal of argument for the proposed changes hinges around the subject of planning. We ought to be sure what we mean by planning. In essence, I suppose that it means the proper use of land. One of the things that is in short supply in the Greater London area is land. Its use needs to be very carefully planned. In the planning areas—the nine areas of the 278 county councils and the county boroughs—it cannot be denied that its use is carefully planned.
Land is set apart for housing, industrial development, open spaces, schools, hospitals, roads, public transport, and all the other uses necessary to great communities. Today, each planning authority takes a long time to make its original plan, and that plan is subjected to scrutiny and public inquiry before being approved by the Minister.
Plans in the London area were coordinated by the Minister in the light of the Abercrombie Plan, which envisaged a great deal of co-ordination for an area far larger than the one it is now proposed the Greater London Council should cover. I would suggest that if, in the past, the Ministry has found it necessary to co-ordinate in the light of the greater area, it is just as necessary that this co-ordination should go on today in the larger area, and I would venture to say that the area becomes ever greater and greater.
I remind the House that the senior research officer of the Ministry itself, talking about regional study groups, said that the one which he was taking was in south-east England and represented the area from which people were able to travel to and from work in London, and he included in his area Brighton. His area is a ring round the Greater London Council area and has a radius as distant from the Greater London Council area as that is from the centre.
I would have thought that anybody now considering any changes would relate those changes to the facts of the situation, and the facts are these. London may be a magnet; the centre of London may be a magnet for offices; but the real magnet today is not so much the centre of London, but the south-east corner of the country. To illustrate this, I would remind Members that the London County Council, in looking for a site for a new town, examined no fewer than 70 possible sites and had for various reasons to reject them all but one. That one was Hook, and Hook is in Hampshire. That illustrates the magnitude of the problem today.
What is the Greater London Council to do about its overspill that London County Council has not already done? 279 We have gone to Suffolk, we have gone all over the Home Counties, far beyond the Greater London area, to find towns which would be willing to receive our overspill population. I should like, incidentally, to challenge what was said by the hon. and learned Member for Kensington, South last night in respect of our activity in that area. I can state categorically that the London County Council does not build for any receiving authority except at its express request.
At the same time, it may be as well to assure Members of the skill and expertise which have been built up in the County Council's machine, among its members and staff, for dealing with these very delicate problems of trying to persuade authorities to receive London population when, perhaps, they would rather not have them, an expertise which ought to be retained and not lost. So much for planning.
What of the traffic? What are we being told? Are we being led to expect that the establishment of this new Greater London Council and the boroughs will solve our traffic problems? Is it conceivable that these great physical problems can be so overcome? If they could have been would not the Ministries themselves have been able to assist the existing local authorities to do it? In fact, it is the Ministries which have inhibited the local authorities from getting on with the job.
The original London Plan provided for two ring roads in London—tremendously expensive. The Ministry never agreed to them. So there are no ring roads today, and it is not the fault of the London County Council. Members on this side of the House and the London County Council wished the markets to be taken outside London. What was the Government's response to that? We all know that Covent Garden is to be rebuilt inside London itself and that no attempt is being made to deal with the other markets.
How long was it before the County Council was able to get the money out of the Government to proceed with the schemes which it knew to be essential for traffic in London? It was years. There were the Blackwall Tunnel, the Hyde Park scheme, the Elephant and Castle scheme. I could detail them in 280 great number, and all of them were held up by, first, the refusal of the money which was necessary for their implementation, and, secondly, by the refusal of the Ministry until at long last we persuaded it, to recognise, that time was an essential element in the question and that long-term plans must be prepared.
In talking about these problems let me refer to another physical difficulty in addition to the difficulties of the shortage of land and the shortage of money—the property rights of the citizen, including those of London. One of the reasons why one cannot proceed faster is that this House insists that a member of the public has rights which cannot be overridden, without, if necessary, public inquiry. All these things have to be considered in conjunction with the fact that this is a time of unparalleled activity in the direction of development and building all over the country. So there is a shortage not only of operational staff, but also of the professional staffs which are needed to carry out those schemes.
I would say to the House that they should not cherish any illusions that the urgent problems of traffic and planning which the Royal Commission says must be solved will be able to be solved even if the changes take place. But when are the changes to take place? These are urgent problems. What is the plan? The plan is that the new authorities will be in existence by 1965—after three years. We waited until 1957 to have the Commission to carry out investigations—and then to tell us what we could very well have told the Commission from the beginning.
Three years will pass before the new authorities come into being, and then they have go to start to build from scratch, with new teams, new people working side by side with one another, with the wealth of their experience dissipated because it has to be employed on other problems. It will take many years to build up the efficiency to which the various bodies now to be truncated have arrived. Let us have no misapprehension whatsoever. We shall, in fact, not be dealing urgently with these problems which we know are before us now. Does the Minister of Transport wait for this? Of course, he does not. He took extraordinary powers unto himself in 1960, and is getting on with the 281 job which he might very well have got on with many years ago.
§ Mr. G. R. Strauss (Vauxhall)
On a point of order. May I ask for your guidance and help, Mr. Speaker, on a matter affecting the position of Members who want to attend to the affairs of the House and wish to take part in them, but who are summoned to a Committee of the House upstairs, specifically Standing Committee E which deals with the Transport Bill?
That Committee has just adjourned, and we have been informed that we are to meet again at half-past eight. Very important matters are coming before the House this evening, in which many London Members are involved. We are most anxious to be here to hear what is taking place, and, maybe, take part in the discussions.
I ask you, therefore, to make such Ruling or take such action as you can in protecting hon. Members from being summoned to other parts of the building and taking part in a Committee or anything else when they themselves want to do their job here and attend in the Chamber? I would ask you to consider the position and take such action as may be necessary.
§ Mr. Richard Marsh (Greenwich)
Further to that point of order. A number of us who represent London constituencies and who wish to take part in the debate now taking place—a debate of quite exceptional importance—and who serve on Standing Committee E, have tried without success to get the Chairman of the Committee to permit us to take part in this debate. We have made representations on behalf of our constituents in that matter, which is a direct constituency interest and of interest to the people of London. There seems to be no good reason at all why this Standing Committee should go on at this exceptional hour. We have tried, but without any success at all, to get assistance upstairs, but it has been refused, and we now have no alternative but to ask for your protection so that we may not be prevented from attending this debate by a Standing Committee sitting upstairs until an exceptional hour.
§ Mr. Carol Johnson (Lewisham, South)
May I add, Mr. Speaker, that this is not a matter of mere personal convenience, 282 but a very real conflict of duties. I see no way in which it can be resolved, but many hon. Members are very anxious indeed to take part in the debate in this House, but are called to another part of the building to deal with Amendments which are on the Notice Paper and which will be called for debate when the Standing Committee resumes.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am sorry about this difficulty; we have had it before. I do not think that I can act in the matter myself, because I am at present in the Chair for this debate, which cannot be interrupted, but I will cause communication to be made with the Leader of the House to see whether there can be any assistance from that quarter. That is all that I can do.
§ Mr. Ernest Popplewell (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)
Will you please duly inform the House of the result of the discussion, Mr. Speaker?
§ Mrs. Corbet
I was saying, at the moment of interruption that the Minister of Transport has not waited for this change in machinery in order to deal with the traffic problem. He has taken unto himself certain powers with a view to making the best use of London streets that can be made. I could advise the right hon. Gentleman that there are other things he could do as well. He might have a look into the possibility of helping local authorities to deal with the provision of off-street parking places. That is not a profitable concern, as the Fins-bury Park underground garage and the City of London underground garage have only too amply demonstrated. As the L.C.C. pointed out long ago, if anything was to be done about that, money ought to be coming from the Ministry to enable these garages to be built.
Now I want to turn from what I consider to have been criticism of the Ministries for not having done what they should have done to tell the House why some of us are most concerned about 283 the abolition of the London County Council. Most hon. Members will, perhaps, have received from the Royal Institute of British Architects a memorandum about the architects' department of the London County Council. I need not, therefore, go into any details, except to say that I hope that that memorandum will be most carefully considered by the Minister.
Suggestions are made in it which must undoubtedly clash with the two main principles, for the way to preserve it, as seen by the architects, is to give more work to the Greater London Council. This is logical, and it is what the Royal Commission wanted to do with regard to education. It is the natural, logical position to which many of us have been driven by this difficult problem many years ago.
If this team of architects is to be preserved to be able to carry on with the kind of work that has been done, with the schemes of development which I have already mentioned, it would be necessary to give further powers to the Greater London Council. There is also the question of other L.C.C. staff. There is a very large team of engineers responsible for pumping works, for sewerage works, Thames bridges and for the engineering works on the great road schemes. There are specialists of all kinds, who are able to give advice on all the problems that arise in the design and production of great schemes. There is a large staff of valuers who acquire land for the use of the council, who negotiate to get the best terms. It is very necessary to have experience in London in dealing with large firms whose terms may be very difficult to arrange in the Council's interests.
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
Would the hon. Lady confirm that she is saying that it is one of the advantages of the administration of the L.C.C. that the valuers do get the very best terms?
§ Mrs. Corbet
Yes. I would say that in the interests of the people, the valuers should get the best terms they can, and that it is a good thing for the ratepayers.
§ Mrs. Corbet
I am talking about their negotiations with big property interests, 284 in which it is necessary that we should make a good deal.
We have also large teams of solicitors because of the legal side of the property work, the work in this House, and so forth. In other words, we have, I suppose, an unparalleled service of professional men all working for the benefit of the people of London. These are teams of men who have worked together and have produced the great schemes we all know about, such as the Lansbury scheme at Poplar, where the East End is being rebuilt, and where we can again begin to see the blue skies about which the Minister of Education talked, the great scheme for Hyde Park Corner, the Piccadilly Circus scheme and all the schemes for which London is justifiably famous. They are the people who enable us to get on with these schemes, the people who find and acquire the land, lay it out, design the buildings and arrange and supervise the construction of buildings all over London, as well as schools and all the other things necessary for the service of the people of London in the great housing schemes which we have carried out.
A great deal has been said about the service that the London County Council renders to the whole of the London area in respect of housing. The schemes could not proceed unless there were in London a central authority with a housing pool which could be used to house people decanted from clearance areas and from areas where schools and roads must be built and open spaces created. As I have mentioned open spaces, perhaps I may be allowed to refer to the new open space in my constituency, one of 137 acres. No fewer than 33 industrial concerns will have to be moved and they cannot be moved within Camberwell. They will have to go outside the borough, in the same way as similar firms have had to go outside the Borough of Southwark in connection with the scheme carried out at the Elephant and Castle. It is open space which will result after thousands of people have been displaced and rehoused.
What authority will carry out such schemes in the future? That open space, and many hundreds of smaller ones which have been created throughout London on a yearly programme, are part 285 of the London plan. If planning means anything, the London plan will have to be fulfilled. But who will undertake schemes of that kind in the future? Who will take charge of Kidbrooke, for instance? There are 100 acres of land. Is it all to go to the borough in which it lies? Is Greenwich to have the sole benefit of 100 acres?
What will happen to the Woolwich Industrial Trading Estate which the London County Council took over from the Government, and of which has been made the greatest possible use in connection with reallocating businesses displaced from areas of development? Without that estate it would not have been possible to develop those areas. What authority will take on such imaginative schemes as have been undertaken by the L.C.C.—the Royal Festival Hall, the development of the South Bank, the Crystal Palace and the support of the arts? What central authority will there be? What body will take over the L.C.C. area and provide those things to which the inhabitants of London have been long accustomed?
Here, there is a parallel between the benefits of the education service in London and those other benefits conferred on every other area of London by the kind of co-ordinating work which the London County Council has been able to achieve. Some of us envisage great difficulties which will result if these changes are made, and they relate to the take-over period. There have been changes in local government before. In 1929, the boards of guardians in the London area were wound up and their duties transferred to the London County Council. This was one simple operation involving the staffs of the boards which were transferred with their duties to the London County Council. Yet, ten years later, there were still cases which were outstanding. In this proposal there is not one function involved, not one kind of staff, but a dispersal of staffs which must take time and be an extremely complicated operation.
There is no doubt that the Government realise that it will be complicated. In fact, the Minister said that they knew it would be complicated and they could do it only if it were worth while because the complications are so great. But have the Government visualised the situation 286 which will arise when the old authorities cease to exist on 1st April, 1965? The ending of agreements and the transfer of investments and liabilities cannot possibly take place until after that date.
Have the Government envisaged the possibility of there being no one in County Hall and no one in the Guildhall—no staff left, since everyone is to have the opportunity of employment with other authorities? With whom will the new authorities be able to work? Have they visualised that the one operation which resulted from the 1929 Act and which took so long will surely have its counterpart in this proposal, in this very complicated operation which will take many years to perform?
Apart from that, have they seriously considered how many years it will take before there will be available to the people of London the same efficient service as they now enjoy? I ask the Government to think carefully over their proposals. It is no light thing to deprive the people of the great advantages which they have known and to replace them with a system the advantages of which we cannot guarantee, and about which we must be very doubtful.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson) said, during the amusing speech which he made last night, that he had received 150 letters on this subject in recent days. It is clear from the tremendous attendance of hon. Members representing constituencies in Surrey—my hon. and gal-land Friend the Member for Carshalton (Captain W. Elliot) is still seeking to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker—that the population of Surrey has been whipped into a lather by the proposals of the Government.
So far as I am concerned, however, this is a case of the dog which did not bark I have been impressed by the lack of interest shown in my area and the absence of representations to me. Since the beginning of this month I have received more letters about the inequities of the discrimination in the taxation on greyhound racing than on this topic.
I believe this silence to be typical of the reaction of the vast majority of the population to local government in 287 London and the Home Counties. Of course, London local government is conducted openly, but from the point of view of its impact on the population it might as well be carried on in secret. Take, for example, the L.C.C. Education Committee's recent proposals for the cannibalisation of about fifteen grammar schools. I was once a member of that Committee and, as a Member of Parliament, I read the newspapers assiduously, but these new proposals came to me with all the sudden shock of the I.C.I. bid to take over Courtaulds.
I believe that we know less about the government of London than about the government of any other major city in the free world. I do not accuse the hon. Lady the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet) of furtiveness in this matter, athough she has been accused in the past by the Spectator of seeking to suppress debate in County Hall. I believe that almost the only way in which one can hope to get the affairs of the London County Council reported in the Press of London is to close all the meetings and mark every document top secret, and then, perhaps, somebody will take notice of them.
The reason for that is not failure on the part of the Council. I think that the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) touched on the real reason in his speech. The structure of the local Press in London and in the Home Counties seems to combine to suppress interest in county council government. After all, the local borough papers are interested in the affairs of the local borough council. They hardly ever report the doings of the L.C.C. Our two great evening newspapers, the Evening Standard, and the Evening News, give adequate national and international coverage, but when it comes to local matters they cover the happenings in the Savoy Grill a great deal better than they do the goings-on in County Hall. I, therefore, do not believe that it is possible to make an effective public impact at county council level.
The same applies in Kent. The affairs of the Beckenham and Penge Councils receive adequate coverage in the local newspapers, but when it comes to Maidstone and the goings-on in County Hall there, almost nothing is reported, and 288 the view of the average man in my constituency about Maidstone is more or less the same as the view that Colonel Glenn had of the Canary Islands this afternoon—very distant and mostly obscured by cloud. This lack of interest does, I think, lend considerable support for the view which my council has held for many years, that in association with some of its neighbours it ought to have county borough status.
In view of our geographical position on the fringes of London, I believe that the Government's proposals are about the best that we could possibly have hoped for, and I have every intention of supporting them. I am particularly glad that we are to be responsible for education. If this were not so, I think that there might have been some point in trying to support a "Katanga lobby"—and my hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) has also been trying to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I think that we are reasonably content, and that we shall be able to carry out the duties that are laid upon us.
After all, the county borough, or the London borough, which we will become, and all the London boroughs on the fringe will be considerable organisations. In population we are to be larger than Southampton or Portsmouth, and almost as large as Leicester. In size we are to be larger than either Manchester or Liverpool. We are to be almost as large as Croydon, and the passion with which my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. F. Harris) defended the independent status of his borough last night suggests that there can be little dissatisfaction with the state of services there, so I have no doubt that, with the able and public servants that we have, we shall be able to provide the services that are required.
What will be the effect on Kent if we are wrenched away from it? This pattern of moving into single-tier all-purpose authorities is not solely confined to the London district, although this debate is so confined. Throughout the country local government boundary commissions are making recommendations, and when the recommendations that have been made are implemented, Kent, even with the extraction of metropolitan Kent, will move up to second place in the size 289 of counties. It will move up from sixth to second place. Even if the Medway towns and the Isle of Thanet are removed, Kent will be third in rank among the counties. I join Alderman Parkin the author of a paper in the Kent Ratepayers' Magazine, When he says:Kent should emerge as a financially sound and more compact authority able better to serve the remaining districts and a leader among the remaining Counties.To turn from the fringe to the centre. I agreed with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Education in his presentation of the case this afternoon. It seemed to me that he was reasonably lukewarm about the educational proposals involved, and I share a reasonable lukewarmness for them, but I think that the hon. Member for Sunderland, North had a strong point when he pressed the question of the financial arrangements which will be made in the centre, because, if we have an independently and directly elected local education authority for the centre of London responsible for education, but with no desire to keep down the level of rates, coming face to face with a number of authorities who have no direct responsibility for education but a strong desire to keep down the level of rates, who will be in a position to arbitrate in such conditions? I think that the issues will be complex, and I am beginning to come towards the joint board solution.
I am also concerned about the method of election of the Greater London Council. The hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) in his speech last night suggested that the powers of this Council would be so restricted that it would be almost impossible to drag more than about 5 per cent. of the electorate to the polls. I believe that the exact reverse will be true. Under the proposals of the Royal Commission, which have certainly not yet been rejected by the Government, it is proposed to have elections of the most glamorous sort every three years—one member for one Parliamentary constituency.
Whether the local issues will be strong or not, every political observer in the country will look on this election as a little General Election, and immense efforts will be made to whip the faithful to the polls and to get the most attractive candidates to stand in the elections. 290 This having been a tremendously high-powered show, and having got these tremendously high-powered people to take part in the election, they will then be members of a Council which in effect will be nothing more and nothing less than a traffic Parliament. They will not be able to discuss planning day in, day out. They cannot discuss fire services or ambulance services to any great extent. What will they be left with? They will be left to argue about traffic. There will be 110 people talking interminably about one-way streets. Far from needing a traffic parliament, what we want is a traffic dictator.
They are not going to be content with that. In time they will get round the rules of order. I remember the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) making a splendid speech, quite within the rules of order, about the foreign policy of the Kremlin and the State Department on the Hyde Park (Underground Parking) Bill, because he suggested that it had a civil defence use. On a Motion to discuss roads in southeast London there could be debates lasting four or five days on the Common Market, if some intelligent people are elected to the Greater London Council. Do we really want to have this sort of second Parliament? We shall get it if we have direct elections of one member from each constituency. With these powers we should give very serious consideration to indirect elections.
On the whole, I support the Government's plan. I believe that it will be of great benefit in making local government more local. I close with a quotation from a letter sent to me by a leader of our local council, Alderman Parkin. He says:The feeling of being ineffective rubber stamps to a distant authority should be replaced by the old idea of having proper and more understanding local control.This scheme will bring this about.
§ 8.3 p.m.
§ Mr. G. A. Pargiter (Southall)
I hope that what I shall say will not be regarded as being partisan, because I am a member of an authority which is to be completely abolished under these proposals. I have been a member of the Middlesex County Council now for twenty-eight years. For a long time I have been in some position of authority, 291 either in a minority or in a majority, and, therefore, to some extent responsible for carrying out effectively the policy which was required or criticising it, as the case may be.
I am no longer particularly worried about putting "County Alderman" before my name. I am not even worried whether or not I enjoy the honour of putting "Deputy-Lieutenant" after it. What I am concerned about here is the problem of local government as such. I am much more concerned about that than I am about individuals. The interest of individuals very often enters into these questions and one begins to look at them perhaps rather selfishly. I will try to divest myself of that in the criticisms I have to offer of the White Paper.
This afternoon we heard a speech from the Minister of Education. I did not think that it was a very good speech. In fact, I did not think that the Minister spoke with conviction. Before he got very far through his speech I came to the conclusion that the Cabinet has a fairly good idea of what to do about brain-washing, which we hear is resorted to in some other countries. I base this conclusion on a comparison of what has been said in the past by the Ministry of Education and what the Minister said today. Some references have already been made to some of the things which were said to the Royal Commission, both in written and oral evidence. I have pages of it here. I could spend the next hour on quotations which entirely and absolutely refute everything that the Minister said this afternoon.
Why has there been this about-turn? What has caused it? The cause is that the Government did not like the Royal Commission's Report. They did not like it because it proposed that education should be divided. The Government were subjected to a great deal of pressure from the authorities which thought they were going to be full education authorities to do something about it and overcome their disappointment. Therefore, all that was said about two-tier education and the necessity for planned education had to go by the board.
I shall return to the question of the cost of local government services, in 292 which education has its share. Education accounts for a far larger proportion of local government services than any other services operated by local authorities. In many areas it accounts for 70 per cent. or 80 per cent. In some cases it accounts for 90 per cent. Taken over the London area as a whole it is probably fair to say that it accounts for 60 per cent. This, in terms of expenditure, has to be completely distorted to fit into another pattern for another purpose. The Government have got this the wrong way round. The Minister should have made a more vigorous defence of his service.
I ask hon. Members to consider what has been done about education. I look at it from the Middlesex point of view. The present system of colleges—technical colleges and other departments of further education—has never been on the basis of county districts. It has been on the basis of convenience from the point of view of travel. It has been on the basis of the availability of sites. I do not know how these colleges are going to fit into the new scheme. We have colleges which are only very slightly lower in status than colleges of advanced technology. Many of them are doing exactly the same work and running the same courses for the same honours.
What will happen to them? The answer is that the Government will take them over. Contrary to what local authorities think, they will find that the difficulty of managing these colleges by local authorities will be insurmountable. I warn those authorities which think that they have a lot of power coming to them that the Government will find that many things will be insurmountable, and that the only thing for them to do in the circumstances will be to collect them together under the umbrella of the central authority. We shall not get more local government. We shall get less local government. We must be perfectly clear as to the ultimate outcome, whether the Government like to admit it now or not.
The functions of the Greater London Council have been mentioned. What will it have to do? It cannot be concerned with planning every day. Fire brigades more or less run themselves. In the majority of authorities they do not require much supervision. This applies 293 also to ambulances. Main drainage runs itself—at least, I hope that it does. Therefore, there will not be very much for the Greater London Council to do.
It has been suggested that there should be 110 members. This will be a small number in relation to the constituent authorities. It will be a very poor local authority representation. It is, in fact, not local authority representation at all. Somebody will have to find these people something else to do. Therefore, the tendency will be, when the body is in existence—this has happened consistently through history—to collect more and more services towards the centralised authority because it will be more efficient, It may be more bureaucratic, but it will prove itself to be more efficient and cheaper.
I ask hon. Members to think of the proposals. Instead of five children's officers, there will be 34, because each authority is under a statutory obligation to appoint a children's officer. It is not a question of whether it has any right not to appoint one. It must appoint one by law. I do not think that they are obliged to appoint welfare officers, but they will all want welfare officers. Instead of five there will be 34. It will go on through the whole gamut. We shall not get fewer local government officers under this scheme. There will be far more. No wonder the Government are a little chary about giving any information on the cost. If the Government gave any true indication of what the cost will be, the electorate would take far more interest in this matter than it has taken up to now.
These factors should be taken into consideration. I hope that they will be, not only here, but in the constituent bodies which are concerned in these proposals. The Royal Commission's conclusion on education was that it had to be treated as a whole. It should not be fragmented. It came to the conclusion that the only effective way to run the education system in Greater London was to have a two-tier authority.
I was giving evidence to the Royal Commission and I was under considerable pressure on this question. It was unfortunate that certain authorities in Middlesex did not approach this matter objectively. I am referring to the evidence which they tendered, for they used 294 it as an occasion on which to attack the County Council. They were really in full cry for county borough powers and anything was good enough to thrust home their point of view. As a result of this, I had to correct a great deal of misrepresentation that had resulted from that evidence and in doing so I was unable to make clear the more constructive things which the County Council had proposed and was proposing to do.
It should be pointed out that it is a long time since Middlesex County Council virtually reached agreement on the transfer of its functions in order to give county districts certain powers concerning health and welfare. Unfortunately, the Government intervened when these proposals for local government reorganisation were about to be made effective, and the scheme was stopped. It is a pity that we did not progress further with that scheme which had been virtually agreed by all the authorities. Had we continued, a great many of the problems we face today would not be with us.
It left us in the position of being on the defensive at that stage and nothing constructive really emanated. On neither side from Middlesex was a constructive picture presented about what the structure of local government should be. Had such a picture been shown at that time the Royal Commission might have come to a rather different conclusion. Considering the planning authority, it appears that the views of the county councils have been very summarily brushed aside by the Minister. In fact, I do not believe that those views have even been studied by him. If they had, the comments in the White Paper would not have been made.
The Minister referred to a body with no executive authority but I urge him to realise that it all depends on how one looks upon the word "executive". I use the word not from the point of view of planning, but from the other side of the picture; an authority which carries out the physical part of the various activities—but not necessarily the planning of those tasks.
An unfortunate phrase to use when referring to a planning board is "joint board". It is a "dirty" phrase in local government and I hope that it will remain so. I do not like joint 295 boards and I would not have them if there was any other way of their functions being performed. This whole subject could have been examined a little more closely by the Minister. Had it received equally close examination by other parties, a better proposal might have been arrived at.
After all, the proposal includes not only the representatives of the counties concerned, but also the appointment by the Minister of independent members or representatives to be appointed from such sources as the right hon. Gentleman might designate. Could it not have been a more effective body having a wider range of experience than is likely to come from a body such as that now proposed—the Greater London Council? I would not have objected if there had been more independent members on it than the number of representatives of the authorities, as long as it was effective for the work of preparing its plans.
It has been suggested that there would be no need to break up the existing authorities in order to put the plans into effect for their areas. When we talk about planning and traffic let us recognise that the proposed body, by itself, will be able to do nothing to deal with the traffic problems of Greater London, for these problems are due to the vested interests of property. Until someone finds the money to really deal with this matter—and that someone must obviously be the Government—nothing will be done. I often think of the opportunities that presented themselves immediately after the war, when great areas of bombed London could have been used for solving this problem and laying out new roads, but nothing was done.
This lack of activity cannot be blamed on the failure of the L.C.C. or the adjoining councils. The answer is merely that the cost of compensation was so terrific that no one, not even the Government, was prepared to undertake the task. That is the real reason why nothing was really done about London's traffic. Unless the Government face up to this problem the creation of a Greater London Council, even with planning and traffic powers, will not settle it. The tremendous sums involved to solve this 296 and provide the necessary new roads system is a task that can be undertaken by no one but the Government. Thus let us, once and for all, wash out any ideas about the proposed authority being able to solve London's traffic and planning problems.
I have already referred to the question of cost and I am automatically led on to the question of staffing, for a grave problem arises concerning the staffs of the authorities which are to be extinguished. The same problem arises for those authorities which are to be truncated, those to be joined together and those which are, in some cases, to be extended. It is difficult to equate the types of officers, services and work that will be undertaken by all of these new authorities, especially those whose work will be extended. I would have thought that by now the Minister would have come to some conclusion about the type of machinery which should be set up to deal with the problem of transferring staff and any additional staffing requirements that will arise. Unless something effective is done, say, by the appointment of a staffing authority which will have the power to act, to interview, appoint staff and direct to the various services, difficulties will arise over the transfer of these duties.
The whole thing will not work without some direction being given. The appointment of some sort of authority to handle these matters of transfer could consult with other authorities about what should be done. If the Minister will now make a statement on the type of machinery he has in mind it would go a long way to set the minds at rest of so many people who have done excellent work in the past, but who, because of the proposals, are being caused considerable anxiety.
Housing presents some interesting problems. It is particularly interesting in Middlesex, which was frustrated some time ago when it sought certain housing powers. We in Middlesex were frustrated by the boroughs which, considering that the county had enough powers, anyway, did not want to give it housing powers. Thus, the difference between housing in London and Middlesex presents an interesting picture. In London, for example, taking the post-war period from 1st April, 1945, and based on the 297 statistics available, the metropolitan boroughs between them built 20.9 dwellings per 1,000 of the population. The City of London did very well by building 112.2 dwellings per 1,000—but that figure represented only 516 dwellings, anyway.
The L.C.C. built 32.7 dwellings per 1,000 of the population and, considering that, it is interesting to look at the figures for Middlesex and it is worth remembering that it has been admitted that the overspill problems of the county are second only to those of London and, in some respects are equal to those of the capital in proportion to the population. We find that the total for Middlesex is 22.3 dwellings per 1,000 against the figure for London which, although it would be difficult to equate, represents little more than the Metropolitan boroughs put together, per 1,000 of the population.
As I have said, had Middlesex been given the Housing powers it required many more houses would have been built in and out of the county. The picture I have given shows how some county districts have stood in the way of a county that was willing to do a job that urgently required being done. Their standing in the way prevented us in Middlesex from doing this job properly, so there is something on the other foot that must be considered. This is the question of what the county could have done if given the powers.
§ Mr. Barter
The hon. Member has given the comparative figures of London and Middlesex. In his figures for London building did he include building outside the county, on land beyond the county's boundaries? Should he not bear in mind, when making these comparisons, the differences between the areas, some of which were devastated during the war and, therefore, made available for housing development?
§ Mr. Pargiter
Some of the houses were built inside and some outside the boundaries, but the point is that the houses were built because the powers were available.
There has been a proposal that town clerks should be invited to hear the objections and observations of the boroughs in the Greater London area and then refer their recommendations to 298 the Minister. Peripheral areas where two-tier authorities have been in being might wish to opt out—as part of the Minister's plan that there should be room for manœuvre in peripheral areas—and town clerks who have been concerned only with large county boroughs, and so only with single-tier authorities, are hardly the appropriate officers to deal with this matter and to make representations.
I would have no objections to two clerks, a county clerk and a town clerk, doing it between them because we might then get somewhere near a good balance, but I do not think that these inquiries should rest solely on the views of town clerks—not that they are not excellent men—whose personal experience was limited. I hope that some reconsideration, therefore, will be given to that proposal.
Another difference which distinguishes outer London from London itself occurs in the administration of justice. It is extraordinary that this plan should have been put forward without any reference to the administration of justice. In London, there are the London Sessions and stipendiary magistrates. While they are not the concern of the Minister of Housing and Local Government, it is the Government and not only a particular Minister who are presenting these proposals. What will be done about magistrates, petty sessional divisions, quarter sessions?
For instance, are we to have quarter sessions sitting for part of Essex and part of the new County of London? Are we to have stipendiary magistrates over the whole of the area so that there is some uniform system in Central London, possibly with the London Sessions extended over the whole of the Greater London area? After all, it should not be forgotten that justices of the peace give their time every day and ought to be given some idea of where they are going. It might have been thought that in the preparation of a paper of this kind some thought would have been given to problems of that kind.
There are two services which are complementary and which are also affected—food and drugs, and weights and measures. Middlesex is a single authority for dealing with weights and 299 measures, for example. Is that responsibility to be broken up? Are we to have 34 authorities dealing with weights and measures, and with food and drugs? If we do, the situation will be chaotic. The tendency has been precisely the reverse and is now for large food factories to send out canned or packed goods which have to be dealt with at source, not having a dozen inspectors running around and in each area finding a can of peas short of weight, all the different inspectors dealing with that one aspect of the matter. Having regard to the great amount of food and drugs now packed or canned in factories, it is the factories where we want the inspectors, not so much at the selling end as at the beginning. The same is true of weights and measures and their verification. It would be chaotic if the system were broken up and many new units were created.
I would like to know from where it is proposed to find the staff? We find it difficult to get qualified staff now when these things are run as unified services. What will happen when the system is completely broken down I do not know. I suppose that it will be a completely broken-down service. I am satisfied that the staff will not be available unless someone gives some thought to some degree of centralisation for many of these services.
All these things should make the boroughs consider whether they will get out of these proposals all that they have thought. I return to the theme that in the long run many of them will lose the substance which could be obtained now by a system of conferment and of delegation and of the retention of the existing counties without upheaval. Systems of delegation have worked very well throughout the country as a whole. Apart from the proposals for Greater London, the Government themselves are committed to a two-tier system in parts of the country, and there is not all that difference between London government and outside government, although it suits the Government to say that there is. But when it comes to the practical facts of local government, there is not all that difference.
There is quite sufficient cause for the Government to think again. I shall be 300 happy to go into the Lobby against the Government tonight, but I would be much happier if the Government said that, having regard to all the criticisms offered from both sides of the House, they will think again.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Dudley Smith (Brentford and Chiswick)
I have a great deal of sympathy with the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter) because I happen to serve on the same local authority as he does, although on the other side of the fence. I should like to begin by making it clear that I shall support the Government in the Division Lobby tonight, although not by any means as an enthusiastic supporter of the plan. I have no parochial interest, either, for I am not a Surrey fringe Member. The debate has been a valuable means of testing opinion, but we are in no way committing ourselves by voting to take note of the White Paper. Those of us who have doubts about the proposals are, therefore, perfectly entitled to support the Motion.
I declare my interest by saying that I am a member of the Middlesex County Council and the chief whip of the majority group on that council. My constituency of Brentford and Chiswick is one of the affected areas. In addition, I do not speak from any prejudice about Middlesex County Council, because it worries me not that my membership is almost certain to come to an end in 1965, even if there is no election before that.
I find that opinion is genuinely divided among hon. Members, for a variety of reasons, and also there is a division of opinion among people who are connected with local government outside the House. There is a genuine conflict of views about whether the plan will work.
§ Mr. Pargiter
The hon. Member speaks of a division of opinion, but will he not agree that Middlesex County Council is unanimously opposed to the White Paper, and that, presumably, he is a party to that decision?
§ Mr. Smith
The hon. Gentleman is less than fair in the way he makes that point. The Middlesex County Council is at the moment against the plan—I give him that—but there is a genuine difference of opinion among individuals on the council who wonder how it will work or whether, indeed, the Government are 301 determined to go ahead with the plan and make it work.
My own local authority, which is Conservative-controlled, is very realistic about the plan. It supports it and at a meeting tonight, at about this time, I think, it is to pass a resolution saying so. Apart from that, it objects violently to the proposed amalgamation which has been suggested for it. I think it fair to say that most of the boroughs of the Greater London area support the plan, but most are not at all happy about the prospective bedfellows which have been arranged for them. This has been revealed during our debate.
Throughout my adult life, I have been interested in or connected with local government, although I cannot claim the experience of the hon. Member for Southall or my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black). During the time I have been associated with local government, I have always thought that the essential element in government, once we get away from Westminster, was that it should be local in pattern, that it should have as many powers as possible, and work on as small a scale as possible, bearing in mind that efficiency must be maintained and costs kept low. Too often, we have heard the complaint that local government, not only in London but elsewhere, is remote, inaccessible and not a true reflection of the geographical area. Now that for my constituency of Brentford and Chiswick it is envisaged that there will come in Heston and Isleworth, Feltham, and for good measure, Staines and Sunbury-on-Thames as well, I think that that grouping will fit all the three expressions of criticism I have just recalled. I am sure that the majority of people in my area do not want it and they will do their best to negotiate better terms. I am glad that my right hon. Friend is keeping an open mind about negotiations and that he will listen to the representations made by the boroughs affected.
My main doubts about the proposals are these. In the first place, I think that they take too much of the local aspect out of local government and they will encourage that remoteness which has always been so hard to combat in a massive dormitory area like London. I agree that, if we are to make the scheme work, it is better to have the larger-sized 302 authorities, and I think that the Royal Commission's suggestion of 100,000 put the figure too low. I think it will make for greater efficiency to have larger areas with many enlarged functions coming within their orbit, although, of course, they are to be enlarged primarily to accommodate education, as opposed to what the Royal Commission recommended. Here again, I wonder whether they will be able to tackle the whole subject of education as efficiently as the county authorities have been able to do. We know the disproportionate rate cost taken for education. About 80 per cent. of the rates goes on education. I feel that this will become an overwhelming problem when it comes down to borough level within the Greater London area.
My second worry, like that expressed by many hon. Members on both sides, relates to the financing of the new local government set-up. The multiplication of services, as the hon. Member for Southall pointed out, will be very great indeed, and I am sure that the services which for the moment are controlled by counties will become very much more costly once they are administered by the various county boroughs. The ratepayers for the Greater London area are in for a considerable shock in 1965, quite apart from the ever-increasing burdens now being put on their shoulders which have to be admitted because of the great demands for extra money spent on education.
The White Paper has been based, in effect, on the Report of the Royal Commission. The Report was anything but dull. It made very interesting reading, and, as my right hon. Friend said yesterday, it will serve in some ways as an excellent textbook or reference book on local government in the years to come. However, as far as I know, few, if any, members of the Royal Commission had any local government service behind them. I can understand the idea of bringing fresh minds to bear on the problem of unscrambling the authorities and functions in a gigantic area such as the whole of Greater London, but, in my view, to appoint such a Commission without including people with local government experience was rather like setting up a Commission to investigate our procedure and amend our ways in the House of Commons without appointing a Privy 303 Councillor or even a humble backbencher to serve on it. I should have thought that local government experience would have been an essential qualification for anyone to get the "feel" of the whole problem and the way it had to be tackled.
My second criticism of the Royal Commission is that there seemed to be a great lack of field work done by it within the area under consideration. All the way through its Report, I felt that there was a strong inner-London bias and a bias somewhat against the Greater London area. For instance, the Commission spent two days looking at Middlesex, Surrey, Essex and Kent, I think, and nine days with the London County Council. The Greater London area was treated rather as an ancillary part.
I regret also that the Commission did not find time to visit just under half of the municipal boroughs, yet it went to all the metropolitan boroughs. To mention two that it missed, it did not go to Brentford and Chiswick or to Southgate in North London which I am fortunate enough to represent on the Middlesex County Council. I should have thought that, unless they had personal private knowledge of these and other boroughs which they did not see, they would not have an idea of what type of appearance these boroughs presented, or of whether they would fit in harmoniously with the amalgamations being lined up for them.
Again, I think that I agree with what the hon. Member for Southall said about the condemnation of Middlesex by the Royal Commission. I believe that it was unduly harsh and was brought about by the evidence of some boroughs which were admittedly seeking greater powers for themselves. In some cases they were larger boroughs seeking county borough status. The relationship between the Middlesex County Council and the boroughs has not been as bad as all that, certainly not in my experience.
It is a good idea that boroughs should have greater powers—far greater than their powers at the moment—but there is a good case for keeping the Middlesex County Council in some format or other. Middlesex is not just a pedestrian, insignificant authority which is easily disbanded. It has a population of the size of New Zealand's, and a budget 304 which is comparable to that of New Zealand. It is the second largest county in population, and some of us think that it is the second most important county in the country.
Those of us who serve on the county council and who are connected with the county are entitled to ask where its services have failed over the years and why it has merited the death sentence which is to be passed on it. The Royal Commission provided a far from convincing argument for complete abolition. I wonder whether the new structures will provide at least as good services, and at no greater cost, as those provided at present. All the indications are that there will be a tremendous upheaval which will be so vast that some services are bound to be impaired.
As a member of Middlesex County Council, I am sorry to see its proposed end. But, on the other hand, I shed no tears for the proposed abolition of the London County Council. I have always regarded the L.C.C. as a monolithic structure.
§ Mr. Smith
I am expressing a purely personal view. I have always regarded the L.C.C. as a monolithic structure taking a doctrinaire approach to so many different subjects. As my right hon Friend the Minister of Education said today, many people are horrified at the proposals which have recently been put forward on comprehensive schools. If ever an authority wrote its own death warrant it was the L.C.C. Of all the bodies involved in these proposals, the L.C.C. settled its own hash long ago.
Although this is a partisan point of view, I do not accept the allegation made by Members opposite that this scheme is being put forward purely and simply with the idea of getting rid of the L.C.C. The Royal Commission was completely unbiased and had no political axe to grind. It was unanimously in favour of getting rid of the L.C.C. At the same time it was in favour of getting rid of the Tory controlled Middlesex County Council. I think that the Government, in their wisdom, are entitled to go ahead with the White Paper without any implication of political bias.
305 There are also several minor technical points which I wish to refer to. One is that the Greater London Council could be a very useful body, but I do see a danger of its becoming another L.C.C. Unless we are careful, it could become impossibly remote.
I do not favour the proposal that there should be one representative from each Parliamentary constituency. There seems to be a virtually unanimous opinion against that on both sides of the House. What will be the position of the boroughs which finally cannot agree on the proposed amalgamations? Supposing that two or three of them are at loggerheads? I do not like the idea of town clerks being called in to preside over formal negotiations. Will my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government consider setting up an independent tribunal of local government experts to make final decisions where various boroughs are at loggerheads?
What about the naming of the new boroughs? Heaven forbid that we should have a Soviet method, calling them "Block Group 1", "Block Group 2" and so on. There is a danger that local loyalties will be severely damaged if the largest boroughs in the various groupings make take-overs and impose their own names on the new areas. We shall have to try to think out entirely new names for those areas under review. Otherwise considerable confusion is bound to be caused.
There are also the general difficulties of staff, properties, liabilities and financial arrangements. Middlesex has twenty welfare homes situated outside the county. In one case only one home is in a borough, whereas in another place there are six or seven homes. The question of the provision of schools will have to be looked at very carefully. Generally Middlesex has regard to the catchment area rather than the boundaries of local authorities. As a result there will be considerably unequal distribution throughout the whole of the Greater London area. The proposed borough No. 32, Barnet, Finchley and Hendon, will have a population of 248,645 and eleven grammar schools, while borough No. 30, Wembley and Willesden, with a larger population, 295,678, will have only seven grammar schools.
306 This kind of thing could be duplicated over the whole of the proposed Greater London area. I should have thought that consideration ought to have been given to such vital items as sewage disposal, land drainage, food and drugs and weights and measures, the last two of which were mentioned by the hon. Member for Southall. They have not been allocated to the new Greater London authority, or the new boroughs.
I shall end my speech now because I know that other hon. Members want to get into the debate. Although I have voiced criticisms of this plan, and I think that it is a controversial experiment, it might possibly work. Obviously, the Government think that they are on the right course in this matter. It is certainly a novel and a real attempt to bring coordination and planning to London and on that score it perhaps deserves some measure of support. I particularly urge the Government at this stage to take another look at the timetable, because I do not believe that the operation can be carried out to the timetable which has been laid down. I should have thought that it would cause far too much confusion if that were attempted.
I also hope that the Government will look at the detailed provisions and be very elastic in their attitude to the various amalgamations proposed among the boroughs. I disagree with a large number of my colleagues who support the White Paper in general. If it is to succeed I think that we must make quite sure that the new authorities in Greater London are efficient, well-integrated and fully cohesive. Above all, whatever happens, we must make them work.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Cliffe (Shoreditch and Finsbury)
I have heard most of the debate of the last two days. What has struck me more than anything else is that even from hon. Members opposite, with only two exceptions, there have been reservations about the proposals we are discussing. One noted that they wanted to make certain points. Perhaps the worst two speeches were those made by the two Ministers who have taken part. The case made yesterday by the Minister of Housing and Local Government was extremely bad. He left out of his speech some of the services which are being performed by local authorities in the Metropolitan area. I do not 307 suggest that they were deliberately left out. It might have been unintentional because there was a time factor involved. Perhaps he forgot that Metropolitan boroughs have done and are doing a considerable amount of housing. The relationship between the Metropolitan boroughs and London County Council could not be better on housing.
I do not believe that the figures submitted by my hon. Friend the Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter) showing the percentage of houses built by London which in the Metropolitan areas could have been achieved without co-ordination between the L.C.C. and the metropolitan boroughs. There have been excellent arrangements, which have worked very well. The London County Council has dealt with the greater number of the families affected under open-space provisions. The L.C.C. has dealt with emergency cases in respect of houses which were dangerous structures, when local authorities had no property reserve for such emergency cases. The L.C.C. has dealt not only with open-space provisions but with school extensions in this respect.
In addition, there has been an excellent working arrangement between the L.C.C. and local authorities in London. Often people who have been unrooted under slum-clearance programmes have not wanted to go to the new towns or out-county. People who had worked or lived in London all their lives were anxious to remain in London. Because of the excellent working arrangement with the L.C.C. and the fact that it was doing housing developments within the Metropolitan area in addition to housing developments out-county, these families have been accommodated and taken care of.
Under the new proposals it is suggested that the enlarged local authorities in due course will be housing authorities and that the Greater London Council will deal with overspill. I do not know what advantage this will bring to the Metropolitan boroughs. They are built-up areas, and I doubt whether there is a single borough in Central London with an inch of ground on which to develop, apart from areas where it must pull down property before it can build. What possible advantage can there be in 308 elevating these authorities to the position of housing authorities when they have no land to develop for housing? How will they deal with the thousands of people who are still on their housing lists?
Another point which the Minister apparently forgot yesterday was that a meeting between the Metropolitan Boroughs Standing Joint Committee and a Committee of the L.C.C. agreed that a number of the health services should be returned to the Metropolitan boroughs. This was in 1955, and the agreement included such services as maternity and child welfare, health visitors and a number of others. Some of the powers were conferment powers and some were delegated powers. But this agreement has never been put into effect, because the Minister has held the situation as it is since 1955. The agreement has never been implemented.
Education is probably the most vital and important subject which has been discussed in this two-day debate. The future depends largely on our educational establishments and the manner in which they are conducted. Having heard the Minister of Education's speech today, I think that it is important that we should be clear about the evidence which was submitted by the Department to the Royal Commission. In its evidence, it stated that the London County Council is an efficient authority, that it has set a very high standard of school building and design, and is carrying out an imaginative programme for the rehabilitation of old schools, and that its proposals for the reorganisation of school accommodation to deal with the shifts of population are sensibly conceived and executed. This is the Ministry's evidence about the manner in which education in the London area is being conducted through the medium of the London County Council. What possible excuse the Minister can have for what he said today I cannot conceive.
Despite the evidence put before the Royal Commission, it is suggested that the responsibility for education should be divided between authorities with a wider range area of population and authorities with a narrower range area of population. The Government's White Paper rejects the Royal Commission's proposals. The Government say that the Greater London Council would be 309 too big to be an education authority. They recognise that there is a central area which could not be divided up but which would have to be administered as one area for educational purposes. The outer boroughs are to be autonomous educational authorities.
The Government's White Paper refers to a central area containing 2 million people. That is not the present administrative County of London, because the whole object of the exercise is to destroy the administrative county. I have looked at the Government's map of the proposed Greater London boroughs in an attempt to find the central area. The constituency which I have the honour to represent has as its postal districts, in the main, E.C.I and E.C.2. We, therefore, have a right to assume that it will form part of the central area. It is proposed in the White Paper that Finsbury should become part of Islington. No one will dispute that Finsbury is in Central London and should be part of the central education authority. In that case, the boundary will start at Moorgate in the City and will finish at Highgate, thirteen miles away. The proposal for a Central London area for education is nonsense, and one can only assume that the Government are determined to get rid of the London County Council, whatever the consequences and whatever effect their future education policy will have on the youngsters of London.
Inevitably the Government's proposal must be taken back. If not, it will do the greatest possible disservice to the social services in London. If, as has been suggested by one hon. Member opposite, this new Greater London Council has on it one representative from each enlarged borough, elections will take on the pattern of a Parliamentary election, with a good deal more enthusiasm than has been shown in the county council elections, and a higher percentage of people will take part in those elections. The scheme is a grave mistake. I hope that as a result of the speeches made on both sides of the House the Government will decide to take it back and think again.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Iain Macleod)
On a point of order. Further to a point of order raised earlier today, it might be convenient 310 for the House to know that, as a result of the exchanges that have taken place, the Standing Committee on the Transport Bill will not be meeting this evening and that, therefore, its members will be available to hear the rest of this debate.
§ Mr. Strauss
I should like to express gratitude, on behalf of myself and many of my colleagues, for the intervention of the Leader of the House in getting the Committee adjourned so that we may attend this debate this evening.
§ 8.56 pm.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
We have had a very interesting debate, marked by two of the oddest Ministerial speeches it has been my pleasure to listen to and some very impressive speeches by those on both sides of the House who know most about the subject. It is interesting to note how completely those who know most about the subject have opposed the proposals in the White Paper. There was the exception of the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. D. Smith) who, I gather, is as strongly against it as the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black), but unlike him, despite his objections to the scheme, has said that he will vote for it though not as an enthusiastic supporter. I think that sums up the general feeling of those hon. Members opposite who will vote for the Motion tonight.
As I have said, the Ministerial speeches were very odd. The Minister of Housing and Local Government opened the debate yesterday with one of the most unconvincing expositions of Government policy that the House has heard for a long time. This is not only my view. The right hon. Gentleman will have noticed that it is the almost unanimous view in serious newspapers this morning. The outstanding point was that the right hon. Gentleman left almost every difficulty for somebody else to deal with, and whenever there was an interjection he said that he was about to come to that point but then passed on.
Above all, the right hon. Gentleman left all references to education to the Minister of Education, and that is even odder, because the Minister of Education obviously adopted the brief from which he argued in Cabinet against the 311 Royal Commission's proposals and he gave us that brief today although he was speaking for the White Paper. The right hon. Gentleman opposed everything that the Commission said, very convincingly and effectively, but nowhere did he say a single word in favour of the White Paper. As my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) said, the only conclusion is that the Minister thought as little of the educational consequences of the White Paper as do the rest of the House.
I ask the House to compare these speeches with the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart). My hon. Friend opened the debate from this side of the House with a powerful and closely reasoned speech. He raised a whole host of detailed arguments, as have others all through the debate, including my hon. Friend the Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter), my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet) and the hon. Members for Wimbledon, and for Croydon, Northwest (Mr. F. Harris). There has not been a single reference to the arguments which have been deployed in the debate, or to the detailed consequences which they have raised. We look forward to hearing the Leader of the House dealing with them.
I am still puzzled by the wording of the Motion. On the face of it, it is a "take note" Motion. It hurriedly replaced the Motion which the Government originally tabled. The speech of the Minister of Housing and Local Government would have been more appropriate if he had stuck to the wording of the original Motion, "to approve", because he invited the House to approve in every principle while leaving open only minor details. There is no connection between the speech he made and the Motion on the Order Paper. I still wonder why the Government bothered to change the Motion, unless they thought that they might get some un-enthusiastic Members, like the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick, to vote for these words but they could not possibly get them to vote for the original words.
The White Paper has aroused remarkably wide opposition. It has got the counties fairly solidly lined up 312 against it. It has most of the boroughs and it has the majority of the other local authorities fairly solidly lined up against it. It has the political parties, or the groups in power on the various authorities, against it and it has almost all the groups out of power against it, with the one solitary exception—I make this point before the Leader of the House makes it—of the London Municipal Association, which has lost every election over the last thirty years.
I wonder what significance there is in that. I do not draw any unworthy significance, but I make the point. That is the only exception. In addition to having the authorities and people in and out of power against it, the scheme has the professional bodies fairly solidly against it. It has the staff associations fairly solidly against it. Incidentally, little has been said on the Government side about the consequences of these arrangements to some devoted and highly skilled staff.
Let us compare this volume of opposition to a declaration which the former Minister of Local Government made in the House in March, 1955. I refer to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, who was then answering a number of questions and setting out what he thought were the requirements for an extensive reorganisation The right hon. Gentleman said:I told them"—that is, the representatives of the local authority associations—that, in my opinion, it would not be fruitful to embark on any extensive reform, unless there existed some broad measure of agreement among the local authorities themselves."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd March, 1955; Vol. 538, c. 170.]This is a complete reversal of Government policy. To say that there is no broad measure of agreement would be the understatement of the evening—indeed, of the year. There is broad measure of agreement, but it is agreement condemning the proposals. The Minister, who has inherited them, I imagine, from his predecessor, has chosen to go flatly against the declaration which one of his predecessors made on behalf of the Government from the Dispatch Box just a little while ago.
The question which we should ask and face is whether all this opposition 313 is just a matter of perverse vested interest. Are the Members of Parliament on the Government side or on this side who have been criticising so vigorously simply saying that it is a case of "my county right or wrong"? Are the councillors who have put up such constructive and impressive criticisms simply saying, "I must protect my own council"? Are the staff merely protecting existing jobs? Is that the view of the Government? It is fair to ask the Leader of the House whether that is the view he takes of his hon. Friends and the other people concerned. For myself, I submit that that is not so.
The scheme is open to the gravest objections. I am talking about the White Paper in so far as it departs from the recommendations of the Royal Commission, as well as about the Royal Commission. The scheme hardly meets one single basic requirement for good or effective local government. Perhaps I might quote a statement by the Leader of the House in case he is not wholly disposed to accept statements from his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations.
Not so long ago, the Leader of the House made a broadcast on the subject of local government and he said:I always remember what Lord Woolton said of local government: 'It must be local, and it must be government." We are trying to make it both.
§ Mr. Brown
I recognise the loyalty with which hon. Members opposite cheer the declaration of the Leader of the House. It must be refreshing music in his ears after what he used to get. But being loyal to the right hon. Gentleman's declaration is one thing. Showing that it applies to the present scheme is quite different.
I will examine the scheme against the right hon. Gentleman's declaration. First, however, let me address myself to the non-London Members of Parliament. This is not just a London matter. It is not just a Home Counties matter. If right hon. and hon. Members opposite help to pass this scheme into effectiveness, they will inevitably set the pattern elsewhere.
What is happening here will happen in other large conurbations; indeed, it 314 is beginning to happen. There is a marked difference between the recommendations of the local government commission concerning Tyneside and any of its previous recommendations. It is obvious that the impact of the Royal Commission, and the Government's approach to it, is beginning to make itself felt on Tyneside, and it will be felt more and more in the future. Hon. Members on both sides of the House must realise this fact.
Taking the definition of the Leader of the House as to what is required for good local government, we submit that there are fatal objections to the scheme. I start by examining the proposed Council for Greater London. The Leader of the House's first requirement of good government was that it should be local. We have heard many criticisms of the London County Council—we have heard criticisms of other county councils, but the London County Council has been especially criticised—on the ground that it is not local. It has been said that it is too big, covers too large an area, and is too impersonal.
Whatever might be said about the L.C.C.—and it is not my business to judge that at the moment—pales into absolute insignificance when considered against the proposed Council for Greater London. The very size of it makes any use of the word "local" nonsense. It will cover 850 square miles and deal with 8 million people, from Barnet in the north to Epsom in the south, and from Uxbridge in the west to Chigwell in the east. What could possibly be local about that?
I go even further than that. What connections are there between the places on the boundaries, or even inside the boundaries, of that area? What community of interests will there be? This authority will mean absolutely nothing to the ordinary man in the street, over the whole area. It will seem entirely divorced from his interests and purposes. Yesterday, the Minister of Housing and Local Government kept saying—he must have said it half a dozen times—"We are all Londoners in this area. Everybody in this area lives in the capital city. All its problems are their problems." I regard that as bunkum. It is not so. For the most part, the person who lives in Barnet, Croydon, or Epsom does not 315 regard himself as living in London, or in the capital city. He has an entity of his own, and a community of his own. I lived in Barnet for some time, and I know that it is nonsense to advance that argument.
We must face the fact that this is the first attempt—and the Government can boast of it, or defend it, if they wish—to set up regional government in this country. This is regional government and not local government. I subscribe entirely to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), and repeated by other hon. Members; organising elections in this area will be an absolute nightmare. The hon. Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) spoke about the percentages of people who had voted in recent local elections. He was promptly torpedoed by an unkind shot from the benches behind him, which scored a bullseye. Nevertheless, he made his point that the percentage of people voting in recent local elections was not very high. In those circumstances, how many people do we think will vote in an election for a body administering an area as large as that which is proposed? It cannot be called "local" by any stretch of the imagination.
Secondly, it is very unlikely to be democratic. I am inserting this requirement myself. The Leader of the House did not include that in his definition of good local government. It will be extremely difficult to get people to serve on this body. It is already difficult to get ordinary people to serve on county councils. The considerations of time, and the distances which have to be travelled, are already great, and they will be far greater with a body of the kind proposed. There will be great difficulty in getting people of any kind of calibre and skill—any wide sweep of people which can be said truly to represent the area—to serve on this body.
I do not know whether it is proposed to pay them. That is a matter that will have to be looked into if the Government want this to be a democratic body. One of the real dangers, which, I think, was brought out just now by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Brentford and Chiswick, is that it will tend to 316 become a body run by officials, in the very nature of the thing.
Then look at what work the councillors are supposed to do. Each councillor, each man or women—even if we get the councillors—is to be a voluntary, unpaid representative on this vast body, which is to be quite enormous in its scope and powers, and is to represent a constituency as big as any constituency which we in this House now represent, and is to do it as part of his or her spare-time job. It is nonsense. It just will not happen. The body will tend, I think, to become a very bureaucratic and a very powerful, non-democratic body.
These criticisms, mark you, will also apply to the proposed new boroughs. If we start setting up the boroughs, the larger Greater London boroughs, of the size proposed in the Government scheme, we shall run headlong into the very considerable trouble of remoteness. The town hall, the centre of operations, will be a very long way away from a great many of the people. At present, the town hall in many a borough is a long way from many of the people who live in the borough. That problem will become much worse in each of the boroughs which the Government are proposing to set up. Then the size of the wards which the councillors of the new boroughs will represent will become extremely large, the demands on members' time will become much greater; and this problem, already difficult, will be made much worse.
There is no reason for the Government to have done this. There are some very distinguished people who have spoken about all this. We have the Leader of the House before us. I noticed that a short while ago the Chairman of the Enfield Conservative Association, Sir Graham Rowlandson, who must be known to the Leader of the House, gave evidence at a public inquiry on electoral divisions in the right hon. Gentleman's own division. Sir Graham said, only a comparatively short while ago:I know from my experience that the area is so large that it is difficult to canvass or represent satisfactorily and it seems to me wrong to increase it still further.In the light of that evidence from the right hon. Gentleman's own party chairman the Government propose to put 317 Enfield in with five other boroughs to create a new Greater London borough. What are we supposed to deduce when Ministers' closest political friends and advisers say one thing and then the Government come along and do precisely the opposite, and in face of the problems which they know well will arise?
The last leg of the Minister's definition was that it should be government. My submission is that this will not, in fact, be government. Apparently, the criterion originally for setting up this body over this vast area was the requirement of planning, planning as we understand it, town and country planning and planning in relation to traffic problems, communications, and so on. If that is the criterion, then it requires a much greater area even than this area.
Everyone—everyone, that is, except the Government—from Abercrombie down to today's edition of The Times—and here let me say that I was impressed by what the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) said about earlier Commissions—has recognised that if this is what we want, and, indeed, we should, then we must do it over a very much wider area; but if we are to do that over such a region, then we do not want a bodged, would-be electoral body of this kind: what we then want is a different body with quite different powers for quite different purposes.
Here, let me say that I thought the attempt of the Minister of Housing and Local Government to knock down the alternative plan put up by Surrey and others for that kind of planning body with experience over that region was, if I may say so, a very great disservice to those who are thinking hard about these problems. Just to say, "Will it be executive?" as though the answer was a straight "Yes" or "No" was not, if I may say so, up to the measure of the problem. The point is that the alternative scheme makes it very plain indeed that it would have to be accepted by the counties concerned.
I do not think it unfair to say that the Royal Commission clearly put education into the job of this body in order to give the larger body some powers and some purposes which would justify making it elective, that then the Government came along—and that the Minister 318 of Education, no doubt, fought very powerfully, with the brief which he showed us today, and, as a result, he got education taken out, and, in our view, quite properly got it taken out. But what the Government then failed to see is that once they do that what they have left is the wrong body, for the wrong purpose and for the wrong area, and it is that which causes the Greater London Council to fall down as a possible body for government.
Let us test it against the allocation of powers to the new boroughs. I heard the Minister say when I began this passage that the new boroughs were the answer, and I take it that he means the new powers to be granted to them. Let us look at them. It is not only a question of the allocation of powers to the Greater London Council, but it is also the revival of the School Board for London, which died in 1904. I wonder just how much more reactionary in 1962 one can get than that—going back to 1904.
The allocation of powers to the new boroughs is itself wrong, and so demonstrably wrong. I will not examine it all again in detail now, but I commend to the House and to those who did not hear it the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham yesterday, especially on personal services, on the children's services and on mental health, for example. I thought that he demonstrated quite clearly that, if given to these boroughs, these powers will not be the sort of powers that can be effectively or humanely operated. In the real interests of the people concerned, in that kind of area, these are again powers that require operation over a greater area.
There have been many arguments in which I have been involved with friends of mine prominent not only in local government in London, about the housing powers which the boroughs should have, and those which the L.C.C. should have. It has been demonstrated in this debate again quite clearly that if we want to do the real job of housing people, and we limit the boroughs in the way that we are to do here, then there will be a great many people who are at present looked after who will not be looked after in future. I thought that the hon. Member for Hendon, South brought that out, although it was not the 319 point that he was trying to bring out. What is interesting is that The Times leader today wholly supports the point which my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham made about these personal services. What has been outstanding is how few hon. Members opposite have referred to the personal services at all during the whole course of the debate.
The one thing I want to look at now is education, on which, more than on anything else, though not to the exclusion of all else, the Government's attempts to justify their White Paper have failed. I listened very carefully to the Minister of Education today, and I must say that I was puzzled. He quoted a former colleague of ours, the very dear friend of many of us, Sir Frederick Messer, and the point he quoted was very interesting. He said that Fred Messer laid it down that in this field we must not let efficiency have it all its own way. I was not clear whether what he was trying to say was that the Government are not doing that, but were putting up something inefficient; otherwise, I do not see what the point of the remark was. Obviously, we want an efficient scheme allied with other things.
The right hon. Gentleman has set out here two extremes which we have to take into account. On the one hand, there is humanity, and, on the other, efficiency. Which does he claim is not present? The Ministry of Education gave evidence to the Royal Commission and specifically said that the L.C.C., as an education authority, was both humanitarian and efficient, and the Minister did not go back on that today. What, then, is the case, on the basis of his own argument, for the scheme which he was presumably trying to defend?
The right hon. Gentleman went on to build up a strong case for larger education authorities. He said that there will be a demand for a wider choice of schools calling for larger rather than smaller local education authorities, which is the opposite to what the Government propose in the White Paper. In the central area, the London County Council area which is to be left out, the size of the authority will be reduced instead of the other way round. When he made his point about public opinion, he might have noted that the London 320 group of the parent-teacher association was pressing—I think wrongly—for a single L.E.A. over a very much wider area.
There are some things about which we still want to hear from the Leader of the House, because we have not heard about them from the Ministers. The Government propose a central education area with a population of about 2 million. The present L.C.C. area figure is 3¼ million. We were told nothing by the Minister of Education about which parts of that area are to be hacked off and we ought to know this if we are being asked to take note of the proposals; and certainly if we are being asked to accept them, which was the tenor of the Minister's speech. Nor were we told much about the way in which this authority will be set up. How will it be elected or formed? That is a very important thing to know.
In addition to the 2 million population referred to, there remains about 6½ million people in that part of greater London outside the proposed central area. For them, education is to be administered by 25 different boroughs, each of which will be an independent authority. How does the Leader of the House relate that to what we were told today by the Minister about a growing call for a wider choice of schools and courses and a growing demand for larger L.E.A.s?
There are other things to bear in mind. In my view, not nearly enough has been said about the consequent loss of career opportunities and opportunities for promotion among members of the staffs. We ought to hear more about how the Government feel that will work out. We have had no convincing answer to the charge made by hon. Members on both sides of the House that, as a consequence of this scheme, there will be less voluntary choice and less opportunity for children. While this is generally true, it is true especially of secondary school education and of the voluntary and denominational schools in Kent and about the special schools, and so on. The Government have not answered that charge and the Leader of the House ought to reply to it tonight.
There has been no answer to the charge, again made by hon. Members on both sides, that this will result in a 321 great waste of premises because there will be schools in areas where children will not be educated and there will be the wrong type of schools in other areas. Especially if we compare the reduced central area with the outside area there will be a great waste of facilities of every kind. We have heard about the acres of sports grounds right outside the area of the L.E.A.s. concerned. There will be great additional competition for supplies as the result of breaking up the central purchasing department, unless the Government have some other way to overcome that problem.
There will be a scarcity of senior officers and skilled services. In the whole of this two-day debate we have heard nothing about how the Government visualise higher education fitting into this. It is all very well to say that the Government are waiting for the Report of the Robbins Committee, but that is not enough, if we are to pronounce on whether a scheme of this kind seems generally acceptable.
In all these matters the L.C.C. service works intolerably well. Yesterday, when my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) interjected to say that it works, the Minister replied that he would come to that point later, but he never did. Nobody has shown that the service has not worked fairly well as it is and it is necessary for someone to say that, if the Government are proposing to show that something else will work better. From the point of view of the arts, entertainment or sports facilities this has been shown to be an area which has worked very well.
One other question has to be answered. We have heard nothing of the cost. The Report says nothing about the cost and neither have the Ministers. It is all very well for a Minister to say, "I cannot answer. It is a very big question." That may be the way in which the Government run their affairs, but it is not the way in which local government is conducted. Who is to pay? What is the compensation to be for Kent and Essex and other outside counties? Are they to have any? Who will pay? Is the silence of the Government on this an indication that may be that there is not to be an increase in costs because communal services are to be cut down to keep within the present 322 figure? Are we going back to the "safety net" philosophy?
This morning, in almost my favourite newspaper, but not quite sometimes, the Leader of the House made a great defence of his political philosophy. He stated his political philosophy to be "equal opportunites to be unequal". May I interpret that in relation to this debate, and say what it seems to mean in practice is that one puts a premium on private provision and a penalty on communal services, which is what I suggest this proposal will do.
One is left at the end of the debate to ask why the Government are determined to make it clear that they will not budge on any of the principles? Why did the Minister of Housing and Local Government go out of his way yesterday to answer that there was no room there, whatever there may be on details? Why do the Government not genuinely consult the House and other opinion outside first? What would they have lost if they had taken note of what folk had to say?
In view of all the opposition, they cannot surely believe that the case is as proven as all that. Professional people are against them. Representative bodies are against them. Almost all parties are against them. Is the reason for this political? Has their thirty years' failure to win London, the capital city, really hurt? Some prominent people have suggested that this might be the case.
I read the other day what was said by the chairman of the general purposes committee and the local government subcommittee of a borough that will be affected. He said:… I wonder whether the whole underlying fact is not political, an attempt to correct by law something they have not been able to achieve by the ballot box.I would not have quoted him if he had not been the Chairman of the General Purposes Committee of the Bromley Borough Council, and had he not started by saying:Frankly, and I speak as a Conservative, …If the suspicion is unworthy, it seems to exist in remarkable circles very near to the Prime Minister. In the absence of any other reason, I am bound to ask the Leader of the House whether he believes that Alderman Smith, the Prime Minister's own Chairman of the General 323 Purposes Committee, is very near the truth? We have already quoted the chairman of the authority in which the Leader of the House lives.
It is not only Alderman Smith, of Bromley, who has spoken about this. Others have done so. The other day I read an interesting statement by a prominent man. He said:I would say there are two fundamental questions to be asked. First, do we really think that London is well governed at the moment?He answered that it is not.And, secondly, are we going to allow it to be continually dominated by Socialists?That was said by the recently departed Solicitor-General, Sir Jocelyn Simon He said it when he was a member of the present Administration, and I ask the Leader of the House to deal with the question of how much this decision is political as against a real care for local government.
If this is based on political considerations, the right hon. Gentleman ought not to be too sure of the position. He ought not to be too sure that Labour will not win the new authority. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite have voiced the fear that once this great regional body is set up the chances are that it will grow in power, and all hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to bear this in mind. Is the Leader of the House sure that what will be left of the Kent County Council will not be a Labour authority? If he is, he ought to look at what will be left of Kent, and where the votes will lie. The Government's proposals may turn out to be in vain, and at what a cost—the wanton destruction of effective services and effective local government.
To us, this scheme is an abortion, ill-conceived, and malformed. We ask the House to accept our Amendment. We ask the Government, in the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Southall, even at this late hour to think again and not destroy the present system. We ask the Government not to push through such a badly thought out scheme.
There are alternatives. Six or seven years ago there was an agreement which could have been in operation all this time for the delegation of the personal services from the London County Council to the metropolitan boroughs. That scheme 324 would now have been operating, but for the Government. It could have been in operation all these years. Then there is the wider plan for town and country planning, traffic planning and the like, with which the hon. Member for Wimbledon has been so closely associated. I submit that there is no good case for this scheme. There is every case for us thinking again and trying to find a better way of doing the job.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Iain Macleod)
Apart from five minutes of robust polemics at the end of the speech of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown)—
§ Mr. Macleod
I will answer some of the points in due course. We have spent two days in a really fascinating debate. Everybody who has heard most of the debate will agree with that. We have been discussing the reform of local government in this area, which as it is at present planned, will be the largest city authority in the world. Its population of about 8.4 million will be slightly larger than Tokio's 8.2 million and considerably larger than New York, Shanghai and the other great communities of the world. It is of the first importance that everybody concerned with these matters—I myself represent a constituency which is very closely concerned—should express their own points of view in the debate.
Because I know that, although these questions have played only a minor part in the debate, they weigh very heavily in people's concern about these problems, I should like first to make it clear, as the Royal Commission and the White Paper make it clear, that we are discussing a reform of local government. Paragraph 18 of the White Paper says:In general they"—that is the Government—wish to emphasise that they propose to make only changes which are needed to achieve their main purpose and matters consequential to it. These proposals should not affect any existing cultural, social, sporting or other associations or loyalties which may be based on the traditional counties.I have received a considerable number of letters saying that these proposals 325 will, for example, greatly change the County Cricket Championship. There has been a County of London by Statute for seventy years. Clearly it is a county for legal purposes, but it is made absolutely clear in the laws of cricket that it is not a county for the purposes of cricket. [HON. MEMBERS: "Get on with it."] It should be made quite clear that we are considering here local government alone.
One point I wish to make is the effect of these changes on the Parliamentary constituencies, which concern a number of Members of the House. The local government proposals set out in the White Paper are quite separate from any proposals to change Parliamentary constituencies. These are distinct questions, although it is laid down in the rules for the Parliamentary Boundary Commission that it shall have regard to local government boundaries so far as is practicable. It may well be that any new local government boundaries in Greater London will in due course be followed by some adjustment of Parliamentary constituencies, but it is quite clear that this could not happen before the next General Election. The Parliamentary Boundary Commission for England has to carry out—we have laid this duty upon it—a review between the autumn of 1964 and the autumn of 1969. I imagine that it will look at these constituencies as part of that comprehensive review. The House will realise that the statutory procedure under which the Commission works is lengthy and provides opportunities for representations and also for local inquiries.
I now come directly to the Amendment to the Government's Motion and I wish to take up some of the points made in what I agree was an impressive speech by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) who opened for the Opposition yesterday. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper said that none of my hon. Friends had spoken about the personal services, in particular child care. As this is, perhaps, the most personal service of all, I will take some issue with what the hon. Member for Fulham said yesterday because we can see, on a point such as this, the real difference between the two sides of the House.
326 The Government's proposals regarding the child-care services would lay the present statutory duty of counties and county boroughs to provide child-care services on the proposed thirty-three London boroughs. These have populations of an average of 255,000, while the population average of the Royal Commission was not the 100,000 we hear so much about but, in fact, 165,000. The question is, can boroughs, with average populations of 255,000, carry out these functions or are the Opposition right in putting to us in strong terms in their Amendment that the proposals would… wreck the humane and efficient performance of several local government functions, notably education, housing and the children's service"—on which I propose to concentrate for a moment—in Central London…No hon. Member believes that the authorities that will take over will care less about the children than those authorities from which they will take over. The charge, therefore, must be that these authorities are too small or not efficiently enough organised—and few of us would wish to argue that—to take over these duties.
In the debate yesterday the hon. Member for Fulham was immediately followed by a speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, North-West (Mr. F. Harris) who represents a county borough which has these powers and which has a population of 250,000. My hon. Friend said with great pride—and no doubt he was right to do so—how efficiently these different services were run in his county borough.
If one takes this average of 255,000 and remembers two things—firstly, that the average of the Royal Commission's suggestion for the boroughs was 165,000 and, secondly, that the average for the whole of the eight-three county boroughs in England and Wales is 165,000—identical with the Royal Commission's proposals and far below the ones that the Government suggest—it seems impossible to argue, and in a way offensive to boroughs to argue, that they will not be able to carry out these functions.
When he was challenged on this subject by the Minister—who asked whether such problems would not arise and give anxiety about children in Coventry or 327 Leicester or, perhaps, in Croydon or East Ham—the hon. Member for Fulham replied that the answer was in paragraph 19 of the White Paper. With respect, that is not so. The purpose of paragraph 19—as I am sure the hon. Gentleman realises—is to argue upwards from the 100,000 of the 1958 Local Government Act and the range of the Royal Commission boroughs, to the figure, which I have shown to be an average of 255,000 and a minimum of about 200,000 which is discussed in the following paragraph, in paragraph 20.
But there is another reason. Apart from the fact that I believe it to be fundamentally wrong and unfair, to use that word, to people who will obviously care very deeply about these problems, the hon. Member's case ignores the whole trend of this kind of work since 1948 in the development of the field work of local authority children's departments. This is aiming increasingly—and rightly so—at keeping children with their families rather than receiving them into care. And that has had its effect upon the figures.
The hon. Member for Fulham then relied finally on the Curtis Committee but, following the Curtis Committee—and that was a considerable time ago—county councils and county boroughs were given power to set up joint committees or joint children's officers. While the Curtis Committee said that it had no desire to fix a hard and fast limit to the maximum number of children who should be in child care in one area—one cannot do that with these immensely difficult and human problems—it said that it ought to be about 500. But, partly because of the developments which I have outlined, most child-care authorities today have fewer than 500 children in their care, indeed a majority have fewer than 300. My latest figures for the three county boroughs in the Greater London area are Croydon, 294; East Ham, 177; West Ham, 208. I am certain that, on reflection, the hon. Member will not wish to cast a reflection on the county boroughs which have performed these activities with very great skill—although that is what the Amendment does—and the same argument could be used in other matters.
§ Mr. M. Stewart
The right hon. Gentleman misses the point. As I 328 pointed out and as is pointed out in paragraph 19, if there is, as there may be, a city in the provinces with a population of ¼ million and no more, that is that; but in London, because people are living at a high density of population, it is possible to decide whether to stop at ¼ million or to go up to a figure larger than that. In the light of the decision of the Curtis Committee, why stop at the smaller figure when one can go so easily to the larger, as one cannot in the provinces?
§ Mr. Macleod
I assure the hon. Member that I took his point and I was very interested in arguing it back exactly with him. Paragraph 19 does not argue on that basis. It argues its way up towards paragraph 20 which is the higher figure. The hon. Member's case—and this goes back over and over again to the points which have been put by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite—is to argue that the L.C.C. area is better. At least they do not get the aid of the Curtis Committee in this case, because the Curtis Committee figures are at least a great deal nearer to the sort of figures which Croydon has and the sort of figures which are indicated in the White Paper than they are to those related to the 3¼ million of the London Council Council
Many speeches were made from the point of view of those in Surrey and dealing with the terms of reference for the consultations which my right hon. Friend has suggested. There are one or two matters in this connection which are of very great importance. Some people have suggested that the fact that the terms of reference include the words… whether any existing county district or part of a district should be added to or left out …possibly concealed some intention by the Government to widen the area of the Greater London Council.
I give a categorical undertaking on this. Naturally, the terms of reference have to be wide. We all know that some areas—this will be argued in parts of my own constituency—will ask to be excluded. It is right that one should at least consider the possibility that some areas may wish, for quite different reasons, to be included. But I say quite firmly, as a Government undertaking, that no district or part of a district will 329 be added to the present proposed area of the Greater London Council until it is clear that it is the wish of its inhabitants that it should be added. I hope that there will be no further anxiety about those words.
The other point on the terms of reference which has aroused a great deal of comment is the proposal that town clerks from outside should hold the conferences on behalf of the Minister. Inevitably, this is a difficult matter from the Minister's point of view. He has put forward—this is what we are discussing—a White Paper and a map. Officials of central Government have already produced their suggestions. The House has been rightly jealous—we remember the long debates on Franks—that the Minister may appear to be both judge and jury in his own cause. The Minister believes that it is right that these town clerks, who will, of course, be advising him, should take on the duty. It has been argued, however, that on the question of what area should be treated as part of Greater London and what area round the edges should be excluded, town clerks may not be the most appropriate people to advise because they may well be too prone to think that borough government is the right and only answer.
I take the point which has been made in debate and I tell the House now that for these questions, that is, the examination of the fringe areas, the procedure will be altered. The Minister will himself directly, as a preliminary exercise, take any representations about areas to be excluded and he will reach and announce a conclusion on these problems, that is to say, the delineation of the outer boundary, before considering the right borough groupings for the outer areas.
§ Sir William Robson-Brown (Esher)
Are we to understand from what my right hon. Friend has said—I hope I understood correctly—that the final arbitration and decision will be based upon the general will of the people of the area?
§ Mr. Macleod
I made it quite clear that as far as the areas outside the proposed Greater London Council are concerned—the terms of the White Paper and the map—the answer is "Yes"; that is absolutely true. As far as the others 330 are concerned, the Minister will himself undertake the inquiries where an area puts forward a case to be excluded and he will take this responsibility personally upon himself.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson) argued that the real decision about what is inside London and what is outside is determined by where lies the green belt, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) said that the area of Surrey at present proposed to be included in the scheme is far too big. My reply is this. The intention and, indeed, the sense is to include in London only the area enclosed by the green belt. There is, of course, the difficulty, which my hon. Friend recognised—I have it in my own constituency in relation to these problems—that many of the boroughs and districts round the edge include, in varying proportions, parts of the continuous built-up area and parts of the green belt. This is true of my constituency, as I say, and it may be that Potters Bar was excluded from the Greater London plan because it lies on the other side of the green belt.
We have no desire to force into the London system of government areas which are not truly part of London as it now is. We will look with as sympathetic an eye as possible on proposals for adjusting the boundary. The object is to include within the London system the whole of the continuous line, but no more than that.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North-West)
Does my right hon. Friend, then, say that the County Borough of Croydon can keep out of this proposal?
§ Mr. Macleod
No, indeed. But I have said that it can, and no doubt will, make its case either for final exclusion or for regrouping, and that the Minister himself will consider these points.
The right hon. Member for Belper and the hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Cliffe) said—and there is a good deal of truth in it—that the great majority of speeches have been, in part at least, critical of the Government's proposals. Of course, this is true, because the great majority of those who have spoken are themselves affected by these proposals and are unlikely to agree with all the details.
331 I do not believe that any hon. Member is more affected by these proposals than I am myself. The borough of which I represent part is to be divided. Potters Bar is to be taken out of the area and presumably, in time, out of Middlesex. Cheshunt, which is a neighbouring district in a neighbouring constituency, is to be brought in and may in due course find Parliamentary links with one or other of the two Enfield constituencies.
I should make it clear that there is great dispute in Enfield about these matters, but that the people there are not arguing about the two key features of the scheme itself—to treat the Greater London area as one and to give a key place to the boroughs within it. I am quite certain, from my knowledge of the area, that Cheshunt will argue that it should be left out of the scheme, and my right hon. Friend has said that he will consider that himself.
The Borough of Enfield is to be divided and many, although not all, its people will wish to argue that it should not be divided and, perhaps, that a different grouping should be adopted. I serve notice on my right hon. Friend that, as Member for Enfield, West—which is an area very similar to Epsom, with its shoulders in the green belt and its feet in Greater London—I intend to put forward representations to him.
§ Mr. Charles Doughty (Surrey, East)
What my right hon. Friend has just said will give tremendous satisfaction to tens of thousands of people who live in such areas. He has referred to areas which have shoulders in the green belt and feet in Greater London. Will he give an assurance that the line will not cut through any area, and that an urban district council area will not be divided in the middle?
§ Mr. Macleod
It has been one of the main principles that, as far as possible, local authority areas should not be divided, although, as the House knows from what I have said myself, I have been unlucky in this respect. I must make it clear that the Government are not wedded to the present proposed size of the individual boroughs, nor to their groupings. It follows that the advice which my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey gave, to the 332 effect that we would be wise to reject the Amendment and concentrate on arguing the individual cases, is the right approach.
This debate is on a Motion "to take note". The right hon. Member for Belper, at the end of his speech, launched into a number of comments about the political motives that might lie behind it. If this argument applies to London it must equally apply to Middlesex which is a Conservative-controlled council and to other Conservative-controlled councils as well. [An HON. MEMBER: "London?"] The hon. Member ought not to be too sure. We won four seats in London at the last General Election. The seats in London are now eighteen to twenty-four.
§ Mr. Macleod
Surely it must be clear that, if the object were in any way political, we could not conceivably have brought forward the proposal for the central education authority which we have outlined. There are a considerable number of matters of detail which are open for consideration, but it would be quite wrong to end without emphasising what my right hon. Friend said at the beginning of the debate. We are convinced of the need for radical overhaul. We are convinced that the two main pillars of the new structure should be, first, a directly elected council with authority to act effectively on those problems which require direction over the whole of Greater London, and, secondly, boroughs big enough and strong enough to undertake all the remaining local government functions.
The whole House knows that it is something like seventy years since this particular pattern was established. The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), who has been closer to this problem perhaps than anyone else, told us in his speech all the history which led up to the Royal Commission and so to the White Paper. From the beginning, when it was concerned first with matters of sanitation and public health, local government has grown until now it involves the whole of the life of the people. In 1958 we as a Government set our hands to the task of modernising the structure of local government. I think it fitting that the first major proposals for re-organisation to 333 come before Parliament should be those for the capital city. They are based on a unanimous Report of the Royal Commission following a very detailed consideration of the whole subject matter.
I entirely agree with the point made by the right hon. Member for Belper and others that it is not London alone, nor Greater London, nor indeed the South East of England, which is involved. It is local government itself which is on trial and London is the test case. If we draw back now, if we ignore the clear message of the Commission's Report, if we have to say that local government simply cannot face the need to adapt itself to the challenges and difficulties of the modern age but must remain rooted in the structure and habits of the last century—
§ Mr. Macleod
—local government will clearly just decline. The simple argument before the House is this—because the argument came back over and over again with increasing nostalgia towards preserving the status quo—are we prepared, after all these inquiries and all these years, to give to the greatest city in the world the sort of local government structure that it deserves? This is what we believe we should do, and that is the object of the White Paper.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 302, Noes 198.337
|Division No. 93.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Coulson, Michael||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Harvie Anderson, Miss|
|Allason, James||Craddock, Sir Beresford||Hastings, Stephen|
|Arbuthnot, John||Critchley, Julian||Hay, John|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Crowder, F. P.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Barber, Anthony||Cunningham, Knox||Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward|
|Barlow, Sir John||Curran, Charles||Hendry, Forbes|
|Barter, John||Currie, G. B. H.||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.|
|Batsford, Brian||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hiley, Joseph|
|Barter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)|
|Bell, Ronald||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Deedes, W. F.||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||de Ferranti, Basil||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hobson, Sir John|
|Bidgood, John C.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Hocking, Philip N.|
|Biffen, John||Doughty, Charles||Holland, Philip|
|Biggs-Davison, John||du Cann, Edward||Hollingworth, John|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Duncan, Sir James||Holt, Arthur|
|Bishop, F. P.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John|
|Bossom, Clive||Eden, John||Hopkins, Alan|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Elliott, R. W. (Nwcatle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Hornby, R. P.|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Emery, Peter||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.|
|Box, Donald||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J.||Errington, Sir Eric||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Hughes-Young, Michael|
|Braine, Bernard||Farr, John||Hulbert, Sir Norman|
|Brewis, John||Finlay, Graeme||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Bromley Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter||Fisher, Nigel||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Jackson, John|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||James, David|
|Bryan, Paul||Gammans, Lady||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Bullard, Denys||George, J. C. (Pollok)||Jennings, J. C.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Gibson-Watt, David||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)|
|Burden, F. A.||Gilmour, Sir John||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Clover, Sir Douglas||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey|
|Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Godber, J. B.||Kerby, Capt. Henry|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Goodhart, Philip||Kerr, Sir Hamilton|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Goodhew, Victor||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Chataway, Christopher||Gough, Frederick||Kimball, Marcus|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Gower, Raymond||Kirk, Peter|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.||Lagden, Godfrey|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth W.)||Green, Alan||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Gresham Cooke, R.||Leather, E. H. C|
|Cole, Norman||Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Leavey, J. A.|
|Collard, Richard||Gurden, Harold||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Cooke, Robert||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Lilley, F. J. P.|
|Cordeaux, Lt-Col. J. K.||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Lindsay, Sir Martin|
|Corfield, F. V.||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Linstead, Sir Hugh|
|Costain, A. P.||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Litchfield, Capt. John|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Teeling, Sir William|
|Longbottom, Charles||Pilkington, Sir Richard||Temple, John M.|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pitman, Sir James||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Loveys, Walter H.||Pitt, Miss Edith||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Pott, Percivall||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|McAdden, Stephen||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|MacArthur, Ian||Prior, J. M. L.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter|
|McLaren, Martin||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Maclean, SirFitzroy (Bute&N. Ayrs.)||Pym, Francis||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Ramsden, James||Turner, Colin|
|McMaster, Stanley R.||Rawlinson, Peter||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Rees, Hugh||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Maddan, Martin||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Vane, W. M. G.|
|Maginnis, John E,||Renton, David||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir john|
|Maitland, Sir John||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Ridsdale, Julian||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest||Rippon, Geoffrey||Wade, Donald|
|Marshall, Douglas||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'le'bone)|
|Marten, Neil||Robson Brown, Sir William||Walder, David|
|Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Walker, Peter|
|Mawby, Ray||Roots, William||Wall, Patrick|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Russell, Ronald||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Mills, Stratton||Scott-Hopkins, James||Webster, David|
|More, Jasper (Ludlow)||Sharples, Richard||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Morgan, William||Shepherd, William||Whitelaw, William|
|Morrison, John||Skeet, T. H. H.||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Mott-Radclyfle, Sir Charles||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Nabarro, Gerald||Smithers, Peter||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Spearman, Sir Alexander||Wise, A. R.|
|Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard||Stanley, Hon. Richard||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Oakshott, Sir Hendrle||Stevens, Geoffrey||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Orr-Ewing C. Ian||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Stodart, J. A.||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Page, Graham (Crosby)||Stoddart-Scott, Col Sir Malcolm||Woollam, John|
|Page, John (Harrow, West)||Storey, Sir Samuel||Worsley, Marcus|
|Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Studholme, Sir Henry||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Partridge, E.||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Pearson, Frank (Ciltheroe)||Talbot, John E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Peel, John||Tapsell, Peter||Mr. Edward Wakefield and|
|Percival, Ian||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Mr. Chichester-Clark.|
|Peyton, John||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Ainsley, William||Dodds, Norman||Hilton, A. V.|
|Albu, Austen||Donnelly, Desmond||Holman, Percy|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Driberg, Tom||Houghton, Douglas|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)|
|Awbery, Stan||Edelman, Maurice||Hoy, James H.|
|Beaney, Alan||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Bence, Cyril||Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Evans, Albert||Hunter, A. E.|
|Benson, Sir George||Fernyhough, E.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Finch, Harold||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)|
|Blackburn, F.||Fletcher, Eric||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)|
|Blyton, William||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Janner, Sir Barnett|
|Bowles, Frank||Forman, J. C.||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas|
|Boyden, James||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Jeger, George|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M,||Galpern, Sir Myer||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Ginsburg, David||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Gourlay, Harry||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Grey, Charles||Jones, T, W. (Merioneth)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Kelley, Richard|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Cliffe, Michael||Gunter, Ray||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Crosland, Anthony||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||King, Dr. Horace|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Lawson, George|
|Darling, George||Hannan, William||Ledger, Ron|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Deer, George||Hayman, F. H.||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)|
|Delargy, Hugh||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)|
|Dempsey, James||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Loughlin, Charles|
|Diamond John||Hewitson, Capt. M.||MacColl, James|
|Mclnnes, James||Peart, Frederick||Stones, William|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Pentland, Norman||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John|
|Mackie, John (Enfield, East)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Strauss, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Vauxhall)|
|McLeavy, Frank||Popplewell, Ernest||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Mahon, Simon||Prentice. R. E.||Swain, Thomas|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Manuel, A. C.||Probert, Arthur||Symonds, J. B.|
|Mapp, Charles||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Marsh, Richard||Randall, Harry||Thornton, Ernest|
|Mason, Roy||Rankin, John||Timmons, John|
|Mayhew, Christopher||Redhead, E. C.||Tomney, Frank|
|Mellish, R. J.||Reid, William||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Mendelson, J. J.||Reynolds, G. W.||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Millan, Bruce||Rhodes, H.||Warbey, William|
|Milne, Edward||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Weitzman, David|
|Monslow, Walter||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Moody, A. S.||Robinson, Kenneth (St, Pancras, H.)||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Morris, John||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)||Whitlock, William|
|Mort, D. L.||Ross, William||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Moyle, Arthur||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)||Willey, Frederick|
|Mulley, Frederick||Short, Edward||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Williams, LI. (Abertillery)|
|Oliver, G. H.||Skeffington, Arthur||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Oram, A. E.||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Oswald, Thomas||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Owen, Will||Small, William||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Padley, W. E.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Snow, Julian||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Sorensen, R. W.||Woof, Robert|
|Parker, John||Spriggs, Leslie||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Parkin, B. T.||Steele, Thomas|
|Pavitt, Laurence||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Stonehouse, John||Mr. Charles A. Howell and|
§ Main Question put and agreed to.
That this House takes note of the proposals of Her Majesty's Government for the reorganisation of local government in Greater London (Command Paper No. 1562).