HC Deb 13 February 1963 vol 671 cc1307-442

Amendment proposed: In page 88, line 6, to leave out column 3.

Question again proposed, That the words proposed to be left out, to "4" in line 13, stand part of the Schedule.

3.34 p.m.

Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)

May I begin by reminding the Committee of the purpose of the Amendment? It is to create a large central borough which would be capable of discharging the important and formidable problems concerned with planning and transport in the central area of the Metropolis as a whole. The remainder of the Amendment is in consequence of that because it requires that the next circle of boroughs outwards from the middle should be rearranged accordingly.

It was fortunate that we came to the end of our discussion where we did, nearly three weeks ago, without reaching any conclusion about the Amendment, because we can now bring fresh minds to bear on it and I hope that the Minister will show a more constructive attitude to it than he did on that occasion. I have no doubt that he felt tired, having listened to the debate for two days; he certainly showed it.

The arguments he used against the Amendment were faulty and conflicting and were not worthy of the Committee's serious attention, as I intend to show. I would like, first, to take him up on his implied suggestion that we should not discuss the City under the Amendment, particularly since it is covered by a later Amendment on the Notice Paper. The Minister said on that occasion that he would not like to deprive the Committee of a great deal of honest enjoyment. Perhaps I should tell him that some hon. Members take the Bill as a serious matter and are not trying to derive enjoyment from it.

It seems essential to me that we should decide, as a matter of principle, at this stage whether or not we wish the City to remain as a separate local authority. If the Committee is against perpetuating the status quo it now has before it the choice of two alternatives. We can either create a central borough as proposed in the Amendment—of which the City itself forms a part—or we can tack it on to one of the other boroughs, which is proposed by the Government in the Bill. If our discussion on this question is deferred until a later Amendment we will have only one alternative to choose; a makeshift one which could only be second best to that contained in the Amendment.

Hon. Members on this side have said that we are discussing a political Bill which is designed to secure advantages for the party opposite. I will not say whether or not that is a correct judgment, but the Minister's attitude towards the Amendment will enable us to judge the accuracy or otherwise of that suggestion. Both during the Second Reading debate and on the last occasion in Committee the Minister ignored the arguments adduced on the subject of the City, but if he is now prepared to admit that it is an anomaly which, in the end, will find no place in the Bill, that will help to dispel the suspicions that have been aroused on this side.

In his brief speech on the last occasion, the Minister talked, first, of carving out a central area and savaging a large number of boroughs and borough groups in the process. Those are emotive words, and no substitute for rational argument. I would call them politicians' phrases. In any case, they are meaningless, because how can one savage something that does not exist at the moment? If the right hon. Gentleman meant that the boundary proposed for the central area by the Amendment does not follow the boundaries of the metropolitan boroughs, he is absolutely right. I notice, however, that he has not been nearly so squeamish about the existing local authority boundaries further out, where he has drawn a great many new boundaries—some, I have no doubt, with perfectly reasonable motives, but others with no apparent justification at all.

I must say that if the Minister's concern for the boundaries is genuine, it gives me greater hope for the fate of a later Amendment I have on the Notice Paper, except that, so far, whenever anyone has suggested that he does not like a boundary the Minister has always disclaimed responsibility, and has put the blame on the four town clerks.

If it is correct in principle to delineate a central area to fulfil these important functions of planning and the oversight of traffic problems, in practice it is quite impossible to do so without cutting across existing local authority boundaries, but I do not see why one should not do that. The metropolitan boroughs were first set up 64 years ago, and I should like to know whether the Minister seriously pretends that they made ideal units for all time, and that the boundaries then delineated should be preserved until the Resurrection. If he holds that bizarre opinion, he certainly did not give his reasons on the last occasion.

The only argument that the right hon. Gentleman then used against my proposal was what he called the formidable effect it would have on rateable values. That is utter nonsense, because the total rateable value of the Greater London area as a whole is not in any way affected by the method of drawing the internal boundaries. I admit that there will be large differences in the rateable values of different boroughs, but those already exist under the Government's proposals, and I should like to give the Committee one or two figures.

The highest is Borough No. 1, with a rateable value of £95 million, which is four times the rateable value of the next highest—Chelsea and Kensington, with a rateable value of £24.7 million. The lowest is Borough No. 21, with a rateable value of £9 million. The Committee will observe that there is a factor of more than ten to one difference between the highest and the lowest. I have estimated the rateable value of the new borough proposed in the Amendment at £145 million, and the Minister is welcome to see my calculations if he likes. I have also estimated the rateable value of the next circle of boroughs delineated by the Amendment as varying between £11 million—which is the same as that for Deptford and Lewisham—and £34 million.

3.45 p.m.

Having worked all that out, I still say that the differences are quite irrelevant to the question whether or not the Amendment should be accepted, because Clause 64 gives the Minister power to make schemes to reduce disparities in the rates levied, by means of contributions from one local authority to another, either directly or through the Greater London Council. I therefore believe that any differences in rateable values that exist between one borough and another should not be allowed to influence our thinking. If the Minister has in mind the traditional associations of people in an area with their own boroughs, that is an argument against the Schedule as a whole, and not against the Amendment, because under the Bill not one local authority in the entire Greater London area remains intact as a separate entity.

I now prefer to the right hon. Gentlemen's point about the responsibilities of the central borough—although it is hardly worth wasting time on it. Quite naturally, I did not talk about whether this borough would be capable of shouldering the functions of housing health, child care, and so on. It is obvious that a borough with such immense resources as come from a rateable value of £145 million would be far more capable of carrying out those functions than would any of the smaller boroughs.

The Minister said that we were talking about an area in which 270,000 people live and into which 1¼ million people travel daily to work. He added that this created complex inter-relationships, but then claimed that it was better to have nine separate authorities to deal with those complex inter-relationships than to have one, as the Amendment proposes. I must refute the idea that the more complex an administrative problem becomes the more fingers there should be in the pie. Why are we setting up the Greater London Council at all? I thought that it was because we should recognise that there are certain local government functions that can only be carried out properly by one body that has powers that extend right to the fringe of the built-up area.

Similarly, I believe that these vital problems of planning, traffic engineering and transport must be concentrated in the hands of one authority covering Central London, where we have the very heart of the Metropolis, beating with its diurnal rhythm. It is nonsense to say that we can achieve the same ends by giving the Greater London Council strong powers to ensure that sensible interlocking plans are made by the boroughs in the central areas. Under the Bill, the Greater London Council has no powers over the boroughs in the central area that it does not possess over those boroughs that are further out. In any case, if, as I believe, it is absolutely necessary to secure such co-ordination, we should shape the administrative units accordingly.

The Minister further said that the central unit was artificial. My first remark is that it was agreed by his own predecessor with the Registrar-General, the L.C.C. and other outside bodies of experts. Secondly, we cannot claim that this is an artificial unit merely because its boundaries do not follow those of the metropolitan boroughs—they, too, are artificial.

In a sense, it can be said that any local government boundary is artificial because it is created by Parliament, but, if we are sensible, we should try to draw the local authority boundaries in such a way that good local government is facilitated. That is the ostensible purpose of the whole Bill and, in a nutshell, that is the purpose of this Amendment. I very much hope that the Minister has thought again since our last discussion, and will accept a modest dose of the reform on which he pretends to be so keen.

Sir Cyril Black (Wimbledon)

I should like to speak further to the Amendment in Schedule I, page 89, line 47—to leave out "2" and to insert "3"—on which a number of interventions were made in our last discussion by my hon. Friends the Members for Merton and Morden (Mr. Atkins) and Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr). I represent the third of the three districts that would be affected by the Amendment—London Borough No. 22.

I found the Minister's comments on this matter singularly unconvincing. He based the whole of his case upon the application of a mathematical formula. This seems to me to be making mathe- matics the master rather than the servant and to arrive at a result, if the formula be applied as the Minister suggested, which does very much less than justice to the areas concerned.

The area which we are dealing with, Greater London Borough No. 22, contains two complete parliamentary divisions and approximately two-thirds of a third Parliamentary division. Therefore, this area is represented in the. House at the moment by two Members and by about two-thirds of a third Member, if I may so describe it, because my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham represents the Borough of Mitcham, which, I think, is about two-thirds of his constituency, and also the Borough of Beddington and Wallington, which is approximately one-third.

What is suggested under the Bill is that an area which is considered only to be adequately represented in the House by two and two-thirds Members of Parliament would, nevertheless, be adequately represented on the Greater London Council by two members. In other words, the members on tie Greater London Council would represent larger constituencies than are represented by Members of Parliament. If that be local government and local representation, then the words mean something entirely different from the meaning which I have always attributed to them in the past. It is undeniable that no two representatives on the Greater London Council can represent this area adequately.

I want to make only one point in this connection, to make clear how absurd is this proposal. It is not unreasonable to suppose that for town planning, which becomes one of the most important functions of the Greater London Council, the committee of that council which would deal with that matter would probably contain about one-third of the whole membership of the Greater London Council. Bearing in mind the amount of detailed work involved in town planning over this vast area, it must be clear that the town planning committee would have delegated powers in the great majority of the matters that came before it. Therefore, in that town planning committee decisions would be taken which would vitally affect the whole of the future of town planning in the large area of Greater London Borough No. 22.

The position on the figures I have given is that the whole area has two-thirds of a chance of having one member on that town planning committee. It is quite possible that the whole area would be left with no one at all on the committee. Therefore, on all the town planning matters mast affecting it, this vitally important area on the south-west side of London might well find itself without a single voice when all these decisions are taken.

The situation at the moment is that this area is represented by 12 councillors and two aldermen on the present Surrey County Council. Each councillor represents about 15,000 electors. In the great majority of cases the county councillor lives in the area which he represents. He knows all the details of the area and he is accessible to his constituents, and the area is represented on all the committees of Surrey County Council, in some cases by two or even three members.

It is suggested in the Bill that on the town planning committee of the Greater London Council, perhaps the most important committee that will be set up by that council, this area is to have only two-thirds of a chance of having one representative. This is an absolute distortion of local government. There is no element of local government in it at all. I suggest that it is completely undemocratic to limit the representation of an area of this size to two members only. Our plea that representation be increased from two to three members is supported not only by the three Members for the Parliamentary division, but by Surrey County Council, the two borough councils, and Merton and Morden Urban District Council.

I beg the Minister to give further thought to this matter and to ensure that this important area is more adequately represented.

Mr. C. W. Key (Poplar)

I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to the Amendment on the Notice Paper in my name and in that of my hon. Friend the Member for Fu/ham (Mr. M. Stewart) which is designed to increase the number of representatives on the Greater London Council for Poplar, Stepney and Bethnal Green from two to three. It will be remembered that on Second Reading the Minister said that the number of members would be determined by dividing the number of electors in each borough by the Parliamentary allocation or quota and using the nearest full number. The aim was that when the Parliamentary boundaries had been reviewed, each borough would be divided by the Home Secretary into Greater London Council electoral divisions corresponding normally to Parliamentary constituencies, but until that happened the borough would be a single electoral area as a whole for the number of seats specified.

The electorate referred to by the Minister was the local government electorate divided by the Parliamentary average. It is a strange business to mix the two up in that way. In Part I of Schedule I the initial number of councillors to be elected on the Greater London Council in relation to the proposed London Borough No. 5, which comprises the existing Boroughs of Bethnal Green, Poplar and Stepney, is two, and it is submitted that it would be fair and equitable in all the circumstances to increase this allocation to three.

I have had worked out the allocations of all the boroughs and the number of representatives they get in proportion to the populations of the areas concerned. There are four boroughs which are to have one representative in each case for every 65,000 to 70.000 inhabitants. There are five boroughs with 70,000 to 75,000 inhabitants, five other boroughs with 75,000 to 80,000 inhabitants, eight boroughs with 80,000 to 85,000, six boroughs with 85,000 to 90,000 and three boroughs with just over 90,000. This makes a total of 31 boroughs, leaving out one place only, and that place is Poplar, Stepney and Bethnal Green. The average population in these cases is 102,687 for each member of the Greater London Council. That I claim to be a great injustice to Poplar, Stepney and Bethnal Green and it is a state of affairs which ought to be put right.

4.0 p.m.

We should remember that when these allocations are made, the Ministry will use the allocations in all probability for the purpose of deciding the Parliamentary divisions, and so on. This will mean not only that Poplar, Stepney and Bethnal Green will have only two members instead of three on the Greater London Council, but that they will have only two Parliamentary seats. This area suffered a great deal during the war. I know that the population decreased, but I would emphasise that it is now increasing and will continue to do so as development takes place. A great amount of building has been done by the London County Council. If we accept this allocation of two seats on the G.L.C. without protest, we shall find that we shall have only two Members of Parliament instead of the larger number that we should have.

If we analyse the situation we find there are great difficulties in deciding who is right and who is wrong. To illustrate the unfairness which arises from a strict application of the quota system, let me refer to two places, Nos. 5 and 25. In the case of No. 5, with a local government electorate of 139,000, the exact number of Greater London Council members according to the quota is 2.41, and the initial number of Greater London councillors in the Bill is 2. In the case of No. 25, with a local government electorate of 147,000, the figures are 2.54 and 3 respectively.

Further to illustrate the disparity in the case of London borough No. 5, by dividing the actual electorate of each London borough by the number of Greater London Council members initially allocated, No. 5 has a local government electorate per member of 69,000 with two members; but No. 25, with a local government electorate of 49,000, has three members, and No. 29 has a local government electorate of 49,000 with three members. That seems to me to be an unfair distribution if the population is used as a guide.

In relation to the average population per member of the Greater London Council overall, we find that Borough No. 5 is entitled to an allocation of 2.563 members on the Greater London Council and has been allotted 2. No. 1 area plus the City of London would be eligible for only 3.42 members—the nearest whole number being 3—but it is to be given 4; whereas in the case of Poplar, because its figure is a litle lower, it is given 2 instead of 3. It is important that we should get this number increased.

Mr. John Parker (Dagenham)

I support my right hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Key) and the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black). The whole question of the allocation of seats ought to be reviewed.

The Minister, when he replied to my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) at the end of our last debate on the Bill, said: The idea behind the representation is that ultimately each councillor on the Greater London Council will wherever possible represent an area corresponding to a Parliamentary constituency. That means that in defining the numbers on the Greater London Council we have had to pay regard to the sort of average number of constituents, electors, who would be in a Parliamentary constituency area. For that we are bound to look at what is called the electoral quota, which in this case comes out of the figure for England of 57,905. We are then bound to take the number of electors in the borough group concerned, divide it by the magic number of 57,905, and take the nearest whole number. When pressed about marginal cases and asked not to be rigid, he said: At the risk of being called rigid, I must point out that we have to work to the nearest whole number. We cannot have fractions of councillors."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th January, 1963; Vol. 670, c. 435.] The interesting point is that in answer to a Question that I put down on 22nd January asking what were the numbers of Parliamentary electors inside the Greater London area, the figure given was 5,578,351. In other words, if one proposes to have 100 councillors in the Greater London area, the quota for each of those 100 should be 55,783 and not the Parliamentary quota of 57,905.

We ought to know from the Minister whether, following the creation of the Greater London Council, when we next have a Parliamentary review, it is proposed to ask the Boundary Commissioners to give Greater London 4 Members of Parliament more than it is entitled to by the Parliamentary quota, for that is what the Minister's figures would appear to mean. Either there should be 96 Members of Parliament for this area and 96 members on the Greater London Council if the London constituencies are to coincide with the Parliamentary seats, or we should get away from the idea of making the Greater London constituencies and the Parliamentary constituencies coincide.

I think that it is unreasonable to ask the Boundary Commissioners to give Greater London 4 extra members, but if the Commissioners, when they draw up their new boundaries, cut down the number of seats in London by 4, does that mean that after the Greater London Council is set up the numbers will be cut to 96? If so, it would be reasonable to start off with 96, rather than start with 100 and then cut down the number to 96 when the redistribution takes place. We ought to have an answer on that point.

I can see no case for giving Greater London 4 extra members compared with the rest of England, but if we are going to do that, there ought to be a definite decision taken by Parliament. On the other hand, if we apply the quota of 55,783, which will be the correct quota on the basis of the Parliamentary electorate in Greater London, on the assumption that we have 100 members, then obviously, a case will have to be made out on that basis in any area.

I should have thought that it was right and proper, in creating a body like the Greater London Council, that each part of the area should be fairly represented. Take the whole of the Essex area, for example. That is to be given only 14 members on the Greater London Council. But on the basis of the London quota, it will be entitled to 15 members. I propose to say a little more on that point in connection with another Amendment.

I should have thought that, whatever kind of formula one applies, one should try to apply it in such a way that each area of London is fairly represented in comparison with any other area, and that one should not deal arbitrarily so that certain areas would be overrepresented and others under-represented. If there is to be overrepresentation by 4 members in the Greater London area, we ought to be told which are the areas to be overrepresented, and why. There is room here for a good deal of gerrymandering, for some areas which may have certain political allegiances will be overrepresented while others will be underrepresented. This is very unwise and unfair, and it is no way to begin setting up such a body as this with that kind of suspicion about it. To sum up, I want to know whether, and, if so, why, the Greater London area is to be given four extra Members of Parliament than the Parliamentary electorate justifies. On what principles are these four Members to be distributed? On the other hand, if we are to have 100 members on the Greater London Council, why cannot we adopt the quota for the Greater London area rather than the parliamentary quota?

Mr. Walter Edwards (Stepney)

I endorse what my hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) has said about the need for the Minister to consider these figures again, and I support what has been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Key) and by the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black).

The hon. Member for Wimbledon put his case very well, but the Minister will be interested to know that in Poplar, Stepney and Bethnal Green we have an even better case. According to figures which I have, the population in the hon. Gentleman's area is 188,000 and it is to have two members on the Greater London Council. Stepney, Poplar and Bethnal Green have a population of 205,000. On the basis of the local government electorate, there will be one member on the Council for every 58,943 electors in the hon. Gentleman's area, whereas in Stepney. Poplar and Bethnal Green there will be one elected member for the gigantic number of 69,500.

I can go on making these comparisons. Let us remember that this is a new Measure. It is to last for a long time and these figures will remain in force for a long time. Borough No. 29 has one elected representative on the Greater London Council on the basis of 49,000 local government electors, 20,000 less than the figure in Stepney, Poplar and Bethnal Green. Borough No. 25 has one member for just over 49,000. Borough No. 18 has one member for 49,000. Borough No. 11 has one member for 48,714. In the combined Boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, there is one member for 51,461.

There should be a better way of settling the representation than is provided under the Bill as it stands. It is grossly unfair that the Borough of Stepney, Poplar and Bethnal Green should be saddled with such small representation. With a population only 12,000 less than that in Kensington and Chelsea, lit is to have one member less on the Greater London Council.

The Minister cannot allow the Bill to go through like this. With all this unequal representation, will he still stick to his figure of 100? I do not complain about the new inner London boroughs having their representation, but there are some outside boroughs which have one councillor for 49,000 electors, whereas the East End of London, Stepney, Poplar and Bethnal Green, is to have only one representative for 69,000. All hon. Members will agree, I am sure, that it is grossly unfair. It should not be accepted by the Minister or countenanced by the House. If ever there was a case to cause the Minister to change his mind, this is it.

Does the Minister have to stick to his figure of 100? Why not give way to the hon. Member for Wimbledon in the case which he makes? Why not give way in the case which I am making for the new borough which is the most unrepresented of all the 32 new boroughs? Is the figure of 100 councillors sacrosanct? Why should it be? I believe—and I think that a large number of Conservatives in London believe—that the 100 is much too small a figure for the Council to be able to perform its enormous functions once the Bill goes on the Statute Book.

4.15 p.m.

I know that the Minister is a busy man, but, if he will find time to consider these cases again he will, I am sure, decide, on the basis of the figures, that there is a case here for representation fairer than the Schedule at present provides. He will be a much happier man if he comes to that conclusion, because he will know that, once the Bill is passed, all the new authorities will have better representation and it will be possible for the Greater London Council to begin without this bias in representation in various parts of the Greater London area.

I come now to the matter of parliamentary represention which was referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Poplar. As far as we have heard from the Government, Parliamentary constituencies will depend upon the number of members elected from the various new London boroughs to the Greater London Council. In Poplar, Stepney and Bethnal Green, when the war ended, there were seven Members of Parliament, and we needed seven Members of Parliament in order to give proper service to the people living in the area. Under the Bill, if it is accepted as it now stands and the number of Members of Parliament coincides with the number of councillors elected to the Greater London Council, our Parliamentary representation will be reduced to two.

Why should there be this drastic reduction in Parliamentary representation? We all look forward to living in a true democracy where people can go to their representatives and explain to them their views and problems. If the Schedule is not amended, the Bill will put the electorate as far as possible away from those who represent them. I know that we cannot go back to the seven, but at least we could go to three. We are justified in having three Members of Parliament in that area just as we are justified in having three members on the Greater London Council.

I beg the Minister to take note of these appeals, because they are conscientiously made on behalf of the people who live in the areas and of the people who represent those living there.

Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)

I support the Amendment. My right hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Key) and my hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. W. Edwards) have made a very strong case for it. The Minister has previously tried to argue this matter on the basis of a formula of dividing by, I think, 57,000. My hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) cast very considerable doubt on the validity of the whole of his argument, and the Minister should consider it again.

I wish briefly to draw attention to another important measuring rod, population. If the Greater London Council has 100 members, on average each will represent about 80,000 people. On that basis, one might, not unreasonably, take the population of a borough, divide it by 80,000 and see what is the nearest whole number. If that is done with the boroughs, one gets a very interesting result. We find that that formula is correctly followed with respect to all the boroughs except two. One of the exceptions is the borough of my hon. Friend the Member for Stepney, namely, Stepney, Popular and Bethnal Green, which gets less than it should under the formula because 80,000 divided into 205,000 gives a figure of just over 2½, but it is to have 2 representatives instead of 3.

The other exception is our dear old friend Westminster, Paddington and St. Marylebone, with the City of London in it, which gets one more representative than it should under the formula. Even if we add the population of the City of London to the 269,000 population of Westminster, Paddington and St. Marylebone, one does not arrive at the figure of 280,000 which is needed to get a figure of 3½ when 280,000 is divided by 80,000. Under the formula of population, that area is entitled to only 3 councillors, but, in fact, it is to have 4. As I have said, the borough of my hon. Friend the Member for Stepney is entitled to 3 members on the formula of population, but is to have only 2.

It is remarkable that the two exceptions concern a borough which everyone knows will be Tory, which is to have one more councillor than it should on the formula, and a borough which everyone knows will be Labour, which is to get one less than it should. If the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) has any further doubts about the purpose of introducing the Bill, this should resolve them for him.

Let me take the boroughs in order of population. We begin with the less populous boroughs with 166,000. The population then increases by quite small measures—166,000, 169,000, and so on—until we reach a group of five boroughs the most populous of which has a population of 189,000. In that group, the five least populous ranging from 166,000 to 189,000, the biggest gap between any two is 10,000. But after the 189,000 there is a gap of 16,000 before we come to Stepney, Poplar and Bethnal Green, which has a population of 205,000. There is a sort of natural break in the population series at that point. After that, the figures run at very close intervals—205,000, 209,000, 210,000 and 218,000. We do not find a gap of as much as 16,000 between one borough and another until we get to a borough with a population of 274,000. The following one has a population of 290,000.

Therefore, basically, by population, boroughs fall into three groups: boroughs with populations of 290,000 and above, boroughs with populations of from 205,000 to 290,000, and the five smallest ones with populations ranging from 166,000 to 189,000. The remark- able thing again is that the allocation of seats follows that pattern very closely, but not exactly. Those with a population of 290,000 and above are to have four seats, and the five smallest are to have two seats, which the Minister could, on population, defend, although he should pay attention to what the hon. Member for Wimbledon said.

One would expect the middle group, separated from the other two by margins of 16,000 population on either side, to have three seats each, and that is the case, but again with two exceptions: the Borough of Stepney, Poplar and Bethnal Green, which is to have two, and Westminster, Paddington, St. Marylebone and the City of London which is promoted to the group of boroughs which is to have four. This cannot be defended. It is idle for the Minister to pretend that this is a non-partisan Bill designed to bring about better government.

The Minister should listen to the pleas that have been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar and by my hon. Friend the Member for Stepney. I trust that my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green (Mr. Holman) will shortly catch your eye, Sir William, so that he may add his support to their pleas. This is a very serious matter. The Minister should not be content with the Schedule of numbers as it stands.

Mr. Percy Holman (Bethnal Green)

I protest against the Schedule on the ground of principle. It is based on local government electorates. It is technically a local government Bill, but behind it is the Parliamentary readjustment for the Greater London area which is to be based on the number of members for each of the new boroughs. To base the Parliamentary representation of this country on local government registers is going back to the past.

When I was a young man, m the first election in which I took part, the chairman of my Liberal Association had 35 Parliamentary votes and 35 local government votes. Under those conditions, there might be some justification for basing the Parliamentary representation on the electorate. But that has been swept away, and nominally, I believe, with the consent of the party opposite. That gentleman, if he were alive today, would have one Parliamentary vote.

The Parliamentary representation should be based either on the parliamentary electorate or on population, but under no circumstances should it be based on the local government electorate. In the Temples there are only about 3,000 Parliamentary electors, but over 16,000 local government electors. On that basis alone, No. 1 authority is getting 4 Members of Parliament instead of 3. As my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) indicated, No. 1 authority would have a reprsentation of 3.3 per cent. on the population basis, or 3·42 per cent, on the Parliamentary basis, but 3.7 per cent. on the local government register basis.

Is this Government so reactionary that they will try to force the Parliamentary registers in future to be based on the local government electorate in order to ensure that areas in which there are large offices with numerous directors getting their own vote as local government electors shall determine the way in which Parliamentary seats are allocated? If so, let the Minister admit it, or let him say that the parliamentary registers in future should be based either on population or on the Parliamentary vote.

The Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (Sir Keith Joseph)

Perhaps I should remind the Committee, first, that arguments based on differing degrees of representative capacity—that is, arguments that this councillor will represent 10,000 more people than that councillor —must surely take account of the fact that that is true of ourselves as we sit here today.

4.30 p.m.

I have opened The Times "Guide to the House of Commons", produced after the 1959 election, at a chance page. It happens to be the page with part of my constituency recorded upon it. I notice that the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Worsley) represents an electorate of just under 48,000, whereas the hon. and gallant Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Commander Pursey) represents an electorate of 72,500. It is because constituencies, with their numbers of electorate, are constantly shifting, with population movements and by other natural causes, that the Boundary Com- missioners do their regular work. All that this part of the Bill seeks to do is to make transitional arrangements. I will explain why.

The Government had to decide on what basis the Greater London Council should be elected. We had the advice of the Royal Commission that the Greater London councillors should represent an electoral area corresponding with a Parliamentary constituency. There was a good deal of criticism of that recommendation and the Government decided to follow it mainly, but not wholly.

The difference in the Government's proposals, contained in the Bill, is that the electoral area for the Greater London Council will correspond in average size with the Parliamentary constituency area, and each one will be contained within a London borough except where a Parliamentary constituency straddles two or more London boroughs. In the latter case, it will be for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to make warding orders which will group wards within the London borough on each side of the straddling boundary to make up a Greater London constituency.

We cannot, however, know what the Boundary Commissioners will do when they next consider Parliamentary constituency boundaries. Hon. Members opposite have spoken as if we have some sort of mandate. We cannot send any message to the Boundary Commissioners. It would he a sad day if we could. We shall have to wait to see what they, in their wisdom, decide. Broadly, the Government are saying that whatever is decided, a Greater London electoral area should correspond with the Parliamentary constituency as it is decided.

That still leaves us with the obligation to make transitional arrangements until we know what the Boundary Commissioners do with the constituency boundaries. That is why, in the Bill, we have had to work on what, I agree, are arbitrary mathematical figures. It is not that we are being arbitrary and selecting a figure out of the hat. It is because we want to bring it about that the Greater London Councillor will broadly represent what is at the moment a Parliamentary constituency.

That is of advantage to both sides of the House of Commons. Normally, it makes sense that the party organisations should work for each constituency, be it Greater London or Parliamentary within the same borough boundary, although that cannot always be secured. That is why we are working on the electoral quota for England of 57,905. We apply that figure to the current electorate. Here we have a choice. We can apply the figure either to the Parliamentary electorate in each borough group or to the local government electorate. In all cases except one, the answer of the sum is the same. Whether the quotient of 57,905 is divided into the local government electorate or into the Parliamentary electorate the answer comes the same, except in the case of—I leave the Committee to guess—

Mr. W. Edwards

Borough No. 1.

Sir K. Joseph

—Borough No. 1.

Here, we face a dilemma, because the local government electorate is larger than the Parliamentary electorate and we had to decide whether to apply the quota to the Parliamentary electorate or to the local government electorate. Since we are seeking the number of councillors on what is a local government body, we decided to take the local government electorate. That is why, in that one case, by choosing the local government electorate we arrive at an answer which just topples over the 3.5 and, therefore, qualifies for the nearest whole number, which in that case is higher.

Mr. Key

The Minister's calculations bear out what he says with regard to the people in borough No. 1. They also bear out my calculation with regard to the number of people in borough No. 5. The numbers given by the Minister were higher than the number. In my case, they were below the number.

Mr. Parker

In the answer which I quoted earlier, the Minister said that the number of local government electors in Greater London was 5,596,133, the only difference from the parliamentary electorate being 17,782 for the whole of the Greater London area. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green (Mr. Holman) has pointed out, practically all of that is in the City and the Temple area. Therefore, it becomes important only in one constituency. It is unfortunate that that area should be the one which is over-represented.

Sir K. Joseph

In answer to the right hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Key), I do not know where the difference between us is. The right hon. Gentleman himself did the sum that I have set out and, working on the electorate divided by the Parliamentary quota, it came to the answer of 2.4. Applying our rule of working to the nearest whole number, that gives the number of councillors of 2.

Let me, however, meet a whole number of other points which have been made. The relationship between population and electorate varies from area to area. This is something that, possibly, the Boundary Commissioners will take into account. The Commissioners have their own remit. They are enjoined to follow local authority boundaries where possible and, therefore, no doubt, they will take into account what we are doing by the Bill.

We cannot, however, say what the constituencies resulting from the Boundary Commissioners' recommendations will be. Therefore, the Greater London Council has at present 100 councillors, because there are 100 Members of Parliament representing the Greater Lon don area. After the Boundary Commissioners have done their work, however, there may well be more or less Members of Parliament representing the Greater London area and, therefore, more or less Greater London council lors. Indeed, if some Parliamentary constituencies straddle more than one London borough, there will to that extent be more Greater London councillors than there will be Members of Parliament covering the same area.

There is one point at which, if the committee so desires, a change can he made. At present, we are working on the electorate figures for each area provided by the Registrar-General. The Registrar-General will be publishing revised census figures in the middle of this year. If the Committee so wishes, and if there is time before the Bill becomes law—this depends not upon me, but upon how soon the Registrar-General's sums are completed—I could undertake to take away the whole of the column and work out all the sums again on the electorate figures resulting from the latest census. That would simply bring the transitional arrangements more up to date. It does not, cannot and will not represent the final shape of the Greater London Council, which will emerge only when the Boundary Commissioners have done their job. That I will gladly undertake to consider, if the Committee so wishes, and only, of course, if the raw material comes forward before this Bill reaches the Stature Book.

I would like to take up the point which my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Sir C. Black) made, that where a particular area has two or three councillors it may not get one of its councillors on to any particular committee. That is, I fear, a chance of local government, for councillors cannot be on every committee. That is not possible, and we must remember that in setting up the Greater London Council we are setting up a body which is required to take, really, a new view of local government by concentrating on the strategic functions. It is to be served, we hope, by new organs, for providing intelligence and research, and I do not see that my hon. Friend need be worried by the fear that inevitably councillors for any particular area may not cover whole range of the committees of the Council.

I hope that I have reconciled the Committee to the inevitably transitional nature of these provisions and have shown that, if we are to follow what I believe is generally agreed to be the right method—that of identifying the number of Greater London councillors with the number of Members of Parliament sitting for the Greater London area.

This is the only way to handle it. I hope that in the light of this explanation the Amendment seeking to change the number of Greater London councillors will not be pressed and will, indeed, be withdrawn.

Mr. W. Edwards

Would the right hon. Gentleman tell the Committee, apart from the vague undertaking which

he has given about figures to be supplied by the Registrar-General and to be inserted in this Schedule, whether there is the slightest possibility of the number of councillors in each of these new boroughs being altered within the next twenty or twenty-five years?

Sir K. Joseph

Oh, yes. As from time to time the Boundary Commissioners make their recommendations, and possibly alter constituencies, this may well happen, but till the Commissioners have taken account of the boundaries we are making by the Bill we cannot be sure how the different wardings will lead to Greater London Council electoral areas, and that is why, for the first election, the Greater London councillors are being elected not on a constituency basis, but a borough basis.

Mr. Lubbock

I must confess that I am absolutely amazed that the Minister has spoken for a quarter of an hour without referring to any of the points that I made in my speech just now.

Sir K. Joseph

The hon. Gentleman accused me of giving only a brief reply to his speech late the other night and I looked it up and I found that while his speech covered five columns of the OFFICIAL REPORT I answered in a speech which covered four and a half columns. I felt that I answered every point he made then and I hope that he will not think it discourteous that I did not go over the same ground again.

Mr. Lubbock

If we are to have equal numbers of columns I suggest that I have now caught up with the Minister and that he might add a few more. I think that I demolished the arguments he used the other night, particularly the spurious one about rateable values. I hoped that he would give some response to the points I made this afternoon.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out, to "4" in line 13, stand part of the Schedule:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 257, Noes 4.

Division No. 50.] AYES [4.44 p.m.
Agnew, sir Peter Batsford, Brian Bidgood, John C.
Alan, Robert (Paddington, S.) Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Biffen, John
Allason, James Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Blggs-Davison, John
Atkins, Humphrey Bell, Ronald Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel
Balniel, Lord Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Bishop, F. P.
Barber, Anthony Berkeley, Humphry Black, Sir Cyril
Barlow, Sir John Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Bossom, Hon. Clive
Bourne-Alton, A. Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)
Box, Donald Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe) Peel, John
Brewis, John Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Percival, Ian
Bromley-Davenport.Lt.-Col.SlrWalter Hirst, Geoffrey Plckthorn, Sir Kenneth
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Hocking, Philip N. Pilklngton, Sir Richard
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Holland, Philip Pitman, Sir James
Bryan, Paul Hollingworth, John Pitt, Dame Edith
Buck, Antony Hopkins, Alan Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch
Bulfard, Denys Hornby, R. P. Price, David (Eastleigh)
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P. Prior, J. M. L.
Burden, F. A. Howard, John (Southampton, Test) Profumo, Rt. Hon. John
Butcher, Sir Herbert Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John Proudfoot, Wilfred
Campbell, Rt. Hon. SirD.(Belfast,S.) Hughes-Young, Michael Quennell, Miss J. M.
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Hulbert, Sir Norman Ramsden, James
Cary, Sir Robert Hurd, Sir Anthony Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Channon, H. P. G. Hutchison, Michael Clark Rees, Hugh
Chataway, Christopher Iremonger, T. L. Rees-Davies, W. R.
Chichester-Clark, R. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Ronton, Rt. Hon. David
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) James, David
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Robertson, Sir D. (C'thn's & S'th'ld}
Clarke, Brig.Terence(Portsmth, W.) Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir B. (B'pool,S.)
Cleaver, Leonard Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Cole, Norman Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith Russell, Ronald
Corfield, F. V. Kaberry, Sir Donald St. Clair, M.
Costaln, A, P. Kerans, Gdr. J. S, Sharpies, Richard
Coulson, Michael Kerby, Capt. Henry Shaw, M.
Craddock, Sir Beresford (spelthorne) Kerr, Sir Hamilton Skeet, T. H. H.
Crawley, Aldan Kershaw, Anthony Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver Kimball, Marcus Smithers, Peter
Crowder, F. P. Kirk, Peter Smyth, Rt. Hon. Brig. Sir John
Cunningham, Knox Lambton, Viscount Spearman, Sir Alexander
Curran, Charles Lancaster, Col. C. G. Speir, Rupert
Currie, G. B. H. Leavey, J. A. Stanley, Hon. Richard
Dalkeith, Earl of Leburn, Gilmour Stevens, Geoffrey
d'Avigdor-Goldsmld, Sir Henry Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F. Lilley, F. J. P. Stodart, J. A.
Digby, Simon Wingfield Lindsay, Sir Martin Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E, M. Linstead, Sir Hugh Studholme, Sir Henry
Drayson, G. B. Litchfield, Capt. John Summers, Sir Spencer
du Cann, Edward Longbottom, Charles Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Duncan, Sir James Longden, Gilbert Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Most Side)
Eden, John Loveys, Walter H. Taylor, Sir William (Bradford, N.)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Teeling, Sir William
Elliott,R.W.(Nwcastle-upon-Tyne,N.) MacArthur, Ian Temple, John M.
Emery, Peter McLaren, Martin Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Errington, Sir Eric Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)
Erroll, Rt. Hon. F, J. Maclean,SirFltzroy(Bute&N.Ayrs.) Thomas, Peter (Conway)
Farey-Jones, F. W. McLean, Neil (Inverness) Thompson, Sir Kenneth (Walton)
Farr, John Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.) Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Fell, Anthony Macpherson,Rt.Hn.Niall(Dumfries) Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Finlay, Graeme Maddan, Martin Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Fisher, Nigel Maginnie, John E. Turner, Colin
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Maltland, Sir John Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Freeth, Denzil Markham, Major Sir Frank Tweedsmulr, Lady
Gammans, Lady Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest van Straubenzee, W. R.
Gardner, Edward Marshall, Douglas Vane, W. M. F.
George, Sir John (Pollok) Mathew, Robert (Honltor) Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Gibson-Watt, David Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Vickers, Miss Joan
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk Central) Mawby, Ray Wakefield, Sir Wavell
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Walder, David
Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Mills, Stratton Walker, Peter
Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Miscampbell, Norman Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek
Goodhew, Victor Montgomery, Fergus Wall, Patrick
Gower, Raymond Moore, Sir Thomas (Ayr) Webster, David
Green, Alan More, Jasper (Ludlow) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Gresham Cooke, R. Morgan, William Whitelaw, William
Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. ft. G. Morrison, John Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Nabarro, Sir Gerald Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Harris, Reader (Helton) Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Noble, Rt. Hon. Michael Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard Wise, A. R.
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd) Orr-Ewing, c. Ian Woodhouse, C. M.
Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Osborn, John (Hallam) Woodnutt, Mark
Harvie Anderson, Miss Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) WoollHam, John
Hastings, Stephen Page, Graham (Crosby) Worsley, Marcus
Hay, John Page, John (Harrow, West)
Heaid, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Panned, Norman (Kirkdale) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Partridge, E. Mr. Michael Hamilton and
Mr. Ian Fraser
Bowen, Roderlc (Cardigan) Grlmond, Rt. Hon. J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Dodds, Norman Hooson, H. E. Mr. Wade and Mr. Lubbock.
Mr. James MacColl (Widnes)

I beg to move, in page 88, line 13, column 3, to leave out "4" and to insert "3".

The Chairman

I propose that together with this Amendment we should discuss the following Amendments: In page 88, line 14, column 2, leave out "Paddington and".

In line 14, column 2, at end insert: and so much of the metropolitan borough of Paddington as lies south of the boundary referred to in paragraph 1 of Part II of this Schedule".

In page 90, leave out line 24.

In line 24, column 2, leave out "boroughs of Wembley and" and insert "borough of".

In line 24, column 2, at end insert: and so much of the metropolitan borough of Paddington as lies north of the boundary referred to in paragraph I of Part II of this Schedule".

In line 24, column 3, leave out "4" and insert "2".

In line 24, column 3, leave out "4" and insert "5".

In line 25, column 2, leave out "borough of Harrow" and insert: boroughs of Harrow and Wembley". In line 25, column 3, leave out and insert "5".

In line 32, at end insert: The areas unallocated, that is to say the boroughs of Wembley and Willesden, by order of the Minister followingacomprehensive enquiry.

In line 34, at end insert: 1. The boundary between the London boroughs numbered 1 and 28 respectively in the said Part I in the existing metropolitan borough of Paddington shall be such as the Minister may by order determine on or near the general line beginning at the junction of Harrow Road and Edgware Road and running westwards along Harrow Road to Bishop's Bridge thence along the railway to the point where it crosses the boundary with the existing metropolitan borough of Kensington, thence north-westwards along that boundary to the point where it meets the existing county boundary in Harrow Road.

In line 20, column 2, leave out the urban district of Ruislip-Northwood".

In line 25, column 2, after "Harrow", insert: and the urban district of Ruislip-Northwood".

Mr. Key

On a point of order. Are we not to be allowed, Sir William, to vote upon the Amendment standing in my name, in page 88, line 21, column 3, to leave out "2" and to insert "3"?

The Chairman

The right hon. Gentleman is correct in believing that there should be the opportunity of a Division on his Amendment, if that is possible, but that will only come in due course, at 7.15 p.m. or thereabouts. I would say to the Committee that there is this slight difficulty, that if, in fact, the previous Amendments take up the time to 7.15 p.m. then the Committee has no option but to go on to the following Amendments. It would then not be possible to vote on the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment. However, provided that the Committee does not take up all the time on the previous Amendments, it will be possible to vote on the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment, as was originally intended.

Mr. MacColl

I understand that a number of other Amendments are being taken with the Amendment which I have moved, but the only ones with which I personally am concerned are the following: In page 88, line 14, column 2, leave out "Paddington and".

In page 88, line 14, column 2, at end insert: and so much of the metropolitan borough of Paddington as lies south of the boundary referred to in paragraph 1 of Part II of this Schedule.".

In page 90, line 24, column 2, at end insert: and so much of the metropolitan borough of Paddington as lies north of the boundary referred to in paragraph 1 of Part II of this Schedule".

In line 24, column 3, leave out "4" and insert "5".

In line 34, at end insert: 1. The boundary between the London boroughs numbered 1 and 28 respectively in the said Part I in the existing metropolitan borough of Paddington shall be such as the Minister may by order determine on or near the general line beginning at the junction of Harrow Road and Edgware Road and running westwards along Harrow Road to Bishop's Bridge thence along the railway to the point where it crosses the boundary with the existing metropolitan borough of Kensington, thence north-westwards along that boundary to the point where it meets the existing county boundary in Harrow Road.

This group of Amendments deals with an interesting but fairly simple operation which is to remove from Borough No. 1 what one might call North Paddington and place it in Borough No. 28, which, at the moment, is Wembley and Willesden. I shall not be concerned in the fate of Borough No. 28 by the time we have finished in Committee. Whether it is divided in two or remains one does not really affect my argument except that my argument is strengthened somewhat if Wembley and Willesden are split because, obviously, the case for increasing the size of Willesden is greater if it is stripped from Wembley than if it is combined with it. But the argument is not fundamental in this Committee.

When a discussion was going on about these proposals, Willesden made alternative suggestions to the four Town Clerks who were going round looking at the boundaries. One was that a part of Paddington should be joined with Willesden and, if that could not be done, that the whole of Paddington should be joined with Willesden. As I understand, it preferred that the borough should be split. I think that that was a prudent view to take.

5.0 p.m.

I did not absolutely agree with the original Willesden proposals because I thought that they chose the wrong boundary. That would be rectified by one of my Amendments. But I was attracted by them. I have long thought that, generally, this was the solution to the problem in that part of the area and I welcome the fact that Willesden took the initiative in suggesting it. I think that it was rather nice of Willesden, because I recognise that there are jucier plums going in local government than this particular section of the Borough of Paddington, because, although the more populous part, it is the poorer of the two in terms of rateable value. I think that the boundary I suggest is the sensible one to have.

There are two fundamental objections to this proposal. One is that it means taking an area out of the old administrative county and putting it into the old County of Middlesex—in other words, into an area outside the proposed education area. But in the Bill there is already a precedent for it in the proposal to take an area out of the old administrative county and put it in Essex. Therefore, the objection is not insuperable. It may create difficulties of adjustment, but I do not think that we should run away from them.

If we are to reorganise the local government boundaries in this very ruthless way, then we should do it properly. The present proposals, although they have certain advantages of peace and quiet and administrative ease of transition, run away from a very grave objection to the present split between London and Middlesex. It is foolish to go to all this bother to reorganise and still run away from that important question.

The other grave objection is that this proposal would take into a comparatively poor area—if I may so speak of Willesden—an area which is also comparatively poor. North Paddington would turn its back on the lights and glitter of Piccadilly. For Willesden to take over an area with a population of about 73,500 and a rateable value per head of about £12, is not all that attractive. But these financial arguments are limited, because, with adjustments and rate deficiency grants, to keep an area because it is an easy one from the point of view of getting more money is not necessarily the wisest thing to do. I suggest that the wisest thing would be to recognise that there is much more to be said for the boundary I propose than there is for what is suggested at the moment.

The Willesden proposal was to take the boundary along the canal. I believe that the right boundary is the main-line railway. A railway boundary is in almost every way a better one than a road or a canal, because it is one thing which absorbs no local services. A road, however wide it may be, has to be lighted, cleaned and crossed, all of which involve a certain amount of local government awareness of the existence of the other side of the boundary. With a main line railway there is no such meeting of interests.

My proposal is that we should start at the Edgware Road, touch the Great Western main line and go along it as far as we can until eventually we hit the county boundary. It may be asked why we could not include some of Kensington. But I want to avoid fighting two battles at once. At the moment, I am interested in fighting the battle to get North Paddington in Willesden and am not worried about Kensington. I do not know whether there is a plausible case for Kensington, but I do know Paddington's case.

The argument for my proposals is that they involve a recognition of the extreme complexity of the present boundary. Nobody looking at them rationally would consider that the boundary between Paddington and Willesden and that between London and Middlesex are sensible. In the first place, there is a great drop into the heart of Paddington, the Carlton Ward, which is a sort of peninsula which sticks out from Willesden and which has to be crossed to get from one part of Paddington to another. Certainly, there is a very mixed boundary of streets separating the two areas at present.

I do not know whether the hon. Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Skeet) ever occupied himself on a soap box at The Chippenham. I did as a youth and I never knew whether I was addressing the electors of East Willesden or of Paddington. Perhaps it was a matter of which way the wind was blowing. The whole thing is inextricably confused. For instance, the recreation ground is one of the few nice amenities in that part of the world. After one has finished running round the track, one may face Paddington and Willesden in several directions. There are statutory provisions allowing the citizens of Willesden certain local rights over the recreation ground because it is on the boundary, which is very confused.

The kind of social problems that exist are more common to Willesden and North Paddington than to North Paddington and Westminster. The densely populated areas of the Harrow Road Ward are similar to those which are to be found in Willesden. The similar problems of densely occupied houses require the skilled experience of public health inspectors who know such problems. That kind of service can be much better handled between Willesden and North Paddington than by an area which has its mind fixed on Piccadilly Circus.

A rather pleasanter aspect is that Willesden is a borough which goes in a good deal for municipal entertainments, for civic activities. This is the kind of thing from which an area like North Paddington is cut off to a great extent because of its position right on the far northern edge of Borough No. 1, as it is to be called—the new Westminster Borough. I would much rather be a citizen of Willesden than a citizen of Westminster. I would feel happier that the people of Willesden were the kind who talked my language, had the same kind of interests and operated on the level of a comparatively humble rateable value. I do not believe in selling my birthright for a mess of potage just for the sake of being able to say that I am part of the rich boroughs of Marylebone and Westminster, and therefore have to go into a borough which is not socially viable.

There is no doubt that being on the wrong side of the railway tracks is one of the biggest social blemishes, and North Paddington is on the wrong side of the railway track in this new borough, whereas looking towards Willesden one is on the right side of the railway track because one is looking into an old-established, vigorous, and active borough which has the same kind of population and the same kind of problems as the northern part of the borough. I think, therefore, that this would be a very satisfactory way of doing it.

I do not want to spend long developing this argument, because I know that we are running against time, but all through its history there has been a subtle distinction between Paddington North and Paddington South. It goes back to 1900 when the Queen's Park Ward part of Chelsea was embedded into the old Paddington vestry. They disliked having them. They felt that it would be a difficult social area to have, and that suspicion and jealousy between the old Chelsea part of the borough and the rest of the borough still exists.

Immediately the new borough was formed these tensions between the two sides of the railway track became acute. South Paddington vestrymen wanted to put in as mayor an old vestry hack who had been serving for many years. North Paddington knew that they could not resist this powerful vested interest, and that as they were the poorer area they would get the rough end of the stick. However, they found an ingenious solution. They went to the Conservative Member of Parliament, who lived on the right side of the railway track but who had electoral responsibilities for North Padding-ton, and invited him to be the first mayor. They caught the vestrymen on the hop. They dared not tell Sir John Aird that he was socially inferior and not fit for the job. 'The people had him where they wanted him because he was dependent on their votes, and so they managed to get in as mayor somebody who would look after their interests.

Although some of these differences have been healed, that kind of tension is a real social problem, and now it will be made worse by the fact that we are to have this long continuous area south of the railway tracks going right down to Westminster. We do not want a little hinterland of poorer people attached as a sort of colony. We ought to recognise the geographical facts of the situation. North of Westbourne Park Road there is a continuing area including North Paddington and Willesden which Willesden has recognised by making this generous, and I think handsome, approach to North Paddington, and I hope very much that it will be accepted.

The only other matter is to mention the Amendment, which is to alter the allocation of the membership on the Greater London Council. Clearly if North Paddington goes into Wembley the least dowry it can take is one more seat on the Greater London Council, as there are 73,000 people being transferred from one area to another.

5.15 p.m.

Mr. T. H. H. Skeet (Willesden, East)

There seems to be some degree of reciprocity between the councillors of Paddington and Willesden. The hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) is a councillor of Paddington, and what he is seeking to do is to hand over a piece of the territory of that area to Willesden. He has indicated several salient points. He is handing over a poor area which will add to the burdens of Willesden. That must be understood. He is crossing a county boundary, and he has mentioned several other difficulties, but he says that this is an area which shares something of the same social problems.

It is important to realise that the plan which the hon. Gentleman has formulated is not the same as that of the Willesden Borough Council. He indicated that the council put the boundaries in the wrong position. There is plenty of room for error, but perhaps we might for a moment consider this on a community basis.

The Willesden Borough Council's plan was something like that put forward by the hon. Member for Widnes. It purported to cover three areas, West Kilburn, Westbourne Green and Maida Vale. The interesting thing about this is that these three community areas are outside Willesden, if a line is drawn through Carlton Vale, and therefore I do not think that even on the ground of community boundaries would it be sufficient to consider this as appropriate for inclusion.

There is another way of looking at it, whether one is going to allow the depredations by or in Willesden into or from other areas, when one is faced with agreed positions all round. Hampstead has agreed with its accommodation and, generally speaking, Paddington, Hammersmith and Acton have also agreed. The Willesden Borough Council agreed to go in with Paddington, and perhaps I might quote the Council's statement which says: If notwithstanding the recommendations in this statement and by other local authorities, the Government insist on reform by amalgamation, rather than by boundary revision, it is submitted that the most intelligent amalgamation for Willesden—as this statement's contents indicate—would be to join with Paddington… I think that if the Willesden Council is prepared to consider it on this basis, we might expand it further and consider whether it would be appropriate to go in with Wembley.

Another important factor is public opinion. Fairly recently I observed in the London Press that it was the intention of Wembley to raise 100,000 signatures, but that this was frustrated by the weather and other factors, and in the end only 3,000 signatures were obtained.

Mr. Ronald Russell (Wembley, South)

Five thousand.

Mr. Skeet

I accept that correction. But if only 5,000 signatures were collected, it shows that there is either inertia of public opinion, or, possibly, that public opinion is not against the Government's proposition to join the two boroughs. I can give Wembley this solace with regard to things in Willesden. If they want to consider canvassing the views of the local people, I can tell them that many of them are not concerned about this, and that most of the opposition can be traced to the political leaders on the Council in Willesden who are against it and have put forward a case which I think they sincerely believe, but which I consider to be wrong in the circumstances.

I think that one should pay great attention to what concerns the man in the street, and I think that what he is concerned about is formulating a policy with these two boroughs involving looking well ahead, and I am glad to have heard this afternoon from the hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. W. Edwards) that what we are looking to is not 1963, but probably 1970 or 1980 because there is unlikely to be another major Bill of this kind before the House by then.

There is also the question whether Wembley should be added to Harrow. This is rather new. The report of the Town Clerk of Oxford states, on page 40: They would not favour being joined to Harrow as the resulting borough would…be too large. The argument at this stage was that Wembley wanted to secure various sections of neighbouring boroughs—part of Harrow, or part of Harrow and Ealing, or, alternatively, part of Harrow, Ealing and Hendon. Now we find an Amendment, which we shall come to later on, providing that Wembley shall join not with Willesden but with the whole of Harrow

The Temporary Chairman (Sir Harry Legge-Bourke)

To which Amendment is the hon. Member referring?

Mr. Skeet

There are two, Sir Harry —both in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell) in page 90, line 25, I understand that they will be considered together.

There seems to have been a certain change of ground here. Formerly Wembley was not prepared to agree to the merging of the two boroughs, because it thought that it was right to do as Willesden Borough Council suggested, namely, to level out the boundaries with its neighbours, and also—as the hon. Member for Widnes suggests—that Paddington should creep across into Willesden. Apparently this line has now been rejected. Overtures are now being made to Harrow, to join up with it in its entirety. I hope that one of the Members who sit for Harrow constituencies will have an opportunity of telling us whether Harrow would be in favour of such a proposition.

This is the general set-up at the moment: if Willesden is united with Wembley, the combined population will be about 296,000. If, on the other hand, we have a unification of Wembley and Harrow, the population will be about 334,000. All round the periphery of this area we have agreed combinations. I submit that if my right hon. Friend is not prepared to accept my suggestion this matter ought to be considered a little more carefully. I pray in aid something else that the town clerk said, namely: that it might conceivably be permissible for Willesden to remain alone. That possibility should be examined more thoroughly. If I were asked to give my view at this stage, without further analysis, I would support my right hon. Friend and vote accordingly.

Time and time again the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) has indicated that Willesden has lamentable housing conditions. I agree, but I should have thought that the hon. Member would be doing a great service to his borough if he looked in the direction of Wembley for some relief. Willesden is short of land, whereas Wembley has a lot of it. I cannot do better than refer to a letter which appeared in the local newspaper, apparently written by a citizen of Harlesden. He said: I have good reason to be interested in the proposed merger of Willesden and Wembley. My family is in desperate need of rehousing. I am in a flat of three rooms, and under the council's points scheme I have 17½ points in the 4-bedroom group. I have been told, by the housing manager of Willesden, that it is unlikely I shall be considered in the foreseeable future. I am like a man drowning, grasping at the hope of an amalgamation with a borough, whose population figures per acre are 20, as against Willesden's 37. It would seem to me that this is a heaven-sent opportunity for our Labour councillors to get back into grace…and throw aside party affiliations and considerations. That seems to indicate what should be done.

I want to carry the matter a little further. In Willesden the density is 37.7 per acre, and in Wembley it is 19.9. From the educational point of view, Wembley has vacant spaces and parks. There are only 242 acres of open space in Willesden, whereas there are 750 acres in Wembley. In parentheses, I would point out the very important fact that Willesden's schools do not have the necessary playing field accommodation. If Willesden were united with Wembley additional playing space would be provided just over the border.

It is also worth considering that if the boroughs were to remain as recommended by the Report of the Royal Commission at their former sizes, neither borough would be an education authority, but if they were merged and had a population of over 200,000 they would become a full education authority vested with the necessary functions. That should be remembered when we consider whether we ought to combine or not.

Another significant factor is the question whether Willesden has the necessary resources for the plans that lie ahead. A penny rate in Willesden will raise £13,000. A penny rate in Wembley will raise £12,700—although Willesden's population is 171,000 and Wembley's is only 125,000. It is quite clear where the resources lie. At present they lie north of the border.

Secondly, there is the question of liability. The loan debt is £52 per head in Willesden, and £37 in Wembley. It therefore appears that what Willesden is short of—namely, land and financial resources—are available in Wembley—

Wing Commander Eric Bullus (Wembley, North)

What authority has my hon. Friend for saying that land is available for building in Wembley? It is already built-up for housing purposes, and has several thousand names on its waiting list.

Mr. Skeet

My hon. Friend will no doubt bear in mind that Wembley's housing list is not as extensive as that of Willesden. He will also remember that these two areas vary vastly in density.

Wing Commander Bonus

That does not make land available.

Mr. Skeet

The density in Wembley is 19.9 and in Willesden it is 37.7 per acre. That indicates that Willesden should go north and not south into Paddington, where the density is about 86.2 per acre. These matters should be kept closely to the fore. I should have thought that it ought to be the aim of the Willesden Borough Council to secure a decent future for its citizens, and that the people of Wembley should look at the whole situation from a humane angle. I am sure that if those two authorities got together they could come to a satisfactory arrangement.

There has been considerable argument about the building of a new town hall and office block, involving the expenditure of between £750,000 and £1 million Wembley has an extremely good town hall block, which can be reached from Willesden by tube train. If the merger came about it would be unnecessary to build a corresponding installation in Willesden. Those are all factors which make it desirable that, with the present knowledge before us, these two boroughs should be united.

From a reading of the local newspapers it would appear that the borough council does not regard the difficulties involved in the transitional arrangements as being insurmountable. It is true that the two boroughs have differed politically for the last 26 years. One is Socialist-controlled and the other Conservative-controlled, and they act and think differently. But the important point is that most of the people in Willesden do not know of this proposed merger, and many are not concerned. They are prepared to leave it to the Government to conduct the process through to what they consider to be the necessary conclusion.

5.30 p.m.

I know that these two boroughs have been radically estranged for a long period. This is not simply a case of Pyramus and Thisby carrying on a conversation through a chink in the wall. I regret that there has not been more collaboration between the two. I suggest that it would be a good thing if these two boroughs got together and found some common ground for discussion. They share the fact that their Parliamentary representatives, the hon. Members who represent the Willesden constituencies and the Wembley constituencies, are trying to formulate a plan for the good of all their constituents in future years and not just simply in 1963.

I can speak only for myself. I am not concerned about the political implications of this arrangement. I am prepared to decide this matter on other grounds. Is it good for Willesden? To that question I would answer, "Yes". Is it good for Wembley? In answer to that I say that the matter should be regarded from the point of view of humanity, and I am sure that the hon. Members who represent Wembley would say precisely the same. Arguments have been advanced about transportation. There are two tube train lines which run through these two boroughs. There may be a scarcity of bus routes, but this is a matter which could be rearranged in co-operation with the London Transport Executive.

I maintain that "splendid isolation" is no more good for Willesden than for Britain. Some of the arguments which have been advanced on sociological grounds must be faced. But, if there is the will to do so, we could work together. Willesden would have to its credit the availability of more land for building and for the housing of people who have been on the housing list for many years and for whom there is no opportunity to acquire housing accommodation in Willesden. The compounded boroughs would have greater resources, which so far they have not possessed, to carry out projected plans.

If we consider the proposition made by the hon. Member for Widnes we realise that it would result in adding liabilities to a borough already heavily burdened because of its low rateable value. The hon. Gentleman would like to have joined similar property, but I should like to see mixed rateable values in the borough which would provide a better basis for future development.

Here we have a proposition advanced by the Government and endorsed by the Town Clerk of Oxford. If the Minister will not accede to my request to look at this again and obtain more information and if he proposes to decide the matter today I am prepared to support him because the proposition is in my opinion in the interests of the two boroughs.

Mr. M. Stewart

On a point of order Sir Harry. I think that the Committee would be grateful if you would give hon. Members some guidance about the Amendments which we are discussing with the Amendment which has been moved. I believe that we are discussing Amendment No. 9 to Schedule 1. Could you remind us which are the Amendments we are discussing with it and on which of them a vote may be called and if it were called—say on Amendment No. 38—when the vote would take place?

The Temporary Chairman

We are discussing Amendment No. 9 and with it Amendments Nos. 10, 12, 37 to 43 inclusive, 46, 48, 71 and 72. The hon. Gentleman has asked me about Amendment No. 38. If a Division is desired on that Amendment, it would take place when we have dealt with the preceding Amendments. Then of course, under the timetable, hon. Members would have to decide whether they wished to divide on the Amendment.

Mr. Stewart

I am obliged.

Mr. Laurence Pavitt (Willesden, West)

I wish to refer to Amendment No. 38, which is in my name, in Schedule 1, page 90, line 24, column 2, to leave out "boroughs of Wembley and" and to insert "borough of"; and also to the consequential Amendment which is No. 40 on the Notice Paper, in column 3 in the same page and line to leave out "4" and to insert "2".

I was interested in the comments of the hon. Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Skeet) who seems to be the odd man out in our discussion on this series of Amendments. He is not, as it were "Mr. Facing Two Ways", he is "Mr. Facing Three Ways". The hon. Gentleman started by saying that he wanted an inquiry because he is not certain that everything is all right. He then quoted from the report of the town clerks and said that he thought that Willesden might be a viable area by itself. Thirdly, the hon. Gentleman said that he will support the Government in marrying Willesden to Wembley.

Mr. Skeet

I said that if the matter were to be decided now and the Amendment which I have tabled not accepted, I should support the Government.

Mr. Pavitt

I am still not very satisfied. I listened with care to what the hon. Member for Willesden, East had to say. I am afraid that the operation of the guillotine will prevent me from having sufficient time to discuss this matter fully, but I should like to put a question to the Minister regarding an inquiry. Were an inquiry held, in view of our previous discussions, would it be the responsibility of the Willesden ratepayers to meet the cost? If an inquiry were held in order to ascertain where the boundaries should be put, I understand that it could be conducted by the Home Office. If so, would the charges involved be the responsibility of the Home Office or of the Borough of Willesden? I should like to know whether the hon. Member for Willesden, East is prepared to incur a liability for the Willesden ratepayers without obtaining their express permission so to do. It seems that for three years the hon. Gentleman has been at odds with the Borough of Willesden and has been fighting a private vendetta.

Mr. Skeet

I resent that statement. I have had no private vendetta against the borough council at all. My sole idea is to improve the lot of the individual citizens in Willesden. That has been my sole purpose.

Mr. Pavitt

I must apologise if I have offended the hon. Gentleman about the private vendetta which, I contend, goes on. But he has confessed that he has not been paying attention to what is happening in the locality. He has been listening vaguely to the voice of the man-in-the-street. He has not been worrying about the views of the local associations and the borough council and it seems that he has followed his own individual line. Not only has he not worried about the views of the local organisations which I listed in a previous debate, but he has not worried about what his hon. Friends who represent Wembley think about the matter.

I should like to thank the hon. Members who represent Wembley for their support of my Amendment, and also the hon. Member for Putney (Sir H. Lin-stead), and I wish to express my appreciation of the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl). Practically every argument advanced by the hon. Member for Widnes in favour of the amalgamation of Willesden with parts of Paddington could be reversed and used as an argument against amalgamation with Wembley. Regarding the differences about the boundary line between his proposals and those of Willesden Borough Council, either line would correspond closely to Sir Patrick Abercrombie's view in his County of London Plan which shows this as a viable community.

We oppose amalgamation with Wembley on geographical grounds. As was demonstrated by my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes, to the south there is a most unnatural boundary in the Greater London area. But in the north there is the most natural boundary between Wembley and Willesden. There is the North Circular Road, the River Brent and the Welsh Harp. In fact, there are no means of communication between the two boroughs except two arteries. It is a body politic without any veins. Two roads run across the boroughs and two railways. But the railways commute to the City of London, and on the Metropolitan Line from Wembley Park to Baker Street the trains do not even stop at any stations in Willesden. We have this absurd situation of two boroughs being married together with only two means of communication between them by road. Over the years we have developed two different communities. Possibly one could cross by bridges, but inevitably the communications have been funnelled through only two places. The land in between is used for sewerage works, workshops and factories. Nobody lives on the boundaries. There are no roads on the boundary except this arterial road, the North Circular.

In this desire to remain separate there is nothing but mutual respect between the two boroughs. We have friendly relations, but I must point out that we are as different as chalk and cheese. The Minister is trying to marry two incompatibles. It is clear from the whole of our social structure that we are two boroughs. We could live happily as neighbours, but if we are put under one roof it will be extremely difficult.

We also have our traditions. In the Domesday Book it is recorded that in the hamlet of Willesden there were 25 villans and five bordarii, with wood for 500 pigs, and, in all, the profits of Willesden were worth £6 6s. 6d. I do not think that we have many villans there today. The only villans about —without being rude to the Minister— seem to be those on the benches opposite when we are discussing such a Bill as this. If we were mercenary we could point out that we have grown from £6 6s. 6d.; on the new rateable value we are worth £9,512,000. The figure for Wembley is £9,931,000, so that financially there would be something in it for us. The local rate element for Willesden is 9s. 6.2d. and for Wembley 5s. Id. If we were mercenary and thinking in terms of what we should get out of the merger, possibly we should be agreeable to this marriage in the hope that Wembley would contribute to us.

The hon. Member for Willesden, East raised a point about our town hall, which we built in 1891. It was not until 1894 that we were made an urban district, from the old vestry. Because we were so poor and had other priorities we have been waiting for 70 years before building a new town hall, but we have pride in the new project. But according to the Government's proposal, we are to have an entirely separate town hall—admittedly, a comfortable town hall built by Wembley but one which is not our own and which is only accessible via the two arteries. We want our own town hall, where we can reach it, at the focal point of Willesden Green.

There are also industrial differences. In my areas we have Guinness, A.E.I., and Smith Accessories. We make Route-master buses and the Royal Household's Rolls Royces. We have a whole industrial complex, whereas in Wembley there is mainly a dormitory town. They have a measure of industry, but the difference is as chalk is to cheese. As a result, we have problems which Wembley does not have. Does Wembley want to take over our immigrants' problem? We have appointed a committee consisting of immigrants and Willesden people to handle this problem. The Willesden International Friendship Committee has done a remarkable job—possibly the most remarkable in the country. We employ a welfare officer engaged full-time in this work, a Jamaican by birth. This problem does not arise in Wembley. Do the Wembley ratepayers want to take it over? I suggest that they would find it a load which they do not want to bear.

My hon. Friend the Member for Widnes has pointed out that in Willesden we have consciously sought to build up a community tradition in spite of the fact that we are so close to London. We have the Willesden Show every year, which attracts some 50,000 people. We have an annual carnival and regatta. All kinds of entertainments are taking place, and this has led to a full-time entertainment officer—and Wembley have made it clear that they have no desire to take these services over, nor to participate in them. Would the ratepayers of Wembley wish to pay for these services?

In a previous debate I read a list of organisations which opposed the merger, including the Willesden and District Chrysanthemum and Dahlia Society. The Minister may have wondered why I emphasised this body, but we have this annual Willesden Show in an industrial area, which brings in many people who are interested in hobbies and in gardening. These people, many of whom have allotments, are keen that this kind of community activity should continue. We shall not see it continuing with the arrangements which the Minister has suggested.

5.45 p.m.

Our health and welfare problems are different. We have 40 blind workers in sheltered workshops, whereas Wembley has only two. In the whole of Middlesex they have 100, 40 per cent. of them in Willesden; indeed, the number which we have is the highest in the whole of the Greater London area. Naturally, we want to be able to pay special attention to this problem. Will Wembley?

The number of children dealt with following eviction under the Rent Act totals 78 in Willesden, which is the highest in Middlesex. In Wembley there are four. Willesden has 372 children in care and Wembley has 69. Those figures are at 30th September, 1962.

The hon. Member for Willesden, East raised the question of housing without checking his facts; he looked forward to the paradise of the rolling fields of Wembley which would provide land on which we could build houses. I ask him to look again and to check his facts before he makes such a nonsensical statement to the House. We have a heavy housing problem, and the housing charge is nearly £500,000—in fact, the housing costs will be about £443,000 next year. We should be very grateful if the ratepayers of Wembley were prepared to pay half of this cost, but we consider that it is a much wider problem—indeed the Government are not without responsibility —and we cannot see why Wembley should be saddled with it.

Wing Commander Bullus

Is the hon. Member aware that Wembley's municipal housing pays for itself? We are not in debt. It breaks even. As the hon. Member has said, Willesden carries a very heavy debt.

Mr. Pavitt

There are many differences. If the Guillotine were not on I could go into the point a good deal more, because we run a totally different system. The council house tenants in Wembley do not have the decorations done by the council, whereas in Willesden they do. Many detailed points will have to be hammered out should this shotgun marriage be consummated. We have 700 slums which are being pulled down and 400 prefabricated houses which must be taken down, too. We have a complete redevelopment plan over the next 20 years including the South Kilburn, Stonebridge, Church End and Kensal Green schemes—comprehensive rebuilding. We shall remodel Willesden.

The people who live on the other side of the River Brent know nothing about these problems or these schemes which will make Willesden the city of which we shall be proud. Can they be expected to share in them? The Minister knows these problems only too well because they have discussed them with him, and he knows that they are important matters to us. We are not against the reorganisation of London Government, and we are not against marriage as an institution, but we are telling the Minister that this is not a desirable marriage and would not work. He is not marrying like with like.

The case made by my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes was unassailable. We have a viable community and all the traditions—all the like married with like which could possibly take place, except for altering a border here and there are in his Amendments. That was the kind of thing which the Royal Commission advised. I beg the Minister to think again about this, because if he insists on his proposal as it stands, he will give us 20 years of friction and not a happy married life. I ask the Minister to reconsider what he is doing and to consider the consequences of his very ill-judged act.

Mr. Russell

I support the two Amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) in page 90, line 24, column 2, to leave out "boroughs of Wembley and" and to insert "borough of", and in page 90, line 24, column 3, to leave out "4" and to insert "2".

I want also to address my remarks to the Amendments in page 90, line 25, column 2, to leave out "borough of Harrow" and to insert: boroughs of Harrow and Wembley", and in page 90, line 25, column 3. to leave out "3" and to insert "5", standing in the name of my hon. Friends and myself.

The hon. Member for Willesden, West said much of what I could have said as to why Willesden should not be merged with Wembley. I want to make one or two other points and pass on to some reasons why Wembley, if it must be merged with any borough, should be merged with Harrow. I want to answer one point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Skeet) which was not answered by the hon. Member for Willesden, West, concerning the petition which was organised in Wembley. I know that it was not as large as we had hoped, but that was not because of the lack of desire to sign it. It was because of the shortage of time. We set no target, certainly not 100,000. The weather was anything but propitious.

My hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East said that the man in the street does not mind. I do not think that he has any right to say that any more than I have any right to say that the man in the street objects to the merger. One just does not know what the man in the street thinks about it. Different men in the street will say different things.

Officially, Wembley Borough Council unanimously opposed the merger—the Labour Party and the Liberal Party, as well as the Conservative Party—and the Conservative and Liberal Parties on Wembley Borough Council are in favour of a merger with Harrow, though the Labour Party is not. It is true that, originally, Wembley wanted to be alone. In order to try to make itself large enough for that purpose, it put to the Town Clerk of Oxford a scheme for bringing in sections of surrounding boroughs. As that scheme did not go through, if it has to be merged with any borough, it would, without any disrespect to Willesden, prefer to be merged with Harrow. I know that Harrow Borough Council has so far rejected one application, but that does not prevent me from putting this one forward. I think that the matter has been considered only by Harrow Council and not answered by other sections of Harrow.

Mr. F. P. Bishop (Harrow, Central)

I intervene to make it clear that the Harrow Borough Council is not in favour of this scheme and has so decided, not that we do not recognise what it means to be wooed in this way by our neighbours. We make the reply that Lord Balfour gave when he was asked why he did not marry a certain lady, that he rather thought of having a career of his own. That is Harrow's view.

Mr. Russell

I appreciate the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, Central (Mr. Bishop) and I do not blame him or Harrow for taking that attitude, because Harrow has a population of 209,000. It is just over the minimum laid down as a guide by the Government. I cannot blame Harrow for wanting to remain alone. Nevertheless, we wish to persist with our plea for a marriage.

We prefer Harrow to Willesden, not only for the reasons given by the hon. Member for Willesden, West but because, historically, Wembley was part of Harrow for many years. Going back to 1850 when health boards were instituted, the Harrow Board included Wembley. The same thing happened when school boards were instituted in 1870. The political ties between Wembley and Harrow are far greater than they have ever been between Wembley and Willesden. In fact, up to 1945 the whole of Wembley was included in the Harrow Parliamentary Division and Harrow's Member of Parliament represented Wembley as well as Harrow. Wembley has never been represented by any Member for Willesden, although Willesden was in the Harrow Division at one time. The same thing goes for the representatives on the Middlesex County Council.

From the point of view of churches, most of what is at present Wembley used to be in part of the Parish of Harrow. In other religious donominations besides the Church of England, the parent churches for churches in Wembley were in Harrow. There are many other associations of that kind in different walks of life that show that Wembley and Harrow are much more akin to one another than Wembley and Willesden.

I support everything said by the hon. Member for Willesden, West about communications. There are only two railways and two roads. It would be difficult to find in any part of the London area two boroughs where the communications are worse than they are between Wembley and Willesden. The traffic queues that pile up during the rush hour on each side of the North Circular Road at Neasden Lane in one place and Harrow Road in the other have to be seen to be believed. There is one other possible way of getting from Willesden into Wembley, that is by road, which necessitates going through Ealing. The same applies to the two railways. When I went into the question of communications, I could not help thinking of the parallel situation in Central Europe, in the Alps, where there are about three railways and three roads connecting France and Switzerland with Italy. It is about as easy to cross the Alps that way as it is to get from Wembley to Willesden in the rush hour.

On the other hand, there are five railway services and about forty roads and streets linking Wembley and Harrow. The two boroughs are not separated as Willesden and Wembley are by an arterial road but are connected as if they were parts of the same borough. For instance, as to railways there are the Stanmore Line on the Bakerloo route and the L.M.S. line to Watford. There is the Metropolitan line which does not stop at Willesden but connects Wembley and Harrow. The Eastern Region line goes out of St. Marylebone Station to High Wycombe with stations in Wembley and Harrow. Then there is the Piccadilly line which goes to Acton, Wembley and Harrow without touching Willesden. The roads are too numerous to detail.

I know that if these two boroughs combined it would make a population of 334,000. This sounds rather large, but it is just smaller than the new plan for the combination of Wandsworth and Battersea, which is 335,000, or the new Borough of Lambeth with the other part of Wandsworth, which is estimated at 341,000, or of Wandsworth alone if it is left as it is, which is 347,000. On the other hand, Willesden standing alone, even if the suggestion put forward by the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) is not carried, would still make 171,000, which is bigger than some groupings in South London.

These are the main reasons why I ask my right hon. Friend to consider this proposal. I add to those reasons the one given by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wembley, North (Wing Commander Bullus) in the debate last February. I ask my right hon. Friend to look into this again. I emphasise, in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East, that there is no earthly chance of Wembley being able to help with Willesden's housing problem. We have had one of our own for ages. It may not be quite as severe as Willesden's but it is severe. There is movement between Wembley and Willesden, in each direction I imagine, but certain of this movement takes place as vacancies occur in existing houses. However, the open land is scheduled for open space and we have no more land to build on to absolutely nothing like the extent that my hon. Friend imagines. Nor will we expect anything from Harrow in this direction. We just have to try to solve the housing problem as best we can.

These are the reasons why I hope my right hon. Friend will look into the matter again. There is much support officially in both boroughs—Wembley and Willesden—for not merging us with Willesden, although I know there is not the same support yet in Harrow.

6.0 p.m.

Mr. B. T. Parkin (Paddington, North)

I have seldom in the House of Commons heard such a sharp contrast between two speeches. There was, on the one hand, the speech of my hon. Friend who for convenience in the House of Commons I must refer to as the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl), who is, in fact, the most senior alderman, councillor and resident of Paddington. His speech had a wide, thoughtful, sociological approach, with detailed documentation and understanding. On the other hand, there was the sharp decline into the trivialities of the hon. Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Skeet), who has confused subsequent speakers with the grotesqueries of his proposals.

One does not solve a housing problem merely by hounding to other boroughs people who cannot be housed in their own boroughs. Are the residents of Wembley to offer a shack at the bottom of the garden to the surplus residents of Willesden? If that is not the solution, are whole areas of Wembley to be completely destroyed and replanned? I suppose that I should not waste valuable time dealing with these matters and I certainly hope that the Minister will not spend too much time dealing with them.

I hope, rather, that the Minister will reply to the proposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes and realise that the Government themselves should have thought about this whole matter in terms of communities. Had the Minister been in his office long enough, had he seen this coming, had he made a sociological survey and had at his disposal a team of sociologists—experts in community living—he would now be considering the real proposition facing us; how does one create communities with natural groupings, amenities and types of dwellings for the sort of people who we desire to have living near the centre of London?

Mr. Skeet

Has the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) seen the groupings in this case?

Mr. Parkin

The Minister could not have found a better area in which to make such a survey than the one we have been discussing, with all its problems, because this is not a parochial problem. It is a sociological problem, the first of many which this country will have to face in the years to come. We have not yet learned how to live in big cities and it is likely that the conclusions of such an unbiased group—if they had never seen London before—would be along the lines suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes.

The Minister should have considered many questions, including what sort of schemes one is to have to enable sufficient people of middle and lower income groups to live near the centre of London to prevent the communications system from being choked every night and morning. One must consider how these people are to live full and complete lives and rear their children. We cannot continue, generation after generation, with the thought that one can get expendable immigrants to do the ordinary service work of the cities. This must be looked at in the much wider context of the problem, in terms of family life and rearing children.

I realise that time is short and that the Parliamentary Secretary is anxious to speak. Before resuming my seat I should like to relate an anecdote about what community life means in these areas. After having conducted a party of secondary modern schoolchildren around the House of Commons on one occasion, their teacher asked them to write "thank you" letters. One of those letters read something like this: "I am very grateful for the opportunity, etc., etc. I have never been in that part of London before and as I am leaving school next week I shall never have another opportunity of being there." The writer of that letter lives virtually within walking distance of the House, on the other side of the park.

I urge the Minister to let the sociologists think this out. We cannot solve these problems on the basis of tidy administration, slide rules and the lumping of a couple of boroughs together. I hope that the Minister will think in these terms—particularly in the terms of the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Widnes—and have second thoughts on these groupings.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. F. V. Corfield)

I would like to begin by expressing my regret that my hon. Friend the Member for Wembley, North (Wing Commander Bullus) has not been able to express his views in this discussion. However, I have read the vehement speech he made on Second Reading and I appreciate how strongly he feels on the subject.

We have before us a large collection of Amendments and time is somewhat short. The first group of Amendments, in the name of the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl), is designed, as he said, to take a substantial part of the present Borough of Paddington out of Group 1 with a view to its joining Group 28. I think that the hon. Member said that he was not primarily concerned with the future of Group 28, but with making the boundaries of Group I along the lines indicated in his Amendment. Although the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) was somewhat scathing—unnecessarily so, I thought—about the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East (Mr. Skeet), I am of the opinion that the latter speech made a strong case against the former.

I would remind the Committee that one of our basic principles in trying to work out this complex problem of a sensible pattern of boroughs has been, as far as possible, to adhere to the existing boundaries. The hon. Member for Widnes referred to the transitional arrangements and admitted that they would be along the lines of that principle. But he rather underestimated the disadvantages of altering existing local authority boundaries, except, of course, where there are other considerations which override the advantages of sticking to the existing boundaries and amalgamating on the basis of complete existing units.

I think that everyone considered that that represents a better method of overcoming quickly the inevitable transitional difficulties which will arise with any major reorganisation of London. I think that everyone has said that we should have such a major reorganisation, even those who dislike the Bill.

The other objection to which he drew attention was that this alone of all the boundary changes suggested—with the exception of the change at North Woolwich, dictated by the Thames—would cut across the present L.C.C. area, and cut out a very populated area which would make the work of education, and so on, more difficult. Despite his eloquent support of his Amendment, and his great experience of local government in this area, he did not allege at any time that this boundary as it had affected Paddington in the past had seriously affected the administrative efficiency of the borough or its ability to provide the services which it must provide. This must be an important consideration; the effect on the provision of services and the efficiency of administration.

Mr. MacColl

We are not considering the question of Paddington as it exists, running such services, but whether the new No, 1 borough will be able to run the services north of the railway line. That is quite a different question.

Mr. Corfield

I had no intention of putting words into the hon. Member's mouth. I was drawing attention to the fact that he had not made the point—for good reasons, I have no doubt—that this would be a handicap to good administration. If that is not the case now and was not in the past I do not see any reason why it should be in the future. It is true that his proposal involves much bigger areas than we normally contemplate arising under Clause 6. Nevertheless, it does not follow that a decision today—and I hope that the Committee will adopt the Government's view that this should be rejected—will mean that this boundary exists for all time. There is still the Clause 6 procedure and it is still possible for this to be considered at an inquiry.

I can assure the hon. Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt) that the remarks I made at an earlier stage of the Bill also apply to the cost of inquiries in this case; namely, that inquiries falling under my right hon. Friend are not normally charged, as we have the inspectors and the machinery to carry them out. Thus, I do not think that the hon. Member for Willesden, East can be accused of wishing to increase the rate burden.

Looking at this area, I am sure that the important thing is to find a pattern that is right for the whole area. All the argument that we have had has shown how difficult it is to make an alteration here that will not have repercussions over a very wide area. For instance, the suggestion that Wembley should marry Harrow would mean that we would have a large borough, Harrow, with almost twice the population of Willesden which, on that showing, would be left by itself.

Then there was the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Crowder), that that urban district should also join Harrow. Looked at in isolation, it does not seem to matter very much whether that urban district goes to Harrow or to borough No. 26, but when one sees the ramifications, and realises the weakening effect that merger would have on the Uxbridge group, one then has to look at Southall, and then at Ealing, Acton, and so on.

The Government do not pretend that the views of the four Town Clerks are in any way sacrosanct, but I think that the Committee will agree that in a matter of such complexity it was wise to get the independent view of people with knowledge and experience of local government. Those people went into this matter very thoroughly and found, in all cases, that the suggestions in the various Amendments were not sufficiently advantageous to outweigh the disadvantages. That is the conclusion to which the Government have come, and the Government remain convinced that it is the right conclusion, even after listening to this debate.

I believe, as my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, East said, that these various areas, despite their disparities can and will work together. The question of community is, of course, important, but there are great diversities in existing Metropolitan boroughs, let alone in the new groupings. There are diversities in the hon. Member's own constituency. There are great diversities between North Kensington and South Kensington, in Camberwell, and in practically every industrial borough in the county.

Those are the things that, in the long run, add up to the whole community and the whole life to which the hon. Member referred. Surely, we do not want to base our local government boundaries on the idea of people keeping to areas of a particular type, or with people of a certain type, as if they could be put in watertight compartments. The drawing of the boundary will not affect that community of spirit to which the hon. Member referred—

Mr. F. P. Crowder (Ruislip-Northwood)

I hesitate to interrupt my hon. Friend at this stage, but there was a strong element in my constituency that originally wanted to merge Ruislip-Northwood with Harrow. In view of what has been said, I would now seek not to press the Amendment that sought that merger, because I would not want in any way to interfere with the delicate negotiations taking place with West Drayton, Uxbridge, and so forth.

Mr. Corfield

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. In any case, I was about to end my remarks, as I thought it kinder to allow more time to the hon. Member for Widnes than to make a long speech myself.

Of course we appreciate local feeling, but I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Wembley, South (Mr. Russell) has to bear in mind that, despite the weather, if there is really tremendous feeling people will come out to sign petitions. I know that the people in the village in which I live, which the hon. Member knows very well, came out in scores when there was danger of the local public house being closed, with the result that there was about a 98 per cent. signing of the petition.

On the great question of local government I cannot believe that a petition—weather or no weather—signed by 5,000 ratepayers really shows an agonising fear of the result of this marriage. On behalf of the Government, I must advise the Committee to oppose all these Amendments.

Mr. MacColl

I do not think that the Guillotine has yet fallen, Sir Harry. As we are operating under the Guillotine, I do not want to waste time by having unnecessary Divisions. I know what will be their result, and it seems a pity to waste time—

The Temporary Chairman (Sir Harry Legge-Bourke)

The clock has struck, and I must put the Question.

It being a quarter past Six o'clock, The CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to Orders, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. Pavitt

May I now move, Sir Harry, the Amendment in page 90, line 24, column 2, to leave out "boroughs of Wembley and" and to insert "borough of"?

The Temporary Chairman

No. That cannot come up until later.

Mr. M. Stewart

I beg to move, in page 88, line 14, column 2, at the end to insert: and the City of London We have now come to a unique Amendment. It is not concerned with a particular district, or with boundary disputes, but with a question of general principle; that is to say, the Government's whole attitude, in this supposed reform of London government, to the City of London.

Although this Amendment is important I shall try to move it briefly, because I believe it to be the wish of both sides of the Committee that we should conclude our discussion of it by seven o'clock so as to have an opportunity to vote on the Amendment in page 88, line 21, col. 3, to leave out "2" and to insert "3", as well as on this Amendment. I may say, Sir Harry, that I speak in accordance with the advice given us by the Chair a little earlier.

We are here dealing with the general issue of how the City of London shall be treated. In the Bill, which is supposed to be a great modernising reform, we have a peculiar favouritism shown to that part of metropolitan government that is most antiquated and most out of date. If anyone had really wanted to wield a new broom in the Metropolis, we think that the City of London would have been the first place where it would have been wielded. The fact that it has not been wielded there at all calls into question the whole good faith of the Government's claim to seek to modernise local government in Greater London.

The Bill as it now stands, gives to the City of London, with its antiquated and undemocratic government, greater influence than ever before, not only in its own affairs but over those of other parts of London. The City's undemocratic form of government is to be preserved.

My hon. Friends and I thought it right to protest against this undemocratic manoeuvre and considered what would be the most appropriate way to do so. A number of suggestions were made. One might, for instance, put the City of London in with Stepney, Poplar and Bethnal Green, to which, historically, it more naturally belongs. One might even put it with Shoreditch, Stoke Newington and Hackney, or with Islington and Finsbury.

Instead of selecting any of those boroughs, however, we propose to put it in with the Westminster group. That is where it is grouped for parliamentary purposes, and if it had to be grouped with any other body we thought that that grouping would probably give least offence to the City fathers, as we were anxious to show that our Amendment was not drafted to do them malicious damage for the sake of doing it, but to raise the whole question of whether, under the Bill, the City of London ought to be an independent unit of local government at all.

To weigh up the pros and cons of that question, let us look at how the City is governed today and how it will continue to be governed under the Bill. The prime instrument of government in the City of London is the body known as the Court of Common Council, frequently referred to in the Bill, and usually in terms that equate it with the council of one of the new London boroughs. The Bill repeatedly provides that certain things can be done and certain powers exercised either by a borough council or by the Common Council of the City of London.

What is this body and how is it elected? It used to consist of 206 members, but by a change made a few years ago it now consists of about 160 members. Therefore, it offends first of all against the principle emphatically declared by the Minister that it was undesirable that these councils should be anything like as large as that, because he saw them as policy-making bodies. He was very reluctant to allow a borough council to have more than 60 members, but this body is to go cheerfully on with 160 or so common councillors.

How are they elected? The electorate in the City of London consists partly of businessmen, most of them well-off, some of them wealthy, and some of them very wealthy indeed. But, in addition, there are a certain number of quite poorly paid working-class electors in the City. When there is an electorate like that, one would have thought that the normal arrangement would be for a vote by ballot where a man can cast his vote secretly without fear of being intimidated or thrown out of his job or in any way damaged by people more wealthy and more powerful than himself. One would have thought a secret ballot to be more important in the City of London than anywhere else, in order to protect the interests of working-class people who form the minority against an essentially wealthy group who form the rest of the electorate.

Yet when there are elections for the Court of Common Council it is done at first at a wardmote where it is done by show of hands. My wife and I used to live in the City of London and there was once a contested election for the Court of Common Council, a most unusual occurrence. The 14 persons who were already councillors for the ward sent out election addresses which said, in effect, that they had been councillors for some time and that was a good reason why they should go on being councillors. But one who was not among the 14 old councillors, a tiresome person, also stood, thereby making an election necessary. He said in his address that he used to be a member before the war and he thought that a good reason why he should be a member again. My wife and I could not feel very much swayed by these arguments, but as a matter of principle we decided to vote for the odd man out.

I was unable to go to the wardmote, but my wife was able to do so. She arrived to find the proceedings had already begun and she was advised by a magnificently dressed beadle by the door, "They are voting for Mr. So-and-So. Hold up your hand". She refrained from doing so and in due course voted for the person for whom we had decided to vote. He was defeated at the wardmote whereupon supporters demanded a poll. The gentleman in charge looked blank and said, "I did not think that you were going to do that", but the candidate, the obstinate fellow, having persisted, there was a vote with ballot papers. We voted for him. He did not get in and for all I know the old 14 are still there. That is the method of electing a Court of Common Council which is being continued under the Bill.

Who can stand as a candidate? The answer is that one has to be a Freeman of the City of London. How does one become a Freeman? One can become a Freeman by inheritance. One can also become a Freeman by purchase. It costs three guineas, but people do not count that. What are three guineas in the City of London? To tell people that they have to pay three guineas in order to exercise their ordinary rights is regarded as an amiable foible. But to be a Freeman, even by paying three guineas, a person has to have the consent of those who are already councillors. Is there anywhere else where, to become a candidate for an election, one has to have the permission of people on the council? As far as I know, this is a practice which prevails only on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

To be a candidate, therefore, for the Court of Common Council in the City of London one must either be so by inheritance, or by favour of the ruling clique. It is as if the rules had been drawn up by a joint committee of which the Prime Minister and Mr. Khrushchev were the co-chairmen. It might be said that this does not matter and that the councillors attend only to City affairs. They do not. One of the things which the councillors will be doing will be arranging for the rehousing of quite a poor group among the electors, and there is the question of the sort of temporary accommodation in which they will be put while new accommodation is built. Tenants and the Court of Common Council do not see quite eye to eye on that matter, but it is over matters like that, vitally affecting the lives of working people, that this body has power.

The Court of Common Council, however, does not have all the power. There is also a Court of Aldermen. It is a sort of two-chamber government for certain purposes. The Court of Aldermen —like another place—sits separately from the Court of Common Council. There are, including the Lord Mayor, 26 aldermen, and there are 26 wards in the City of London.

Simple souls like you and me, Sir Harry, will conclude that there is one alderman for each ward. Not a bit of it. Cripplegate Within and Cripplegate Without have one between them, but to make up the 26 there is one alderman who sits for the ward of Bridge Without. It is so much without that it is not in the City of London at all. It is, in fact, in the metropolitan Borough of Southwark. A special procedure has to be devised to decide which alderman represents this notional ward which is not in the City at all. I should have mentioned that, once elected an alderman, one is all right, because the election of aldermen is for life, and this is to be continued in this modernising Bill.

I mentioned that the Lord Mayor is one of the aldermen. There again, simple souls might suppose that the Lord Mayor would be chosen by his fellow-aldermen or, perhaps more democratically, by the Court of Common Council, but oh, no. We find that the government of London is not two-chamber after all, but three-chamber. The Lord Mayor is chosen from among the aldermen by a body called the Court of Common Hall, which is not elected. It consists of liverymen of the City companies. They choose the Lord Mayor. This is how we get the government of the City of London.

We shall be told that this is a great world-wide institution. When there are charitable appeals for objects, sometimes all over the world, it is the Lord Mayor who opens the fund and, says the Royal Commission, with the usual nonsense, foreigners would not be so impressed if the fund were headed by the chairman of the Greater London Council. Is it absolutely essential, in order to stir charitable hearts, that this fantastically undemocratic procedure should continue? Would it not be possible to regard the office of Lord Mayor of London with the same respect even if it were democratically chosen?

It might be said that this is only a comfortable charade, that only a few people are involved, anyway, and that they should get on with it. What does it matter? But if that is the line that is to be followed, why is the government of the City of London to be given powers equal to those of a metropolitan borough with 200,000 to 300,000 inhabitants? It is said that the power of the Greater London Council is to be limited by the fact that in some respects it must have the consent of the boroughs which can act as a brake on the council. But the City of London is to have all the braking power of a London borough with a population of 200,000.

Sir K. Joseph

Has the hon. Member an example of where the City might be a brake on the Greater London Council?

Mr. Stewart

I am sorry, I cannot quote one offhand, but I bet the right hon. Gentleman anything that if there were time I could produce one without difficulty.

In any case, the most important matter of the lot, and the right hon. Gentleman will certainly not question this, is that the Inner London Education Authority, which is to be responsible for education in an area occupied by 3½ million people, is to be composed of a certain number of members of the Greater London Council, with one member from each London borough and one from the City of London. Its 4,000 population and its undemocratic structure are to have as much weight as a democratically controlled electorate of 200,000 or 300,000 people. It cannot be defended. If something is not done about this in the Bill, the last rag of pretence that this is a reforming democratic Measure, to bring local government up to date, is torn from the Government.

6.30 p.m.

Mr. John Harvey (Walthamstow, East)

The hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) and other hon. Members opposite, when it suits them, accuse the Government of ignoring the recommendations of the Royal Commission. They cannot, therefore, complain if I now quote the Report at them in substantiation of what the Government have done.

It is all very well for the hon. Member for Fulham to suggest that the Government have been retrograde and reactionary in this respect, but I think it is relevant that we should for a moment look precisely at what the Royal Commission said, and I make no apology for quoting from the Report. It says: It will be seen that we propose that the City of London should remain as a separate entity within its present limits. This is an anomaly, but we recommend that this anomaly should continue, and we make this recommendation as a definite, not a provisional, recommendation. If we were to be strictly logical we should recommend the amalgamation of the City and Westminster. But logic has its limits and the position of the City lies outside them. The City is, in some respects, a modern local authority with the powers of a metropolitan borough. It has also powers, ancient and modern, of its own; it has large funds available to it from the City's Cash apart from its rate revenue; and it has certain functions which it finances outside the rates. The City is in other respects unlike any other municipality. Its wealth, its antiquity, the enormous part it has played in the history of the nation, its dignity, its traditions and its historical ceremonial make the City of London an institution of national importance. Guildhall is a building of national fame and the events that take place there are often national events. The Lord Mayor's Banquet is a traditional occasion for speeches of world importance. The presentation of the freedom of the City is one of the highest compliments England can show to distinguished visitors. Heads of States and Heads of Governments are proud to be entertained in Guildhall. All these activities, with many others, and the intangible advantages that go with them, are of great national value and do not cost the taxpayer or the ratepayer a penny piece. There are a few more paragraphs in the same vein, followed by this one: We conclude that it is in the national interest that the position of the City should remain unchanged save to the extent that it receives the additional functions proposed for a Greater London borough. This Committee should take note of what the Royal Commission, after very careful thought and deliberation, had to say on this subject. I feel that Parliament, with the sense of history that it normally shows, might well reflect that some of the ancient ties between the Commons and the City of London are not altogether irrelevant to the days in which we live. The House might sometimes usefully reflect that tradition still plays an immensely valuable part in the life of the nation and I think that what the Royal Commission in its wisdom had to say should commend itself to the wisdom of this House.

The hon. Member for Fulham sought in other ways to suggest that the Corporation of the City of London was a rather ramshackle, inefficient affair. I think it is well, therefore, that I should make one or two points, quite apart from the question of tradition and questions of pomp and circumstance, that may have escaped the attention of the Committee.

First, in terms of road improvements, few local authorities can claim a more impressive record than that of the City of London. London Wall has been described as the most imaginative project in urban street designing since the war, and it is proceeding apace. The £3¼ million Blackfriars underpass improvement is a scheme that will be of immense value to the movement of traffic through the City. Those of us who drive home that way late every night must be aware of the fact that the street lighting in the City is among the very best and most modern in London, designed by the City engineer.

The bridge works, especially in connection with Cannon Street Station, are going on today and will make a great deal of difference. The 76 ft. wide new bridge to carry Cannon Street Station over Upper Thames Street will extend the already completed section of the southern through-route which is adjacent to it.

In terms of off-street parking, there are few, if any, local authorities that can vie with what the City has done and is doing. Twelve sites near the perimeter of the City have been acquired to provide 6,500 public car spaces One big new car-stacking arrangement to accommodate 250 cars was opened in July, 1958, and a six-storey car park for 600 cars was completed in October last year.

Experiments in pedestrian segregation are now in hand. Is there any borough in London that can claim to be making such progress? In the City already two pedestrian bridges across Wood Street, on first-floor level, have been completed, and I believe I am right in saying that in terms of pedestrian segregation this is more than has been done in any borough of London.

Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that the City has paid for all this?

Mr. Harvey

Certainly, out of rates, and out of the general grant, too; but also, as the hon. Gentleman knows, a great deal of what the City does is paid for out of its own funds, including all the entertaining that it does in the national interest, which costs the taxpayer and the ratepayer not a penny piece.

The new public cleansing depôt is in course of completion. It will serve not only the City but two other metropolitan boroughs, Holborn and Finsbury, and it is causing such great interest that visitors from all over the world, including the Federal Minister of Public Utilities in the Soviet Union, have come to see its opening in London.

On the subject of clean air, in case the hon. Gentleman is interested, the City introduced its own scheme two years in advance of general legislation. I could go on, but I do not propose to do so. We could talk about the Barbican scheme, which is one of the most impressive housing development schemes in London.

This authority is in every sense an up-to-date and go-ahead progressive authority, in terms of famous schools, including the Guildhall School of Music, and in terms of Epping Forest and the maintenance of that forest for the people of London, for the people in constituencies such as mine and those served by many hon. Members on both sides of the House. It maintains vast and wonderful amenities for the benefit of London, at no cost whatsoever to the ratepayers of the City but out of its own funds. So one can go on enumerating, one after another, the ways in which the Corporation of the City of London has shown itself to be among the leading forward-thinking authorities, quite apart from the very special position it occupies at the heart of the nation.

To anyone with a sense of history, to anyone with a sense of tradition, to anyone who believes that some of the things from the past are worth maintaining in the present and for the future, the case is clear. I commend to the House once again the fact that the Royal Commission itself thought that the case had been made, and had been well made.

Mr. Albert Evans (Islington, South-West)

The hon. Member for Waltham-stow, East (Mr. J. Harvey) reminded us of the place of the City of London in our history and national life, which, I imagine, no one in the Chamber would deny, but he failed completely to deal with the case put by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), who asked why the Corporation of the City of London should be regarded as an authentic unit of local government. We are not now discussing the historical events which occurred in the City; we are not now discussing the place of the City, its financial institutions and so forth, in our national life. The Committee is now considering the place of the City of London in London local government. The hon. Member for Walthamstow, East, who read out his prepared brief so forcefully, failed to deal with the argument from this side of the Committee which was directed to the issue now before us.

We all know what the Royal Commission said; it is all there in the Report. What is clear is that, before the Royal Commission ever reported, the Government had determined that no change should be made in the privileges and anomalous position held by the City in our local government life. The Minister assigned to four town clerks the task of examining the question of the division of the Greater London area into boroughs. They did their work, but their terms of reference, as regards the City of London, were quite clear. They were told that they should not deal with the place of the City of London. The Government were determined from the beginning, as they are now, that the City should remain in its privileged position.

My hon. Friend dealt at length with the details of the way in which local government operates in the City. His account was very entertaining, but I, for my part, feel that the present position is really an outrage upon the sense of good conduct of the citizens of the capital City. A small group of men, plutocrats, buy their way to their positions in the City. If the Minister has any interest to declare in this matter, perhaps he will declare it in due course. Every one of these men, the Lord Mayor, the aldermen and even the councillors, has to write out his cheque before his name begins to be entertained for position or title in the so-called local government of the City of London. The whole edifice of so-called local government in the City is based upon cash. It is a vulgar business; it is sickening to read about it. It is well known in the City that a man has to be worth £40,000 before he can put his nose into local government.

Mr. J. Harvey


6.45 p.m.

Mr. Evans

The phrase is bandied about the City, and I am sure that there is some truth in it. The Minister knows very well that no man, unless he is a man of exceptional wealth, can dream of becoming an alderman of the City of London, let alone Lord Mayor. He must be a man wealthy above his fellows before he can attain that position. The whole thing is based upon vulgar wealth and has no place in our democratic local government. It is an insult to the ordinary common people of our great City that these few plutocrats should be given the same local government powers as the councillors and aldermen democratically elected in the other boroughs.

I know that time is short. I should like to say quite a lot more about this outrageous anomaly in London's local government life. I have made my pro test. It will fall on unheeding ears because all hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite depend for their power and position in the political life of the nation, as do the Lord Mayor and aldermen of the City, upon cash. I am always thankful that I have not attained any position in politics because I had a bank balance.

Sir K. Joseph

The hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) kept his argument on a strictly impersonal basis, courteously refraining from probing into my own antecedents. In answer to the hon. Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. A. Evans), I think I should say at once that I am one of the villains he was describing. My father was Lord Mayor. I was common councillor for the ward in which nearly all the wage earners, to whom the hon. Member for Fulham referred, lived, and, after a short time as councillor, I was elected their alderman. I resigned after two years on grounds, then, for ill-health. This is my qualification for saying that the hon. Member for Fulham sketched without too much inaccuracy, and with considerable gusto, the procedure of the City's elections.

Mr. Herbert Butler (Hackney, Central)

How much was inaccurate?

Sir K. Joseph

Before I answer the Amendment, I make one point on which, I believe, the whole House will agree. There were occasions during the last century when, had the City been more outward-looking and more venturesome, the whole history of the local government of the Metropolis might have been very different. Last century, Government after Government begged the City to take responsibility for the growing mass of the Metropolis, but, time after time, the City turned its back on what would have been a very heavy duty and very heavy responsibility but which might have solved a lot of our problems today.

What is under debate now is whether the City should survive as an independent local authority. As my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. J. Harvey) said, the House is generally very much alive to the appeal of history.

I summarise my argument thus. Here is a living piece of history with much benefit flawing from it, as I shall seek to show, fulfilling its limited duties as well as other authorities do, doing harm to no one, bringing benefit to many, whose virtues cannot be transferred and whose extinction, therefore, would do no one a jot of good.

Let me try to sustain those points. At the head of the City, the Corporation, is the Lord Mayor. I am now referring, of course, to the office of Lord Mayor and not to the incumbent. The office of Lord Mayor is of legendary renown. It is a name of magic. This is not because of the particular virtues of any particular holder of the office but because it reaches back over 1,000 years, because time after time the Lord Mayor has been at the centre of great historic events, because time after time the Lord Mayor, with the citizens of London, has played a vigorous part in the growth of democracy in this country and because Lord Mayors of the City have featured vigorously in many episodes of our history.

The office of Lord Mayor is a magic name, but, of course, the glamour of the office is no argument for its survival if survival does harm to anyone. That I readily admit. The hon. Member for Fulham acknowledged that I should be right to claim that the Lord Mayor can evoke and canalise great national sympathy and charity. We all remember the Lord Mayor's Air Raid Distress Fund which raised £5 million. In two flood crises, in 1947 and 1953, the Lord Mayor's appeal raised £8 million. His appeal in 1956 raised £2½million for Hungarians. I do not assert that the money could not necessarily have been obtained in some other way. There was the success of World Refugee Year.

I know that people other than the Lord Mayor can appeal successfully, but what I claim is that it is not proven that the advantages of glamour, magic, renown and magnetism of the office and the history which lies behind it, when used for a national purpose, can be transferred to any other body.

Mr. H. Butler

Why not?

Sir K. Joseph

They cannot. No one in this House could assert that some other person created by Statute could inherit automatically, reliably and ineluctably the magnetism, history and renown of the office of Lord Mayor.

Critics say, "All this may be so and perhaps there is no harm in this, but let us look at the record of the City as a local authority". I have no evidence that it is anything but normally public-spirited and active. When I was there I found it only too ready to agree to the sort of initiative that I should have thought local authorities should adopt. I claim that the Barbican is an example of a pioneering spirit which may do much good to this country on the town planning side.

But I must meet another criticism. It is said that perhaps the City has a clean bill on public service and local service, but what if all its pageantry and ceremonial costs the ratepayer a great deal of money? Let me say categorically that it does not. The City has inherited endowments from the remote past. There is nothing sinister about them.

Mr. A. Evans rose

Sir K. Joseph

I am sorry; I have not time. I shall meet all the arguments.

The City has inherited gifts from the remote past, some of them reaching back to the twelfth century. There is money called "City's Cash" and there are the assets of the Bridge House Estates. From these assets and from their accumulated income have been built by the City, and not at public cost, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, Southwark Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge at a total initial cost of over £3 million. The entire maintenance, upkeep, lighting and management of these bridges is paid for out of the City's Bridge House Estates' income, and funds are put aside for widening and improvements. These four important and greatly used bridges have been provided and are maintained entirely without cost to the taxpayer and ratepayer.

Long before this became the usual habit of local authorities, City's Cash and Bridge House Estates bought open spaces, such as Epping Forest and Burnham Beeches, and kept them open to this day for public use.

I am not claiming that the City's practice on the electoral front is exactly the sort of thing which the United Nations would recommend to a new democracy. I am saying that this does no harm to anyone and that the advantages of the City as a whole on the civic side could not be transferred to any other authority.

Out of the assets to which I have referred the City also maintains its historic buildings and provides for entertainment, ceremonial and pageantry to which the Lord Mayor and the sheriffs contribute personally out of their own funds, and supports, to the tune of about £140,000 this year out of those funds, the City of London School, the City of London School for Girls, the Freemen's School and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. The cost of all these things, therefore—parks, bridges, schools, ceremonial, pageantry and entertainment —do not fall on the ratepayer or taxpayer.

I have not time to deal with the Port of London Health Authority or with the Central Criminal Court. Out of its own City's Cash and rates the City pays for its own local government services and a precept to the London County Council much larger than the cost to the L.C.C. of providing its services for the City's citizens; and it also makes a contribution to the Rate Equalisation Scheme.

Here is a local authority which is unique. It has qualities which benefit the nation and the citizens of the nation. It pays for its own ceremonial, pageantry and hospitality out of private not public funds and its history reaches back to the Middle Ages. Here is a local authority providing, without any expense to the taxpayer or ratepayer, bridges, parks and schools. Here is a local authority paying its own way and, in addition, out of its rates, contributing to London as well.

What is the point of destroying this local authority? Hon. Members can rightly point to the discrepancies between some of its practices and those of a modern democracy, but what is the point of transferring them? The hon. Member for Islington, South-West, whose sincerity I entirely respect, spoke as though there would be some tangible advantage to the citizens by so doing. I assure him that I see no advantage. I see only damage. The advantages inherent in the City cannot be transferred.

Mr. A. Evans

Nothing that I said could be taken as indicating that I wished the City to be destroyed or done away with. That is not the argument. The argument is that the City is not a fit and proper body in these democratic days to be a local authority on the same basis as a metropolitan borough council.

Mr. H. Butler

Answer that one.

Sir K. Joseph

We are discussing the independent survival of the City as a local authority. We cannot preserve the Lord Mayor, or rather the office of the Lord Mayor, unless we have the sub-structure of which he is the head. We cannot preserve the advantages of the office of Lord Mayor, the renown all over the world, the magic and the evocative magnetism of the title and destroy the independence of the local authority of which he is the civic head.

I must point out that I do not believe that the City, under the Bill, has any power to block, as the hon. Member for Fulham said, the wishes of the Greater London Council. The hon. Member was good enough to give me an example concerning town planning. When he studies the Government's Amendments, I think he will see that no London borough will retain the power to thwart the wishes of the Greater London Council on town planning except with the support of the Minister.

Mr. M. Stewart

Will the Minister look at Clause 21 (4, b) concerning restrictions on housing?

Sir K. Joseph

Yes, but Amendments have been put down on the town planning side, with which he was concerned.

I hope that, on consideration, the Committee will see that there would be no benefit to the citizen in transferring these powers or by extinguishing the City as an independent local authority. I hope that as a result of the debate which has taken place hon. Members will recognise that the City contributes, out of its ancient funds as well as from the status of its chief officer, to the benefit of the nation. I hope that the Amendment will be withdrawn, or that if it is pressed it will be resisted.

Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 186, Noes 236.

Division No. 51.] AYES [7.1 p.m.
Alnaley, William Hamilton, William (West Fife) Pavltt, Laurence
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Hannan, William Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Harper, Joseph Peart, Frederick
Awbery, Stan (Bristol Central) Hart, Mrs. Judith Pentland, Norman
Bacon, Miss Alice Hayman, F. H. Plummer, Sir Leslie
Barnett, Guy Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis) Popplewell, Ernest
Beaney, Alan Herblson, Miss Margaret Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Bence, Cyril Hill, J. (Midlothian) Probert, Arthur
Benson, Sir George Hilton, A. V. Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Blackburn, F. Holman, Percy Rankin, John
Blyton, William Hooson, H. E. Redhead, E. C.
Boardman, H. Houghton, Douglas Reynolds, G. W.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Hoy, James H. Rhodes, H.
Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W.(Leics, S.W.) Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Bowen, Roderlc (Cardigan) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Boyden, James Hunter, A. E. Robertson, John (Paisley)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Hynd, H. (Accrington) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Bradley, Tom Janner, Sir Barnett Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton)
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Ross, William
Brockway, A. Fenner Jeger, George Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Jones. Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefieid) Skeffington, Arthur
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Caltaghan, James Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Small, William
Carmlchael, Neil Kelley, Richard Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Chapman, Donald Kenyon, Clifford Snow, Julian
cilffe, Michael Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Sorensen, R. W.
Collick, Percy King, Dr. Horace Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Lee, Frederick (Newton) Spriggs, Leslie
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Steele, Thomas
Crosland, Anthony Lubbock, Eric Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Crossman, R. H. S. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Stones, William
Cullen, Mrs. Alice McCann, John Swain, Thomas
Davies, G. Elted (Rhondda, E.) MacColl, James Swingler, Stephen
Davies, Harold (Leek) Mclnnes, James Taverne, D.
Davies, Ifor (Gower) McKay, John (Wallsend) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Mackie, John (Enfield, East) Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Deer, George McLeavy, Frank Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Deiargy, Hugh MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Thornton, Ernest
Dempsey, James Macpherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Tomney, Frank
Diamond, John Mallalleu, E. L. (Brigg) Wade, Donald
Dodds, Norman Manuel, Archie Wainwright, Edwin
Donnelly, Desmond Mapp, Charles Warbey, William
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John Mason, Roy Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. Mayhew, Christopher Whitlock, William
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Melliah, R. J. Wilkins, W. A.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Millan, Bruce Willey, Frederick
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Milne, Edward Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Evans, Albert Monslow, Walter Williams, LI. (Abertillery)
Fitch, Alan Moody, A. S. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Fletcher, Eric Morris, John Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) Moyle, Arthur Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Neal, Harold Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Forman, J. C. Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Winterbottom, R. E.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Phllip (Derby,S.) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Galpern, Sir Myer Oliver, G. H. Woof, Robert
Ginsburg, David Oram, A. E. Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Greenwood, Anthony Oswald, Thomas Zilliacus, K.
Griffiths, David (Bother Valley) Padley, W. E.
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James(Llanelly) Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) TELLERS FOR THE AVES:
Grimond, Rt. Hon. J. Parker, John Mr. Irving and Mr. Grey.
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Parkin, B. T.
Agnew, Sir Peter Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Bromley-Davenport. Lt. -Col. Sir Walter
Aitken, W. T. Bldgood, John C. Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry
Allason, James Biffen, John Brown, Alan (Tottenham)
Atkins, Humphrey Biggs-Davison, John Bryan, Paul
Barlow, Sir John Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Buck, Antony
Batsford, Brian Bishop, F. P. Billiard, Denys
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Bossom, Hon. Clive Bullus, Wing Commander Eric
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Bourne-Arton, A. Burden, F. A.
Bell, Ronald Box, Donald Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Boyle, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Carr, Robert (Mltcham)
Berkeley, Humphry Brewis, John Cary, Sir Robert
Channon, H. P. G. Hulbert, Sir Norman Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)
Chichester-Clark, R, Hurd, Sir Anthony Prior, J. M. L.
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Hutchison, Michael Clark Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho
Clarke, Brig. Terence(Portsmth, W.) Iremonger, T. L. Profumo, Rt. Hon. John
Cleaver, Leonard Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Proudfoot, Wilfred
Cole, Norman James, David Quennell, Miss J. M.
Cooke, Robert Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Ramsden, James
Cooper, A. E. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col J, K. Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Rees-Davies, W. R.
Corfield, F, V. Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Renton, Rt. Hon. David
Costain, A, P. Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith Ridley, Hon. Nicholas
Coulson, Michael Kaberry, Sir Donald Ridsdale, Julian
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool.S.)
Kerhy, Capt. Henry
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. fir Oliver Kerr, Sir Hamilton Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Cunningham, Knox Kershaw, Anthony Russell, Ronald
Curran, Charles Kimball, Marcus St. Clair, M.
Currie, G. B. H. Kirk, Peter Shaw, M.
Dalkeith, Earl of Leavey, J. A. Skeet, T. H. H.
d'Avlgdor-Goldsmld, Sir Henry Leburn, Gilmour Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Smithers, Peter
Digby, Simon Wingfleld Lilley, F. J. P. Smyth Rt. Hon. Brig. Sir John
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Lindsay, Sir Martin Spearman, Sir Alexander
Drayson, G. B. Linstead, Sir Hugh Speir, Rupert
du Cann, Edward Litchfield, Capt. John Stanley, Hon. Richard
Eden, John Longbottom, Charles Stevens, Geoffrey
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Longden, Gilbert Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Elliott, R. w. (Nwcastle-upon. Tyne, N) Lucas Tooth, Sir Hugh Stodart, J. A.
Emery, Peter MacArthur, Ian Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Errington, Sir Eric Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Studholme, Sir Henry
Erroll, Rt. Hon. F, J. McLean, Nell (Inverness) Summers, Sir Spencer
Farey-Jonee, F. W. Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.) Tapsell, Peter
Farr, John McMaster, Stanley R. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Fell, Anthony Macpherson, Rt. Hn. Niall (Dumfries) Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
Finlay, Graeme Maddan, Martin Taylor, Sir William (Bradford, N.)
Fietcher-Cooke, Charles Maitland, Sir John Teeling, Sir William
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Markham, Major Sir Frank Temple, John M.
Freeth, Denzll Marshall, Douglas Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Gammans, Lady Marten, Neil Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)
George, Sir John (Polfok) Mathew, Robert (Honiton) Thompson, Sir Kenneth (Walton)
Gibson-Watt, David Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Mawby, Ray Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Mills, Stratton Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Goodhew, Victor Miscampbell, Norman Turner, Colin
Gower, Raymond Montgomery, Fergus Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Grant-Ferris, R. More, Jasper (Ludlow) Tweedsmuir, Lady
Green, Alan Morgan, William van Straubenzee, w. R.
Gresham Cooke, R. Morrison, John Vane, W. M. F.
Crosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Nabarro, Sir Gerald Vickers, Miss Joan
Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Neave, Airey Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Harris, Header (Heston) Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Wakefield, Sir Wavell
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Noble, Rt. Hon. Michael Walder, David
Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard Walker, Peter
Harvie Anderson, Miss Orr-Ewing, C. Ian Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek
Hastings, Stephen Osborn, John (Hallam) Wall, Patrick
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Page, Graham (Crosby) Webster, David
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Panned, Norman (Kirkdale) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Hendry, Forbes Partridge, E. Whitelaw, William
Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe) Peel, John Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Percival, Ian Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Hirst, Geoffrey Peyton, John Wise, A. R,
Hocking, Philip N. Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Woodhouse, C. M.
Holland, Philip Pilkington, Sir Richard Woodnutt, Mark
Hopkins, Alan Pitman, Sir James Woollam, John
Hornby, R. P. Pitt, Dame Edith Worsley, Marcus
Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P. Pott, Percivall
Hughes-Young, Michael Price, David (Eastleigh) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. McLaren and Mr. Rees.

Amendment proposed: In page 88, line 21, column 3, leave out "2" and insert "3".—[Mr. Mellish.]

Question put, That "2" stand part of the Schedule:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 237, Noes 177.

Division No. 52.] AYES 17.11 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Berkeley, Humphry
Aitken, W. T. Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Bevina, Rt. Hon. Reginald
Barlow, Sir John Bell, Ronald Bldgood, John C.
Bateford, Brian Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Biffen, John
Biggs-Davison, John Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Hendry, Forbes Pilkington, Sir Richard
Bishop, F. P. Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Pitman, Sir James
Bossom, Hon. Clive Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe) Pitt, Dame Edith
Bourne-Arton, A. Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Pott, Percivall
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Hirst, Geoffrey Price, David (Eastleigh)
Box, Donald Hocking, Philip N. Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)
Boyle, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Holland, Philip Prior, J. M. L.
Brewis, John Hooson, H. E. Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho
Bromley-Davenport, Lt. -Col. Sir Walter Hopkins, Alan Profumo, Rt. Hon. John
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Hornby, R. P. Proudfoot, Wilfred
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P. Quennell, Miss J. M.
Bryan, Paul Hughes-Young, Michael Ramsden, James
Buck, Antony Hulbert, Sir Norman Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Bullard, Denya Hutchison, Michael Clark Rees-Davies, W, R.
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Iremonger, T. L. Renton, Rt. Hon. David
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Ridley, Hon. Nicholas
Carr, Robert (Mitchant) James, David Ridsdale, Julian
Cary, Sir Robert Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool.S.)
Channon, H. P. G. Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Chataway, Christopher Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Russell, Ronald
Chichester-Clark, R. Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) St. Clair, M.
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith Shaw, M.
Clarke, Brig. Terence(Portsmth, W.) Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Skeet, T. H. H.
Cleaver, Leonard Kerby, Capt. Henry Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Cole, Norman Kerr, Sir Hamilton Smithers, Peter
Cooke, Robert Kershaw, Anthony Smyth, Rt. Hon. Brig. Sir John
Cooper, A. E. Kimball, Marcus Spearman, Sir Alexander
Cordeaux, Lt. -Col, J. K. Kirk, Peter Spelr, Rupert
Corfield, F. V. Leavey, J. A. Stanley, Hon. Richard
Costain, A. P. Leburn, Gilmour Stevens, Geoffrey
Coulson, Michael Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Lilley, F. J. P. Stodart, J. A.
Crosthwalte-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver Lindsay, Sir Martin Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Cunningham, Knox Linstead, Sir Hugh Studholme, Sir Henry
Curran, Charles Litchfield, Capt. John Summers, Sir Spencer
Currie, G, B. H. Longbottom, Charles Tapsell, Peter
Dalkeith, Earl of Longden, Gilbert Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Lubbock, Eric Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Taylor, Sir William (Bradford, N.)
Digby, Simon Wingfield MacArthur, Ian Teeling, Sir William
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. McLaren, Martin Temple, John M.
Drayson, G. B. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
du Cann, Edward McLean, Neil (Inverness) Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)
Eden, John Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.) Thompson, Sir Kenneth (Walton)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshaiton) McMaster, Stanley R. Thomeycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter
Elliott, R. W. (Nwcastle-upon-Tyne, N.) Macpherson, Rt. Hn. Niall(Dumfries) Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Emery, Peter Maddan, Martin Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Errington, Sir Eric Maitland, Sir John Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J. Markham, Major Sir Frank Turner, Colin
Farey-Jones, F. W. Marshall, Douglas Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Farr, John Marten, Neil Tweedsmuir, Lady
Fell, Anthony Mathew, Robert (Honiton) van Straubenzee, w. R.
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Vane, W. M. F,
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Mawby, Ray Vickers, Miss Joan
Freeth, Denzil Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Gammans, Lady Mills, Stratton Wade, Donald
George, Sir John (Pollok) Miscampbell, Norman Wakefield, Sir Wavell
Gibson-Watt, David Montgomery, Fergus Walder, David
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) More, Jasper (Ludlow) walker, Peter
Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Morgan, William Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek
Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Morrison, John Wall, Patrick
Goodhew, Victor Nabarro, Sir Gerald Webster, David
Cough, Frederick Neave, Airey Wells, John (Maidstone)
Gower, Raymond Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Whitelaw, William
Grant-Ferris, R. Noble, Rt. Hon. Michael Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Green, Alan Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Gresham Cooke. R. Orr-Ewing, C. Ian Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Grimond, Rt. Hon. J. Osborn, John (Hallam) Wise, A. R.
Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Page, Graham (Crosby) Woodhouse, C. M.
Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Panned, Norman (Kirkdale) Woodnutt, Mark
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Partridge, E. Woollam, John
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd) Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Worsley, Marcus
Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Peel, John
Harvie Anderson, Miss Percival, Ian TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hastings, Stephen Peyton, John Mr. Finlay and Mr. Rees.
Alnsley, William Barnett, Guy Blyton, William
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Beaney, Alan Boardman, H.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Bence, Cyril Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.
Awbery, Stan (Bristol Central) Benson, Sir George Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leice, S.W.)
Bacon, Miss Alice Blackburn, F, Boyden, James
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Holman, Percy Pentland, Norman
Bradley, Tom Houghton, Douglas Plummer, Sir Leslie
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Hoy, James H. Popplewell, Ernest
Brockway, A. Fenner Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Probert, Arthur
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Helper) Hunter, A. E. Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Rankin, John
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Janner, Sir Barnett Redhead, E. C.
Callaghan, James Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Reynolds, G. W.
Carmichael, Neil Jeger, George Rhodes, H.
Chapman, Donald Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Cilffe, Michael Jones. Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Collick, Percy Jones, Dan (Burnley) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Rodgers, w. T. (Stockton)
Crosland, Anthony Jones, T. W. (Merloneth) Ross, William
Crossman, R. H. S. Kelley, Richard Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Kenyon, Clifford Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Davies, G. Eifed (Rhondda, E.) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. - Skeffington, Arthur
Davies, Harold (Leek) King, Dr. Horace Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Davies, Ifor (Cower) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Daviee, S. O. (Merthyr) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Small, William
Deer, George Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Deiargy, Hugh McCann, John Snow, Julian
Dempsey, James MacColl, James Sorensen, R. W.
Diamond, John Mclnnes, James Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Dodds, Norman McKay, John (Wallsend) Spriggs, Leslie
Donnelly, Desmond Mackie, John (Enfield, East) Steele, Thomas
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Stones, William
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Swain, Thomas
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Manuel, Archie Swingler, Stephen
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Mapp, Charles Taverne, D.
Evans, Albert Mason, Roy Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Fitch, Alan Mayhew, Christopher Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Fletcher, Eric Mellish, R. J. Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) Millan, Bruce Tomney, Frank
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Milne, Edward Wainwright, Edwin
Forman, J. C. Monslow, Walter Warbey, William
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Moody, A. S. Whitlock, William
Catpern, Sir Myer Morris, John Wilkins, W. A.
Gineburg, David Moyle, Arthur Willey, Frederick
Greenwood, Anthony Neat, Harold Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Williams, LI. (Abertillery)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Phillp (Derby,S.) Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, w.) Oliver, G. H, Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Oram, A. E. Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Hannan, William Oswald, Thomas Winterbottom, R. E.
Harper, Joseph Padley, W. E. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Hart, Mrs. Judith Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.) Woof, Robert
Hayman, F. H. Parker, John Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis) Parkin, B, T. Zilliacus, K.
Herbison, Miss Margaret Pavitt, Laurence
Hill, J. (Midlothian) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hilton, A. V. Peart, Frederick Mr. Irving and Mr. Grey.
Mr. H. A. Price (Lewisham, West)

I beg to move, in page 88, line 23, column 2, to leave out "borough of Greenwich" and to insert boroughs of Greenwich and Deptford".

The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Robert Grimston)

I think it would be convenient to discuss at the same time the three following Amendments in the name of the hon. Member. In page 88, line 23, column 3, leave out "3" and insert "4".

In line 27, leave out "boroughs of Deptford and" and insert "borough of".

In line 27, column 3, leave out "4" and insert "3".

Mr. H. A. Price

That would be the sensible course, Sir Robert. I hope that it is clear that the third of these four Amendments is the really important one, the first, second and fourth being merely consequential.

There is an old French proverb which says that if it is not necessary to change it is necessary not to change. I submit that it is not necessary to change the existing Borough of Lewisham by adding Deptford, or in any other way, since it already complies both as to power and to size with the standards which the Minister has himself laid down. In fact, I think that the Minister would be willing to concede this point, since, in his original suggestion to the Town Clerks' Committee he himself left the Borough of Lewisham standing by itself.

This is referred to in the Town Clerks' Report, paragraph 61 of which begins: It was proposed in Map A that Lewisham should remain as it is and taken by itself this proposal would be satisfactory. I hope, therefore, that we can proceed on the assumption that that point is accepted.

It is logical to assume that, since the town clerks' recommendation runs counter to my right hon. Friend's own suggestion, and makes a change which it is admitted is not necessary, it must be justified by very powerful arguments. But, as I propose to show, this is not the case.

I take as my starting point the four considerations which the town clerks were required to bear in mind and which were set out by the Government in their terms of reference. The first of these four considerations was …the present and past associations of existing local government areas…". There are, in fact, no existing worthwhile connections between the Boroughs of Deptford and Lewisham. Nor have I, despite the most diligent research, been able to trace any except by going back to 1548. I doubt whether even the Minister would expect the town clerks to go back quite that far to support his argument. But there is a powerful and definite connection between the Boroughs of Deptford and Greenwich and Woolwich.

Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)

indicated dissent.

Mr. Price

Is the hon. Member supporting me?

Mr. Mayhew

Speaking as the Member for Woolwich, East and not as a representative of the Opposition, may I ask the hon. Member what connection there is between Deptford and Woolwich?

Mr. Price: If there is one, the hon. Gentleman is in a better position to know it than I am. It is already proposed to unite Greenwich and Woolwich, so I do not need to support that—only the argument that Deptford should be added to both. To do that I am about to establish that there is a much more powerful connection between Deptford and Greenwich than exists between Deptford and Lewisham.

The connection to which I refer is the fact that in 1901 what was then the dock- yard in Deptford and what was then the parish church of Deptford—St. Nicholas —were absorbed into Greenwich, where they remain. Going back further still, it is a fact that the area now known as Deptford was once known as West Greenwich while the area known as Greenwich was then known as East Greenwich. What is more, under the Reform Act, 1832, Deptford and Greenwich were united to return two Members to the House of Commons.

It is obvious, therefore, that there are strong connections between Deptford and Greenwich and virtually none between Deptford and Lewisham. What is more, the town clerks themselves in paragraph 64, refer to the 1901 absorption into Greenwich of the Deptford dockyard and parish church.

The town clerks admit that this presents a problem and recommend that the dockyard and the church should now be taken back into Deptford. I think that it would be far more sensible to avoid the problem altogether by allying Deptford with Greenwich, which, as I propose in my Amendment, would mean with Greenwich and Woolwich.

It seems strange that in carrying out an exercise in which they were supposed to have regard to past and present associations, the town clerks propose to destroy the existing association between the dockyard and the old parish church and the borough which they are now in —Greenwich. Surely, therefore, on the consideration of past and present connections, the arguments of the town clerks are misplaced.

The next point may come under the same heading or under another heading, but I do not suppose it matters very much where I put it. The Minister will ignore it anyway. Nevertheless, I propose to submit it because it is a powerful argument—perhaps the most powerful. It is that Deptford, Greenwich and Woolwich are all very much alike in character in that they have a substantial industrial element, whereas Lewisham is primarily a dormitory borough. Also, Deptford, Greenwich and Woolwich are all riverside boroughs—I think that the correct term is "riparian authorities"—whereas, Lewisham is not and never has been.

Lewisham has no experience and no knowledge of riverside problems. Yet the proposal is not to combine one riparian authority with two others but to take one of the three and combine it with Lewisham. Lewisham is not, never has been and has no wish to be a riparian authority. On this argument, too, it is obvious that Deptford should be combined with Greenwich and Woolwich and not with Lewisham.

The next consideration to which the town clerks were required to have regard was lines of communications. Their report seems to ignore those considerations altogether, which is a pity. It so happens that, at the moment, main lines of communication from London do run to Lewisham via Deptford, but it is equally true that other main lines of communication run through Deptford to Greenwich and Woolwich. But that is only the present position. In the not very far distant future, that position will be changed radically by the new South Circular Road, which will run through Camberwell, Lewisham and on to West Woolwich without even touching Deptford. Thus, on the second of the four considerations the town clerks' recommendation falls down.

7.30 p.m.

The third consideration is the pattern of development. In the information which I have received there seems to be a certain confusion as to precisely what is meant by the "pattern of development". To play safe, I shall use both the arguments, both of which are valid, even if one is not exactly relevant.

Consider the word "pattern" literally. A glance at the map will show that to unite Deptford with Lewisham is geographically an absurdity. It will be like putting Cleopatra's Needle on top of one of the pyramids, whereas to unite Deptford with Greenwich and Woolwich would at least have the advantage that the new borough would have one long and continuous boundary, that of the river itself.

If the phrase pattern of development applies, as I think it does, to social and industrial development, then the point is covered by what I have said, that Deptford is a riverside industrial borough, and its future pattern of development will assuredly be very much closer to that of Greenwich and Woolwich than it could possibly be to Lewisham which is mainly dormitory, and definitely not riverside.

The fourth consideration was that of the service centre. Under this heading the town clerks' report uses two arguments, both fallacious. The first argument is that there is in Lewisham a service centre just as convenient to many parts of Deptford. Note the phrase "many parts of Deptford". This is true, but it would be equally true to say that the service centre in Lewisham is just as inconvenient to many parts of Deptford. It is convenient to some parts of it but not to others. There is thus no force in that argument. Another glance at the map will show my hon. Friend what I mean. People living at the top of the Cleopatra's Needle would find it very inconvenient indeed.

The second argument which the town clerks use, and which. I claim is fallacious, is that The only other practical grouping would he with Greenwich and Woolwich but as the administrative centre would most likely be Woolwich, this arrangement would hardly be convenient to the residents of Deptford. What is the town clerks' justification for saying that the administrative centre would most likely be Woolwich? It is only an assumption, and I suggest that when we are dealing with a proposal which affects the future of such a large number of people, arguments of this kind, if based on assumption, ought at any rate to be very carefully investigated before they are used.

What is the basis for the assumption that the service centre would be Woolwich? It so happens that it could just as well be at Greenwich; in fact, even better, since, as I am sure the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) knows, Greenwich has a much more modern and up-to-date town hall than Woolwich, and that might be just as convenient to the new borough which I am suggesting, a combination of Deptford, Woolwich, and Greenwich.

It seems, therefore, that not only is it not necessary to change Lewisham, and not only do the arguments fail to justify such a change but that they all point in the opposite direction. There is no justification for adding Deptford to Lewisham, but there are many powerful arguments for adding Deptford to Greenwich and Woolwich.

But I cannot leave the matter there. There is at least one other point to which I must refer. I refer to paragraph 61 of the report again. One of the arguments used in support of the town clerks' proposal is that: The boundary between the two boroughs"— that is Deptford and Lewisham— passes through a densely built-up area and it is in the parts of Lewisham adjoining this boundary that the largest part of the Borough's population is to be found. When I first read that I was so astounded that I had to read it several times to make sure that I had not misunderstood it. That is simply not true. I have no wish to be discourteous to the report, but that is obvious and unmitigated nonsense.

One has only to look at the map to see that of the boundary of Lewisham only about 10 per cent. is co-terminous with the boundary of Deptford, and it must be nonsense, on the face of it, to argue that the largest part of the borough's population is to be found on only 10 per cent. of its boundary. The truth of the matter is that there are many other areas of Lewisham which are as well populated, places such as Sydenham, Catford, Down-ham and others in Lewisham North. The population of Lewisham is distributed fairly evenly over the borough, and I submit that a case which needs to be supported by an argument so monstrous as that must be suspect, quite apart from the arguments which I have adduced.

My last point is that Lewisham had no knowledge whatever of this proposal until it was published.

Sir L. Plummer

Nor did Deptford.

Mr. Price

That reinforces my argument. So far as I have been able to discover there had been no discussions, and no negotiations whatever. It was a proposal which was suddenly and without warning thrust on both authorities, and I am sure that had this proposal been discussed first, and had the arguments for and against it been assessed, it would never have been made, and I ask my hon. Friend to set it aside. If my hon. Friend cannot accept the Amendments which I have tabled, I ask him to put forward some of his own which will be supported by the four considerations to which he has asked the town clerks to have regard.

Mr. Mellish

I happen to know both Deptford and Lewisham extremely well. Will the hon. Gentleman deal with this point? Shopping habits of people are very important, and to the best of my knowledge a considerable number of people from Deptford shop in Lewisham, while hardly anyone from Deptford shops in Greenwich.

Mr. Price

The reply to that is contained in paragraph 61, line 4, of this report to which I have referred so often, where it says: …indeed Lewisham is a major centre of the south-east of this area and one of the most accessible. The hon. Gentleman's argument applies to practically every borough surrounding Lewisham to the same extent as it does to Deptford, no more and no less.

Sir Leslie Plummer (Deptford)

I do not want to take issue with the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. H. A. Price) on his attack on the town clerks, because I agree with almost everything he said about the lack of logic shown by them in their general approach to the problem. This is one of the difficulties which arises when provincials are brought in to deal with a great city like London. It is beyond their capacity.

I quarrel with the hon. Gentleman over his reluctance to accept Deptford into the bosom of Lewisham. He has treated Deptford today rather as an upstage and prim middle-aged woman would treat an attractive young cocotte who entered her house. This is a bit much.

When Deptford was a civilised borough and community, the people of Lewisham were practically running, around in woad. Deptford has a tradition. A quarter of an hour ago we were discussing the traditions of the City of London. There are also the traditions of Deptford. The Victualling Yard in Deptford was founded and managed, and probably robbed, by Pepys. Grin-ling Gibbons—one of the greatest craftsmen that this nation has ever known—worked there. A Russian Czar—Peter the Great—came to Deptford to learn shipbuilding. He worshipped in the church that still stands. There is a street called Czar Street. That was at a time when nobody had ever heard of Lewisham. Today, the only thing that Lewisham is famous for is its clock tower.

Mr. Carol Johnson (Lewisham, South)

I remind my hon. Friend that it was in Lewisham that Alfred burned the cakes.

Sir L. Plummer

That seems to be a comment upon the culinary efficiency of his borough. We did not burn cakes in Deptford: we launched ships, and brought an empire to Elizabeth I. We were not common scullions and cooks; we were navigators, who girdled the globe and brought riches and treasure to this country.

And now the hon. Member for Lewisham, West says that he does not want to have anything to do with us. His speech was a justification for leaving Deptford alone—and that is all that we ask for. We say that ours is a well-managed borough, ably conducting its affairs in the interest of its citizens. Please, we asked, let us alone to go on doing our job as efficiently as we have been doing it up to now. But no! the Government refuse our request. First, they suggested that Deptford should be amalgamated with Southwark and, I believe, Camberwell. Then came the suggestion that we should amalgamate with Greenwich. Now it is proposed that we should join with Lewisham. We do not want to go to Lewisham. We want to stay where we are.

Nevertheless, I have a certain ambivalent attitude in this matter. Greenwich has a certain natural affinity with Deptford. Like Deptford, it has a history. It has a history of the Navy —and Nell Gwyn and Charles II. At least it has something to be proud of, and I can see an argument for Deptford's having associations with Greenwich. But not with Woolwich. Deptford people never go to Woolwich. They have never heard of it. When the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Turner) was speaking in his constituency the other day, he said that he was late getting there because he had to stay behind here, for if he had not Deptford might have been tacked on to Woolwich. I can tell him that there was dismay in Deptford at the prospect that we should have anything to do with so far-flung and foreign a borough as Woolwich. The prospect of going in with Lewisham is bad enough, but to be associated with Woolwich, with which we have no natural affinity—except pride in our association with my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew)—is unthinkable.

I cannot understand why the hon. Member for Lewisham, West does not want us. I can understand why we do not want him, but I cannot understand why he does not want to take a borough like Deptford into his purview.

Mr. H. A. Price

I can explain that very simply. It is not that we object to Deptford, or its people. We are very fond of them. It is simply that we do not want to go in with anybody. Like Deptford, we want to be left alone.

Sir L. Plummer

There was a patronising note about the hon. Member's remark. I suggest that the best thing that he can do is to withdraw the Amendment and vote against the Third Reading of the Bill. I suggest that he says, "We will have nothing to do with this. We reject it root and branch. It is an insult to the patriotism of our citizens, and a gross interference with the efficiency of our borough. We will have nothing to do with it." He does not improve this wretched gerrymandering Bill simply by moving this kind of Amendment.

Although I know that we shall be voted down at the end of the day, and that the insularity of Deptford, which has been so important, will be destroyed, on the whole the people whom I represent will gravitate more normally—although reluctantly—towards Lewisham than they would traverse the wastes of Greenwich in order to go to Woolwich Town Hall. In those circumstances, I hope that the Commitee will reject the Amendment.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Colin Turner (Woolwich, West)

I shall be brief. As the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) said, I recently stated that I felt that the people of Woolwich did not want to be saddled with Deptford, in addition to Greenwich. Having listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. H. A. Price), I have come to the reluctant conclusion that he has a strong case for the association of the Boroughs of Greenwich and Woolwich.

I agree with the hon. Member for Deptford that his borough and mine have in common only the tortuous roads which connect them. I have had no support whatsoever from my constituents for an amalgamation with Deptford. Everybody who has discussed the matter with me is horrified at the prospect of having a connection with that borough. Except for transport there is no connection between them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West has a strong case, on the grounds he put forward. Nevertheless, I would very much regret having Deptford tacked on to us.

Mr. C. Johnson

Many of my hon. Friends would have been much more impressed by the arguments advanced by the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. H. A. Price) if his criticism of this pernicious Bill had been manifested at an earlier stage. But apparently he felt no difficulty about voting for its Second Reading, last December —from which we can only deduce that he is quite indifferent to the effects of the Bill upon London government as a whole, and upon many areas about which as much could be said as he has said on behalf of Lewisham.

It was a little ironic that the hon. Member should have criticised the proposal on the ground of logic, because the one thing that can be said about the whole of this Measure is that there is no logic in it. The French proverb with which the hon. Member began his speech would apply just as well to the Bill as a whole. If he thinks that he has any claim to speak on behalf of the people of Lewisham, let me remind him that the Lewisham Borough Council—the most representative body in the area, and the one directly affected by the Bill—has, from the start, lost no opportunity of expressing its clear opposition, root and branch, to the whole Measure. It may be that certain factors of a political operation have weighed upon the hon. Member. He did not refer to them, but I shall say something about them shortly.

There is a strong case for leaving Lewisham as it is. As the hon. Member said, in considering the criteria to be applied in defining the new London boroughs, and assessing such factors as resources, size and population, the Royal Commission might have had Lewisham in mind as a prototype. Indeed, its recommendation was that Lewisham, with its population of 221,000, should be left alone.

Moreover, when the Government considered the Report they came to the same conclusion. In the circular of December, 1961, issued to local authorities in the London area, it was stated that the Government tests were those to which the hon. Member referred. Again, the Borough of Lewisham complied with all these tests and emerged as a model of what a new London borough should be, should one come into existence at all. On this particular aspect of reform, however, the combined wisdom of the Royal Commission and the Ministry was, apparently, not sufficient and so it was decided to bring in "four wise men" from the provinces —the Town Clerks of Cheltenham, Oxford, Plymouth and South Shields. They were brought in for what I can only describe as a "carve up".

Without argument and without rhyme or reason—and I challenge the Minister to find anything in their report which is a substantial argument—they created what they called Borough No. 7 by linking Deptford, with its population of 68,267, with Lewisham, where, by then, the population had grown to 221,590. This gave a total population of 289,857, which is a great deal larger than the figure of 200,000 of population which the Minister had hitherto had in mind as the sort of figure for a new London borough. No doubt it is now too late to turn back the clock, at any rate as far as this Minister and Government are concerned. But they will not be holding the clock key by the time the provisions in the Bill come into operation.

I would remind the hon. Member for Lewisham, West, if he feels so deeply about this specific proposal, that had he and his colleagues been sufficiently courageous at an earlier stage we should not now be faced with this problem. The Lewisham Borough Council and the people of Lewisham have always been opposed to losing their individuality, their unity and their existence as an entity. Resolutions have been passed about it. There has been organised opposition and they have done everything possible to indicate their fundamental objection to this Measure. It is the Government that the hon. Member supports who are forcing a marriage of convenience upon Lewisham, as upon so many other boroughs.

I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) that we do not regard Deptford as an upstage and middle-aged woman. If we are to be mated, Deptford seems to us as fair, congenial and attractive as any alternative bride might be.

I ask myself why the hon. Member for Lewisham. West was so passionate in his opposition to Deptford being linked with Lewisham. I suggest the reason is he has been hoist with his party's own petard. The Bill reeks of political opportunism and was designed to undermine the power of the Labour Party in the London area. I believe that this will be proved to be a miscalculation regarding London as a whole. There is no doubt at all that when Lewisham and Deptford are joined under the provisions in the Bill it will strengthen and enhance the Labour cause.

It seems to me that the tears which the hon. Member is shedding are crocodile tears. I and many others in Lewisham cannot weep with him, Let him weep alone.

Mr. Mayhew

I was very surprised to hear the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Turner) declare that the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. H. A. Price) has made out a strong case in support of his Amendment. I doubt whether in all my Parliamentary experience I have ever heard such a calm and reasonable style of speaking applied to such a hare-brained scheme as the hon. Member has put forward.

The hon. Member began by explaining to us that Lewisham had no connection whatever with Deptford. He did so in tremendous detail. But when I asked him to explain what the connection was between Deptford and Woolwich he could say nothing whatever. We in Woolwich, as I explained during the Second Reading debate, consider that the Borough of Woolwich is a natural unit of local government in itself. It is right in size, in shape, in balance and in respect of communications. It has its own tradition and history. There is no case whatever for the merging of Woolwich with Greenwich. It is just a pure doctrinaire approach by the Government which forces us into a merger with Greenwich.

The hon. Member for Lewisham, West has clearly made no study of the problem of Woolwich. Obviously, he has not visited the town hall—which he insulted —which happens to be one of the finest town halls in south London. Having made no study of my constituency, he calmly proposes that not only should Greenwich be added to Woolwich but Deptford as well. And he is described by the hon. Member for Woolwich, West as having made out a strong case.

Mr. Turner

I merely suggested that I thought that my hon. Friend had made out a strong case for leaving Lewisham alone, not for joining Deptford with Woolwich.

Mr. Mayhew

I see. In that case, the hon. Member has some of my forgiveness.

But when he went on to say, as I noticed, that he found no support from his constituents in Woolwich for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Lewisham, West—

Mr. Turner

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member again, but that is not exactly what I said. I said that I found no support for having Deptford joined on to Woolwich and Greenwich.

Mr. Mayhew

I am sorry. In effect, that is what I intended to say.

I wish to ask the hon. Member whether he has found any support in Woolwich for merging Woolwich with Greenwich. If so, his experience is quite different from mine. Has he heard of any support for the London Government Bill?

Mr. Turner

Certainly, but I have had little support for joining Woolwich and Greenwich.

Mr. Mayhew

My point is that not one letter, speech or sentence has been addressed to me in favour of the London Government Bill by Woolwich people. I am afraid that when the General Election comes the hon. Member will pay a heavy price for this Bill. I am surprised that he has not been a little more forthcoming in his criticism of the Amendment.

What are some of the arguments used by the hon. Member for Lewisham, West? He said that it would be quite easy for the Deptford people to be joined to Woolwich and Greenwich because, of course, the administrative centre would be Greenwich. The Greenwich Town Hall would be the centre of the new borough. Has the hon. Gentleman estimated the distance which constituents of the hon. Member for Woolwich, West would have to walk to get to Greenwich Town Hall? He has not studied our problems at all. He wishes to get rid of Deptford, but he might look where he is putting it before he gets rid of it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) made a speech full of warm and well-deserved praise for the Borough of Deptford. When he criticised Woolwich, by implication, I thought that he was a little unjust, but I feel, with him, that we should all get together on this matter. One thing which the hon. Members for Lewisham, West, Woolwich, West, Deptford and Lewisham, South (Mr. C. Johnson) have in common is that we do not wish to amalgamate with anybody.

8.0 p.m.

Everything which we have said is, by implication, a strong criticism of the principles of the Bill. If hon. Members opposite mean what they say and if they had the courage of their convictions they would not confine themselves to a small Amendment in a small Committee. They would have opposed the Bill on Second Reading, and would have voted against it on Second Reading, in order to reflect the true opinion of their constituents.

Mr. H. A. Price

There is nothing illogical in supporting the whole Bill in principle and yet objecting to some of the details. I am very fond of steak and kidney pudding, but I enjoy it more without the kidney.

Mr. Mayhew

It is very easy to support the principle of the Bill and then, when it comes to the rub, to oppose its implementation. Surely it is better to make one's position absolutely clear on the principle and not to hope to shuffle out of it when the hard work of deciding on the practical measure has to be done.

Nobody wishes to amalgamate with anybody. The simple solution is to reject the Amendment. I have not left the Minister much time in which to wind up the debate, but it seems to me that it does not need a great deal of time for him to ask us to reject the Amendment. I hope that he will not toy with this hare-brained scheme. I am sure that I am speaking for my constituents when I say that Woolwich is altogether reluctant to be forced into this amalgamation with Greenwich and that a merger with Deptford, as well, would be a harebrained idea.

Mr. Corfield

Despite the scathing remarks of the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) about provincials, I answer the debate with no sense of inferiority at all. It is an old country saying—and like all country sayings it is true—that the difference between a townsman and a countryman is that the townsman thinks he knows that he is right and the countryman knows that he is right.

I do not know whether that applies as between provincials and Londoners, but I make no apology on behalf of the Government for enlisting the support of distinguished provincials in this matter. I can assure hon. Members from London that we do not still run around in woad in Gloucestershire, or in Wales, and that we have some very advanced forms of local government in Cheltenham, Oxford and elsewhere. I cannot think of a more sensible course than to bring in this wealth of experience to help to sort out the problems of London.

Nobody loves the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. H. A. Price). Everybody, with true conservatism, would prefer to be left alone—and I do not think that the Committee will be unduly disappointed if I say that it is not the Government's intention to accept that as a general principle. My hon. Friend wished to amalgamate Deptford with Greenwich and Woolwich, and hon. Members for Woolwich have dealt with that proposed amalgamation in terms as strong as did my hon. Friend.

I do not want to repeat what I said earlier in reply to other Amendments about Wembley, Willesden and Harrow, but I emphasise that we must look at the problem of finding a satisfactory pattern not in relation to Lewisham alone or in relation to Deptford alone, but in relation to the whole area and the ramifications which the changes would have in other groups. We must be sure that any alteration accepted will be an improvement not merely in the short term but, even more important, in the long term.

We are dealing with one of the most densely built-up areas of Greater London and, despite the historical reminiscences of hon. Members, I think it will be generally agreed that there are no clearly defined boundaries in this area. If we look at the matter in isolation it can be said that Lewisham would stand on iris own, as was the original suggestion to which my hon. Friend referred, but, as he will recollect, the town clerks decided that the most satisfactory grouping to the north and east would be Camberwell, Southwark and Bermondsey, and we are left with the problem of the best group into which to put Deptford. I believe that I have the support of hon. Members for Woolwich that Woolwich and Greenwich is not the best group.

Mr. Mellish

The hon. Member did not know what to do with it.

Mr. Corfield

I should hate anybody in Deptford to think that it is the lost child of south-east London. The problem is to find a group which will settle down into a sound London borough without affecting the neighbouring London boroughs adversely. Had we left Deptford in the group with Camberwell, Bermondsey and Southwark, we should have had by far the largest London borough in the whole of the Greater London area—380,000 people.

Sir L. Plummer

Before the Minister goes on any further with his speech, may I make it clear that it seems to me that he is referring to Deptford as though it were an infectious disease. It is a borough of very worthy citizens, governed by people who are doing a very good job. We ought not to be treated as lepers or pariahs or as infected people but as people who want to manage our own lives.

Mr. Corfield

I thought that I made it clear that I was anxious that nobody should regard Deptford, as I put it, as the lost child. I think that my meaning was exactly the same as that of the hon. Member for Deptford. When the town clerks looked at the problem, having made the earlier decision, they decided—and I do not think that my hon. Friend has said anything to undermine the rightness of their conclusions—that although all these boroughs seemed to be confirmed bachelors or spinsters, the right marriage, if a marriage were to be forced, was the marriage with Lewisham.

My hon. Friend quoted at some length from 'paragraph 61 of their report, but with due respect to him, I think that he has given a slightly twisted impression of that paragraph by reading it in small bits. If he will read it right through, I think he will find an almost overwhelming case. Although he has picked holes in little bits of it, he has not produced an argument that the general conclusion to in remarks is wrong. And that is the Government's view.

He made certain specific points about the industrial character of neighbouring boroughs, the riparian character of neighbouring boroughs, if that is the right word, and the pattern of development. But I do not believe that it would be a sound basis for local government to go round trying to group all the industrial areas together and all the residential areas together, or even all the riverside areas together.

Mr. H. A. Price

Is my hon. Friend refuting my argument about that part of paragraph 61 which claimed that the largest part of the Borough of Lewisham is to be found in the boundary adjoining Deptford?

Mr. Corfield

From looking at the map I have no doubt that that is an inaccuracy. Equally, I have no doubt that this is a very densely populated part of London. My hon. Friend is suggesting that the mere fact that the town clerks produced a different answer from the tentative proposals put forward by my right hon. Friend's predecessors means that that answer should be regarded with extra suspicion. But if we accept that, we undermine the whole object of this very sensible exercise of bringing in these distinguished provincials, if I may use the word again, to advise on this pattern. Surely, having done that, we must accept that the onus is the other way and that we must have good reasons before we depart from their recommendations, especially when, if my hon. Friend's ideas were followed, we should have considerable repercussions on the neighbouring boroughs and on the overall pattern of boroughs set up in this part of London. Therefore, I must press the Government's view that this is an Amendment which should not be accepted, and I at least have the comfort that I have some support in that from hon. Members opposite.

Mr. C. Johnson

Would the hon. Gentleman be good enough to explain this to the Committee? The Royal Commission studied the matter very carefully indeed. The Ministry had the widest possible information, experience and knowledge of these London areas. So far as one can judge from paragraph 61 of the town clerks' report, the only factor which dominated their final conclusion was the reference to a service centre and they ignored every one of the other considerations to which the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. H. A. Price) referred as being relevant to decide this matter. Why should that one factor set out in paragraph 61 override all the careful consideration which presumably

the Minister himself had given previously to these matters?

Mr. Corfield

This other information was available to the town clerks and their report is only meant to be a summary of their conclusions. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman underlined this question of the service centre, because this emphasises the fact that the Town Clerks took into account questions of the community areas, to which the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) referred earlier. This is an important aspect, but it is clear from the form of the report that it has never aimed at setting out all the information which was put before the town clerks, either by councils or by my Ministry, but is a summary of the conclusions reached.

Question put, That the words "borough of Greenwich" stand part of the Schedule:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 244, Noes 24.

Division No. 53.] AYES [8.12 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Cunningham, Knox Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
Aitken, W. T. Curran, Charles Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)
Allason, James Currle, G. B. H. Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)
Atkins, Humphrey Dalkeith, Earl of Hirst, Geoffrey
Balniol, Lord Davies,G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Hocking, Philip N.
Barber, Anthony Deedes, Rt. Hon. w. F. Holland, Philip
Barlow, Sir John Delargy, Hugh Rooson, H. E.
Barter, John Digby, Simon Wingfield Hopkins, Alan
Batsford, Brian Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Hornby, R. P.
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Drayson, G. B. Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P.
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton du Cann, Edward Hoy, James H.
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John Hughes-Young, Michael
Benson, Sir George Duncan, Sir James Hulbert, Sir Norman
Berkeley, Humphry Ede, Rt. Hon. C. Hutchison, Michael Clark
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Eden, John Iremonger, T. L.
Bidgood, John C. Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Biffen, John Elliott,R.W.(Nwcastle-upon-Tyne,N.) James, David
Bigga-Davison, John Emery, Peter Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Bishop, F. P. Errington, Sir Eric Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Bourne-Arton, A, Farey-Jones, F. W. Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Farr, John Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Box, Donald Finlay, Graeme Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith
Brewis, John Fletcher, Eric Kerans, Cdr. J. S.
Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.Sir Walter Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Kerby, Capt. Henry
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Kerr, Sir Hamilton
Bryan, Paul Freeth, Denzil Kimball, Marcus
Buck, Antony Gammans, Lady Kirk, Peter
Bullard, Denys George, Sir John (Pollok) Leavey, J. A.
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Gibson-Watt, David Letaurn, Gilmour
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Chapman, Donald Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Lilley, F. J. P.
Chataway, Christopher Goodhew, Victor Lindsay, Sir Martin
Chichester-Clark, R, Gough, Frederick Linstead, Sir Hugh
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Gower, Raymond Litchfield, Capt. John
Clarke, Brig. Terence(Portsmth, W,) Grant-Ferris, R. Longbottom, Charles
Cleaver, Leonard Green, Alan Longden, Gilbert
Cole, Norman Gresham Cooke, R. Lubbock, Eric
Cooke, Robert Grimond, Rt. Hon. J. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Cooper, A. E. Crosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Mclnnes, James
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) McLaren, Martin
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Corfield, F. V. Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd) Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)
Costain, A, P. Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) McMaster, Stanley R.
Coulson, Michael Harvie, Anderson, Miss Macpherson,Rt.Hn.Niall(Dumfries>
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne Hastings, Stephen Maddan, Martin
Crawley, Aldan Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Maitland, Sir John
Crowder, F. P. Hendry, Forbes Markham, Major Sir Prank
Marshall, Douglas Pott, Percivall Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
Marten, Nell Price, David (Eastleigh) Taylor, Sir William (Bradford, N.)
Mathew, Robert (Honiton) Prior, J, M. L. Teeling, Sir William
Matthews, Cordon (Meriden) Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho Temple, John M.
Mawby, Ray Profumo, Rt. Hon. John Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)
Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. s. L. c. Proudfoot, Wilfred Thompson, Sir Kenneth (Walton)
Mayhew, Christopher Quennell, Miss J. M. Thornton- Kemsley, Sir Colin
Mellish, R. J. Ramsden, James Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Mills, Stratton Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Miscampbell, Norman Rees-Davies, W. R. Turner, Colin
Montgomery, Fergus Renton, Rt. Hon. David Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
More, Jasper (Ludlow) Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Tweedsmuir, Lady
Morgan, William Roberta, Goronwy (Caernarvon) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Morrison, John Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool, S.) Vane, w. M. F.
Nabarro, Sir Gerald Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Vaugtian Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Neave, Alrey Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Vickers, Miss Joan
Nicholson, Sir Godfrey St. Clair, M. Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Noble, Rt. Hon. Michael Shaw, M. Wade, Donald
Nugent, Rt, Hon. Sir Richard Skeet, T. H. H. Walder, David
Orr-Ewing, C. Ian Small, William Walker, Peter
Osborn, John (Hallam) Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick) Wall, Patrick
Page, Graham (Crosby) Smithers, Peter Weitzman, David
Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Smyth, Rt. Hon. Brig. Sir John Weils, John (Maidstone)
Partridge, E. Spearman, Sir Alexander Williams, LI. (Abertillery)
Pavitt, Laurence Speir, Rupert Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Stanley, Hon. Richard Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Stevens, Geoffrey Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Peel, John Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.) Wise, A. R.
Percival, Ian Stewart, Michael (Fulham) Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Peyton, John Stodart, J. A. Woodhouse, C. M.
Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm Woodnutt, Mark
Pilkington, Sir Richard Studholme, Sir Henry Woollam, John
Pitman, Sir James Summers, Sir Spencer Worsley, Marcus
Pitt, Dame Edith Swain, Thomas
Plummer, Sir Leslie Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Rees and Mr. MacArthur.
Bence, Cyril Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Sorensen, R. W.
Benson, Sir George Henderson, Rt. H n. Arthur(RwlyRegis) Swain, Thomas
Blyton, William Lee, Frederick (Newton) Williams, LI. (Abertillery)
Board man, H. Manuel, Archie Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Bradley, Tom Moody, A. S. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Bulius, Wing Commander Eric Padley, W. E. Woof, Robert
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Parker, John
Dugdate, Rt. Hon. John Pursey, Cmdr. Harry TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Galpern, Sir Myer Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Mr. H. A. Price and Mr. Russell.
Mr. M. Stewart

On a point of order. A number of my hon. Friends, under a misapprehension about the way in which the Question was being put—and, perhaps, due to an instinctive reluctance to vote in the same Lobby as the Government—voted in the "No" Lobby, not realising that in order to carry out their intentions correctly they should have voted in the "Aye" Lobby. When they consulted me on this matter I advised them, I hope correctly, that to neutralise their votes they would have to vote in the other Lobby as well. I hope that I have not committed any impropriety. I understand that the effect of all this is to cause their votes not to be recorded on either side.

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. G. Thomas)

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) for the advice he has tendered, which saves me giving any Ruling on the question.

Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, south) rose

The Temporary Chairman

Might I remind the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) that the Guillotine falls on the next. Amendment in half an hour?

Mr. Ellis Smith

Before considering the Guillotine, Mr. Thomas, might I raise a point of order? I should like to know the position regarding the last vote.

The Temporary Chairman

If, as I understand it, some hon. Members voted in both Lobbies, their names will be recorded in both. Any further difficulties that arise should be raised when the OFFICIAL REPORT is issued.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Further to that point of order—

The Temporary Chairman

If I might interrupt the hon. Member, I have refreshed my memory and I can now say that any hon. Member who wishes to raise the question of the way his vote was cast should, I am advised, do so tomorrow.

Mr. Ellis Smith

I merely wanted to thank you, Mr. Thomas, for the clear way in which you have dealt with this matter.

Mr. Mellish

I beg to move, in page 88, line 29, column 2, to leave out "Bermondsey".

The Temporary Chairman

I think that it would be convenient to the Committee to discuss, at the same time, the other Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Bermondsey, (Mr. Mellish), in line 42, at end insert: The metropolitan borough of Bermondsey.

Mr. Mellish

That would be convenient. For the first time in many years I found myself in the winning Lobby when we voted on the previous Amendment. I think that it was the first time in twelve years that I have actually been on the winning side. The Committee will understand why. I hope that on the next occasion we enter the Lobby, when the Amendment I am moving is put to the vote, my hon. Friends and I will gain support from some hon. Members opposite so that I may have the pleasure of being on the winning side once again. I doubt it, but one never knows one's luck and perhaps if I can adduce a good enough argument some hon. Members opposite will support me.

The effect of the Amendment would mean that my constituency would stand on its own, separate and apart from the other two with which it is proposed to be merged; that is, the Metropolitan Boroughs of Camberwell and Southwark. I wish it to be on the record that anything I say should not be taken as being critical of either of those two boroughs.

It would be a poor hon. Member indeed who did not say some nice things about his own constituency. I am in the fortunate position in Bermondsey of having an overwhelming Labour majority and even if the proposed amalgamation took place I would probably end up with a bigger majority. I have been in the fortunate position all along of not having to pander to groups or cliques, either outside or inside the House of Commons, and it is important that an hon. Member should have this freedom. I always feel sorry for hon. Members with marginal seats who must constantly be looking over their shoulders. In Bermondsey I have never had to do that, so when I speak about Bermondsey it is because I feel deeply about the subject, although I appreciate that one does not want to make too emotional a speech.

Whatever the Minister may say about any other London borough, he cannot deny that in Bermondsey there is deep distress over these proposals. Some hon. Members have already talked about the history of their constituencies, but when one thinks of Bermondsey one knows that its history is something that really matters. Bermondsey is, in a way, separate and apart from the rest of London and for those who live there it is a matter of pride to be able to say. "I come from Bermondsey" It is certainly the sort of borough in which one must live and work to understand it.

Bermondsey suffered as much as, if not more than, any other borough in the industrial revolution at the turn of the century. It has a wonderful history going back hundreds of years. It was at one time a place second to Westminster in that there existed the Abbey of Bermondsey. But its real history has developed in this century, for it saw the tremendous advances made by many social welfare workers, including Dr. Scott-Lidgett, the Methodist and Socialist alike, the great Dr. Alfred Salter, Mrs. Lowe and others whose mark in the borough has remained. For the first time, as a result of the activities of these people, trees were planted amongst the grime and filth and the record of its council can be described as superb. Its efforts evoked interest and praise from the previous Minister of Housing, now the Home Secretary. He knows the borough well. He came on an official visit and was amazed to find what had been done by an authority of that size.

Our only fault and crime seems to lie in our size. It seems that we have a temerity because we are a borough with a population of 52,000. Does our history not matter a damn? Whether we like it or not, are we to be merged with two other great London Boroughs, whereby our whole personality and approach will, to some extent, be destroyed?

I will give the Committee one or two simple figures. We have 52 councillors, which means that each one represents 1,000 people. Some may laugh at that, but I would tell them quite sincerely that no borough council in London gives its people better service than we do. That can be done with the sort of councillors that we have, and with that sort of representation. Our total number of councillors and aldermen will be reduced if we go into Camberwell, which is much larger. In Camberwell, there will be 60 councillors to represent a population of 310,000, and Bermondsey will be represented by only 10—out of 60. It is all very well for anyone to say, "Bermondsey will still be there," but we shall have turned the clock back.

8.30 p.m.

I cannot over-emphasise the bitterness felt in Bermondsey over this proposal. Housing has been our biggest problem, and the Minister will know better than anyone else, because his Departmental advisers will have told him, that our housing record is unsurpassed anywhere in London. At the present time, we actually own over one-third of our own borough and, as a result, have solved many of our social problems. My council has been doing enormously well. It has brought to life the sort of Socialism I understand and respect, which means the removal of poverty, and giving people decent housing. It has done so in a way that has twice invited the attention of Conservative Ministers.

It is all very well for the Minister to say, "Oh, that will be all right—the same thing can go on when you merge," but Camberwell has its own vast problems, and so has Southwark. If this merger comes about, we know that many of the problems we shall face in the future will not be Bermondsey problems as such—there will have to be priorities, and Bermondsey will not be in the priority list.

Bermondsey has a great history. Dickens, Kingsley, Swift, Pepys and Evelyn have all been in Bermondsey and have written about it, some with pathos and some more pleasantly. Bermondsey has always attracted what I call the best of Londoners. I am a Londoner born and bred, and I speak as a man to whom Bermondsey means so much. I am not speaking here of the political side. Votes do not come into this argument. If we are merged, I will get so much more support in Camberwell that I predict that I shall have such a majority as will make the Conservatives and Liberals lose their deposits. Perhaps I should welcome that, but I do not want it that way. Among all the people of Bermondsey there is a united desire to continue as they are and, as their representative, I have to ask the Minister, "Please, if it is possible, don't do this. Please leave Bermondsey alone."

It will probably be said, "But this will alter the pattern—it cannot possibly be done. How can you ask? A borough of 52,000 population, one of the smallest in all London, would destroy the whole concept." The answer is that, because of our slum clearance work, we have reached our lowest ebb of population. The Registrar-General's next figures will show that for the first time in years Bermondsey's population has increased, and it will continue to do so. In 1939 we had a population of 129,000. We never want to get back to that figure but, as chairman of the local hospital committee, I sought figures in another matter, and found that the Registrar-General's Department predicts that in the seventies Bermondsey's population will be between 75,000 and 85,000.

Bermondsey has had a great past, and I am proud to talk of it, but I do not believe that under this Bill it has a future. The right hon. Gentleman must understand that in this borough, as in many other London boroughs, he has aroused every possible parochial feeling, and his only justification is that Bermondsey has committed the crime of being too small. If that is its only crime, I beg the Minister to think again.

Wing Commander Bullus

I have no particular interest to declare in Bermondsey and I hope that the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) will not think I am presumptuous in putting my feet in his constituency. I am encouraged by the fact that the hon. Member often feels inclined to transfer to Northern Ireland and take interest in that part of the world. Therefore, there seems to be some excuse for my interfering here. I am supporting the hon. Member chiefly on principle. In spite of the unkind things he said about the Tories, they have principles. I have tried to prove that.

I understand it when the hon. Member says that his constituents are distressed at this proposal. We experience the same distress in Wembley which is an excellent borough, very like Bermondsey, where the councillors are honoured people who work hard. They are very distressed, and I can well understand that the same applies, in Bermondsey. I support the Amendment because I have always said, as I said on Second Reading, that I do not think that size alone should be the criterion of whether a borough should be thought fit to survive.

I can take hon. Members to my borough of Wembley, which is admirably run, where municipal housing pays and where there are resources, if it so desired, to run the education services. I can take hon. Members also to boroughs of 200,000 population which are unfit to manage their own affairs. It must he proved to the smaller boroughs why their status should be taken away from them when they are fully efficient. On that principle I shall support the Amendment.

Mr. M. Stewart

I do not want to take much time away from the Minister, though I do not suppose that it will take him very long to say what he has to say. A few minutes ago we had the case of the City of London argued on the ground of great tradition. There are two traditions in the history of this country and no man understands England who does not understand the part which both have played.

There is the tradition, dating from the Norman Conquest, of courts, royal institutions, courts of justice, royal charters, wealthy merchants and great landowners. The City of London is the heir to that tradition. There is also the tradition of those who, over the centuries, were shut out from the circle of power and who gradually, at first blindly, ignorantly and desperately, learned with growing skill the mystery of democratic techniques and forced their way into the circle of power. That tradition goes back to the Peasants' Revolt, to Jack Cade's rising and to the Industrial Revolution. Bermondsey is the symbol of the inheritance of that tradition.

If the City of London has applied the great wealth it has amassed to certain useful purposes, the citizens of Bermond- sey have learned how to drag themselves up by their own bootstraps and from their own limited resources to create local government. On the coat of arms of the City is the dagger that stabbed Wat Tyler but it was out of South-East London and Kent that came Tyler, John Ball, and Jack Cade, the spokesmen of the people of England at a time when democratic processes were not open to them. And to see a borough today capable of using democratic processes in a way that enables people to do things for themselves instead of waiting for the gentry to do them for them is something worth preserving in democratic local government.

Sir K. Joseph

I have great respect for the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) and wish to meet him on his own level of argument. He speaks of the two traditions in the history of the country and there is much truth in what he says. But let the hon. Member not give the impression that the history of the City which he traces from the Norman Conquest, and which, he says, was ceremonial and courtly has no blood in it. Tower Hill played a large part in the history of London, and merchants of old from whom aldermen and mayors were elected paid with their heads for their part in building the democracy of which the people of Bermondsey are the inheritors. The hon. Member mentioned famous characters, some notorious in our history, but the City of London, under its Lord Mayors, poured out its blood on the side of democracy at Lewes and Bosworth and on many other famous fields. There is credit in both of the strands of history which the hon. Member traces.

The hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) was generous in his praise of his local authority. If his local authority were able to speak here, it would be generous in praise of him. He is one of the most persuasive and, indeed, endearing speakers on any cause in the House and one pays great attention to what he says. As he and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wembley, North (Wing Commander Bullus) know, the changes brought about in the Bill are not reflections on the competence and devotion to duty of the local authorities concerned.

The hon. Member for Bermondsey—and I mean to pay him a compliment—is a romantic conservative. He wants to keep things as they are, without recognising that much benefit can come from changing them. The difference between this Amendment and the Schedule is that by abolishing the City no benefit is done to anyone, whereas by amalgamating the boroughs, of which Bermondsey is one, in a group, some benefit will accrue to the citizens.

Mr. Mellish

I am always willing to concede the argument that if something is good it ought to be kept.

Sir K. Joseph

Let the hon. Member consider this. He has praised his local councillors, no doubt with justice. Does he not think that those local councillors would like more powers? Does he think that they have enough powers now? Does he not think there is some virtue in redistributing powers so that the local people, of whom his constituents are some, will be able to carry out the welfare and the health functions, the local town planning and the housing functions which are part of the proper equipment of any local authority?

The hon. Gentleman refers—and I agree with him—to the intractable problems imposed by housing and the environmental inheritance in his part of London. They are difficult and intractable problems. Does not the hon. Member see some merit in the creation and redistribution of new powers brought about by the Bill? Let the hon. Member believe that we think there is some virtue in these powers, and the citizens of Bermondsey will benefit from their use.

During discussion of this Schedule we shall consider how large a part public opinion plays in these matters, but I believe that it is true in Bermondsey, as it is in Wembley, North, that some citizens react to the changes in the Bill by fear that they will be hurt. Many councillors do not want changes because they will lose the honourable part that they have been playing decisively in their own environments. But I do not think that the citizens as a whole take great notice of these proposed new borough groupings. I do not believe that what we are doing now is deep down in their consciousness.

I would remind the hon. Member that all is not loss in this change in Bermondsey's position. The local councillors in the new borough groupings will possess many more powers for the benefit of their citizens and they should, within the context of the Greater London Council's plans, be able more quickly to change this inherited environment with which I know the hon. Member is not satisfied.

Finally, I must make the small, technical point that if the Amendment is passed Bermondsey will not splendidly continue its own form of local government. As a local government unit it will cease to exist. Let the hon. Member reflect before he desires to be in the winning Lobby, if this Amendment is pressed. Bermondsey, as a local authority, will cease to exist if the Amendment is passed. I know that that is not his purpose, but that is what it will achieve if it is pressed and passed.

Mr. Mellish

There is a consequential Amendment.

Sir K. Joseph

There is a consequential Amendment later, is there? If that is the case, the hon. Member has taken a point which I have not.

I know the hon. Member will not give up his admiration for the local councillors, which he has so eloquently expressed. I hope that he will think that they can worthily dispose of their powers and, as part of a larger group, be able to do more for their neighbourhood because of the Bill than they have been able to do up to now, despite their efforts. I hope that the Amendment will not be pressed, but if it is I hope that the Committee will reject it.

Mr. Mellish

There is a consequential Amendment which nullifies the point which the Minister has made, and still leaves Bermondsey, as it has been in the past, one of the greatest boroughs in London.

Question put, That "Bermondsey" stand part of the Schedule:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 214, Noes 162.

Division No. 54.] AYES [8.45 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Atkins, Humphrey Barlow, Sir John
Aitkin, W. T. Balniel, Lord Barter, John
Allason, James Barber, Anthony Batstord, Brian
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Plikington, Sir Richard
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Hendry, Forbes Pitman, Sir James
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Pitt, Dame Edith
Berkeley, Humphry Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe) Pott, Percival)
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Biffen, John Hirst, Geoffrey Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)
Biggs-Davison, John Hocking, Philip N. Prior, J. M. L.
Bishop, F. P. Holland, Philip Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho
Bourne-Arton, A. Hooson, H. E. Profumo, Rt. Hon. John
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Hopkins, Alan Proudfoot, Wilfred
Box, Donald Hornby, R. P. Quennell, Miss J. M.
Bryan, Paul Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Dame P. Ramsden, James
Buck, Antony Hughes-Young, Michael Rees, Hugh
Bullard, Denys Hulbert, Sir Norman Rees-Davies, W. R.
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Mairn) Hutchison, Michael Clark Renton, fit. Hon. David
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Iremonger, T. L. Ridley, Hon. Nicholas
Channon, H. P. G. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Robinson, Rt. Hn. Sir R. (B'pool, S.)
Chataway, Christopher James, David Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Chichester-Clark, R. Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Johnson, Eric (Blackley) St. Clair, M.
Clarke, Brig. Terence(Portsmth, W.) Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Shaw, M.
Cleaver, Leonard Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Shepherd, William
Cole, Norman Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith Skeet, T. H. H.
Cooke, Robert Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Cooper, A. E. Kerby, Capt. Henry Smithers, Peter
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Kerr, Sir Hamilton Smyth, Rt. Hon. Brig. Sir John
Corfield, F. V. Kershaw, Anthony Spearman, Sir Alexander
Costain, A. P. Kimball, Marcus Speir, Rupert
Coulson, Michael Kirk, Peter Stanley, Hon. Richard
Craddock. Sir Beresford Spelthorns) Leavey, J. A. Stevens, Geoffrey
Crawley, Aidan Leburn, Gilmour Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Crawder, F. P. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Stodart, J. A.
Cunningham, Knox Lilley, F. J. P. Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Curran, Charles Lindsay, Sir Martin Studholme, Sir Henry
Currie, G. B. H. Longbottom, Charles Summers, Sir Spencer
Longden, Gilbert Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Dalkeith, Earl of Lubbock, Eric Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Teeling, Sir William
Digby, Simon Wingfield McLaren, Martin Temple, John M.
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)
Drayson, G. B. McMaster, Stanley R. Thompson, Sir Kenneth (Walton)
Duncan, Sir James Maddan, Martin Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Eden, John Maitland, Sir John Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Markham, Major Sir Frank Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Elliott,R. W.{ Nwcastle-upon-Tyne,N.) Marshall, Douglas Turner, Colin
Emery, Peter Marten, Neil Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Errington, Sir Erie Mathew, Robert (Honiton) Tweedsmuir, Lady
Farr, John Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Finlay, Graeme Mawby, Ray Vane, W. M. F.
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Vaugnan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Freeth, Denzil Mills, Stratton Vickers, Miss Joan
Gammans, Lady Miscampbell, Norman Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
George, Sir John (Pollok) Montgomery, Fergus Wade, Donald
Gibson-Watt, David More, Jasper (Ludlow) Walder, David
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Morgan, William Walker, Peter
Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.) Morrison, John Wall, Patrick
Goodhew, Victor Nabarro, Sir Gerald Wells, John (Maidstone)
Gough, Frederick Neave, Airey Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Cower, Raymond Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Grant-Ferris, R. Noble, Rt. Hon. Michael Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Green, Alan Nugent, Rt. Hon. Sir Richard Wise, A. R.
Gresham Cooke, R. Orr-Ewing, C. Ian Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Grimond, Rt. Hon. J. Osborn, John (Hallam) Woodhouse, C. M.
Groevenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Page, Graham (Crosby) Woodnutt, Mark
Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Partridge, E. Woollant, John
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Worsley, Marcus
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macciesf'd) Peel, John
Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Percival, Ian TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Harvie Anderson, Miss Peyton, John Mr. Ian Fraser and
Hastings, Stephen Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Mr. MacArthur.
Ainsley, William Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Carmichael, Neil
Allaurt, Frank (Salford, E.) Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics.B.W.) Chapman, Donald
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Boyden, James Clifte, Michael
Awbery, Stan (Bristol Central) Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Collick, Percy
Bacon, Miss Alice Bradley, Tom Corbet, Mrs. Freda
Barnett, Guy Bray, Dr. Jeremy Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)
Beaney, Alan Brocfcway, A. Fenner Crosland, Anthony
Bence, Cyril Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Crossman, R. H. S.
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Cullen, Mrs. Alice
Blackburn, F. Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Dalyell, Tam
Blyton, William Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)
Boardman, H. Callaghan, James Davies, Harold (Leek)
Davles, Ifor (Gower) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Delargy, Hugh Kelley, Richard Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton)
Dempsey, lames Kenyon, Clifford Ross, William
Diamond, John King, Dr. Horace Russell, Ronald
Dodds, Norman Lee, Frederick (Newton) Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Donnelly, Desmond Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Dugdale, Bt. Hon. John Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, M.) Small, William
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Mclnnes, James Sorensen, R. W.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) McKay, John (Wallsend) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Mackie, John (Enfield, East) Spriggs, Leslie
Fitch, Alan MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Steele, Thomas
Fletcher, Erie Manuel, Archie Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Mapp, Charles Stones, William
Forman, J. C. Mayhew, Christopher Swain, Thomas
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mellish, R. J. Swingler, Stephen
Galpern, Sir Myer Millan, Bruce Taverne, D.
Ginsburg, David Milne, Edward Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Grey, Charles Monslow, Walter Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Moody, A. S. Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Morris, John Thornton, Ernest
Hannan, William Neal, Harold Tomney, Frank
Harper, Joseph Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Wainwright, Edwin
Hart, Mrs. Judith Noel-Baker,Rt.Hn.Phlilp(Derby,S.) Warbey, William
Hayman, F. H. Oliver, G. H. Weitzman, David
Henderson,Rt.Hn.Arthur(Rwly Regis) Oswald, Thomas Whitlock, William
Herbison, Miss Margaret Padley, W. E. Wilkins, W. A.
Hilton, A. V. Parker, John Willey, Frederick
Houghton, Douglas Pavitt, Laurence Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Hoy, James H. Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Williams, LI. (Abertillery)
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Peart, Frederick Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Pentland, Norman Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Plummer, Sir Leslie Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Hunter, A. E. Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Hynd, H. (Accrington) Probert, Arthur Winterbottom, R. E.
Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Janner, Sir Barnett Rankin, John Woof, Robert
Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Redhead, E. C. Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Jeger, George Reynolds, G. W.
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Rhodes, H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Jones, Rt. Hn. A.Creech(Wakefield) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Mr. Charles A. Howell and
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Mr. McCann.
Dr. Alan Glyn (Clapham)

I beg to move, in page 88, to leave out lines 31 to 38 and to insert:

9 The metropolitan boroughs of Battersea and Lambeth. 4
10 The metropolitan borough of Wandsworth. 4

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. George Thomas)

With this Amendment we will consider also the Amendment in page 90, line 40, to leave out paragraph 2.

Dr. Glyn

The Committee may well be aware that there are four Members of Parliament for Wandsworth, two of them are in Her Majesty's Government and the other two are represented by myself and by my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. H. Linstead). I am grateful that the Amendment should have been selected, because it has substance and merits not only consideration but, I hope, acceptance. I shall be brief in my remarks, because the weight of the argilment is not measured by its length. I understand also that another Amendment comes within the same Guillotine period.

I shall deal, first, with the background, then the Bill, the effect of the Amendment, the reasons for it and why, if it were accepted, it would improve the Bill. There are three adjoining boroughs, Wandsworth with a population of 347,000, Battersea, with a population of 105,000 and Lambeth with a population of 223,000. Under the proposals in the Bill, Wandsworth's size would become 335,000 and the enlarged Lambeth 340,000. The suggestion of my hon. Friends and myself in the Amendment would leave Wandsworth with a population of 347,000 and Lambeth and Battersea with 328,000, or a difference of only 2 per cent. The net result would be that Wandsworth would be rather larger, whereas Lambeth—

The Temporary Chairman

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but I ought to let him know that no other Amendment will be called during this Guillotine period.

Dr. Glyn

I am grateful for that observation, Mr. Thomas.

I was describing the size of three adjoining boroughs. Wandsworth is in the middle, Lambeth is to the east and Battersea lies to the north. The suggestions advanced in our Amendment would leave boroughs of almost precisely the size which the Government wish to achieve and they would be almost identical with those proposed by the Town Clerks., although the groupings would be different.

The Bill applies drastic surgery and divides the existing Borough of Wandsworth, which has a third of a million people. It gives part of Lambeth and, in exchange, takes Battersea in compensation. I can only understand this as an attempt by division to rule. There would be no point in dividing a borough, unless it were essential to do so, provided that the borough is of the correct size that the Government wish to achieve under the new regrouping. That is exactly the position at the moment. Wandsworth would be of the size suggested by the Government.

9.0 p.m.

With the Amendment, the Bill would leave Wandsworth alone and would seek to achieve two things. It amalgamates two adjacent boroughs. That is to say, it amalgamates Lambeth with Battersea and thus avoids partition of the one really large borough which exists, Wandsworth. It achieves the same numerical effect, but prevents Wandsworth from being partitioned, and, as the Joint Parliamentary Secretary said earlier on, it does not in any way—and I wish to make this perfectly clear to the Committee, that if this Amendment were to be accepted by the Committee it would not in any way—affect another borough in south London or indeed another borough in the regroupings which the Government wish to achieve. It affects only these three boroughs, that is to say, Wandsworth, Lambeth and Battersea.

The recommendations which the Government wish to achieve were based on the report of the town clerks. In the case of Wandsworth recommendations were made by the Town Clerk of South Shields. I do not wish to cast any aspersions on individuals, but I should like to make comments on the statements which he made in the evaluation of the position, and in particular I should like to make reference to one statement which he made, that most people"— he was talking about the people living in certain parts of Wandsworth— are more familiar with Brixton because they either pass through on their way to London or go there for shopping According to the survey I have made that is not correct. It may have been correct ten years ago, but it is certainly not correct today.

I refer, first, to the question of transport. People "pass through on their way to London", says the Report. Some people may well do that, but what the town clerk did not observe was that, in fact, most of the people of that particular area use another route, which is over Chelsea Bridge, or they use the Underground, which does not pass through Brixton at all. I do not know where he got his information from.

He said also that the people on that side of the borough look more towards Brixton. What he forgot to notice was that there is a rates office—an extremely important thing, a subdivision of the rating offices—in that end of Wands-worth, where the people of Clapham and the adjoining areas can pay their rates, rather than go to Wandsworth, and it is closer to them than the offices in Brixton. I do not know how much time he spent in the division, but I will come to this point later.

I do not believe, either, that he really gave any serious thought—and I have read his report with extreme care—ito the important effect of the uniting of the boroughs rather than dividing them. This was one of the recommendations upon which he should have worked and which was laid down by the Ministry, and not only by the Ministry, for it was clearly defined in the terms of reference which were given to the town clerks. In my submission, those terms of reference on this point were not in any way referred to whatsoever.

Now as regards the time which was spent and the method of evaluation of the situation. To my knowledge, there was one day's conference, and at that time the Town Clerk of Wandsworth and his officers offered every possible assistance to the Town Clerk of South Shields, knowing he could not be familiar with the area, and they were prepared to give him any evidence which he desired and which was available to them. I have checked up with the Town Clerk of Wandsworth and I have discovered that on no occasion was any question asked of the borough council by the Town Clerk of South Shields or representations made to the council. I would have thought that, as he was coming fresh to the area, one of his main sources of information to which he would have turned would have been the town clerk. In fact, he made no effort to seek his opinion or advice in the matter. I cannot speak for the other boroughs, for I do not know what contact he made with them. I understand —though I cannot substantiate this—that he gave as much thought to their borough councils as he did to Wandsworth Borough Council.

Nor were any references made by him to any local organisations. Again, one would have thought that in a survey of this type it would be natural to look towards the opinions, not so much perhaps of the political organisations but of the other non-political organisations in Wandsworth and the other two boroughs. But to my knowledge—and I have made inquiries—no reference was made to any of these organisations. They were not consulted by this town clerk.

I draw the Committee's attention to the fact that united views have been expressed by the majority party and the minority party of Wandsworth Borough Council. The council has changed political complexion meantime, but what is so surprising is that the views of both parties are exactly the same.

At the council meeting of 2nd October, 1962, the council decided to make it clear to the Minister, in the strongest possible terms, that it was opposed to any intended reorganisation and any proposal to alter the present boundaries of the borough, and considered that the present area of the borough was an efficient unit of local government capable of exercising any other functions or services for which it might be responsible in the future.

In the previous February of 1962, the Conservative council had produced a statement on this matter, saying that it … opposes the suggested partition of the present Borough of Wandsworth. Nothing could be clearer than that statement. What happened when the Council changed political complexion later in the year? Its resolution of the 2nd October said: We consider that there is no justification for severing one-third of the borough for an addition to the neighbouring local authority and for amalgamating the remainder with Battersea to create a new borough of almost similar size to the original. That made the council's views clear. The resolution went on: The Borough provides an efficient unit of local government capable of exercising any other functions and services which may be given to the boroughs. That was a categorical rejection of this proposal, and it is still rejected by the Council.

I have also sought the opinions of the local Chamber of Commerce and the local ratepayers. In my submission, there was nobody in favour of this but the Town Clerk of South Shields. He based himself, I believe, on preconceived ideas and paid insufficient attention to the important aspect of preserving a borough of a size which was compatible with the Government's proposals. Secondly, the views of the local people were not considered, nor were local affiliations. Yet local affiliations were clearly laid down in the terms of reference and should have been given full consideration. In my submission in his report they were not given reasonable, or in fact, any, consideration whatsoever.

I turn now to the advantages of the Amendment. The strongest argument is that we are attempting to amalgamate two complete boroughs, a process which would be very much easier for the boroughs. They could amalgamate their housing schemes, their schemes for house loans and their services, and I think that the task before them would be far simpler than if they were divided.

It is ironical that the only borough in London of the right size should be the borough which is singled out for partition. This borough has some of the finest services. I suppose that every Member of Parliament thinks that his borough is better than everybody else's, but I submit that Wandsworth, over its sixty years, has developed certain services in an extraordinarily efficient way—women's voluntary services, the Red Cross and, in particular, the old people's welfare service. A great deal has been done, and great leadership has been given by Wandsworth, and perhaps it would not be out of place to say that one of the reasons why it has been able to do it is that being a large borough it has been able to cater for almost every type of old people's welfare, including luncheon clubs and many other facilities which no other lborough has been able to run on such a large scale.

What we are attempting to do is to keep the Wandsworth Borough Council because it is the best and most advantageous way of regrouping the boroughs. We have here a borough of the right size, and one upon which others could be modelled. There has never been any criticism of its efficiency, and it would serve the other boroughs as a model for the new London Government proposals.

Irrespective of whether one accepts these proposals, it would still be of value to have one borough which is already set up, which has all the necessary facilities and services, and which could give advice to other boroughs which were in not quite the same position, which were much smaller and which had to expand, and I am sure that these smaller boroughs would be interested to see how this larger one was working. This proposal does not affect any other boroughs, and there are no good reasons for rejecting the scheme.

I am not going into the views of the other two borough councils. I understand that although they met at a late date, they made representations, but I do not know of any council resolutions of an equivalent force and magnitude to that of the Wandsworth Borough Council stating that they did not wish to participate in the scheme which involved the amalgamation of Battersea and Lambeth.

There may well be certain minor adjustments which would have to be made, such as in road boundaries, but I do not think.that that would be necessary anyway, and I do not think that that in itself is an obstacle. I base my argument on the value of having this borough; on the fact that it is not necessary to split it up and fragment it when another solution would work perfectly well and efficiently.

9.15 p.m.

Finally, I ask my right hon. Friend to think of the advantages of the Amendment and to look very carefully at the evidence upon which the recommendations were made. I suggest that the evidence was not sufficiently examined, nor were the terms of reference adhered to. I do not believe that the recommendations are the result of a clear judgment, or that they provide a reason for the partition of Wandsworth. I therefore ask my right hon. Friend and the Committee to accept the Amendment. By doing so we shall be doing a great deal of good for Wandsworth and for the future of London government, without in any way creating a disadvantage. In any case, if it is claimed that there are some small disadvantages, they are completely outweighed by the very real advantage of preserving this borough and using it as an excellent model for the future of London government.

Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)

The speech of the hon. Member for Clapham (Dr. Alan Glyn) has effectively demonstrated that this is a ridiculous Bill. Nevertheless I cannot agree that the Amendment would render it any better. Indeed, it would make it much worse. The Amendment seeks to amalgamate Battersea and Lambeth. The hon. Member advanced no good reason for it, and I cannot see what good reasons exist. We do not have to consult the Town Clerk of South Shields to see what a foolish proposal it is to amalgamate these two boroughs. We merely have to look at the map.

Rather slyly, the hon. Member said that the three boroughs of Lambeth, Wandsworth and Battersea adjoin each other. It is true that Lambeth adjoins Wandsworth, and that Wandsworth adjoins Battersea, but it is not true that Battersea adjoins Wandsworth in any but a very curious sense. At one end of my constituency, in the Nine Elms area, the boundaries touch, but they touch in an area where no population remains. It has been entirely cleared for use for industrial purposes. Lambeth adjoins Battersea only in the sense that James's Park adjoins the Green Park. If we adopted this suggestion the new borough of Lambeth and Battersea would have rather the same relationship to Wandsworth as a nutcracker has to a nut. I agree that Wandsworth would be a fairly large nut, but it would leave at either end an area of the most ridiculous and unmanageable shape.

As far as I know, nobody in Battersea desires this. The Battersea Borough Council is wholly opposed to the idea. It represents all schools of thought, but I believe that it is unanimous on this point. I have no information that leads me to believe that Lambeth is in favour of the proposal. It appears that only Wandsworth favours it. This seems to be the sort of marriage in which neither party which is to marry favours the idea, and in which the marriage is proposed solely by a third party, match-making from outside. This is not likely to lead to a very happy arrangement.

Dr. Alan Glyn

Has the Battersea Borough Council ever passed a resolution on the lines that the right hon. Gentleman has suggested—of not wishing to amalgamate with Wandsworth? Has it passed any resolution, except to say that it wishes to remain alone, and does not like the London Government plan?

Mr. Jay

The Battersea Borough Council has publicly expressed its opposition to this proposal and the town clerk has formally invited me to inform this Committee that that is the view of his council.

Sir Hugh Linstead (Putney)

After the impressive speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Clapham (Dr. Alan Glyn) there is not much that remains to be said by way of a general statement of the case. But there are a number of details which it might be useful to fill in. I wish first, and in no cynical way at all, to thank my right hon. Friend for having indicated all through the preliminary discussions on this difficult problem that he is approaching the matter of the grouping of the boroughs with —I will use the expression because he has used it himself—an open mind.

This is one of the problems where I think that the objective approach of someone outside is justified. As the Committee has been told by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), the Battersea Borough Council is opposed to the solution advanced by my hon. Friend and myself. I understand that the Lambeth Borough Council desires to be left alone because it considers that Lambeth is capable of acting as a Lon- don borough. The Wandsworth Borough Council favours our proposals. Against that sort of background I consider it entirely appropriate that my right hon. Friend should try to find the most workmanlike solution to a problem about which three borough councils cannot agree—all the more so since the three councils are Socialist-controlled and therefore of the same political persuasion, so that there is no question of dealing with the situation from a party political point of view.

The right hon. Member for Battersea, North referred to the nutcracker and the nut. My hon. Friend the Member for Clapham indicated that there was need for adjustment of the north-east boundary of Wandsworth even if the boroughs remain as they are today. There is a salient of Wandsworth which stretches into Battersea and a salient of Battersea which goes into Wandsworth. In that situation the only pattern which would make sense would be an exchange of those two salients and the removal of the nut from the nutcracker referred to by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North.

Mr. Jay

If the hon. Gentleman will look at the map of Lambeth he will find that a minor operation of that kind would not alter the essential shape of the arrangement he proposes.

Sir H. Linstead

Obviously the right hon. Gentleman and I cannot compare maps across the floor of the Committee, but if he will look at the coloured map which has been circulated he will see that at the Balham Railway Station the railway line curves for the boundary in a way which could be quite viable.

I want to put this general proposition to my right hon. Friend: when we are bisecting an efficient, living borough of 347,000 inhabitants and giving one half to one borough and the other half to another borough, thereby destroying the identity of Wandsworth, the onus of proving that the destruction of the borough is the only workable solution is extremely heavy. I do not think that the reasons advanced by the Town Clerk of South Shields can in any way justify the destruction of a great local authority.

The terms of reference of the four town clerks said that they would have regard to five different considerations. The first consideration was population, and there is no disagreement that the population of Wandsworth as it is today —347,000—is an entirely acceptable population. The second consideration to which they would have regard was present and past associations. The Borough of Wandsworth was created in 1900 and has therefore had 62 or 63 years of quite distinguished history. The settlement of Wandsworth goes back to Saxon times, and it takes its name from the River Wandle. What is contemplated here is the destruction of something which, at any rate in name, goes back many hundreds of years. The town clerks were asked, as I have said, to deal with present and past associations, and it is clear that there is no present or past association between Wandsworth and either Battersea or Lambeth.

They were asked to have regard to lines of communication. It is interesting that east and west through the Borough of Wandsworth there are twelve bus routes. There is the South Circular Road, which will be one of the great trunk roads of London, which passes through the whole length of the borough and, incidentally, passes by the town hall and acts as the feeder for traffic to and from the town hall. The town hall itself is on five A roads, on a north-and-south line of the Southern Railway and on two other bus routes, apart from those running on the main roads.

The town clerks were asked to deal with patterns of development, and I think that the right hon. Member for Battersea, North will agree with me that the opportunities for development within the area of Wandsworth and Battersea have practically been exhausted, except in so far as they are represented by slum clearance, and that there is no problem of facilitating the development of undeveloped land.

Finally, they were asked to consider the question of service centres. It is clear that within the whole Borough of Wandsworth the service centres are localised and are likely always to remain localised, whatever divisions there may be in the borough. Streatham, Tooting, Clapham, Putney and Southfields all represent natural shopping centres, whether in Battersea or in Wandsworth. The whole of the shopping of the area is in any case influenced by ease of access to the West End.

If one looks at the five considerations which the town clerks were asked to take into account and applies them to this great existing borough, nothing emerges which demands that the borough shall be bisected. If we look at the reasons given by the Town Clerk of South Shields, we find that, first of all, he says that Wandsworth is folded round three sides of Battersea. This was a point made by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North, and it is certainly the case. However, that adjustment, which is long overdue, of the two salients provides the only logical answer at present, and certainly the only right answer if the Amendment were to be carried, to that criticism. It must be done.

9.30 p.m.

The town clerk gives as the second reason that there were seven miles of east-west distance parallel to the Thames along the borough and that communications were not good east-west. That is a criticism for which there is absolutely no validity. I have a list here of twelve bus routes running east and west, and the whole of that argument is destroyed in any case because the Town Clerk of South Shields is proposing that Wandsworth, plus Battersea, shall be seven and a half miles long with precisely the same east-west communications as he has said are inadequate.

The town clerk then says that it is not easy to reach Wandsworth Town Hall from Clapham or Streatham. He overlooks the fact that there are direct bus services from both those areas to the town hall and that, if the proposal they made and which is adopted in the Bill is carried out, Tooting suffers from the repercussion that it cannot reach Lambeth Town Hall, although it has a direct communication at present with Wandsworth Town Hall, except by two changes of bus. Therefore, on the communications argument it seems to me that the town clerk's reasoning falls almost completely.

I emphasise that access to the town hall in any case is far less important than access to service points used by the local authority for its services, such as rate offices, clinics, engineering depots, and so on. In the case of Wandsworth—and, I have no doubt, in the case of Battersea and Lambeth—these are effectively and usefully scattered round the borough.

I speak as someone who has represented a part of Wandsworth for twenty-one years and who live in it. I emphasise and underline to the Committee that what is proposed here is the destruction of a borough—not by amalgamation, as happens in some other cases that we are considering, but by a deliberate bisection and disappearance of the whole borough. This is a unique case in the Schedule.

Sir K. Joseph

I am puzzled by my hon. Friend's reference to Tooting, which seems to me, both as the boroughs are organised in the Schedule and in the Amendment, to be in Wandsworth.

Sir H. Linstead

Yes My right hon. Friend is perfectly right and I am wrong. His interruption has given me the opportunity of considering this, and I grant him that point straight away. It was Streatham Vale at the bottom left-hand corner of the new Borough of Lambeth to which I was directing my attention and not Tooting. I apologise to the Committee for making that error.

Mr. Jay

Since the hon. Member for Putney (Sir H. Linstead) seems concerned about access to town halls, can he suggest where the town hall would be for the amalgamated Borough of Battersea and Lambeth?

Sir H. Linstead

That would obviously be a matter for decision by the councils concerned, just as the same question will have to be decided if the boroughs of half of Wandsworth and Battersea, with two town halls, are amalgamated under the Bill. That will have to be sorted out by one council or the other.

The destruction of a living and historic borough such as this, with 347,000 inhabitants, merely for the purpose of making a new amalgamation with two boroughs —which, in my submission, can competently and viably be joined together themselves—seems a piece of destruction which none of the logical arguments advanced by the town clerk can justify.

I hope, therefore, that my right hon. Friend has been applying his mind completely objectively to this matter and that, if he has decided that the Bill must stay in its present form, he will at least do us the courtesy of producing the answers to the arguments we have put forward, arguments which seem to be completely conclusive, for leaving this great borough to carry on its work substantially as it is now, subject to the boundary adjustments I have mentioned.

Mr. E. Partridge (Battersea, South)

I thought that we were going to receive some more advocacy of the Amendment. I was waiting to see how the arguments would develop because, from what I have heard, I was in doubt as to what we were really discussing; whether it was the self-glorification of the Borough of Wandsworth or whether we were discussing the London Government Bill and trying to improve local government in London.

Nevertheless, the case seemed to rest on an attack on the Town Clerk of South Shields for coming to a conclusion contrary to what some hon. Members and a number of residents of Wandsworth would desire. One must remember, however, that this is really the third attempt at finding a proper solution to the boundary problems affecting the Boroughs of Battersea and Wandsworth. The Herbert Commission put forward a tentative suggestion on this matter. It did not say that it would necessarily be the answer but it represented its views of what the conception might be. In due time the White Paper was produced, and that represented the second circumstance.

Neither of those commended themselves to some of the more vocal people in Wandsworth and they attempted to find a plan that would suit themselves without any regard to their neighbours. "Battersea can go some place, but we do not care where it goes", was what was said in effect. I think that my right hon. Friend and his predecessors have fully discharged the obligations placed on them because when the objections to the original proposals came up it was said, "We will have an impartial umpire, an arbitrator."

The arbitrator was appointed. I do not think that anyone would say that he was a great friend of Battersea or a great enemy of Wandsworth, but within the terms of his reference, and having regard to the underlying purpose of his appointment—to find a boundary within which good local government would be accomplished—he reached his findings. The Government accept those findings, but those who appealed against the original decision now say, "We do not think it right, because he did not find in our favour."

I find that rather unpleasant. I understand that in law if one has a bad case it is usual to abuse opposing counsel. In this case, apparently, one abuses the arbitrator, and says that he had no right to come to those conclusions—

Sir H. Linstead

I am sure that nothing that my hon. Friend the Member for Clapham (Dr. Glyn) or I have said could be described as abusing the arbitrator. We are perfectly satisfied that the Town Clerk of South Shields did a good town planning job. We are criticising the reasons that he himself advanced for his conclusions, which is entirely different from criticising the man himself.

Mr. Partridge

I do not think that lawyers abuse each other personally, but they do so in the legal sense, which is what I think my hon. Friends have done. They have said over and over again, "How on earth he could have come to that conclusion we do not know, because all the evidence was against him." I do net know what that is but abusing him—but there it is. My hon. Friends object to the conclusions he reached, to the deductions he drew and to his final findings on how local government could best be administered for the communities with which he was dealing.

I ask hon. Members to look at the map and to see what is involved here. The boroughs of Wandsworth and Battersea are roughly bounded on the north side by the river, but Battersea is almost completely surrounded by the Borough of Wandsworth. We have Putney on the river on one side, sweeping through central Wandsworth, then Clapham, just touching Tooting, and returning. When we get less than half a mile from the river, the boundary between that borough and Lambeth run together, but between Battersea and Lambeth there is interposed Clapham and Tooting—a great big wedge between the two.

I do not know what my hon. Friends think, but I thought that my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) and I were good friends and I do not think that we need my hon. Friend the Member for Clapham (Dr. Alan Glyn) to be interposed between us in case we should quarrel. There are two and a half miles between the southern extremity of Battersea and the southern extremity of the Borough of Lambeth, and the only common ground is less than half a mile running through the industrial part of Nine Elms. I cannot see that this would be a proper and reasonable unit of administration.

It is not reasonable to criticise the Battersea Borough Council merely because it has not passed a resolution. It has done everything else but pass a resolution. It has throughout objected to this Amendment and to all the other Amendments put forward by Wandsworth.

9.45 p.m.

It is only fair to say that the council, which is Labour-controlled, is against the London Government Bill, but, nevertheless, it recognises that the will of Parliament will prevail. If it should come about that the Bill is enacted the council says quite definitely: The Council have previously expressed themselves as being opposed to an amalgamation of Battersea and Lambeth, which would result in two odd-shaped new boroughs, and the Council feel that there is such a complete absence of identity of interest between Battersea and Lambeth as to make an amalgamation of these boroughs entirely opportunist and artificial. There is profound truth in that, because somehow it is thought that a borough can be administered when it has two distinct parts separated by two and a half miles with only one common boundary between them of less than a half-mile on the extreme north of the two boroughs. I cannot see that that is a viable borough.

One comes back to the conclusion, therefore, and I am sorry that I have to entertain this view, that my hon. Friends have not worried about good local government. All they have worried about is that Wandsworth, of which they are justly proud, should not be touched in any way, should not be mutilated, should not be divided at the behest of the Government, and should not be divided on the judgment of a town clerk.

I heard one of my hon. Friends say that he was not above mutilating both boroughs and slicing a little off here and there. This is only a question of degree, and what is mutilation in one case is mere adjustment in another. When we come to the more detailed points, I would remind my great friend, my hon. Friend the Member for Putney, that the South Circular Road does not stop in the borough of Wandsworth: it also goes right through the Borough of Battersea, and therefore the communications are quite right and proper under the new dispensation.

It is not that the Borough of Wandsworth stands alone and has always stood alone in all its social services and so on. As is well known to my hon. Friend the Member for Putney, I have the honour of being the chairman of the Battersea and Putney group of hospitals. My wife has the honour of being chairman, I think, of Battersea and Putney Family Welfare Association. These two boroughs have marched together in so many ways before that I see no reason why they should not work properly with a division of part of Wandsworth which is so closely aligned and marches with Battersea throughout almost the whole of its perimeter.

The Borough of Wandsworth, with the exception of less than a half-mile to which I have already referred, is contiguous with the Borough of Battersea throughout its length. I should have thought that in the interest of good government there should be a compact unit in which all the services can be administered in such a manner that no one part is miles away from the centre. To have a borough where to get from one part of it to another one has to go through two miles of another borough does not strike me as being conducive to good government. I am sure that my right hon. Friend will take an objective view of this matter, as he does of other questions put before him. If he does, I hope he will find that, on balance, the advantages of the Government's proposals are such that the boundaries should be retained as they appear in the Bill.

My right hon. Friend has referred on another occasion to the views of local institutions. I recognise the strong feelings of the local institutions, the local councils and so forth, but they constitute only one of the factors which should be taken into consideration. There are other factors, and the most important of them all is, in the long run, what is best for the great Metropolis and its government? I believe that if that question is considered fairly and objectively, my right hon. Friend will advise the Committee to reject the Amendment and to keep the boundaries as they are in the Bill.

Sir K. Joseph

We are dealing with a particularly difficult part of London. In fact, I think it is the most difficult area in south London with which we have to deal in sorting out this borough grouping. We must remember, in facing this problem, that we are not legislating for just the immediate future. We are trying to establish a pattern of areas which will stand the test of whatever it may be—perhaps half a century—before there is another comprehensive review of local government in the Metropolis.

With this in mind, the Government invited four town clerks to advise them, and asked them to bear particularly in mind the factors that are familiar to the Committee—present and past associations, lines of communication, the pattern of development and the location and potential of service centres. But these are not the only factors to be taken into account, and sometimes even when they are taken into account they do not give clear guidance. In fact, the town clerks specifically said that they had had some difficulty in analysing the various factors in this particular group of boroughs. But I know that hon. Members will not deny that these are factors that must he borne in mind when coming to a decision.

It is true, as my hon. Friend the Member for Clapham (Dr. Alan Glyn) said, that this group of boroughs, Battersea, Lambeth and Wandsworth, can be looked at in isolation, but I think that the whole Committee will agree that, granted the minimum size of London boroughs which the Government have adopted—something of the order of 200,000—Battersea would be too small if left on its own. I know I do not carry the other side of the Committee with me in this, but that is the basis on which the Government are working.

I must fully agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Partridge), who has just made such a vigorous speech, that one look at the map shows that it is not really "on" to deal with the present size of Battersea by marrying it as it is with Lambeth. The right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) rightly described the geographical result of such a marriage as encompassing the eastern end of Wandsworth as in a nutcracker. But it is also true that to marry Battersea with Wandsworth would produce a London borough of a size totally out of context in the sense of other London boroughs. The resulting London borough, if Battersea and Wandsworth were married, would be, I think, sixth in the size of local authority populations in the country, coming just after Sheffield, or something like that. That would be very big, and too big for the Government to recommend the Commitee to consider.

I must tell my hon. Friends that, so far as their Amendment proposes the merger of Battersea and Lambeth, and since that would produce a geographical abortion, it cannot, as it stands, receive the support of the Government; but, since my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Sir H. Linstead) suggested that those who have proposed the Amendment are not wedded to the particular boundaries involved in it, I regard myself as free to continue examining the proposal on the footing that the Amendment does not represent the last word of those who have put it down.

My hon. Friends have criticised the findings of the town clerk. I must come to the defence of the Town Clerk of South Shields. He had his difficulties. The conference was not quite as helpful as it might have been; to put it no higher, the Boroughs of Lambeth and Battersea were not exactly co-operative. Therefore, he was unable to ask the questions at the conference which he might have wished to ask had there been a genuine search for the best solution within the context of what the Government were trying to do.

Having said that, I go on to claim that the town clerk was right in stressing that the radial communications from the centre of London are far stronger, when passing through this area, than the lateral communications. I do not for a moment deny that there are east-west communications. However, I am lucky enough to have a geographic section at the Ministry, and I have had prepared diagrams portraying the volume of traffic moving radially and that moving east and west. There can be no shadow of doubt that the main traffic routes emerge from the centre of London in three streams, the first passing through Battersea, through Clapham Junction and Wandsworth to Putney; the second through Clapham, Balham and Tooting; the third through Brixton and Streatham.

These are not the only routes, of course. There are plenty of ways of getting east to west, but, in fact, most people seem to travel, as far as I can gather, on the radial lines.

Sir H. Linstead

I am sure my right hon. Friend will agree that, unless the numbers of people passing through the area, that is, coming into London and going out for their daily work, are separated from the local traffic, any argument based upon considerations of that kind loses a great deal of its validity.

Sir K. Joseph

I am not at all sure that it does. I will explain why I think that the town clerks were quite right to emphasise the importance of the location of the town hall. In the proposed grouping under the Bill, the two boroughs proposed—the south-west of Wandsworth coupled with Battersea, on the one hand; Lambeth coupled with the eastern wards of Wandsworth, on the other—each has a town hall lying on a main radial route and in or near a major shopping centre.

I realise very well that many people do not visit their town hall in their lives. On the other hand, the town hall is the administrative centre of the community. Members of the public and officials, national, local and voluntary, tend to go to and from it. Also, we must remember that we are, over the years, trying to create in London something comparable in quality with what we have naturally in smaller cities. In a small city, there is a series of concentric rings around the historical centre. Generally, the town hall is in the centre, and round about it there is the natural, accumulated growth of rings of development. People tend to flow naturally into the centre for their entertainment, shopping and services which can be supping only on the basis of as large population.

10.0 p.m.

In London, with the continuous built-up mass of development, that is not practicable at the moment, but over the years may it not be that, if we choose our town halls and borough groupings correctly as redeveloping occurs, a London will emerge in which there is a series of towns each grouped around the town hall, and around the town hall a local centre of culture and education, perhaps, by then, with it own university, and entertainment and first-class shopping facilities. Round that may be grouped the residential, commercial and industrial areas, with the whole mass supporting that highest and most material achievement of mankind, a really sophisticated metropolitan hub.

This is what we hope our successors will be able to build if we ourselves construct the borough groupings in the right way. That is why I do not make any apology for laying emphasis on town halls as important features in trying to identify the right borough groupings. I must maintain that the town clerks' solution makes good sense to me from the local government point of view, but I agree with my hon. Friends that it is a very serious thing to break up an existing borough, and the Government must be absolutely sure that they weigh the relevant factors correctly in coming to a balanced decision.

There may be cases in which an existing borough has to be broken up or the main principles of the Bill—and I am glad that the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) is not here—might be compromised. But I cannot claim that the break-up of the Borough of Wandsworth is essential to the main principles of the Bill. It is possible to claim that it is justified on grounds of good local government and the creation of coherent and effective areas based on the lines of communication and the town halls, but I would not go much further than that. There is a strong balance of argument which we, as a Committee, have to weigh.

I think that my hon. Friends should pay some heed to the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, South, who made some very effective points. But it is an invidious job to advise the Committee to go through with a division of a local authority area which is not essential to the Bill. On the other hand, I must try to arrive at a decision which reconciles the legitimate attitudes of Battersea and Lambeth with the need to make geographic and administrative sense of the result.

With all the arguments in mind, particularly those set out by my hon. Friend the Member for Putney in a paper which he was good enough to send me, and which rehearsed much of the damage which could be done by breaking up a local authority area, I wonder whether, without giving a firm undertaking as to the result, the Committee would agree that I should go back to the councils of these three local authorities and, as a matter of some urgency, discuss with them the possibility of a compromise which would be based on an attempt to keep Wandsworth substantially as it is while linking Battersea and Lambeth.

I cannot give my hon. Friends an assurance that I shall be successful. There are very serious arguments on both sides, and one must pay great attention to public opinion and to the importance of keeping local government areas as they are. On the other hand, one must balance our undoubted duties with the administrative possibilities and potentials of the future.

If my hon. Friends would be satisfied with that assurance—that I will try to find a solution which reconciles the legitimate attitudes of all three boroughs—I will certainly undertake to make that inquiry urgently. I hope, however, that my hon. Friends in turn will recognise that I cannot give them a guarantee of the result. I hope, therefore, that they will see fit to withdraw the Amendment.

Mr. Jay

If the Minister is doing as he suggests, will he take note that Battersea Council is wholly opposed to any form of amalgamation between Battersea and Lambeth and, further, that if the Battersea Council had any reason to suppose that the Minister would contemplate this proposal seriously it would certainly have made much more full and emphatic representations to him against it?

Sir K. Joseph

I hope that I have made it plain that I am not ignoring the attitude of both Battersea and Lambeth and that I am rejecting out of hand the amalgamation of Battersea and Lambeth simply like that, without any adjustment of boundary. I have told my hon. Friends that that is out of the question.

Dr. Alan Glyn

My right hon. Friend has been more than fair in looking into the matter and promising to go into, as he put it, the very difficult situation which has arisen. He has been very fair in balancing the factors. On the understanding that he will look at the matter again, and consult the three principal parties in an endeavour to get an agreement which is satisfactory to everybody, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Chairman

In calling the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), I should say that in selecting the next Amendment, it had been intended, as was stated on the provisional list, to call the Amendment in page 88, line 40, column 2, at end insert: and so much of the metropolitan borough of Chelsea as lies within the boundaries referred to in paragraph 8 of Part II of this Schedule and to discuss with it the Amendments in page 88, line 42, column 2, at end insert: except so much of the metropolitan borough of Chelsea as lies within the boundaries referred to in paragraph 8 of Part II of this Schedule and in page 91, line 45, at end insert: 8. The boundary between the London boroughs numbered 11 and 12 in the said Part I shall be such as to include in the borough numbered 11 so much of the existing metropolitan borough of Chelsea as is bounded by Stamford Bridge, Wandon Road, Stanley Bridge and the line of railway known as the West London Extension". I think, however, that it would be Hound more convenient were I to call the Amendment in page 88, line 42 and for the other two Amendments to be discussed with it. With the concurrence of the Committee, that is the course I propose.

Mr. M. Stewart

I beg to move, in page 88, line 42, column 2, at the end, to insert: except so much of the metropolitan borough of Chelsea as lies within the boundaries referred to in paragraph 8 of Part II of this Schedule". We start on this little Amendment rather earlier than we had expected. The Business Committee, with zeal to be fair, had allowed a lot of time for what, we hoped, would be a really spirited wrangle among hon. Members opposite. We cannot help feeling that they have to some extent let us down. I am sure that the hon. Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Partridge), who has walked out in disgust, must also feel badly let down after coming to the support of a Minister who resolutely refuses to be supported.

This modest little Amendment concerns, literally, half a street. One of the things that the Minister might say about it is that there is no need to make the Amendment because there is provision in the Bill for alterations to be made subsequently. It seems to me that except in the case of disputes between his hon. Friends, the Minister's technique for turning down Amendments will be as follows. If they are large Amendments, he will say that they cannot be accepted because they disturb the general pattern. If they are small Amendments, he will say that they are not necessary because they can be dealt with under the alterations Clause.

In case that is what the Minister says about my modest little Amendment, I draw his attention to two things. First, as is well known, the boroughs are already engaged on the process of considering what they will be like under the new setup and are arranging themselves into wards. It is desirable, therefore, if there are to be alterations, that they should be known as soon as possible. If the half street with which the Amendment is concerned is to be put into Fulham, it would be for everybody's convenience for it to be known now that that would be done. The Boroughs of Chelsea and Fulham could then proceed to the job of dividing themselves into wards in that knowledge, instead of dividing into wards on the basis of the boundaries now laid down in the Bill and perhaps an alteration being made laid later. If, therefore, there is a case for alteration on the merits, there is a case for its being made now, in the Bill. I will come to the merits in a moment.

The other reason why I think it right to raise now even so small an Amendment as this is as follows. The Borough of Fulham is very keen on this matter and has written to me at length about it, and I am myself greatly in sympathy with it. Suppose nothing were said about it now, but then, after the Bill is passed, almost immediately after the Bill is law, Fulham were to come forward with proposals for an alteration. It might then be told, "Really, this is tiresome of you, to start asking for alterations the moment the Bill has been passed. Why could you not have raised the matter when the Bill was still on? The alteration could have been made then".

At the very least, therefore, by raising this matter now I am saving Fulham from having that reproach hurled at it in the future, and if the Minister does refuse the Amendment on the ground that this matter can be dealt with under the alterations procedure after the Bill is passed, I hope that it will be clearly understood that Fulham, being keen on this matter from the start, did not lose any opportunity of putting the case for it forward.

After those preliminaries I want to state what the case in fact is. If one looks at a map of the Borough of Fulham, a map of the sort of size of the maps Members of Parliament usually have of their constituencies, one sees that the boundary between Chelsea and Fulham proceeds for some considerable distance in a fairly straight line. It follows, as a matter of fact, the line of an old creek which subsequently became a canal; but then at one point there is a curious kink which comes down in a little rectangle, which Chelsea thrusts westwards into Fulham. The effect of it is to cause one half of a street, the eastern side of a street called Wandon Road, to be in the Borough of Chelsea and not in the Borough of Fulham.

That is the situation now. That is the situation which this Bill perpetuates, whereas what we in Fulham think is that this opportunity should be taken in this Bill to straighten out the kink to make the boundary line where be believe it historically and originally ran.

Let me say just a word about the history of it, though I do not base the case wholly or even mainly on that. I believe that the history of the matter is as follows. Before the districts of Fulham and Chelsea were metropolitan boroughs, well back in the last century, when they were vestries, or were known for some purposes as districts, the boundary was the old creek which subsequently, I think in the year 1827, was widened into a canal.

If one refers, for example, to a book called "Fulham, Old and New" by Feret, who, presumably, was a Frenchman—if that does not prejudice my case in the eyes of the Government, to quote a French source at this juncture—one finds that Feret, describing Fulham, refers to a street known as Bull Lane, which, he said, later on became Harriet Street; and finally, in 1888, its name was changed to Wandon Road. He refers to it in terms which imply that he clearly regarded it as part of Fulham rather than Chelsea. A map in the third volume of his book, a map dated 1892, appears to show—it is not a very clear map—the boundary line in a manner which clearly puts Wandon Road in Fulham. I think it is established then that historically the boundary was where one would naturally expect it to have been—following the creek and the canal and putting the whole of Wandon Road, in Fulham.

10.15 p.m.

Why did the change come about? It was, I think, because in 1845 a railway was built and subsequently a station. Not unnaturally, the station was called Chelsea Station. At some date subsequent to that it appeared convenient to somebody or other to ensure that Chelsea Station should be in the district or vestry of Chelsea. Somewhere towards the end of the nineteenth century, this little piece came to be regarded as part of Chelsea rather than Fulham. Consequently, when the metropolitan boroughs were created, the boundary was drawn so as to give us this curious kink, putting the east side of Wandon Road into the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea.

The interesting thing about it is that it appears to have been a railway and a railway station which caused this shift into Chelsea. But the station has for long been disused—so long that we cannot even blame the present Government for it. It cannot be regarded now as having any influence on the boundaries.

Now I turn from history to the present-day practical reasons for my proposal. The result of this development is that we have the western side of Wandon Road quite clearly in the Borough of Fulham and similar in character to a number of medium-sized parallel streets. No one would question that the western side should be in Fulham. The eastern side is now occupied by blocks of flats which administratively are in the Borough of Chelsea, but in practice they are really separated from the rest of Chelsea, the only links being two narrow roads on bridges crossing the railway.

The railway which was the original justification for putting this little piece into Chelsea is now a very solid argument for putting it back into Fulham, for the eastern side of Wandon Road is separated from the rest of Chelsea by it. Over that railway are only two narrow roads on bridges which form bottlenecks.

It is clear, therefore, that if we think in terms of a natural boundary or of administrative convenience it will be sense to put the whole of Wandon Road into the Borough of Fulham. I believe I am right in saying that the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea has no objection to this proposal. I cannot say that I have received any positive assurance from it that it approves the proposal, but the Amendment has been down for some time and I know the Town Clerk of Chelsea has been aware of it. No representations have reached me or, as far as I know, anyone else, raising any objection to the transfer.

Here, therefore, is an entirely reasonable case. I feel that in the new concessionary mood into which the Minister seems at last to have been got he should round off the day by agreeing to accept this modest but useful Amendment.

Mr. Corfield

The hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) said with great accuracy that the Amendment was modest and useful. He has the disarming habit of forecasting with complete accuracy what I am going to say. I would, before I let the bombshell drop, refer the hon. Gentleman to Clause 6, which I know he is expecting. I am sure he will appreciate that this is a very small Amendment. I assure him that I studied this on the map. Indeed, there was some delay in getting one of sufficient scale to identify it. I would not deny the merits of the case as the hon. Gentleman has put them. Nevertheless we have, throughout this approach to creating this pattern of boroughs, tried to stick to the original boundaries where that is possible, with this special procedure of Clause 6 following closely the Local Government Act procedures which were not applicable to London for these minor adjustments later on.

I think it is right that we should stick to that arrangement rather than start a precedent of making small adjustments which, although I accept the merits of the case here, will mean that there will be many similar adjustments which will be called for where the issue is not so plain. In any case, we have pledged ourselves to the Clause 6 procedure with its inquiry, where that is necessary, and I think that it would be right to stick to it.

With regard to the purely administrative arguments which the hon. Gentleman put forward, having looked at the map, I cannot believe that this is really going to affect the warding to any substantial extent. The hon. Gentleman has said that he is anxious that it should be clear that Fulham has been keen on this from the start. He has made that clear, and it is on the record. He has said that he has no knowledge of opposition from Chelsea, and I should not have thought that with the representation in terms of numbers of electors that we are likely to get, this street, judging from the map, will make any real difference to the warding that will be proposed. The hon. Gentleman mentioned flats. If they are tall flats—and the map does not show that—they could have a larger population than one might have thought, but I seriously believe that this is the right approach, to leave it under Clause 6, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will accept that. As I say, we certainly do not think it unreasonable. As the hon. Gentleman says, the railway was the original cause, and is now no longer a valid one, but I cannot, on behalf of the Government, accept the Amendment.

Mr. M. Stewart

I received the answer I expected, but I notice that the procedure under Clause 6 will subsequently be open to us, and I therefore beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Sir K. Joseph

I beg to move, That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again. We have got through Amendments today ahead of programme. The next group to come before the Committee is complicated, and, naturally, important. They are to be moved by hon. Gentlemen opposite, and time is allowed by the Business Committee for the Amendments to be covered.

In the light of these arrangements, hon. Gentlemen opposite have asked me to move this Motion, and in view of the progress that we have made I ask leave to do so.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.