HC Deb 16 July 1970 vol 803 cc1802-4
Mr. James Wellbeloved (Erith and Crayford)

On a point of order. I wonder if in relation to the Motion which now stands on the Order Paper for Private Business at 7 o'clock it would be convenient to take the item in two parts, the procedure part and then the Third Reading?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman was courteous enough to inform me that he was to make this request. I have considered it and decided that we shall take the Motion in two parts. The Chairman of Ways and Means will move first the procedural part.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That in the case of the Greater London Council (Money) Bill, Standing Order No. 205 (Notice of Third Reading) be suspended.—[The Chairman of Way and Means.]

Mr. Wellbeloved

I make no apology to the House for the fact that we have this interruption at Seven o'clock in the normal business to deal with this matter. It is the duty of a Member of Parliament to use the procedure of Parliament to protect the interests of his constituents. The Greater London Council, whose Bill we will later be considering, has a responsibility for a number of matters of considerable importance to my constituency and, in particular, for the flood protection of London. The siting of the Thames flood barrier is a matter of vital importance to those whom I represent.

In the past I have used the procedure of Private Business, and I intend to continue to do so as I think it is my responsibility to use every Parliamentary means at my disposal in the discharge of my responsibility to my electorate. I am pleased to be able to say that the Greater London Council has now delivered to me, this afternoon, a letter which it felt unable to deliver this morning, before I objected at 2.30 p.m. That letter has now made it possible for proceedings to be less protracted than they might otherwise have been. Perhaps I might quote a paragraph from that letter for the record. The letter is signed by the appropriate official of the Greater London Council and says: To the best of my present knowledge and belief the documents referred to in this letter are the only reports to the Council, since the Report of Studies, which contain a reference to the siting of a barrier in the Crayford area. It during the course of the next seven days any further documents come to my knowledge upon which the Council decision not to proceed with Crayfordness site was based, I will make them available to you. That letter is signed by Mr. Horner who is in charge of the Council's business in relation to flood protection.

I have accepted that undertaking on the basis that a genuine search will be conducted by the G.L.C. for the information I have requested, and that if such information is found it will be made immediately available to me.

7.3 p.m.

Mr. Hugh Rossi (Hornsey)

It is gratifying to hear that the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Wellbeloved) is not pressing with his objections to this Bill, because it is a most important Measure upon which the whole of the capital financing of the Greater London area depends. Without the Bill London would be unable to proceed with the provision and equipment of schools, ambulance stations, fire stations, nor with the provision of housing accommodation as well as a number of other important matters.

Since we are just before the Summer Recess, there was a real danger that if the hon. Gentleman had proceeded with the course upon which he had embarked then the whole of the financing of these important matters would have been in jeopardy, which would have been a deplorable matter for the whole of the people living in the Greater London Area. It is regrettable that the hon. Gentleman feels obliged to attempt to use parliamentary techniques to deal with a matter completely unconnected with the Bill. I am glad that I have played a small part in helping to produce the letter which the hon. Gentleman requires. All's well that ends well. London will have its money and he will have a sight of this report that was bothering him.

7.5 p.m.

Mr. Ronald Brown (Shoreditch and Finsbury)

I cannot accept the strictures of the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) because until a short while ago I was with my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Wellbeloved) in opposing this Bill. Primarily he found the same problem as I did—it is impossible to get answers from the Greater London Council. We as Members of Parliament are entitled to raise the matter here when the Council comes to us and demands help to carry out its work. It is regrettable that we have to let this Bill go through as it were on the nod tonight, because as the hon. Gentleman has pointed out if we do not there will be no money for London.

There are very great issues raised in the Bill. There is insufficient money for my constituents to be able to travel properly in London at fares which they can afford. It is a direct responsibility of the G.L.C. in this Bill to provide that money. I do not have an opportunity owing to this procedural Motion which I accept of arguing the case on behalf of my constituents, who are suffering very much because of the indolence of the G.L.C. in producing this Bill too late for discussion.

Question put and agreed to.

Question, That the Bill be now read the Third time—[The Chairman of Ways and Means]—put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.