§ Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [16th November], That the Bill be now read a Second time.
§ Question again proposed.
§ 6.53 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Thomas)
I am sure that the House will understand if I concentrate my speech today on those parts of the Bill and on the comments of hon. and right hon. Members relating specifically to Wales. The Bill seeks to reduce the number of major local authorities in Wales from 181 to 45, from 13 county councils, four county borough and 164 non-county borough and district councils to eight county councils and 37 district councils.
This is one of the last stages in a long and wearying chain of events stretching back to 1945 when the Local Government Boundary Commission which was known as the Trustram Eve Commission was set up to consider both England and Wales. Since then, we have had in Wales a long drawn out series of reviews, draft proposals, final proposals, White Papers and consultative documents.
I am sure that hon. Members will join with me in thanking the members and officers of local authorities in Wales for their patience and constancy in doing the work of local government while putting up with what must have seemed a never ending series of proposals and counterproposals for change. I am sure that there must have been moments when the people concerned were sorely tempted to say to the Government, "Either decide what you are to do and do it, or keep quiet and let us get on with our work."
One thing is certain—seldom can any issue of government have been more exhaustively debated and discussed. I must express my gratitude to the members and officers of local authorities for the work, the care and the thought that they have put into comments on my consultative document. I circulated a brief summary of the main opinions expressed on the new counties and districts, but, of course, the summary cannot do justice to the range and depth of the comments that 499 I have received. There is a large measure of support for the principles of the proposals, but there are many disagreements with the proposals for particular areas. But where there are these disagreements, they are not just between the local authorities and the Government: there is no local agreement on an acceptable alternative to the Government's proposals.
Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have urged that there should be a separate Bill for Wales. The main reason why the Government are going ahead with a Bill covering England and Wales is simply that the time has come when local government in both England and Wales must be reorganised on the same timetable. In their five and a half years of office the Opposition failed to produce a Bill which dealt with Welsh local government separately from England. In England they had the excuse that they had set up a Royal Commission to examine the problem. In Wales, however, they shouldered the responsibility right from the start of producing and implementing their own proposals without the benefit of a Royal Commission.
After two and a half years they produced their White Paper of July 1957. That White Paper gave two reasons—I refer to paragraph 2—why Wales was not included within the terms of reference of the Royal Commission. The first was that the need for early action was particularly urgent in Wales. The second was that at the time the Royal Commissions for England and Scotland were set up, in 1966,consideration of local government throughout Wales was well advanced".It was said that that work had reached a point where it was apparent that local government in the Principality could be reorganised on lines that would secure its early strengthening.
One would have thought, therefore, that a Bill to reorganise Welsh local government would have followed while the Labour Party was still in office, and certainly there was no doubt that the Conservative Party would not have opposed the main lines of reform proposed in the 1967 White Paper. What happened, however, was a steady withdrawal from the exposed position of treating Wales separately from England. On 21st November, 1968, the right hon. Member 500 for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas) sent a letter to Welsh local authorities making three points, apart from announcing important changes in the pattern of counties and districts proposed in 1967.
First, the right hon. Gentleman considered that the evolutionary approach to reorganisation embodied in the White Paper was likely to be the most satisfactory for Wales at that time. Second, however, he was prepared for those local authority associations and individual local authorities which so wished to have a further opportunity to submit their views on the form which the reorganisation should take after they had been able to consider the report of the Royal Commission. Third, he proposed to continue with the task of translating into detailed proposals for legislation the form of organisation outlined in the White Paper.
Phase two of the withdrawal followed in October, 1969, after the publication of the Redcliffe-Maud Report. The right hon. Member for Cardiff, West then announced that he was undertaking a further urgent review of the situation in South Wales with the object of putting an end to the present division between administrative counties and county boroughs.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
As we are to have a shortened debate, does the right hon. and learned Gentleman think that he needs to go over all this history?
§ Mr. Peter Thomas
I need to do it because I have to explain why there is not a separate Bill for Wales. If the right hon. Gentleman will be patient, he will understand the situation.
Phase three was the White Paper of March, 1970, following the White Paper on England which was published the previous month. The right hon. Gentlemon proposed three unitary areas in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. The final paragraph of that White Paper said:The Government's objective will be to embody their proposals for Glamorgan and Monmouthshire and for other parts of Wales in comprehensive legislation at the earliest practicable date.501 Not even the right hon. Gentleman would suggest that that White Paper was received other than most violently by his hon. Friends and, indeed, by the counties of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire.
I am not criticising the previous Administration for undertaking the review of local government in Wales, or for taking their time over it. What I am saying is that by talking in 1967 about the urgent need for reform and then climbing down from that position, step by step, over the next three years they produced a great amount of ill-feeling, alarm and despondency among local authorities and their staff, with no practical effect. Further, they made sure that local government reorganisation in Wales must proceed on exactly the same timetable as reorganisation in England or, alternatively, follow after it.
When I took office, therefore, I had the choice of pressing ahead with the object of introducing legislation to reorganise local government in Wales in 1971–72, the same year as legislation for England, or waiting until the English Bill was out of the way, in the hope of then being able to introduce a Bill covering Wales. I had no doubt that the right course was to go for legislation in 1971–72 so that the new authorities could come into being in April 1974. Every local authority association that I met pressed the importance of this, and so did N.A.L.G.O.
If Welsh local government is to be reorganised by legislation in the same parliamentary Session as English local government, there is no realistic possibility of the two operations being carried out in separate Bills.
§ Mr. Peter Thomas
I shall explain why.
Hon. Members will have noted the size of the Bill with which we are concerned today. It is 100 pages longer than the London Government Act of 1963 as it emerged from Parliament. A separate Welsh Bill would not be much smaller. It would consist of about 200 Clauses. That is because both England and Wales are covered by the same code of local government law. Its size would arise from the fact that we would have to rewrite or amend the existing body of local government law applying 502 to both England and Wales, which would mean dealing with 140 Statutes. For most of these provisions there is not, and I believe never has been, any serious question of applying different provisions to Wales from those applying in England. Legislation to reform local government in England and Wales must, therefore, involve amendment of some of the Statutes as they apply to both countries.
Further, even though there may be differences between the two systems in the two countries, most of the amendments must be in exactly similar terms. I should therefore find it impossible, in these circumstances, to justify asking Parliament to consider two enormous Bills in the same Session, both of which would contain provisions in exactly similar terms. It would be a gross waste of parliamentary time in any Session. In the present Session, which is crowded with legislation, it would be an impossibility.
§ Mr. John Silkin (Deptford)
Surely that is the strongest possible argument—and there are others—for taking this legislation on the Floor of the House? That would speed it up, and give every hon. Member a chance to air his views.
§ Mr. Thomas
That is an entirely different point. I am saying why it is impossible, and wholly impracticable, in the present Session for there to be going through Parliament, side by side, two enormous Bills of the size which this obviously would be.
§ Mr. Thomas
I am sorry, but I cannot give way. I have been told that there is not much time left.
Once the previous Administration had thrown away the chance of legislating for Wales ahead of England, the only way of legislating separately for Wales was to delay the Welsh Bill until a Session after the English Bill, and adapt the new English Act to a new Welsh system. That, I understand, is what hon. Gentlemen opposite would like to see done, since it would be a necessary consequence of waiting to see what the Commission on the Constitution recommends. But I am not prepared to delay reorganisation in Wales for at least a year after the English 503 reorganisation simply in order to put a separate Bill on the Statute Book. It is not fair to members and officers of Welsh local authorities to protract the period of uncertainty and upheaval for at least another year beyond the date of reorganisation in England. The only way of clearing away the uncertainty left by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West is to legislate without further delay, and in that I am supported by local authority and staff associations.
§ Mr. Alec Jones
Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman appreciate that because of the method adopted by the Government to implement the major changes in the Bill, as opposed to those set out in the Consultative Document for Wales, the elected representatives of Wales in this House will be denied the opportunity of discussing changes which came to light only when the Bill was introduced?
§ Mr. Thomas
I know that that is an emotive way of putting it. By no stretch of the imagination can this Measure be considered to be exclusively a Welsh Bill.
§ Mr. Peter Thomas
Hon. Members representing Welsh constituencies will be treated on the same basis as English Members, and will have the same opportunity to challenge the Bill, or any parts of it, on the Floor of the House and in Committee.
§ Mr. G. Elfed Davies (Rhondda, East)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that one reason why he was not prepared to wait for another Session before introducing a Welsh Bill was that it would be unfair to local authorities and officers throughout Wales. Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman found out from those authorities which they would prefer?
§ Mr. Thomas
—I quoted at length the Monmouthshire County Council's very 504 strong submission that we should not delay. This is the view which has been expressed to me by all the local authority associations and, indeed, by the staff side. It is an extremely important point.
The hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Ellis) and the right hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Goronwy Roberts) both mentioned the possibility of an elected Welsh Council arising from the work of the Commission on the Constitution. This issue has been discussed at some length already on previous occasions.
Let me make a few points clear. First, the Government have a completely open mind on any recommendations which the Crowther Commission may make in relation to Wales. Second, I do not accept that the work of the Crowther Commission and the possibility that it may recommend an elected council for Wales are in any way a bar to immediate legislation to reform Welsh local government. In their comments a few local authorities have suggested postponement, but this has been vigorously opposed by others, including, for example, the Monmouthshire County Council. I apologise to the hon. Member for Rhondda, West (Mr. Alec Jones); it was that submission which I quoted in the Welsh Grand Committee.
Yesterday the right hon. Member for Caernarvon specifically mentioned the terms of reference of the Crowther Commission. I think that the right hon. Gentleman referred to them as "the remit". He said this:That remit specifically says that the Commission is to have regard for local government matters."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 335.]The right hon. Gentleman was not quite accurate. The terms of reference do not use those words. The Commission's terms of reference areTo examine the present functions of the Central Legislature and Government in relation to the several countries, nations and regions of the United Kingdom, to consider, having regard to developments in local government organisation and in the administrative and other relationships between the various parts of the United Kingdom, and to the interests of the prosperity and good government of our people under the Crown, whether any changes are desirable in those functions or otherwise in present constitutional and economic relationships between the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man".505 As I understand that, it does not ask for developments to be arrested. All that it says is that the Commission must have regard to development, and the Commission must clearly do that. Those terms of reference give no help to those who argue that the conclusions of the Crowther Commission may open the way to an entirely new look at the system of local government in Wales. This is not surprising, because the terms of reference were evidently drafted with the specific object of not cutting across the progress of local government reform. Yesterday reference was made to what the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson) said in his speech in the debate on the Address on 30th October, when he made that clear.
§ Mr. Goronwy Roberts (Caernarvon)
It is a matter of judgment. The Secretary of State has given his own judgment. That is what I did last night. I did not quote from the remit. I gave in my own words my judgment of what the remit meant in regard to local government. I freely accept that there may be a variation in individual judgments about the meaning of the words in the remit.
As regards what the Secretary of State said about the speech of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. and learned Gentleman must remember that at that time the report of the Crowther Commission was not imminent. Therefore, there was force in what my right hon. Friend said about not waiting for the report, just as there is force in our point today that as the Crowther Commission's report is imminent in the next few weeks or months we might usefully wait to see what it says.
§ Mr. Thomas
I do not think that the Crowther report is imminent within the next few weeks. I cannot say when it will be ready. As right hon. and hon. Members know, Lord Crowther himself told me that he saw no reason why we should not go ahead. I believe that Lord Crowther has written to the hon. Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Alan Williams) informing him of the conversation which he had with me and has told the hon. Gentleman that he could publish that letter. I notice that there has been no publication of the letter. I see no reason why the legislation should be 506 delayed. I think it is very important that it should not be delayed.
§ Mr. Neil McBride (Swansea, East)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has mentioned Swansea. Under Clause 23(5) a petition must be presented for style and status. The Clause does not mention a city. Her Majesty was graciously pleased to accord Swansea the style and status of a city. Does not the proposal in the Clause detract from the honour which Swansea was granted by its Sovereign, in that we must apply afresh under the terms of the Bill?
§ Mr. Thomas
Yes. This is a matter which should be carefully considered, because I was under the impression that there would be no difficulty about the title "city". I will consider this point and contact the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath)
The Secretary of State will appreciate that the cities of Birmingham and Manchester and other cities will expect any arrangements made for Swansea—I agree that they should be made—to apply to English cities, too.
§ Mr. Thomas
I am sure that is so. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising this matter. It will be considered.
§ Mr. Thomas
I am sorry, but I do not think it is fair for me to give way too much, because of the shortage of time.
§ Mr. Thomas
It is only right that I should mention the important points on which the proposals for Wales embodied in the Bill are in line with the proposals of the previous Administration.
First, these proposals involve allocating the main local government functions between two sets of authorities—the county councils and the district councils. It was a common factor in all successive proposals of the previous Administration that the greater part of the geographical area of Wales should be dealt with in this way.
I was therefore somewhat surprised to hear the right hon. Member for Caernarvon say yesterday that we should look once more at the possibility of unitary 507 authorities. I noticed that the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West nodded in agreement when one of his hon. Friends on the back benches suggested a similar thing. The only time when the previous Administration looked at unitary authorities for part of Wales was in the review which led up to the White Paper presented by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West in March 1970. That White Paper certainly got a very hostile reception from his hon. Friends and, indeed, throughout Glamorgan and Monmouthshire.
Second, the Government's present proposals are based on the principle that, wherever reasonably practicable, the new counties should each have a minimum population of 250,000 and the new districts should each have a minimum population of 40,000. I say "reasonably practicable", because I agree with the right hon. Member for Caernarvon that we cannot in Wales adhere rigidly to these criteria; and we have proposed two counties below the 250,000 limit and several districts below 40,000.
I am not sure whether the previous Administration ever committed themselves publicly to the population criteria on which their proposals were based. The fact is that most of the counties and districts proposed in the Bill are identical to, or very like, those proposed at one time or another by the previous Ad ministration.
Third, the Bill is based on the principle that the present divisions between administrative counties and county boroughs must be ended. The previous Administration accepted this principle in respect of both England and Wales once it had been set out by the Redcliffe-Maud Commission.
The main proposals that I have just outlined—that is, the division of functions between county councils and district councils, the minimum population criteria for the new counties and the ending of the divisions between counties and county boroughs—are common to the new systems in both England and Wales.
There are, however, some differences between England and Wales which ought to be mentioned now.
508 One important transitional difference is that all the new Welsh districts are specified in the Bill, in Schedule 4, whereas the English districts, outside the metropolitan counties, will be defined by Order of the Secretary of State after a review by the proposed Local Government Boundary Commission for England.
In deciding to define all the Welsh districts in the Bill, we adopted the same policy as the previous Administration, which specified all their proposed districts in their White Paper of July 1967, and in later amended versions of it.
Incidentally, we have also adopted many of the previous Administration's proposals for districts. Seventeen of the districts specified in the Bill are exactly the same as those proposed by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West following reconsideration of the comments on the White Paper of July 1967, and several others are very little different from the corresponding districts which he then proposed.
I am sure that the previous Administration were right in themselves making proposals for the new districts in Wales. There is a great and entirely understandable desire among those concerned to know where they stand at the earliest possible date.
The other important differences between the English provisions and the Welsh provisions in the Bill arise from the different proposals for English parishes and Welsh communities. Here again, we have based our ideas on the ideas of the previous Administration. I think they were entirely right, in the particular circumstances of Wales with its high proportion of very small boroughs and urban districts, to propose that bodies equivalent to parish councils should be set up for existing boroughs and urban districts where there was a local demand for them.
They were entirely right, also, in my view, to propose that there should be an early review of existing rural parishes, along with what are now boroughs and urban districts. I accept that it is essential to create a more effective pattern of "grass roots" councils, effective in the sense of being better able to carry out parish council functions and to express local opinion.
509 We have adopted both the ideas of the previous Administration, with the modification that the initial review of the areas of the new communities will be carried out as soon as possible after 1st April, 1974, by the proposed Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales.
I come now to the proposal which has attracted more attention, particularly in South Wales, than anything else in the Bill; namely, the decision that there should be a third county in the present geographical area of Glamorgan. Obviously, this issue is likely to be talked about at some length as the Bill goes through Parliament. I mention it now partly because it is of such importance in itself. After all, nearly half the population of Wales lives in that area.
In an intervention yesterday evening, the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West suggested that my proposals for a South Glamorgan County had never seen the light of day until the Bill was published. That is rubbish. The whole argument about whether East Glamorgan should be divided into two was conducted in public in Wales for months following publication of my consultative document. When I met the Glamorgan County Council on 6th August, it presented me with detailed cases which it had drawn up against the Cardiff City Council's proposal for a South Glamorgan County and against Merthyr Tydfil County Borough's proposals for a Heads of the Valleys County.
Further, as the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, the argument about South Glamorgan attracted great attention in all parts of Wales and from members of all political parties.
§ Mr. Thomas
The hon. Gentleman can say that if he likes. I am talking about people like Sir Julian Hodge and the Archbishop of Wales—
§ Mr. Thomas
It is right that the hon. Gentleman should explain what he meant by his intervention. It just shows the danger—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)
Order. We must try to avoid sedentary interruptions. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman can avoid the 510 temptation to answer them, it will be quicker for everyone.
§ Mr. Thomas
No. Over 40 local authorities from all parts of Wales expressed their opposition to my proposals for East Glamorgan. I shall not go through them now, but they include counties such as Anglesey and Merioneth, the non-county borough of Caernarvon, and 40 others, all expressing their opposition. The people who expressed their strong opposition to my proposals for East Glamorgan came from all political parties.
My reasons for proposing two counties in East Glamorgan instead of one amount to this. I was convinced by the arguments presented to me, in particular by the Cardiff City Council—[Laughter.]and the Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council that this was the only way of enabling the different parts of that area to deal with their problems and seize their opportunities.
When meeting local authorities to discuss local government reorganisation, I have often tried to persuade them to look at the operation as an attempt to set up an entirely new system of local government and not as a process of sorting out existing local authorities in which some will be the gainers and some the losers. Obviously, it is sensible to have regard to the existing system and to try to build on its strengths wherever one can, but no existing local authority's area or status can be treated as inviolable. The main test must be what system offers the best hope for the future, not what has performed well in the past.
§ Mr. Thomas
I am sorry; I must get on.
In the consultative document in February I set out what seemed to me then, and still seem to me, the strong arguments for dividing the geographical area of Glamorgan into not more than two new counties. [An HON. MEMBER: "The right hon. and learned Gentleman has changed his mind."] I set those arguments out clearly. I still consider that the suggestion was a good one. I 511 had hoped—[Interruption.]—I wish the hon. Member for Rhondda, West would listen—that the idea would attract some measure of support from the county council and county borough councils concerned. Not a bit of it. Swansea Borough Council was prepared to accept the proposed boundaries of West Glamorgan, although it disagreed with the principle of having districts within it. However, the Glamorgan County Council insisted that, whatever else happened, the existing administrative county area must be retained intact as the whole or the major part of a new county. The Cardiff City Council and the Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, on the other hand, told me that, in their view, the interests of the northern and the southern parts of the proposed East Glamorgan County were fundamentally opposed.
Faced with this general opposition to my proposals for East Glamorgan, I had to think again. It was clear that there was no substantial body of opinion ready to try to make an East Glamorgan County Council work effectively. On the contrary, there was a widespread belief that the interests of the northern and the southern parts diverged sharply. I concluded that I could not ask Parliament to approve a proposal for an East Glamorgan County because a county council for this area would be seriously weakened by the strongly opposed interests within it.
After considering all the arguments—I saw many people on this matter—I came to the clear view that representatives of South Glamorgan could not be expected to concern themselves as effectively as they should with the special problems of the Valley towns, which are quite different from those faced in Cardiff and the coastal plain; and, equally, that representatives of the Valley towns could not reasonably be expected to give priority to the tasks which Cardiff sees as essential if it is to continue as a leading centre of industry and commerce.
The representatives of mid-Glamorgan will be able to concentrate on the problems that face them without having to waste their energies on arguing in a single East Glamorgan County Council—
§ Mr. Thomas
I shall come to that—with representatives of South Glamorgan, who would wish to devote time and money to making Cardiff a more efficient administrative and commercial centre. It could be argued that other of the new counties and districts will also be afflicted by divergencies of interests within their separate parts. These arguments turn on matters of degree and judgment.
However, there is one important point to make about Glamorgan. The proposed counties of Mid-Glamorgan and South Glamorgan will both be authorities with populations much above the desirable minimum of 250,000. Mid-Glamorgan, with a 533,000 population, will have an influence in Wales commensurate with its size.
The hon. Gentleman talked about money just now. I accept that the rateable value per head in Mid-Glamorgan will be comparatively low, but rateable value per head has never been regarded as a crucial factor in determining the new pattern of local government. The resources of most local authorities in Wales are bound to continue to depend in large measure on Exchequer grants, and creating a county of East Glamorgan, with a population of over 900,000, would have little advantage from this point of view over creating two smaller counties.
The right hon. Member for Caernarvon laid great stress yesterday on the need first to identify the communities on which the new local authority areas should be based. I agree with this rule, and have tried to apply it in considering the new counties and districts. Applying it to Glamorgan left me in no doubt that there must be three counties there.
It was suggested yesterday that some of my proposals amounted to gerrymandering. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It is suggested that my proposals for counties and districts have been influenced by thoughts of parliamentary electoral advantage. As I said earlier, most of my geographical proposals are the same as, or very similar to, those of the previous Administration. I was not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman accused me of gerrymandering, because the accusation followed the example of many of his hon. Friends. What did surprise me was his choice of illustrations of my alleged malpractice. The 513 first was the southern boundary of Breconshire. Here we have the Local Government Commission for Wales, an entirely independent body, urging that the southern industrial fringe of Breconshire should be part of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. That proposition is supported by the authorities most immediately concerned, the Brynmawr Urban District Council and the Vaynor Rural District Council, and all the authorities concerned on the southern side of the present boundary, the Glamorgan and Monmouthsire County Councils, the Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council and the district councils in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. It is also supported by the facts of geography. That is why I am proposing to change the southern boundary of Breconshire.
§ Mr. Caerwyn E. Roderick (Brecon and Radnor)
Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that he has been very selective in choosing the areas which will depart from Breconshire, and that not all the local authorities agree with him? We have been studying the comments that have come in. I will not go into great detail at this stage, because I hope to catch the eye of the Chair later.
§ Mr. Thomas
I agree that the fact that Ystradgynlais has not been put into Glamorgan is an instance of being selective. It clearly had a community of interest with Glamorgan, but, unlike Brynmawr and Vaynor, it did not want to be put into Glamorgan but wanted to remain with Brecon. I followed the wishes of the local authority and the people.
§ Mr. Thomas
No, because the right hon. Gentleman has nothing to do with Brecon.
The Gower Rural District Council was another illustration by the right hon. Gentleman. Here we have the R.D.C., the elected body most directly concerned, resolving unanimously that it wants its whole district in the same district as Swansea. Here again the proposition is supported by the facts of geography and present administration. The present R.D.C. offices are in Swansea. We have the Swansea City Council saying—not with any great enthusiasm, I admit—that 514 it is prepared to accept union with Gower. It is clearly a sensible and acceptable solution. The right hon. Gentleman will know what the leader of the Labour Council of Swansea said after my proposals had been made.
§ Mr. Ifor Davies (Gower)
I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman does not intend to mislead the House. He has had another communication from the Gower R.D.C. stating that at a more recent meeting there was a very small majority indeed in favour.
§ Mr. Thomas
I do not want to mislead the House, but, as the hon. Gentleman knows, when my proposals were finally formed there was a meeting at which that proposal was unanimously agreed by the Gower R.D.C.
§ Mr. Thomas
I know that many hon. Members wish to speak, and so I shall conclude by saying that I do not claim that my proposals will be universally welcomed in Wales. Of course they will not be. There are several areas where local authorities are bitterly opposed to them—not just Glamorgan, which has attracted so much attention, but Pembrokeshire and some of the rural counties. But I do say that my proposals have attracted as much support as any worthwhile set of proposals for reform are likely to attract. Further, I believe that they offer a unique opportunity to set up strong, independent and efficient control authorities, responsive to the needs and feelings of the public they represent. There is a great reservoir of experience, talent and public spirit among members and officers of local authorities. I am convinced that the Bill will give them at last a chance to use their talents to the full.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
The Secretary of State has made a deplorable speech. I propose to deal with the two big issues he raised, a separate Bill for Wales and Glamorganshire.
The Tory Party has never been any good to Wales. It has never given us a fair deal, because the Tories feel that they have nothing to lose, nothing but a little coterie of seven lonely Members, one of whom has been sunk without trace in the dark recesses of the Whips' office, never 515 to be heard again. Another is gagged on Welsh affairs as he is Parliamentary Private Secretary to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and that leaves five. In view of the contempt with which the Prime Minister treated them when the jobs were handed out, it seems that they might as well go into purdah with the other two.
The Secretary of State's reply to the feeling in Wales has been hopelessly inadequate. He attempted to explain why there is no separate Measure for Wales, and he gave us a long history. I will give a potted history, and one that is a little more accurate. In 1964, when the present Leader of the Opposition created the Welsh Office, one of the powers he handed over for Wales to control completely was local government. For the first time we enjoyed power to decide our own destiny in matters concerning local government, and all Wales welcomed this giant step towards devolution.
My two predecessors and I, when we held the office of Secretary of State, made it clear in this House and to Wales that the Welsh Office would produce its own local government Bill. The Department was fully geared to this task and so it has been in the right hon. and learned Gentleman's time as well.
For over a century this House has recognised Wales as a nation with special rights in this House, but we waited for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to follow a subterfuge to avoid giving Wales what is its fair and proper due in Parliament. The House laid down over a century ago in Standing Orders that every Measure solely and exclusively devoted to Wales shall be sent to a Committee on which every Welsh constituency hon. Member has a right to serve.
Yesterday's shoddy manoeuvre deliberately deprived Wales of the right Parliament intended it should enjoy. It is insolent for the Secretary of State to stand at the Dispatch Box and tell us that it would be a waste of Parliamentary time to allow Wales to have its own Measure, particularly on the biggest change in local government for over 50 years. The amount of time that is given in this House to legislation for Wales does not add up to much; and when there is an opportunity for the right hon. and learned Gentleman deliberately to throw it away, 516 he betrays his trust as the guardian of Welsh interests.
The Secretary of State for Scotland does not say, "It would be a waste of time because our Measure would be very much like the English one." Not on your life. If he did, he would not last a week, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman does not deserve to, either.
§ Mr. Peter Thomas
The right hon. Gentleman knows that Scotland has not only a different body of law but a different body of local government law.
§ Mr. George Thomas
The right hon. and learned Gentleman will have to do better than that. He knows as well as I do that there are many Measures dealing with the same principles for Scotland as for England, and there is a separate Bill for Scotland.
In any event, there are major differences in the Welsh legislation that is cocooned within this English Measure, and hon. Members have drawn attention to them. There are no metropolitan areas in Wales, a matter with which is concerned a significant part of the proposals of the Secretary of State for the Environment for England. The functions of district councils in Wales are radically different from those in England. The size of our district councils is different. I do not believe that there is one in England with a population of fewer than 40,000. One can find several in Wales.
The boundaries of the district councils in Wales are fixed within the Measure. Not so the boundaries of the English district councils—and the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself referred to the variations proposed for the treatment of our community councils compared with the parish councils in England.
There are two possible reasons which the Secretary of State did not reveal why he was prepared to diminish the Welsh Office and betray his trust in this regard. The first, which is widely accepted throughout Wales by Conservative, Liberal and Labour alike, is that he wanted a separate Bill for Wales but was defeated in the Cabinet. The Conservative Western Mail wrote in a leading article that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had "succumbed to pressure" from inside the Cabinet. It also spoke of "a surrender" on his part to his right 517 hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.
Despite the infinite capacity of the Welsh for sympathising with people in trouble, we are getting tired of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's succession of defeats. Any Welshman worthy of his heritage would have resigned rather than humiliate Wales as we are being humiliated in this Measure. The Secretary of State would be a bigger man in Wales today if he had saved us this indignity.
The weakness of the right hon. and learned Gentleman is a disaster for Wales. He has proven this time and again. A weak man in high office is an expensive luxury—too expensive for Wales. But what does he care? He does not mind what I say or what the Welsh people say because no Welsh electorate can banish him for this gross betrayal.
Wales now knows the price—it is proved in this Bill—that it pays for the arrogance of the Prime Minister in foisting on the Welsh Office two Ministers with English constituencies. In any case, he gave us the wrong Peter. If we are not to have a Minister with a Welsh constituency, we might as well have a Minister who is successful—the one who wins the battles over the Secretary of State for Wales and who, whenever there is conflict, makes sure that the Secretary of State for Wales is No. 2 and he is No. 1.
The second reason is that the Secretary of State may not have realised the depth of feeling in Wales on this subject—the bitter resentment that crosses party lines. Even his own party friends in Wales are dissatisfied with him. For example, Conservative county councillor, Mrs. P. M. Y. Winn-Jones, was reported in the South Wales Echo as having said that she had been horrified that the views of only one authority, Cardiff, had been taken into consideration by the Minister. She added:I felt this last set of proposals was not honest … for the first time I was ashamed of something my own political party had proposed.The right hon. and learned Gentleman, by submitting on this major issue of principle of the right of Wales to have its own Bill introduced in the House, has forfeited the right ever to speak for Wales.
518 We require the Comimttee stage of this Bill to be taken on the Floor of the House. If it goes upstairs, four out of every five Welsh hon. Members are likely to be unable to advance their constituency case. It is no good fobbing us off, as Ministers tried to do yesterday, with references to the Report stage. We shall conduct the battle on Report as well, but in the meantime Wales is entitled to its full share of the Committee stage, and that can happen only if those who are elected by the Welsh people serve on the Committee that will examine the Bill.
It will add offence to injury if the right hon. and learned Gentleman tries to gag Welsh hon. Members and prevent them from advancing their points of view in the House. I fear that by his attitude, the right hon. and learned Gentleman will unleash forces in Wales that neither he nor I want to see unleashed. He is encouraging people who have no room for the United Kingdom. He is encouraging a separatist mentality. The House must make sure that the proper rights due to Wales are given to Wales. That is my major indictment of the Secretary of State and the Government for their failure to bring in a Welsh Measure.
There is an incredible story in the Lobbies that the Secretary of State for Wales has no intention of serving on the Committee to defend his own proposals. He can scotch that rumour at once, and I will gladly sit down to give way to him so that he may do so. It will be unbelievable cowardice if he fails to attend the Committee to defend the proposals which are so controversial in Wales. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] The right hon. and learned Gentleman's silence is answer enough.
I turn to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's complete reversal of his policy in dealing with Glamorgan. In his proposals for the County of South Glamorgan he has abandoned all the accepted principles of local government reform. He no longer even pays lip service to the principle of two-tier government. That has gone by the board in the county of South Glamorgan. When he told us that 40 local authorities had expressed opposition to his proposals for East Glamorgan he was telling us half the truth. What they were doing was supporting the spurious campaign "Keep 519 Cardiff Capital". The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows that it was the status of the capital city which people were writing in to support.
The Secretary of State for Wales knows as well as I do that the city is still a district council in his new proposals, which is what he originally proposed. But he has manoeuvred on behalf of his Conservative friends in Cardiff in a shameful way at the expense of efficiency in local government. In February, he completely rejected the proposals he now brings forward as being desirable in the interests of good government. He told us then that to accept those proposalswould further divide the existing county administration";it wouldmean the separation of areas which ought to be administered together for the purposes of town and country planning and transportation.The right hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say in the Consultative Document:Thirdly, to separate Cardiff and its neighbouring areas from either Mid-Glamorgan, or the north-eastern Glamorgan valleys, or from both, would mean the creation of at least one authority which was comparatively weak in terms of rateable resources, and was handicapped by lack of resources and lack of suitable land in seeking solutions to its problems.The right hon. and learned Gentleman spoke the truth in February. He has created a weak authority in which we have the Rhondda, Aberdare, Merthyr, and Pontypridd—all Labour, we know—and he is making them, with their 500,000 people, one of the poorest authorities in the whole of England and Wales.
§ The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mr. David Gibson-Watt)
That is not true.
§ Mr. Thomas
It is true. Powys has the lowest rateable value; the hon. Gentleman will confirm that. The value in the new authority will be just above that of Powys. There will be a rateable value of £27 per head, just over half of what it will be for South Glamorgan. In addition, the greater part of our basic new industries and our valuable new undertakings and institutions are gathered in South Glamorgan. The people who have already suffered badly are the people at whom the right hon. and learned Gentleman is hitting in his proposals.
520 The new South Glamorgan County Council will contain two districts only. Let us examine the logic of what the Secretary of State for Wales proposes. District No. 1 will have four times the population of District No. 2. It will have a rateable value five times that of District No. 2. Does anyone call this an equal amalgamation to balance town and country? Everyone knows that we can prepare for the spread of urban building in the Vale of Glamorgan. The people to whom money is everything—and the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows who I am talking about because they are on his side—will have their eyes on the development of the Vale of Glamorgan. It has been sacrificed to the political interests of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's friends in Cardiff. Mid-Glamorgan, a county with the largest population and the second lowest rateable value, contains our areas of dereliction.
The Secretary of State for Wales has largely accepted the proposals in the Labour Government's White Paper in respect of other parts of Wales. To the constituency which rejected him at the poll he has given a farewell kick which has caused tremendous hurt and anger in the city of Bangor. He is leading us back to the post, with a multiplicity of planning authorities such as we have not had since before the war.
When the right hon. and learned Gentleman assumed office he appeared on television huffing and puffing and telling us that his position as Chairman of the Conservative Party would give him greater influence over his colleagues in the Cabinet. He also told us that he wanted to be judged by results. Seventeen months have elapsed since that foolish request. Wales has judged him by results. We have had fiddled boundaries to suit party interests, diminished status for the Welsh Office, higher rents, higher unemployment and higher costs for everything. Enough is enough. Self-respect should tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman that whatever confidence he enjoyed in Wales has gone. We intend to give him the roughest fight of his life over the proposals for Glamorgan. We shall use every Parliamentary means we enjoy to stop the private buccaneering in party interests in which his party is indulging.
§ 7.59 p.m.
§ Sir Robin Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
Yesterday, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. James Johnson) said that he thought that the Minister had done a very good job in respect of the boundaries of the counties in North-East England. I agree with him in general, but I wish to comment on the Minister's step in taking Whitby urban and rural district from North Yorkshire and putting it in Teesside.
The Minister said yesterday that he had been guided first by tradition. The tradition is that Whitby is a central part of North Yorkshire history. The Cleveland dialect which people speak in North Yorkshire originated in the Whitby district. There is therefore a very close traditional affinity between Whitby and the rest of North Yorkshire.
People may look at the guidelines that the Minister put in his White Paper which, in paragraph 7, says thatboundaries should be drawn so that areas take account of patterns of development and travel".The Whitby area is separated from the Teesside metropolitan county by a block of moorland which is impassable in winter very frequently, whereas the flow of traffic to the south, because of the Early Warning System, is always kept open; but there is no connection by rail between Teesside and the Whitby area except where it runs through what will be the North Yorkshire county, and that line, the only rail link, is now threatened with closure, according to the local Press last week. This seems to me to be an important factor to bear in mind.
I can see the point if we are adding it to the Teesside metropolitan county area and thinking of putting new industries there, but the Whitby rural district is part of a national park and I am sure that the Minister would not want that national park to be destroyed. He will not get people going 31 miles from Whitby to employment in the Teesside. Therefore, in my view, this is an unreal proposal.
The latter part of that same paragraph 7 says thatservices which are closely linked should be in the hands of the same authority.The whole of the water supply of the district is concentrated at Scarborough, 522 not Teesside, because the water table goes that way, not to Teesside.
I hope that the Minister will think again on this matter because there is a great deal of local concern about it. The rural district is unanimous against being wrenched from North Yorkshire. There is a division of opinion, I will admit, in the urban districts, but, in my view, the majority of people are strongly against this.
I have only one other point I want to raise, because I know that there are very many hon. and right hon. Members who want to speak. I thought that the Minister for Local Government and Development put it very well at the end of his speech when he talked about functions tinder this Bill and said:I am sure that one of the achievements which will result from this Measure will be to persuade the public to look on their local councillor as someone who really does govern their lives."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 348.]If this is to be the aim—and I think that, in general, the Minister has carried out that aim very well—greater thought should have been given to whether the enlarged district should not have greater responsibilities for the care of the elderly. I have always found in my political experience that it is a very great error to have the housing authority divorced from those who are providing warden services and welfare hostels. It has meant, I am afraid, that in the provision of housing for the elderly we lag behind, and that would not be so if the services were under the same authority.
All I ask is that I hope that mole attention will be given to this thought. I have always believed that the prime function of a local councillor should be to look after the elderly in his neighbourhood. I know that when we had very small councils and areas of administration were split up, this was not a practicable proposition, but now that we are to have the wider district authority areas I believe that we should make an advance in this matter. It is not to take a party view when I say that I believe that in our social services for the care of the elderly this country lags behind other countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will have another thought about 523 it, to see whether he can give this power to district councils.
§ 8.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Mark Hughes (Durham)
There are obviously, in any Bill such as this, major problems of judgment as between efficiency and the belief that efficiency will be more readily achieved by larger units, and the requirements of democracy. There are some elements in this Bill which I can only welcome, as I do the suggestion, which was contained in the Minister's speech yesterday, of legislation to introduce an ombudsman for local government. As a Member of the Select Committee I hope the Minister will find it possible to consult that Select Committee on the implications and problems involved with that proposal. There is within any question of functional as well as of boundary division an area where a fine judgment has to be made.
It would be unwise of me, as a Member of an alien English constituency, to get involved in the intricate matters of Wales, but as one born within less than 100 yards of where David Lloyd George was born, I would humbly suggest to the Minister that he produces a separate Bill for Wales, including an authorised translation into the Welsh language, and, secondly, a statement as to his beliefs concerning the constitutional propriety of his tacking the Welsh Bill on to the English Measure. If it is in order I will simply use a Welsh phrase, Paid a siarad gwirion: "Do not talk rubbish". There is no case whatsoever for tacking this Bill on to an English Measure. It confuses the English and confounds the Welsh.
With the English in particular there is a total confusion as between the proper requirements of planning given to district councils and the very much more difficult area of allocating and making functions below county level. What this Bill does is to suppose that the species district is homogeneous, whereas, quite clearly, within the species district there is a multiplicity of genera which require different treatment and different functional allocations. One district such as the county district of Cardiff, or of Nottingham, or of Sunderland, requires and demands an area of planning and other functions 524 which it would be entirely improper to allocate to certain other districts.
To treat a major county borough on the same basis as one treats an agglomeration of rural district councils is to make a nonsense of the reality of the plan-making authority. Within any plan-making authority—there are some 140 of them—there is a series of highly specialised skills. This Bill envisages that instead of 140 plan-making authorities in England and Wales there should be some 430 or 440.
That is a total nonsense. The availability of highly skilled manpower to perform these tasks is already the major bottleneck in planning. To require this multiplicity of planning authorities to spread their thin margarine yet more thinly is an idiocy. Whereas the White Paper suggested that plan-making authorities should be reduced from 140 to 50, under pressure from the major county boroughs the number has been not merely held at 140 but quadrupled. Plan-making authorities are to grow up like mushrooms; every authority that has a district power is to be a plan-making authority.
I am not suggesting for a moment that the matters mentioned by the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir R. Turton) or other matters of personal service or planning control in development terms should be taken away from the districts. This is a specific matter of manpower management and planning. The districts have not the staff to contain the work and are unable to provide an adequate career structure or an adequate work load to attract such staff.
I turn to the specific problems of County Durham. Anyone conversant with the details of the management régime within the Durham County Council will accept that its planning department has a management team second to none in this country. That management team consists of 134 professional and technical staff, of whom more than 70 are graduate or graduate-equivalent qualified persons—traffic engineers, soil scientists, ecologists, forestry officials, and so forth.
By splitting the plan-making function between the counties, for the structure, and the local districts, for the local and area scheme plans, although in the latest consultative document allowance is made 525 for development programme schemes, this highly effective planning team will be broken up. The county will not have the work to keep it in existence and the districts will be unable economically to employ such specialists. The whole of planning in England and Wales marches back 20 years in the allocation of skilled manpower. This is not a matter of democracy but of whether the implementation of democratically taken decisions can be effective.
In the change between the White Paper and the Bill, in the erroneous belief that he is giving greater local authority to the district councils, and in the even more erroneous belief that all district councils are the same, the Minister is going back to the pre-1947 era and, by so doing, damaging planning for a generation. It will be very difficult to turn back from what has been done. These are more general issues, but it would be entirely improper for me not to deal with the specific problems of the North-East.
The most moving event I have ever been to was the laying up in Durham Cathedral of the colours of the Durham Light Infantry when that regiment was wound up. The way in which the people of the City and County of Durham accepted the destruction of a regiment to which they had given their loyalty, and to which many citizens of that county had given their lives, leaves an impression that those who were on Palace Green in Durham on that day will never forget.
As was said by the Minister yesterday, in any reorganisation there must be county boroughs, cities and counties which find themselves reduced. I can think of no other area in England or Wales in which two such counties as Northumberland and Durham, both enormously proud of everything that they have achieved, have been so reduced in status. Despite the changes between the White Paper and the Bill, County Durham, from being a palatinate, the seat of a series of Prince Bishops, becomes a bottle-shaped nonentity with a piece of foreshore, Blackhall Rocks and nothing else. The great industrial rateable values of County Durham are shorn off to create Tyneside and Teesside. If the Minister believes that my constituents in Hetton-le-Hole and Easington Lane are citizens of Tyneside, he shows a marvellous indifference to reality. To those constituents 526 the reality of Hetton-le-Hole and Easing-ton Lane is far more important than the artifacts of map drawing upon a Ministerial brief. To believe that County Durham is other than the whole geographical area between the River Tyne and the River Tees is to insult every man, woman and child living in that area.
We might be prepared to accept that, albeit reluctantly, if it were within a framework of effective, democratically controlled regional government. In probably no part of England is there such democratic regional feeling as there is in the North-East. The inhabitants are unanimous in the belief that the area twixt Tweed and Tees has a concept of unity such as exists nowhere else. The Bill purposely goes out of its way to break up and destroy that unity. Instead of two great authorities, Durham and Northumberland, with the proud cities of Sunderland and Newcastle and those on Teesside, we are left with an abortion of a scheme that serves neither the local communities nor the region.
I give the Minister clear warning that the people of Durham are reluctant to see their county destroyed, their rateable value more than halved, to satisfy the bureaucratic nonsense of a Bill which does not reflect the basic regional beliefs of the people of the North-East.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)
I hope hon. Members will remind themselves that there are many others who wish to take part in this debate, and I hope they will give a little consideration to their neighbours.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)
. Having listened to speeches by Welsh Members on the other side of the House makes me appreciate the difficulties of the Welsh Rugby selectors in satisfying everybody when choosing a Welsh XV. But, just as the heroes in red jerseys rise to the occasion whatever the handicaps, so I believe the people of Wales will rise above the gloomy prophesies of hon. Members opposite on this Bill.
I welcome the Bill since its proposals basically are sound. I also welcome the Government's decision to go ahead because this will end the uncertainty.
I wish to comment on the formation of districts. I believe it is vital to get this 527 matter right. These are the authorities which will provide the real local government. Originally, the districts were to be of a size which would enable councillors to keep in close personal touch with the citizens—a size of about 40,000 to 60,000 people. As the various documents and White Papers have been issued, the trend seemed to be away from this. I shall give a few quotations to show what I mean.
First of all, the Minister for the Environment when addressing a Conservative local government conference in May last year said:Again quoting my own constituency the borough of Droitwich with a population of 10,000 to 12,000 people and the Rural District Council of Droitwich they could easily and successful run as one good sensible bottom tier authority.That is a total of about 26,000 people. I agree that they could undoubtedly be a good bottom tier authority.
Paragraph 34 of the White Paper says:Where there is a need for the creation of larger units than exist at present, the Government would expect them to have populations ranging upwards from 40,000, save in sparsely populated areas.A similar remark was made in the Department of Environment Circular 8/71, paragraph 3, which I will not read. Then in May in the debate on the White Paper the Minister said:Therefore, the range of new districts where we are not conserving existing sizeable cities and towns will be in the 40,000–100,000 bracket"—so that there is a move in an upward direction—varying in accordance with the rural nature of the district concerned."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th May, 1971; Vol. 817, c. 1286.]Finally, the guidelines for the Local Government Boundary Commission referred to district councils of the order of 75,000 to 100,000, a very decisive move upwards. I am not quite clear why this should be the case. A population of the order of 75,000 to 100,000 seems to fall between two stools. It is not big enough to have real additional powers but undoubtedly the councillors become more remote. I have a summary of the powers set out by the Minister but it seems to me that the proposals there give very little change of powers to the new bigger districts. There is a slight 528 increase in planning powers which is counteracted by the removal of certain other powers such as those involving the disposal of refuse.
Although yesterday my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Development made some play with these additional powers, I still do not believe these have been granted. Certainly my district of Banstead, which has a population of about 45,000, has practically all the powers proposed and effectively exercises them.
The essence of two-tier Government is not only to ensure that there are adequate resources available in discharging major responsibilities such as education but the second tier—in other words, the districts—must be small enough for the councillors to be closely in touch with the people they represent.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and his Department have a very fine record in bowing to the wishes of the local people in many areas of policy. When the Government consider the districts after the Boundary Commission has reported, and we are promised a debate, I hope he will bear in mind paragraph 13 of the White Paper, which says:The Government obviously must seek efficiency, but where the arguments are evenly balanced their judgment will be given in favour of responsibility being exercised at the more local level.I wish to make a few brief remarks about the guidelines. It is suggested in paragraph 2 that the districts should be broadly comparable in population. That seems to be in conflict with paragraph 17 of the White Paper, which says… the districts are bound to vary considerably in size and resources …".
I am sure the Minister will not take the view that the bigger is the better. I would say that districts are bound to vary in size and resources. The key paragraph in the guidelines is paragraph 6, which says, addressing the Boundary Commission:Among other things they should have particular regard to the wishes of the local inhabitants, the pattern of community life, and the effective operation of local government services.It seems to me that that is the key paragraph. It is most important. Above all, when we come to draw these lines, 529 we must not pretend that the gentlemen in Whitehall know best.
Secondly, there is no mention in the guidelines of topographical features being considered when areas are being delineated. In some cases, these are very important.
Thirdly, I ask my right hon. Friend to take scrupulous care in the selection of people to serve on the Boundary Commission. Theirs will be a very difficult job. It is essential that they have everyone's confidence.
I have great faith that my right hon. Friend will do all that he has said he will do. I am sure that he will pay special regard to the wishes of local people. If he does, I believe that this legislation will be a success, and I shall be glad to support it.
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Hardy (Rother Valley)
I hope that I shall be forgiven if some of the sweeping statements that I make are not well supported. In order to be brief, and in the interests of other hon. Members who wish to speak, it will not be possible for me to substantiate many of the remarks that I make.
In my view, the Bill is hasty and ill-considered. I support that remark by quoting two of the arrangements proposed. I notice that the metropolitan districts are to be regarded as health authorities. At the same time, we find that it is the counties which are to be the food and drugs authorities. This is an absurd arrangement, since health authorities should carry out the food and drugs responsibilities of local government.
A further interest in the metropolitan districts lies in the fact that, especially in my area of South Yorkshire, the situation is such that the metropolitan district of Rotherham, for example, will have highways responsibility for the maintenance of private roads and nothing else. This means that the metropolitan district authorities will have very little to offer experienced and skilled men to serve in the relevant department. In due course, we may find that we lack the capacity to maintain minor roads properly because well-qualified people do not wish to seek employment in that department of the district council.
530 The main burden of my remarks must be concerned with the point that the Secretary of State made about the importance of grass-roots democracy. We have the concession that parish councils will continue to exist. I am delighted to see that because I am conscious of the very good work carried out by the hundreds of parish councils in Britain and the 23 in my own constituency. They play a vital part in community life. They lead the activities of local communities. I am delighted that they are to continue.
However, there are several urban district councils which are no greater than the larger parish councils, and they may find themselves disappearing. The community leadership that they are able to give today will disappear with them. This will be a real loss. I hope that the Minister will reconsider the position of urban districts in the metropolitan areas of England so that they can perform those community responsibilities which are to be allowed in Wales.
The greatest anxiety of all in my area is concerned with education. People feel that the rateable values in many of the metropolitan districts will not be sufficient to maintain a satisfactory education service. This is certainly an anxiety felt by many of my constituents. When the White Paper was published, we were told that we need not worry about this because the Green Paper would provide the answers. The Green Paper came as an appalling disappointment to South Yorkshire. It left us with the continuing worry about whether we could provide an adequate education service.
In my area, anxiety grew considerably. Teachers, parents and others interested in the community drew up a petition containing 25,000 signatures. That represents a third of the adult population of the Rother Valley education area. I asked the Secretary of State for the Environment and the Secretary of State for Education and Science to receive a deputation from the leaders of the campaign in order to hear their views and assuage their anxieties. The deputation was not a lightweight one. It consisted of the headmasters of two large comprehensive schools, two members of the divisional education executive, both experienced councillors and one a former chairman of the A.E.C., an experienced divisional 531 education officer, and a local doctor representing the parents.
Neither the Secretary of State for Education and Science nor the Secretary of State for the Environment would receive that deputation, and its members were left standing on the pavement in Whitehall. When I heard the Secretary of State say yesterday that one of the approaches that he had adopted was in an effort to avoid resentment, I felt astonished. The resentment which he and his right hon. Friend created in my area will take a long time to live down, and even a concession on urban district councils will do little to assuage it.
We need desperately an assurance that there will be sufficient financial resources provided to enable the poorer metropolitan areas to maintain a splendid education service and to continue to cope and to compete with the wealthier areas of Britain.
I share the views of my colleagues from Wales in that I regret the little time which is available for hon. Members from England as well as from Wales. The Bill ought not to have been put before us in this way so that we have to gabble out our views in a most unseemly manner. It should have been separated, and matters concerned with principal functions and Clauses 1 and 21 ought to be considered in a Committee of the whole House. It is an insult. It is an insult not merely to Wales but to England; and, what is more, it offers considerable future danger to the children of both countries.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Nicholas Edwards (Pembroke)
This is a Bill the general principles and objectives of which I approve. The reform of local government is urgent. It has been talked about for too long, and uncertainty should be ended. I therefore welcome the Bill, though there is a part of it with which I profoundly disagree and there are many sections where it can be improved.
There are a number of general questions which I should like answered. First, there are the differences of function between the Welsh and the English sections of the Bill. The reasons in some cases remain obscure. I hope that we shall have from the Government some clearer 532 explanation than we have yet received and that, better still, some of the anomalies may be removed in Committee.
I turn to a matter which was referred to by several hon. Members yesterday. In Wales an existing borough is to be allowed immediately to become a community and retain its name, so that the smallest towns will keep some status. In England they are apparently to be wiped out, although later they may, at the mercy of district councils, be recreated as parishes. The elimination of small but proud towns with names which are part of history is not only tragic but totally unnecessary.
This leads me to inquire about two points. First, what is to happen to those towns with ancient rights, privileges and customs, but no existing local government functions, which were allowed to continue to exercise those rights under the Municipal Corporations Act, 1883? I cite the town of Newport in my constituency where the mayor, aldermen and burgesses are appointed in a manner which has continued unaltered for more than 700 years. I attended the mayor-making ceremony last week. The town rightly takes pride in its privileges, which help to cement and strengthen community life. There are many like it. I see no mention in the Bill of repeal of the 1883 Act, but Clauses 3 and 23 provide only for new districts to pray for the grant of charters. If I receive no reassurance on this point, I shall certainly seek to put down an Amendment in Committee.
But I would go further. It seems to me that if in 1883 it was possible to allow towns which had lost their municipal functions yet to retain their ancient privileges and customs, the same could be done today. I hope that it will be.
There is one particular matter which concerns Wales on which I seek the guidance of the Minister who is to reply. I refer to the fate of the Welsh Church Fund. This is a charity and is, therefore, probably covered by Clause 202. But, if I understand the position correctly, it will mean that the funds, for example, administered by the County of Pembroke will, if the Bill goes through unchanged, become the responsibility of the new County of Dyfed. The amounts involved vary greatly from county to county, and it would be very much resented if moneys were to be distributed in areas far from 533 the parishes which originally provided them.
The crucial issue for me and for my constituents, as my right hon. and learned Friend knows well, is the very existence of the County of Pembroke itself and its merger with Cardigan and Carmarthen. I will not repeat the arguments advanced in detail in the Welsh Grand Committee or those that were so clearly put by the county council in the paper which it submitted to the Government. They are very largely the arguments advanced yesterday by my hon. Friends the Members for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers) and the Isle of Wight (Mr. Woodnutt) about their own areas, which suggests that we are concerned with general principles and not just with a particular constituency problem.
I regret that the Secretary of State has so summarily dismissed the case, and I believe that we are entitled to a better explanation than we have received so far. He has based his case on what the right hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Goronwy Roberts) referred to as a "figural fixation", an "unreal criterio"—a minimum population of 250,000, a concept that, even in terms of efficiency, has no meaning at all in isolation from the other factors, social, geographic and economic. All the arguments we have advanced have been based on the acceptance of a belief in a desirable minimum—250,000 if that be it. What we have sought to show is that in this case, as in others, the disadvantages inherent in the grouping necessary to produce such a population are far greater than any advantages that could be gained by achieving the objective. It is these specific arguments which should have been answered, because the Government stated, in their circular to Welsh local authorities on 4th January, that:in areas of sparse population or for other geographic reasons it may be necessary to accept a lower figure".My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State observed this afternoon that the areas must be reasonably practical. We cannot adhere, he said, rigidly to these criteria.
In the English White Paper, the Government have said that local authority areas should be related to areas within which people have a common interest—through living in a recognisable community, 534 through the links of employment, shopping or social activities, or through history and tradition. We have presented a detailed case which establishes beyond doubt that those objectives cannot be met by the Government's proposals; that the community of interests which the Government have stated to be essential in East Glamorgan cannot be established here.
We have elaborated on the immense practical, social and educational problems which the proposals will create. We have shown why the exceptional geographic and economic position of Pembrokeshire, which has at its centre the great oil port and growth point of Milford Haven—and which will have, as a result, a rising population and about the highest rateable value per head of any local authority in Wales—gives it the capacity and capability to provide a standard of local government that will compare favourably with any other part of the Principality. None of these detailed arguments has been refuted. All we are told is that it would create an awkward precedent and leave an unacceptably weak new county in Cardigan and Carmarthen. That new county would be as strong as Gwynedd and twice as strong as Powys.
The Secretary of State, in his summary of local government observations and his comments, observes that Gwynedd's population is only marginally below 250,000. The population of Cardigan and Carmarthen differs by only 3,000 from that of Gwynedd, so if one will do so will the other.
The Secretary of State is wrong if he thinks that by giving us two districts instead of one he will have calmed our hostility. That was something that most of the district authorities favoured, though many in the county disagree.
On the matter of the top-tier authority, there is complete unity. We stand together—the local authorities, the parties and the people—in believing that the solution which the Secretary of State has borrowed from his predecessor is wrong. On that point five political candidates at the last election fought as one. Nothing that has happened since has made me changes my mind or altered my conviction that the plan must be changed.
That is why, favouring the Bill as a whole although profoundly disagreeing with a part of it, I shall vote for its 535 Second Reading but seek to amend it in Committee, and I shall welcome the support of political friend and foe alike, whatever their notives may be, in destroying this monster dyfed.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)
The nature of this debate illustrates the great difficulty into which the Government got themselves. The hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Nicholas Edwards) has spoken of the Welsh aspects of this Bill and I aim to concentrate on the "Bill within a Bill." The four speakers preceding the hon. Member spoke on the English aspects and the two Front Bench spokesmen dealt with the Welsh aspects. This is an impossible situation for which the Government must take the fullest responsibility.
In Wales our attitude towards local government is different from that which is held in England and this is reflected in the fact that the plans for Wales are different. We are to change counties, six of which had their boundaries fixed in 1284. The remaining seven had their boundaries fixed in 1542. This is therefore a major constitutional change for Wales. It is a matter which excites interest among Welsh Members, not only about the boundaries but about the functions.
Yet what is to happen? This Bill will be sent to a Committee on which there will be a small minority of Welsh Members who have no interest, probably, in the English part of the Bill. There will be a majority of English Members who will find it very irksome to listen to long speeches from Welsh Members.
Why has that happened? It is because the Government have deliberately chosen to put the two Bills into one and to avoid a real debate. The truth is that there will not be an adequate debate on either the English or the Welsh parts of the Bill when it goes into Committee. This is entirely reprehensible and I join with those who criticise the Government for not bringing in a separate Bill. They are playing into the hands of those extremists in Wales who argue that we do not have fair play in this House. The Government have provided them with 536 a ready made argument to support this view.
§ Mr. Alan Williams (Swansea, West)
Could the hon. and learned Gentleman say, on behalf of the Liberal Party, what he thinks of the suggestion that the Secretary of State is not even to be a member of the Committee, but a runaway general, who runs away when the first shot is fired?
§ Mr. Hooson
I am astounded if the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not to be a member of the Committee. Taking full responsibility for the Bill, he should be there. Maybe he does not want to listen to the English section. In local government reform we in Wales have suffered from two "Doubting Thomases" over the last few years. One has taken faltering steps towards a Bill which was never produced. Year after year we used to ask him whether he would delay consideration until the Crowther Commission reported and he said that he would brook no delay, the Bill would be brought forward. He was still waiting when the Labour Government came to an end. Now he has been replaced by another "Doubting Thomas" who has brought forward a Bill which is incorporated and taken over by another Bill, and that is not good enough.
It was a major mistake of the Government not to wait for the Crowther Commission's report. It is no use saying that it is possible to distinguish between local and national government as though they are in watertight compartments. What we are concerned with is government, how the people of this country are governed. Functions may be transferred from the Government to local government and vice versa, but the whole problem is that of government. The Crowther Commission is concerned with government, just as was the local government Commission. To miss this opportunity to consider the reform of the whole of local government in the light of the proposals of the Crowther Commission seems an act of immense stupidity.
I do not share the views of many Labour Members about unitary authorities of the size they have suggested, and here I confine my comments to Wales. There is a good case for saying that an 537 elected council for Wales, a domestic Parliament for Wales, whatever it was, could take over major regional responsibilities. That would be a large authority and we could have unitary authorities on a smaller scale to deal with other matters. This would have been a feasible way in which to reform local government in Wales, but we have lost the opportunity to discuss it.
I cannot believe that the argument of the right hon. and learned Gentleman today, that we had to proceed now because officials in local government had been left in a state of uncertainty for so long that that uncertainty must be resolved, was completely serious. I am sorry for those officials, but is the right hon. and learned Gentleman saying that his concern that their uncertainty should be brought to an end is more important than getting the right solution for Wales for the next half century? The two arguments are not on the same level.
If we had waited until we had had proposals from the Crowther Commission, they could have been the background to the debate. However sorry we may be for local government officials, their difficulty could have been and should have been put right by compensation, and concern for them is a poor reason for bringing forward this legislation at this time. Having waited for seven years since 1964, delaying for another year could not have made all that difference.
I strongly agreed with the right hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Goronwy Roberts) who, in a very thoughtful and excellent speech last night, spoke of the need to consider local government reform in terms of people having a sense of community—those are not his words, but that is their implication. I am in my tenth year as a Member of Parliament and it is of great interest to me that in my day in my part of the country there has never been a general election, nor an election for the county council, nor an election for the local borough council, when the turnout has been less than 80 per cent. of the voters. We have an interest in representative government, and it shows a sense of community.
The Government are in danger of destroying the sense of community where it exists and of failing to recreate it in a broader sense. In Wales the all-import- 538 ant consideration is local government finance, and we have to get that into its right perspective. Over the last 10 years, only one local government unit in Wales has been viable on its rates alone, and that has been Flintshire, which has normally not been dependent on Exchequer grants. It is no use talking about the immense wealth of Glamorgan in relation to population when Flintshire is the only viable Welsh county. When talking of reforming local government, we cannot by any kind of juxtaposition put together economically viable districts if they have to depend on being financed through the rates, and all the new Welsh communities will probably therefore depend, as in the past, on Exchequer grants.
I come from a county which is heavily dependent on Exchequer grants, and that does not seem to me to have held up our education programme, for example, because we are ahead of nearly all the rest of Wales in the establishment of purpose-built schools and so on. We should concentrate, therefore, on getting units of local government which are right in that they have a sense of community. That sense of community is possible at different levels. There can be a sense of community as Britain, as Wales, as a county, as a borough, as a parish. It depends on the scale and on what common feelings there are.
Where I think the Government have failed is in getting mixed up with local government finance. Finance should have been dealt with in the Bill. We should have been able to consider how local government is to be financed for the next couple of decades. We should have reformed local government with this question of finance clearly in mind.
Let me illustrate that from the point of view of Montgomeryshire, the country which I represent. We have been put together with Radnorshire and Breconshire. These are three agricultural counties, but there is no real sense of community between them, as I am sure the hon. Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Roderick) would agree. The farmers of Breconshire and Montgomeryshire never visit the markets in Radnorshire, and the farmers of Radnorshire very seldom visit markets in the other two counties. There is no real sense of 539 community there. Often in history there has been an enlarged Powys, but it has never included Brecon and Radnor. We are flying in the face of history, and going against the routes of the railways, roads, and so on, in putting them together. Had the Government decided to make a county of the whole of Mid-Wales, there would then have been a sense of community of a kind that will not exist in Powys.
Let me illustrate that further by referring to Glamorganshire. I agree with the Secretary of State that there should be three counties of Glamorganshire. I was not as greatly impressed by the Cardiff case as I was by the case made by Merthyr Tydfil County Borough for a third county. I think that it would have been wrong in the set-up in Wales to have had one county with a population of nearly one million which would have been able to dominate all the other counties in discussions, and so on. What have the valleys and Cardiff in common? The answer is, very little. None of them is economically viable. Certainly Cardiff is not an economically viable unit as such, even with the hinterland around it.
When a suggestion is put forward for the amalgamation of areas to create three counties in the Glamorgan area, one is not confined to thinking of Cardiff on one side, and the valleys on the other. I think that if the Merthyr view were accepted, and all the valleys were put together in a Heads of the Valley Authority, and the coastal strip were put with Cardiff—it has more in common with Cardiff than with the valleys—a greater sense of community would evolve in the area.
The fact that the rateable value would be low does not seem to enter into it. Does it matter that the subsidy is to be £1½ million, as opposed to £1 million, or whatever the figure is?
§ Mr. Alec Jones
I appreciate part of what the hon. and learned Gentleman is saying about viability. Surely one must take note of the view expressed by the Government in their Green Paper on local government finance that local government cannot continue to expect the same level of Government grant in the future as it received in the past?
§ Mr. Hooson
I do not care what is said in the Green Paper. People will not stand for any great change. There is bound to be a considerable Exchequer grant for many of the community services administered by local government.
I should like to draw attention to one matter which I consider to be dangerous from the point of view of Wales, and that is the provision about altering boundaries between England and Wales by agreement between counties. It seems to me that there would be uproar in Wales if the new Denbighshire, to be called Clwyd, were to rearrange its boundaries with Cheshire and Shorpshire without reference to the rest of Wales. I do not think that this is a matter which should be left to the counties to consider. I do not think that this provision should be in the Bill.
There are many other detailed comments which I should like to make on the Bill, but which I shall probably not have the opportunity of doing because of the path which the Government have chosen. I should like the Secretary of State to reconsider the proposal for the election every three or four years of new members to the county council. If that happens, there will be no sense of continuity. The proposal seems to be wrong. When part of a county council is made up of aldermen there is always a degree of continuity, whatever the demerits of the system. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman is suggesting that every four years there should be a complete change of councillors, it is not a sensible suggestion. It would be much more sensible for one-quarter of the council to retire every year or one-half to retire every two years, as with the district councils, because that would provide a sense of continuity.
I had intended to make many more points, but there is no time for me to make them now. I am very disappointed with the Bill. There is not much point in my dealing now with the Government's proposals as regards boundaries, save that I ask the Government to keep an open mind on some of the matters I have raised. Many of the powers should be different. It would be a great mistake to rush the Bill through a small Standing Committee and then to bring it back to the House for a couple of days on Report. This is not the way to deal with such a major reform as this.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Critchley (Aldershot)
As a Salopian I am reluctant to intervene in what appears to be a Welsh debate, and even more so because I represent a Hampshire constituency. I shall be very brief. I shall make only three points and then sit down and allow another Welshman to take part in the debate.
I congratulate the Secretary of State on his wisdom in allowing the constituency of Aldershot and North-East Hampshire to remain within Hampshire as opposed to moving over into Surrey as proposed in the White Paper. Opinion in my constituency was virtually unanimous that there should be no change. I am glad that this has been the result.
Aldershot itself is only a small part of my constituency of Aldershot and North-East Hampshire. Aldershot itself believes that there is a strong case for Ash and Tongham to be included within Hampshire, because Ash, which is at the moment in Surrey, is virtually a suburb of Aldershot and makes use of all the Aldershot local authority facilities.
More important, Ash includes three housing estates with almost 700 Aldershot houses within Ash itself. Because of the existence of a large expanse of Army land around Aldershot which restricts development, Aldershot has had to move outside its boundaries to provide housing for its people. We have 700 houses in Ash. Aldershot needs lebensraum. If it is to find living room of any kind, the logical solution is that the small area of Ash, which is virtually a suburb of Aldershot, should be removed from Surrey and included in the Aldershot district.
§ Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)
I must make it plain to my hon. Friend that he must restrain his territorial ambitions on my constituency. If he wishes to pursue this argument, he might as well accept that it is no use his trying to eat his cake and have it and that he will be most strenuously opposed by the people of Ash and by myself.
§ Mr. Critchley
I respect my hon. Friend's views. His intervention is not altogether unexpected. No doubt he saw my name appear as if by magic on the television screen and then decided to intervene in this debate. None the less, I am making a serious point. I again emphasise that 700 local authority houses owned 542 by Aldershot are already in Ash. If we are to provide more houses, as we wish to do, we must find land somewhere. Because Army land surrounds Aldershot, it is important that we at least consider whether the small district of Ash ought not to be removed from Surrey and added to Hampshire. This is a not unreasonable suggestion, which on reflection may well appeal to my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow).
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)
Order. May I understand what the position is? Did the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) give way to his hon. Friend?
§ Mr. Onslow
I have no wish to detain the House, but I must tell my hon. Friend that there are about 15,000 people living in that small area. If he wishes to expand, let him seek to do so elsewhere.
§ Mr. Critchley
I should be very happy were we able to expand elsewhere, but the problem of army land is difficult of solution. Ash, as many hon. Members know, is really a suburb of Aldershot. At first sight, there is no difference whatever between Aldershot and Ash. However, I leave that matter there now.
Aldershot is unique at present in that it has military members on the council. In a sense, we may be said to be like Oxford and Cambridge, though they have dons and we have soldiers on the council. It is the view of the Aldershot local authority and of the Army that, whatever happens regarding the second tier and the reorganisation at the district level within my constituency, the size of the military investment in Andershot requires that military membership on the council should be a feature of the new second tier arrangements.
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Mr. Davies (Gower)
The hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) will understand if I do not take up his 543 argument, for in the short time available to me I wish to concentrate on the most controversial part of the Bill related to Wales, namely, the proposals regarding the County of Glamorgan.
I add my protest to those already made at the way this debate is being rushed through, without adequate time for our interests to be expressed. I agree with one remark of the Secretary of State. He said that discussion of local government in Wales has been going on for a very long time. This is undeniable. Nowhere in the country has the demand for reform been more insistent than it has been in the Principality.
We have had our Royal Commissions, our reports of one kind and another, our draft proposals, and we have had many debates in the Welsh Grand Committee. I shall not take time by enumerating all the White Papers. In the light of all this activity, there was every justification—I do not apologise for returning to the point—for the Welsh people to expect a separate Bill dealing with the special problems of Wales. The Secretary of State's answer to that call today failed to convince the House. The Government's refusal to introduce a separate Bill has not only caused deep resentment among the Welsh people but it has damaged respect for the Welsh Office itself.
I readily acknowledge that most matters coming before the House affect equally the life of England and of Wales, and they are dealt with accordingly. But there are occasions, as the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) pointed out—this Bill is one example—when proposals are made of particular significance for the life of Wales alone. In these circumstances, the constitutional procedure of the House should have been invoked, and this, being a matter of special interest to Wales, should have been referred to a Committee of Welsh Members. The Government have missed an opportunity to show by a positive action that they respect the Welsh as a nation.
For some time now throughout Wales, both within and without local government, there has been widespread agreement that the time was ripe for a bold and comprehensive overhaul—not for any destructive reform but for a thorough 544 overhaul. There has never been the slightest suggestion by any Commission or in any draft proposals that local government reform in Wales necessitated the sheer destruction of the County of Glamorgan, as is proposed in the Bill. Some have referred to it as a massacre. In my view, this is an example of reform at its worst.
I readily declare my interest. I am a Glamorgan man and I am a past member of the Glamorgan County Council. There are very few people in Wales today who honestly believe that Glamorgan deserves to be carved up. Why break up Glamorgan, which is widely acknowledged to be one of the most efficient local government administrations in the country, with a particularly proud record in education and cultural activities, a record second to none?
For example, its service to young people through the Glamorgan Youth Orchestra is well known. The orchestra is the very backbone of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales. Its help to the Welsh Agricultural College, Coleg Harlech, and the Welsh National Opera Company has been outstanding. And it has committed itself to a capital improvement programme of £4½ million at Rhoose Airport, which serves all the regions.
The Royal Commission Report as far back as 1962 said:We have no major proposals to make for the County of Glamorgan. We base our decision on our view of the generally high quality of the services provided by the County.The Secretary of State said on page 9 of his own consultative document, referring to Glamorgan:It is one of the greatest concentrations of industry in the United Kingdom, and it has a proud tradition of democratic local government.Why, then, should Glamorgan as we have known it be destroyed? That is the most controversial issue in the proposals.
It is noteworthy that the Glamorgan County Council, in the spirit of reform, had earlier proposed the creation of an administrative county to coincide with the geographical unit. The Secretary of State rejected that proposal on the ground that the division of the geographical unit was desirable in the interests of the good 545 local government of the whole area. I challenge that conclusion, in the light of Glamorgan's outstanding record, and in support of what I say I would refer to Redcliffe-Maud's tenth general principle, set out on page 5 of the short version of its report:The new local government pattern should so far as practicable stem from the existing one. Wherever the case for change is in doubt, the common interests, traditions and the loyalties inherent in the present pattern, and the strength of existing services as going concerns, should be respected.In the light of that recommendation, I have not the slightest doubt that a geographical Glamorgan, with its common interests, traditions and loyalties, would be far more efficient from the point of view of local government than the present proposals.
As for the criticism that the geographical Glamorgan would embody two county councils, Cardiff and Swansea, I remind the Secretary of State of the example of Hampshire, which embodies the two county councils of Portsmouth and Southampton.
When he produced his consultative document in February, the right hon. Gentleman proposed dividing Glamorgan into two counties—East and West. Tonight we are confronted with not two but three county councils. Yet this very proposal is quite contrary to the right hon. Gentleman's own opinion as expressed in paragraph 43 of his consultative document. I will not take the time to quote much of it, but it is clear that it is contrary to the present proposal. It said:Thirdly, to separate Cardiff and its neighbouring areas from either Mid-Glamorgan, or the north-eastern Glamorgan valleys, or from both, would mean the creation of at least one authority which was comparatively weak in terms of rateable resources, and was handicapped by lack of resources and lack of suitable land in seeking solutions to its problems.That leads to the logical conclusion that either the Secretary of State has deliberately ignored the principles he laid down or some other considerations have motivated his decisions. Our suspicions are strengthened when we realise that the creation of South Glamorgan as a third county was advocated by the Cardiff City Council during its campaign to keep Cardiff a capital city. It also laid great emphasis on the development needs of the city, and was obviously advocating the 546 expansion of Cardiff rather than the real reform of local government.
We find that in South Glamorgan there will be only two districts, No. 1, embodying Cardiff, being four times the size of District No. 2 in population and five times greater in rateable value. There can be little doubt that District No. 2 comprising the Vale of Glamorgan has been sacrificed to the furtherance of Cardiff's ambitions. This means that Cardiff will completely dominate this new South Glamorgan county, and the chances of District No. 2 having an effective voice are very remote indeed.
This ignores the basic principle advocated by Maud regarding common interests and traditions, which I quoted earlier. The common interests, traditions and inherent loyalties of Cardiff are linked with the valleys of the wider Glamorgan which built up its strength and power.
Apart from Cardiff City Council itself, the vast majority of the people in Wales are against it. I will not again quote the words of a Conservative county councillor who has spoken out against this matter. Instead, I quote from the Western Mail, which is certainly more partial to hon. Gentlemen opposite than to my hon. Friends. It wrote:The lack of overall logic and fairness in the new proposals would greatly harm the valley areas. The creation of a small county dominated by Cardiff is surely likely to promote isolationism rather than the wider outlook of a capital.The County Councils Association is opposed to this step. The South Wales Rural District Councils Association has declared its opposition as well.
I therefore submit that there is overwhelming evidence of opposition to this proposal. The creation of this new South Glamorgan county is not only a denial of the basic Redcliffe-Maud principles but is a denial of the real concept of local government reform advocated by the Secretary of State himself in paragraph 43 of the consultative document.
I must mention a constituency interest, with particular reference to the West Glamorgan new county and the proposed amalgamation of the whole of the Gower rural area with the City of Swansea in District No. 1, regarding which there is certainly not unanimous opinion.
My hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Alan Williams) has 547 drawn attention to a letter to the Secretary of State from the town clerk of Swansea. In it he said, among other things—as my hon. Friend quoted the letter in greater detail I will quote only one part of it:On the basis of the reforms proposed in the Consultative Document, my Council take the view that the new District 1 of the West Glamorgan county should be confined to the area of the existing county borough.I acknowledge that there has been a demand for the whole of the Gower rural area to be kept as one unit rather than be split up as previously proposed. I recognise, too, the connection between some of the Gower areas which are on the fringes of Swansea and the city. But as for the whole of the Gower Peninsula—extending deep down into the countryside for many miles, and the surrounding coastline—this area is particularly rural and has a much closer connection and much closer interests with the neighbouring rural, urban and parish authorities.
There is still strong opinion that the whole of the Gower rural area should be amalgamated with its neighbouring communities as originally proposed in 1967, thus making District No. 2 a viable and worthwhile unit.
Instead, we find that Swansea is given the green pastures of the Gower rural area, and the Secretary of State has not removed the suspicions that surround his motives in bringing forward these proposals.
§ 9.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Simeons (Luton)
There is general agreement that change is necessary but even greater agreement that the areas best suited to this change are probably not those we represent. This is extremely understandable when one sees the manner in which some of our large towns are being treated under the Bill.
Towns which have over the years earned great credit for themselves—and those, such as my constituency, in recent years—their councillors, officers and staffs having worked hard to make them totally viable units, suddenly find themselves plunged back into areas almost identical with those out of which they came. Also, they now find that they have to petition to retain the title of "borough". I ask the Minister to con- 548 sider that they might retain this title without having to petition once again.
The Secretary of State rightly said that he wished to avoid remoteness. Yet, as my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers) pointed out, the representatives of four or five large towns or cities will have to travel long distances in order to meet on the county authority. My hon. Friend the Member for Devonport said that the distance for her representatives would be 42 miles. Luton's representatives will have to go only 20 miles, but there are only three areas in the country whose representatives will have to travel further. This is totally wrong.
Where this situation exists, the very least which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State can do is to ensure that suitable headquarters are provided at a central point so that the complaint about remoteness may be removed. But this is not enough because towns with populations of over 150,000 have special problems which have been recognised, although there is not universal agreement over the metropolitan districts. But seven or eight former county boroughs with special problems which have not been recognised are likely to lose their status.
The Secretary of State has rightly said that responsibility for housing should be close to the people and should go to the districts. But we cannot remove responsibility for the social services from them because many of the problems which go to the social service departments stem from housing difficulties, and it is the large towns which often attract people to them which have long waiting lists and as a result they have many problems which take up the time of those administering the social services. The large towns have a high immigration rate, long housing lists, probably a fair amount of delinquency, large demands for educational welfare, all backed by a large amount of voluntary effort. In these large towns it is almost impossible to separate housing, social services, amenities and education because one is dependent upon the other; they are interlinked.
The Secretary of State pointed out yesterday that he has given powers to towns which have sufficient resources. All the towns with populations of over 549 150,000 which are excluded from being metropolitan districts can show clearly that they have these resources and they will not lose them. I do not suggest that we should not raise the standards of surrounding districts to those of the best, but do not let us dilute the expertise in and the quality al those towns which have proved their worth. There would be great danger in doing that.
I wish to raise two small points. First, there is no mention in the Bill about who will be responsible for the airports. Who will be responsible for Luton Airport? Who will be responsible for the Manchester Airport in a metropolitan area? I hope that this point will be cleared up.
Secondly, there is a strong feeling among magistrates' courts committees that they will be disbanded and that they will have one representative who will have to travel up to 40 miles in order to put the problems of the magistrates' courts. I ask the Secretary of State to take steps to retain these committees so that those on the spot can best deal with the local problems.
We must maintain standards. As my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Miscampbell) said, there is power in Clause 100 to delegate responsibility, but the main point which he made, with which I totally agree, was that this is a hotbed for discontent, jealousy and bickering.
There is a simple and, I believe, a right solution to this problem, and it is that those towns—and there are very few of them; they number six or eight—with populations of over 150,000 today, which would be the right towns to have this sort of delegation, should have social services and education delegated by Statute. This would ensure that standards are maintained, and it would obviate the bickering which many hon. Members on both sides have so clearly seen.
There is, of course, a real answer to my point and one or two others, and this is that we have insufficient counties. There is a common perimeter to Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire which all the previous proposals put forward, other than in this Bill—those which were put forward by N.A.L.G.O. and my own association in Luton—suggested should be divided into four 550 counties. The present Bill divides them into three. This I believe to be a fundamental weakness because it does not recognise the growth of Milton Keynes, which will be a very large town in the north; and it does not overcome the remoteness caused by the non-man's land of mid-Bedfordshire. Proposals for this fourth county have been put forward. The only reason I have been given why it should not be accepted has been on account of local authority opinion. This is the very last reason which I think should be accepted, with all respect to local authority opinion. If the proposal had been turned down on grounds of good planning I would have accepted that, but a few local people ganging up and saying that they do not want it seems to me no answer at all, and I hope the Secretary of State will look at this again.
I think large towns have been forgotten, and I hope that the Secretary of State will look once more to see that they are relevant, because we do not want to have to remind him later in the day rather more forcefully.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric G. Varley (Chesterfield)
I should like to add my protest to those already expressed that this is two Bills in one. It is absolutely disgraceful to produce it in this way. It is also disgraceful that a Measure of this size and constitutional importance is not to be dealt with in Committee of the whole House. The third insult to English Members is that in the last two hours there has not been an English Minister sitting on the Treasury Bench.
I want to say something about boundaries; I want to say something about metropolitan areas; and I want to say something about the setting up of the Boundaries Commission and its decision and advice on new district councils.
I am sorry that I have to gabble my speech, but, unfortunately, I have to do so because there are many hon. Members who still want to speak.
I want to say something first of all particularly about my own county, Derbyshire. It is an absolute disaster that the Government have not listened to the protests coming from Derbyshire at the fact that Dronfield urban district and the 551 rural parishes of Eckington and Killamarsh are being taken into the new South Yorkshire metropolitan area. The House will recall that in 1967 a huge chunk of north Derbyshire, of some 5,000 acres and a population of 33,000, was taken over by Sheffield to solve that city's overspill housing problems. All the evidence so far advanced shows that this further encroachment is completely unnecessary. Certainly, so far as south Yorkshire is concerned, not a single member of that authority has said that that particular area of Derbyshire should go there. It is not required for housing overspill or for industrial development. A glance at the map will prove that there is no continuous development into that part of Derbyshire. In fact, there is a natural green belt.
If one consults the Minister's own White Paper, particularly paragraphs 29 and 32, one sees that the outlines there set out have been ignored, and the people of Derbyshire know it and they resent it. The fact has already been mentioned that there have been referenda in those parts of Derbyshire. The referendum in Eckington showed that about 95 per cent. of those voting wanted to stay in Derbyshire. Similarly, in Killamarsh more than 90 per cent. wanted to stay in Derbyshire. There were very high polls in both cases. We have travelled this road before; 5,000 acres and 33,000 people have been transferred. Sheffield does not want this area, and the Government have no proposals for it. The Derbyshire County Council wants to keep it, or at least we think so. Although there is a Conservative County Council in Derbyshire, no one representing Conservative opinion has bothered to come to the debate.
In February when the Government originally put forward their plans for new counties they proposed to take 40,000 people from the north-west of the county and put them into Greater Manchester and to take 33,000 people from the south-east and put them into Nottinghamshire. On the publication of the Bill, we found that those two proposals had been dropped, but 39,000 people were still to be taken into the South Yorkshire metropolitan area. There is no justification for this, and the Minister knows it.
I am told by my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. 552 Swain), and by other hon. Members who attended the Minister's meeting in Sheffield, that the Sheffield City Council makes no claim to this area, and has made it plain that it has no proposals and is satisfied with the portion of Derbyshire that was transferred in 1967. If South Yorkshire does not need the area, if the Derbyshire people want to keep it and if the people directly affected do not want the transfer, there is no possible justification for taking the area into South Yorkshire.
§ The Minister for Local Government and Development (Mr. Graham Page)
I assure the hon. Gentleman that I should welcome further debate on this. This matter needs further debate, and I hope that we shall have it in Committee.
§ Mr. Varley
I am most grateful to the Minister for his assurance.
I will say a word on the terms of reference of the Boundary Commission which is to set up district councils. Already local authorities have been asked to look at their districts and to make recommendations to the Boundary Commission, which in turn will make recommendations to the Minister. Derbyshire County Council, with its large resources, was first in the field. It has produced an expensive, glossy, gimmicky document which carves up the Derbyshire area in a disgraceful way. I hope that in the terms of reference to the Boundary Commission the Minister will stick by paragraph 13 of Circular 8/71, in which he said:In preparing their recommendations the Boundary Commission would take account of local proposals".If "local proposals" means anything in this context, it means the proposals of the borough and district councils and not necessarily those of the remote county councils.
I hope that the Government will not think of the Derbyshire County Council as speaking for the county on this. It does not, as has been demonstrated. County conferences in Derbyshire have shown time and again that rural district councils, urban district councils and borough councils are opposed to the county council proposals. The people in Derbyshire were enraged by them, and the Derbyshire Times talked of national considerations coming a bad second to 553 party politics, and made suggestions of gerrymandering.
The best quotation I can make on this point is from the leader of the Tory-controlled Chesterfield Borough Council who resigned his post after 16 years to fight these proposals. He said recentlyI did what I passionately believed to be hest for Chesterfield. I am a Chesterfieldian first and a Tory second.So even a Tory alderman with some 16 years' standing cannot stomach the Derbyshire County Council proposals.
I am grateful for the Minister's undertaking to reconsider whether this area of North-East Derbyshire should go into the South Yorkshire metropolitan area. I hope that when the Boundary Commission is set up it will be told that it is the local authorities that matter rather than remote county councils.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Sir Anthony Meyer (Flint, West)
I will not follow the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) in making a constituency speech; indeed, I intend to be almost totally non-controversial. If I start by saying I welcome the Bill, I hope that nobody would regard that as a highly controversial comment.
Hon. Members who take part in this debate obviously are subject to pressures from all directions from well-organised and quite proper pressure groups. The views most hon. Members will express are a result of all these pressures, plus any prejudices with which they may set out. I can reasonably claim to have no particular prejudices on these matters, but I freely admit that I am very much under the influence of the views put forward by my county council largely because the county, part of which I have the honour to represent, has a good record for being forward-looking, imaginative and efficient.
Therefore, when the county council represents to me very strongly—as it does—that the Bill goes too far in taking away from the counties various functions in order to give the district councils some red meat to get their teeth into, my first reaction is to agree. But I need constantly to remind myself, as do other hon. Members, that the pressures which are being exerted on us are in a sense lopsided.
Most hon. Members are subject to pressure from only one first-tier authority 554 which is well placed to express a clear-cut point of view, but at the other pole there are a number of district councils, in many cases not yet in existence, which will have points of view to put forward which may cancel each other out. But their arguments are unlikely to be as well articulated or as powerful as the views put forward by the first-tier authorities which are already in existence or whose shape is already manifest.
When I consider the present situation, subject as I am to these effective pressures from the county council, my tendency is to say that such-and-such a function should go to the first-tier authority because that is the one which is best equipped to carry out the functions efficiently. This may well be the case today. I am not at all sure that it will be the case in 10 years' time. After all, we are legislating for a generation. It may be that, in 10 years, second-tier authorities will have evolved into efficient organisations which are very much closer to, more sensitive to and more in sympathy with their electors. It is impossible to predict exactly how the balance will work.
Therefore I welcome very much the discretion which the Bill gives to the Minister in certain respects to transfer functions downwards from first-tier to second-tier authorities, and I should have been glad to see this discretion more widely available to my right hon. Friend. However, even after making allowance for the disparity of pressures to which I have referred, I cannot help feeling that my right hon. Friend has come to a wrong decision about planning. I do not intend to spend any time on this matter because it was covered amply by both my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Awdry) yesterday and by the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Mark Hughes) today. I add my voice to theirs in asking my right hon. Friend to look again at it.
If one consideration is decisive in this connection it must be the shortage of trained planning staff to carry out these complex functions. I believe that the solution which my right hon. Friend has chosen, for reasons that I understand, can only lead to the biggest muddle of all time.
For good or bad reasons, the Labour Party found itself unable to bring forward 555 any Bill for the reorganisation of local Government. For that reason, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are not well placed to criticise my right hon. Friend for not inflicting on this House a second Bill of 350 pages at a time when the Government are attempting to tackle so many basic problems of the economy and of the administration of the country.
I am one of the few satisfied clients of the Bill. I give my warm support to its Second Reading.
§ 9.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael McGuire (Ince)
As the second Lancashire Member on this side of the House to be called, I am conscious of the privilege, and I intend to make the second shortest speech that I have ever made in this House.
I want to draw attention to the problems of the Skelmersdale and Holland Urban District Council outlined in the White Paper. It is to be included in District (c) of the metropolitan area of Merseyside.
A letter was sent from the Department of the Environment to all Lancashire Members saving, in effect, that although the boundaries and the districts were set out in the White Paper, that was not the end of the matter, and that the Secretary of State wanted to have discussions with the authorities concerned in order to obtain their views. If that meant anything, it meant that if councils came forward with objections and points of view, at the end of the day some weight should have been given to what was a unanimous opinion from all the councils included in District (c) of the Merseyside metropolitan area that the only place in which it was sensible to put the Skelmersdale and Holland urban district was in the Lancashire County Council area.
Yesterday, when explaining why a transfer should be made, the Minister said:I must explain why this transfer was made. The reason was that, of all the suggestions made to us, this one alone was supported by six out of the nine local authorities concerned, which said that they wanted to be transferred from Essex to Suffolk. These six authorities represent the vast majority of the population of that area.This suggestion was made not by my Department but by the local authorities concerned. I hope the House will agree that if the 556 Government enter into consultations with local authorities and they find that uniquely—in no other part of the country did such a large group of local authorities ask to be transferred to another county—there is such a request, it is right for my Department to take note of such a suggestion.A little later he said:… and the passing to Northumberland of a new town and an area which it was responsible for developing. I am sure that many hon. Members on both sides of the House will welcome the decision about Northumberland, because it will make Northumberland a more viable county and give It the new town which it has itself largely developed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 236–7.]The Lancashire County Council is inextricably intertwined and has become deeply involved in the development of Skelmersdale New Town. It was in at the birth and it has a tremendous financial commitment in its development. It will be the only new town in both Lancashire and Cheshire which will go out of the county orbit.
I come back to what the Minister said. If, uniquely, he got six out of nine counties to agree on one suggestion, how much more important is it if all 10 or 11 authorities concerned in District (c) say that the right place for Skelmersdale New Town is to remain in the county? I hope that he will give the Skelmersdale and Holland District that same privilege. I hope that he will take note of what I have said and that the result will be that Skelmersdale New Town and the urban district of Skelmersdale and Holland will go back into the orbit of the Lancashire County Council.
§ 9.48 p.m.
§ Mr. James Hill (Southampton, Test)
Since Radcliffe-Maud started to lead local authorities into his garden, the Cities of Southampton and Portsmouth—two major seaports, if I need to remind anyone—have been trying to save their civic departments from the squirearchy of the county control. Plans and suggestions have been flashing backwards and forwards to the Minister: plans for splitting Hampshire from north to south; plans for splitting Hampshire from east to west.
Hon. Members may feel that representations which have already been made to my right hon. Friend and decided against should not be brought up at this late hour; but I believe that the education 557 proposals in the Bill are thoroughly unsatisfactory for Hampshire and, in particular, for Southampton, and I should be failing in my service to the people I represent if I did not make this point extremely clear to my right hon. Friend.
Hampshire will be the largest non-metropolitan county. In population— 1,466,000—it will be larger than two of the proposed metropolitan areas, South Yorkshire and Tyneside. Population in Hampshire is growing and will continue to do so. With the implementation of the South Hampshire plan the population will be in the region of 2 million by the year 2000. I was heartened yesterday to read my right hon. Friend's remarks when he said:Therefore, I have decided that although in the metropolitan districts, with much larger populations, responsibility for education can be at district level …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 245.]My case is that the population in Hampshire will surely make it one of those areas which can have education at district level. It will be twice the size of the maximum population considered to be appropriate for an education authority by the Royal Commission. Hampshire has a special case because it is the only county to include an offshore island. I have been informed that the Isle of Wight has been given special responsibilities. Do these include education? Consider the kind of education authority that Hampshire will have if it remains a non-metropolitan area. The committee will comprise members from as far apart as Lyndhurst in the South-West to Farnborough in the North-East.
The word "local" will obviously disappear. No longer will the chief education officer and his principal assistants be able to know or talk personally to all head teachers in the area. Members of the committee will no longer be able to place in their mind's eye the environmental and educational facilities. Is it possible to control 800 schools from a non-metropolitan area? If ever there was a personal service surely it is education. It is a personal service between the parent, the child, the teacher, the education officer and his staff and, most important, the education committee. The educational opportunities for the child will suffer. There are no powers for districts to demand delegation of education, social services or library services from the county, 558 and there is no provision for arbitration if a case can be proved by the large urban conurbations, even if it is obvious after a period that these personal services are suffering due to the working of this Measure.
Would my right hon. Friend, in Committee, look at the special case of Hampshire, the largest county, larger than two of the metropolitan areas, with all the in-built difficulties of being included with an offshore island; there are two enormous seaports and there will be a vast increase in population up to the year 2000? If some of these details can be borne in mind in Committee I would be only too willing to vote for the Government on the Bill because it is good in parts and is something for which we have waited for a long time.
§ 9.53 p.m.
§ Mr. John McCann (Rochdale)
After serving 25 years in local government I recognise the need for changing it. At this stage in our proceedings I unashamedly make a point which could better be made in Committee but as we are not to have the Committee stage on the Floor of the House I have to make it now. Having accepted the two-tier system, I recognise the fact that Manchester, as a metropolitan area, is the natural centre for the regional services in the area.
There I part company with the Government, because I want to discuss metropolitan districts in the Greater Manchester area. The Government White Paper said at paragraph 7:boundaries should be drawn so that areas take account of patterns of development and travel.Paragraph 59 was even more explicit when it said:The boundaries must be accepted as sensible by the people on the spot.This has not happened with District (c). Some civil servant has drawn a nice little circle and said "That will make a fine community interest." This will not happen because the Bill places Rochdale and Bury together in a metropolitan district. This is the only instance in the Greater Manchester area where two county boroughs are linked. Each of the county boroughs has a separate sub-region, and there is very little community of interest between them. If they were amalgamated, it would result in a district without a 559 natural centre, and the White Paper regards that as unacceptable.
The Government promised consultation, and in the course of that consultation, which was mainly by correspondence, my council laid down:The council consider that community of interest and accessibility of elected representatives and officers to the people they serve should be the paramount consideration in creating a unit of local government unless there are the most compelling reasons justifying a particular policy requirement.The case was put on community of interest. We also argued that, while there was a considerable affinity between Rochdale and its neighbouring districts and between Bury and its neighbouring districts, there was insufficient between the two to justify linking them as one local government unit.
Each area is self-sufficient for the services it provides at regional level. Neither depends on the other for any services. They look to Manchester for the local arms of the national services—Post Office, telephones, Inland Revenue, hospitals and so on. Even the travel patterns in the S.E.L.N.E.C. survey, which has just been published, show that all the journeys are north and south and not east and west, from Manchester to Bury and from Manchester to Rochdale.
Only the other night, the S.E.L.N.E.C. people told me that although the railway between Bury and Rochdale was closed, with no hope of being reopened, the lines between Bury and Manchester and between Rochdale and Manchester were to be upgraded. The travel-to-work patterns are different, and the interests and local associations are different—charitable, sporting and church. If the two were united, we should have two complete groups instead of one live local community.
This brings me to the population issue. I have never believed that bigger was better. If the areas were divided into two in the natural sense that the local authorities envisage, both would be just short of the required total laid down in the Bill, although in the Bill itself some areas are as low as 177,000. There is a natural solution to this. If Middleton were moved from Oldham—and I hope that the Minister will take note of this, for I understand that it would like to be— 560 there would be a closer affinity and a contiguous boundary with Rochdale. The problem would be completely solved and Oldham would still be left with 222,000 people. The Rochdale metropolitan borough would have 206,000 people, and the population projection for 1981 would take it to 229,000 people and by 1991 to 247,000 people, and one has to recognise that we are legislating for until the end of the century. This would be quite big enough to provide the services required. Geographically, it would give a natural centre with a community of interest, and more important still, the existing staff to administer the personal social services.
Rochdale has a proud history of progress in local government and a very famous name. People come from all over the world to see the birthplace of the Co-operative Movement. If the name of Rochdale disappears, a part of our history will go. With a population of 93,000 and one of the lowest penny rate products in the country, Rochdale appears in the first division of the capitation league, and it has a wide range of advisers and outstanding works to its credit in every respect. I honestly believe that all this could be lost if we became a divided borough.
The solution that I suggest would be regarded as sensible by the people on the spot. I know that the Minister is very sympathetic and I ask him to think again for the sake of local government in the area. By all means let us have changes, but when we change, let us take the people with us.
§ 9.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, Small Heath)
This has been a remarkable debate. At the end of two days, one finds that there has been only one speech giving unqualified support to the Government's proposals. Time and again, from both sides of the House—
§ It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Question again proposed, That the Bill be now read a Second time.561
§ Mr. Howell
Had other hon. Members, on both sides, who wanted to make a genuine contribution to the debate been able to do so, they would have swelled the gathering chorus of criticism of the Government and this Measure.
Local government is about people, about their needs, about giving them a say in what happens in their area, and about attending to their grievances. At the end of the day, the only question that matters is, will this Measure work? We have had ample evidence that it will not. The Bill is a complete sell-out of almost every large city and town. On almost every point of importance the Government have given way to the counties, instead of taking the views of the towns and cities. Indeed, the Secretary of State in his speech yesterday, particularly as reported in columns 234–235 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, went out of his way to talk about the historic position of county boundaries but said nothing about our great towns.
§ The Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Peter Walker)
Come, come. I pointed out that the previous Government's proposals would have abolished almost every town and most of the county boroughs.
§ Mr. Howell
That is the only time that I shall give way during my speech for the right hon. Gentleman to say "Come, come", because he spoke for 50 minutes yesterday and during the last 40 minutes refused to give way to any of my hon. Friends. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I have been through HANSARD very carefully, and I shall return to this in a moment, because it is of some importance.
The purpose of the Bill is to re-establish the boundaries of our towns and cities. This is being done by political imposition, and not as a result of a Royal Commission authorising the Government to act, or as a result of a public inquiry at which people put forward objections to an independent inspector who listened to the evidence and then adjudicated upon it.
This is a Bill to impose a political solution on our towns and cities. Did anyone ever believe that we should see the day when our large cities would be castrated, designated as district councils, left with all the great problems of our urban communities, and denied the means 562 and the land with which to solve their problems? That is what the Bill is all about. What a fate to mete out to such historic places as Cardiff, Norwich, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Southampton, Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, and many others that one could enumerate. All these towns, which are the real providers of wealth in our community, are to be sacrificed at the political whim of the Government. This is an absolutely scandalous state of affairs. It is no wonder that hon. Members on both sides of the House have condemned the Bill out of hand.
My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Cant) told us thatStoke-on-Trent, a county borough of 270,000 peopleis to be reducedto the status of a district council … because of some political gerrymandering by the Government."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 263.]My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Dr. David Owen) said:we shall fight for a Tamarside authority, and we shall pin the responsibility for this appalling legislation where it lies—with the Tory Party and the Tory Government"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 288.]The hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dame Joan Vickers) invoked the spirit of Sir Francis Drake and told us that the drum would rumble again. She said:I think that we shall be hearing it again in the near future."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 312.]The hon. Lady went on to say that she would vote against the Government tonight.
My hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr. Coleman) talked about an outrage which is being perpetrated on us. My hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Wallace) spoke of the great traditions of our ancient boroughs and said that it is adding insult to injury that they should be forced to go cap in hand to get their charters recognised again. From all parts of the House we know that this is the story.
It is not just the towns and the cities. One would expect this Government to have some joy from the counties, but they have had little joy from the counties during the last two days. The question of Malvernshire has been raised. The hon. 563 Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) complained about the massacre of Worcestershire and of Herefordshire. The hon. Gentleman admitted that he had supported the new name of "Malvernshire" but that public opinion had forced him to change his mind.
We are told that Somerset is up in arms. The hon. Member for Westonsuper-Mare (Mr. Wiggin) made an excellent speech in which he told us that the local authorities had made a submission. The hon. Gentleman then said this:In due course, my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Development was dispatched to Somerset to take soundings and to go through the motions of consultations. Although I requested to see him in his official capacity, my application to do so was rejected."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 268.]
§ Mr. Graham Page
Will the hon. Gentleman look at the record of the intervention which I made in my hon. Friend's speech in which I explained the position? I did not refuse to see him.
§ Mr. Howell
If the Minister says that he did not refuse to see his hon. Friend, of course I accept that; but his hon. Friend did not accept it yesterday when the Minister made that point from the Dispatch Box. Therefore, I am entitled to make it again. At any rate, it proves the point that I was trying to make that there is not much sympathy for these proposals even in Weston-super-Mare and in the county of Somerset.
Durham, too, as my hon. Friend the Member for Durham (Mr. Mark Hughes) said in an outstanding speech this afternoon, has every right to be aggrieved. The hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Nicholas Edwards) said the same sort of thing.
It is proposed to put a large chunk of Essex into Suffolk. The Secretary of State said that he was reinforced in this view because five local authorities had suggested to him that he should do it. He produced that piece of information like a conjurer producing a rabbit from a hat. No sooner had the right hon. and learned Gentleman done that than three of his hon. Friends rose and told us that the rabbit had got myxomatosis.
§ Mr. Braine
I know that the hon. Gentleman wants to be fair. Will he not allow that, after hearing the argument from Essex Members, the Minister said that he would look at the matter again? Is not that the whole purpose of debate?
§ Mr. Howell
I am glad to hear that the Minister has said that he will look at it again. However, that has become the standard defence. Over the whole of these two days, every time the Minister has been attacked he has said that the Government will look at the matter again. If the Minister looks again at everything that he has promised to look at again we shall be here until next Christmas. We know that we shall be here till next Christmas anyway, and not much difference will be made.
As regards the metropolitan areas and the large authorities, it is here most of all that the stench of party political gerrymandering is to be found at its greatest. Look at what has happened to our large cities and conurbations, particularly since the White Paper. Merseyside—Ellesmere Port removed. Wales—Cardiff massacred, Glamorgan butchered, and Swansea gerrymandered. That in a nutshell is the picture in Wales. As regards the East Midlands, my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) told us how the Derbyshire County Council, with its long and proud record of positive achievement, is feeling the pinch. The hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. James Hill), who spoke a few minutes ago, told us about Southampton and Portsmouth. If ever there were an area which ought to have been designated as a metropolitan area, it is that rapidly growing centre in South Hampshire. But we know why that step has not been taken, for party-political advantage.
In the West Midlands, there is a remarkable story to tell. I am glad to see the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre) in his place. When the White Paper came out, half the hon. Gentleman's constituency was to disappear into Solihull. We can all imagine the scene as he trotted round to see his right hon. Friend to ask, "What the devil are you doing to my constituency? I am a Whip. You will decapitate my constituency, but I canont say a word 565 in its defence." So, when the proposals came out, we were not surprised to see Hall Green restored, although large areas of importance for Birmingham overspill, in Chelmsley Wood and Kingshurst, have been taken out of Birmingham and put into Solihull—a clear case of political gerrymandering if ever there were one. I shall come back to that in a minute.
As for the question of boundaries, we have heard a lot from Ministers about consultations during the past two days, but they have not told us of the most important consultations of all, the consultations they had, week in and week out, month in and month out, with Conservative Central Office. The chairman of the party was there, on the inside. I should like to put my assessment of Conservative Party strategy on the record. The last Conservative Government set out to destroy the L.C.C. because they thought that it was the power base of the Labour movement in the country's capital city, and they thought that they had got away with it. This Conservative Government, wherever they find Labour strongholds in our towns and cities or counties, are setting out to destroy those as well.
I see no reason why the Labour Party should be prepared to accept a situation in which Conservative Governments can gerrymander boundaries and Labour Governments, when we have them, should be expected to acquiesce. Undoubtedly, we shall have to return to this matter again.
I come back for a moment to the West Midlands metropolitan area. I have listened to a good many constituency points, so perhaps I might make one myself. Did anyone ever think that we should see a situation in one metropolitan area joining Coventry, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and everything in between in one local authority? It is ludicrous. There is no identity of interest between the people of Coventry and the people of Wolverhampton, or between Binningham-Coventry, Birmingham-Wolverhampton, and so on. It is outrageous.
As regards the transfer of land—I have already mentioned Chelmsley Wood—one of the things we must know on the housing side is whether, when Binning-ham hands over those tens of thousands of council houses, the ownership of the houses will be retained by Birmingham 566 or will go to Solihull. It is a vital consideration here that Birmingham, not having been given the land on which to build, will be in a most serious position if it is denied the re-letting of those houses as well. I am not surprised to see that the Conservative leaders in Birmingham, who show a little more statesmanship in this matter than the Minister does—[Interruption.]—it is a change, yes, but let us give credit where it is due, even at this late hour—are drawing attention to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has given them the authority to go ahead with building the national exhibition centre for the whole country and, immediately thereafter, proposes that, after Birmingham has financed it, the rateable value should be handed over to Solihull. What a proposition to put before the electorate!
Again on the question of land, I come back to the hon. Member for Hall Green, who has been hauled up, together with his colleagues, before the leaders of the Birmingham Conservative Party and asked to explain—I quote here the alderman who leads the Tories in Birmingham—what has happened between the publication of the White Paper and publication of the Bill. We are now answering that question for him.
The hon. Gentleman was obviously in some difficulties. The Birmingham Evening Mail reported him as saying:We were able to give a firm reassurance that the problem of Birmingham's slum clearance has been borne well in mind and land would be made available within easy travelling distance of the city …'The report continued: "Mr. Eyre said that the report recently drawn up by the West Midlands Planning Conference, which suggested land to the north of Minworth and at Earlswood for Birmingham's housing requirements, was now being studied by the Department of the Environment.'We were able to state, in answer to the city leaders' point about the availability of land, that under that survey land would be made available. We would see that that arrangement was kept'.That is a denial of every principle of planning and the integrity of every public inquiry that has ever been held. On whose authority was the hon. Gentleman able to make that claim? He is a member of the Government; he is speaking for the Government when he says that. Is he speaking for the Secretary of State? What about the impartial inquiries where 567 there are compulsory purchase orders? When I was Minister of State I was always told that they were so sacrosanct that one dared not even breathe about them before the decision had been announced. There is no one holding land in Minworth, Tamworth and Earlswood, or other places surrounding Birmingham, who will ever believe after that statement that if a C.P.O. is confirmed by the Minister for Birmingham it was anything but a put-up job.
It is a most serious situation, and we are entitled to an answer tonight. I am prepared to give way if the Secretary of State wishes to tell us that the hon. Gentleman had no authority for the speech he made. If the right hon. Gentleman does not intervene, we can only assume that the hon. Gentleman had every authority to say it. We shall draw the conclusions that we should from his failure to intervene.
I turn to other serious matters which should be dealt with in this debate. Incidentally, it would have been better if we had had at least one English Minister speaking at some time on the second day of the debate. I come to the question of provinces and regions, which has not been much mentioned. At the same time as the Government are embarking upon a new local government situation in which the metropolitan areas cannot solve their problems and in which there is great and growing disillusionment as to what can happen in our counties and districts, the Minister tells us in his Circular 85 that there is to be a considerable build-up of the regional offices of Ministries. That is of great significance. I believe that we shall need to improve the regional offices of Ministries if the metropolitan areas cannot solve their problems.
The Government are relying upon co-operation from the counties to solve the housing and land question. But for 20 years the counties surrounding our great conurbations—London, Birmingham, Merseyside and Manchester—have failed to help solve the problems of land shortage for the people living in those conurbations. There can be no confidence that under the proposed arrangements anything will change. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman and his friends are going out of their way to build up the regional offices of Ministries. The whole of the 568 Secretary of State's remarks on the matter, reported in column 237 of yesterday's OFFICIAL REPORT, were an argument in favour of regional government, or provincial government if one prefers the Redcliffe-Maud proposals.
The Minister has to intervene more and more on the financing of local government, which has hardly been mentioned. It is almost inconceivable that we should have proposals to reform local government without first knowing what proposals to reform finance are to be put before us.
I believe that we shall see regional government without any democracy. Regional decisions will be taken by Ministers, but there will be no locally elected authorities to carry out regional strategy. If that is to be the case, then the argument for Select Committees of this House to look into regionalism is more than made out. I trust that this aspect will be borne in mind.
On the question of elected councillors, I wish to make it clear on behalf of the Labour Party that we think that the proposals for allowances are not good enough in any respect and that it will be extremely difficult to get people to serve on these authorities.
I have with me a letter from the town clerk of Plymouth about this, but I will not weary the House by reading it. I agree that it is almost an outrage to have Plymouth governed from a centre 43 miles distant. How are we to find people who can afford the time to go to an area like that? People serve on local authorities not for the power it gives them but because of the sense of satisfaction and involvement they gain. They want to serve, and nothing is more likely to undermine that desire than the actions of the Government.
It is no good putting local authority councillors and especially district councillors in the position of not being able to make satisfactory replies when they are approached by their local citizens. The citizen expects his councillor to do something on his behalf. Nothing can bring the councillor more into contempt than the sort of answers he will be obliged to give to a number of vital questions.
He will have to say, for example "I agree that you should have a house, but 569 the metropolitan council does not have any land and I cannot do anything to help you." On another question he may be obliged to reply, "I agree that you need a better bus service, but that is not my responsibility. That responsibility belongs to another council." Even worse, he might have to say, "The council is putting your rent up, but there is nothing I can do about it. We are merely the precepting agency." Or he may say, "I appreciate that you have had your rate demand. We must levy rates which the county council demands."
During this debate quotations have been made from certain now famous words from the Government White Paper in which they demand more freedom and urge that more decisions should be taken where they matter, at the local level. What a lot of hollow nonsense that now is. For example, on probably the most important local function, housing, every major decision, including rents and rates, is being taken out of the hands of the local people.
I was interested to hear the right hon. Gentleman say yesterday on the subject of councillors' allowances—I agreed with what he was saying about the need for allowances and how they would not compensate for the loss of wages:it has involved a certain humiliating form-filling procedure which has been unfortunate.We now know how to describe the new means test for millions of council tenants. We can describe it as ahumiliating form-filling procedure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1971; Vol. 826, c. 231.]On the one hand the Government inflict a means test of this kind on council tenants, and on the other they use purple language of this kind. We shall not forget it for a long time.
There are many other subjects of tremendous importance which we have not had time to discuss. One is the time-scale. I am not surprised that the N.A.L.G.O. legal adviser has told us that the Bill is a "hastey botched-up job", complaining on the basis of the union's experience when London government was reorganised. I agree that it is ludicrous to have elections in November 1973 for authorities which will take over in the spring of the next year. He described the time-scale as "totally inadequate".
570 Complaints have been made about the situation affecting the police. The police have been reorganised on a number of occasions, and I wish to inform hon. Gentlemen opposite on behalf of my hon. Friends that we believe that the Police Federation has a very fine point indeed when it asks for police consultation.
Then there are complaints about the library system. My hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Delargy) pointed out that libraries and theatres do go together because in his authority they happen to have been built together. As he asked, who will control one and who will control the other? How is this problem to be resolved? The metropolitan district councils in the counties will not be given the opportunity to play a proper rôle in education—perhaps the most important of all our services.
There is the question of water resources. It is hardly comprehensible to reform local government until we are told what the Government intend to do about water resources, which are needed for every one of our services. On 25th March this year the Secretary of State said that he would produce his proposals as soon as possible. On 28th April he said that the conclusions of the Central Advisory Water Committee and the Government's consideration would be announced shortly. On 23rd June Lord Mowbray and Stourton, in another place, said that he expected a statement to be made before the Summer Recess. On 3rd August Lord Sandford, in another place, said that we could not have a statement before the recess. Therefore, I was not surprised to see in a Sunday newspaper this weekend that we cannot have any statement for the moment because the right hon. Gentleman's conclusions have been defeated in Cabinet. Therefore, nobody knows what the future of the great water resources industry will be.
There is the question of what has become known as the free penny. This is the provision by which local authorities can spend up to a penny rate with a comparative degree of freedom and without the shackles of Whitehall upon them. In the debate on the White Paper, the Government undertook to look at this mean measure. If we translate the free penny into terms of new pence, we find that the Government propose in the Bill 571 to increase the freedom of local authorities from 0.4p–0.5p. If we want to measure the freedom which the Government are giving local authorities, we must measure it in these terms—one-tenth of a new penny. Speaking for the Labour Party, I make it clear that local authorities' freedom to spend should extend to at least a 2½p rate, which would be of great help.
The planning confusion which will result from the Bill has been referred to time and again. Wherever one looks—whether it be at boundaries, functions or performance—the Bill is a shambles. Our worst fears will, I think, be realised. We have heard a lot today about the Secretary of State for Wales. It will be an absolute scandal if neither the right hon. and learned Gentleman nor the Secretary of State for the Environment serve on the Committee considering the Bill. It is a scandal that the Government have decided not to take the Bill's Committee stage on the Floor of the House.
The Bill is a complete abortion. If our worst fears are realised, if we believe that the new system is not working in many places, if there is public disillusionment about it, as I believe there will be, and if people do not come forward to stand for office because it is not worthwhile or because the distances involved are too great to be accepted on a voluntary basis by men and women with livelihoods to earn and homes to run, then any Government will have to return to the matter. A Labour Government would certainly have to do so. It will not be good enough to say, "Our system of local government has been reorganised; leave the matter there." The time has come to put an end to that sort of philosophy and thinking.
This Bill will create more problems than it will solve. It is a thoroughly bad Bill, and we shall vote against it.
§ 10.29 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mr. David Gibson-Watt)
I have listened to most of the speeches in this two-day debate. I can share with all hon. Gentlement the wish that there had been the possibility of having two full days' debate as had been the original intention. I much regret that I was not present to hear the speech of the hon. Member for 572 Gower (Mr. Ifor Davies). Otherwise I think I can say that I have heard every speech made.
Having served on a Welsh local authority for about 20 years, I can honestly say that I very much understand why Members in all parts of the House have spoken about their own local authorities with such feeling and knowledge. In the same way, I understand why it has been so difficult to reach solutions which are acceptable to everyone. A point on which we can all agree, having listened to the two days' debate, is that the principle and idea of unitary authorities has not been canvassed by anybody.
Let me start my speech by dealing with some of the points raised by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen during the debate. The hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. McBride) made a specific and important request to my right hon. Friend which I promised him I would answer in the wind up. He asked about the city status of the great City of Swansea. The Bill permits all the new district councils to petition Her Majesty the Queen for a charter granting borough status. The new authorities will also be able to petition Her Majesty, but this does not appear specifically in the Bill because these matters are dealt with solely by the Royal Prerogative—the renewal of special privileges, of city status, the titles of royal borough and lord mayor. Clearly, we cannot anticipate what conclusions Her Majesty may reach on these requests, but after the reorganisation of London government the Queen renewed for the new authorities the title City—for Westminster—and Royal Borough—for Kensington and Kingston.
My hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Nicholas Edwards), whose feelings about local government in Pembrokeshire are indeed well known to me, made a number of points, including one about the Welsh Church Acts. As far as the Welsh Church Acts are concerned, the present funds held in trust by the present county councils will vest in the new county councils. Where they are held for the benefit of particular areas they will continue to be held for the benefit of those areas. These funds are held mainly for social and welfare purposes. The alternative of dividing them between two districts would make them small funds and less economic of management.
573 My hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer), like other hon. Members, spoke about functions and planning. My hon. Friend the Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) spoke about small villages near Yarmouth going to Norfolk. My right hon. Friend will look at this matter. My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Woodnutt) made some particular points. I wish to tell him that my right hon. Friend is proceeding with discussions about those problems. Equally, my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North (Mr. Miscampbell) referred to several particular problems—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where are those Members?"]—I would say with respect to hon. Gentlemen opposite that there are more Members on our side at present than there are on theirs.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir R. Turton), whom I see in his place, made some serious comments about the position of Whitby, and the care of the old being a district council function. This is a matter which my right hon. Friend has noted.
My hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Mr. Simeons), also in his place, spoke about airports. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) referred to the England-Wales boundary. I can only say that the decision follows the substance of Part VI of the Local Government Act, 1933, which enables agreed changes to be made by Order.
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
With great respect to my hon. Friend, if I were to give him a long answer about airports, I should be unable to cover many of the other points which have been raised. I assure him that my right hon. Friend will be in touch with him about the important question of airports.
The hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Mark Hughes) spoke of planning functions and planning staffs. I think the House enjoyed his speech, and his remark that he was born within a hundred yards of the only Welsh Prime Minister we have ever had made some of us think that the mantle of that great man had touched his shoulders today. I hope I have not embarrassed the hon. Gentleman, but he mentioned this in his speech.
§ Mr. Mark Hughes
I would ask the Minister whether he feels like the person he has mentioned. Whereas I would speak in terms of home rule for North England and some would speak in terms of home rule for Wales, would he speak in terms of home rule for Hell?
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
That is an old Welsh chestnut.
The right hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. George Thomas) made one statement which I should like to correct. When speaking of the rateable values of the new Welsh counties he said that the rateable values of Mid-Glamorgan would be very little above the rateable value of Powys. He is wrong on this. I have the figures with me, and Mid-Glamorgan will be fifth out of eight. The top one will be South Glamorgan, the bottom one will be Powys and the others will be in between. I hope it will be accepted by hon. Gentlemen opposite that the majority of local authorities in Wales get the benefit of rate support grant and that population is a major element in the calculation of rate support grant. As I shall show later, the population of Mid-Glamorgan—
§ Mr. Alec Jones
Will the hon. Gentleman give a categorical assurance that there will be no reduction in the rate support grant?
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
The hon. Gentleman has asked me a question on local government finance which I shall be happy to answer on another occasion. We are discussing local government reform. I am sorry the hon. Gentleman was not able to catch Mr. Speaker's eye, as I know he has strong feelings on this.
We have been debating local government reform for many years. Various governments have produced White Papers, reports, consultative documents; and now it lies with this Government to introduce the Bill.
We have been at it longer than England, and in some ways this is an advantage. We have debated it in the Welsh Grand Committee on three occasions. There has been plenty of opportunity to discuss it with the local authorities; Since the consultative document was published my right hon. and learned Friend and I have met many of these local 575 authorities. The ones I had the privilege to meet were Pembrokeshire, Monmouthshire, Merthyr Tydfil and Breconshire.
The proposals for Wales differ to some extent—not a very large extent—from those for England. In Wales we have no metropolitan areas, nor has there been any demand for them. In Wales as a result of consultation we have been able to bring forward detailed proposals for the districts which we have not done for England. In Wales the districts are defined in the Bill and have rather more responsibilities than in England. But the differences are not fundamental.
This is a long Bill, 100 pages longer than the London Government Act, 1963. The existing body of local government law applying to England and Wales has to be rewritten or amended.
After the Bill has been passed in both Houses of Parliament and has the Royal Assent, there will still be an immense amount of consequential and transitional tidying up both by orders—this is covered by Clause 237—and by actual administrative steps in the localities.
Staff of existing authorities will have to be transferred to the new ones. Property of all kinds and funds will have to be transferred, too. Some joint boards and other joint authorities will have to be reconstituted. Fresh arrangements will have to be made for choosing local authority representatives on the large number of outside bodies.
A task to which the highest priorty must be given is arranging the first elections to the new local authorities. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has already set in train the arrangements for these. Draft proposals will be sent to the existing local authorities for comment within the next few weeks.
One of the tasks of the Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales will be to review the electoral arrangements of counties and districts as soon as the special community review, already referred to, is completed. The criteria which must be applied in this review are laid down in the Bill in Schedule 11.
The basis is that as far as practicable within any one council each councillor 576 should represent the same number of electors. There will not be special weighting to towns or to rural areas.
As my right hon. Friend said yesterday, a large part of the work of setting up the new electoral areas for the new councils will fall on local authority officers. They will also be deeply involved with all the other necessary changes.
The Bill, by Clause 240, requires the Secretary of State to appoint a Staff Commission within one month of its being passed. My right hon. and learned Friend plans to set up a staff committee next spring, which will become the Staff Commission when the Bill is law, to start preparatory work a year before the new county and district councils are elected and are in a position to appoint their chief officers.
Although we shall have a separate Welsh Staff Commission, it will, of course, keep in close touch with the English Staff Commission over matters of common concern.
It has taken much thought and work to reach conclusions for presentation in a Bill to this House. No solution will satisfy everyone; Solomon could not produce one. The right hon. Member for Cardiff, West knows the difficulties of this whole question. He rightly said that on local government he had succeeded in uniting the whole of Wales against him. But what we have striven to do is to produce solutions which will work and will take account of the strong feeling of community in Wales which the right hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Goronwy Roberts) referred to yesterday.
In 1967, the right hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. Cledwyn Hughes) then Secretary of State, said in his White Paper that local government reform in Wales was urgent. It is even more urgent today.
Good local government officers will not be attracted to a profession, where the prospects are not certain, and it is high time that Parliament laid the pattern of the future in local government for members and officers alike. Parliament owes it to these men and women, who put into action so many of the laws which we pass here, and who care for the people on the spot and in their homes.
577 Hon. Gentlemen have spoken of the way in which the Bill divides Glamorgan into three counties. Let us start with the existing pattern. It is the view of the Government that the county boroughs should not be perpetuated in East or West Glamorgan. This was the view of the last Government, too. The right hon. Gentleman agreed to this in the case of Wales in his 1970 White Paper.
Three of these county boroughs—Cardiff, Swansea and Merthyr—are in Glamorgan. The total present population of these three county boroughs is 511,000. The present county of Glamorgan as a population of 748,000. Added together the population is just over 11 million, almost half of the population of Wales.
The right hon. Gentleman wanted to make two unitary authorities in Glamorgan, of 372,000 and 919,000. We want to make three counties, and they will have populations of 393,000, 371,000 and 533,000. These are surely sizeable county units and Mid-Glamorgan will be the largest county in Wales in terms of population.
In coming to a conclusion over three counties in Glamorgan, we have had to consider the views of Merthyr Tydfil and of Cardiff. When Merthyr's representatives came to see me, they argued that they wanted a valleys authority, that the community of interest in the valleys was something special and different from that of the coastal plain. This is an argument that hon. Gentlemen have often used when arguing for the industrial interests of their own constituencies. I know full well that this feeling in the valleys is a living thing. The representatives of Merthyr also said that they had a different outlook from that of Cardiff.
If the valleys have their problems, so Cardiff has major problems of development, too. In his 1970 White Paper, the right hon. Gentleman, although a Car-cliff Member himself, gave to Cardiff the status of a parish council.
§ Mr. George Thomas
Is the Minister of State aware that this was before the General Election and that, as a result, the Tories had the lowest vote ever in my constituency?
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
I seem to remember that the right hon. Gentleman's majority 578 is not quite what it used to be. But I could never understand why the right hon. Gentleman could not do better for Cardiff. When we debated his proposals in the Welsh Grand Committee, except for his Under-Secretary not one of his hon. Friends supported his proposals. It is interesting to read what the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) said on that occasion.
§ Mr. Anthony Crosland (Grimsby)
With respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this is quite intolerable. Without any disrespect to Welsh hon. Members on both sides of the House, there are more than 10 times as many English as Welsh hon. Members. Will the hon. Gentleman now say something about the English part of the Bill?
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
The right hon. Gentleman cannot take it and he has never been able to take it. If he had listened to the first part of my speech, which I gave entirely to answering some of the questions which were put by English Members on both sides of the House, he would not have bothered to get off his backside.
§ Mr. Hardy
The hon. Gentleman a few moments ago said that the previous Government allowed Cardiff only parish council status. The present Government, in the metropolitan areas of Britain, allow most urban districts and local authorities in those areas no independent status at all. That point was made earlier today. We are still waiting for an answer to that and to a number of other very important questions.
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
My right hon. Friend is more than capable of dealing with the problems raised by the hon. Gentleman. Having dealt with most of the English problems, I am speaking now on a specific Welsh problem—the particular problem of the capital city of Wales. If there is time, I should like to come to some quotations from the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale.
§ Mr. Michael Fidler (Bury and Radcliffe)
I hesitate to transgress on the time of my hon. Friend. Yesterday I raised the question of the Greater Manchester District (c) and tonight my colleague on the other side of the House, 579 the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. McCann), raised the same question. I should be grateful for a sympathetic reply.
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
I accept that entirely. I had it in my notes to favour the hon. Gentleman with a reply on the particular problems of Ramsbottom which he raised. My right hon. Friend shall certainly be looking at these problems.
What I wish to say to the House—
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
I will certainly accede—[Interruption.]—I should be grateful if the House would listen to what I have to say in conclusion. I wanted to refer to what the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale had to say on this matter. [An HON. MEMBER: "Do not listen to him."]—It is all very well saying, "Do not listen to him", but it is clear that a large number of hon. Gentlemen opposite do listen to him. Perhaps hon. Members will now listen to what I have to say about the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale.
In the Welsh Grand Committee, on 13th May, 1970, he said thatsticking to the original proposals with some variations would be much the preferable course.In col. 47, when asked what our policy was, I said:we support the 1967 White Paper with certain exceptions."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Welsh Grand Committee, 13th May, 1970, c. 24–47.]It is not often that the views of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and myself coincide.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
If the hon. Gentleman is so confident that our views are in agreement and that it might be wise to reach agreement upon them in the House as a whole, why are the Government not prepared to submit the proposals for Wales in a separate Bill to a Welsh Grand Committee, when he would be able to put his views and I would be able to put mine? Then we could see how Wales would determine this matter.
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
If everyone else felt like the hon. Gentleman there would be no problem. I would remind him that this point was raised in the Welsh Grand Committee on 13th July when he and his hon. Friends in effect presented a 580 challenge to the Government. They said "We insist that any Welsh Measure to reform local government be considered by a Committee founded on the Welsh Grand Committee"—that is the Welsh Members plus not more than five others. They went on to suggest, in the words of the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Elystan Morgan), that it would be utterly wrong to overload the Committee with other Members who had no knowledge of the problems at issue.
The right hon. Member for Caernarvon, if I understood him correctly last night, was withdrawing from that position a little and suggesting a Committee with a substantial number of added Members. This suggestion has to be considered against the background of what has gone before. The hon. Member for Gower, who wound up on 13th July, called on his hon. Friends to express their opposition to our proposals by dividing the Committee, and this they did. The Government must accept challenges of this kind. If hon. Members opposite threaten to block urgently-needed legislation they must expect a government to do what is necessary and proper to see that business goes through. Hon. Members representing Welsh constituencies will be treated in exactly the same way as English Members.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)
Order. The hon. Gentleman must not persist if the Minister does not give way.
§ Mr. Gibson-Watt
The hon. Gentleman knows that I am normally very generous but it is not possible for me to give way now because of the shortage of time.
What a difference there was between the speeches of the right hon. Member for Caernarvon and the right hon. Member for Cardiff, West. The right hon. Member for Caernarvon made a thoughtful and philosophic speech and the House could with advantage hear more of him. The right hon. Member for Cardiff, West has spoken often in the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Too often."] That, unfortunately, is not a matter for the House 581 but for the Leader of the Opposition. The tone of his speeches never changes and the one he gave us today is best forgotten.
This debate will not be forgotten. This is a difficult and complicated matter of local government reform which the Government have undertaken, and we believe that the proposals meet in the best possible way the needs of good local government
§ in Wales and England and, as my hon. and right hon. Friends explained, we believe that it is right to ask the House to support the Bill.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 251, Noes 231.585
|Division No. 10]||AYES||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Le Marchant, Spencer|
|Alison, Micheal (Barkston Ash)||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Emery, Peter||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Eyre, Reginald||Longden, Gilbert|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Farr, John||Loveridge, John|
|Astor, John||Fell, Anthony||McCrindle, R. A.|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||McLaren Martin|
|Awdry, Daniel||Fidler, Micheal||Maclean, Sir Fitrzoy|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||MacMillan Maurice (Farnham)|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||McNair-Wilson, Micheal|
|Balniel, Lord||Fookes, Miss Janet||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)|
|Batsford, Brian||Fortescue, Tim||Madden, Martin|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Fowler, Norman||Maginnis, John E.|
|Bell, Ronald||Fox, Marcus||Marten, Neil|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||Mather, Carol|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Fry, Peter||Maude, Angus|
|Benyon, W.||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Gardner, Edward||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Biffen, John||Gibson-Watt, David||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Blaker, Peter||Gower, Raymond||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, w)|
|Boscawen, Robert||Gray, Hamish||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Green, Alan||Moate, Roger|
|Bowden, Andrew||Grieve, Percy||Molyneaux, James|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Money, Ernie|
|Braine, Bernard||Grylls, Michael||Monks, Mrs. Connie|
|Brewis, John||Gummer, Selwyn||Monro, Hector|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||More, Jasper|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Morrison, Charles|
|Bryan, Paul||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Mudd, David|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Haselhurst, Alan||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Burden, F. A.||Hastings, Stephen||Neave, Airey|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Havers, Micheal||Nicholls, Sir Harmer|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn)||Hawkins, Paul||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hayhoe, Barney||Normanton, Tom|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Heseltine, Michael||Nott, John|
|Channon, Paul||Hicks, Robert||Onslow, Cranley|
|Chapman, Sydney||Higgins, Terence L.||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Osborn, John|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hill James (Southampton, Test)|
|Churchill, W. S.||Holland, Philip||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Holt, Miss Mary||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Clegg, Walter||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Cockeram, Eric||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Parkinson, Cecil|
|Cooke, Robert||Howell, David (Guildford)||Percival, Ian|
|Coombs, Derek||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hunt, John||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Cordle, John||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Corfield, Rt. Hn. Fredrick||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.|
|Cormack, Patrick||James, David||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Costain, A. P.||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Crichley, Jullian||Jessel, Toby||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Crouch, David||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Crowder, F. P.||Jopling, Michael||Redmond, Robert|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. James||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Rees, Peter (Dover)|
|Dean, Paul||Kershaw, Anthony||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Kilfedder, James||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kimball, Marcus||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Kinsey, J. R.||Roberts, Micheal (Cardiff, N.)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kirk, Peter||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Dykes, Hugh||Knox, David||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Eden, Sir John||Lane, David||Rost, Peter|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Legge-Broke, Sir Harry||Royle, Anthony|
|Russell, Sir Ronald||Tapsell, Peter||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)||Wall, Patrick|
|Scott, Nicholas||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Walters, Dennis|
|Sharples, Richard||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N. W.)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Shelton, William (Clapham)||Tebbit, Norman||Warren, Kenneth|
|Simeons, Charles||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Sinclair, Sir George||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)||Tilney, John||Wilkinson, John|
|Soref, Harold||Trafford, Dr. Anthony||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Spence, John||Trew, Peter||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Sproat, Iain||Tugendhat, Christopher||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Stainton, Keith||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Stanbrook, Ivor||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)||Waddington, David||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)||Welder, David (Clitheroe)||Mr. Victor Goodhew and|
|Stokes, John||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)||Mr. Oscar Murton.|
|Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Albu, Austen||Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood)||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Loughlin, Charles|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)|
|Ashley, Jack||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Foley, Maurice||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Foot, Michael||McBride, Neil|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Forrester, John||McCann, John|
|Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)||Freeson, Reginald||McElhone, Frank|
|Baxter, William||Galpern, Sir Myer||McGuire, Michael|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Garrett, W. E.||Mackenzie, Gregor|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Gilbert, Dr. John||Mackintosh, John P.|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)||Maclennan, Robert|
|Bishop, E. S.||Golding, John||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Gourley, Harry||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)|
|Booth, Albert||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Marks, Kenneth|
|Bradley, Tom||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Marsden, F.|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Marshall, Dr. Edmund|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Hamling, William||Meacher, Michael|
|Cant, R. B.||Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Hardy, Peter||Mendelson, John|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Harper, Joseph||Mikardo, Ian|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Millan, Bruce|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Cohen, Stanley||Heffer, Eric S.||Milne, Edward|
|Concannon, J. D.||Hooson, Emlyn||Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Horam, John||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Huckfield, Leslie||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Murray, Ronald King|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S. W.)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Oakes, Gordon|
|Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Ogden, Eric|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Hunter, Adam||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Davidson, Arthur||Janner, Greville||O'Malley, Brian|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Orbach, Maurice|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Orme, Stanley|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr Tydvil)||John, Brynmor||Palmer, Arthur|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Pardoe, John|
|Deakins, Eric||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Dempsey, James||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Doig, Peter||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Pendry, Tom|
|Dormand, J. D.||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Pentland, Norman|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Judd, Frank||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.|
|Driberg, Tom||Kaufman, Gerald||Prescott, John|
|Dunnett, Jack||Kerr, Russell||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Eadie, Alex||Lambie, David||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lamond, James||Probert, Arthur|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Latham, Arthur||Rankin, John|
|Ellis, Tom||Leadbitter, Ted||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|English, Michael||Lestor, Miss Joan||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Evans, Fred||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold||Richard, Ivor|
|Ewing, Henry||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Faulds, Andrew||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||Lipton, Marcus||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Br'c'n & R'dnor)||Steel, David||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Roper, John||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)|
|Rose, Paul B.||Stoddart, David (Swindon)||Watkins, David|
|Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John||Weitzman, David|
|Sandelson, Neville||Strang, Gavin||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Swain, Thomas||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Short, Mrs. Renée (Whampton, N. E.)||Taverne, Dick||Whitlock, William|
|Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Sillars, James||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy||Willams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Silverman, Julius||Tinn, James||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Skinner, Dennis||Tomney, Frank|
|Small, William||Torney, Tom||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)||Tuck, Raphael||Mr. Donald Coleman and|
|Spearing, Nigel||Urwin, T. W.||Mr. James A. Dunn.|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Varley, Eric G.|
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question put, That the Bill be committed to a Committee of586
§ the whole House.—[Mr. Walter Harrison.]
§ The House divided: Ayes 229, Noes 252.589
|Division No. 11.]||AYES||[11.10 p.m.|
|Albu, Austen||English, Michael||Judd, Frank|
|Allaun, Frank, (Salford, E.)||Evans, Fred||Kaufman, Gerald|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Ewing, Harry||Kerr, Russell|
|Ashley, Jack||Faulds, Andrew||Lambie, David|
|Atkinson, Norman||Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||Lamond, James|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood)||Latham, Arthur|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton)||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Lestor, Miss Joan|
|Baxter, William||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Foley, Maurice||Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Foot, Michael||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Forrester, John||Lipton, Marcus|
|Bishop, E. S.||Freeson, Reginald||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Galpern, Sir Myer||Loughlin, Charles|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Garrett, W. E.||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)|
|Booth, Albert||Gilbert, Dr. John||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Bradley, Tom||Golding, John||McBride, Neil|
|Broughton, Sir Alfred||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||McCann, John|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Gourlay, Harry||McElhone, Frank|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||McGuire, Michael|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Mackenzie, Gregor|
|Cant, R. B.||Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Mackintosh, John P.|
|Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Maclennan, Robert|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)|
|Cohen, Stanley||Hamling, William||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Concannon, J. D.||Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)||Marks, Kenneth|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hardy, Peter||Marsden, F.|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Harper, Joseph||Marshall, Dr. Edmund|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Heffer, Eric S.||Meacher, Michael|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S. W.)||Hooson, Emlyn||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven)||Horam, John||Mendelson, John|
|Davidson, Arthur||Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Huckfield, Leslie||Millan, Bruce|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hughen, Mark (Durham)||Milne, Edward|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Hunter, Adam||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Deakins, Eric||Janner, Greville||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Murray, Ronald King|
|Dempsey, James||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Oakes, Gordon|
|Doig, Peter||John, Brynmor||Ogden, Eric|
|Dormand, J. D.||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||O'Malley, Brian|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Orbach, Maurice|
|Driberg, Tom||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Orme, Stanley|
|Dunnett, Jack||Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Eadie, Alex||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Edwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Pardoe, John|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Parker, John (Dagenham)|
|Ellis, Tom||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Pavitt, Laurie||Sandelson, Neville||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Tinn, James|
|Pendry, Tom||Short, Mrs. Renée (Whampton, N. E.)||Tomney, Frank|
|Pentland, Norman||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)||Torney, Tom|
|Perry, Ernest G.||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)||Tuck, Raphael|
|Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.||Sillars, James||Urwin, T. W.|
|Prescott, John||Silverman, Julius||Varley, Eric G.|
|Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Skinner, Dennis||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)|
|Price, William (Rugby)||Small, William||Watkins, David|
|Probert, Arthur||Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.)||Weitzman, David|
|Rankin, John||Spearing, Nigel||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)||Spriggs, Leslie||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Rhodes, Geoffrey||Steel, David||Whitlock, William|
|Richard, Ivor||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Stoddart, David (Swindon)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Robertson, John (Paisley)||Strang, Gavin||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Br'c'n & R'dnor)||Swain, Thomas|
|Roper, John||Taverne, Dick||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Rose, Paul B.||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)||Mr. Donald Coleman and|
|Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)||Mr. James A. Dunn.|
|Adley, Robert||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Jessel, Toby|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Drayson, G. B.||Jopling, Michael|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Astor, John||Dykes, Hugh||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Eden, Sir John||Kershaw Anthony|
|Awdry, Daniel||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Kilfedder, James|
|Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone)||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Kimball, Marcus|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||King, Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Balniel, Lord||Emery, Peter||Kinsey, J. R.|
|Batsford, Brian||Eyre, Reginald||Kirk, Peter|
|Beamish, Cot. Sir Tufton||Farr, John||Knight, Mrs. Jill|
|Bell, Ronald||Fell, Anthony||Knox, David|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Lane, David|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Fidler, Michael||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Benyon, W.||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Le Marchant, Spencer|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Fookes, Miss Janet||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Biffen, John||Fortescue, Tim||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Fowler, Norman||Longden, Gilbert|
|Blaker, Peter||Fox, Marcus||Loveridge, John|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)||McCrindle, R. A.|
|Boscawen, Robert||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)||McLaren, Martin|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Fry, Peter||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy|
|Bowden, Andrew||Galbraith, Hn. T. G.||Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Gardner, Edward||McNair-Wilson, Michael|
|Braine, Bernard||Gibson-Watt, David||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)|
|Brewis, John||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Maddan, Martin|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Gower, Raymond||Maginnis, John E.|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Marten, Neil|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Gray, Hamish||Mather, Carol|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Green, Alan||Maude, Angus|
|Bryan, Paul||Grieve, Percy||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Burden, F. A.||Grylls, Michael||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Gummer, Selwyn||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn)||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Channon, Paul||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Moate, Roger|
|Chapman, Sydney||Haselhurst, Alan||Molyneaux, James|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Hastings, Stephen||Money, Ernle|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Havers, Michael||Monks, Mrs. Connie|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hawkins, Paul||Monro, Hector|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Hayhoe, Barney||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Clegg, Walter||Heseltine, Michael||More, Jasper|
|Cockeram, Eric||Hicks, Robert||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)|
|Cooke, Robert||Higgins, Terence L.||Morrison, Charles|
|Coombs, Derek||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Mudd, David|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hill, James (Southampton, Teat)||Nabarro, Sir Gerald|
|Cordle, John||Holland, Philip||Neave, Airey|
|Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Holt, Miss Mary||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Cormack, Patrick||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Costain, A. P.||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Normanton, Tom|
|Critchley, Julian||Howell, David (Guildford)||Nott, John|
|Crouch, David||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Onslow, Cranley|
|Crowder, F. P.||Hunt, John||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Osborn, John|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Maj.-Gen. James||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)|
|Dean, Paul||James, David||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Sharples, Richard||Trafford, Dr. Anthony|
|Parkinson, Cecil,||Shelton, William (Clapham)||Trew, Peter|
|Percival, Ian||Simeons, Charles||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Pink, R. Bonner||Sinclair, Sir George||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin|
|Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Skeet, T. H. H.||van Straubenze, W. R.|
|Price, David (Eastleigh)||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)||Waddington, David|
|Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.||Soref, Harold||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Proudfoot, Wilfred||Spence, John||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||Sproat, Iain||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hin. Sir Derek|
|Quennell, Miss J. M.||Stainton, Keith||Wall Patrick|
|Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Stanbrook, Ivor||Walters, Dennis|
|Redmond, Robert||Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)||Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)||Warren, Kenneth|
|Rees, Peter (Dover)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Stokes, John||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Tapsell, Peter||Wilkinson, John|
|Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)||Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N. W.)||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Tebbit, Norman||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Rost, Peter||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Royle, Anthony||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Russell, Sir Ronald||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)||Mr. Victor Goodhew and|
|Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Tilney, John||Mr. Oscar Murton.|
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 40 (Committal of Bills).