HC Deb 15 November 1973 vol 864 cc664-6
4. Mr. Thomas Cox

asked the Prime Minister what requests lie has received to meet the Leader of the GLC.

The Prime Minister

I have received two requests to receive deputations organised by the Greater London Council. I asked my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction to deal with the first, and my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Employment and the Minister for Transport Industries to deal with the second.

Mr. Cox

In view of the collapse of booming Britain this week, is the Prime Minister aware of the urgency of such a meeting because of the effects that the financial restrictions will have on local authorities? When will that meeting take place? Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that if the meeting is to be of benefit to all the people of London he should assure the House that he will attend it and be prepared to listen and be helpful with suggestions, and to refrain from the deplorable bully-boy tactics that he employed in the House last week—[HON. MEMBERS: "Who is talking?"]—against the leader of the Greater London Council, which were an utter disgrace?

The Prime Minister

Last year, when the leaders of six of our great cities said that they wished to see me, on two occasions, with their principal advisers, I immediately acceded to their request. It was right to do so. We discussed the whole question of local government finance. As a result, certain arrangements were made. On the occasion on which I was asked to receive a deputation, it was not a deputation of this kind. If the Leader of the GLC wished to put forward a proposal for a similar deputation to that which I received from the great cities, in which he and his adviser wished to discuss seriously these matters with me, I should give it consideration.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

When my right hon. Friend arranges for the Leader of the GLC to see my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction, can he say that if the GLC and the London boroughs would get on with the job many people could be housed in dockland very swiftly?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is right. That is a most important proposal.

Mr. C. Pannell

Will the Prime Minister tell the House why he is so touchy about meeting the leader of the GLC? When he found that his progress from here to Downing Street was held up, he was not above contacting Desmond Plummer by means of an expensive telephone call to Tokyo. It seems a very short space to travel to exchange courtesies by the heads of two administrations.

The Prime Minister

The purpose of the telephone call to Tokyo was not to exchange courtesies. Nor do I think that that was the purpose of the proposition put to me by the Leader of the GLC. I have just said that if the Leader of the GLC wishes to come to see me with his chief advisers to discuss the serious problems affecting London I will immediately give it consideration.

Mr. Selwyn Gummer

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the last time the Leader of the GLC announced to the Press that he came to lobby Members of Parliament he did not have the courtesy to inform any hon. Member on this side who represents a London constituency or to inform most Opposition Members who represent London constituencies?

The Prime Minister

Perhaps it was a rather impetuous decision.

Mr. Pavitt

In his relations with the Leader of the GLC, will the Prime Minister give immediate and urgent attention to the fact that in the GLC area tomorrow many schools will need to close because they are heated only by electricity? Will he therefore take immediate action to ensure that in this field at any rate the emergency will not apply?

The Prime Minister

This is a very important point. Obviously the House will have an opportunity of debating these matters in the debate which is to follow.

Back to