HC Deb 04 February 1976 vol 904 cc1343-77

10.34 p.m.

The Minister for Planning and Local Government (Mr. John Silkin)

I beg to move, That the London Councillors Order 1976, a draft of which was laid before this House on 9th December, be approved. The purpose of the London Councillors Order is to bring the term of office for councillors in Greater London into line with that in force in England and Wales generally. Before the reorganisation of local government the term of office for local councillors everywhere was three years, but the 1972 reorganisation changed this to four years.

The four-year term applied from the start to all the new authorities and to parish councils in England and community councils in Wales.

It would have been anomalous to have left the GLC and the London boroughs with three-year terms when everywhere else had four-year terms, so Section 8 of the Local Government Act 1972 provided for this to be rectified by an Order establishing a four-year term in London, too. The present Order does just that.

Section 8 provided that in the case of the GLC the Order should secure that ordinary elections of councillors should take place in the same years as ordinary elections of county councillors. The next county council elections will be held in 1977, so the Order simply moves the next GLC elections to that date. Subsequent elections will follow at four-year intervals.

For the London boroughs, the section allows for elections to be held either on the basis of the full council's retiring together, or for one-third of them to retire in each of the years between the quadrennial GLC elections.

The Order provides for the continuance of whole-council elections in 1978 and every four years thereafter.

The main consequential effect concerns the abolition of the office of alderman. This was effected for Wales and the rest of England on the recent reorganisation, and again provision was made in the Act to bring London into line by Order. The Act provided for this to be done at the 1976 GLC elections and the 1977 borough elections, subject to any change in the dates of those elections made by Order under Section 8. So the present Order provides for the office of alderman to be abolished for the GLC at the 1977 elections and for the boroughs at the time of their elections in 1978.

The laying of this draft Order has been preceded by extensive consultations with the representatives of the London local authorities and the main political parties. Those consultations were instituted by the previous Conservative Government and have been continued by the present Government. I am glad to say that both the London authorities and the main political parties expressed unanimous agreement with the main provisions of the Order—in particular, the introduction of four-year terms of office and the postponement of the next elections for one year.

While there was rather less political unanimity about the question whether London borough council elections should be held on a whole-council basis or by thirds, a very clear majority of the London boroughs themselves opted for the system of whole-council elections. In view of the pledge—rightly given by the previous Government—that the wishes of the London authorities would be respected, we have provided in this Order for the continuation of the present system of whole-council elections.

This, then, is an Order on which a substantial degree of agreement has been reached. In essence, it is the same as the one which the present Opposition, when in office, proposed.

The House may recall a series of announcements made by successive Governments on this subject. The first was on 20th March 1973 when the noble Lord, formerly the rt. hon. Member for Carshalton—then the Home Secretary—announced the decision to delay the GLC elections to 1977. This statement was, I understand, deliberately made before the closing date for the nomination of candidates. This was at the urgent request of the then Conservative GLC so that candidates would know that they were in reality in for a four-year term. Thus, candidates and voters knew before the 1973 election that elected councillors would serve a four-year term and would retire in 1977.

Next, the rt. hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) repeated this statement on 25th July 1973 and at the same time announced that the normal term of office for London borough councillors would also be four years. On 18th December 1973 he confirmed the decision on the four-year term of office for London borough councillors and announced that the next elections would be held in 1978.

In answer to a Parliamentary Question on 19th December last year I made a similar announcement about this Government's intentions, including, in the light of the views expressed by the majority of London boroughs, the retention of whole-council elections—intentions which are now given effect to in this Order.

As I have said, this Order accurately reflects the wishes of the London authorities themselves. As the wishes of the London authorities were regarded as the paramount consideration when the enabling power was introduced in 1972, and since the main provisions had been accepted by the previous Conservative Government, I do not think that there need be any controversy about this draft Order. Indeed, I hope that the spirit of agreement which has characterised the consultation process will similarly characterise this debate.

I commend this draft Order to the House.

10.40 p.m.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg (Hampstead)

May I take this opportunity, Mr. Deputy Speaker, of congratulating you, on behalf of the whole House, on your occupying the Chair. You will be there for what may prove to be a very interesting debate.

The Minister has taken us on an interesting stroll down Memory Lane, but if he thinks that this Order is non-controversial, his thoughts will not be translated into facts. We are opposing the Order on three grounds—its invalidity, the incompetence of the Government and in the interests of democracy.

We contend that the Order is invalid. Clearly there is a difference of legal opinion here which my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) will discuss if he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is invalid because of its provision on the London borough elections and the complicated issue about coinciding with the provisions for metropolitan district councils. It turns on the words "year or years". As a layman, shall leave this matter to my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby. I am sure the Minister, as a member of that strong closed shop union of lawyers, would not wish a non-lawyer to trespass in these matters.

The Order is not amendable. If it is incorrect in part, the whole thing is wrong.

There may be some surprise among hon. Members opposite that we are opposing the Order. They may say that we are reversing our stand of four or five years ago and they may quote some Conservative spokesmen. In an answer to me in 1973, the then Minister said that the next GLC elections would be held in 1977, but it was also made clear that this would be the subject of consultations. I do not know what went on behind the closed doors of the London Labour Party, but we do not regard ourselves as bound tonight by anything that came out of that building.

The Prime Minister is on the record as saying that a week is a long time in politics. Three years is even longer. Events have moved on and the people of London are not prepared to wait any longer for the chance to vote. I have been consistent in fighting proposals to delay local elections. I did so in 1948 and 1967 and I do so again tonight. Those delays were all introduced by and on the initiative of Labour Governments. The curious thing, which follows from something that the right hon. Gentleman said, is the fact that, rather as in one of the Sherlock Holmes books, the dog did not bark. From 1973 to 1975 there was total public silence from Labour. When in Government they were clearly too busy overriding the law to save their Clay Cross friends to worry about London. The Minister was too busy passing the Community Land Bill, increasing the local and national bureaucracy, to look after the interests of London.

Nobody knows how long this drift would have gone on. It was brought to a head in November by the wish of Sir Desmond Plummer to relinquish his GLC seat in St Marylebone. Sir Desmond was told that if he resigned, the 200,000 electors of St Marylebone would be disfranchised because the returning officer could not permit a by-election to be held. Its occurrence would be within six months of the general GLC elections the following May.

The Government had done nothing, but now they were alerted. That was why the Minister gave his Answer in the House. He suddenly had a pin put in his posterior to prompt him to do something. I do not blame him. He was very busy telling us how good the Community Land Bill was. The truth is that he had forgotten. That is the basis of my second charge of incompetence. There were great differences of opinion in many parts of the Government, particularly the Home Office and the Department of the Environment, one side saying that an Order would suffice and the other suggesting that a Bill would be needed to remedy the situation. Presumably the political masters won that battle, knowing that there would be no time for a Bill. They thought that they would take a chance and try getting away with an Order.

I submit that one should not take a chance with democracy. These things should be done properly. In any case, the courts may yet have to decide, if the Order is not rejected by the House. I remind the Executive that they are still subject to the courts—as the Home Office discovered over its arrogant attitude to television licence fees. It tried to laugh that off, but it was brought to heel by the free courts of the country.

We say that Londoners should be given the chance to say what they want this year, not next year. Give Londoners the chance this year to rid themselves of the Socialist encumbrances which get worse week by week at County Hall. I make no secret of my support for such a move. I am not scared of the people's verdict—unlike the Labour Party.

Since Labour took control at County Hall, more than 2,000 extra staff have been taken on, but with no notable increase in efficiency. The annual salary bill has increased by £15 million—the product of a penny rate. Since Labour took control at the little Kremlin across the water, staff costs to chase rent arrears have gone up from £160,000 per annum to £900,000 per annum, and the rent arrears are over £3.5 million. Squatters occupy 1,200 GLC properties without a licence and another 2,000 with a licence, all at no rent. Rate increases of over 235 per cent. in just two years are the record of the Labour Party across the water—almost the highest figure in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Marcus Lipton (Lambeth, Central)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. What has all this high-falutin' nonsense to do with the Order we are discussing? We are discussing an Order which sets out the dates on which various elections have to take place. The hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Finsberg) is talking about squatters, rent arrears, housing—nothing to do with the Order.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

When I hear something that I regard as out of order, I shall let the House know.

Mr. Finsberg

After the Labour Party won the last GLC election campaign by telling the public that there would be no increase in fares, with the ultimate hope of free fares, London Transport fares have risen by more than 110 per cent.

On education, the GLC's incompetence is even more manifest. Indiscipline and truancy are rampant. That is one reason why we believe that the election date should not be postponed.

Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Am I to understand, if I catch your eye, that I may speak about Clay Cross, the Community Land Act, unemployment, the principle of taxation, rating, education and many other subjects? If the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Finsberg) is permitted to speak on all those matters, we should not be prohibited from doing so.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am under the impression that the hon. Gentleman is addressing himself largely to the problems of London.

Mr. Bryan Davies (Enfield, North)

Is not my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) mistaken, in that his chances of catching your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, are extremely limited as the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Finsberg) has already lined up the remaining speakers in the debate?

Mr. Finsberg

I am grateful to be thought capable of fixing the list. That is praise from the Labour Party.

On education, the incompetence of the GLC is even more manifest. Indiscipline and truancy are rampant, academic standards are low, literacy is below the national average and a large comprehensive school—Robert Montefiore—failed to get one "O" level pass last summer. All this despite the best overall pupil-teacher ratio in the country. One does not need to mention William Tyndall, because we have been told from across the water that that is not likely to be the only "William Tyndall" in London.

The GLC's incompetence in running London's affairs is plain for all to see. The chairman and vice-chairman of two major committees resigned because they were unhappy about the extravagant financial policy of the GLC. The houseing development chairman was pushed out because she was not Left Wing enough, and six members were reported to the London Labour Party for disobeying their whips, including the wife of the Minister responsible for the arts.

In case I am accused of using my own words, let me quote from the Evening Standard of 29th April 1975, which reported the words of Dr. Haseler who was then Chairman of the General Purposes Committee of the GLC. He said: I intend to go to the back benches to offer constructive criticism of the GLC which I believe is failing London during a momentous financial crisis by indecisiveness, vacillation and compromise. We are a fat beast which needs slimming down. Action taken by the leadership has been too little and too late and could lead eventually to the end of London government. According to The Times of 30th April 1975, Dr Haseler also said—this is perhaps even more relevant—that Because the leadership of the GLC, reflecting as it does the time-serving leadership elsewhere, has sought to appease the ultra-left rather than stand up to them, we are now at the edge of the financial precipice. He added that The picture of London regional government now is of a pathetic and paralysed leadership, only interested in holding office, being kicked around by Whitehall, attacked by the boroughs, —the attack by the boroughs on the GLC's plan to hog the community land proposals had to be seen to be believed, and the GLC was left with a very bloody nose— comprised by appeasement of their more left-wing colleagues, and taking decisions on a day-to-day basis—all of which only stores up trouble for the future.

Sir Anthony Royle (Richmond, Surrey)

Is there not one other matter that Dr. Haseler could have mentioned—the gross interference with the outer London boroughs by the GLC over the past two years?

Mr. Finsberg

Yes, indeed. That is perfectly true. It is significant that in quite a few outer London boroughs that offered nominations to the GLC—the so-called wicked Tory outer London boroughs—the GLC did not even take up its full allocation. Let that be nailed yet again.

All this adds up to a very simple whole. The Labour GLC is incompe- tent, spendthrift, and obsessed by dogmas and stale, sterile political theories.

The Order is of doubtful legality. There is a very simple solution for the Government and the House. I hope that the Minister—for whom we have great personal respect—will invite the House to vote the Order down and let Londoners decide at the polls this May what sort of administration they want to govern in their name.

In about an hour's time we shall know whether the Government are putting the interests of their political cronies first or are willing to trust the people at the polls.

10.57 p.m.

Mr. John Cartwright (Woolwich, East)

I should like to bring the House back to the Order that we ought to be debating.

I share the incredulity of many of my colleagues on these Benches that the Opposition intend to vote against the Order. It is a question not of humbug but of some political integrity.

I was the chief whip of the London Boroughs Association when consultation was undertaken by the Conservative Government about how closely we might bring London local government into line with the rest of the country. That consultation and the discussion and debate in the London Boroughs Association were not carried on in any way on party political lines. That ought to be very firmly underlined.

I therefore waited to see what the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Finsberg) would pray in aid for his tactics in opposing the Order. The case he makes is something less than convincing. He has sought, for example, to throw some doubt on the firmness of the undertakings given by the previous Conservative Government about the GLC elections. Those undertakings were absolutely clear.

On 20th March 1973 the then Home Secretary said very firmly in a Written Answer: This will mean that councillors elected in 1973 will serve until 1977."—[Official Report, 20th March 1973; vol. 853, col. 43.] There can be no dubiety at all about that.

Similarly, the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) said on 25th July 1973 in a Written Answer that: The next election of Greater London councillors will thus be held in 1977."—[Official Report, 25th July 1973; vol. 860, col. 455.] There is no dubiety, and no question of consultation or any further debate. It is a firm and clear statement. There was, indeed, some doubt about the London borough elections, but here again the principle of the four-year period of office was very firmly established right from the very beginning. The Conservative Government made clear that there was a need for some consultation on certain details. Should it be whole-council elections, or one-third of the council each year? If it was whole-council elections, when should they take place?

These were matters on which there was a wide degree of consultation among the London boroughs, and a variety of options were put to the London boroughs by the Conservative Government of the time. One option even included a five-year period of office for the London boroughs, which, fortunately, they had the good sense to reject. It was made clear that, whatever was the majority view of the London boroughs would he accepted by the then Conservative Government and carried out.

The right hon. Member for Crosby made it clear, during the Report stage of the 1972 Act when this section was being included, that there would be no question of ordering something which was not wanted by the London local government.

The results of the consultation were absolutely clear, in that twenty-five of the thirty-two London boroughs favoured whole-council elections. To make it clear that there was no party issue on this, I might point out that seven Conservative-controlled boroughs were included in that majority.

It was also clear in the eyes of London local government that the simplest method of bringing this into operation was to exend the life of the present council to 1978. That was accepted by the right hon. Member for Crosby, who said in a Written Answer on 19th December 1973, again clearly and without equivocation: Councillors elected in 1974 will therefore serve until 1978."—[Official Report, 19th December 1973; Vol. 866, c. 312.] Elections took place on that basis. Candidates sought office on that basis Electors voted on that basis. It is a bit late in the day now for people to start going back on that sort of undertaking.

Contrary to what the hon. Member for Hampstead suggested, the present Government during 1975 undertook a further wave of consultation with the London boroughs, because the arrangements beyond 1978 had been left in doubt. Again there was a very large majority of the London boroughs in favour of whole-council elections, and there were still seven Conservative-controlled boroughs included in the majority.

There was also consultation about the timing of the elections: should they be held mid-way between GLC elections or, as they are now, a year after the GLC elections? Again it was clear that the London Boroughs Association favoured the present arrangement continuing of elections for the London boroughs being held a year after the GLC election. The London Labour Party felt the same way. The Society of Local Authority Chief Executives also favoured that proposal and, dare I say it, the London Conservative Party also favoured that arrangement.

In those circumstances, I find it very hard to understand how the Opposition can really suggest that this is some sort of wicked Machiavellian Socialist plot to rig elections, when the whole proposal originated to begin with from a Conservative Government and has been supported by a large measure of Conservative opinion in London local government.

Why has there been this sudden, abrupt change in the attitude of the Opposition—not so much a U-turn; more a corkscrew? The only answer that I can suggest—and it was made clear in the speech of the hon. Member for Hampstead—is that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite sense the possibility of some short-term political gain. That is what is really motivating them in this debate. For that, they are prepared to throw overboard their undertakings to London local government—undertakings given with all the authority of ministerial office. They are prepared to throw into confusion London local government, which has based its planning for the past two and a half years on the clear understanding that its elections would be delayed for one year.

It should be made clear that we are not here to debate the quality of the present leadership of the Greater London Council. Nor are we here to debate the appalling housing record of the Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council, or to expose the social services record of the Bexley Borough Council, which is about the meanest borough in London. We are here to debate whether undertakings, clearly and freely given by the Conservative Party when in power two and a half years ago, are to be honoured. I do not think that it is a good thing for politics or for the House of Commons to see the way in which right hon. and hon. Members of the Opposition are trying to wriggle out of their commitment for narrow political gains.

11.5 p.m.

Mr. Stephen Ross (Isle of Wight)

I rise with some trepidation, not being a London Member, but there are two Liberals on the GLC, and that was an achievement when it happened.

I find myself in the position of having to vote against the Order not because I do not agree that GLC elections should take place every fourth year, nor that the office of alderman shall be abolished, but because it does not bring London borough elections into line with metropolitan districts, whereby there are elections every year for one-third of the councillors. That, after all, is set out in Section 8 of the Local Government Act 1972 and spelt out in detail in Section 7(3).

The London Liberal Party passed a resolution supporting that intention way back in September 1974. Our reason, which no doubt was in the mind of the then Conservative Government, was that if the whole council elections continue, as is intended by the Order, after 1978 there is a real prospect of local government becoming increasingly remote from the ordinary elector. I support the four-year term because local councillors should be given a chance to get into office and to deal with matters without looking over their shoulders and worrying about elections coming up, and even an outsider can see that that is what has happened in London over the past 10 to 15 years. The proposal is also palpably inconsistent with what is going on in the rest of the country.

I am, however, rather sorry to be going into the Opposition Lobby because I cannot commend the attitude of the Tory Party in this matter to the electorate. It so happens that, without payment and without recourse to a certain person at present unfortunately resident in North Devon, I have come across a certain letter from one Horace Cutler. It fell into our lap, and it says: I am writing to every Conservative peer with the unqualified approval of the leader —"the Iron Lady"— and her senior colleagues. He says that tonight the London Councillors Order will be debated and voted upon. Its purpose is to postpone GLC and London borough elections by one year to 1977 and 1978 respectively. I am hoping you will attend the House and vote against the Order, thus ensuring a GLC election in 1976. My reasons for seeking your support are:

  1. (a) no one should deny the electorate the choice to which it is entitled, especially in view of the appalling Labour record in County Hall.
  2. (b) this is a golden opportunity both to dispel the feeling in some quarters that the Opposition is ineffective and for the Lords to be seen as the champions of democracy.
  3. (c) the Order is believed to be defective"
—I think that point has been made and I agree with it— and the governing legislation is not concise and allows for different interpretations. To avoid this, legislation is necessary.
  1. (d) the political implications are considerable:
    1. (i) We have no major urban power base. To win London would be to attract support and encourage future success.
    2. (ii) My judgment is that the sooner the election the better our chances. We could even capture ILEA in 1976 (I do not need to tell you how poorly it stands in the public eye at present) and this would inhibit the Education Bill. A minor upturn in the economy plus an improvement in the employment situation would gain popularity for the Government (rubbing off on Labour here) and Harold Wilson is adept enough to try to seek advantage from an election held in the euphoria of Jubilee celebrations in 1977.
    3. (iii) Labour in County Hall are in disarray. An early election would shatter them, the more completely the shorter the notice given. We on the other hand are ready.
    4. 1357
    5. (iv) I fear that Labour's declaration of a standstill rate is a hedge against a 1976 election. It will not help them, but the cumulative financial difficulties which we would then inherit in 1977 would put us in an impossible situation.
    6. (v) This could be a convenient issue for the Nationalists to embarrass the Government."
I cannot express too strongly my view that we must, for the sake of London and our Party, have an election this spring. Who is putting party first? If the chance recedes, it may never return. I therefore hope that I can rely on your support, which has certainly never been needed more, nor in a more important cause". I am sorry to have to say that I shall go into the Lobby with the Conservatives tonight, for if anyone is putting party before the true interests of the electorate, it is the Conservative Party tonight.

11.10 p.m.

Mr. Ronald Brown (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)

In one sense, it is difficult to follow that speech by the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross), because he has plainly stated the position of the Conservative Opposition and got it right. However, I support what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Cartwright). The hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Finsberg) was with me in 1971 in arguing the case for the very procedure now proposed. At no time did he dissent from the concept of four-year elections and that they should take place in 1977 and 1978. What is more, not one of his colleagues has at any time dissented. Tonight is the first occasion we have heard him endeavour to make a case for not approving the extension of one year. We have now heard the reason.

The hon. Member for Hampstead took the opportunity to misbehave himself by misquoting the facts and figures about the Greater London Council, so perhaps my best contribution to the debate will be to set matters right. The hon. Gentleman knows that in 1973, under his party's aegis, at a time when there was much more money about than there is today, the Tories on the GLC managed to build fewer than 4,500 homes. He has to admit tonight that the Labour-controlled GLC has already, in 1975, built more than 6,000 homes. The hon. Gentleman's worry is clear and understandable.

The hon. Gentleman has often heard us discuss the problem of GLC housing maintenance. In their disastrous years of 1967–74, the Tories brought about a change of maintenance on GLC estates. They decided to take away caretakers, they took away people who knew about maintenance, and they introduced the travelling porter. The result was the unparalleled, disgraceful condition of GLC properties during those years. It was the bane of our lives. They not only attempted to cut costs but they made it impossible for tenants to get essential repairs done, and on top of that they had the effrontery to increase rents many times.

We have been told about the situation in dockland. During all their time, it was possible for the Tories to prepare plans for the use of dockland and get them through, but they wasted their time in fiddling and footling about, never able to make up their minds on anything they wanted to do.

One can see the hon. Gentleman's anger at the fact that the Labour-controlled GLC has stopped the selling of council homes at below cost. The Tory performance in the period 1967–74 in selling off council houses at far below their cost was in itself a scandal. It has been mentioned many times in the House, yet the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) took little or no interest in following these matters through. His role in the matter is, to say the least, surprising.

The right hon. Gentleman knew all along that there had to be, and would be, an Order made either by him or by his successors in order to ensure that these elections were held in 1977 and 1978. Yet he has sat here tonight keeping very quiet so far, though I have no doubt that he will seek to be called a little later so that he can take us on a long and tortuous route through the legalities, trying to persuade us that what he said then was not what he meant or that something else was what he meant though he did not say it.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

I have risen every time to try to catch Mr. Deputy Speaker's eye.

Mr. Brown

Since he called me first, it will take you longer to explain why, if you said what you said, you did not mean it, or, if you meant it, you did not say it.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. So far as I know, I have made no observations on the matter.

Mr. Brown

No doubt, if you had, Sir, you would have said the same as I have said, having heard the right hon. Gentleman.

The Labour Party has published its housing strategy for London, which should be completed and accepted by the boroughs by the autumn of 1976. No wonder the hon. Member for Hampstead is worried about this. He knows what it will mean for the people of London, for whom his own party did not provide.

The Labour-controlled GLC has also stopped the building of multi-storey flats—something that the Tories would never have done. The Labour GLC is spending £15 million on the rehabilitation of old inter-war properties and estates and plans to spend more next year. When in office, the Tories failed to do anything about those estates and they are angry to see this amount spent now. Under Labour, the GLC has taken into control 7,000 properties, extending security of tenure to 20,000 tenants who were previously subject to being thrown out, so the hon. Gentleman could not address himself to the Order. He is caught by his own words in 1971–72 and those of his right hon. Friend who supported that view at that time.

I have here a letter from Sir Desmond Plummer, supporting the importance of the Order and the four-year term. So what are the Opposition playing at? Whom are they trying to impress? If they want to debate the problems of London, we shall be delighted to meet them—

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

On a Supply Day.

Mr. Brown

As my hon. Friend says, they could give a whole day to the subject of London. Having proved themselves so inept this evening in using an hour and a half of valuable time on this party political stunt, I hope that they will devote their next Supply Day to the problems of London. We shall meet them willingly.

11.19 p.m.

Mr. Graham Page (Crosby)

Schedule 2 to the Local Government Act 1972 set out the existing law with regard to elections to the Greater London Council and the London boroughs. It had no intention of altering the law with regard to London. It merely set out the law as it then was. One of my hon. Friends, in a Parliamentary Question, asked me about the intentions for the future. Quite rightly at the time, I said, I think, that the intention was that the GLC elections should be this year. That undoubtedly was the intention at that time. It was also the intention, as I think I made clear at the time, that London should be brought into line with the metropolitan county councils, the metropolitan districts and the conurbations. In that respect the metropolitan districts were to have elections every year except in the fourth year. A third of the council was elected every year.

The order raises two issues. The first concerns the Greater London Council and four-year elections. I have no complaint about that. However, I do complain that the election is to be postponed until next year and will not be held this year, although I certainly expressed the intention, at the time, that it should be held this year.

The House is faced with a Greater London Council which seeks to bring before it a Private Bill which usurps the power of Parliament and takes power to the London Council. That is what we wish to stop. This presents an entirely new situation.

Is an Opposition to be held to what it said when it was in Government? There have been two General Elections and a change of policy by the local authorities. We are perfectly entitled to say that we have changed our mind. We think it right that there should be elections this year to show how the public feel about the Greater London Council.

Mr. John Silkin

I thought that the right hon. Gentleman and I shared two things—a love of local government and a love of democracy. Moreover, we both serve a profession which likes to believe that it accepts the truth. Let the right hon. Gentleman listen to his own words in 1972, because they are as valid today as they were then. He said: We are taking those powers for the benefit of the Greater London Council and the London boroughs to enable us to do what they want us to do. I assure my hon Friend —the hon. Member for Kensington (Sir B. Rhys Williams)— that there is no question of the Secretary of State ordering something which is not wanted by those local authorities ".—[Offcial Report, 17th July 1972; Vol. 841, c. 117.] As I am merely following what the right hon. Gentleman said on that occasion how can he possibly take the point of view which he is taking today?

Mr. Page

After two General Elections the Opposition are entitled to think again about the Greater London Council.

Turning to the London boroughs, the Secretary of State is given power, by Order, to bring the London boroughs into line with the metropolitan districts, and that is all he is entitled to do. Under Section 8 of the Local Government Act 1972, the Secretary of State was empowered to bring forward an Order to make the London borough elections in the same years as the metropolitan district elections. That is not what he has done in the Order. He has still left the London borough elections as "whole-council elections", to use that shorthand term, and not introduced the annual election of councils as in the metropolitan districts. In that respect I believe that the Secretary of State has gone beyond the powers which were given to him under Section 8 of the Local Government Act 1972. He has not brought the London boroughs into line with the metropolitan districts. Therefore, to that exent the Order is invalid. If it is invalid in one respect, it is invalid as a whole.

Mr. Cartwright

If the right hon. Gentleman believes that the Order can be made only to bring the London boroughs in line with the metropolitan districts, why, when he was in power, did he offer the London boroughs a different option—the option of whole-council elections?

Mr. Page

The London boroughs did not take that option. They agreed to Section 8 as it was. Section 8 merely allows the Secretary of State to bring the London boroughs into line with the metropolitan districts. Therefore, the Order to that extent is invalid.

Tonight we are debating not the London boroughs so much as the Greater London Council. I believe that it is wholly constitutional for an Opposition, after having gone through two General Elections, to say, "We have now to consider the circumstances in which the GLC is bringing before the House a Bill with immense powers to usurp Parliament ". and to see that that is prevented.

11.25 p.m.

Mr. Kenneth Baker (St. Marylebone)

I suppose that to some extent I owe the House an apology, because it is the events in my constituency which have led to the Order being tabled and debated tonight. When the Greater London representative in my division, Sir Desmond Plummer, decided to resign, my constituency discovered that it could not have a by-election before the GLC election because there cannot be a GLC by-election within six months of a GLC general election. It was only when a clerk in the City Council turned up the fact that nothing had been done to postpone the GLC election that this omission was discovered.

It is ironic that if this event had not occurred, it is likely that the Leviathan of the Department of the Environment would not have discovered it until somebody, about April, said, "We must have the GLC election this year."

Another irony is that, irrespective of how the Order is voted upon tonight, my constituents will have the power to hold a by-election this year. If the Order is carried, my constituents will have a by-election under the terms of the Order. If it is defeated, my constituents, together with all the other London constituencies, will be able to have an election this year.

My constituents are generous. They do not want to hoard the privilege and pleasure of the chance to show the views of Londoners on what the GLC is about. They would like to share this opportunity with all the London constituencies this spring.

There has been a charge of an element of inconsistency in the attitude of the Opposition. It does not lie in the mouths of Ministers or of Back Benchers on the Government side to talk of inconsistency in electoral matters relating to London. My right hon. and hon. Friends will recall that in 1967, the then Labour Government and Home Secretary—we still have the same Home Secretary—decided that the borough elections would be in that year. However, they then decided to move them on a year to 1968. They changed their minds. They hoped to reap an electoral advantage. What happened? The Labour-controlled councils were swept from power by even bigger majorities.

Another example of electoral inconsistency by the London Labour Party was in the spring of 1970. London Members who were in the House at that time will recall that the Government first decided not to introduce the Boundary Commission's recommendations for the whole country, but then said, "No. We will introduce the proposals for London." A Bill was prepared and enormous discussions were carried out in order that London could be rejigged. Then, a month later, they said,:" No. We have changed our minds. We will not do that. We will fight London on the old boundaries." When it conies to the London Labour Party, we can be sure that electoral malpractice triumphs over consistency.

We are seeking to defeat the Order to give all Londoners the opportunity to show their views of Labour's control of the GLC over the last three and a half years. That control has been completely disastrous.

The hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Brown) complains that we are using this opportunity to have an open debate on London. Yet, in Opposition, he applied a tin opener to the Greater London (General Powers) Bill and the Greater London (Money) Bill and we had debates on London. Indeed, he was trying to argue that the Labour-controlled GLC's housing record is something to be proud of. I shall tell him what has happened. Under Labour control, in 1972 rents amounted to 70 per cent. of housing revenue. This year they will run at about 30 per cent. Who is paying the difference? The ratepayers. They are paying a subsidy of £60 million. That is why the ratepayers in constituencies other than mine want the opportunity to express their hostility to this policy.

Where has this policy left us? The GLC housing revenue this year, less rates, will be £51 million. The cost of maintenance and management of GLC estates is £55 million, so that the rents less rebates do not match the cost of maintaining and managing the estates. It would be better for the GLC to give each tenant his own council house or flat. These are the economics of lunacy, where not even the cost of maintenance and management are met by the rental revenue.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Finsberg) mentioned, the way in which London Transport has been managed in the last three years has been disastrous. The deficit this year is £110 million. Who will meet it? The ratepayers, at a cost of £60 million. Even this will not prevent fare increases. There were two last year and there will be another this spring.

That is why the Conservative Party in London wants the opportunity to have a GLC election this year. The GLC is a monstrous bureaucracy. It is the last of the big spenders. It has overspent and it is overstaffed. The first thing that we have to do is to get Conservative control of it. Having done that, we must slim down its powers.

That is why we shall vote against the Order. I am sure that most Londoners would welcome the chance to go to the polls this spring.

11.32 p.m.

Miss Jo Richardson (Barking)

I want to bring the House back from the persiflage that we have heard from Opposition Members to a consideration of the Order. The hon. Member for St Marylebone (Mr. Baker) talked about inconsistencies. In fact, it is Opposition Members who are being inconsistent—and dishonest, not to say destructive. We hope that they are also destructible. They have created a situation tonight which the general public and hon. Members on the Government side of the House had expected elections—as they were planned by the then Government, who are now members of the Opposition and whom we expect to remain members of the Opposition for many years to come, not only in this House but in the Greater London Council.

I want to give the House one or two pieces of information and to remind hon. Members opposite of some things they may have forgotten. When they were in government it was their policy to bring about the situation that is dealt with by this Order. In the Conservative's term of office in the GLC, on 22nd June 1971, the General Purposes Committee reported to the Secretary of State for the Environment. He had sought the Council's observations on this problem, and the General Purposes Committee had responded by saying that the Order that we are debating tonight was what it wanted. Yet again, on 14th December in the same year, the General Purposes Committee reported that We are seeking an amendment to provide a four-year term —precisely what we are debating tonight and precisely the terms of the Order that we are seeking to approve.

On 23rd January 1973 the General Purposes Committee reaffirmed its intention to have a four-year period.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Brown) referred to a letter from Sir Desmond Plummer, written in January 1973 to the then Home Secretary, Mr. Robert Carr—now Lord Carr. It says: Dear Robert, I enclose a copy of an official letter from the Council to the Home Office on the subject of the term of office of this Council which, as you know, has recorded its support for a four-year term. It goes on to press the then Home Secretary to introduce this Order. That is precisely what we intend to do.

In this economic crisis Conservative Members have been baying for blood and for local authorities to cut back public expenditure. The GLC has, at the Government's request, cut its public expenditure to the bone. Do hon. Gentlemen realise that the administrative cost to the GLC of an election this year would be £500,000? I am assured by the Chairman of the General Purposes Committee of the GLC that he has not one brass farthing in the coffers.

Sir Anthony Royle rose—

Miss Richardson

I shall not give way.

Sir Anthony Royle rose

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. When it is quite clear that the hon. Lady will not give way, the hon. Gentleman must resume his seat.

Miss Richardson

I am assured by the chairman—

Sir Anthony Royle rose—

Miss Richardson

I am assured by the Chairman of the General Purposes Committee that at the Government's request he has cut expenditure as far as possible and that he does not have one penny left.

Sir Anthony Royle rose—

Miss Richardson

I shall not give way. The hon. Gentleman might as well give up.

Sir Anthony Royle

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not most unusual in a short debate such as this, and one in which hon. Members on both sides have given way, that the hon. Lady should refuse to give way because she is unable to answer the question?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

That is not a matter for the Chair.

Miss Richardson

I had always understood that it was the prerogative of the hon. Member who was speaking to give way or not. Perhaps we should have a few more women in this House.

In case in the hullabaloo my final point has not been heard, I repeat that an election this year—and we shall not have one because the Order will go through tonight—will cost public money, which is precisely the opposite of what hon. Gentlemen seek to achieve. I know that hon. Members will vote for the Order so that elections will take place, as Conservative Members originally intended, every four years.

Sir Anthony Royle

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for giving way.

Mr. Deputy Speaker


Mr. Russell Kerr (Feltham and Heston)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is very discourteous of the hon. Member for Richmond, Surrey (Sir A. Royle) flagrantly to disregard your direction from the Chair at this stage of the debate, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Sir Anthony Royle rose—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. As this is a short debate, which has to stop at 12.04 a.m., and two winding-up speeches have yet to be heard, it would help progress if we were allowed to get on with it.

11.40 p.m.

Mr. Hugh Rossi (Hornsey)

First, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should like to join in the congratulations and welcome to your accession to the Chair. Most of us have sat under your chairmanship in Standing Committees. Some of us have even had the possibly doubtful pleasure of sitting there for 27 hours at a stretch, during long summer days when we all admired your patience and forbearance on those occasions. We wish you long office in the Chair.

A debate on an Order of this kind is invariably taken as an opportunity for London Members to ventilate their opposing political attitudes and to demonstrate the manner in which their distinct philosophies can be translated into practical administrative terms. Not only did my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Finsberg) do that; the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Brown) and the hon. Member for Barking (Miss Richardson) also indulged themselves in this particular exercise.

As the right hon. Gentleman the Minister knows—wearing the Garrick Club tie— All the world's a stage. Sometimes it is of advantage to one party to do this, sometimes to the other. No one ever really takes any objection to that, but, if the truth be admitted, not much notice of it either.

However, tonight we are concerned with a more immediate proposition—whether the affairs of our great metropolis are being run in such an incompetent manner, whether the services are in such risk of breakdown, that its citizens must be given an early opportunity to exercise their democratic right and say "Enough is enough". The House is being asked, by this Order, to deny them that right. It is a responsibility that we must weigh most carefully, because what we would be saying tonight is not whether there should be a change of administration this year but whether the people may choose that for themselves.

It is, therefore, not entirely or simply a party-political matter. It is even less so because the present Greater London Council administration is itself undecided in the direction in which it wishes to go, and it is riven by internal division. The past year has been one of sackings, very often, and rebellions in the majority party. The result is one of hesitation, muddle and bad government.

Mr. James Wellbeloved (Erith and Crayford)

Call for Ted!

Mr. Rossi

We have seen—reference has been made to it tonight—how the present GLC administration falsely gained office on promising to the electorate not to increase transport fares and eventually to move into a free fare system. But it has now entirely reversed this policy, and as a result, London's fares will have risen 212 per cent. between last March and this April. Not even the Government have been responsible for that rate of inflation.

What has been the consequence of this? Have the bus or underground services improved? There are not enough spare parts to keep all the buses on the road, and 250 buses stand idle because they are too big for London's streets. Trains are better, but only this administration at the GLC could ensure the purchase of trains too big for the tunnels! The continuing use of pre-war rolling stock is a matter for recurring anxiety among the daily users.

It is no wonder, therefore, that six members of the Labour majority party have been reported to the London Labour Party for rebelling against the way their transport policy is being run.

Housing—which hon. Members have also mentioned—as we all accept and know, is London's most serious social problem, with homelessness and that unattractive symptom of homelessness, squatting, growing weekly. What is the situation? House building has dropped, not because of the re-allocation of resources—for example, for the improvement of existing stock—but because of sheer bureaucratic muddle. But 10 years' supply of building land is in hand, with a pitiable programme.

The obsession of the GLC seems to be to squander public money to municipalise or acquire existing houses two-thirds of which are already occupied and which do not provide a single new home or new unit of accommodation, instead of getting on and dealing with London's real needs.

The hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch referred to dockland, that vast acreage which is growing weeds and breeding vermin whilst the GLC quarrels with the five Labour-controlled borough councils about who is to have the lion's share of the development. The GLC administration is in complete disarray. It does not know in which direction to go, and its members are continually bickering amongst themselves.

Why is it that my constituent, Mrs. Gladys Dimson, with whom I disagree fundamentally about many matters but for whose integrity as a housing chairman I have great respect, was unceremoniously pushed out of office? Certainly some of her colleagues were so appalled at that treatment that they honourably and courageously refused to accept office in such circumstances, and the Prime Minister himself acknowledged this injustice—an odd state of affairs—by seeing that she was honoured in the Honours List.

In the arena of planning the complaints from the public are continual and consistent—of indecision, of procrastinuation, and of refusals, not on correct and proper planning grounds, but from sheer short-sighted political motivation. Indeed, only last month an inspector had to advise the Secretary of State that the GLC, in refusing a planning permission in a particular case, was acting from other motivation than pure planning considerations and was acting unlawfully. That is a most serious charge to be made against any local authority.

The result of that attitude towards the planning of our great city is that London's economic life is declining as no new investment of money is being pumped in to refurbish, to modernise, to provide new jobs and new homes. Yet at the same time the GLC laments and moans over the loss of jobs and the great exodus of population from a city in which the people no longer wish to live.

Can it be any wonder that the major debate outside the House today is not simply about a change of administration at County Hall but about whether the GLC should be allowed to continue to exist at all. There is a growing ground swell caught up and echoed in the daily Press for the abolition of the GLC, and the time may well come when the House will have to consider that demand seriously and carefully.

The present administration at County Hall has abandoned and completely lost sight of the essential strategic role of the GLC for which it was constituted. Instead, it spends its time arguing and bickering over parochial trivia for which as an organisation it is far too large and too remote to take decisions.

Undoubtedly, fuel is being added to these flames by something for which the GLC is not directly responsible but which has been mentioned by hon. Members, namely, education. There is an identification in the public mind because the tribe that runs the GLC also runs the ILEA—and with the same consequences of muddle, inefficiency—with the erection of concrete and glass palaces while discipline and education standards decline in an ever-increasing manner.

A full-scale independent inquiry should be held as a matter of urgency into the whole London education system. The literary levels of pupils are now below the national average, examination results are declining, and there is an ever-widening gap between the education authority and parents' confidence in its ability to look after the best interests of their children.

The GLC has perhaps done one thing well—it has made a modest contribution towards reducing unemployment. Despite the fact that the sewerage and ambulance services have been taken away, it has still been able to swell its work force by an extra 4,500 since the 1973 election. About 2,000 are firemen recruited as a result of the reduction in the working week, but what are the other 2,500 doing? As my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead mentioned, there are no outward signs of any increased productivity. Why are there nearly as many administrators as teachers in the education service? All that has happened is that there has been an increase in the enormous wage bill.

Hon. Members opposite have criticised our opposition to the Order, but my right hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) has made clear that its legality is in grave doubt. The power of the Secretary of State under Section 8 (2) of the Act gives him power to alter the borough council elections in order to bring them in line with the metropolitan district council elections. The Order does not do that.

We are not taking this action for short-term electoral gains. We think that next year we shall do even better. We are opposing the Order because of the muddle, internecine strife, indecision and vacillation of the present administration. London has no Governor-General. Let Parliament do the job.

11.53 p.m.

Mr. John Silkin

May I also offer you my congratulations, Mr. Deputy Speaker. There may have been one or two moments in the debate when you thought you were Chairman of a Standing Committee.

I originally thought it was unnecessary to debate the Order, for reasons I have already given. I regarded myself as someone tidying up the debris left behind by the previous Conservative Government's disastrous reorganisation of local government. In many ways, I regarded myself as a ministerial Steptoe, removing the rubbish left by the Conservatives.

I find instead that, as the hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) said, All the world's a stage. It is sad to think that what we are considering is a play in which Hamlet is also the first grave-digger. The Order was fully considered by the Joint Select Committee on Statutory Instruments, which was clearly satisfied or it would have reported to the House. And who is chairman of that Committee?

I am told that the Conservative Party was very worried, that it believed that the 1972 Act required the boroughs to be brought on to the basis of annual elections. In that case why did they consult the London authorities, asking them which system they preferred? The right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) knows the answer as well as I do. The right hon. Gentleman talked about the London borough elections taking place—this was his version of Section 8 of his own Act—in the same year as the metropolitan districts. The right hon. Gentleman is misquoting his own Act because the subsection says to secure that ordinary elections of London borough councillors are held —not in the same years but— in years in which ordinary elections of metropolitan district councillors are held". The right hon. Gentleman is as good a lawyer as I am and he knows perfectly well what that means, because the rumour has it that he helped to draft that Act.

Mr. Graham Page rose—

Mr. Silkin

I will not give way. [HON. MEMBERS: "Give way!"] No, I cannot. The hon. Member for Hornsey stole my time and he knows it. We were supposed to have had 15 minutes each.

Let us consider the position about the consultations. The GLC elections were first announced by the then Home Secretary on 20th March 1973. That was repeated by the right hon. Member for Crosby on 25th July 1973 and confirmed by myself on 19th December last year with not a word of protest from anybody at the time. What about the borough councils and the all-out provisions announced by the right hon. Member for Crosby on 25th July 1973, confirmed by the right hon. Gentleman on 18th December 1973, and the announcement that the next elections would be whole councils in 1978—

Mr. Graham Page

That was two General Elections later.

Mr. Silkin

I believe that the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Finsberg) said that we had done nothing since the election on this because we were too busy. That is not true.

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg

I said that nothing was said publicly.

Mr. Silkin

Then the hon. Gentleman should have been made aware that, in 1974, 21 London councils said that they were in favour of all-out provisions, and only nine said that they favoured annual elections. But the interesting thing about these statistics, of which the hon. Member was completely aware, is that seven Tory councils said that they were in favour of the all-out provisions and only six said that they favoured annual elections.

Did the right hon. Member for Crosby say "Two General Elections later"? I made the consultations and I received the answer, which was quite clear. But the answer the right hon. Gentleman gave this evening was one of the dustiest this House has seen.

What then of the Order? The consultations, on which both Governments agreed, took place. The Conservative councils by a majority in London clearly expressed the desire to do as the Order seeks. We know why.

Perhaps I may address myself to the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross). He and his party—I disagree with them, but that does not matter—have consistently said that they wanted annual elections. I take the point, and I understand their dilemma, but I appeal to the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues—can they go into the Lobby with the Conservatives? There is a reasonable way of dealing with the matter. They should uphold the virtue of the Isle of Wight and abstain.

What is the reason for this phoney debate and the dusty answers obtained by the poor old right hon. Member for Crosby?

Mr. Graham Page

I am not as old as that.

Mr. Silkin

The House knows the reason, because the information was given to us by the hon. Member for Isle of Wight. Poor Mr. Horace Cutler, looking around and observing the desolation of his party, decided to call in the Conservative Opposition to help him—poor misguided fellow. He cannot have visited the House for a long time. He must have thought "Ah, there is a Conservative Opposition in the House of Commons. They can do the job I cannot do. They can help me to get rid of these terrible fellows at County Hall who have built more houses than we ever did, who gave

free transport to the elderly and under-fives and free milk to the school children and who scrapped the absurd motorway proposals of the Tories." What a pity he looked around and chose the Conservative Opposition. The hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, who went against everything they had said in office in their desire to help their poor colleague at County Hall, had a price to pay.

Not everything that was done by the Conservative Administration of 1970 to 1974 was wrong. One or two of their minor activities were very good. One activity which was good was the taking of consultations on the Order, which we followed when the time came. I hope that Conservative Members will not think me pompous or patronising if I give them a word of advice. This is the witching hour when one should give advice. They need not be in such a hurry to attack the Labour GLC or Labour councillors. They need not be in such a hurry to attack the Labour Government. These are early days. They will have countless opportunities to do it. They will have years and years in which to attack the Labour GLC, Labour councillors and Labour Governments.

Mr. John Moore (Croydon, Central)

The denial to the people of London of an opportunity to hold an election this year is appalling effrontery. The question that should be asked is: why is there to be no election for the people of London this year?

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 279, Noes 253.

Division No. 53.] AYES [12 5 a.m.
Abse, Leo Bradley, Tom Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)
Allaun, Frank Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Corbett, Robin
Anderson, Donald Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Cox, Thomas (Tooting)
Archer, Peter Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)
Armstrong, Ernest Buchan, Norman Crawshaw, Richard
Ashley, Jack Buchanan, Richard Cronin, John
Ashton, Joe Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Cryer, Bob
Atkinson, Norman Campbell, Ian Cunningham, G. (Islington S)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Canavan, Dennis Cunningham, Dr J. (Whit[...]h)
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Cant, R. B. Davidson, Arthur
Bates, Alf Carmichael, Neil Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)
Bean, R. E. Carter, Ray Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Carter-Jones, Lewis Davis, Clinton (Ha[...] C)
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Cartwright, John Deakins, Eric
Bidwell, Sydney Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)
Bishop, E. S. Clemitson, Ivor Delargy, Hugh
Blenkinsop, Arthur Cocks, Michael (Bristol S) Dell, Rt Hon Edmund
Boardman, H. Cohen, Stanley Dempsey, James
Booth, Albert Coleman, Donald Doig, Peter
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Colquhoun, Mrs Maureen Douglas-Mann, Bruce
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Conlan, Bernard Duffy, A. E. P.
Dunn, James A. Lamond, James Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Dunnett, Jack Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Rooker, J. W.
Eadie, Alex Leadbitter, Ted Roper, John
Edge, Geoff Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Rose, Paul B.
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Lever, Rt Hon Harold Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Lipton, Marcus Rowlands, Ted
English, Michael Litterick, Tom Sandelson, Neville
Ennals, David Loyden, Eddie Sedgemore, Brian
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Luard, Evan Selby, Harry
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Lyon, Alexander (York) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Faulds, Andrew Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)
Fernyhough, Rt Hn E. Mabon, Dr J. Dickson Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) McCartney, Hugh Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)
Flannery, Martin McElhone, Frank Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) MacFarquhar, Roderick Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) McGuire, Michael (Ince) Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Ford, Ben Mackenzie, Gregor Silverman, Julius
Forrester, John Mackintosh, John P. Skinner, Dennis
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Maclennan, Robert Small, William
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Freeson, Reginald McNamara, Kevin Snape, Peter
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Madden, Max Spearing, Nigel
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Magee, Bryan Spriggs, Leslie
George, Bruce Mahon, Simon Stallard, A. W.
Gilbert, Dr John Mallalleu, J. P. W. Stott, Roger
Ginsburg, David Marks, Kenneth Strang, Gavin
Golding, John Marquand, David Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.
Gould, Bryan Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Gourlay, Harry Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Swain, Thomas
Graham, Ted Mason, Rt Hon Roy Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Grant, George (Morpeth) Maynard, Miss Joan Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Grant, John (Islington C) Meacher, Michael Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Grocott, Bruce Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Mendelson, John Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Hardy, Peter Mikardo, Ian Tierney, Sydney
Harper, Joseph Millan, Bruce Tinn, James
Harrison, walter (Wakefield) Miller, Dr M.S. (E Kilbridge) Tomlinson, John
Hart, Rt Hon Judith Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N) Torney, Tom
Hatersley, Rt Hon Roy Molloy, William
Moonman, Eric Tuck, Raphael
Hayman, Mrs Helene Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Urwin, T. W.
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) varley, Ht Hon Eric G.
Heffer, Eric S. Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Hooley, Frank Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Horam, John Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Howell, Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Newens, Stanley Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Noble, Mike Ward, Michael
Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Oakes, Gordon Watkins, David
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Ogden, Eric Watkinson, John
Hunter, Adam O'Halloran, Michael Weetch, Ken
Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) O'Malley, Rt Hon Brian Wellbeloved, James
Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford) Orbach, Maurice White, Frank R. (Bury)
Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley White, James (Pollok)
Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Ovenden, John Whitehead, Phillip
Janner, Greville Owen, Dr David Whitlock, William
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Padley, Walter Wigley, Dafydd
Jeger, Mrs Lena Palmer, Arthur Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Park, George Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford) Parry, Robert Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
John, Brynmor Pavitt, Laurie Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Johnson, James (Hull West) Peart, Rt Hon Fred Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Pendry, Tom Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Perry, Ernest Wilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Phipps, Dr Colin Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Wise, Mrs Audrey
Judd, Frank Price, William (Rugby) Woodall, Alec
Kaufman, Gerald Radice, Giles Woof, Robert
Kelley, Richard Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Kerr, Russell Richardson, Miss Jo Young, David (Bolton E)
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Kinnock, Neil Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Lambie, David Roderick, Caerwyn Mr. J. D. Dormand and
Lamborn, Harry Rodgers, George (Chorley) Mr. David Stoddart.
Adley, Robert Beith, A. J. Body, Richard
Altken, Jonathan Bell, Ronald Boscawen, Hon Robert
Alison, Michael Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Bottomley, Peter
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)
Arnold, Tom Benyon, W. Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Berry, Hon Anthony Braine, Sir Bernard
Awdry, Daniel Biffen, John Brittan, Leon
Baker, Kenneth Biggs-Davison, John Brocklebank-Fowler, C.
Banks, Robert Blaker, Peter Brotherton, Michael
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hicks, Robert Pattie, Geoffrey
Bryan, Sir Paul Higgins, Terence L. Penhaligon, David
Buchanan-Smith, A[...]ck Holland, Philip Percival, Ian
Budgen, Nick Hooson, Emlyn Peyton, Rt Hon John
Bulmer, Esmond Hordern, Peter Pink, R. Bonner
Burden, F. A. Howell, David (Guildford) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Prior, Rt Hon James
Carson, John Hunt, John Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Hutchison, Michael Clark Raison, Timothy
Channon, Paul Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Rathbone, Tim
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) James, David Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Clark, William (Croydon S) Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd) Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Jessel, Toby Rees-Davies, W. R.
Clegg, Walter Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Cockcroft, John Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Cope, John Jopling, Michael Ridsdale, Julian
Cordle, John H. Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Rifkind, Malcolm
Cormack, Patrick Kaberry, Sir Donald Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Corrie, John Kershaw, Anthony Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Critchley, Julian Kimball, Marcus Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Crouch, David King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Crowder, F. P. King, Tom (Bridgwater) Ross, William (Londonderry)
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Kitson, Sir Timothy Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Dean,Paul (N Somerset) Knight, Mrs Jill Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Knox, David Royle, Sir Anthony
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lamont, Norman Sainsbury, Tim
Drayson, Burnaby Lane, David St. John-Stevas, Norman
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Langford-Holt, Sir John Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Dunlop, John Latham, Michael (Melton) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Durant, Tony Lawrence, Ivan Shepherd, Colin
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Lawson, Nigel Shersby, Michael
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Le Marchant, Spencer Silvester, Fred
Elliott, Sir William Lester, Jim (Beeston) Sims, Roger
Eyre, Reginald Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Sinclair, Sir George
Fairbairn, Nicholas Lloyd, Ian Skeet, T. H. H.
Fairgrieve, Russell Loveridge, John Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Farr, John Luce, Richard Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Fell, Anthony McAdden, Sir Stephen Speed, Keith
Finsberg, Geoffrey McCrindle, Robert Spence, John
Fisher, Sir Nigel McCusker, H. Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Macfarlane, Neil Sproat, Iain
Fookes, Miss Janet MacGregor, John Stanbrook, Ivor
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Stanley, John
Fox Marcus McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Freud, Clement Madel, David Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Fry, Peter Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Stokes, John
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Marten, Neil Stradling Thomas, J.
Mather, Carol Tapsell, Peter
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Maude, Angus Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham) Mawby, Ray Tebbit, Norman
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Temple-Morris, Peter
Glyn, Dr Alan Mayhew, Patrick Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Meyer, Sir Anthony Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Goodhart, Philip Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Townsend, Cyril D.
Goodhew, Victor Mills, Peter Trotter Neville
Goodlad, Alastair Miscampbell, Norman Tugendhat, Christopher
Gorst, John Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Moate, Roger Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Molyneaux, James Viggers, Peter
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Monro, Hector Wakeham, John
Gray, Hamish Montgomery, Fergus Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Grieve, Percy Moore, John (Croydon C) Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Griffiths, Eldon Morgan, Geraint Wall, Patrick
Grist, Ian Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Walters, Dennis
Grylls, Michael Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Warren, Kenneth
Hall, Sir John Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Weatherill, Bernard
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Mudd, David Wells, John
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Neave, Airey Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Hampson, Dr Keith Nelson, Anthony Wiggin, Jerry
Hannam, John Newton, Tony Winterton, Nicholas
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Nott, John Younger, Hon George
Havers, Sir Michael Onslow, Cranley
Hawkins, Paul Oppenheim, Mrs Sally TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hayhoe, Barney Page, John (Harrow West) Mr. Cecil Parkinson and
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Mr. Michael Roberts.

Question accordingly agreed to.


That the London Councillors Order 1976, a draft of which was laid before this House on 9th December, be approved.