§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ 3.3 am
§ Mr. Ian Gow (Eastbourne)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
The statement made on behalf of the promoters of the Bill told us that the debate would take place at 7 o'clock yesterday. I am very grateful to my right hon. and hon. Friends who have so kindly come to show the importance that they attach, which is the same importance as I attach, to this Bill.
I want at the outset to deal with the point that was raised twice yesterday by the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer). The House knows that the hon. Gentleman would never knowingly mislead it, but it may be that inadvertently he did so, for he raised two points of order when you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, were not in the Chair, saying that he had not had an opportunity to discuss with the promoters the issues raised in the Bill.
The Bill was introduced into another place on 21 February this year. It received its Third Reading in another place on 11 June. It was introduced into this House last month and was considered on 21 July. It was put down for Third Reading for the first time on 24 July, and the hon. Member for Keighley and others put down a blocking motion. On the following day, 25 July, the parliamentary agents acting for the promoters wrote to the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends asking whether they would like to have a meeting with the promoters to discuss the issues raised by the Bill.
The hon. Gentleman replied on 3 August to the parliamentary agents in these terms:I note from your letter of the 25 July that you"—the parliamentary agents—think that a meeting could be arranged. However, after receiving your letter, I see that the Bill is down for Third Reading next Wednesday.That, as we all know, has slipped to Thursday. The hon. Gentleman went on:I regarded as a grave breach of parliamentary convention that the Bill should be put down in 693 this manner without any discussion which I would have been happy to have entered into with yourselves.The hon. Gentleman made no attempt to approach the promoters of the Bill. When the parliamentary agents representing the promoters wrote to the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends offering a meeting, that was the hon. Gentleman's reply.
The Bill is promoted by the Eastbourne Harbour Co. Ltd, whose shares are held by the trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement.
§ Mr. Gow
The hon. Gentleman asks "Who are they?", and I shall tell him. They are Lord Hartington, Mr. Wainwright and Mr. Burroughs. Those trustees own 380 acres of barren, featureless land three miles to the East of the centre of Eastbourne and in between the town of Eastbourne and Pevensey Bay. At present that land is used only for the extraction of gravel. The foreshore is largely shingle and is largely deserted, even in summer.
The promoters seek to build a harbour, most of which would be inland. The Bill is required because it will be necessary to build certain harbour works, including two breakwaters—one to the West, which will be 540 metres in length, and the other to the East, which will be 300 metres in length.
Under clause 11, no works of any kind can be carried out to the harbour unless the plans have first been approved by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. Further, under a later clause, any plans have to be approved by the Eastbourne borough council, which is the planning authority.
There will be moorings in the outer tidal harbour for 258 boats, including 30 moorings reserved specifically for fishermen. Ten moorings will be reserved for pleasure boats, to which the public will have access, and the remainder for sailing boats. There will also be an inner non-tidal harbour with berths for a further 1,560 boats. The non-tidal harbour will be connected to the tidal harbour, one may think appropriately, by two locks. Thus, the total moorings will be 1,818.
The estimate of expense was deposited in the Private Bill Office under Standing 694 Order No. 45. That estimate shows that the total cost of the harbour works is £24,263,000 at 1979 prices.
The scheme that the trustees and the company have in mind does not involve only the construction of a harbour, although this Bill is concerned with the harbour alone. The harbour is part only of a wider plan to utilise this barren strip of land. Under an agreement between the company, the trustees and the East Sussex county council which records the granting of outline planning permission by the borough council, the trustees have agreed to make available to the county council, free of charge, land for a primary school, a health clinic, a library and a community centre.
The benevolence of the family of my noble Friend the Duke of Devonshire, and the benefits that he and his family have already conferred upon my constituency, are being continued in this way.
§ Mr. Gow
No. I shall not give way. [Interruption.] I hope to have the Opportunity to reply to the debate, and the hon. Gentleman will be able to make his contribution later.
This land, amounting to six acres, will be conveyed by the trustees to the East Sussex county council. The trustees have also agreed to pay £2 million to the East Sussex county council, index-linked to 1980 prices, in order to pay for improvements to the main road from Eastbourne to Pevensey Bay. The trustees have also agreed to sell to a profit-making housing association, at a price fixed by the district valuer, land on which it is planned to build 100 flats. A swimming pool, a children's playground, and a caravan site, will also be built, all of which will be open to the public. It is intended that the public will have access, free of charge, to the whole of this development which at present provides no facilities for the enjoyment of the public. In addition, there will be 2,400 dwellings, ranging from four-bedroomed houses to two-bedroomed flats and maisonettes.
This is a thoroughly imaginative project. The cost of the harbour will be just under £25 million. The cost of the remainder of the development will be approximately £55 million at today's 695 prices. This project will have an important effect on employment in my constituency and in the surrounding area. The harbour works are estimated to provide employment for between 2,000 and 3,000 people, which, together with the development of 2,400 houses, is expected to last for 15 years. I repeat that figure for the benefit of the Labour Deputy Chief Whip. Employment will be provided for between 2,000 and 3,000 people, extending over 15 years. There will also be permanent jobs for 900 people. Knowing the legitimate anxiety of the Labour Party about providing jobs, I should have thought that Labour Members could have given a small cheer.
This Bill will provide a harbour for 30 fishing boats which at present have to be dragged up and down the beach at Eastbourne. It will provide a marina with 1,778 berths for small boats and 10 berths for pleasure craft. It will provide—I hope this will commend itself to the Labour Party—a haven for seafarers off the treacherous coast of Beachy Head. Indeed, it will be a source of satisfaction to my right hon. and hon. Friends to know that any members of the Labour Party whose pastime is sailing will be able to take refuge in my constituency. All this will be done wholly from the private sector, and at no cost to the public sector.
The Bill is supported wholeheartedly by the Eastbourne borough council and by the East Sussex county council—
§ Mr. Gow
The hon. Gentleman should not be too scornful about that: they are a great deal better than the other sort.
The chief executive of the borough council writes:Obviously, the harbour facility is vitally important and will give local fishermen the shelter and facilities for which they have fought so long and hard.He goes on:The number of new jobs involved in this development is of considerable importance to the town and the new business opportunities created will be significant and affect an area much wider than Eastbourne.The chief executive of the county council wrote on 4 August: 696The County Council fully supports the Eastbourne Harbour Bill.The minutes of the policy and resources committee of the county council for 19 February 1980 record:A major development in this location can be regarded as a natural physical extension to the town and will provide considerable benefits to the community, both in the constructional phases and after completion. The marina, with its associated development, will make a substantial contribution to the economic development of the town in terms of both direct and indirect employment generated by the project.Whatever may be the views of hon. Members opposite, those views which I have just quoted were shared by the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore). In 1978, when he was Secretary of State for the Environment, he approved the East Sussex structure plan, from which I will quote two passages only. Page 41 says:The following specific proposals, which will bring jobs and environmental improvement or additional amenities to the area, are made:A marine development at The Crumbles, Eastbourne.So whatever the view of the Labour Party now that it is in opposition, the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar, when Secretary of State, gave specific approval to the whole of the marine project.
I should like to read two letters that I have received from my constituents about the Bill. One, dated 1 August, reads:Dear Mr. Gow,My husband and I were most gratified to read in the Eastbourne Gazette "—an excellent newspaper, which also supports the Bill—that you intend to do your utmost to get the Eastbourne Harbour Bill through Parliament and stop the defeat the town suffered five years ago.My constituent goes on:The bigoted, petty-minded Labour MPs who are opposing this Bill obviously appear to be doing so purely from spite and envy, as no public money is involved. If this Bill is approved, it will be marvellous for Eastbourne and the residents of the town. We await August 8th and the vote with renewed hope, knowing you are fighting to get the Bill through.There is one other letter I would like to read to the House—[Hon. Members: "More."] My hon. Friends must not tempt me. I am no longer a frequent contributor to the business in this House—[Hon. Members: "Shame."] This 697 correspondent writes, perhaps unusually nowadays when addressing a politician:Dear Sir, Wishing you all the mighty success on Wednesday. Plan big please. Marina. Rule Britannia.My constituent ends his letter, which was put through the letter box in our house in the constituency—which is called "The Doghouse"—on Monday morning. "Len the postman." Len the postman, because I think it is a closed shop, would be a member of the union of post office and telecommunications workers' union. The House will understand that it was particularly gratifying to me, having moved in the last Parliament a Bill to end the Post Office monopoly, that an employee of the Post Office should write in these terms in support of this free enterprise movement.
I have not exhausted the advantages of this Bill. My constituency has long been an attraction for former Members of this House. The noble lords Lord Shaw-cross and Lord George-Brown, dearly beloved by the opponents of this Bill, have come to live in my constituency. The Leader of the Opposition, who is not in his place—[Hon. Members: "Where is he? "]—has a small estate just outside my constituency. He is the Lord of the Manor of Ringmer. If, in the evening of his life, the right hon. Gentleman should seek to escape from the treadmill of leading the Labour Party, a berth could be made available for his yacht in the new Eastbourne harbour—and not for him alone.
The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) states in "Who's Who" that his recreation is travel. I gave notice to the right hon. Member that I would be referring to him during my remarks. It is true that I told him that I would be speaking yesterday and that may explain why the right hon. Gentleman is not present. The right hon. Gentleman's party—certainly I do not claim to speak for the right hon. Gentleman—sought to prevent my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment from getting through this House a Bill which would give the right to council tenants to become owner-occupiers. The right hon. Gentleman is himself an owner-occupier of another property close to Eastbourne.
The Shadow Chancellor is the squire of Alfriston, and when he invites the 698 comrades trom Leeds, East to stay with him for a weekend in East Sussex, what better way of spreading brotherly love than by sailing his small boat from a berth in the new Eastbourne harbour and reflecting as he does so—some of my hon. Friends will understand the importance of this—on the lessons taught to him by our mutual friend Dr. Johannes Witteveen?
Those who oppose the Bill seek to deny a harbour for fishermen. They seek to block a project that will provide 15 years of employment for 2,000 to 3,000 people, and permanent employment for 900 people. Seeking, as ever, to abandon the magic of the market place, they would say to the growing number of their fellow citizens who like to sail in small boats "You may not do so; we "—that is the Labour Party—" seek to impose our prejudices on your freedom of choice".
Those who represent Keighley and Erith and Crayford, York and Darlington, Lambeth, Central and Bolsover—all, save one, landlocked constituencies—seek to prevent Eastbourne from remaining in the vanguard—at the head of the vanguard—in its primary industry, which is tourism. Theirs is a strange exercise in collective agonising about the undoubted capacity of free enterprise to create jobs and to meet the wishes of the people. They seem to forget that miners from Bolsover are more likely to be able to have a sailing holiday in Eastbourne than many of my constituents, who find it increasingly difficult to pay for coal.
We are a seafaring nation. Ours is an island race. Down the centuries we have built and improved harbours. Sailing, which used to be the privilege of the few, is now the free choice of many. I want to extend that choice, and I commend the Bill to the House.
§ Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)
I rise to speak because I have been elected to the House, and I am not indulging in a strange exercise. I am indulging in the right of elected Members of Parliament to scrutinise legislation that comes before us.
I remind the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow), who talks about the opportunities that we have had to discuss the Bill with the promoters, that I wrote back within six sitting days of Parliament 699 agreeing with the suggestion of a meeting, and at least one other member of the six signatories wrote back in considerably less than that time, and also personally contacted one of the representatives of the promoters, to say that they would be happy to have a meeting. That does not seem to me to be undue delay in any sense, and I think that it is wrong that the promoters, having written to myself and my hon. Friends seeking a meeting, should at the same time have arranged to place this motion on the Order Paper.
Therefore, it is not a strange exercise at all. It is an exercise in trying to obtain some element of democratic scrutiny—[Interruption.] There are some hon. Members who are keen to exercise that scrutiny but who have worn the hours of the early morning rather less successfully than others. We are all keen to exercise that scrutiny which the hon. Member for Eastbourne would apparently deny to us.
I should like to go into some detail on the statement on behalf of the promoters in support of the Third Reading of the Bill. It was circulated following the blocking motion that was put down by myself and five of my hon. Friends. [Hon. Members: "Who are they?"]
Paragraph 3 says that:It is intended that the Scheme should comprise all types of dwelling from very small flats to four-bedroomed houses and that over a period of ten to fifteen years more than 2,400 dwellings will be built for a wide range of income groups.I had a brief meeting with a representative of the promoters earlier today, although I cannot speak for my hon. Friends. I wish that they had had the opportunity. It was quite clear that the cost of these dwellings, the detailed plans, the type, the sort of availability and the sort of people who are expected to occupy them have not yet been decided.
In view of that absence of certainty, it seems to me that it is reasonable that we should object to a scheme, one of the components of which is still reefed in ambiguity. It may well be that the promoters are seeking to shield the basic purpose of the scheme, which is to create a wealthy marina with high-priced flats and fourbedroomed houses for people who are in the class that the Prime Minister and her Cabinet seek to represent, and that this 700 has no relationship at all to the ordinary workers of Eastbourne who are seeking accommodation.
Secondly, paragraph 4 says:The whole Scheme, when completed, is expected to provide permanent employment for over 1,000 people.Presumably, some of those jobs involve maintaining the housing and the infrastructure which, as yet, has been undecided and unplanned, and for which no detailed provision has been made. Meanwhile, the development work itself could generate 2,000 to 3,000 jobs and thus benefit the construction industry.
However, at present part of the land is occupied by N. F. Newton-Smith, Metal Recoveries, Newhaven Ltd., according to the plans that have been deposited with the Bill. The second item on the plan is occupied by the Department of the Environment. The third area deposited on the plan is occupied by Hall Aggregates (South East) Ltd.
I assume that some activity is taking place, that some jobs are involved and that there will, therefore, be some loss of occupation. I should be interested to know the extent to which these works will have an effect on the occupations that are listed and deposited with the plans accompanying the Bill.
Paragraph 5 of the statement issued on behalf of the promoters states:An important part of the Scheme is the creation of a harbour for small boats, including fishing boats".I wonder why more commercial operations are not included in the plan if the promoters are interested in developing jobs in Eastbourne. Why is there not the planned promotion of wider commercial activities? Why is there no clear statement in the Bill, or in the statement accompanying it, that small boats up to a given length will be admitted free of charge? That would surely help those who live in Eastbourne and who recognise that there might be an opportunity for working class people on low incomes to have a dinghy in which they might gain some relaxation.
If the promoters are anxious to provide for all classes of person in Eastbourne, why do not they make some provision of that nature? However, with the present policies of the Prime Minister and her cronies in the Cabinet, the range 701 of choice is becoming increasingly limited for those in Eastbourne and elsewhere as the level of unemployment increases.
Paragraph 6 states:The intention behind the Scheme is to create a community at the Crumbles with a permanent resident population".What size of population have the promoters in mind? That is part of the proposal that is totally vague. We have been furnished with no detail. At least two of the 14 paragraphs—of the statement—most of them cover technical detail—are about this vague area. It sounds attractive, but when we get down to detail there is virtually nothing there.
The estimated expense attached to the Bill is £24,263,000. That seems to be a great deal of money to expend on what might be described as the lesser order of priorities in a country that is currently facing a massive and savage diminution of its manufacturing industry. Is the Duke of Devonshire concerned about creating jobs, or is he concerned about creating a rich man's paradise in a marina very similar, perhaps, to a nearby example at Brighton? The House passed a similar Bill that enabled the marina development at Brighton to take place.
The promoters of the Brighton Bill indicated that there was to be a residential development. To this date no residential development has been made available, and there has been criticism of the access given to very small boats that are used for pleasure purposes.
§ Mr. Keith Wickenden (Dorking)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the past few weeks the Brighton marina company has announced plans to develop about 2,000 houses in partnership with Barrett Development Ltd.?
§ Mr. Christopher Price (Lewisham, West)
Is my hon. Friend aware that some of us were here in the late 1960s? We remember the promises that were made by the promoters of the previous Bill. I do not remember any promise to the effect that they would introduce housing plans in 13 years' time. They promised that houses would be built 702 alongside the marina immediately. It looks as if the promise made in the Prime Minister's Parliamentary Private Secretary's rehearsed speech will be worth as much as the promises made by the promoters of the other Bill.
§ Mr. Cryer
My hon. Friend has emphasised a point that I made earlier. There are so many Conservative Members in the House because this is a pay-roll vote. The Prime Minister's bag carrier is promoting the Bill. Those who are not on the pay-roll are, on the whole, those who would like to be on it—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Andrew Bowden (Brighton, Kemptown)
Does the hon. Gentleman recall that the former Labour Member for Brighton, Kemptown sponsored that Bill? Does he also recall that the Brighton Marina Company had to argue with a former Socialist Secretary of State for the Environment for three years before it could get planning permission to build the properties?
§ Mr. Cryer
That Labour Member came in for a good deal of criticism. Indeed, there was a referendum in Brighton on the virtues of the marina. There was a vote in favour of the proposals. Afterwards, people felt that they had been badly betrayed, because the promises that had been made were not fulfilled.
§ Mr. Christopher Price
There is a certain amount of impatience in the air. It is important to get the record straight. Although the previous hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown promoted that Bill, a very much larger number of Labour Members—led by the former Labour Member for Birmingham. Northfield—strongly opposed it. The former Labour Member for Brighton, Kemptown—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Cryer
I am glad that my hon. Friend has made the position clear. I was not a Member of Parliament at the time, but I understood that that was the position. It demonstrates that the House would be in great danger if, as the hon. Member for Eastbourne suggested, we were to tremble at the knees and fail to exercise any scrutiny of such measures every time the names of the Duke of Devonshire and the Eastbourne Harbour Bill [Lords] are mentioned. That was the tenor of the hon. Gentleman's remarks. 703 [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It was. In his opening remarks the hon. Gentleman suggested that it was wrong even to question the Bill. At the beginning of my speech, I had to make it clear that I was exercising my right, as a Back Bencher, to debate this issue on the Floor of the House. Had it not been for the efforts of Labour Back Benchers this debate would not have taken place.
Contrary to the wishes of the hon. Member for Eastbourne, a debate is taking place. There should be an interchange of ideas. It is only reasonable to examine the ideas put forward. The Brighton measure provides a basis of experience. Even those Conservative Members who wish to curry favour with the Prime Minister, with "oohs" and "ahs" in support of the hon. Member for Eastbourne, and who desperately hope that she will notice, must accept that the previous Bill is not the best star on the horizon.
This kind of project seems very low on our scale of priorities in this country. For example, manufacturing industry in many areas could do with an injection of private capital and it is not getting it. [Interruption.] Of course the Tories joke about injecting private money into manufacturing industry. They have to find some small grain of comfort from somewhere. Their constituents are pressing them about lost jobs which have resulted from firms closing down in their constituencies. The fact that they are enjoying a little entertainment at this early hour is no reason for not looking at the cold reality of life; and the cold reality is that one manufacturing company after another is closing down. That is not because we are not competitive, or because we lack investment. In the textile industry there has been co-operation with the trade unions, investment, the lot, and yet jobs are still being lost. I do not want to go too far down that path because I would probably he out of order.
§ Mr. Donald Thompson (Sowerby)
Is not the hon. Member very pleased to encourage the manufacture of boats? I know two very good boat builders in Keighley who will be delighted with this Bill.
§ Mr. Cryer
This is the Eastbourne Harbour Bill, and if it provides even half 704 a job for a boat builder in the next five years I shall be very surprised. It will not do anything of the sort. We are talking about expenditure over 15 years just to get things sorted out and provide the basic marina. It is nonsense to suggest that the Bill will have any significant effect.
It is a sign of the times that people with influence and money should contribute to this sort of thing. Incidentally, the source of the money is not clear. Will the local authorities have some investment in this development, or will the Duke of Devonshire's well-lined pockets make the major contribution? Should not money go into more urgent priorities than a rich man's marina in a Victorian seaside resort?
The other items in the Bill that worry me are the number of clauses which would cause concern if they were in delegated legislation. I have no doubt that the Conservatives would be equally concerned in that case. Do they not think that it is wrong to have powers residing in various institutions which cannot be subject to some sort of control and application of justice? Clause 19 says:The Company may from time to time make, alter and repeal such byelaws as they think fit for all or any of the following purposes.About a dozen purposes are then listed. This is not a small matter because we are talking of byelaws which impose criminal penalties.
Is it right that Parliament should hand over the ability to make criminal law to a private company? Surely that cannot be reasonable without any redress, obligation to consult or right of appeal before the byelaws become law under which criminal penalties can be exerted.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg (Grantham)
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is aware of the provision in section 236 of the Local Government Act 1972 which makes it wholly clear that any such byelaws are subject to the confirmation of the Minister of Transport, who is accountable to this House.
§ Mr. Cryer
Subsection (5) makes that clear. The Local Government Act 1972 was such a lousy Act that the local government reorganisation which it produced is a constant reminder of the 705 botched up activities of the last Conservative Government. I am talking about local topics and the lion. Member for Eastbourne should have the right to be involved in this type of decision making. Is the man in Whitehall supposed to know best about this elected dictatorship which we now have?
Clause 22 states:The company shall have power to levy such dues and charges for the use of the harbour and for the services and facilities provided thereat subject to such terms and conditions as they think fit and shall publish and prominently display a list of such dues and charges "and so on.There is no right of appeal and no requirement to publish these dues and charges. A meeting of local people might be called to give them the right of consultation or objection. But the Bill states:The Company shall have the power to levy such dues and charges for the use of the harbour … provided thereat subject to such terms and conditions as they think fit.Why should Conservatives take such powers with such solid consciences, when a value added tax inspector who is able to impose such conditions as he thinks fit can enter property? Do Conservatives say that such powers are too wide? If that is true for one person, surely it must be true in private and industrial companies which see their advantage as private profit for the trustees of the Devonshire estate? That is the aim—it is not for the benefit of the community. Conservatives might moan and groan, but I make the point because this is not the best way to take powers to make regulations as the Government think fit.
Even the Secretary of State for Industry, who as everybody knows is besotted by private enterprise and the profit motive, qualifies his remarks by saying that they must operate within a regulated framework. That is because we know that the profit motive can produce cruel, harsh and even corrupt results. That is why this House should hesitate at handing over, in effect, the powers to produce,such terms and conditions as they think fit".without the qualifying democratic accountability, which is at least a safeguard for the citizenry.
Clause 23 states:Dues and charges demanded at the harbour shall be payable subject to such conditions as 706 the Company may from time to time specify in their published list of charges.That brings me back to the question of free access for boats of less than 16 ft in length. It is clearly within the province of the Company to make charges and give exemptions.
Now that the Prime Minister is leaving, more Conservative Members will be able to leave their seats in the knowledge that they will not be in danger of hindering their careers.
§ Mr. Cryer
The company is clearly able to give exemptions. Such exemptions may cost the company money. The marina is the first stage that we are concerned with, and it gives us the outline. The residential part and the gift of land for schools for the community are vagaries. We are dealing with the legal powers relating to the marina. Perhaps the hon. Member for Eastbourne can state that the company will under clause 23 be giving a concession so that the ordinary people of Eastbourne—not those who will be able to afford either high dues or high-cost housing—can enjoy the coastline that they live near.
Clause 24 states:The several dues and charges which the Company for the time being demand, take and recover in respect of vessels shall be payable before the removal from the harbour of any vessel in respect of which they are payable and may be demanded, taken and recovered by such persons, at such places at such times and under such regulations as the Company may from time to time appoint.I am not sure what the word "appoint" means. Does it mean that the company would have the power to make regulations? If that is so, it is a serious extension of the powers that Parliament normally grants on thankfully, relatively rare occasions to private organisations. We should guard such provisions jealously.
The House goes to the trouble of—[Hon. Members: "The hon. Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) is asleep."] Many hon. Members are taking a deep interest in this matter, drinking it all in, ready to make a contribution at the appropriate time. I was diverted by the excessive concentration of Conservative Members on an extraneous matter 707 —whoever is taking a kip is beyond the Bar of the House and it is not a matter for our concern.
§ Mr. Ronald W. Brown (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)
My hon. Friend is on a good point and is being treated disgracefully by Conservative Members. I am in favour of the Bill, but in clause 19(5) the private company is being treated as if it were a local authority. It has the same powers as a local authority and the secretary of the company is treated as if he were a chief officer. Conservative Members should understand that they are creating a precedent which they may regret.
§ Mr. Cryer
My hon. Friend is correct. He has raised a serious point to which I shall return in due course.
The House has established a Select Committee on Statutory Instruments and a Joint Committee with another place to scrutinise delegated legislation, because we regard it as so important. In the 1930s, Lord Chief Justice Hewart wrote a book called "The New Despotism" and centred his ideas on the fact that delegated powers handed over to Ministers were creating a new non-accountable framework of legislation which was not being treated in a sufficiently serious and, more important, democratically accountable way, and it was eroding the powers of the House.
I hope that none of my hon. Friends is doing such a mean thing as recording the names of all the Conservative Members who are leaving the Chamber, in order to send a list to the Prime Minister. That would be unworthy of them.
§ Mr. Cryer
The Statutory Instruments Committee was established as a result of general concern about the growth of delegated legislation. The House says that we must have scrutiny of delegated legislation, but it was prepared, before Back Benchers exercised that scrutiny, to allow through legislation that unquestionably handed an element of delegated legislation to a private company. That is an element of double standards which the House should not tolerate.
§ Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch and Lymington)
The hon. Gentleman is trying to make an enormous mountain out of a molehill on clause 25. Can he explain how it differs from, say, the arrangements that British Rail makes for people who want to park their cars at its stations?
§ Mr. Cryer
I draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that we are dealing with clause 24, not clause 25. There are two differences. First, the powers of British Railways were often inherited from the old 19th century railway companies which were established in exactly the same way, and of which I would not approve. Secondly, British Railways' powers are, to some degree, accountable to the House because the Minister of Transport can answer from the Dispatch Box a range of questions which are not the responsibility of the relevant Minister, for example, the Secretary of State for the Environment.
If an hon. Member visited the Table Office and asked about the general position of British Railways, it is conceivable that he could table a question and raise the issue in the House. The accountability for British Railways—and all publicly-owned industries—on a day-to-day basis should be greater. That should apply also to private industry. We are discussing handing over powers to a private company. If an hon. Member went to the Table Office to table questions on the matter, he would be told firmly that it was not the Minister's responsibility. There is a marked difference between the powers that we are considering in the Bill and those of British Rail.
§ Mr. Donald Thompson (Sowerby)
The hon. Gentleman will recall that when discussing the Local Government, Planning and Land (No. 2) Bill the hon. Member for Newham spent a long time debating that point and arguing that rights should be left with individuals. I presume that we were arguing on behalf of the Labour Party, which would have scrutinised that Bill at some length. That point is dealt with early in the Bill. The hon. Member for Newham delved into that matter, and insisted that private companies should have those powers.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis (Newham, North-West)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is a serious matter when an hon. Member makes an interjection and states something that is not true. The hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Thompson) did that. There is no hon. Member for Newham. If he wishes to interject he should get his facts right. There are hon. Members for Newham, North-East (Mr. Leighton), Newham, North-West (Mr. Lewis) or Newham, South (Mr. Spearing). The hon. Gentleman should try to get his facts clear and say what he really means.
§ Mr. Nicholas Baker (Dorset, North)
I take the hon. Gentleman's point about statutory instruments. Both he and I know that statutory instruments relate to the expenditure of public money and Public Bills. Surely the Bill is about establishing a company. The true comparison is between the rules set out in clauses 24 and 25 and the rules set out in the articles of association of a private company, and how they affect people both within and outside the company. His comparison is inappropriate.
§ Mr. Cryer
That is not the case. Under their articles of association companies cannot produce rules and conditions that are binding on other people in such a fashion as that provided in the Bill. [Interruption.] A company cannot produce regulations, for example, as it may from time to time appoint. It certainly cannot produce regulations which have criminal penalties attached to them by the company and enforced in the courts, decided by the company, as it from time to time thinks fit.
I mentioned clause 19 earlier. I must answer this point by referring to clause 19(1), which says: 710The Company may from time to time make, alter and repeal such byelaws as they think fit for all or any of the following purposes".It gives quite a wide range of purposes. Subsection (4) says:The byelaws which may from time to time be made by the Company in exercise of the powers in that behalf conferred on them by section 83 of the Act of 1947 and by subsection (1) above may provide for the imposition on summary conviction for the breach or non-observance of any of the byelaws of a fine not exceeding £50 and of a daily fine not exceeding £5.I am not talking about clause 24 in isolation. I am asking for clarification of the wordsunder such regulations as the Company may from time to time appoint.It is true that a company may lay down rules about "no smoking" in a particular area, and so on. But this is a very wide application. It covers all the people who use the harbour and come under clause 24, andThe several dues and charges which the Company for the time being demand".A company that enters into contractual relationships is governed by the common law and statute law, as they from time to time apply. It is not able to make regulations which govern it is own contractual relationships. Therefore, that covers section 24.
Clause 19 makes clear—beyond peradventure, I should have thought—that it has criminal penalties attached to it for breach of the byelaws which the company can produce as it thinks fit. I should have thought that it was quite clear that almost no company was able to do that—only a specialised company, which is why we are debating this issue tonight, why we are giving it this power—[Interruption.] An hon. Members says "You are doing this." All right. I admit that Conservative Members, because of fear for their career prospects or whatever, will not be making a contribution. But that does not mean to say that there should not be this sort of scrutiny. If Conservative Members want to contribute, we shall look forward to listening to them with interest.
However, I want to come to clause 26 This saysThe Company may, if they think fit, require any person liable, or to become liable, to pay dues or charges to the Company to deposit with their collector, or to guarantee 711 such sums as, in the opinion of the Company, is reasonable having regard to the probable amount thereof.Here we are giving a power to a company to require any personto pay dues or charges … to deposit with their collectoror to make a guarantee to the company "if they think fit"—in the opinion of the company.
If we are dealing with delegated legislation, we would have regard, for example, to the right of appeal against a particular body. It is very interesting that Conservative Members are gloating now at this private enterprise venture, and are apparently, with such carefree comments, consigning it, as they hope, to the statute book. If this matter was dealt with by value added tax collectors, for example, or by any of the employees of Customs and Excise, and the VAT collector were able, if he thought fit, to require any person liable, or to become liable, to pay dues or to guarantee such a sum, would not there be a song and dance about it? Would not the Conservatives be asking "What about the right of appeal? Is it not true that we have built into our system of tax collection, for example, a comprehensive system of appeals so that we may be seen to be dealing with people fairly when they disagree with a tax assessment, whether on a direct tax or a tax such as VAT?"
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg
The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the clause. It is clear that there is a right of appeal under clause 26, because if a person who is required to make a deposit says that he is not liable in respect of any debt, the only remedy to the company is to go to the court. If the court agrees with the person required to give the deposit, that is the end of the matter.
§ Mr. Cryer
I can well understand a lawyer arguing in support of the courts, with a fee of £200-plus a day—inconceivable though it is that anyone should pay anyone on the Conservative Benches for his legal expertise. The hon. Gentleman knows that the fees that lawyers earn in courts are astronomical compared with, for example, the money we pay a machine tool fitter or a labourer in a factory.
We have built into many of our tax laws a system of tribunals, a system of 712 appeal, that does not involve recourse to the courts. That is far better, because recourse to the courts is often punitively expensive for those involved. In effect, that acts as a bar to the ordinary person who is seeking justice. With his legal background, the hon. Gentleman should know that a person who goes for legal aid, unlike a person with money in his pocket, is subject to further scrutiny by the legal aid committee to see whether he has a case.
There are occasions—even if rare—when people gain support, perhaps because they are members of trade unions, go to court and win, contrary to the view of the legal aid committee. The need for legal aid is an additional bar and handicap.
We all agree that if there is one case of injustice it is a case that should be remedied. Therefore, we should look at clause 26 carefully before glibly saying "There is always recourse to the courts." It is not a matter that Parliament should have much regard to. I am not over looking the courts, because they act as a stopgap, a place of last resort. But when we are dealing with primary legislation we should seriously try to produce words and phrases that avoid the possibility of people going to the courts and having judges decide what we mean. It is far better to achieve clarity of words and lack of ambiguity here in the House than to say "We shall pass it and leave it to the judiciary to make a decision." A visit to the judiciary can result in deep unhappiness, because of the possible financial penalties.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
Could it not be the so-called expensive court work that determined the Government view tonight on the Housing Bill, when they refused to remove the word "only" and substitute another word? Will it not have been a very expensive night for the Government?
§ Mr. Cryer
I think that is right. That is an illustration of the kind of point that I am making. We are trying to clarify the position. Unfortunately, because of their doctrinaire view, Conservative Members voted down what many hon. Members felt would clarify the position and avoid local authorities having to make expensive recourse to the courts, 713 although the Government say that they want to save local authority expenditure.
I should like to summarise my conclusions on the Bill. First, we have every right to raise issues on Third Reading, although that was brought into question by the comments made by the hon. Member for Eastbourne, as the record will show. Subsequent to his remarks, Tory Members have been trying to ridicule every serious examination—[Interruption.] Conservative Members, in the manner to which we have become accustomed, question the very nature of the debate.
We have raised some issues and had a debate. That is parliamentary scrutiny which we are elected to carry out. I have posed a number of detailed questions on the promoters' statement. I hope that the hon. Member for Eastbourne will answer the points that I made concerning residential development, types of houses, density, availability, price and rent. Will they be available to rent? If so, will the tenants have the right to purchase? The Government have gone to great lengths to give council tenants the right to purchase. Perhaps, significantly, they have not given private tenants the right to purchase. Is it because they wish private landlords to reap their profits unhindered? Do they wish to give advantage to private landlords and to deprive local authorities of the flexibility in the provision of housing that they have sought to maintain?
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
My hon. Friend seems to have misunderstood the point put to him by the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow). Did not the hon. Gentleman suggest that this was a private company connected with, I think he said, the Duke of Devonshire? Does my hon. Friend realise that the Duke of Devonshire may be a Socialist? He may not be a Conservative. He may not support Government policy. He may be a worthy Duke of Devonshire who is against the Tories. I do not know.
§ Mr. Cryer
It may be that the person in question has had a rapid conversion from the time when he occupied a junior ministerial position in the Macmillan Government. We do not know.
I am concerned that these decisions should be in the hands of a small group 714 of people without any element of public accountability. We are giving the Bill public accountability. When it leaves the House, it will go into the hands of a tiny group of people without any of the desirable provisions that the House seeks to apply in other areas.
§ Mr. Cryer
The hon. Member has confirmed my worst doubts and fears, and therefore, the reassurances that I seek are even more important. The sort of housing that the promoters have in mind for the marina development should be clearly set out.
On the question of employment, I remind the hon. Gentleman that I asked him how many jobs are likely to be lost. I should also like to know for how long the 2,000 to 3,000 people will be employed. Will there be 2,000 to 3,000 people in total employment over 15 years, or will 2,000 to 3,000 people be employed in each of those 15 years?
Finally, I covered the question of priorities. I urge the promoters to contact the originators of the scheme. I do not believe that providing a rich man's marina at Eastbourne is likely to be the best source of fruitful activity for the nation as a whole. A sum of money of this size—approximately £50 million—should be devoted more urgently to the process of getting manufacturing industry out of the mess in which the Government have placed it. It should be used to try to provide some of the much needed jobs, because, although this candy-floss project may have some superficial attraction to Conservatives, when North Sea oil runs out in 15 or 20 years we should have built up our manufacturing industry, using the abilities and skills of our population, rather than being left in a manufacturing desert, able only to import a few goods. If that happened there would be a low level of income for 715 the vast majority of the population, certainly not at such a level as to enable them to enjoy the facilities provided by this sort of marina. There would be no manufacturing skills, no job opportunities, no openings for apprentices, and so on.
That is the stark alternative that the Conservative Government are providing, and, in a microcosm, this Bill is a demonstration of their priorities. They are giving it their full-blooded and full-voiced support tonight, but it is a demonstration to the nation of the warped priorities that are plunging the nation deeper into economic gloom.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Marcus Fox)
As is customary on an occasion such as this, intervene briefly to state the Government's position on the Bill. The Department of the Environment had a number of doubts that were resolved with the promoters of the Bill. If there had been any doubts left, my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) has convinced us in his speech that he speaks for his constituents and what they want, and that all the local authorities concerned support the Bill. It is unthinkable that the House should not support a measure that provides employment not only in terms of bulk building but in terms of the construction industry also. In terms of the environment, we believe that this project will be of benefit not only to the people whom I have described, but to many people who simply want to enjoy themselves. Pleasure is something that Labour Members seem to forget on so many occasions. We believe that my hon. Friend has done a great service in introducing the Bill, and the Government give it their support.
§ Mr. Christopher Price (Lewisham, West)
I reject immediately the charge that hon. Members on this side are not interested in pleasure. One of the greatest pleasures I have had is to have a front seat at this show, with the massed ranks of reaction gathered to show proper deference to the Cavendish family and their lords and masters, the Duke of Devonshire and his—[Interruption.] It really is a pleasure, especially after events 716 earlier this week, to see those Benches full and showing the deference that we expect of them.
I cannot hope to compete with my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer), who has studied the Bill with more care than I. The hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) made great play of the claim that this was a private sector project. I never thought of the Duke of Devonshire as part of the private sector. Certainly Chatsworth benefits from a great deal of public money in one form and another.
However, although the Duke of Devonshire has been firmly planted in the private sector, I did not gather from the hon. Member for Eastbourne what his motives were. At first it seemed to be pure altruism, that the Duke, in a proper Whiggish way, was not interested in private profit but was just giving all this to the good citizens of Eastbourne out of the goodness of his heart. That is the impression that, in the early part of his speech, the hon. Member tried to convey—of this grand gentleman taking pity on the town of Eastbourne.
My hon. Friend described Eastbourne as a Victorian town. On my few visits to Eastbourne, I have not seen one building of anything remotely approaching architectural merit.
§ Viscount Cranborne (Dorset, South)
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not want to mislead the House. He has made a claim which I am sure he would like to be corrected. I think that I understood him to claim that the trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement had received 717 considerable public money over the years. The hon. Gentleman would, perhaps, like to know that I am in a position to deny this. I am sure that he would wish to correct the record.
§ Mr. Price
It is a pleasure to be amidst all the belted earls on occasions such as this. One has so few opportunities. Of course, if the hon. Member says that not one penny of public money has flowed into Chatsworth over the years, with his knowledge of the aristocracy and their ways, I am sure that he may be right. I had thought that there were ways and means whereby the Duke of Devonshire managed, if not to get actual grants of public money, at any rate to avoid paying those imposts and taxes which he might otherwise have to pay in one way or another. That is public money in the same sort of way. If I were to pursue that line, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you would rule me out of order.
§ Mr. Ronald W. Brown
Before my hon. Friend leaves that point, will be note that the sponsor of the Bill, the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow), has informed the House that the greatest eyesore in the town is the building erected by the Transport and General Workers Union? In those circumstances is it not strange that this Bill places responsibility for the approval of plans on the very borough council which approved that building?
§ Mr. Price
I bow to my hon. Friend's expertise on such matters relating to the Transport and General Workers Union, as I do to the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Cranborne) on Chatsworth.
I move quickly from Chatsworth and the Wimpy Bars of Eastbourne to the point I was making earlier. In his speech the hon. Member for Eastbourne spoke of the Duke of Devonshire—who, we are pleased to know, is a Conservative, unlike the Duke of Norfolk who voted against all the Government's Bills in the House of Lords—as some sort of altruistic gentleman, giving away his great wealth to this impoverished little town of Eastbourne out of the goodness of his heart. As the hon. Gentleman ended his speech with something of a paean of praise of the private sector, the 718 impression was given that the Duke of Devonshire, so far from being a rather Whiggish nobleman, was an entrepreneur, one of these people the Conservative Party is trying to encourage, someone who is to make a profit out of this marina and bring jobs to the area.
§ Mr. Archie Hamilton (Epsom and Ewell)
Is my hon. Friend aware that his view of capitalism is somewhat imperfect? Does he realise that an entrepreneur may make a profit and he may make a loss?
§ Mr. Cryer
It is an interesting observation that, although this Government claim to encourage entrepreneurs, this entrepreneur decided in the first place to embark on this venture in June 1975, with a Labour Government. Clearly it is not the tax concessions which are said to be provided by the Tories which encourage entrepreneurs to start off on this tack.
§ Mr. Price
All I am saying—and it is not a point on which I put a great deal of emphasis because I propose to make a short speech; indeed, I do not want to detain the House at all—is that the hon. Member for Eastbourne should make up his mind about what sort of man this duke is. Is he one of these thrusting, profit-making entrepreneurs, or is he a member of the Cavendish family we know of old?
§ Mr. Price
As I said, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is not a matter on which want to put any real emphasis. It is not something that we should make much of, but I was commenting on the hon. Gentleman's speech. I thought that there was a slight inconsistency there, but it is probably right to move on from the Cavendish family to the marina.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
It is a fact that the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) went into detail about the philanthropic approach of the Duke of Devonshire, making out that he was interested in helping poor people over housing, and so on, and that he used private money. Is not my hon. Friend aware—I am sure that he is—that in Newham—and in other London boroughs—and that is probably his home as well—
§ Mr. Lewis
I wish that the hog would keep quiet and stop snorting. I believe that my hon. Friend has in his constituency—as I have in mine—a number of tower blocks. He may know that they are, unfortunately, falling down. These blocks were built by private enterprise. Taylor Woodrow Ltd. built them, and we are still trying to contest the Ronan Point disaster, where lives were lost. We still have to find £1 million—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. What has all that got to do with the Eastbourne Harbour Bill? Will the hon. Member please come to the point?
§ Mr. Lewis
I will, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was explaining that the hon. Member for Eastbourne went into detail about the philanthropic approach of the Duke of Devonshire, who is interested in helping the poor people with housing and had contributed his private funds to that end. Is my hon. Friend aware that Newham is urgently in need of finance of any sort to rebuild these tower blocks, which are dangerous and are having to be pulled down? The Government refuse to give any money for this purpose. Is it possible to ask the Duke of Devonshire to say that instead of giving this money to Eastbourne he will give it to Newham?
§ Mr. Price
I am sure that you will agree with me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that that was a tremendously helpful intervention, which has enabled us to see both the Duke of Devonshire and the Bill in a new context. I am certain that when my hon. Friend gets a chance to make his contribution to the debate—and I am sure that he will—he will be able to elaborate further.
I wanted to move towards the marina and scrabble up on the quay before I 720 got myself out of order again—something which, as you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I never have any wish to do.
I was impressed by the care that the hon. Member for Eastbourne devoted to his speech. It was beautifully delivered—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] It is unfair of his hon. Friends to dispute that. I felt that it was quite beautifully delivered. However, it reminded me more than anything else of the speeches in favour of the Brighton marina in 1967, 1968 and 1969. On each of those occasions, the then Member for Brighton, Kemptown, Mr. Dennis Hobden, who perhaps did not have the turn of phrase of the hon. Member for Eastbourne, told the House with great eloquence of all the wonderful housing plans, roads and employment that the building of Brighton marina would instantly bring to Brighton. As we have seen, not one house for a whole decade appeared in that marina project. In other words, en that occasion the words presented to the House as to what would happen proved completely empty and quite worthless.
§ Mr. Wickenden
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that when one builds houses on reclaimed land, which is what happened at Brighton marina, it is first necessary to enclose the harbour? That was not done until two years ago, because it was a major project. The reclamation of the land then started, which has now been completed. The land had to be allowed to settle, which has now happened, and the contract is now being placed for the building of the houses, which is precisely what the late Mr. Dennis Hobden said would happen.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. We cannot have debates about other marinas. We are talking about the Eastbourne marina, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman will confine his remarks to that.
§ Mr. Price
I shall certainly relate my remarks to the Eastbourne marina, Mr. Deputy Speaker, although this debate is a little wider than the one we had on Monday, when we were on a very narrow point indeed. On that occasion, I made a short speech just to start things off.
I am relating my remarks to the speech made by the hon. Member for Eastbourne, who sounded like an advertising 721 agent making a presentation and producing a prospectus. As is inevitable in this Bill, and in all these private Bills, the promoter must say "If you vote for this Bill, the following things will happen. We will build this marina, these berths, these houses and these flats". It is seldom that those things happen. This is a small point and I do not want to place too much emphasis on it, but I think that the House should be aware that time and again promoters come here with Private Bills and plans, which are knocked away by the economic situation, but the difficulties they encounter over the land on which they want to build, by changes in fashion and a whole range of things. We must consider the hon. Gentleman's speech in that context.
§ Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
Is my hon. Friend aware that five years ago when we debated this matter some lavish promises were made on housing in the event of the Eastbourne Bill being passed?
§ Mr. Skinner
The Bill's supporters said that 2,400 houses would be built in the following 10 years if the Bill were enacted. The Bill was defeated, but if the Chatsworth trustees were concerned about building houses for run-of-the-mill people—that is what they were saying—and not necessarily for those who would have yachts close to the marina, they would have got on with the job. Seemingly they have made no effort to do that during the past five years.
§ Mr. Price
The Duke of Devonshire and the Chatsworth trustees are one of Britain's largest landowners. They have land all over the place. When I lived in Sheffield I used to enjoy visiting Chatsworth. The trustees have a far greater responsibility to the areas that they have systematically milked over the generations. If they had not done so, they would not be so rich now. For example, they have far more pressing obligations towards the industrial area around Sheffield.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
My hon. Friend raised an interesting topic. The hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Benyon) has a brother-in-law or nephew who owns a derelict harbour in the northern region at Maryport. It is a harbour that is silted up and it cries out for development. I think that it is the hon. Member for Buckingham, but I may be mistaken. I see that he shakes his head.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
I apologise and I withdraw that remark. However, certainly one Conservative Member has a relative who owns a silted harbour at Maryport. It is a town with 141 per cent. unemployment. It is crying out for development. Conservative Members say that the developers own the land at Eastbourne and that should be the criterion that governs where they lay their investment. If the moneys are to be made available, they should be made available 723 to those ports that lie in disrepair and disuse. Is not that in line with the remarks made by the hon. Member for Eatbourne (Mr. Gow)? He said that thousands of jobs would be created.
§ Mr. Price
I wish to get on, and to confine my remarks to the Bill. However, my hon. Friend has made a helpful intervention, and has concentrated hon. Members' minds on the issue. We are being asked to pass a Bill under which the Chatsworth trustees and the Duke of Devonshire—with all his money—will put money into a scheme for building a marina and houses. It is only right that the House should weigh the issue in the balance and ask itself, "Why Eastbourne?".
§ Mr. Selwyn Gummer (Eye)
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that the Duke of Devonshire should build the marina in Sheffield? If so, is it not a curious suggestion? Is not the main reason for building the marina in Eastbourne that it is a seaside town, and that that makes it easier to build one?
§ Mr. Price
If I were to follow the hon. Gentleman too far up that path, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you might rule that I was out of order. A marina in Sheffield is not such an absurd suggestion. Sailing is a popular sport in Sheffield. There are many reservoirs, rivers and canals. However, I do not wish to pursue that point.
If the Duke of Devonshire has the type of social conscience portrayed in the speech of the hon. Member for Eastbourne, he is applying it in a curious way. He intends to build houses in Eastbourne despite the fact that the dilapidation and shortage of houses in Eastbourne is not nearly as serious as the dilapidation and shortage in Newham and Lewisham.
§ Mr. Matthew Parris (Derbyshire, West)
Has the hon. Gentleman any conception of the contribution that the Duke of Devonshire makes to housing in my constituency, in the area round Chatsworth?
§ Mr. Price
Indeed, I have. I know the area well. In happier days that constituency was represented by a Labour Member of Parliament. I hope that those days will return. In 1944, just before the 1945 general election, that area had a 724 famous by-election, at which the Marquis of Hartington, the Conservative candidate, was defeated by an independent candidate, Charlie White. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I know his constituency well. If he should care to invite me there to show me around, I shall consider accepting the invitation. However, I should certainly stop at Clay Cross on the way.
We should decide whether the provisions allow for an appropriate expenditure of private funds, and whether the House should authorise such expenditure.
Conservative Members say that the Duke of Devonshire is willing to spend this money on housing in Eastbourne and, therefore, we should vote for the Third Reading of the Bill. The serious point that I am making is that in considering this sort of Private Bill, the House of Commons has a duty to order expenditure of this kind properly—whether private or public because it is such a considerable amount. If that money is spent on housing it should be spent in areas where people need housing. A Select Committee of this House has just reported that in 10 or 15 years this country will be tragically and massively short of housing.
I oppose the Bill because it proposes to put new houses in a place where that need has a low priority. I believe that the Duke of Devonshire should be encouraged—if he is such an altruistic chap and wants nothing more than the wellbeing of the people of England—to concentrate on areas where housing and investment are needed. Hon. Members may ask why he should not develop a marina in Eastbourne. I say that he is doing so, not because he is altruistic, but because he thinks that he will make a lot of money out of a growing tourist industry in the South Coast. [HON. MEMBERS: "That is perfectly legitimate."] I did not say that it was not legitimate. But it is up to the promoter of the Bill to say that this Duke character is just another entrepreneur like anyone else.
§ Viscount Cranborne
Is it not curious that the hon. Member for Lewisham. West (Mr. Price) is so qualified to say where new housing should go? I am sure that much is needed in Sheffield. But equally there is a great need for housing 725 in my constituency—particularly in Weymouth. Is it not curious that the hon. Member should feel himself so expert that he knows that Sheffield is more in need of housing than Weymouth?
§ Mr. Price
The noble Lord makes an interesting point. [Interruption.]—I am sorry, perhaps I should have said the hon. Member. Anyway, he looks like a noble Lord.
If the hon. Member had been rather more careful about giving his votes to the Housing Bill over the past weeks, he would not have half the council houses in his constituency being turned into second homes and holiday houses, which will be the result of that Bill. If there is a housing shortage in his constituency it will be due to the fact that his Government have refused to provide money for housing and instead have produced a ludicrous Housing Bill which will take desperately-needed houses from Weymouth and other places and turn them into secondary homes. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I think that the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price) is in need of my protection. He protested that he wished to bring his remarks to a conclusion, and he should be allowed to complete his speech without interference.
§ Mr. Price
I was misled. I am conscious that many of my hon. Friends want to participate and that time is running out. I want to give my hon. Friends plenty of time, especially since we now have a distinguished audience on the Front Bench. The House must concentrate hard if such sums are being spent on areas of low priority in housing.
It is proper to refuse to allow the Bill to go through on the nod. I hope that when we reach the end of Third Reading my hon. Friends and others will use their votes as well as their voices and say what they feel about the Bill.
§ 5.6 am
§ Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch and Lymington)
Only last week the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price) suggested how Dorset county council might run its education policy. This evening he has spoken about the rising cost of housing and has said that houses built in Eastbourne should be built in 726 Sheffield. He illustrates that Socialists spend their time trying to run everyone's lives with little benefit to anybody, including themselves.
I have two reasons for intervening. My constituency is coastal. I shall seek to show how my constituents will seek to gain benefit from the Bill. I am a recent former commodore of the House of Commons yacht club and I have received representations from the Royal Yachting Association and the British boating industry which fully support the Bill's objectives. Unlike Opposition Members, Government Members feel no antipathy towards those who sail in boats. Certainly we have no antipathy towards those who sail in boats. I shall explain how the Bill will help my constituents who are involved in boating activities.
Boat builders need customers. Customers who buy boats urgently need berths, and I am told frequently that boat builders find it increasingly difficult to sell boats unless prospective customers can guarantee somewhere to keep their boats. The boat builders need customers; the boat owners need berths. There is an extreme shortage of berths and this scheme could provide facilities which in due course could help my constituents.
The director general of the Ship and Boat Builders National Federation has told me:The SBBNF is interested because any proposal to create a marina to provide more mooring spaces for boats is very much in the interests of the British Boating Industry, and will assist the sale of boats, and, therefore, encourage employment in the Boating Industry.Safety is an important topic. The Royal Yachting Association wrote to me to say:In the short time available to us all that we can do is to state that this project, a marina of considerable size, is to be situated on an area of the coastline which sadly needs such a facility even if it were only on grounds of safety and for use as a harbour of refuge.The hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) expresses concern about jobs. When he talks about jobs he refers to jobs only in industries of which he approves. He talks only of jobs which fit his private criteria. Life is not like that. Many people find satisfactory employment outside the fantasy world in which the hon. Gentleman believes that acceptable jobs exist.
727 If the scheme will provide permanent employment for a thousand people, and many others in the construction industry, I do not understand why Labour Members do not support it, unless their spite and hatred for dukes overshadows their wish to provide employment. Jobs for boat builders in my constituency are as important as jobs for coal miners in the constituency of the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) or in factories in the constituency of the hon. Member for Keighley.
There is no good reason to oppose the Bill. It is acceptable on planning and environmental grounds. As there is no financial burden on the public purse, I urge my hon. Friends to support the Bill enthusiastically.
§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Stockport, North)
I did not intend to speak, as I do not know a great deal about the coast near Eastbourne. However, we are in danger of overlooking a most important aspect—our concern to protect our national heritage. It is important that we do not continue to build over good agricultural land or our coastline. It is well worth while trying to preserve as much of our countryside and coast as possible from building.
It will be argued that the site is not particularly attractive. As a shingle area it does not have many of the attractions that exist elsewhere. Reasons can always be found for taking away a little more of our countrside and coast for building, gradually eroding more and more of an attractive country. On each occasion we should try to prevent more of our coastline or countryside from being developed.
A large amount of money has already been made from the site by the extraction of gravel. A great deal of work would be involved to return it to attractive countryside or coast. However, it is the duty of those who exploit mineral workings to put the land back to an attractive state. Having made a profit from extracting shingle, developing it to make further profit will destroy our countryside and coast.
§ Mr. Ronald W. Brown
One reason why the site has not yet been developed is that it is at the extreme eastern end of 728 Eastbourne. It is as far out of Eastbourne as it can be. The people of Eastbourne never see the site. It is about five miles away.
§ Mr. Bennett
I accept that. However, I believe that in order to preserve the coast and the countryside we must be firm and say that each bit is worth preserving. We should be doing more and more to restore it, instead of allowing it to be eroded.
Those who wish to use marinas also like to look at attractive countrside and coast. They do not want to look back at built-up coastlines. A tragedy of the 1920s and 1930s was the way that we allowed strip development along the coast and along our major motorways. On each occasion when we can say "No" to such development, we should do so.
I understand that it is possible to walk along the coast from Eastbourne to Pevensey Bay at any time other than high tide. Although the inland area is not particularly attractive, many people enjoy walking along that stretch of coast. I have studied the plans with care and it seems that if the development goes ahead it will no longer be possible to walk along the waterfront. That is another instance of the way in which traditional rights are taken way.
Many people enjoy walking along a beach looking for the odd bit of driftwood or other material that may have come ashore. It is a pleasure which costs nothing and which many people enjoy. Putting the works into the sea will ensure that, instead of being able to walk along the sea front, people will have to turn inland, round the marina and through an area that is to be developed for housing.
I hope that we shall be given an idea of what the promoters are doing to protect the right of free passage along the coast. The map also shows a series of tracks along the coast, which some walkers use. The promoters should have given us more information about the protection of rights of way.
We should not blame this development for the sins of many others, but often grandiose schemes that appear to meet all the interests involved end up with many sections being left out because they are uneconomic. We have not had assurances that we shall get the advantages of the 729 scheme, as well as the disadvantages. We need more evidence from the promoters that they will do the whole thing and will not give up halfway through.
I understand that there will have to be negotiations with the water authority about the marine implications of the works. I have scant knowledge of hydrography, but it would seem difficult to predict what will happen to one section of the coast if another section is altered.
We know the shingle was deposited in the area by coastal drift over the years. If the coast is slightly changed, there is a strong likelihood that the shingle will be deposited somewhere else. Can the promoters guarantee that the shingle will not end up on someone else's sandy beach?
There is considerable rivalry between resorts to ensure that they have sand rather than shingle. Many resorts spend vast sums to import sand to cover up the shingle during the summer season.
§ Mr. Wickenden
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is not a sandy beach within 20 miles of Eastbourne?
§ Mr. Bennett
At the beginning of my speech I made the point that I did not know the coast especially well. I also said that I hoped that Conservative Members who knew the coast would make their points. It is a perfectly valid point that there is a complicated process of coastal erosion and deposition along that coast.
§ Mr. Gummer
All hon. Members who know the coast are in favour of the marina. Only those hon. Members who do not know the coast, and who are venting their personal spleen, are against the marina. Would it not be better if the hon. Gentlemen left those hon. Members who bother to go to that coast to talk about the matter, and not make general comments that are of no use to the House when discussing this important Bill?
§ Mr. Bennett
Will the hon. Gentleman say what studies he has made of the effects on the coast of the proposed development? It is extremely difficult to predict coastal drift, deposition and erosion, even when sophisticated models are produced. If the hon. Gentleman has considered those problems I am willing to give way to his knowledge of the matter.
§ Mr. Gummer
As the Member of Parliament for a constituency with a considerable coastline, I was making the point that if I made such ill-informed speeches about Stockport the hon. Gentleman would rightly object. One of the reasons why many of us feel that this is not a debate about the Bill but simply a means to keep everyone here for three hours while hon. Members make these comments is that the hon. Gentleman has admitted his scant knowledge, and has proved by his speech that he has no knowledge at all.
§ Mr. Bennett
The hon. Gentleman is making assertions, but he has not checked on the problems of coastal erosion and deposition. If Conservative Members are saying that there is no problem with coastal erosion and deposition, I suggest that they are wrong. I have spent a considerable time in the past studying various parts of the coast to see the way in which shingle silts develop and the problems of coastal erosion and deposition across river estuaries—
§ Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)
I do not wish the hon. Gentleman to mislead the House about the beach. I am interested in his views about the movement of shingle, which I have on my coastline. It needs the establishment of only one groyne to cause a different movement of shingle. The House may not know that during the war I lived on the beach that we are discussing. If I catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I might have something to say about that because of my considerable knowledge of what happens on the beach.
§ Mr. Bennett
I accept that. I am suggesting that we must be satisfied that people know what is happening. Almost everyone is happy to say that he is an expert on his half mile of coast because he is confident about what happens there. But no one is confident enough to say what happens on the next three or four miles, or further along the coast, as a result of a single change in the coastal pattern.
A whole section in the Bill provides for negotiations between the promoters and the water authority about changes to ensure that they do not cause problems elsewhere along the coast. We should have assurances that those negotiations 731 will happen. The actual design of the works tries to minimise the problems of silting on this development They do not want to end up with a marina that silts up. I am concerned that, in designing carefully their proposed works, they have not simply solved their problems but have created problems for people further along the coast.
§ Mr. Ronald W. Brown
My hon. Friend is on a very good point, although Conservative Members keep trying to ridicule him. I can tell him that I spoke to the parliamentary agents about this Bill—which is more than the hon. Gentleman did—and they told me that this matter was of great concern to the people living in the area. A great deal of work has been done by the Southern water authority and the promoters to ascertain the facts that my hon. Friend is trying to elicit tonight. Rather than that he should think that he is on a poor point, I can tell him that I was told by the parliamentary agents that the local people are very concerned about this point.
§ Mr. Bennett
I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. But I would have hoped that it would be the promoters who would be giving the House the assurance that they have worked out what will happen to their bit of coast and the rest of the coast. Therefore, it seems that at this stage we should be ill-advised to approve the Bill. It increases the amount of coastal land that is being built on. There is no guarantee that people will continue to have the right to walk along the coast at that point. We have no guarantee from the developers that they will complete the whole scheme, both the advantageous and disadvantageous parts of it. Finally, we have no assurances as yet as to the effect of altering the coastline at this particular point on the rest of the coast in the area.
Therefore, I hope that many hon. Members will oppose the Bill on this occasion.
§ Mr. Tim Rathbone (Lewes)
I am delighted to welcome the hon. Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) back from his quiet "zizz" below the bar earlier on, and to pick up the three points on which he touched.
732 I think that the hon. Member's first and second points can best be answered by reference to a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow). He made the point that the people in Eastbourne voted for this development. It is those people to whom the hon. Member is referring as having their walks or their facilities put in jeopardy. They have weighed the pros and cons of it and thought that with this new facility, when it is built—as I am sure it will be built when we give permission for it—they will have a better facility than they have had hitherto.
As regards the hon. Member's third point, the removal of shingle, while I cannot profess to be an expert, I should like to correct the impression of my hon. Friend the Member for Dorking (Mr. Wickenden), by saying that there is one patch of sandy beach well within the 20-mile area of Eastbourne—and that is behind the breakwater at Newhaven. It is the very fact that the breakwater was built that has caused the sand to appear. So, contrary to the impression about the movement of shingle along the coast, the shingle builds up on the windward or tidal side of the breakwater, and the sand builds up on the leeward side or the inland side.
I hope, therefore, that after this magnificent marina is built, in years to come the hon. Member for Stockport, North will come down and be able to curl his toes in the newly appearing sand along the Sussex coast.
Having, I hope, saved my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne the need to pick up those points, I should like to add my congratulations to him on his emphatic, informed and most persuasive opening speech. It is yet another indication of the way in which he represents his constituents' interests in this House, and, where it is possible and politic, he is able also to embrace my constituents' interests as well, as he so graciously did in his speech tonight.
I have the great honour to represent in this House the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. Very often they take an interest in local matters. They open local Labour Party fetes. They take part in local activities. Very welcome they are too, in their new roles as landlords of 733 considerable properties in my constituency.
The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) has only recently bought his property, for a considerable sum. I would not wish to embarrass him by stating the sum, but the mortgage on it would certainly be well over the tax-allowable limit. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman has managed somehow. I am also sure that both right hon. Gentlemen will make full use of the facility when it is built.
The facility is a remarkable example of free enterprise entrepreneurial provision of genuine jobs, both now, in the construction of the harbour, and into the future, in the servicing of all its requirements. As my hon. Friend pointed out—but it can be pointed out over and over again—not one penny of public money is going into it. Usually Labour hon. Members are very concerned about genuine jobs being created, but they seem to be paying little attention to that tonight. I repeat that such jobs are being created at no cost to the public purse.
I have one question about the building procedure. If it is not possible for my hon. Friend to answer it tonight, it may be wise to gain reassurance from the promoters about it. It has to do with clause 10, part II, about the use of sea water and the discharging of sea water, and whether the pollution requirements of the Prevention of Oil Pollution Act 1971 are sufficient to protect the surrounding coastline from the omnipresent risk of pollution. I am sure that the construction engineers will take the greatest care. Does the rider in clause 32(6), part IV, also contribute sufficiently to this?
May I add to that question a commendation of clause 32(2)(a), part IV, which lays out clearly the complete protection that all of those living in the Eastbourne community will have through the requirement on the company to clear all plans through the borough council and to obtain the council's approval to all of the plans that are laid.
I have three further points. The great boon that the new harbour facility can give to sailors along the South Coast will be felt by all those sailing along the coast. That is particularly true of those sailing from one end of the coast to the 734 other. The House will remember the tragedy that only a few years ago befell the boat then owned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath). It is conceivable that if the facility had existed then the boat would have made port, and that tragedy could have been averted.
§ Mr. Rathbone
I welcome that intervention. I am not a bit surprised by what my hon. Friend said, because the whole House knows of my right hon. Friend's prowess on the waters.
There is one point with regard to provision for small boats. The previous incumbent of the Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, warned about mention of the Brighton marina, but I should like to make a point of comparison. It is that at Brighton marina there are no facilities for launching sailing dinghies. I sincerely hope that in this new marina, although it is not necessary to put them in the plan now, there will be facilities for the launching of sailing dinghies, so that the many people who sail in those small boats can make use of it.
The next point also concerns a comparison with Brighton marina, because there have been difficulties for those who use it in not being able to sight land from far out at sea as a result of the inadequate lighting at the ends of the two groynes. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Eastbourne will reassure me that the lighting at the end of each of the sea walls, which is touched on in clause 16, will be better than that which is provided at Brighton.
I believe that the new facilities of and around the harbour will be of immense benefit to the community: workers, retired people and visitors. Visitors are immensely important all along the South Coast. [An HON. MEMBER: "The miners."] And the miners who come to the community. I refer to all categories who participate in the activities which take place along the South Coast and bask in the sun, which can often be found only on the South Coast. That affects my constituents as much as the constituents of Eastbourne. It will also be of benefit to all who sail and, perhaps 735 most of all, work on and in the waters along the South Coast.
I believe that, contrary to the inclination of Opposition Members who preach that this or that route should be taken or that thing should not be done—so often a negative approach—those who know this area of land and sea will welcome this operation.
§ Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)
This has been a truly remarkable debate. It has been remarkable particularly for those of us who are new to the House, because we have seen a full turn-out of Conservative Members for this measure for reasons which I cannot understand. This is almost the last night of my first Session. I have attended more than 95 per cent. of Question Times and major debates in the House and, apart from Budget day, I have not seen as many Conservative Members in their places at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, let alone 3 o'clock in the morning.
What was so interesting about this debate was that, when the right hon. Lady the Prime Minister got up to go out of the Chamber. Conservative Members went out after her. But they waited until she had disappeared behind Mr. Speaker's chair to make her exit.
A little rumour has been floating round the Lobbies tonight. Why was there this sudden turn-out of Conservative Members on this occasion? According to rumour, it seems that at a meeting of the 1922 Committee tonight the right hon. Lady gave an undertaking to her right hon. and hon. Friends that she would make a point of supporting her satchel carrier, I think someone said, by attending throughout the proceedings on the Bill to ensure that it got a Third Reading. Indeed, it could be said that the right hon. Lady has let down her hon. Friend, because she disappeared some two hours ago. But we must assume that she will be back at 6 o'clock when the debate is supposed to terminate.
I was one of four Members, the other three being the hon. Member for Holland with Boston (Mr. Body), my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mr. Race) and another hon. Member whose constituency I cannot remember, who took 736 part in the proceedings on the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Bill. The reason why I raise the matter during this debate—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."]—is that during the proceedings on that Bill we enjoyed a considerable amount of evidence from a barrister representing the company in that case—and representing a company which hired the services of an hon. Member in this House. In putting his case, the barrister informed us about the details of the Bill and about the effect on Felixstowe of the introduction of the Bill. The people of Felixstowe had the right to object. [Hon. Members: "Order."] The reason why I am in order is that I am trying to draw the attention of the House to the fact that on that occasion—
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for an hon. Member to discuss a Bill other than the one we are supposed to be discussing?
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)
If it is relevant to the Bill that we are discussing, I can see no difficulty.
§ Mr. J. W. Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You have not been in the Chair all night, and no hon. Member would expect you to be, but I have been present in the Chamber most of the night, except for a 20-minute break that I allowed myself. The conduct of Conservative Members, who have been in a majority of 10 to one over Labour Members, has been thoroughly disgraceful during the night—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. If I notice anything out of order, I shall not need the assistance of hon. Members.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
The point that I was making was relevant. On this occasion, because of the procedures of the House, we do not have the opportunity of listening to the case that would be put by a barrister. But, more important, on behalf of the promoters of the Bill, we have not had the opportunity to hear the case of the objectors. During the last two and three-quarter hours of our proceedings no reference has been made to the position of the people in Eastbourne who object to the Bill. Listening to the contributions of Conservative Members, one 737 would think that no one lived in Eastbourne apart from the representatives of the company which seeks to promote this legislation.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
That information is marginally incorrect. She was not head girl. [HON. MEMBERS: "Deputy head girl."]
I make my point because there has been no consultation. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) passed me some interesting cuttings from the Eastbourne Herald of 1 March 1975, when the original Bill was brought before the House and was rejected on Second Reading by my hon. Friends. Some interesting comments were made during the debate at that time. Here is one article:Mr. Daniel Sheldon (Tory) said that there was a danger that if the development other than that of the harbour itself went ahead first, then the developers might suddenly say that they could not finish the whole job. He also mentioned the possible effect of the harbour on shingle drift and the shape of the coastline. ' We need to tie all these matters up before we give approval,' he said. 'There is also the question of pollution which should be looked into in more detail. There are many aspects that we should be very careful about, especially financial ones, before committing ourselves to the project. The problems that arose over the Brighton marina might easily reappear.' Mr. Thorburn said that every aspect of the project had been fully investigated and regulations covering such things as pollution were included in the Act.
§ Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Surely, on Third Reading one can discuss only the contents of the Bill. The hon. Member has rambled around the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Bill in Committee and he is now dealing with objections to the previous Bill in 1975. That can have no direct bearing on the contents of the Bill.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
What the hon. Gentleman says is correct, in that the only matters that can be discussed are the contents of the Bill. I was about to remind 738 the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) that this Bill must have been through Committee on two occasions.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
I thank you for guiding me, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I would say that it was relevant in that I was drawing attention to the history of the Bill.
I should like now to quote an article from a newspaper that is particularly popular with hon. Members on the Government side, if not those on this side—the newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party. The article, which was written some years ago and deals with the development of the harbour and the marina, was headedMessing About in Yachts (at £50 million)".It said:Deep in the gloom of the crisis, the Duke of Devonshire and his son the Marquess of Hartington are planning to build a pleasure port on the Sussex coast near Eastbourne. It will cost £50 million—rather more than the Government's offer of wage increases for 250,000 miners. The Duke, a Tory Minister when his cousin Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister, has been scouting around the pleasure spots of the French Riviera for ideas for his new pleasurama … The marina will cover 400 acres of coastline near Pevensey, and will include luxury hotels, luxury shops and luxury flats for yachtsmen from all over the world. Up to 200 rich men and women will be able to enjoy themselves there at any one time and there are 400 berths for yachts. The Duke of Devonshire, incidentally, owns half of Derbyshire "—perhaps including the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner)—a large portion of Yorkshire "—perhaps including the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer)—most of the county of Limerick in Ireland"—
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
That may be so, Mr. Deputy Speaker, so perhaps I had better move on to the Bill.
I have within my constituency a development to which I wish to refer because there are parallels. When an assessment is made of the Bill, it should be done on the basis of the experience by hon. Members of the development of 739 ports, harbours and marinas in other parts of the country. I draw the attention of the House to the development of the marina in Maryport, in my constituency. I do so because it is relevant. It was you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, who so carefully reminded me earlier that when I speak in this Chamber on this subject I must ensure that my comments are relevant to the Bill. That is precisely what I am doing.
My remarks are relevant because there is a lot of feeling in Cumbria, certainly West Cumbria, to the effect that one of the problems with the development of the marina lies in the fact that it is owned by a privately owned company. As a result, the criteria governing the development of the harbour are not laid down by publicly accountable authorities, not by local authorities and not by elected representatives of the people, using social criteria. Instead, criteria are laid down by the developer, the private company, the intention of which is singularly to make a profit.
In such a debate hon. Members must balance the social criteria, determined by elected representatives of the people, against other criteria which must include profit, which will determine the view of a private developer of a harbour seeking to make a profit. That single factor has been the greatest impediment to the development of the harbour at Maryport. Despite the statement of the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow), the people of Eastbourne, quite rightly, say that in their view the future of the land comprising the projected marina development should be determined by the representatives of the local authority by way of ownership or of nationalisation of the piece of land. A social facility is being created, and it is objectionable to many hon. Members that that facility should be in the hands of private developers.
I move from the subject of the harbour to a matter raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley—namely, housing. In the document introducing the Bill which is available at the Vote Office, there is a reference in paragraph 3 which says:It is intended that the Scheme should comprise all types of dwellings from very small flats to four-bedroom houses and that over a period of ten to fifteen years more than 2,400 740 dwellings will be built for a wide range of income groups.I have visited the constituency of the hon. Member for Eastbourne only rarely, to pick up my sister. I am sure that he would want me to make that point. He would be quick to tell us that a growing number of elderly people are retiring—
§ Mr. English
Having had the benefit of the acquaintance of my hon. Friend's tall and beautiful sister—who was not the head girl of Roedean—I wonder why Conservative Members felt that it was necessary to drag in this irrelevance.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
Perhaps for the same reason as during the debate on the Finance Bill, when we sought to table an amendment to remove the charitable status of public schools—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I ask the hon. Gentleman to return to the Third Reading of the Eastbourne Harbour Bill.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
I am told that it is customary in this type of debate to allow the hon. Member who introduced the Bill an opportunity to reply. If he does not wish to exercise that right I shall carry on speaking, but I propose now to give way to the hon. Member for Eastbourne.
§ Mr. Gow
The debate has ranged far and wide. It is a matter of relief to my right hon. and hon. Friends that on this occasion at least we have been spared a speech from the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner). It is perhaps that absence that we shall remember most when we reflect upon the events of the early hours of this morning.
§ Mr. English
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. A little earlier you drew the attention of my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) to the fact that there was a certain discrepancy between his speech and the Third Reading of the Bill. What on earth has the last remark of the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Gow) to do with the Third Reading of the Bill?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Gentleman will be very familiar with observations about the absence of certain Members from the House.
§ Mr. Gow
The hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price) asked why this harbour was proposed at Eastbourne. It is difficult to build a harbour save at a seaside place, and since the trustees of the Chatsworth settlement own land at Eastbourne it is hardly surprising that they chose that site.
The hon. Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) complained that the building of the harbour would interrupt the free passage of citizens along the foreshore. If that argument were to be deployed throughout the country, there would not be any harbours in the kingdom, so I think that that argument is not valid.
§ Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
When people have built harbours, they have had to make provision for people to get across at that point, by putting in lock gates with a bridge across or something similar. Why should that not happen in this case?
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
I invited the hon. Gentleman to intervene simply to answer many of the points that were made by my hon. Friends.
§ Question put, That the Question be now put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 180, Noes 15.
§ See Division 467
§ in column 1133
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 180, Noes 12.
§ See Division 468
§ in column 1135
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ Bill read the Third time and passed, without amendment.