HC Deb 04 July 1980 vol 987 cc1988-2034

(1) An authority may establish a youth advisory committee to advise on the provision and development by the authority of services for young people in their area and on the co-ordination of those services with any similar services provided in that area by voluntary organisations.

(2) Schedule to this Act shall have effect as respects the members and procedure of youth advisory committees.—[Mr. Macfarlane.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

The Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science (Mr. Neil Macfarlane)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we may take the following amendments:

Government amendment No. 1.

No. 2, in clause 1, page 1, line 5, leave out 'shall' and insert 'may'.

No. 3, in page 1, line 14, at end insert— '(3) Nothing in this section shall apply to a local education authority if and so long as that authority, having before the passing of this Act established, continues to maintain a committee—

  1. (a) for encouraging the development of and the co-ordination of the services provided by the authority for young people with those provided by voluntary organisations;
  2. 1989
  3. (b) which includes representatives of local authority members, voluntary organisation members and young members (within the meaning of those expressions in paragraph 1 of the said Schedule 1);
and in the following provisions of this Act any reference to a joint committee established under this section shall include reference to a committee established and maintained as described in this subsection.'.

Government amendments Nos. 30 to 32, Government amendment No. 60 and Government amendments Nos. 73 to 75.

Mr. Macfarlane

The new clause is clear in setting out what we wish to achieve—that is, that an authority may establish a youth advisory committee to advise on the provision and development by the authority of services for young people in its area and on the co-ordination of those services with any similar services provided in that area by voluntary organisations. Secondly, the clause alludes to schedule 1 which shall have effect as respects the members and procedure of youth advisory committees. The new clause is consistent with the attitude of the Government on Second Reading and in Committee. I should explain to the House, because it is important that everyone understands fully, that the new clause is intended to replace the Bill's present clause 1.

Mr. Marcus Kimball (Gainsborough)

This is a complicated matter. I find it difficult to follow. May I ask my hon. Friend to speak more slowly.

Mr. Macfarlane

I apologise if I was perhaps going on a little, because I am mindful of the fact that we have to try to debate many amendments in the couple of hours remaining. The new clause is intended to replace the Bill's present clause 1, though we acknowledge that it should not necessarily come first in order in the Bill. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet) will understand the reasons. A more logical place might be following clause 4. I look forward to the comments of my hon. Friends and Opposition Members. It is important that the House and all those associated with the youth movements and local education authorities understand that this provision must be permissive. Its prime purposes are clear—to replace an obligation with a power, and to redefine the function of the committee, with which the clause is con- cerned, so as to ensure that it cannot conflict with the statutory functions of the local education authorities. I think that hon. Members know the difficulty which the Government face in that regard, when we look at the statutory obligations of the Education Act 1944.

Mr. George Foulkes (South Ayrshire)

The Minister said that the new clause will replace an obligation with a power. Does not that power exist in present legislation?

Mr. Macfarlane

That power exists in an interpretation which some local authorities have made already. However, the hon. Gentleman knows very well that in Committee we were extremely concerned about the correspondence from, and attitudes adopted by, local authorities with regard to the existing provisions and what is contained in my hon. Friend's worthy Bill. However, we are concerned to ensure that it cannot conflict with the statutory functions of the local authorities. As he comes from Scotland, the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Foulkes) knows of the difference which exists between the two countries.

A secondary objective is to remove a provision with regard to the composition of these committees, the clarity of which suffers from over-compression. I am proposing an amendment to schedule 1 to clarify what I take to be the intention of the Bill in that regard.

Mr. John Bruce-Gardyne (Knutsford)

Before leaving his first objection, can my hon. Friend say anything at this stage—it would be helpful if he could—about what, if any, estimate he has made of the additonal financial burden which will be placed on local authorities by the obligation contained in the new clause? What would be the financial burden if all local authorities which do not already have such committees were to exercise the power that is proposed in the new clause?

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Grantham)

And manpower.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

And manpower.

Mr. Macfarlane

That is a difficult point to define. As hon. Members who served on the Standing Committee will know, under the terms of the 1944 Act certain local authorities already operate the kind of structure which my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford is suggesting in his Bill. I think that he wants to place an obligation on them. I am mindful of the fact that many local authorities, as well as hon. Members on both sides of the House, have written to my right hon. and learned Friend, myself and other Ministers in the Department expressing their deep anxiety about what the likely cost effect would be, as well as their concern about the difficulties which could be imposed upon local authorities, given the direction of the Government to reduce manpower in local authorities.

Mr. T. H. H. Skeet (Bedford)

My hon. Friend will be aware that the Government have tabled amendment No. 95, which is in effect a commencement order. Therefore, it is impossible to assess any cost, which, indeed, may be negligible, because the Bill may not come into operation for a number of years.

12.15 pm
Mr. Macfarlane

I think that this is a question of current cost. I know that my hon. Friend, who feels deeply about these things, would wish us to ensure that the Bill is debated thoroughly and approached conscientiously, given the importance of the subject. We have found it difficult to measure the precise cost for local authorities were it to go ahead. I know that that is hypothetical, but, if it were to go ahead, there would be some increase in expense and manpower.

I have received a number of letters from colleagues and local authorities expressing concern about what that might be. That concern has been expressed by hon. Members on both sides of the House. It is not confined to the counties throughout England and Wales. There is a letter from the Association of Metropolitan Authorities which, alas, is now controlled by the Labour Party. It has written a general decree, dated 26 June, and I should like to quote from paragraph 4, because it is germane to this problem. It states: The requirements of joint committees (clause 1) and youth councils (clause 5) serviced by the LEA (clause 6) will entail manpower and financial costs. However, I cannot state what the precise cost will be, because it will vary from area to area. The AMA goes on to say: The aggregate total across the country is hard to estimate because some LEAs have one or both such bodies already". That is an interesting point.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

There is one thing which puzzles me about the new clause, and perhaps my hon. Friend can clarify it. Does it have any purpose other than to ensure that the establishment of the youth advisory committees and the expenditure related thereto is intro vires the power of the county councils and the education authorities?

Mr. Macfarlane

The new clause is permissive. On Second Reading and in Committee, we have tried to meet the important point which my hon. Friend has enshrined in his Bill, but it must be permissive for the time being.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

It covers their expenditure.

Mr. Macfarlane

That is right. However, perhaps I can complete my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne). The letter from the AMA adds that: others have completely different arrangements which nevertheless suit local circumstances. One large LEA which already have youth committees which could form the basis of joint councils believe that they will incur for this item no costs above their present £115,000; but youth councils would be an innovation, at an additional annual cost of some £111,000. That is not a Department of Education and Science or a Department of the Environment assessment. It is an AMA assessment. It goes on to state: An LEA in South Yorkshire estimate that their existing committees, somewhat adapted would cost between £1,000 and £4,500 annually; though the sums are modest,"— I make that point to my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford, because he raised it in Committee and we debated it fully— the range is considerable, as it is difficult to assess the extent of these bodies' self-generated activity. It continues: An outer London borough,"— which is the sort of constituency that I represent, as do you Mr. Deputy Speaker— somewhat smaller in size, give comparable figures for an existing committee and council which would not need adaptation under the proposed Act—£1,000 for four meetings of a joint committee and eight 2-hour meetings each of a youth council and its executive". Many committees have said that they have already made their budget preparations for 1980–81. I have received a letter from the county of Lincolnshire expressing concern and containing a specific request that this clause in the Bill be reviewed. I have also received a number of other letters, but I shall not bore the House by reading them. However, they are important.

The drafting of clause 1 exemplifies very well the difficulties presented by the Bill. I made that clear on Second Reading and in Committee. We are presented with a number of problems, hence the new clause. The intentions of the clause are quite clearly to encourage the development and better co-ordination of services for young people, whether provided by local authorities or voluntary organisations; to promote collaboration between the statutory and voluntary sectors; and to give young people a say in the services provided for them. Those intentions are admirable, and they have an important part to play in the life of the United Kingdom. That goes without saying. However, we cannot impose this in an obligatory way upon local authorities at the present time.

I am certain that my hon. Friend accepts the important objective that a code of good practice is essential. I hope that local authorities will be mindful of what is said in today's debate, as well as what has gone on before. My hon. Friend is a member of a party which has a certain philosophy, and I am sure that he acknowledges the problems that we have discussed and which present themselves to us.

The clause as drafted goes well beyond encouragement. It obliges local authorities to set up a machinery of a prescribed pattern—that is what causes anxiety among hon. Members on both sides—and functions, whatever arrangements they may themselves have developed for consulting and working together with voluntary organisations and young people. Taken together with clause 6, it would require those authorities to meet the full costs of servicing and supporting such machinery.

In this respect, the clause—and the Bill—is in major conflict with the Government's policies, specifically towards the responsibilities of local govern- ment and expenditure by local government. When we discuss later amendments I know that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment will enlarge upon some of these matters. They are in major conflict, and I want everyone who has taken a major interest in the Bill to understand the position. I am certain that my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford, who has done a tremendous amount of work in identifying the needs of young people, will understand the problems in that area.

The point was made on Second Reading and again in Committee, but I make clear to the House the Government's attitude to the Bill. Not only in this clause, but throughout, its effect is to impose specific obligations, where at present authorities act under general powers, in accordance with their judgment of priorities. Our policy is to widen, not reduce, the existing area of local authority discretion. Its effect is to increase local authority expenditure. There can be no doubt about that. We may argue that it will cost only £1,000 for some areas. In other areas the cost will be even higher. That is difficult to define. It is certainly an integral and essential part of our economic strategy to restrain such expenditure. The Bill's supporters may argue that services for young people should be protected against the full effect of such restraints. My reply to that argument is that if our economic measures fail because of lack of determination, young people will be in need of more protection than any youth service can afford. Here, there is a direct overlap with other Departments, and it is important that the House should understand that.

To return to clause 1, I repeat that the Government cannot accept that a duty should be placed on every education authority to establish a joint committee with the function of co-ordinating the provision of services. Education authorities are already obliged by statute to establish an education committee and to consider its reports before acting in the exercise of their educational functions. The joint committee envisaged by the Bill could not fulfil its function of coordinating services without encroaching on the prerogative of the education committee. I may add that voluntary bodies are independent organisations, and usually attach great importance to their independence. They may reject the idea that their activities should be "coordinated" by a committee on which their representatives would be in a minority. I suggest that those national organisations which have supported the Bill should think carefully about this, and perhaps consider whether they have been speaking authoritatively for the host of bodies which function at the local level.

Finally, I must, of course, take note of the amendment that my hon. Friend has put down to clause 1—to add a new subsection (3). If I can make sense of it at all, its effect is to exempt from the application of the rest of the clause any education authority which has had the good fortune to make arrangements before the enactment of the Bill which comply with the provisions of the clause. In other words, if it already complies with it, it need not take steps to do so. I am not altogether certain that I understand the point of that, and no doubt my hon. Friend will explain it when he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If it was my hon. Friend's intention to go any way towards meeting the Government's criticisms of the Bill, I am sorry to have to tell him that I do not see eye to eye with him on that.

I commend new clause 1 to the House. It is important. It has permissive powers, but that is consistent with the argument that we have put forward.

Mr. Kenneth Marks (Manchester, Gorton)

The attitude of the Government has been one of wanting to kill the Bill but not wanting to do the job themselves. They have aroused expectations among some of their supporters that they will kill the Bill. An example of that is a letter from the under-secretary of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities—when that body was controlled by the Conservatives. It read: I also have to record, I am afraid, that we were misled by the DES's confident expectation that this babe would have been strangled nearer birth. There is some chance that the Department will get a little way with a series of amendments neutralising what are at present set out as duties, but there is a risk that too much of that will set off a reaction among the Members of Parliament, who will press ahead with the terms as set out in the published Bill. The day before Committee proceedings started, the Government put forward amendments to delete 12 or 13 clauses of the Bill. I was the only hon. Member on the Committee who supported those clauses. Having tried to kill the Bill by slashing, the Government are now trying to kill it by at least 81 cuts. There is no doubt that the Bill will not go through this afternoon because the Government have ensured lengthy discussions on the preceding Bills—

Mr. Kimball

The hon. Gentleman was not present when the two previous Bills were discussed. If he had been present, he would have realised that amendments from another place constituted a grave injustice to his constituents. The Scottish Bill, in which many hon. Members were genuinely interested, was extremely important. I spent a considerable time in Scotland, and I wanted to know the position of an English proprietor under that Bill. The hon. Gentleman is being less than fair in his allegations about the previous Bills.

Mr. Marks

I accept the hon. Gentleman's statement that he was genuinely interested in the previous Bills. Having waited since 9.30 am for this Bill to begin, and having seen what happened in Committee, I still believe that the Government and their legislation advisers have been giving advice on what should happen to this Bill.

The Bill was Conservative policy. It was the pride and joy of the Young Conservatives, and it has had much support from them.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will concede that Conservative Members are slightly better able to judge the views of Young Conservatives than Labour Members. I assure him that the opinions of Young Conservatives are extensively divided on these matters—as on many other matters—and it is desirable that they should be so.

Mr. Skeet

I am sorry to show any divisiveness with my colleague, but I have toured the entire country and I have been closely in touch with Scottish and English Young Conservatives. They are totally behind me. What division there may be is minuscule.

Mr. Marks

I do not pretend to be an expert on what happens among Young Conservatives. I went by the opinions of the ex-presidents of the Young Conservatives who are present in the House now. My only link with the Young Conservatives is that I was asked to address them when I was a parliamentary candidate. I was only 32 years old at the time, and I was the youngest person present.

The clause is necessary in order to make it obligatory on councils and education authorities to provide the machinery for setting up a decent youth service. The Under-Secretary said that it was the good fortune of those authorities which were already providing one. But it is not simply good fortune. It is good management and planning. The slower authorities should have followed the pacemakers—cities such as Manchester—in providing services such as this a long time ago.

I urge that it is necessary—

Mr. Douglas Hogg


Mr. Marks

I urge that it is necessary for an obligation to be placed on councils to provide a youth service and the necessary machinery to carry it out.

12.30 pm
Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

I am the proposer, jointly with my hon. Friend the Member for Poole (Mr. Ward), of amendment No. 2 which emphasises the importance of the point made by the Minister about the need to make these proposals permissive not mandatory.

I declare an interest, though not financial. I speak as a vice-president of the Federation of Conservative Students. Its members are by and large, but not exclusively, older than Young Conservatives. Being students and actively engaged in education, they may be expected to have applied their minds more closely to the problems created by this measure than some of the younger supporters of the chairman of the Young Conservatives.

No group could have worked harder in support of my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet) than the Young Conservatives. The Young Conservative and Unionist organisation is an utterly praiseworthy, hard-working and eminently desirable body. Those of my hon. Friends who oppose this measure and I have nothing but the highest regard for the Young Conservatives movement, which is the largest youth movement in the country and probably in the Western world. None of us would be here on these Benches unless we had the active support and hard work of the Young Conservatives. I hope that what we might be moved to say in our resistance to this measure will not be taken as a slight upon the Young Conservatives, still less upon my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford, who has worked with such dedication for it.

The aims of the Bill are wholly good and would merit support from all hon. Members, because our young people are the flower of the nation. Yet in many cities, towns and villages they have nowhere to go in their spare time. They have nothing to do with their leisure. They are too often, alas, unemployed and confused. The philosophy of the Bill is to improve that situation, to harness the energy and enthusiasm of young people and to encourage the flower of our youth to grow and blossom. They are wonderful aspirations and anybody who aspires to these ends must be well-meaning. Therefore, it is with regret that we feel it necessary to oppose the Bill.

The reason for our opposition is that it is one thing to identify the problem, it is another to wish for the fulfilment of a dream, but it is quite another to introduce a Bill which would be unworkable, would not achieve the desired ends and would, if passed, achieve ends that certainly would not be desired by anyone, least of all the Young Conservatives.

The clearest example is to be found in the unworkability of clause 1 which new clause 1 seeks to delete and to replace with something more workable.

There are several reasons why clause 1 should be removed. The first is that it takes money to set up what is laid down in clause 1. But where is the money to come from? Is it to come from the local authorities or the Government?

If the local authorities are to find the money to set up the bureaucracy inherent in clause 1, where will it come from? Is it to come from an increase in the rates or from a reduction in services? Will it come from reducing the provision which local authorities, already stretched, are having to make on schools? Will it come out of their housing provision? Will it come out of their social services provision? We must be realistic. At this time in our economy there is no scope for increased expenditure by local authorities on any area of their operations if they are to keep within cash limits and to stop the growth of expenditure. The only way in which savings can be made is to cut back on expenditure somewhere else. All those things, except certainly a cutback on the amount spent on administration in local government, are more desirable subjects for expenditure than the subject matter of the Bill, however praiseworthy.

Mr. Skeet

Is my hon. Friend aware that vandalism is costing this country £100 million a year? Therefore, would not local authorities make considerable savings if they spent more rather than less on youth provision? Is not his suggestion a false economy?

Mr. Lawrence

Unfortunately, my hon. Friend could not prove that to set up a bureaucratic organisation for the coordination of young people's welfare would lead to a diminution of vandalism. I have more constructive solutions for the reduction of vandalism than that. Perhaps at some time my hon. Friend may care to read my speeches about the measures that we could take which could be proved to be more likely to succeed in the reduction of vandalism than the setting up of a bureaucratic organisation. I wonder whether my hon. Friend has done any work on this matter. Is there less vandalism in areas where there is adequate provision for youth councils?

Mr. Skeet


Mr. Lawrence

Then perhaps in due course he will be able to give us some facts and figures. My experience of youth activities in urban areas is that it by no means always follows that where there is a youth organisation there is a diminution of vandalism.

Mr. Arthur Bottomley (Middlesbrough)

I can say that is so in Middlesbrough, for example, which is densely populated. In areas where there are facilities for youth there is less vandalism.

Mr. Lawrence

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that intervention. I did not seek to suggest that it was never so. My point is that there are more direct ways than the setting up of this bureaucratic organisation for controlling or reducing vandalism. The evidence is by no means all one way. The hope that at some time, as a result of better organisation through a bureaucratic set-up, vandalism will be reduced is not, I am afraid, a substantial enough reason for spending money on these provisions now. We are not against organisations for the improvement of youth welfare. We are against the specific bureaucratisation which is inherent in the Bill.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bottomley) made an important point. If I heard him aright—I apologise if I did not—I understood him to say that it was his experience in his area that vandalism was considerably reduced where there was provision for youth. I would agree with that proposition. However, we are talking about provision for committees. The two are not necessarily the same thing.

Mr. Lawrence

My hon. Friend has hit the nail on the head.

If the money does not come from local authorities, it will have to come from the Government. The Government have made no provision for such finances, and we cannot reasonably expect them to. We must maintain a sense of reality. It is ridiculous to expect the Government to provide the money in the present financial climate.

To appoint one local government officer as a co-ordinator would involve a salary of about £8,500 a year, plus indexation of his pension, and that does not take account of the provision of a typist or an office. The cost would be several thousand pounds at a time when local authorities are having to look carefully at their expenditure.

I represent in Staffordshire one of the best counties for the provision of youth welfare, and I speak with the backing of the Association of County Councils. On 27 June 1980 the education officer of the Association of County Councils wrote to my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Heddle), stating: I think it is fair to say that all LEAs in membership of the Association who have expressed a view on the issue have emphasised their concern about the proposals which are likely to lead to increased expenditure and to restrict and inhibit local freedom of choice. In a letter to me, Staffordshire county council states: We in Staffordshire have a long history of support for our Youth and Community Service, of which we are very proud, but we think this is a thoroughly bad Bill… The Association believes it is quite wrong to impose additional duties upon Local Authorities at this time and to create a climate of expectation when resources are not available to meet these expectations.

Mr. John Ward (Poole)

My hon. Friend quoted a salary of £8,500 for a co-ordinator. Does he agree that the normal calculation in industry is to double the salary of each individual to cover overheads and back-up facilities? Nearly every education authority has borne the brunt of local government economies, and there are marked reductions in services. That applies not least to the schools service in my county. It would be irresponsible to produce a measure that would add to the present rate burden. I have received many letters from old people who feel that they are paying higher rates than they can afford. A further burden would increase their difficulties. We must also consider that the country is facing a period of expenditure restraint.

Mr. Lawrence

My hon. Friend's point makes good sense, and no one would disagree. I am often asked by elderly people why there are not more concessions for fares, television sets, telephone charges and so on. We should not even consider spending money to set up a bureaucracy when that may deprive those people of such concessions as they now enjoy.

County councils feel strongly that the expenditure involved has not been sufficiently considered. I know that the Minister has already sought to come to grips with the argument.

12.45 pm
Mr. Marks

I cannot quite see why Staffordshire is so worried if it has such a wonderful system. It has a committee of this kind. It spends a lot of money on it, so it will certainly not worry Staffordshire, any more than it will worry Manchester, if the Bill goes through. Is it because Staffordshire has a good youth service in Stoke-on-Trent and that the odds are that that area will lose some of its youth service.

Mr. Lawrence

I promise that I shall deal with the hon. Gentleman's question When I come to the appropriate part of my speech.

The arguments of the sponsors in reply to the points that I have been advancing about costs are these. First, they say that the Bill will not cost very much. I notice that they say this because there was a noise in the Strangers Gallery when I said that it would be expensive, so obviously there are many young people who think that these costs are not very substantial. The argument is that the cost will not be substantial because it will only bring those local educational authorities that are falling behind up to the standard of the best.

The expense, such as it is, however much one concedes that there is expense—and if one does not concede that, there is no purpose in the Bill—must still come from somewhere. My points about the cost are not answered by someone saying merely that it will not cost very much. Some country councils probaly do not have a very good standard, and those are the councils where it may cost more.

The second reasons why I say that the argument of low cost is not a good one is that someone must make the judgment as to whether a county council is living up to its responsibilities and is conforming so that it can take advantage of the clause But who makes the judgment as to whether any particular county council is living up to the minimum requirements of the Bill?

Mr. Marks

The Secretary of State for the Environment.

Mr. Lawrence

Is it the Government? But where is that in the Bill or the new clause? Where is there any requirement that the Government should set themselves up as the arbiter in any area of whether a local authority is living up to the requirements in the Bill?

Goodness me, we are trying as hard as we can to leave as many powers in the hands of local authorities as is reasonable in all the circumstances, and, for goodness sake, to get the Government off the backs of local authorities. Here we are making a provision which, if it is vetted by the Government, will have Government bureaucrats breathing down the necks of local officials to see whether they are making provision up to the standard.

I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford wishes to intervene. I am sorry, because I do not wish him to keep getting up and down with that bad leg but—

Mr. Skeet

I wonder whether I might be so presumptuous as to intervene again. Is my hon. Friend aware that the Local Government, Planning and Land (No. 2) Bill and the Education (No. 2) Bill make quite a sally into local authorities' powers? Would it not be consistent, therefore, in view of the interference with local authorities' essential purposes, to have it here too?

Mr. Lawrence

Opposition Members who feel so strongly about the Education (No. 2) Bill have been making the central point. I see the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mrs. Taylor), an Opposition spokesman, deploring the fact that it appears to be contrary to Conservative Party policy that there should be any interference in local government in either education or housing. So the fact that there is a wrong done from that point of view would not make it right to copy the wrong in this Bill. I do not accept that it is a wrong. Distinctions can be drawn concerning the housing and education legislation. However, I do not wish to discuss them now lest I be accused of talking too long.

The Government give no such powers, and take no such powers. There is no reason why the Government should draw a distinction between those local authorities that do, and those that do not, come up to the necessary minimum provision. Therefore, only local government can judge whether it comes up to the Bill's provisions. If the Bill did not exist, which local authority would say that its provisions were inadequate? The fact is that if local authorities wish to spend money on the new provision, they will do so. If they do not want to, they will not. If they do not do so, and if local authorities are to judge whether the provisions required by the Bill are fulfilled, they are unlikely to judge in favour of the bureaucratisation that this Bill requires. Unless those in favour of the Bill respond to this criticism it must be accepted that there is no point in the provision.

There is a third criticism of my proposition that it is too costly. The hon. Mem- ber for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Marks) said that if a county such as Staffordshire already produced adequate requirements, the question of cost would not apply. I wish to refer to a brochure on the youth and community service, produced by the Staffordshire education committee. I should be happy to place the brochure in the Library so that all hon Members can consider it. It states: This provision affords a lively, imaginative and personal service which improves the quality of life of the people of Staffordshire. Effectively it is a partnership between the Statutory and Voluntary provision within the County which aims to help people of all ages achieve their full potential. Part of the brochure discusses democracy at work. It speaks of the concept of adults and young people being involved in the service and participating in the decision-making process, which is central to the philosophy of the youth and community service. It sets out the following bodies: county council, education committee, youth community and careers subcommittee, county youth and community officer, deputy county youth and community officer, area advisory officers, county training officer, county youth council, county training advisory committee, adult and management committees, area youth councils, area leaders' councils, adults, leaders, wardens, centres, clubs, organisations and members' committees.

That is just what Staffordshire does voluntarily. There are pages of examples of the work that is done in adult education, community work, the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, arts and crafts, competition and sporting opportunities, leadership courses for outdoor activities, the adult literacy scheme, the Manpower Services Commission, community service, and overseas links. A tremendous organisation already exists.

It has been asked why the Bill will cost this county anything. Most of the work is done by volunteers. The work that volunteers do costs little. They get petrol money, but most of the money spent belongs to volunteers who are dedicated to the job. How do volunteers react when a paid official is brought in? Suddenly, volunteers find that somebody is trying to justify a job, and is breathing down their necks. The official tells the volunteers to do this or that. He says "No, we cannot" or "Yes, we must". Given a new regime, and given that volunteers are obliged to do—without payment—what a local government official tells them to do, they not unnaturally often decide to do something else. It has actually happened in Staffordshire. The moment that the responsibility for meals-on-wheels passed from the Royal Women's Voluntary Service to the control of a county council official, that meals-on-wheels service seems to have become less efficient and less welcome. We are now beginning to get complaints. Much of the reason is no doubt that volunteers are less happy working under the guidance of bureaucrats than they were when they were left more or less to their own devices.

This is a matter of psychology. Those of us who work closely with volunteers know perfectly well that there is a very delicate balance. There is a point at which volunteers, who are overburdening themselves as a result of their generosity and service to the community, will say "This far I will go, and no further." Therefore, it is almost inevitable that in many of these areas where there is adequate volunteer provision now, there will be a depletion of volunteer representation under this measure, and with it more expense because the contribution that the driver, for example, makes in his spare time will have to be done by somebody who is being paid.

Mr. Marks

The hon. Member listed from his brochure a large number of full-time officials who are paid by Staffordshire county council and its committees. Staffordshire county council has the bureaucracy, and if the hon. Member is suggesting that volunteers will not work because the Government say that Staffordshire county council shall have that bureaucracy, he is talking nonsense. Volunteers are always demanding the help of full-time officials and they are trying to build up local government full-time services in order to help them. A full time service can use more volunteers.

Mr. Lawrence

I simply do not agree with the hon. Member. But, as I do not wish to prolong the argument for the purpose of delaying the Bill, I shall move to another point.

These provisions require this bureaucratic organisation for a county, so one envisages the creation of at least one paid local government official who must organise that county according to the requirements of the Bill. Amendment No. 3 will not cover adequately the situation in a county such as Staffordshire. Suppose such a man is appointed in Stafford. Where will the organisation be in Burton, Lichfield, Tamworth or Stoke? It will not be possible to have one man organising all those towns. Sooner or later it is as inevitable as that night follows day that there will be a call for more assistance. It is more than one can expect on man to cover—all the hundreds of square miles of the county—to service all these different towns.

We all know what it is like. In Burton on Trent we used to have a good town clerk. Then he became the chief executive and had a deputy. It was not long before it was necessary to have a public relations officer to explain what these two were doing. Then, it was not very long—but fortunately my district council was too sensible to fall for this—before a plan emerged from out of the inner recesses of the East Staffordshire District council which claimed "It is unfair to load the public relations officer with all these burdens. He is doing wonderful work, but he needs a deputy." So bureaucracy proliferates. It feeds upon itself. When it is said "All we need is one man in Stafford to do the work", it will be seen clearly as nonsense by people in Burton, Lichfield, Tamworth and all the other towns in my county when they realise that they have not got the provision that is laid down in the Bill.

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Mr. Ward

Cannot my hon. Friend draw a useful parallel between what he has said about a bureaucracy and the way that the scout movement is organised? Apart from the national headquarters, there are county commissioners with certain assistants. In each district there is a district commissioner, again with assistants. They find that they need all these people to cover all aspects of training. Surely that proves that any organisation as big and as national as the scout movement—a movement which serves youth throughout the world'—needs this kind of set-up so that it can run efficiently. We are going very far down the path where we shall parallel that organisation not with volunteers but with professional people. This will add to the burden of costs, and not only the costs to local authorities. The next thing that will happen is that a Whitehall department is set up. It has happened on every other occasion when we have tried to do anything like this. I hope that my lion. Friend will say that where we have volunteers doing what he has described in Stafford—and it is happening in Dorset and in Poole—we ought to learn the lesson that volunteers are very much more useful and get a better response from the grass roots than paid officials who are resented by so many volunteers over whom they are put in control.

Mr. Lawrence

I do not wish to prolong my speech. I accept what my hon. Friend says, and I shall not enlarge upon it. My point is simply that the cries that the cost will be minimal under the requirements of clause 1 are phoney. When was bureaucracy ever capable of producing anything at minimal cost? To suggest otherwise is the joke of the month.

As briefly as I can, I move on to deal with the other objections which have been brought to my attention by the authorities. This is not just me speaking. I am advised by those who have to handle these problems daily.

The Association of County Councils says: The Association's second major concern lies in the prescriptiveness of the proposals contained in the present Bill. Some County Councils have spent a considerable amount of time and effort in the years since local government reorganisation in developing and reshaping their services for youth. In many cases these developments have extended youth and community provision and in some cases have taken in the field of adult education also. Arrangements have been made for co-operative work and for consultation involving the community in the widest sense, and a great deal of attention has been paid to breaking down barriers between what were previously regarded as different sectors. These wider arrangements would not be appropriate in all areas but, where they are appropriate, they would be threatened by the special arrangements which the Bill would require authorities to introduce. The long standing and recently developed arrangements for co-operation would be jeopardised by the particular framework which the Bill suggests. If that is the view of the Association of County Councils, what are we in this House doing considering a measure which goes directly contrary to that view, since it is patently one which is not party political but founded upon common sense.

That brings me to my third objection, and I refer again to what the Association of County Councils says about the infringement of local democracy which it sees threatening in the Bill. It says: Local democracy is about the freedom to decide what is needed locally and, as it stands the present Bill would impose a system which could lead to unnecesary, new, local youth bureaucracies. The Association strongly supports the underlying objectives but must oppose the attempt to ensure their achievement through a rigid prescription. Then there is the letter from Northampton. It says: Northamptonshire are of the opinion that the successful co-operation between voluntary and statutory bodies depends upon the free association of local people arising out of their mutual recognition of their need to provide a service and that this is less likely where the parties are subject to a shotgun marriage of compulsion by statute. Finally, the education committee of Staffordshire county council said: At a local level, we are very worried about the provisions which will make mandatory the setting up of statutory joint committees with voluntary organisations. The idea of such a committee is not new. It was urged on Local Authorities as long ago as Circular 1486 from the then Board of Education in 1939. In the early years of the Youth Service in Staffordshire we had such a committee, but it was abandoned by mutual consent because, for actually getting things done, it was much better to have liaison at local rather than at County level…To have to rework that structure in accordance with the mandatory precepts in the Bill is to us both an unnecessary bureaucratic exercise and a retrograde step.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

To put the matter in proper balance, can my hon. Friend, who has gone into the matter with such care, give the House any indication of any awareness that he may have of any local authority, local authority organisation, or representative body, which has supported the Bill as presently drafted? I am unaware of any such support, but it is important that if there is such support the House should be aware of it.

Mr. Lawrence

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making the obvious point which, I hope, will be dealt with by the sponsor of the Bill. The burden is upon his shoulders to show what support he has for this measure from those who will have to administer it in the present climate.

Clause 1 is a disaster because it is opposed by county councils—especially the Staffordshire county council and its education committee—because there is no money to pay for its inevitable cost, and because it is bad psychology to say to county councils "You must restrain your expenditure"—as we are having to do every day in the current economic climate—and then to say "By the way, we want you to spend more money on this measure ". It is a disaster because it will damage the existing set-ups in counties such as Staffordshire. It is bad because it is contrary to the Government's policy to let local authorities have as wide discretion as possible for the good of Britain.

The sadness of the matter is that the aims of the Bill are so good, and the ideals that moved the introduction of it by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford are so praiseworthy. The question is "How do we save it?" The answer has been given by my hon. Friend the Minister in the introduction of new clause 1. It does not go as far as that expected by the hon. Member for Gorton but it goes as far as is reasonable, bearing in mind the complaints of the county councils, the question of costs and the other matters to which I have referred.

Mr. Skeet

Will my hon. Friend, on behalf of himself and his colleagues who are protesting against the Bill, accept my Bill as drafted if it incorporates all the Government amendments?

Mr. Lawrence

Speaking for myself, I would accept it provided that clause 5 were deleted. That clause deals with youth councils, and I hope that we shall come to that matter at a later stage. That apart, I can see nothing wrong with the Bill. My objections to the Bill are the "may" and "shall" in the current economic climate, which is the context in which I have been speaking. The provision of youth councils is a matter to which I shall return when we debate clause 5—and the evil that would attend those councils if they got into the wrong hands.

Mr. Skeet

I have studied the amendments carefully, and those of my hon. Friend conflict with those tabled by the Government.

Mr. Lawrence

That only goes to show that we who are alert to these matters and who table amendments do not necessarily pay the closest of attention to what comes out of Whitehall. There is no reason why we should. Our amendments are responsive to the reactions that we have been getting from our local authorities.

If Labour Members want something for which they will get my support, they should support new clause 1 which incorporates the permissive "may" instead of the mandatory "shall" and sets up a new youth advisory committee.

Finally, may I say that I cannot remember any matter that has created stronger opposition from local councils. It is particularly astonishing, because local authorities like bureaucracy, yet here is an item of bureaucracy that would help to expand the empires of some local government officers, and they do not want it. May I read from a letter which Mr. James Lightdown, the chairman of the Staffordshire education authority wrote to me—

Sir John Eden (Bournemouth, West)

May I emphasise that the inference drawn by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet) does not apply to me? I have not had an opportunity to discuss the terms of the Bill or any of the amendments with my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence). I wish to ensure, as far as I can, that if the Bill proceeds it does so in a way that will not add to the cost burden of local authorities, from which I have had the strongest representations.

Mr. Lawrence

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend who speaks for the Dorset county council, which is one of many that feel strongly. My right hon. Friend's intervention strengthens my point.

The chairman of the Staffordshire education authority wrote to me: I cannot stress too strongly the depth of feeling which obtains on this issue and very much hope we can look to you for urgent help in this matter. They can, they have and I hope that I have been able in this small way to assist them.

Mr. Foulkes

The hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) said in answer to an intervention from the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet) that he had some constructive remedies for dealing with vandalism to replace the suggestions of the hon Member for Bedford.

The only suggestion that I have ever heard from hon. Members such as the hon. Member for Burton for dealing with young people who need the sort of facilities suggested in the Bill is that they should have a short, sharp shock and that we should punish youngsters who are being deprived by Conservative Members of jobs and leisure opportunities and who are getting into difficulties because of the Government's policies. In the context of debates on the Bill, the only people who deserve a short, sharp shock are the Government and Conservative Members who have treated the hon. Member for Bedford in a shabby and despicable manner.

The Government said on Second Reading that the Bill would receive their support. There was nothing equivocal about that; no reservations were expressed. The cost factors were as relevant in November as they are now.

1.15 pm
Mr. Macfarlane

I am sorry to intervene, but the hon. Gentleman referred to my speech on Second Reading and it is important to set the record straight. We do not want more of the type of exaggeration in which the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Marks) indulged when he tried to convince the House that Manchester has a progressive local authority. One has only to examine its finances to see what the hon. Gentleman means by "progressive".

On Second Reading I said: The Government do not oppose the Bill in principle. Indeed, we very much support its objectives which, in general, offer an excellent model of good practice… There are, however, a number of important aspects of the Bill which run counter to Government policy, notably over relationships with local authorities and over public expenditure."—[Official Report, 9 November 1979; Vol 973, c. 834.] I hope that that puts the record straight.

Mr. Foulkes

It adds to what I said about the Bill having Government support. If Government Members do not want to take my word for it, since they might assume that I would be critical of the Government—and there are many good reasons for being critical of the Government—they should look at page after page of the Standing Committee reports. My hon. Friends were not critical of the Government, but Government Members were. The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), who is not with us today, said: The Under-Secretary's attitude is obstructive, destructive, unhelpful and unto-operative."—[Official Report, Standing Committee C, 5 March 1980; c. 64.] One cannot be more critical than that.

Mr. Macfarlane

A number of the debates in Committee were unsatisfactory to the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Foulkes), principally because it was ensured that Scotland remained covered by the Bill. He made clear that that was not acceptable. For a brief time he and I were in unison in Committee.

The hon. Gentleman says that the Government and Government Back Benchers were obstructive. I remind the House that the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot), the Opposition Chief Whip and three other hon. Members tabled a blocking motion.

Mr. Foulkes

My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Mrs. Taylor) will deal with the Government amendment later. If Government Members, particularly the hon. Member for Knutsford (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne), took the time to consider the issues and to read the Standing Committee reports they would see the tenor of the criticism.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Foulkes


Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

It is normal to give way when an hon. Member refers to another hon. Member. The hon. Gentleman has devoted much time to the discussion in Committee. He must understand that a Standing Committee is not the ultimate repository of authority in the House and that the Floor of the House is the ultimate judge. Opinions expressed in Committee might not be representative of the generality of opinion in the House. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will give us the benefit—since he is the only Opposition Member present from north of the Border—of his knowledge about the number of Scottish local authorities which are in favour of the Bill as it stands.

Mr. Foulkes

I intend to do that. As the hon. Gentleman knows, I was one of those who were glad to see him depart the political scene in Scotland and move south of the Border.

I accept that the Committee stage does not decide matters. There was a major discussion on Second Reading. I understood that the composition of the Committee was supposed to represent broadly the kind of expressions of opinion made on the Floor of the House on Second Reading. If one reads the reports of the Committee proceedings, one will see the concern.

I am also concerned that, with the honourable and notable exception of the hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. Best), some of the hon. Friends of the hon. Member for Bedford who supported him in Committee seem to have deserted him today, perhaps frightened off by the Government Whips. I am also concerned that during the course of this debate there has been a deliberate filibustering effort by the hon. Member for Burton, and in the previous two debates there were irrelevant—

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Foulkes), has made the allegation that hon. Members on this side of the House have been indulging in a deliberate filibuster. Is it not the case that a deliberate filibuster is out of order? Since you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and your predecessor in the Chair did not rule out of order any of my remarks or those of my hon. Friends, is it not desirable that the hon. Gentleman should be required to withdraw that remark this is clearly in itself out of order.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

Order. I think that that sort of observation has been heard in the House before.

Mr. Foulkes

Can I also say—

Mr. Lawrence

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was specifically referred to by the hon. Gentleman. I could dilate at length on the reasons why it could not be appropriately said that I had been filibustering on either the licensing Bill or this matter. Can it be clearly on the record, with all your authority, that if there had been a filibuster, you would have drawn attention to it?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I can assure the hon. Gentleman, who said that he could dilate at length, that he would not have had the opportunity.

Sir John Eden

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) has made clear, the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Foulkes) made the deliberate charge that my hon. Friend the Member for Burton had engaged in a deliberate filibuster. That is clearly wrong. It is clearly untrue. Otherwise the Chair would have ruled against my hon. Friend. Since the hon. Gentleman who has the Floor has deliberately told an untruth, should he not be directed to withdraw it? On what possible basis can he say that it was a filibuster?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I think that the right hon. Gentleman is getting into rather deep water.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was one of those attacked by implication in what the hon. Gentleman said because I played a full part in the two previous debates. Perhaps, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you would remind the hon. Gentleman that he was not present during the entirety of the two previous debates and, therefore, he is out of order.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Nor was I, so I have no grounds on which I can make such observations.

Mr. Foulkes

It may be said that four spurious points of order in themselves constitute a filibuster. I was present during the debate on the Married Women's Policies of Assurance (Scotland) (Amendment) Bill when your predecessor called the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) to order on four occasions because he was wandering from the point.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

What went on at that stage is not within the knowledge of the Chair and is not relevant here.

Mr. Foulkes

If I may now return to the Bill, I should like to refer to a point made by the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) who asked whether the purpose of the Government new clause was—

Mr. Douglas Hogg

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have asked no question of the hon. Gentleman. I think that the hon. Gentleman is confusing me with my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence).

Mr. Foulkes

The hon. Gentleman asked whether the purpose of the new clause was to legitimatise expenditure which is currently being undertaken by local authorities in this area. That is clearly not the case, because in reply to my intervention the Minister indicated that existing legislation covers the aims of new clause 1. Therefore, the existing legislation is quite adequate to deal with the permissive powers given to any local authority to set up these kind of bodies. It is quite clear to me, therefore, that the Government's action in introducing this new clause—which is unnecessary, not required and only tabled effectively to delete the effective clause which the hon. Member for Bedford has included—is a fraud and a deception. The new clause is totally irrelevant.

I now turn to the question of the local authorities. Local authorities in Scotland, along with those in England and Wales, have said that they are concerned—I expressed that point in Committee—lest any new powers are laid upon them without the additional resources to make them effective. I appreciate their expression of concern. I share that concern as someone who served on a local authority for nine years.

There are two ways of proceeding. The first is to say "We shall not carry out these desirable things"—in my view, these necessary things—"to improve the position for young people". The other is to say "We think that these are desirable and necessary objectives and we shall make the resources available in order that they can be carried out". As for the official Opposition—I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West will confirm it—our policy is that the resources should be made available.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I follow the point which the hon. Gentleman is making. However, where in the Bill as drafted are the resources to which he has referred provided? If they are not, what on earth is the point of his argument?

Mr. Foulkes

It is clear that some hon. Members have not read the reports of the Committee proceedings. This matter was dealt with at length in Committee. During our discussion on clause 9, I said that a Private Member's Bill must have such a clause included in it, and I pointed out the difficulties which would arise if it were not.

The Minister said that if the Government's economic policy was unsuccessful—the cutting of public expenditure, the cutting of school milk to children, the increases in school meals charges and all the other things from which we are suffering at present—the young people themselves would suffer, and that there would be no point in having a Youth and Community Bill if we did not have a strong economy to provide those services. If there was any evidence that the Government's economic policy was having even a modicum of success, that argument would hold some weight. However, in terms of unemployment, inflation and our present economic situation, it is clear that that is not the position.

I hope that the House will recognise that the hon. Member for Bedford has been treated in a shabby and disgusting way by the Government and by Conservative Back Benchers. I hope that we will deliver a short, sharp shock to the Government for that shabby and disgraceful treatment.

1.30 pm
Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I hope that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Foulkes) will forgive me if I do not range as wide as he did. I found the extent of the field he sought to cover surprising. The hon. Gentleman accused Conservative Members of filibustering, but he indulged in a wide-ranging review of Government employment policies, which ran so wide of the issue that we are discussing that if he had proceeded he would have swiftly run himself into dispute with you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I shall return to the hon. Gentleman's remarks about resources in a moment, but first, as I was not a member of the Committee, I wish to pay tribute to the considerable time and effort that my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet) has devoted to this matter. Whatever the outcome of today's discussions, his efforts will have been of great value to the House and to young people generally.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bedford said that the Young Conservative movement, without exception, was entirely in support of the proposals in the Bill. Among the representations that I have received is a letter appealing for my support from the North-West Young Conservatives. However, it is important to put the record straight in this respect. There are divisions of opinion among the younger members of the Conservative Party, and it is right that there should be. There are different views on the desirability of this proposal among the members of the Federation of Conservative Students, for example, and inevitably there is a considerable overlap between the membership of the federation and the Young Conservatives.

Mr. Keith Best (Anglesey)

Is my hon. Friend aware that at the last meeting of the national advisory committee of the Young Conservative movement—which includes representatives of the whole Young Conservative movement—a motion was passed unreservedly welcoming the Bill?

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

That is as may be. I do not dissent from the proposition that among other sections of Conservative youth, such as the Federation of Conservative Students, different views are expressed.

Mr. John Lee (Nelson and Colne)

My hon. Friend the Member for Knutsford (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne) and I represent North-Western constituencies. The North-West Young Conservatives are totally in favour of the Bill. I quote from a letter that was sent to me by the chairman of the North-West Young Conservatives: With these considerations in mind North-West Young Conservatives strongly urge you to support the Bill by attending the Friday session and casting your vote in favour of it.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I have already referred to that representation, a copy of which I also received. I was able to assure the North-West Young Conservatives that I would be present today to give the Bill the careful scrutiny that it deserves.

I turn to the two alternatives—the proposition in clause 1 that there should be a mandatory obligation on local authorities, and the proposition in the new clause that the power should be permissive.

I am not wildly enamoured of the new clause, for the reason advanced by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Foulkes). It is clear from what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) that the power to set up youth committees of the type envisaged in the Bill is already entrusted to local authorities. Therefore, we should have reservations about putting on to the statute book what might be called acts of supererogation.

For that reason, I am less than 100 per cent. enthusiastic about the new clause. But if I had to choose between the new clause and the clause in the Bill, I should most certainly prefer the new clause.

Like others of my hon. Friends, I do not think that we should impose additional specific obligations on local authorities at this time. I have no doubt about the excellent ambitions and purposes of the sponsors of the Bill. We can all endorse them without a moment's hesitation. But at the same time we must all bear in mind that one of the more important reasons why local authority current expenditure is out of control today and why our constituents face vast rate increases year by year is the endless addition of obligations which the House has required local authorities to fulfil. A large and embarrassing proportion of these additional obligations has sprung not from Government legislation but from Private Members' Bills. For that reason, we should always be cautious about adding to the primary obligations of local authorities. If that is true as a generality, I must say to my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford that this moment of all moments is about the last to add to those obligations.

We have heard a lot about the attitudes of local authorities towards this proposal. So far as I have been able to ascertain all who are anxious to see the Bill put on the statute book in its present form have to date been unable to produce a single instance of a local authority which is in favour of the Bill as it stands.

Mr. Best

I have written to all local education authorities and I have their answers here. I pluck one from that list. This letter from the city of Sheffield reads: Dear Mr. Best, Thank you for your letter which I received on 23rd June about the Youth and Community Bill. Some local authorities may have been lukewarm, but not this one. Last month the Education Committee, now with the confirmation of the City Council, promoted a resolution urging the Government to ensure that the Youth and Community Bill becomes law during the current parliamentary session. The Committee asked that this resolution should be forwarded to the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, the South Yorkshire Members of Parliament and to other interested and relevant groups. I hope you find this news encouraging. I hope that my hon. Friend is not feeling particularly proud of his county council. If he wants further elucidation, I have the letter from that authority here as well.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I am delighted that my hon. Friend has produced that example. I suspected that he had written to a lot of education authorities. I have a copy of the reply that he received from the Director of Education for Cheshire, which I shall read in a moment. I hope tha my hon. Friend will give the House the advantage of other positive replies that he has received. He chose to read the reply of the republic of South Yorkshire, as it is sometimes called. My local authority takes a different view.

Mr. Ward

Perhaps my hon. Friend will invite our hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. Best) to read the reply that he has received from the Dorset county education authority, as I am sure that he wishes to strike a fair balance. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Sir J. Eden) indicated, Dorset is totally opposed to the provisions, not only because of the expense, but because they will create unnecessary bureaucracy.

Mr. Lawrence

Is my hon. Friend aware that the South Yorkshire county council has apparently advanced proposals to employ 24 people to count the trees in its areas? Two years ago it employed 12 young people to count the lamp-posts! It might be more useful if it sent someone to count its bureaucrats and councillors. It would have been more helpful had South Yorkshire suggested how the proposals could be paid for.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

It might also have suggested how many hundreds of additional bureaucrats it would employ, given the opportunity. We should not regard South Yorkshire as a model.

Mr. Macfarlane

My hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. Best) quoted a positive letter from the Sheffield authority. I have spent some time in the past year in dialogue with Sheffield, which has some good educational codes of practice, Peter Horton, the chairman of the Sheffield education committee, is the chairman of the local education authorities committee this year and also a member of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities. I said earlier that the AMA was distinctly unhappy about clause 1. There is, therefore, confusion between the role that Sheffield is playing in writing to my hon. Friend and the role that it is playing on the AMA.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

That confusion is illustrated in other dealings with local authorities, as I discovered in dealing with my local authority over the Local Government, Planning and Land (No. 2) Bill.

1.45 pm

My hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. Best) referred to the reply that he had received from the director of education for my authority. The director of education for Cheshire could not he accused by his worst enemies, if he had enemies, which I am sure that he has not, of being a paid-up member of what might be regarded as the more obscurantist wing of the Conservative Party. The contrary is true. In reply to my hon. Friend he stated: Thank you for your recent letter concerning this Bill. Under present conditions I am afraid I cannot work up a great deal of enthusiasm for the Bill. Until recently this Authority would probably have been able to take one or two small steps which presumably would have qualified it for the exemption which you mention"— that is, the exemption made in the Bill for local authorities which were acting in a manner which has considered to be in conformity with its purpose— Government pressure for reductions in public expenditure, however, have compelled the discontinuation of the County Youth Advisory Committee and its associated eight District Youth Advisory Committees, staffing reductions having made it impossible to service them. While I feel that the Bill has much to commend it I think it is singularly ill-timed and I cannot imagine that the members of my Authority would be prepared to support measures which would compel them, in these very difficult times, to reincur expenditure which they have so recently decided to save From my contacts with the leading elected members of Cheshire country council, I know that they very strongly endorse the view which has been expressed on their behalf by their director of education.

Mr. Best

Once again I apologise to my hon. Friend for intrerrupting at such length. However, I am glad that he has brought that letter into evidence as he called it. To be fair, is not the clear inference from that letter that there is a country council that desperately wants to see measure such as those encompassed in the Bill brought into effect, and that the only reason why it cannot do that the only reason why it cannot do that is there is a cutback in public expenditure? If my hon. Friend looks closely at that letter and picks out one or two of the phrases which he was so careful to read a moment ago, he will see that it says: Until recently this authority would probably have been able to take one or two small steps and Government pressure for reductions in public expenditure, however, have compelled the discontinuation of the County Youth Advisory Committee. Those are the sort of things that the Bill envisages as being beneficial to the youth service and the sort of things that Cheshire county council has had to give up. It is not that it disagrees with them fundamentally but simply that it cannot provide them on financial grounds.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I am not clear where my hon. Friend stands on the need for restraint in public expenditure, but I know where I stand. If we are to involve local authorities in fresh obligations at present, such as the Bill is designed to impose upon them, we make a farce of the whole concept of bringing public expenditure and, above all, local authority current expenditure, under proper control. I believe that we would be acting in the highest possible degree of irresponsibility towards our taxpayers and ratepayers if we went down that road.

Mr. Lee

On that specific point, my hon. Friend's main criticism of the Bill, as I understand it, is that the financial obligations are put on the local education authorities and, through them, on the county councils. In national terms, is he in favour of central Government spending more or less on youth at this time?

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

At present I am in favour of central Government spending less on current account—period. I have never believed—although I know that it is fashionable in this place—that one can be in favour of retrenchment in general and expenditure in particular. Those two concepts are totally incompatable. I know that many hon. Members —not all of them on the Opposition Benches—somehow manage to see no incompatibility between them. But I am afraid that I cannot go down that road. Therefore, my answer is that if we were to expunge clause 9 as it stands and to transfer on to the Government's shoulders responsibility for any costs incurred as a result of these proposals, I should be not one whit the happier.

What will be the financial implications for local authorites if clause 1 is carried? My hon. Friend the Member for Burton asked where the money would come from. I commend to the House a letter that appeared recently in that excellent and celebrated newspaper, The Daily Telegraph. It came from the Chairman of Kent county council youth and community service sub-committee. The author, Felicity Simpson, wrote: I write to contribute to the debate on the value of the Youth and Community Bill…This Bill is surely one of the most well-intentioned but totally misguided measures to come before Parliament. I shall not trouble the House by repeating the whole letter. However, she continued: It seems wholly unproductive in terms of cost and the involvement of young people in their own affairs for this Bill to impose the setting up, and the servicing by local authorities, of youth councils…with a membership aged up to 26 years. This will involve costly administrative and professional time. The Bill also dictates the membership and chairmanship of a joint committee of local authority and voluntary youth organizations…thereby upsetting local arrangements. As this Bill does not provide any more finance to the Youth Service,…not only will its effect be to switch resources away from teenagers in local authority clubs to already well motivated 21–26-year-olds, but also it will force a reduction in the grant-aid and advice-time pump-priming organisations. That letter was written by someone with considerable experience. It reflects the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Burton. If clause 1 were enacted it would not improve youth opportunities, but would divert resources away from existing services. Those resources would be channelled into new systems of bureaucracy. I seriously wonder whether they would advance the interests of the young.

Mr. Skeet

My hon. Friend read a letter from The Daily Telegraph, which was written by a member of Kent county council. Is he aware that the weight can be taken out of his remarks? In terms of per capita expenditure on youth, 1.7p is spent in Kent, compared with 12.6p in other authority areas.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I do not agree with my hon. Friend. Those figures do not alter the fact that the letter came from the chairman of the Kent county council youth and community service subcommittee. Such a person is at the sharp end of things. My hon. Friend would look to just such a person to achieve the purposes of his legislation. One cannot lightly ignore the point that that letter makes.

When one considers the desirability of a measure, one must look at the source of its support. Hon. Members have drawn attention to the considerable volume of support that has been lent to the legislation by the Young Conservatives. My hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey plucked out one local authority from the depths of South Yorkshire. I hope that he will pluck out some more. However, he could pluck out only one that supported the propositions in the Bill.

I have received one other representation in support of the Bill. I quote: in any event, I do urge that you are present when the Bill comes up and that you cast your vote for it. If you can spare the time to let me know your views in regard to this matter, I should be grateful. That came from Mr. Colin Barnett, the secretary of the North-West Regional Council of the TUC, of which some of us had experience at the time of the troubles and disruptions at the beginning of 1979. At that time local services were reduced often to a state bordering on chaos. I am bound to say that an appeal from that particular source to lend support to a measure is not one that I view with enormous enthusiasm.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

It is important that we get a proper balance here. I declare an interest as a sponsor of the Bill, and also as the Member for a neighbouring constituency to my hon. Friend. Does he agree that such highly reputable and respectable organisations as the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides fully support the Bill? My hon. Friend quoted from a letter in the recent edition of The Daily Telegraph and the person whom he quoted referred to voluntary organisations. Does not my hon. Friend agree that some of the intent behind the Bill would enable the voluntary organisations to play a much greater part in youth and community service in this country and that this would ensure much better value for money than providing bigger and better maintained and statutory youth centres and youth organisations in this country? Will my hon. Friend pay tribute to the voluntary organisations which do a great deal and which, under this Bill, may well be encouraged to do much more at low cost?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope that hon. Members will bear in mind that we are dealing with new clause 1 which is concerned with youth advisory committees. We seem to be drifting into a Second Reading debate.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I shall try to bear that closely in mind. I agree wholeheartedly with my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) that at this time we should encourage to the maximum possible extent the involvement of volunteers in the improvement of services for the young in all areas. What I am doubtful about is whether we are really likely to enhance the degree of voluntary involvement and commitment by imposing on local authorities a legislative duty of the type envisaged in clause 1. For that reason, as much as for any other, while I cannot conjure up a great deal of enthusiasm for the new clause, I can conjure up even less for clause 1 as it stands.

Mrs. Ann Taylor (Bolton, West)

I shall be brief, because it is important that the House should be able to come to a decision on the new clause as soon as possible. The Opposition are very unhappy about the proposals put forward by the Government in the new clause. I agree with one thing that the Minister said in moving the new clause. He claimed that his attitude today was consistent with that which he adopted in Committee. That is true. Throughout the Committee the Minister sought to create difficulties and make the Bill absolutely meaningless in its main proposals. In view of what the Minister has said today, I still do not understand why he did not vote against the Bill on Second Reading. That would have been a more honest approach.

This new clause is one of the two ways in which the Government are trying to kill the Bill. One is by tabling so many amendments that they hope that the Bill will run out of time. The other is by tabling this clause which in effect makes the provisions of the Bill meaningless. The use of the word "may" in the first subsection means that, if the Bill goes through, it will not achieve any of the ends which its sponsors originally envisaged at the time of Second Reading.

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Mr. Macfarlane

I understand the hon. Lady's point, but I am sure that she accepts that we shall have to agree to differ.

I am in some difficulty, as, I think, are many of my hon. Friends. On 26 June, the Leader of the Opposition, the Opposition Chief Whip, the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) and three other leading members of the Shadow Cabinet, tabled a motion designed to secure that on Third Reading of this Bill the Question be not put forthwith.

Mrs. Taylor

The Minister will also be aware that the Opposition did not table any amendments for Report. We should have liked a very short and direct Report stage dealing only with those amendments which had proved in Committee to be necessary, some of them promised by the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet). We should then have liked a Third Reading debate in order to discuss this subject a little further. But we have no intention if, miraculously, the Question is put in the next 29 minutes, of voting against the Third Reading. I think that the hon. Member for Bedford will confirm that the Opposition have never tried to frustrate the passage of this Bill, as some of his colleagues have. We have given him full support in all the Bill's stages from Second Reading until now, and we have no intention of frustrating the Bill's further progress.

Mr. Macfarlane

W must get this clear so that we know where the Opposition stand. The fact that the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues put down a blocking motion against Third Reading would not automatically have ensured a debate on Third Reading. That would have happened automatically, regardless of the fact that the Opposition had tabled a blocking motion.

Mrs. Taylor

My right hon. Friends intended to make it clear that the Opposition were more interested in the principle of the Bill than in the devious amendments tabled by the Government, for whatever purposes.

Mr. Macfarlane


Mrs. Taylor

The Minister obviously wishes to waste time. The Opposition do not.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mrs. Taylor) to accuse my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Macfarlane) of wasting time when she refuses to answer a reasonable question that is put to her?

Mr. Skeet

Pure comment.

Mrs. Taylor

I shall continue, having answered that question several times.

I deal briefly with some of the matters raised by Government supporters who objected to the original clause 1 because they believed that it would have cost and manpower implications for some local authorities. Those are fears which hon. Members did not express during the passage of the Education (No. 2) Bill when the Department of Education and Science wished to impose new obligations on local authorities in respect of local appeal systems. I assume that hon. Members realise that, though they did not show any understanding of it when we discussed it earlier.

What many hon. Members fail to realise is that the proposals put forward by the hon. Member for Bedford are intended as an investment in youth and as a means of countering the need for other expenditure because of the problems arising from non-spending.

Earlier, one of my hon. Friends spoke about the problem of vandalism and about the costs which can arise if problems of that kind are not dealt with. This Bill seeks to give a greater commitment to youth service than we have had in the past. Hon. Members are very foolish if they think that we can ignore that and brush it aside.

Amendment No. 3 covers a matter that we discussed in Committee. In my view, it went a long way to allay the fears of those local authorities who thought that the Bill would make them change their existing provision for youth services.

Many of the fears that have been expressed about the Bill are not worth consideration. People have been putting forward suggestions about what will happen without understanding the Bill or our previous discussions about it. Everyone is aware that there is an amendment to make the Bill subject to a commencement order, which means that it is not necessarily the case that any current expenditure will be required in the near future to meet the requirements of the Bill.

The whole reasoning behind the Bill is that some local authorities are not doing enough to provide a decent youth service in their areas. The Bill would put pressure on them to provide more services. It is important for it to be realised how wide is the difference between different local authorities in the services that they provide. I draw the attention of the House to a paper recently circulated by the British Youth Council about a survey on existing provisions. It says that about one-third of all local authorities are cur- rently cutting their expenditure on youth services by more than 10 per cent. It is even more worrying that many of the cutbacks are taking place in support for the voluntary sector, so there is no possibility that the voluntary sector will be able to fill the gap.

The highest spending local authority spends 14 times as much as the lowest spending local authority on each young person in its area. That is unsatisfactory. More pressure needs to be put on local authorities to improve that position. The Minister said that he wondered where the new resources would come from to meet the costs of better provision for youth services. Many people, especially those involved in youth service in local authorities, wonder what has happened to the money provided by the Government in the rate support grant for youth services. That money is pooled with the remainder of the money, and the, services that should be provided go by the way. The money is not spent in the way that was originally intended.

I hope that the Government will think again about their opposition to the Bill. I hope that neither they nor Conservative Members will kill the Bill today. The Bill has a tremendous amount of support among those involved in youth work, both on a voluntary basis and on a professional basis. It is a modest measure. The Government are trying to kill even the modest proposals in the Bill as it stands. I hope that the new clause will be rejected. I hope that the Government will think again, and that the hon. Member for Bedford will be successful in his original intentions.

Mr. Skeet

I recollect that in Committee the Minister tabled a new clause to delete the whole of my Bill. I congratulate the Government on the fact that they have changed their minds. In this instance they have kept the entire framework of the Bill, but they have made it permissive. The Government have not been consistent. Had they properly utilised their 80 amendments in Committee, perhaps some progress could have been made on this occasion and we would not be in the position of having the Bill talked out. But that has not occurred.

Bearing in mind the importance of clause 1, perhaps the Government will recollect that, as they were reminded in Committee, it was only in 1974 that they said: We will introduce the Youth and Community Bill which, among other things, provides local reviews of existing arrangements in the field of housing, employment, leisure and advice services as they relate to young people."—[Official Report, Standing Committee C, 27 February 1980; c. 37.] That commitment of the Conservative Party incorporated the provisions in clause 1 of the Bill which the Government are now seeking to negate.

A number of hon. Members are particularly concerned about what the Bill will cost local authorities. Hon Members have questioned how much support there is for the Bill. I do not know of a single youth club or youth organisation in this country that does not support not only the principles of the Bill, but everything undertaken in it. They feel that the 1944 Act should have been modernised to take account of trends that have occurred in the past 35 years.

We are told that because of the expense that would be incurred by some authorities no changes should be made. The AMA and a concerted cartel of local authorities are against the Bill and we are told that for that reason youth should be overridden. Make no mistake. The topic of youth will raise its head again. This is not the first such Bill to be brought before the House. In fact, it is the fourth. The previous Bill was talked out by a Labour Minister, but can it not be said that this Bill is being thrust out of the House largely at the instigation of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary? I hope that that is not so.

I should like to support the new clause on the basis that we may get something for youth. If my hon. Friend is prepared to give me an undertaking that he will legislate on the framework of my Bill, as modified by the Government amendments, I shall vote for the new clause.

Mr. Macfarlane

I understand that my hon. Friend displays a certain amount of emotion because of the important contribution that he has made and the course that he has plotted in relation to possible future legislation. I cannot give him an assurance, and he would not expect me to. He knows the problems involved. With a certain amount of divine intervention, my hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet) has come first in the ballot for Private Members' motions and he is to initiate a three-hour debate on Monday. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State will reply and I hope that we shall be able to explore all the points that we have discussed over the past few months and we may be able to give my hon. Friend some indications. However, he knows that I am not empowered to give any assurances today.

Mr. Skeet

I am not satisfied with that. The Government spent a long time drafting various amendments to the Bill. They must have had in mind either a paper exercise that amounted to nothing or the idea that they would legislate on the basis of their proposals.

My hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) is concerned about the anxieties of local authorities. I pointed out in an intervention that not merely I but the Secretary of State have advocated that the Act should come into force on such dates as the Secretary of State may, by order, appoint and that different dates may be appointed for different provisions. In view of that, what conceivable reason could a local authority have for remaining anxious about the Bill?

Mr. Lawrence

The answer is simple. The mere device of including a tactic that will allow the Secretary of State to bring in provisions at some time in the future does not mean that when he brings in the provisions all our criticisms of the Bill, particularly that of cost, will not still apply. The Secretary of State may feel under an obligation to introduce provisions within the next year or so. Questions of cost will still apply. Indeed, they will have been added to by inflation.

2.15 pm
Mr. Skeet

Conservative Governments realise the need to reduce expenditure to a minimum. Therefore, it is unlikely that any Conservative Government would defect from the principle.

My hon. Friend the Member for Burton spoke of expenditure. In 1978–79 the local authority commitment to the youth and related services was £66 million out of a total of £89.9 million. That figure will be slightly increased for 1979–80. The increased expenditure is minuscule. If it is for the benefit of youth, or to support the voluntary services, there is every reason for supporting that slightly increased expenditure.

A recent survey on behalf of the Youth Service Partners found that 75 per cent. of local education authorities are planning to reduce their real expenditure on the youth service during 1980–81. The overall average of the planned reductions in expenditure is 6.7 per cent. That works out at a reduction of an average of 9.9 per cent. while support for the voluntary sector, which costs so little and uses money inexpensively, is being reduced by 13.8 per cent. Why is my hon. Friend complaining about increases in expenditure when local authorities are reducing it? That survey was carried out in conjunction with the National Youth Bureau. The voluntary side is being cut more than the statutory side.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Expenditure on youth has been reduced, but the amount of money wasted because of vandalism has increased.

Mr. Skeet

Local authorities seldom recognise that of the cost of £100 million a year of vandalism, £15 million is associated with schools. We can try to prevent such vandalism from occurring or we can use the custodial remedy and put offenders into institutions. In 1978–79 the average annual cost of keeping a person in custody in the six category A-B dispersal prisons was £12,000. In other closed training prisons the cost was £5,700. That money could be saved if appropriate action were taken at the appropriate time.

When the Secretary of State addressed the University of London Union on 3 March 1979, he said: The youth service must surely be the Cinderella service of education…and the response of local authorities to the need to provide services and recreational facilities for young people varies enormously. I agree with that. It was put even better by the Lancashire county youth service, which said: Consistently the level of youth service provision varies from LEA to LEA; regrettably this variation is not a function of the needs of a community, but of the importance, which the elected representatives place on such a scheme of development. The variation lies between minus 5 per cent. of the educational budget in such counties as Lancashire and Cumbria to 2.5 per cent. in, say, Sheffield. My sponsors support the idea of a mandatory joint committee because of the variety throughout the country. Without a mandatory provision, the authorities that have done nothing in the past will do nothing in the future. The Minister will say that under sections 101 and 102 of the Local Government Act 1972 local authorities have powers to set up any number of committees. This may be the case. But will they do so? Will there be anything to persuade them and goad them to make them do it? Many will say that if the Bill fails to get the support of the Commons, they will do nothing but sit back and cut the youth provision. This has happened in Cumbria and other parts of the country.

I feel strongly about the matter. I do not want to talk out my own Bill and I have no intention of doing so. I regret that there has not been more support from my right hon. and hon. Friends. This cannot do the good name of Conservatives any good in the country. We have a good record on youth and hope to improve it. I hope to say more about that matter on Monday. We have to remember that it is not money but people who count. We do not want to consign people to scrap heaps. We want people who will, in time, benefit the country through the development of their resources. It would be frivolous and sterile to take the opposite course.

I am surprised that the Minister has put forward a permissive clause. He is prepared to give certain services to youth; he is prepared to recognise that it is necessary to co-ordinate. Is he, however, prepared to go a step further? Is the Bill to be lost, or is the Minister prepared to recommend to the Secretary of State that time is still available? We are not at the end of the Session.

The Abortion Act 1967 was given additional time in order to get it through the House. The Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965 got through with additional time. The Matrimonial Causes Act 1967 got through with additional time. To those who point out that those Acts were passed under a Labour Government, I say that I am distressed that this should be the case. I would probably not have supported the Acts myself. At the same time, there is no reason why a Conservative Government, bearing in mind the importance of the topic, should not give the Bill additional time. I hope that the Minister will draw this to the attention of the Secretary of State, the Chief Whip and all those associated with the timetable.

The Minister has suggested that I either accept or reject the concept of youth advisory committees. I would have been prepared to accept it with all the consequential amendments if the Minister had given me an undertaking. As he says this cannot be done, I shall have to go into the Lobby, if there is a vote, in

Question accordingly negatived.

It being after half-past Two o'clock, further consideration of the Bill stood adjourned.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Have you received notification from the Secretary of State for Defence, to whom I have written, asking him for extra time for my support of the original Bill. All the 80 amendments cannot simply have been cast in order to effect a paper exercise. Many hon. Members desire to ensure that youth is advanced.

Mr. Marks

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 22, Noes 56.

Division No. 388] AYES [2.24 pm
Bell, Sir Ronald Hooson, Tom Stradling Thomas, J.
Berry, Hon Anthony Hurd, Hon Douglas Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Brotherton, Michael Kimball, Marcus Ward, John
Bruce-Gardyne, John Lawrence, Ivan Wheeler, John
Carllsle, Rt Hon Mark (Runcorn) Macfarlane, Neil
Costain, A. P. Mac Kay, John (Argyll) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Raison, Timothy Mr. Tony Newton and
Fairgrieve, Russell Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Mr. Peter Morrison.
Finsberg, Geoffrey Stanbrook, Ivor
Anderson, Donald English, Michael Onslow, Cranley
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham) Farr, John Rees-Davies, W. R.
Beith, A. J. Field, Frank Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Best, Keith Fisher, Sir Nigel Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur (M'brough) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Bottomley, Peter (Woolwich West) Fraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood) Roberts, Ernest (Hackney North)
Braine, Sir Bernard Greenway, Harry Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Grimond, Rt Hon J. Skeet, T. H. H.
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Haynes, Frank Squire, Robin
Cohen, Stanley Janner, Hon Greville Stewart, Rt Hon Donald (W Isles)
Cowans, Harry Kilfedder, James A. Straw, Jack
Cryer, Bob Lyell, Nicholas Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton West)
Cunningham, George (Islington S) Lyon, Alexander (York) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford) McCartney, Hugh Waldegrave, Hon William
Deakins, Eric McKelvey, William Winterton, Nicholas
Dewar, Donald Mcwilliam, John Young, David (Bolton East)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Marlow, Tony
Dover, Denshore Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Dubs, Alfred Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Mr. Kenneth Marks and
Dykes, Hugh Mellor, David Mr. George Foulkes.

Cruise Missile Sites Bill to give the people in the localities a chance to vote, and have you any information—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I regret to say that the Secretary of State for Defence would be unlikely to write to me about such a matter.

The procedure for the Division has been corrected to accord with Vol. 988, column 45.

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