HC Deb 04 March 1981 vol 1000 cc264-5
7. Mr. Greenway

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will abolish the Lambeth and Hackney, Islington partnership committees.

Mr. Heseltine

No, Sir. I have already announced that after a review of inner city policy I do not intend to change the present status of partnership authorities. However, as I indicated in my statement of 18 September last year, I have refused to authorise expenditure on new statutory schemes by Lambeth and Hackney London boroughs, which are not only high overspenders but have acted contrary to the spirit of partnership in ignoring the Government's calls for current expenditure reductions in 1980–81.

Mr. Greenway

As it is clear that my right hon. Friend is dissatisfied with the working of the partnership agreements, will he abolish them?

Mr. Heseltine

In the majority of authorities, partnerships contribute towards solving the problems of inner urban areas. That is why I decided to continue with them. Unfortunately, there are a small number of authorities that seem determined to do the maximum amount of damage possible to their areas by high overspending. I am not prepared to add to the burden that has already been placed on ratepayers, by continuing with the projects of those specific authorities.

Mr. Clinton Davis

Is the Secretary of State aware of his hon. Friend's impudence in raising matters that affect constituencies other than his own, which is exceeded only by his invincible ignorance about those areas? Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that an area such as Hackney faces enormous problems of deprivation, which he has simply failed to recognise? Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that the uncertainties that he has created for that local authority and for industries operating in that area are mutilating the authority's prospects? The right hon. Gentleman has the sole responsibility for that.

Mr. Heseltine

The Labour Party has put forward an interesting new doctrine, to the effect that hon. Members should not raise matters that affect the constituencies of others. I look forward to that admirable suggestion being taken up by his right hon. and hon. Friends. I care very much about the employment prospects in those boroughs where partnership arrangements exist. It is because I am appalled by the high level of rate increases—which the Labour Party has encouraged—and by the job-destroying effect that that has on those areas that I have taken such steps.