HC Deb 30 July 1984 vol 65 cc100-46

Lords amendment: No. 9, after clause 8, insert the following clause— '(4B) Before exercising his power under this section to grant or refuse consent, the Secretary of State shall specify the matters he is to take into consideration in granting or refusing his consent.'.

(c) in line 20, at end, insert— '(4C) The consent of the Secretary of State under this section shall not be required for any expenditure incurred under the said section 137 for a purpose in connection with the promotion of the industrial, commercial or economic development of its area or part thereof.'.

(h) in line 20, at end insert— '(4E) No consent shall be required under this section in respect of expenditure incurred under section 137 of the principal Act by way of a payment to any body or organisation where

  1. (a) such body or organisation has been in receipt of a payment under the said section 137 by the local authority concerned within the two previous financial years, and
  2. (b) the payment to be made to such body or organisation does not exceed the total amount so made in the previous two financial years.'.

(i) in line 26, at end add— '(5A) The Secretary of State shall notify the relevant Council of his decision in respect of any expenditure within one month of that expenditure being submitted for his approval.'.

Mr. Roberts

Lords amendment No. 9 is an act of revenge by the Government against the GLC and the metropolitan county councils, because they wanted to persuade their supporters in the other place to vote with them in their attempts to terminate the council before they had an Act of Parliament to do so. I shall present each amendment in turn, and then I shall illustrate why the Lords amendment is unnecessary and a back-door attempt by the Government to subvert local democracy in London and the metropolitan county councils, and to try to subvert the wishes of the other place to provide for the continuation of the MCCs and the GLC until a Bill is passed to abolish them. This amendment, along with most of the others that we are considering today, are acts of political spite based on fallacious arguments and Government prejudice.

The Lords amendment will destroy local government powers to spend moneys under section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972. That was the successor of what we in local government used to refer to as the penny rate. Local government has always held dear the freedom and right to spend outside the ultra wires that they have always enjoyed.

Amendment (a) to the Lords amendment says: The consent of the Secretary of State under this section shall not be required to the incurring of expenditure where the recipient person or body is, for all or part of any one financial year, in receipt concurrently of funding from monies voted by Parliament including Urban Programme, the grant-in-aid to the Manpower Services Commission or funds administered by the Department of Industry, or in receipt concurrently of funding from the European Social Fund or Regional Fund, or in receipt concurrently of funds provided by any registered charity The basic principles behind the amendment are simple. Section 137 powers have been used extensively by local authorities to supplement and to give local direction to funding initiatives by other bodies. The principal agencies are frequently those of the Government, including the MSC, support for training schemes, urban programme funding, voluntary organisations and job creation schemes. The Government are proposing to superimpose a layer of monitoring on the work of these other agencies as well as on the local authorities concerned. The effect will both duplicate the specialist judgments already made by responsible and expert agencies and in some cases jeopardise their work by threatening delays and uncertainties. The amendment gives the Government an opportunity in advance to exclude several categories of funding. It seems logical that the Government should accept the amendment if they want to prove that the charge of political spite does not hold water. Surely there is no reason why the Government should exempt those grants that are going to bodies which the Government and Government-supported schemes are already funding as there can be no accusations of political bias, asset stripping or anything else.

9.15 pm

Amendment (b) requires that Before exercising his power under this section to grant or refuse consent, the Secretary of State shall specify the matters he is to take into consideration in granting or refusing his consent. Lords' amendment No. 9 gives the Secretary of State, other Ministers and civil servants at the Department of the Environment the kind of draconian powers that we and many others have been objecting to to scrutinise every grant under section 137 that the metropolitan counties and the GLC wish to make. Surely the Secretary of State should specify the matters that he is to take into consideration in granting or refusing his consent. The right hon. Gentleman is not famous for giving help and for providing information on issues relating to this paving legislation to explain democratically to the House, the local authorities and indeed the British people, the criteria on which he is acting and on which he will take powers under the legislation. The publication of such criteria would benefit the local authorities in determining whether to submit projects to the Secretary of State — an important matter which we shall be discussing later.

The Secretary of State's powers to penalise legally councillors who give consent or spend money without his consent are draconian. Councils and councillors may be disqualified if they give a grant without the Secretary of State's permission when they should have sought it. They could lose their right to be elected members, and so on. Surley the Secretary of State should explain the grounds and criteria on which he will operate the new powers that he is seeking. Again, if the Secretary of State wants to redeem some of his reputation and appear to be reasonable, he will accept the amendment.

Amendment (c) requires that The consent of the Secretary of State under this section shall not be required for any expenditure incurred under the said section 137 for a purpose in connection with the promotion of the industrial, commercial or economic developments of its area or any part thereof. The Government pay lip-service, especially in areas such as Merseyside and inner London, encouraging commercial and economic development. Most of the metropolitan counties and the GLC use large amounts of their money, if not most of their money, for that purpose.

The Government have said that there is concern that the funding of enterprise boards may be a possible opportunity for asset-stripping. Again, no evidence has been produced by the Government or the Secretary of State for that outrageous accusation of bad faith on the part of elected councillors in areas such as Merseyside, London and elsewhere in the metropolitan counties. Disposals of land and property are severely circumscribed already by section 123 of the Local Government Act 1972. Any disposal below market price already requires the consent of the Secretary of State. Funding of economic development is now the major use of section 137 powers, and the clause threatens activities which could cost literally thousands of jobs.

Of £22 million spent under section 137 by the six metropolitan counties in 1983–84, £19 million was devoted to employment initiatives. Lord Bellwin has conceded in the other place that enterprise boards do useful works. He went on to say: We accept that enterprise beards can help to forge a vital partnership between the public and private sectors."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 16 July 1984; Vol. 454, c. 1283.] If that is the Government's view, it is surely incumbent on them to explain why they now propose to introduce a serious break on economic development initiatives in the absence of any evidence to justify it. The metropolitan areas, including the major industrial regions of Britain, are where any long-term economic regeneration must begin. All the authorities facing abolition now have extensive programmes for aiding economic development or assisting decline.

In metropolitan areas, activities under section 137 include the offering of small grants or loans to start or establish small firms and co-operatives. Why does the Secretary of State have to scrutinise and approve them? It includes business advice courses, support for training courses to eliminate skill shortages, job incentive schemes to ease the list of recruitment and training, financial assistance to technical colleges and product development. Many of those activities are funded concurrently with the EEC or Government agencies. If the Government accept Lords amendment No. 9, all of those worthwhile ventures which relate to economic development and job creation will be excluded without there being any effect on what the Secretary of State regards as political grants.

In Merseyside, the economic development committee which, until recently, was chaired by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing), has developed schemes to provide incentives for small businesses to create jobs for the under-25s or long-term unemployed adults. Merseyside has assisted with the costs incurred by firms that retrain employees because they have introduced new technology plant and machinery. The economic development office —MERCEDO—has staff who are able to advise small firms and individuals who wish to start a business. They also help the work force when large firms are about to embark on rationalisation and when major redundancies are expected. They give information about industrial sites and buildings. I could continue to list their efforts through investing in local companies, saving jobs and creating jobs. If he is being rational, surely the Secretary of State would exempt such activity from these draconian powers.

Recently, the committees of Merseyside county council examined expenditure under section 137, which is limited by law to the product of a 2p rate. It will be £4.86 million for the Merseyside county council. The council has recently examined proposals to make a grant of £44,000 for a scheme to fight drug abuse. Does the Secretary of State oppose such expenditure? The number of heroin addicts is growing in Merseyside — the unemployed youth of the area are easy prey to the pushers because they see no hope for the future. The council is trying to do something about the problem but the Government will curtail its activities. The council has also decided to provide extra support for Merseyside Improvements Ltd. —a company that assists small businesses and improves derelict land and buildings.

The council provides £47,000 towards the cost of offshore safety and survival courses which are necessary for people who work on the rigs. Many unemployed people in Merseyside benefit from such training. Another £15,000 goes towards the kids in need and distress scheme. There are also support schemes for the victims of crime. What is politically objectionable about them? Of course, the Secretary of State will mention the assistance that is given to miners and their families in St. Helens. Indeed, he has already thrown that example at my hon. Friend the Member for West Derby. However, it is just one political grant out of many grants that are provided by Merseyside county council. The Secretary of State will justify this panopoly of controls to restict local authorities because of that decision to provide assistance under section 137. I support and do not apologise for that grant or the so-called politically controversial grants that councils give. The GLC is most often quoted in that connection. I believe that local authorities have a role to set precedents and to lead as well as to follow.

The Greater London Council and the Labour-controlled metropolitan authorities have given grants to so-called controversial and political bodies. Local government has always been free to pioneer and lead the way. It was the first to produce gas and electricity, to set up police forces and to launch major slum clearance programmes. Local authorities started the clean air programme by promoting private Bills against the wishes of the Government at that time. Local authorities' pioneering activities today take place under section 137, because their powers elsewhere have been restricted and limited. Those pioneering activities, which suppport ethnic minorities and other groups and movements in the community, are benefiting and changing society. Those are the things to which the Government and reactionaries object. I make no apologies for controversial grants.

The GLC revenue budget for all direct grant aid to voluntary organisations and industry is £47 million for 1984–85. That is equivalent to less than 3 per cent. of the total gross revenue budget. The cost of the programme to the average domestic ratepayer in London is 13p a week. Many groups benefit from GLC grants, for example, the Greater London Association for the Disabled, the Royal Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults, the Spastics Society, hostels for the single homeless, Age Concern, Pensioners Link, the National Council for One Parent Families, day nurseries, creches, pre-school playgroups, community centres, Cancerlink, and the Association to Aid the Victims of Medical Accidents. Why does the Secretary of State need power to control those groups? It is because of the few controversial groups that receive grants, which the Aims of Industry publication criticises. It is as misleading as the Secretary of State's earlier statement.

The GLC has not spent £30 million on grants to 51 organisations. The real total is £796,000, or 1.73 per cent. of the total grant budget. The report is highly selective, as the Secretary of State has been, and no doubt will be again when he replies to the debate. The GLC aids approximately 2,400 groups, some of which I have already mentioned.

I turn to the organisations which the Government, and their supporters and Aims of Industry have picked out. The GLC gave a grant to the English Collective of Prostitutes for a research project to find out why women go into prostitution, and what barriers there are to leaving it if they wish to. Is the Secretary of State against that? Aims of Industry is against it. Is that grant to stop? What about the Southall Black Sisters, now the Southall Women's Centre? It is a community centre for Asians and Afro-Caribbean women. The Aims of Industry group lists it as odd. In common with many other GLC-funded centres, it acts as a meeting place for women, offers counselling and advice on health care, motherhood and child care, and has nursery facilities. Sisters Concern provides mobile child care facilities to Afro-Caribbean children and their parents. The GLC funds many ethnic minority groups which are listed by Aims of Industry, such as, Lesbian Line, Gay Switchboard, the London Lesbian and Gay Centre, the London Gay Teenage Group and the Gay London Police Monitoring Group.

The Government and their supporters seek to justify the abolition of the GLC and the MCCs, to attack Labour-controlled authorities and to justify these draconian powers by searching the gutter. They are scratching the surface of racialism, ruthlessly exploiting sexism and prejudice against gays and lesbians and are appealing to the worst elements and prejudices in society in a manner worthy of the worst sort of Right-wing extremists, which they are doing their best to prove they are.

We should not apologise for our controversial grants. They are pioneering grants and they help people in the greatest need. They help to create a better, more just, and equal society. If central Government will not do that, it will continue to be the role of local government, as it has traditionally been.

9.30 pm

Did the Tory-controlled GLC give grants? I asked for information about that. Some may complain about a grant to an organisation called Babies against the Bomb—I admit that the name conjures up all sorts of interesting jokes—but that group was formed by several women committed to the idea of peace through nuclear disarmament. The Government may not agree with nuclear disarmament, but vast numbers of people voted for it when they elected the present GLC. What is the difference between a Left-wing GLC supporting that group, which Aims to involve women who are shy about attending large rallies and formal meetings—they chose the name because of concern for their children's future — and a Right-wing GLC supporting the Territorial Army and all the recruiting campaigns organised in London by the armed forces? Some people who are in favour of nuclear disarmament might not favour the recruiting of the young unemployed into the armed forces. It is a political decision, whether my hon. Friends like it or not, that can be decided at the local ballot box.

I asked the GLC to supply information about grants made by the previous Tory Administration, and I consulted all the relevant GLC officers. However, records were not kept under the previous Administration until the problem with the "Fares Fair" policy. There was never a question about the GLC being able to make grants. Apparently, most of the Conservative group's grants were made to organisations for housing homeless persons and to some traditional arts bodies. I may not object to that, but what were those arts bodies and what sort of political plays did they produce? It is impossible to determine, since records were not kept.

This legislation, which proposes complete control by the Secretary of State of section 137 grants, is unworkable, impractical and is so draconian and complicated that the Secretary of State will never get out of the administrative quagmire that he is creating unless he accepts our amendments or refuses to put this clause to the House. If he accepts our amendments, a way through the quagmire will be possible, because he will exclude those grants which he does not find objectionable, although I would not always agree with his list of objectionable grants.

The Government are being totalitarian. If the Labour party were introducing such measures, it would be accused of behaving like an East European Communist state. But the Government are erecting the Berlin wall between the electors and the ballot box, their councils and services. The Government have interfered with democratic rights and freedoms. They will not get away with it, not only in the GLC area, but in the metropolitan counties. There will be by-elections. At a meeting last Friday, all the metropolitan county chief executives and other leaders agreed that there should be a testing of public opinion in April or May next year so that the people are given the opportunity to say yes or no to abolition. It will be left to each authority to decide whether to call random by-elections or whether their entire Labour groups should resign.

The Government will not escape from elections. Whether they fight them or not, the public will turn out to vote against the draconian powers being taken by the Government and against the sort of interference that is proposed in the clause, which removes the traditional rights of local government.

Mr. Richard Wainwright (Colne Valley)

I speak in support of the amendment to which the spokesman for the Labour segment of the Opposition the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Roberts), has just spoken, but I should also like to speak to four of the amendments which are grouped for debate at this stage, tabled by my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Liberal and Social Democratic parties— amendments (e), (g), (h), and (i). The purpose of those amendments is to try to preserve, as far as possible within the framework of a deplorable Bill, that very important element in local government legislation, the free 2p. In the Liberal view, held and published to the world since the 1950s, the free 2p itself is only a very minimal expression of the importance of freedom of local government.

The Liberal party has always subscribed — even before Lord Redcliffe-Maud commended it — to the principle that ultra vires should be banished from our local government law, and that local government should have competence to spend money as it thinks best, subject, of course, to the overriding verdict of the electorate when it reviews how the money is being spent.

It is worth detaining the House for a moment to refer to the paragraph in the Redcliffe-Maud report which gave his immense authority to a view which Liberals had been propounding for 10 years before he published it. The report, in paragraph 323, states: All main authorities should have a general power to spend money for the benefit of their areas and inhabitants. This is additional to their expenditure on services for which they have statutory responsibility … But expenditure —under the local Government (Financial Provisions) Act 1963— is limited to the product of a penny rate. We suggest that the only limit on the use of the new power should be the wishes of the electors and such restrictions as have to be placed on local government expenditure in the interests of national economic and financial policy. We very much regret the savage assault on the Redcliffe-Maud doctrine which was furtively introduced into the Bill by means of a new clause in another place as late as 3 July. The free 2p has been responsible for many of the greatest innovations in local government in Britain.

Although members of the Liberal party on the West Yorkshire county council have been critical in detail of some of the ways in which the West Yorkshire enterprise board has been working, they regard it as a very valuable addition to the range of local and provincial powers.

In my constituency, employees have reason to be very grateful for the imaginative but properly careful way in which the West Yorkshire enterprise board, established by the county council, has been operating. It has been supplementing—in a spirit which I should have thought the Prime Minister would warmly endorse—the working capital of family businesses which offer a reasonable livelihood and good employment to people in the locality. It enjoys a high reputation in business and professional circles — even those which are, on the whole, of a deeply blue colour in west Yorkshire. Attempts to restrict further subventions to the west Yorkshire enterprise board will be greatly resented by some members of the Conservative party in that part of the country.

I come now to a part of the clause, adopted in another place, which we seek to amend and which is peculiarly offensive to Liberals. It is the part which gives the Secretary of State power to discriminate between voluntary organisations which he thinks are valuable and worthy, and voluntary organisations which he will sweep aside. It is intolerable for a Secretary of State to be given those powers. If we reach a stage where local government is allowed only to subsidise cricket, dominoes and the church tower, we shall be a very poverty-stricken country spiritually and otherwise.

There are innumerable causes which are well supported by particular groups, all of them British citizens and taxpayers, which are entitled to have their cases for help heard in their locality, not in some Whitehall sanctum by someone conditioned, as we all are, by a particular upbringing, education and slant on life—not to mention a particular ministerial occupation.

I shall be brief in dealing with the implicit thought in the new clause, which we seek to amend, there is a threat of appalling irresponsibility inherent in the bodies so that during 1985–86 they may be possessed of a demoniac spirit that will cause them to lavish expenditure in an uncontrolled manner. There is no evidence for that. I recall a recent parallel.

Hon. Members may recall the splendid window of opportunity opened when that otherwise very perverse measure, the Local Government Act 1972, was enacted. For all its faults, it enabled a great many well-managed urban district councils to say, "At last, we will use our balances to give something of real importance to the locality that we are trying to serve." My constituency—and I hope other constituencies — is the richer today because of the capital expenditure that was wisely and prudently made in the closing year of the urban district councils' office. There are many industrial and leisure projects made then, without which the unemployed today would be immensely deprived — not to mention the children and the aged. They flowed from the period of opportunity when the councils could allow certain capital projects to go forward which had previously been held back by excessive caution and inhibition.

The free 2p is not a doctrine to be attacked in such a furtive and unimaginative manner in response to Whitehall fears. It is the only substantial exception in our local government law to the centralising weapon of Whitehall bureaucracy repressing regional independence. Our amendments are an attack on this shamefaced and backdoor method of repressing the independence of the great provinces of England.

Sadly, the perverse measure of 1972 did its best to destroy the great provinces of England by breaking them into absurd county units, such as Cleveland, Humberside and other ridiculous units of local government. But is it an important fact that the proud independence of those regions and provinces has survived even that perverse attack. The spirit of the great provinces of the Midlands, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Northumberland and Durham has been substantially distilled into the metropolitan county councils. Certainly, in Yorkshire, the spirit of the West Riding, so violated by the 1972 measure, has—in a way that I would not have been brave enough to predict at that time — been distilled into the West Yorkshire metropolitan county council, still operating from County hall in Wakefield. To treat that body as unfit to be responsible to administer a free 2p rate shows how fearful the Government are of any sign of regional and provincial independence.

Our amendments are intended to provide some outer boundary, beyond which some mad council should not be allowed to go—although we think that the precautions will be unnecessary. It is important to note that the clause was introduced in another place. It was not part of the Bill presented to the House for Second Reading; it was not even within the long title of the Bill. I hope that the Secretary of State will explain why this attack on an important element of local government finance was introduced at such a late stage in another place.

9.45 pm

Worthwhile voluntary organisations, if they do not commend themselves to the Secretary of State's Solomon judgment, may suffer enormously by this attack on the free 2p. Local enterprise might have its plans disrupted and damaged by this narrow conscribing of councils' powers to exercise judgment over the spending of the free 2p. The spirit of local independence, which has suffered blows from this and previous Conservative Governments, might take a further battering. I ask the Secretary of State to consider the repercussions even for the Conservative party of this attack on provincial independence and on the value of people who give their service voluntarily in local government.

Mr. Alfred Morris

All of us in the House today are subjected to conflicting pressures. Within the House we are enjoined to make the briefest of speeches in this important series of debates. By contrast, our constituents want us to speak for as long as it takes to expose what, almost by common consent now, is regarded as a shoddy and shabby Bill.

I shall speak briefly, not because I believe constraining section 137 controls to be deserving of only summary debate, but out of regard for other right hon. and hon. Members who wish to intervene. There are many of them and I need not, therefore, address myself to the whole of the case for opposing this deeply objectionable new clause.

In 1978, those who then controlled the Greater Manchester county council introduced a scheme for providing bursaries to enable children in the county to obtain an independent school education. The Judicial Committee of the House of Lords upheld the powers of the Greater Manchester council to incur expenditure under section 137 for that highly controversial purpose.

Thus section 137 now undoubtedly permits a local authority to incur expenditure for a controversial purpose and the effect of the new clause, in the case of the GLC and the metropolitan county councils, is to prevent the use of section 137 for such a purpose unless the Secretary of State's consent can be obtained. That is an outright denial of the discretion conferred upon local authorities generally by Parliament in 1972.

The new clause may, indeed, be so interpreted in practice by the Secretary of State as to amount to a virtual repeal of section 137 so far as the GLC and the metropolitan county councils are concerned. That is totally unacceptable and should be rejected with contempt by the House.

Section 137 empowers a local authority to incur expenditure which it is satisfied is in the interests of the inhabitants of its area and where the local authority otherwise has no powers to spend for that purpose. The maximum amount that can be spent under this head on all such purposes in any one year is, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bootle (Mr. Roberts) said, the product of a 2p rate for the particular local authority. The maximum naturally varies from one local authority to another according to their total rateable value. In the case of the Greater Manchester council, the product of a 2p rate is in the region of £8 million.

Local authorities have used section 137 for a wide variety of purposes for which they are not otherwise given express statutory powers. Significant among these purposes has been the provision of financial aid to industry and assistance to the employment base of their country, whether by loans, grants or guarantees.

Another important head of expenditure under section 137 is financial assistance to voluntary bodies, including councils of voluntary service, citizen's advice bureaux and various kinds of community assistance.

Mr. Lewis Carter-Jones (Eccles)

I have listened carefully to my right hon. Friend and to the remarks of the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright). I do not think that any of the items paid for under section 137 would result in objection from the Secretary of State. Will my right hon. Friend question the right hon. Gentleman to see if he objects to any such expenditure in west Yorkshire and Greater Manchester? It seems that the Secretary of State is throwing out the baby with the bath water?

Mr. Morris

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for those remarks, to which I hope the Secretary of State will respond. I shall be referring in more detail to the purpose for which section 137 is being used in Greater Manchester.

In the sphere of employment and economic initiatives, Greater Manchester county council has helped—to give two examples, among many, which the House will applaud — both the Greater Manchester economic development corporation and the loans scheme guarantee.

In Greater Manchester today, we have male unemployment rates of over 50 per cent. in many localities. In some, the figure now exceeds 60 per cent. Youth unemployment figures are, in some parts of Greater Manchester, even more grievous. Who then can complain of the uses to which section 137 has been put in terms of trying to create jobs in the conurbation and to inspire economic development?

Among grants to voluntary organisations, the Greater Manchester youth association is assisted. Other organisa-tions which benefit are the Greater Manchester council for voluntary service, the co-operative Development Agency, the Marriage Guidance Council, the YMCA and One-Parent Families. Free school milk is funded and young athletes are aided.

What is irresponsible or objectionable about that record of help to the voluntary sector? Will such help continue if the new clause is approved? I believe it to be threatened by what is proposed and I ask voluntary organisations generally to mobilise now against the Bill.

As has been made clear, there will be a test of opinion about the Bill in the metropolitan councils next spring. Let the Government be forewarned that it is a test of opinion which we are wholly determined to win.

Mr. Wareing

When replying to a question from me last week about the rate limitation placed on Merseyside county council, the Secretary of State gave an abysmal answer.

I had pointed out that 80 per cent. of the expenditure of that county council went on the police, fire service and public transport undertaking. The right hon. Gentleman gave me the measly answer that Merseyside and other authorities should refrain from spending money on aiding the cause of the miners.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Bootle (Mr. Roberts) pointed out, the sum total to help the miners has been £70,000, which in terms of Merseyside's expenditure is peanuts. My hon. Friend pointed out that £4.8 million was the product of a 2p rate on Merseyside. So far for 1984–85, £4.4 million has been authorised. Of that, only £200,000 will be spent on grants to voluntary bodies, of which over 50 per cent., £101,000, will go to the Merseyside voluntary service organisation, and £17,000 to the Toxteth community council. We took over that bill when the Liberal Liverpool council refused to give aid to Toxteth immediately after the riots in that part of the city. Given the riots that took place in Toxteth in 1981, are there any Conservative Members who think that it was wrong to spend £17,000 on aiding the people in an area of acute unemployment?

Mr. Malcolm Thornton (Crosby)

It depends on which organisation is given aid.

Mr. Wareing

The hon. Gentleman, who always seems to speak from a sedentary position, should know the sorts of organisations that are being helped in Toxteth. The Toxteth community council is an umbrella organisation of the people of that area. Instead of prancing about the international garden festival, the hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Thornton) should examine the way in which the county council has used its section 137 money.

I am proud of the fact that I am still the chairman of the Merseyside Economic Development Company. Through its subsidiary, Merseyside Improvements Ltd., that company has created 550 jobs that will offer short-term employment. That is its achievement since 1982. It has created a Merseyside training organisation which is developing skills in heavy engineering, electronics, computer skills, and commercial business.

The Merseyside Enterprise Board is a subsidiary of the company which I chair. Since its establishment last year it has already considered 12 applications for funding and will be assisting to the tune of £250,000 a number of individuals who will be forming their own companies. The Merseyside Economic Development Office is the main distributor of section 137 money on Merseyside. It was created during the chairmanship of the Merseyside county council by a former Member of this place, the late Sir Kenneth Thompson. Since its establishment in 1978 it has been responsible for ensuring, under both Tory and Labour Administrations, that £5 million has been spent to aid 1,126 companies. At the same time it has created 7,700 jobs.

The Secretary of State should bear in mind that the cost per job under the county councils help for active small enterprises scheme—CHASE—has been £661, whereas the average cost per job created under the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry through the regional development grant system is no less than £35,000. Instead of prancing around the international garden festival, the Secretary of State should visit MERCEDO, where we will teach him how to create jobs in a cost-effective manner with the help of the private sector. We shall do that in a way that will ensure the real involvement of the local population. The disposition of the moneys expended is not determined by a quango of the sort that is well liked by the Government.

I was proud to create on Merseyside a co-operative development agency. My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) talked about the efforts that had been made in Manchester. He will be interested to know that on Merseyside we have developed 14 co-operatives since 1982. These are examples of real democracy in action on the shop floor. The House should know that 22 groups have been formed for a feasibility study with a view to setting up other co-operatives. An average of 4,000 firms a year have been given advice on finance, marketing and other business matters by MERCEDO since 1978.

The private and public sectors work in harmony through the Merseyside county council. Recently, the right hon. Gentleman visited the Merseyside Enterprise Forum and will have seen for himself the complete lack of enthusiasm for and opposition to his plans for Merseyside. The Merseyside chamber of commerce has come out overwhelmingly in support of what the Opposition are doing.

It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Ordered, That, at this day's sitting, the consideration of Lords Amendments to the Local Government (Interim Provisions) Bill may be prodeeded with, though opposed, until any hour. — [Mr. Archie Hamilton.]

Question again proposed, That amendment (a) to the proposed Lords amendment No. 9 be made.

Mr. Wareing

The EEC has contributed £1,800,000 to employment-generating schemes through CHASE and other programmes supported by MERCEDO. The EEC and other Government Departments believe that what we are doing is right. We would not obtain assistance from the EEC without that departmental backing.

The Secretary of State may hold over Merseyside controversial grants similar to those that he is holding over for the GLC. In the period 1981 to 1984, during which a progressive Labour administration has been in control at Metropolitan house on Merseyside, only 5.65 per cent. of the money spent under section 137 has been a subject of party political controversy on the county council. That means that nearly 95 per cent. of the schemes and the employment generated by the Labour councils on Merseyside have had the full support and backing of the entire council. If the Secretary of State wants to argue the case, he should address himself to the Bishop and Archbishop of Liverpool and to the Merseyside chamber of commerce and note what they have to say. They will tell the right hon. Gentleman that, to ensure that there is a democratic organisation to generate employment on Merseyside, a county-wide authority is needed, with the backing of the people of the area.

Mr. Boyes

The decision of the Secretary of State to introduce this measure shows vindictiveness and a lack of understanding of what local government is all about, and especially a lack of understanding of what is happening in the north-east, which is one of the most deprived areas in Britain.

The vast bulk of the section 137 cash is used by Tyne and Wear county council to generate new jobs for our people. That is difficult when battling against a Government who are deliberately taking jobs away from the area at the same time as we are trying to create jobs and to protect the new jobs that are left. I do not expect the Secretary of State to agree with the idea of money being used for that purpose, but he might agree with me that the second largest amount of money is spent on voluntary organisations. Those voluntary organisations are defending the interests of the most disadvantaged groups in our area—the elderly, the poor, the handicapped, and so on. If the Secretary of State gets his way, those organisations will be subjected to delay. They will not know exactly what is going on. There is a big danger that many of our voluntary organisations, with which we are proud to be associated and which are doing a magnificent job, might go to the wall.

The Secretary of State might say that there is a possibility that the cash could be wasted. Is it not a fact that it has been possible under the existing rules to challenge that action in the courts? Is it not true that what the Secretary of State is doing is totally unnecessary, and is it not true that section 137 has been used only in the interests of the people in the area? The hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) is not exactly a friend of the Labour party. Certainly he is not a friend of local government. But when describing how Tyne and Wear county council had used section 137 he said: The Labour-controlled County of Tyne and Wear"— and that is what this is all about; he refers to the "Labour-controlled" county but does not suggest that the council has used the money in a way that it should not— spent £694,294 last year. Only a payment of £250 to the Campaign Against the Appointment of Additional District Auditors could be described as in any way remotely political. The vast bulk of its spending went in support of industry and employment with the rest going in grants to national organisations like the NSPCC and the RSPCA and local ones like the Friends of Durham Cathedral. However, the Secretary of State is saying that the metropolitan counties, of which Tyne and Wear is a representative example, have been profligate with their money and have not spent it wisely. It is apparent that a few of his supporters will question that.

What does the Secretary of State intend to do about the non-metropolitan counties and the boroughs? It not this a warning to them and their right to spend section 137 money that they, too, may find the powers to do so taken from them in the future? We take that warning seriously, and we shall watch what the Government are doing very closely.

The Government have adopted a vindictive attitude towards Labour-controlled authorities. They are authorities which know their regions and areas, and they apply criteria to determine which bodies to fund, knowing what local initiatives are needed. Now the Secretary of State intends to take over that responsibility and, as far as I am aware, he has nowhere stated his criteria. All that we can see is that there will be a load of civil servants carrying out in a long, painful, slow and costly way the functions which local government officers can perform speedily to help the people of Tyne and Wear.

The Government can spend their money how they want. When they want to spend money on a campaign against peace activists and to tell us that we are safe under civil defence in our personal crematoria and when they want to asset-strip companies and give them away to their rich friends to make them a little richer, that is all right. But when local government helps poor, elderly and disabled people, that is wrong.

This is a vindictive measure. It is unnecessary. I abhor it.

Mr. Stuart Holland (Vauxhall)

Section 137 grants are crucial, especially in an unemployment area. In an inner city borough such as Lambeth and my own constituency of Vauxhall, which has been recognised by Lord Scarman in his report on inner city disorders as one meriting priority attention in terms of employment creation, such grants are essential.

The rise in unemployment in Lambeth between March 1983 and March 1984 has been such that male unemployment is up by nearly 8 per cent., female unemployment is up by nearly 15 per cent., youth unemployment has risen by 50 per cent., the total unemployment rate has increased by 6 per cent. to nearly 20 per cent.

Can the Secretary of State ignore this? Can he claim that the problem will be resolved by the free working of market forces, when all the evidence is that enterprise in inner city areas is facing decline, that we have lost hundreds of thousands of small firms from inner city areas and that large firms have moved out either to satellite towns or increasingly into manufacturing abroad?

There is virtually no hope of economic recovery in our inner city areas unless there is some intervention in market forces. That appears not to be recognised by this Government, but it is recognised by European Governments, by the Japanese Government, by south east Asian Governments and by others. They see that reliance on free market forces alone, especially in an era of technological change, is to condemn whole communities to permanent, long-term structural unemployment which strikes at the least privileged in society. For example, Lambeth has the highest proportion of single-parent families in the country, quite apart from the number of blacks and young blacks in the community.

The new clause strikes at the whole purpose of allowing discretion to local authorities with local knowledge. That is crucial, inasmuch as if small and medium size enterprises are to flourish, they are best funded, aided and made accountable to those in the community who know those who operate them, what their track record is and what their best chances of success are.

The funding of voluntary organisations is another issue. Much criticism has centred on the GLC. However, the overwhelming proportion of section 137 funding, by both the GLC and the metropolitan authorities, is to organisations such as marriage guidance councils, citizens advice bureaux and groups working with the elderly, disabled and homeless who face a hopeless situation without this assistance.

I do not know of the experience of other hon. Members, but when dealing with my constituency case work—which is massive—I have had great assistance from the citizens advice bureaux and law centres. But this Government, who apparently feel that hon. Members can operate on the kind of funding that might have suited a 19th century gent, are unaware of the complexity of the cases that arise from multiple deprivation in inner city areas. They are unprepared to finance those neutral and unpolitical agencies which help hon. Members serve constituents whose interests we were elected to serve.

The Secretary of State's case is, I believe, completely unfounded. There is no way in which central Government civil servants can possibly substitute for the face to face contact and direct knowledge at present achieved by local councils. How will the Secretary of State know what mistakes are made? As a former civil servant in the 1960s and 1970s, time and again I saw how errors committed at the level of principal or below rarely and slowly surfaced to under-secretary or deputy secretary level.

If the right hon. Gentleman is very fortunate, and they ever get past his private office and permanent secretary, how will he possibly cope with the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of cases that will undoubtedly result under a system which is supposed to be plural and based on checks and balances? I do not see how we can possibly balance the overcentralisation in the right hon. Gentleman's hands by real accountability for public money in the private and social sectors. Frankly, I suspect that the right hon. Gentleman has no real intention of sustaining that expenditure of public moneys in the private or social sectors, and that they are likely to be cut.

What about the kind of expenditure undertaken, for example, by the West Midlands enterprise board and the Greater London enterprise board? It is widely recognised elsewhere that the free enterprise zone system, supported by the Secretary of State and the Government, is a highly cost-ineffective way of reallocating existing jobs. The studies that have so far been carried out into these much vaunted schemes show that between 75 and 80 per cent. of jobs which have moved into the free enterprise zones have merely crossed frontiers as firms have decided to relocate because of the incentives they are given.

That has an effect on the public revenue and the Exchequer. After all, when viable enterprises do not pay tax, fewer funds are available for expenditure in the local community. It is a stunning contradiction from this Government, who came to office with a high philosophy of "Small is beautiful" and "The entrepreneur knows best." Instead, the Secretary of State believes that big is beautiful and that he knows best. That is centralisation and, as Labour Front Bench spokesmen have said, this is the kind of eastern European diktat and commissar-style Government that should be rejected by the House, from both sides.

10.15 pm
Mr. Stephen Ross (Isle of Wight)

Although I do not represent a metropolitan county, I recognise the great role played by most of the metropolitan counties in their enterprise and development boards. I believe that the Government's proposals will be a retrograde step.

As we were told by the research note from the Library: This is a major new clause which imposes direct ministerial control on the use by the seven councils of their powers under section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972 … The new power will apply from 1 April. 1985, although it relates to contractual liabilities entered into on or after 26 June 1984". That presumably means that regular receivers of money under section 137 will need to start queueing at the Secretary of State's office to find out whether their grants will be renewed.

I want to relate the tale of something that happened to me at 5 o'clock this evening. Mr. Richard Noble, who won the world land speed record, and who may be known to some hon. Members, came to my office and asked whether there was any hope of getting financial assistance from the Isle of Wight County Council's Employment Promotions Group, which I chair. He wishes to build a light aeroplane, which has already been designed.

I asked Mr. Noble whether he had been to the Department of Trade and Industry, which he had. He applied for money under an enterprise fund, called, I believe, the New Initiatives fund. He was told at the Department that he had a good case and that he was likely to succeed in his application. Other gentlemen were brought into the room and started to ask further questions. Mr. Noble asked when he might have the money, perhaps in a week, but they replied that he might be able to have it in three months time.

Mr. Noble asked why he would have to wait for three months, as he had nine people lined up for jobs, and wanted to get on with the project, and place contracts. The Department replied that there was a long waiting list. He gave up at that moment. But we are going to give him a decision on Friday.

That tale illustrates what will happen under the Bill. Will all those who are being helped now through the various enterprise boards be queueing up at the Secretary of State's office? It will stop initiative.

I have chaired the enterprise agency in my constituency for the past three years. I am very grateful to the private companies that put up the money in the first place. They are now getting rather tired, because they have contributed a total of about £20,000 a year to the board. They are now telling me—and I refer to The Shells, the four main high street banks and numerous local industries—that they believe that it is time that local authorities took over the financing of the enterprise Agency, because private companies cannot continue indefinitely to fund it.

Private industry is looking to local councils to take some of the burden away from them. They have acted, quite rightly, at the request of the Government, and have stepped in when they felt that there was a need to do so. But they cannot continue ad infinitum. Perhaps the different enterprise agencies are funded in different ways in different parts of the country. I have visited many of them and realise that BAT has a scheme in Liverpool and Southampton, as well as in Brixton. But they will not continue with it indefinitely. They expect the local authorities to pick up the cost at some stage.

As a result, Kent has set up a development board and there is a Hampshire development agency. All of the county councils are moving in that direction, as well as many of the boroughs. At the same time, our worst-hit areas in the metropolitan counties, inner London and elsewhere will find that such initiatives will be castrated and even closed down altogether. That is not the right way to proceed. It is a gloomy day for this country, and a gloomy outlook for the masses of unemployed people.

This has been a marvellous debate because we have heard from Merseyside and elsewhere of people who are using their own initiative at local level. The Government are living in cloud-cuckoo land if they think that all the support will come from private funds and initiatives. It does not happen like that in Japan. There, initiatives started with central Government funding of some kind, or local funding. Most schemes start with regional and federal funds in America and with federal funds in Australia, and with the help of Government funding in most of Western Europe. But this Government, for some reason, think that it will all be funded through private entrepreneurs, who will roll out their money. But they will not, and the funding will have to come from central and local government.

The Secretary of State may be serious about wanting to do away with section 137 in relation to the metropolitan counties. He is under pressure to do away with it from another direction too. The debate in the other place revealed that Lord Bellwin may be thinking along those lines. If so, the Secretary of State is going in quite the wrong direction, and the sooner that he steps down from power so that we get a change in attitude and really start to devolve power for people to use their initiatives at local level, and have the ability and finance to do so, the better it will be for this country.

Mr. Piers Merchant (Newcastle upon Tyne, Central)

I do not wish to detain the House for more than a few minutes, but I feel that I would be neglecting my responsibilities to my constituents if I did not intervene in the light of the remarks of the hon. Member for Houghton and Washington (Mr. Boyes).

The hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Roberts) made great play of justifying section 137 spending, however bizarre, by saying that that is what the people—the electorate— want. They do not. In the past few months, not hundreds but thousands of my constituents have directly expressed disgust at what they consider to be abuse and misuse of section 137 powers by one metropolitan authority— Tyne and Wear county council.

The amendment from the other place is an extremely welcome, if rather belated and limited, step towards curbing the abuse of the now highly discredited and infamous section 137 of the Local Government Act 1972 and should not be watered down or complicated by any further amendment such as the Opposition propose. I hope that at a more appropriate time there will be a review of the section, but tonight we are dealing only with its relevance to the new Bill.

The strictest control of section 137 spending is made necessary by the experience of the activities of the GLC and the metropolitan counties, particlarly over the past year. The simple fact is that vast sums of money— ratepayers money—have been wasted on party political campaigns that have normally been backed by only tiny proportion of the electorate. The extravagance has been justified under section 137 of the Act, though I suspect in a manner never originally intended by its draftsman.

Mr. Wareing

Will the hon. Gentleman inform us whether there is an ultra vires rule affecting section 137? If ratepayers in Newcastle or anywhere else are annoyed by the organisations or think that they are unrepresentative and not within the bounds of section 137, is there not redress through the courts?

Mr. Merchant

The hon. Gentleman knows very well that the wording of section 137 is so vague as to make legal action extremely difficult. He is also aware that it would be virtually impossible for every ratepayer at every stage at which he might complain to take the process through the courts of law, because of the expense incurred in so doing.

The view of the public is that, although these actions may be legally justified, they are not morally justified. That is one of my principal points about section 137. People do not accept that it is right for a local authority to take money away from them in taxation and spend it on propaganda designed to influence them, which might be paid for under section 137. It might subsidies a political campaign with which they do not agree or peddle a political line with which they profoundly disagree. Under a democratic system, about which Opposition Members purport to lecture us, local authorities should seek to carry out the will of the people and not use the people's money to persuade the electorate to bow to the views which that authority, in its wisdom, has decided must be imposed, or to subsidies activites with which the electorate has no sympathy.

Mr. Stuart Holland

The hon. Gentleman refers fluently to the will of the people—a French rather than an English phrase, but that does not matter. In this case, how does one test the will of the people other than by the vote at local authority level?

Mr. Merchant

The hon. Gentleman knows that many of the activities and spending decisions were never put to the people in local government elections and therefore were never tested in the first place. If the hon. Gentleman will bear with me, he will also hear how people have used their own methods of expression to show their dissatisfaction with the decisions on spending made under section 137.

It is right for Lords amendment No.9 to curb the abuses. In doing so, it is responding to the clear views of the public. Judging by statements and actions from the metropolitan county councils in the past few months, without the amendment they would engage in a reckless and irresponsible pay-out to every minority and complaining group that could be located, particularly if it were known to peddle a strong anti-Government political line. They would indulge in a violent propaganda onslaught against a popularly elected Government and would spend the money of thousands of people who had voted that Government in, and who now support that Government's political views.

Mr. Cash

Will my hon. Friend concede that there is no basis for using moneys under section 137 for the benefit of, for example, a miners' strike fund, which is being contemplated in Stafford at the moment?

Mr. Merchant

My hon. Friend anticipates me. He is right, and I intended to substantiate my argument by quoting one example of the abuses to which I have referred.

I have a petition, signed by more than 10,000 of my constituents, demanding that action be taken by the Government on this very point of subsidising a strike. My petition follows a deluge of unsolicited letters and telephone calls —a spontaneous reaction that immediately followed a decision by the Tyne and Wear county council to subsidise the miners' strike to the tune of £100,000, with the possibility of more to come.

Mr. Alex Carlile


Mr. Merchant

I have given way sufficiently. There is no doubt that the public were mortified by the decision to subsidise the strike by £100,000 of ratepayers' money, and understandably they demanded that action be taken to protect them from further similar abuses.

Mr. Boyes

Will the hon. Gentleman be a little more careful in his use of language? He says that the Tyne and Wear county council intended to subsidise a strike fund, when actually it is guaranteeing an appeal to help those who are particularly deprived and without cash and food, such as miners' wives and families. Will he tell the House what percentage of Tyne and Wear's section 137 cash is represented by £100,000. Does he know exactly how much the 2p rate raises in Tyne and Wear? I will help him if he does not know the answer.

Mr. Merchant

I need no help from the hon. Gentleman. Had he listened to me more carefully, he would have heard that I did not say that the £100,000 was to be spent on a donation to the strike. I said that it was helping to subsidise the miners' strike, which it is doing by subsidising their dependants. That has the same effect, and the ratepayers of Tyne and Wear know that full well, which is why they expressed their opinions so forcefully in their letters, telephone calls and messages to me after this decision was taken. As for the amount of money, £100,000 is an extremely large sum of money, which could well be spent on many far worthier causes than subsidising a strike with a clear political motivation.

The fact that the council's case for its future — supported by an extensive campaign — was mortally damaged by the irresponsible decision to give £100,000 of ratepayers' money to such a cause need not concern us. What does concern me is the need to protect Tyneside ratepayers as well as those elsewhere from further abuses, particularly in the last year of a wayward authority. It is for that reason that I strongly commend the unrestricted amendment to the House.

10.30 pm
Mr. Barron

It is right that I should follow the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Merchant) because I was going to start by saying that the word "Orwellian" has been used on a number of occasions tonight. No better description can be given to new clause 9(1). Let me remind hon. Members of exactly what it says: Except with the consent of the Secretary of State neither the Greater London Council nor a metropolitan county council shall on or after 1st April 1985 incur any expenditure under section 137 of the principal Act". That clause can best be described in three ways. First, it is a clause of hypocrisy. It is hypocritical that it is put down in another place by a Government who fought a general election on a policy to roll back the powers of the state.

Secondly, it is a clause of malice. The Government have lost every debate in the House, despite winning the votes, on the credibility of their legislation to abolish the six metropolitan counties and the GLC. I say that guardedly because we have won one vote in the other place on that, but I believe that the Bill is based on malice.

The third word to describe it is "prejudice". It is based on the prejudice that the Secretary of State showed earlier when he talked about extreme Left-wing councils. It is a prejudice that the Government show when they see local government, democratically elected, wanting to do things on other people's behalf in areas that they dislike. Sooner than go to the ballot box, they would rather turn round and abolish the councils. The proof of that is within the Bill.

It was said earlier that we are looking at the worst excesses that there have been of section 137 spending power. Subsection (3) makes it clear that the Government intend every penny that is to be spent under section 137 must be approved by the Secretary of State for the Environment. That expenditure is intended for local authorities to give to what, in their opinion, is in the best interests of the area and its inhabitants.

To say that the Secretary of State knows what is going on in the GLC, South Yorkshire county council and Tyne and Wear is to give him far too much credit. It is debatable whether the Secretary of State knows what is going on in the Department of the Environment, in view of some of the statements that he has made in the House recently. But there is certainly one thing that he cannot do, and that is replace the elected local government in south Yorkshire and the other metropolitan areas—local government that has been elected by the communities, that knows the communities' needs and knows how best to look after them.

Mr. Robert B. Jones (Hertfordshire, West)

The hon. Gentleman says that that is for the good of the areas concerned. In that case how can the GLC possibly justify giving £7,000 to the Chile Democratico, £7,000 to the Union of Turkish Workers, or £16,000 to the Abyssinian Society?

Mr. Barron

I have no doubt that such decisions have been made by a democratically elected council. I do not believe for one minute that some people living in London have not been involved in areas such as Chile. Indeed, Sheffield, in the South Yorkshire couunty concil, has a big Chilean community, as does Rotherham. Many Chileans fled from a Government who were not averse to putting through legislation such as this.

Mr. Tony Banks

Would my hon. Friend be interested to know that the Abyssinian Society, which was mentioned as evidence of mis-spending under section 137, is supported by the Department of the Environment?

Mr. Barron

I am sure that the House is interested to know that. Any spending under section 137, which is deemed to be a misuse of public funds, can be challenged, as any ratepayer can take the council to court. The Secretary of State and other Ministers have been more than willing to do that recently. I do not hear anyone say that councils have been taken to court and found guilty of misusing funds.

I have a list of payments that were made in south Yorkshire under section 137 during 1983–84. In all, 12 per cent. of the total has gone to organisations representing ethnic minority groups in Rotherham, the Council for Voluntary Services in Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley and citizens advice bureaux in those areas. Most of the 12 per cent. goes to the Northern College. Many Conservative Members, who have privileged educations, do not realise what it does for adult education. Many people who had a secondary education could not go on to university. South Yorkshire county council has bravely supported the college and provided opportunities for further education. Some of the beneficiaries might be constituents of Conservative Members. The second largest part of the 12 per cent. goes on Christmas illuminations.

A £23,000 grant was given for illuminations in towns in south Yorkshire. Perhaps Conservative Members think they should bee taken down as they are a misuse of ratepayers' money.

The 12 per cent. of total expenditure represents £644,682 — hardly a massive sum in view of the council's total expenditure. However, 88 per cent. of the council's expenditure has gone on the sponsorship of training places and measures to combat unemployment. Some of the highest levels of unemployment in the country are in the south Yorkshire area. We see no evidence of the Government helping to solve the problem. If section 137 spending is to go into the hands of the Government and the Secretary of State, job opportunities and vocational training will disappear because the Secretary of State does not understand or know the needs of south Yorkshire. His Department cannot act quickly to answer a parliamentary question, let alone make a quick decision to save or create jobs in south Yorkshire.

The powers for which the Secretary of State is asking are Orwellian. Moreover, they are the very powers that the Conservatives were elected to roll back. Lords amendment No. 9 should be opposed by all hon. Members.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

It hight be helpful if I intervene now. I have listened with care to what Opposition Members have said and I might reassure them of the purpose for which we tabled this new clause in another place, the manner in which we intend to apply it and especially the manner in which we intend not to apply it.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Merchant) asked that section 137 should be reviewed. We are currently engaged on a review of it. When we have reached our conclusions, we shall bring our proposals to the House. I assure the House that under Lords amendment No. 9 we are in no way attempting to prejudge or pre-empt the results of the review, but are merely seeking to provide for the specific circumstances of the possible abolition of the upper tier councils.

As I said when we debated Lords amendment No. 2, the Government see a need to protect the assets of the abolition authorities, the position of successor councils and the rights of ratepayers in the areas involved. The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) invited me to explain the circumstances in which the new clause was introduced. I can do that briefly and succinctly. It followed directly from the Government's decision, which was accepted in another place, to provide for the continuation in office of the existing councillors for the period up to 1 April 1986 instead of nominating interim councils, as was originally proposed.

It was put to us with great force by a number of the lower tier authorities — some borough and district councils—that this was an additional opportunity for the GLC and the MCCs to dissipate their assets, thus ensuring that they were not available for successor councils, and that opportunity was enhanced by the change in the Bill which we accepted in another place. The authorities argued that for 1984–85 many councils would have committed their free 2p up to the maximum allowed and therefore the opportunity to misuse their right under section 137 in the current year was sufficiently limited for it to be unnecessary for the Government to take precautionary measures, but they pointed out forcefully and supported their argument with evidence that the risk of councils misusing the power in the last year of their lives— I say this in answer to the hon. Member for Colne Valley — to salt away assets which should be available for successor councils offered too great a temptation for the Government to risk not having some long stop to prevent the worst excesses. That is why the clause was introduced.

Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth)


Mr. Jenkin

If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to proceed, perhaps I shall allay his anxieties.

I have listened with care to the many speeches about the valuable work that is done with the funds provided by section 137. Many authorities use this power for sensible, laudable and worthwhile purposes. I should not wish the House to think that the Government believed otherwise. On the contrary, I pay tribute to the work that is done in many ways with the free 2p.

Mr. Hardy

The Secretary of State may be misleading the House, in that he seems to be suggesting that all second-tier authorities and all district metropolitan councils, as well as London boroughs, made representa-tions to him about this. Is it not the case that, although some London boroughs may have made representations such as he described, it is doubtful whether many second-tier authorities in the metropolitan counties did so? Which metropolitan authorities urged him to take the course that he is suggesting?

10.45 pm
Mr. Jenkin

Part of the difficulty is that several of the district councils controlled by the Labour party did not allow their officers to talk to my Department. However, I assure the hon. Gentleman that representations have been made on behalf of some councillors in those authorities in precisely the terms that I described. I concede the hon. Gentleman's point to this extent: the overwhelming majority of the representations made to us were, of course, about the threat posed by the GLC and the misuse——

Hon. Members

By Tory councils.

Mr. Jenkin

Yes, from Tory councils. If Parliament accepts the legislation, they, among others, will inherit the powers and duties currently vested in the GLC.

I was making the point, which I hope the House will recognise is seriously intended, that section 137 has been and is being used by many authorities for worthwhile purposes. The hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Holland) mentioned that it had been used in conjunction with urban policy, often for highly imaginative schemes in rundown inner city areas; some of the best schemes are in the partnership areas under the inner city policy. Section 137 provides the means for much of the local authority support for many valuable voluntary bodies and charitable organisations, and the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) and the hon. Members for Bootle (Mr. Roberts) and for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) mentioned the importance which they attach to that. Used responsibly for the purposes for which it was intended, section 137 is a discretionary power which has done, and I have no doubt will continue to do, much good in local communities.

Mr. Wainwright

In respect of what the Secretary of State describes as the temptation to spend during 1985–86, he uses, as did his noble Friend in another place, vague, almost meaningless adjectives such as "wanton", "irresponsible" and "excessive". In respect of voluntary organisations, he, with his noble Friend, speaks of "worthwhile" and "valuable" organisations having nothing to fear. Can he help the House by being a little more precise on the standards of judgement that he intends to apply?

Mr. Jenkin

I shall come to voluntary bodies in a moment, and what I shall say may be of some reassurance to the hon. Gentleman. The anxiety that has been expressed to us and on which, given the new circumstances of the extra year for the existing councils, we decided to take action, was that the flexibility of the section 137 power lays it open to the possibility of abuse by authorities which may believe that their lives are limited and therefore it may be better to spend the money than allow it to be devolved to their successor authorities. The fear expressed, primarily in London, is that section 137 could be used by the GLC to deprive itself of valuable assets that should be available—

Mr. Straw


Mr. Jenkin

I shall tell the hon. Gentleman precisely how. It is perfectly possible— indeed, it has already been done—for the GLC to make substantial grants to the Greater London Enterprise Board, and for the board to use that money to buy property from the GLC, property which the GLC does not wish to fall into the hands of its successor authorities. The borough councils are apprehen-sive that that may be a temptation in the final year of the GLC's life because the GLC has succeeded in transferring many of its section 137 grants to other statutory bodies —I refer to an article in the Municipal Journal, in its interview with Mr. Livingstone — leaving only the enterprise board as the major beneficiary of the miscellaneous provisions fund.

Mr. Stuart Holland

What is wrong with that?

Mr. Jenkin

It provides the GLC with the opportunity to make substantial grants to the enterprise board. which can then use that money to buy assets from the GLC in a way that might not be open to attack by the auditors, but which would represent an abuse of the power as the council's life is limited and the assets should be devolved for the benefit of the borough councils. That is not a fanciful fear. Ratepayers' money would have been used with no benefit to the ratepayers generally, or even to the ratepayers at all. It is no idle fear. The leadership of the GLC has made it plain that it has every intention of resisting the implementation of abolition. The hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) confirmed that earlier. The product of a 2p rate in London is about £40 million.

Mr. Tony Banks

It is £38 million.

Mr. Jenkin

I said "about £40 million". I accept the hon. Gentleman's figure of £38 million. Without a long-stop such as that provided in the amendment, it would be open for the GLC to salt away substantial property by making grants under section 137 to a body such as the enterprise board, and so deprive the successor councils of the property that should devolve to them. That is the main purpose of the amendment.

Mr. Straw

The Secretary of State has not given one example of how he believes the enterprise board and the GLC will misuse the power of transfer. Is he suggesting that the GLC could transfer the whole of Hampstead heath to the enterprise board? Do not the the existing law and the constitution of the board require that transfers be made only for proper purposes—which, as they are about job creation, I assume the Secretary of State supports?

Mr. Jenkin

We have some doubt about the validity of many of the schemes of the enterprise board. The hon. Gentleman does not deny that some transfer could be made. It is no fanciful fear by successor councils that the use of the power may give rise to the salting away of property that should be devolved to them. The Government would be failing in their duty to the successor councils and their ratepayers if they did not take steps in the new circumstances provided by the amendment, to protect ratepayers against such abuse. That is the purpose of the amendment.

We do not intend this as an attack on the voluntary sector. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] The suggestion that we have such an intention is one more example of the scaremongering that we have experienced throughout the debates on the Bill. The Government are powerfully committed to support the voluntary sector — [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Barron) will contain himself and not shout at me, he may hear something to his advantage. The Government are committed to the voluntary sector. Under various powers we currently give about £150 million a year to the voluntary sector. Our stated aim is to ensure that adequate funding arrangements are made for the period after abolition.

The Lords amendment includes a provision for consents, both individual and by category. The clause does not come into force until next year. We have until then to work out the best way of giving general consents so that most of the charitable, voluntary support which councils give can be continued without the necessity of individual and time-consuming consent procedures by my Department.

We do not want to become the judges of whether, and how much, support should be given to this body or that body. The purpose of the Lords amendment is to prevent the use of the clause resulting in the alienation of assets which should be available for the successor authorities.

We are anxious to have discussions as soon as possible with those concerned with the use of these powers so that we can work out satisfactory consent procedures to minimise the need for the Department to examine large numbers of comparatively modest grants.

I ask my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central to accept that I do not believe that my Department should seek to judge between this body and that body or to differentiate between bodies of which we approve and those of which we do not. I have no doubt that some of the bodies covered by general consent will be those of which members of the Conservative party disapprove.

Our purpose is to prevent the misuse of the clause and so prevent the alienation of substantial property by the abolition authorities in advance of abolition. I hope that we shall be able, between now and the coming into effect of the clause, to work out satisfactory procedures so that the anxieties, which I recognise, can be dealt with. We should have been guilty of gross dereliction of duty if, in the new circumstances provided by the Lords amendment, we had not taken steps to prevent the abuse of section 137, which many of the successor authorities feared.

The amendments tabled by the opposition parties cannot be accepted as they stand. They would unduly fetter the way in which we envisage the Lords amendments will be used. Some of the amendments are unnecessary. I should certainly have to use my power reasonably, for that is part of the general law, so there is no need to build that into the statute.

11 pm

I am unclear, when I am asked to set out the general considerations, whether that is intended to apply to the individual case or to cases as a whole. I am asked to give reasons for refusing consent. Any decision would spell out the reasons for that, so it is not necessary to include a provision on that in the Bill.

We would aim to operate the clause with the minimum of delay and, as I said, with the widest use of general consents that we could sensibly devise, in discussion with those concerned about the clause. I hope, therefore, that the House will reject the Opposition amendments and accept Lords amendment No. 9 so that it may form part of the Bill.

Mr. Alex Carlile

Those of us who represent constituencies which are neither in the GLC area nor in the metropolitan counties came to this debate, unlike some hon. Members, having read the Bill and the amendments with perhaps a whiff of suspicion in our nostrils that we were seeing the beginnings of a general attack on section 137 of the 1972 Act.

The Secretary of State kept asking us to be reassured by his remarks. Far from being reassured, we now feel not a whiff of suspicion about the Government's intentions in relation to section 137, but stifled by the threats and flavour of what we know that the right hon. Gentleman intends to do to that section.

While the Secretary of State may give every reassurance which he feels able to provide about his views of the beneficial qualities of section 137—where, in his opinion, it is administered properly—and about the way in which applications under the new clause would be treated, those of us who read our papers and take the temperature of feelings among members of the Conservative party cannot feel reassured that the present Secretary of State's views, if they are genuine, would be reflected in the mouth of a successor in the likely event of a successor being appointed in the near future. Such reassurances as we receive from the right hon. Gentleman hold little sway with hon. Members who give them empirical thought rather than simply looking at them through the dogmatic eyes of sheer party manifesto politics.

Section 137 of the 1972 Act gives local authorities the opportunity to respond to local needs and aspirations in a way which takes into account, in a way that no other provision of local government statutes does, the local conditions at the time when a decision is made. I remind the right hon. Gentleman that section 137 results from the two most far-ranging inquiries into local government in England, Scotland and Wales within living memory, if not ever.

The Wheatley commission of 1969, which concerned Scotland, asserted that a general competence power should not be restricted in financial terms or by the need to secure approval from any higher authority. At paragraph 641 the Wheatley commission states: It is to the local electorate that the local council should have to answer for the use of such a power. That emphasises the desirability of such a power but makes it clear, as is right, that the sanction against abuse or misuse of such a power in some instances will be in the power of the local electorate to deal accordingly with its local council.

The Redcliffe-Maud report suggested at paragraph 323 that the only limit on the use of the new power should be the wishes of the electors and such restrictions as have to be placed on local government expenditure in the interests of national economic and financial policy. There we have a clear view, after detailed and far-reaching research, that this is a matter which should be decided at local level by the local electors.

We have heard a good deal about section 137 of the 1972 Act, especially from the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Merchant), who I do not think has read it in his life. Much has been said about abuses of section 137 money. It has been suggested that it has been used for many improper purposes and the hon. Gentleman has assumed that they are permitted under section 137. He referred to a petition with 10,000 signatures protesting about some abuse or misuse of section 137. Had he bothered to stay for the rest of the debate on the proposed new clause, I should have asked him whether anyone among the 10,000 had had the benefit of the advice which he should have given, which is that, if an individual feels that there has been an abuse of section 137, he should take action in the courts against it. Section 137 is as well drawn and as tightly drawn as is necessary and as was intended by Redcliffe-Maud. When the section refers to the interests of the area—[Interruption.] As it seems that some Labour Members on the Benches behind me have not read the section either, I shall quote subsection (1). I shall do so for the benefit of the rabble behind me. The subsection provides: A local authority may, subject to the provisions of this section, incur expenditure which in their opinion is in the interests of their area"— those are the important words— or any part of it or all or some of its inhabitants". The section does not refer to expenditure for the "benefit" of part of the inhabitants, which would be much broader than expenditure in the "interests" of the area and its inhabitants. The type of example which has been quoted extensively in the debate is open to challenge in the courts.

I move on from direct concern about the future of section 137 to my main concerns about the new clause. I am worried about the legal implications of the new clause. Subsection (2) will have a direct effect on contractual liabilities which were entered into, or which are to be entered into, between 26 June 1984 and 1 April 1985. If the GLC or a metropolitan county council between those two dates enters into any contract which includes expenditure out of the so-called 2p rate, out of section 137 money, it is important to remember that the local authority —the GLC or the metropolitan county council—enters into those contracts lawfully. That local authority is entitled by statute to enter into those contracts provided, as in all cases hitherto, that is done as a result of proper procedures within the GLC or the metropolitan county councils. The decision is reached democratically and, therefore, is fully accountable to the electorate.

We must remember that the decisions on how section 137 moneys are applied, leading to contracts concerned with section 137, may well apply to crucial parts of local authority and community life, including the employment of people involved in essential services. Those decisions may be directly or peripherally related to housing. They may be directly related to strategic planning and are likely to be concerned with services providing facilities for unemployed youngsters for 'whom, I believe many of us would agree, the GLC has done so much.

The provision in the new clause may bring established programmes to an end, and that is why amendment (h) is of considerable importance. The new clause is likely to have a dramatic and disturbing effect on existing important programmes. By this new clause—this fact may not have been realised by Labour Members — the Government are taking upon themselves the power to force the seven councils to break legally binding contracts. This decision has been lightly made, possibly without realising its commercial consequences. Some of those contracts have already been entered into. The starting date of 26 June 1984 has already passed. It could well be that many commercial undertakings will find that they have been damaged in terms of finances and employment by this provision.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

I point out to the hon. and learned Gentleman that 26 June was the date on which the clause was tabled in another place. If anyone entered into a contract after that date, he is presumed to know that consent would be necessary for the contract.

Mr. Carlile

It is a strange comment upon our democratic institution that people should be bound by some amendment which has not been passed and which has been tabled in another place, where much of the Government's legislation was under severe attack. Subsection (3) severely exacerbates the position, because it enables the Government to decide whether it is "expedient" for a Labour-controlled council to incur the expenditure. The words of subsection (3) are an offensive mishmash of the subjective and the objective. Their overall effect is to give the Secretary of State the absolute power to dictate whether the action is "expedient" — whether he approves the envisaged expenditure according to his political principles, and not according to the political views of those who voted into office the council in question.

11.15 pm

Let us bear in mind some aspects of the expenditure which will now have to be decided by the Secretary of State. Looking at section 137(3) of the Local Government Act 1972, which I commend the rabble behind me to look at, we see that for example—heaven forbid—if there was another disaster of Aberfan proportions one of these councils wanting to contribute to the fund raised to help the sufferers from that disaster would have to go to the Secretary of State to have that expenditure approved, or not approved. If one of these seven councils wanted to contribute to a charitable body which ex hypothesi was controlled in its objects by the Charity Commissioners and subject to their scrutiny, it would have to go to the Secretary of State for approval or disapproval.

We face the unsavoury prospect of the Secretary of State telling one of these seven councils that it could not pay money to a charitable body, for example, the Police Benevolent Fund—though I suspect that he would allow a council to pay money to that—registered as a charity and subject to the controls of the law on charities and scrutinised by the commissioners. What an absurd situation that will be.

We shall also witness the unseemly sight of one of these seven councils wanting to give but a pittance — this provision deals with any money; even £25 —to one of those charitable bodies having to go cap in hand to the Secretary of State, and some minor civil servant making decisions which should be made by an accountable local authority.

This is a disgraceful provision, and it is a matter of amazement to see it come from a Government of the party which at one time to its credit espoused the principles of local government, local accountability, local democracy, local decision-making and the local determination of how spending should take place. Such a Government are now taking away even these small powers, given under section 137, from the local authorities so that the Secretary of State can decide what is expedient.

The word "expedient" has been used in statutes before. It was used in the case of the Central Criminal Court Act 1856, and it led in 1919 to a Mr. Barnett from Norwich being tried at the Central Criminal court because it was thought that a Norwich jury would not convict him of stealing money from the officers' mess. The same unhealthy trend is shown here of the Government trying to take everything to the centre so that they can determine for themselves what should happen and remove from local people the right to decide, even to the limited 2 per cent. extent given in section 137, how money should be spent.

Subsection (4) gives the widest of powers to the Secretary of State to make decisions of general principle about the classes of spending under section 137 for which consent should be given. One can imagine that objective tests will be applied less rather than more often, especially as there is no obligation to give reasons.

Of course, we appreciate the assurance given by the Secretary of State, albeit one given only by the present Secretary of State, that he will give reasons where it is decided that expenditures should not be permitted. If, however, he is prepared to give such reasons, why does he not accept the amendment requiring him to do so?

During the Committee debates on the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, this very point was raised time and again — that reasons should be given when a decision is reached. I concede that that was in a very different context, but why should not the same principle apply in this case so that the local electorate can at least their parliamentary representatives — if they are Conservative Members—accountable for their decisions come the next general election?

The sad fact is that the dictatorship of London and the metropolitan counties which is now about to start is shocking the civilised democratic world, particularly our counterparts in the great cities of countries such as Germany and Japan. It is a disgrace that we should face this type of legislation in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Laurie Pavitt (Brent, South)

I shall not detain the House for long. Indeed, had the Secretary of State done me the courtesy of allowing me to intervene, I would not now be speaking.

On three occasions the Secretary of State—with great emphasis—tried to convince the House that there would be no political intervention in the work of voluntary organisations. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that in my constituency in the London borough of Brent there was a cause celebre, when a Labour councillor defected to the Conservatives, as a result of which the constitution of the council changed.

Recently, during the allocation of urban aid funds by the Secretary of State and the Department of the Environment, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young), saw only one person — Councillor Ambrosine Neil — the new Conservative councillor. As a result, the organisation of which she is full-time chairman received a Government allocation.

The Secretary of State claimed that he would be even-handed and that there would be no political intervention. I challenge him to state why the only person in Brent who received an allocation was the Conservative defector. How can he now say on three occasions that there will be no political intervention? If the history of the past is any indication of the future, everything that he said is complete nonsense.

Mr. Tony Banks

The Secretary of State has convinced everyone that he is a great believer in cerebral hygiene. He comes to the Dispatch Box with nothing in his head, and he allows nothing to be put in it while standing at it.

The right hon. Gentleman made a number of statements, no doubt in an attempt to be reasonable, but it is clear that section 137 is that part of local government expenditure—certainly in relation to the GLC—which most upsets the Government. We have heard ad nauseam about the English Collective of Prostitutes, which received a GLC grant of £400. We have also heard a great deal about Babies Against the Bomb. These examples are continually quoted by Conservative Members as their justification for taking steps against section 137 and, indeed, for abolishing the GLC. Frankly, that is the only justification that Conservative Members have for wanting to abolish an authority such as the GLC. They are dragging an authority like the GLC through the indignities of the sort of bear garden that the House has become when we are considering serious matters of local government concern.

Mr. Jerry Hayes (Harlow)


Mr. Banks

I am sorry, but I cannot give way to an hon. Member who has only recently walked into the Chamber and is clearly benefiting from a very heavy dinner. I shall not give way to him.

Perhaps the Secretary of State would like to be a little more specific, although no doubt he will stick to his position of cerebral hygiene. Why does he not answer the questions that were put to him tonight from this side of the House? Why does he not answer the questions that were put to him by Opposition Members when we asked him to specify the organisations with which he disagrees?

I asked the Secretary of State to list those organisations which are funded by the GLC and the metropolitan county councils under section 137 which, in the view of his Department, are not in the interests of those council areas, or any part of them, or all or some of their inhabitants. In other words, I asked him to specify the organisations which give rise to so much offence and which have led the Secretary of State to want to adopt draconian powers with regard to the operation of section 137. The answer that came back was no. The Secretary of State does not have a case.

The Secretary of State got up and started talking about the GLC's asset stripping. Coming from a Government who have asset stripped within the public sector and who have flogged off to their friends and the cheap petty crooks in the City, Amersham, INMOS, Jaguar, Britoil, Sealink and so on, those accusations come ill from the lips of the Secretary of State, representing as he does a Government who are selling the seed corn of this country.

The GLC has always acted responsibly with regard to public assets. I do not see how the GLC's transferring assets to a London borough could be said to be asset stripping. Those assets stay within the public sector, which is far more than we can say about the Government and the way in which they have sold off the profitable parts of the nationalised industries.

The Secretary of State referred to the Greater London Enterprise Board and what it has been doing. The GLC has indeed been trying to fund the enterprise board so that the Government, the Secretary of State, and his Ministers cannot get at it. We have been entirely successful, because it is very easy staying two steps ahead of a clown advised by a bunch of grinning monkeys from the Department of the Environment.

Let me just tell the Secretary of State what the Greater London Enterprise Board has done. It has saved 2,000 jobs in the past year— [HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"]—in London. Indeed, each of those jobs has cost the GLEB £4,000 per job created or saved. Contrast that with the London Docklands Development Corporation and the enterprise zones, which have produced 3,000 jobs at an average of £20,000 per job. The Greater London Enterprise Board is saving jobs, which is something I recommend the Government should try to do. If they did, we should not have 3½ million people unemployed.

The Government have relied merely on smear and innuendo throughout the debates on part IV when they refer to section 137. When the Secretary of State is prepared to give some information to the House about the organisations which he opposes, to which he wishes to give no support, we might be able to believe him when he says that he will look after those genuine organisations which come to the Government for funding under section 137. Until the Secretary of State is prepared to give that sort of information, his word is worth nothing, and it is worth nothing to members of the GLC or to Opposition Members.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon)

I came along to hear some assurances from the Secretary of State about this proposal, which I view with great trepidation not only for those who live under the metropolitan counties and the GLC but for those who live under all local authorities. Under this Government, in the past four or five years we have seen, step by step, powers taken away from local authorities and concentrated in the hands of the Government.

11.30 pm

Representing a Scottish constituency, as I do, where we saw the Secretary of State for Scotland being used as a test bed by the Government—the Conservative party has diminishing support in Scotland—and introducing rate-capping legislation which was then extended to the rest of the country, I wonder whether we can have an assurance from the Secretary of State for the Environment that such measures will not be extended to other local authorities in future. The Government's record to date, in their actions towards local authorities, is not encouraging.

Before local government reorganisation in Scotland, many local authorities, and ancient and royal burghs, had common good funds which were raised from the local community and used for its good. They were much appreciated and welcomed at the time. Regrettably, several of those authorities mistakenly handed over those common good funds at the time of local government reorganisation. Those who did have lived to regret it, because they have seen them disappear into the maw that is increasingly controlled by the Government. One or two of them have had the good sense to preserve those funds. Representing part of the city of Aberdeen, I can say that it is. one of the authorities which have a common good fund, which it can and does use for the good of the people of Aberdeen.

Mr. Norman Hogg (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth)

What relevance has the city of Aberdeen common good fund to the Bill?

Hon. Members

"Hear, hear."

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

Order. I have been listening carefully and waiting for the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) to relate what he is saying to the amendment before the House.

Mr. Bruce

The point that I am making to the House is that the discretion to raise a 2p rate is something that local authorities, in one form or another, have had for many years, and have used responsibly for the good of the community. That is basically the reason why what the Secretary of State proposes to do is against the interests of local authorities. I am amazed that the Deputy Chief Whip of the Labour party seeks to silence me in my argument to support—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The Chair is very anxious to ensure that the hon. Gentleman keeps to the matters before the House.

Mr. Bruce

The Government propose legislation for the GLC and the metropolitan counties—

Mr. Robert Kilroy-Silk (Knowsley, North)

In England.

Mr. Bruce

Indeed. The legislation will take away those authorities' rights to raise money for the good of the local community with local discretion. That is a retrograde step, and is not in the interests of those communities. The Government have failed to justify their case. I believe that I have the right and the responsibility to speak up for my constituents, to oppose a piece of legislation setting a precedent which the Government may seek to use in future as has been hinted in another place.

As I have already said, the Government have demonstrated consistently over the years that they have been in power that as they have progressed from one local government Bill to another, on the basis of what they have applied, they have subsequently applied it to other local authorities. That is my point, and I believe that it is important, valid and relevant. The measures should be opposed for the very reason that they set a precedent that is contrary to the interests not only of the ratepayers of the GLC and the metropolitan counties and the consumers, but of those who live in all other local authorities and who view the measures with concern. I would also say that it is my understanding — [Interruption.] It is my understanding—

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am unable to decide whether the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) is in order, because I cannot hear what he is saying.

Mr. Bruce

I understand that there is likely to be a vote on the matter. I assume, on the basis of the remarks that have been made, that those who do not represent metropolitan counties and the GLC will not seek to vote. If they seek to vote, presumably I have the right to speak.

Mr. Marlow

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not an abuse that a party that makes up less than 3 per cent. of the membership of the House should have, as a fourth speaker in this short debate, an hon. Member who represents a Scottish constituency, talking about measures that apply to English constituencies? Is it not an abuse that—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The House knows that any right hon. or hon. Member can speak, as long as he keeps within the points of order.

Mr. Bruce

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for protecting what I believed to be the rights of an hon. Member when I was elected to speak in this Chamber. My speech was meant to be brief, and it has only been interventions that have extended it. My important and valid point is that local authorities are entitled, and should be, to raise money to spend for the local good.

Mr. Merlyn Rees (Morley and Leeds, South)

That is the fourth time that the hon. Gentleman has said that.

Mr. Bruce

Of course I have said it four times—I keep being interrupted. I shall clearly have to go on longer until I have made the point clear. [Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I have no wish to direct the hon. Gentleman to resume his seat, but he must not go on giving us tedious repetition.

Mr. Bruce

I believe that the Secretary of State has shown that he wishes the kind of measures that would be taken under existing legislation by the GLC and the MCCs to be referred to his Department. The consequence of that will not simply be that decisions are taken remotely and away from the people who are concerned, but that it will be impossible for his Department to take the right decisions. Many hon. Members, who have had experience on behalf of their constituencies of dealing directly with Departments, will know that frequently Departments do not know the local circumstances, issues and needs. It is for that reason that we have local government in the first place. If the Secretary of State were to persist in this legislation, and other legislation, he would be taking away all powers of local authorities, and leaving us with a centrally administered state, which would be contrary to the wishes of the people and to the wishes that have been expressed forcefully inside and outside the House.

I am puzzled by a Government who claim to be concerned about a democracy but introduce such measures, when 56 of the 84 Members for the Greater London area are Conservatives. With such a majority the Government should have felt confident about taking their campaign to the people in the GLC elections. It appears that they are not, and their actions have antagonised voters and reduced their support in the areas from which they are seeking to take powers. This demonstrates that what the Government are doing is not only wrong but fundamentally unpopular, especially in the areas directly affected. This will increasingly be seen to be so.

As a Scottish Member, I believe that it was right and proper for me not only to speak out for my area, because I believe that it will be similarly threatened, but because I should speak out for those in other parts of the country who believe that their rights are affected. The Government have failed to make a case and have simply issued trite platitudes. The Secretary of State in reply to all the protests that have been put to him this evening, has failed to make a detailed statement as to why and how this measure will benefit the ratepayers in the councils concerned. The opposite has been the case. The Government would be wise to listen carefully to what is being said by hon. Members and those outside the House who have articulated cogent reasons, to which the Minister has not been able to respond.

Amendment (a) proposed to Lords amendment No. 9, in line 20, at end insert '(4A) The consent of the Secretary of State under this section shall not be required to the incurring of expenditure where the recipient person or body is, for all or part of any one financial year, in receipt concurrently of funding from monies voted by Parliament including Urban Programme, the grant-in-aid to the Manpower Services Commission or funds adminstered by the Department of Industry, or in receipt concurrently of funding from the European Social Fund or Regional Fund, or in receipt concurrently of funds provided by any registered charity.'.— [Mr. Straw.]

Question put, That amendment (a) to the Lords amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 160, Noes 301.

Division No. 455] [11.39 pm
Alton, David Flannery, Martin
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Foster, Derek
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Foulkes, George
Ashton, Joe Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Garrett, W. E.
Barnett, Guy George, Bruce
Barron, Kevin Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Godman, Dr Norman
Beith, A. J. Golding, John
Bell, Stuart Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Benn, Tony Hancock, Mr. Michael
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Hardy, Peter
Bermingham, Gerald Harman, Ms Harriet
Bidwell, Sydney Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Blair, Anthony Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Boyes, Roland Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Heffer, Eric S.
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Howell, Rt Hon D. (S' heath)
Bruce, Malcolm Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Buchan, Norman Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Caborn, Richard Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Canavan, Dennis Kennedy, Charles
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Carter-Jones, Lewis Lambie, David
Cartwright, John Lamond, James
Clarke, Thomas Leadbitter, Ted
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Leighton, Ronald
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Cohen, Harry Litherland, Robert
Conlan, Bernard Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Corbett, Robin McCartney, Hugh
Corbyn, Jeremy McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Cowans, Harry McGuire, Michael
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Craigen, J. M. Maclennan, Robert
Cunliffe, Lawrence McWilliam, John
Cunningham, Dr John Madden, Max
Dalyell, Tam Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Maynard, Miss Joan
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Michie, William
Deakins, Eric Mikardo, Ian
Dewar, Donald Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Dixon, Donald Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Dobson, Frank Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Dormand, Jack Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Douglas, Dick Nellist, David
Dubs, Alfred Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. O'Brien, William
Eadie, Alex Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Eastham, Ken Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Park, George
Ewing, Harry Parry, Robert
Fatchett, Derek Patchett, Terry
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Pavitt, Laurie
Fisher, Mark Pendry, Tom
Penhaligon, David Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Pike, Peter Snape, Peter
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Soley, Clive
Prescott, John Spearing, Nigel
Redmond, M. Straw, Jack
Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S) Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Richardson, Ms Jo Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N) Tinn, James
Robinson, G. (Coventry NW) Torney, Tom
Rogers, Allan Wainwright, R.
Rooker, J. W. Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Ross, Ernest (Dundee W) Wareing, Robert
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Welsh, Michael
Rowlands, Ted Wigley, Dafydd
Sheerman, Barry Winnick, David
Sheldon, Rt Hon R. Woodall, Alec
Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood) Tellers for the Ayes:
Silkin, Rt Hon J. Mr. James Hamilton and Mr. Allen McKay.
Skinner, Dennis
Adley, Robert Colvin, Michael
Aitken, Jonathan Conway, Derek
Alexander, Richard Cope, John
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Cranborne, Viscount
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Critchley, Julian
Amess, David Crouch, David
Ancram, Michael Currie, Mrs Edwina
Ashby, David Dicks, Terry
Aspinwall, Jack Dorrell, Stephen
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Dover, Den
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Durant, Tony
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Eggar, Tim
Batiste, Spencer Emery, Sir Peter
Bendall, Vivian Fallon, Michael
Berry, Sir Anthony Farr, Sir John
Best, Keith Favell, Anthony
Bevan, David Gilroy Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Biffen, Rt Hon John Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Fookes, Miss Janet
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Forman, Nigel
Body, Richard Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Forth, Eric
Bottomley, Peter Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Fox, Marcus
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Franks, Cecil
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Freeman, Roger
Braine, Sir Bernard Fry, Peter
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Gale, Roger
Bright, Graham Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Brinton, Tim Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Brooke, Hon Peter Glyn, Dr Alan
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Browne, John Goodlad, Alastair
Bruinvels, Peter Gorst, John
Bryan, Sir Paul Gow, Ian
Buck, Sir Antony Gower, Sir Raymond
Budgen, Nick Grant, Sir Anthony
Bulmer, Esmond Greenway, Harry
Butcher, John Gregory, Conal
Butterfill, John Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Grist, Ian
Carttiss, Michael Grylls, Michael
Cash, William Gummer, John Selwyn
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Chapman, Sydney Hampson, Dr Keith
Chope, Christopher Hanley, Jeremy
Churchill, W. S. Hannam, John
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Harris, David
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Harvey, Robert
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Cockeram, Eric Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk) Monro, Sir Hector
Hawksley, Warren Montgomery, Fergus
Hayes, J. Moore, John
Hayhoe, Barney Mudd, David
Heathcoat-Amory, David Murphy, Christopher
Henderson, Barry Neale, Gerrard
Hill, James Needham, Richard
Hind, Kenneth Nelson, Anthony
Hirst, Michael Neubert, Michael
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Nicholls, Patrick
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Normanton, Tom
Holt, Richard Norris, Steven
Hooson, Tom Onslow, Cranley
Hordern, Peter Oppenheim, Phillip
Howard, Michael Osborn, Sir John
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Ottaway, Richard
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Patten, John (Oxford)
Hunt, David (Wirral) Pattie, Geoffrey
Hunter, Andrew Pawsey, James
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Irving, Charles Pollock, Alexander
Jackson, Robert Porter, Barry
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Powell, William (Corby)
Jessel, Toby Powley, John
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Proctor, K. Harvey
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Raffan, Keith
Jones, Robert (W Herts) Renton, Tim
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Rhodes James, Robert
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Key, Robert Rifkind, Malcolm
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston) Roe, Mrs Marion
Lamont, Norman Rost, Peter
Lang, Ian Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Latham, Michael Ryder, Richard
Lawler, Geoffrey Sackville, Hon Thomas
Lawrence, Ivan Sayeed, Jonathan
Lee, John (Pendle) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Shelton, William (Streatham)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Lightbown, David Shersby, Michael
Lilley, Peter Silvester, Fred
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Sims, Roger
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Skeet, T. H. H.
Lord, Michael Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Luce, Richard Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lyell, Nicholas Speller, Tony
McCurley, Mrs Anna Spencer, Derek
MacGregor, John Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Squire, Robin
Maclean, David John Stanbrook, Ivor
McQuarrie, Albert Steen, Anthony
Madel, David Stern, Michael
Major, John Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Malins, Humfrey Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Malone, Gerald Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Maples, John Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Marland, Paul Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Marlow, Antony Stradling Thomas, J.
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Sumberg, David
Mates, Michael Tapsell, Peter
Maude, Hon Francis Taylor, John (Solihull)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Temple-Morris, Peter
Mellor, David Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Merchant, Piers Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Miscampbell, Norman Thornton, Malcolm
Mitchell, David (NW Hants) Thurnham, Peter
Moate, Roger Townend, John (Bridlington)
Trippier, David Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Trotter, Neville Wheeler, John
Twinn, Dr Ian Whitfield, John
van Straubenzee, Sir W. Whitney, Raymond
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Wiggin, Jerry
Viggers, Peter Wilkinson, John
Waddington, David Wolfson, Mark
Wakeham, Rt Hon John Wood, Timothy
Waldegrave, Hon William Woodcock, Michael
Walden, George Young, Sir George (Acton)
Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester) Younger, Rt Hon George
Ward, John
Wardle, C. (Bexhill) Tellers for the Noes:
Warren, Kenneth Mr. Robert Boscawen and Mr. Tim Sainsbury.
Watson, John
Watts, John

Question accordingly negatived

Amendment (h) proposed to Lords amendment No. 9, in line 20, at end insert— '(4E) No consent shall be required under this section in respect of expenditure incurred under section 137 of the principal Act by way of a payment to any body or organisation where

  1. (a) such body or organisation has been in receipt of a payment under the said section 137 by the local authority concerned within the two previous financial years, and
  2. (b) the payment to be made to such body or organisation does not exceed the total amount so made in the previous two financial years.'.—[Mr. Beith.]

Question put, That amendment (h) to the Lords amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 156, Noes 297.

Division No. 456] [11.51 am
Alton, David Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Deakins, Eric
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Dewar, Donald
Ashton, Joe Dixon, Donald
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Dobson, Frank
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Dormand, Jack
Barnett, Guy Douglas, Dick
Barron, Kevin Dubs, Alfred
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Bell, Stuart Eadie, Alex
Benn, Tony Eastham, Ken
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Bermingham, Gerald Ewing, Harry
Bidwell, Sydney Fatchett, Derek
Blair, Anthony Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Boyes, Roland Fisher, Mark
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Flannery, Martin
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Foster, Derek
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Foulkes, George
Bruce, Malcolm Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Buchan, Norman Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Caborn, Richard Garrett, W. E.
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) George, Bruce
Campbell-Savours, Dale Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Canavan, Dennis Godman, Dr Norman
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Golding, John
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hamilton, James (M'well N)
Clarke, Thomas Hancock, Mr. Michael
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hardy, Peter
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Harman, Ms Harriet
Cohen, Harry Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Conlan, Bernard Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Corbett, Robin Heffer, Eric S.
Corbyn, Jeremy Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cowans, Harry Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Craigen, J. M. Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Cunningham, Dr John Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Dalyell, Tam Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Kennedy, Charles Prescott, John
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Redmond, M.
Lambie, David Rees, Rt Hon M, (Leeds S)
Lamond, James Richardson, Ms Jo
Lead bitter, Ted Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Leighton, Ronald Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Litherland, Robert Rogers, Allan
Lloyd, Tony (Stratford) Rooker, J. W.
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
McCartney, Hugh Rowlands, Ted
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Sheerman, Barry
McGuire, Michael Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Maclennan, Robert Silkin, Rt Hon J,
McWilliam, John Skinner, Dennis
Madden, Max Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Snape, Peter
Maynard, Miss Joan Soley, Clive
Michie, William Spearing, Nigel
Mikardo, Ian Straw, Jack
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Tinn, James
Nellist, David Torney, Tom
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Wainwright, R.
O'Brien, William Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Wareing, Robert
Park, George Welsh, Michael
Parry, Robert Wigley, Dafydd
Patchett, Terry Winnick, David
Pavitt, Laurie Woodall, Alec
Pendry, Tom
Penhaligon, David Tellers for the Ayes:
Pike, Peter Mr. John Cartwright and Mr. A. J. Beith.
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Adley, Robert Butcher, John
Aitken, Jonathan Butterfill, John
Alexander, Richard Carlisle, John (N Luton)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Amess, David Carttiss, Michael
Ancram, Michael Cash, William
Ashby, David Chalker, Mrs Lynda
Aspinwall, Jack Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H, Chapman, Sydney
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Chope, Christopher
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Churchill, W. S.
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Batiste, Spencer Cockeram, Eric
Bendall, Vivian Colvin, Michael
Berry, Sir Anthony Conway, Derek
Best, Keith Cope, John
Bevan, David Gilroy Cranborne, Viscount
Biffen, Rt Hon John Critchley, Julian
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Crouch, David
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Currie, Mrs Edwina
Body, Richard Dicks, Terry
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Dorrell, Stephen
Bottomley, Peter Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Dover, Den
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Durant, Tony
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Eggar, Tim
Bright, Graham Emery, Sir Peter
Brinton, Tim Fallon, Michael
Brooke, Hon Peter Farr, Sir John
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Favell, Anthony
Browne, John Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Bruinvels, Peter Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Bryan, Sir Paul Fookes, Miss Janet
Buck, Sir Antony Forman, Nigel
Budgen, Nick Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bulmer, Esmond Forth, Eric
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lord, Michael
Fox, Marcus Luce, Richard
Franks, Cecil Lyell, Nicholas
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) McCurley, Mrs Anna
Freeman, Roger MacGregor, John
Fry, Peter MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Gale, Roger MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Maclean, David John
Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde) McQuarrie, Albert
Glyn, Dr Alan Madel, David
Goodhart, Sir Philip Major, John
Goodlad, Alastair Malins, Humfrey
Gorst, John Malone, Gerald
Gow, Ian Maples, John
Gower, Sir Raymond Marland, Paul
Grant, Sir Anthony Marlow, Antony
Greenway, Harry Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Gregory, Conal Mates, Michael
Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds) Maude, Hon Francis
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Grist, Ian Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Grylls, Michael Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Gummer, John Selwyn Mellor, David
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Merchant, Piers
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Hampson, Dr Keith Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Hanley, Jeremy Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Hannam,John Miscampbell, Norman
Harris, David Mitchell, David (NW Hants)
Harvey, Robert Moate, Roger
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Monro, Sir Hector
Hawkins, C. (High Peak) Montgomery, Fergus
Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk) Moore, John
Hawksley, Warren Mudd, David
Hayes, J. Murphy, Christopher
Hayhoe, Barney Neale, Gerrard
Heathcoat-Amory, David Needham, Richard
Henderson, Barry Nelson, Anthony
Hill, James Neubert, Michael
Hind, Kenneth Nicholls, Patrick
Hirst, Michael Normanton, Tom
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Norris, Steven
Holt, Richard Onslow, Cranley
Hooson, Tom Oppenheim, Phillip
Hordern, Peter Osborn, Sir John
Howard, Michael Ottaway, Richard
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Patten, John (Oxford)
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Pattie, Geoffrey
Hunt, David (Wirral) Pawsey, James
Hunter, Andrew Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Pollock, Alexander
Irving, Charles Porter, Barry
Jackson, Robert Powell, William (Corby)
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Powley, John
Jessel, Toby Proctor, K. Harvey
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Raffan, Keith
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Renton, Tim
Jones, Robert (W Herts) Rhodes James, Robert
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Key, Robert Rifkind, Malcolm
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston) Roe, Mrs Marion
Lamont, Norman Rost, Peter
Lang, Ian Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Latham, Michael Ryder, Richard
Lawler, Geoffrey Sackville, Hon Thomas
Lawrence, Ivan Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lee, John (Pendle) Sayeed, Jonathan
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Shelton, William (Streatham)
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lightbown, David Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Lilley, Peter Shersby, Michael
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Silvester, Fred
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Sims, Roger
Skeet, T. H. H. Trotter, Neville
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Twinn, Dr Ian
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Speller, Tony Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Spencer, Derek Viggers, Peter
Spicer, Jim (W Dorset) Waddington, David
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Squire, Robin Waldegrave, Hon William
Stanbrook, Ivor Walden, George
Steen, Anthony Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Stern, Michael Ward, John
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton) Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Stevens, Martin (Fulham) Warren, Kenneth
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Watson, John
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Watts, John
Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire) Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Stradling Thomas, J. Wheeler, John
Sumberg, David Whitfield, John
Tapsell, Peter Whitney, Raymond
Taylor, John (Solihull) Wiggin, Jerry
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Wilkinson, John
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman Wolfson, Mark
Temple-Morris, Peter Wood, Timothy
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter Woodcock, Michael
Thompson, Donald (Calder V) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N) Younger, Rt Hon George
Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Thornton, Malcolm Tellers for the Noes:
Thurnham, Peter Mr. Robert Boscawen and Mr. Douglas Hogg.
Townend, John (Bridlington)
Trippier. David

Question accordingly negatived

Amendment (i) proposed to Lords amendment No. 9, in line 26, at end add— '(5A) The Secretary of State shall notify the relevant Council of his decision in respect of any expenditure within one month of that expenditure being submitted for his approval.'.—[Mr. Beith.]

Question put, That amendment (i) to the Lords amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 155, Noes 294.

Division No. 457] [12.01 am
Alton, David Corbett, Robin
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Corbyn, Jeremy
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Cowans, Harry
Ashton, Joe Cox, Thomas (Tooting)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Craigen, J. M.
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Cunliffe, Lawrence
Barnett, Guy Cunningham, Dr John
Barron, Kevin Dalyell, Tam
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)
Bell, Stuart Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)
Benn, Tony Deakins, Eric
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Dewar, Donald
Bermingham, Gerald Dixon, Donald
Bidwell, Sydney Dobson, Frank
Blair, Anthony Dormand, Jack
Boyes, Roland Douglas, Dick
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Dubs, Alfred
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Eadie, Alex
Bruce, Malcolm Eastham, Ken
Buchan, Norman Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Caborn, Richard Ewing, Harry
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Fatchett, Derek
Campbell-Savours, Dale Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Canavan, Dennis Fisher, Mark
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Flannery, Martin
Carter-Jones, Lewis Foster, Derek
Clarke, Thomas Foulkes, George
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Cohen, Harry Garrett, W. E.
Conlan, Bernard George, Bruce
Cook, Frank (Stockton North)80 Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Godman, Dr Norman Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Golding, John Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Park, George
Hancock, Mr. Michael Parry, Robert
Hardy, Peter Patchett, Terry
Harman, Ms Harriet Pavitt, Laurie
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Pendry, Tom
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Penhaligon, David
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Pike, Peter
Heffer, Eric S. Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Prescott, John
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall) Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Richardson, Ms Jo
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Rogers, Allan
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Rooker, J. W.
Kennedy, Charles Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Rowlands, Ted
Lambie, David Sheerman, Barry
Lamond, James Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Leadbitter, Ted Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Leighton, Ronald Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Litherland, Robert Skinner, Dennis
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Snape, Peter
McCartney, Hugh Soley, Clive
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Spearing, Nigel
McGuire, Michael Straw, Jack
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Maclennan, Robert Tinn, James
McWilliam, John Torney, Tom
Madden, Max Wainwright, R.
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Maynard, Miss Joan Wareing, Robert
Michie, William Welsh, Michael
Mikardo, Ian Wigley, Dafydd
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Winnick, David
Miller, DrM. S. (E Kilbride) Woodall, Alec
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Tellers for the Ayes:.
Nellist, David Mr. John Cartwright and Mr. A. J. Beith.
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
O'Brien, William
Adley, Robert Bright, Graham
Aitken, Jonathan Brinton, Tim
Alexander, Richard Brooke, Hon Peter
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)
Amess, David Browne, John
Ancram, Michael Bruinvels, Peter
Ashby, David Bryan, Sir Paul
Aspinwall, Jack Buck, Sir Antony
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Budgen, Nick
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Bulmer, Esmond
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Butcher, John
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Butterfill, John
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Carlisle, John (N Luton)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Batiste, Spencer Carttiss, Michael
Bendall, Vivian Cash, William
Berry, Sir Anthony Chalker, Mrs Lynda
Best, Keith Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Bevan, David Gilroy Chapman, Sydney
Biffen, Rt Hon John Chope, Christopher
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Churchill, W. S.
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)
Body, Richard Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Cockeram, Eric
Bottomley, Peter Conway, Derek
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Cope, John
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Cranborne, Viscount
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Critchley, Julian
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Crouch, David
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Currie, Mrs Edwina
Dicks, Terry Key, Robert
Dorrell, Stephen King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Knight, Gregory (Derby N)
Dover, Den Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Lamont, Norman
Durant, Tony Lang, Ian
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Latham, Michael
Eggar, Tim Lawler, Geoffrey
Emery, Sir Peter Lawrence, Ivan
Fallon, Michael Lee, John (Pendle)
Farr, Sir John Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Favell, Anthony Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Lightbown, David
Fookes, Miss Janet Lilley, Peter
Forman, Nigel Lloyd, Ian (Havant)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Forth, Eric Lord, Michael
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Luce, Richard
Fox, Marcus Lyell, Nicholas
Franks, Cecil McCurley, Mrs Anna
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) MacGregor, John
Freeman, Roger MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Fry, Peter MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Gale, Roger Maclean, David John
Gardiner, George (Reigate) McQuarrie, Albert
Glyn, Dr Alan Madel, David
Goodhart, Sir Philip Major, John
Goodlad, Alastair Malins, Humfrey
Gorst, John Malone, Gerald
Gow, Ian Maples, John
Gower, Sir Raymond Marland, Paul
Grant, Sir Anthony Marlow, Antony
Greenway, Harry Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Gregory, Conal Mates, Michael
Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds) Maude, Hon Francis
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Grist, Ian Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Grylls, Michael Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Gummer, John Selwyn Mellor, David
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Merchant, Piers
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Hampson, Dr Keith Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Hanley, Jeremy Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Hannam, John Miscampbell, Norman
Harris, David Mitchell, David (NW Hants)
Harvey, Robert Moate, Roger
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Monro, Sir Hector
Hawkins, C. (High Peak) Montgomery, Fergus
Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk) Moore, John
Hawksley, Warren Mudd, David
Hayes, J. Murphy, Christopher
Hayhoe, Barney Neale, Gerrard
Heath coat-Amory, David Needham, Richard
Heddle, John Nelson, Anthony
Henderson, Barry Nicholls, Patrick
Hill, James Normanton, Tom
Hind, Kenneth Norris, Steven
Hirst, Michael Onslow, Cranley
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Oppenheim, Phillip
Holt, Richard Osborn, Sir John
Hooson, Tom Ottaway, Richard
Hordern, Peter Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Howard, Michael Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Patten, John (Oxford)
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Pattie, Geoffrey
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Pawsey, James
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Hunt, David (Wirral) Pollock, Alexander
Hunter, Andrew Porter, Barry
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Powell, William (Corby)
Irving, Charles Powley, John
Jackson, Robert Proctor, K. Harvey
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Raffan, Keith
Jessel, Toby Ronton, Tim
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Rhodes James, Robert
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Jones, Robert (W Herts) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Rifkind, Malcolm
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Temple-Morris, Peter
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Roe, Mrs Marion Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Rost, Peter Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Ryder, Richard Thornton, Malcolm
Sackville, Hon Thomas Thurnham, Peter
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Townend, John (Bridlington)
Sayeed, Jonathan Trippier, David
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Trotter, Neville
Shelton, William (Streatham) Twinn, Dr Ian
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Shersby, Michael Viggers, Peter
Silvester, Fred Waddington, David
Sims, Roger Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Skeet, T. H. H. Waldegrave, Hon William
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Walden, George
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Ward, John
Speller, Tony Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Spencer, Derek Warren, Kenneth
Spicer, Jim (W Dorset) Watson, John
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Watts, John
Squire, Robin Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Stanbrook, Ivor Wheeler, John
Steen, Anthony Whitfield, John
Stern, Michael Whitney, Raymond
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton) Wiggin, Jerry
Stevens, Martin (Fulham) Wilkinson, John
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Wolfson, Mark
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Wood, Timothy
Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire) Woodcock, Michael
Stradling Thomas, J. Young, Sir George (Acton)
Sumberg, David Younger, Rt Hon George
Tapsell, Peter
Taylor, John (Solihull) Tellers for the Noes:
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Mr. Michael Neubert and Mr. Douglas Hogg.
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman

Question accordingly negatived

Question put, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment:—

The House divided: Ayes 293, Noes 157.

Division No 458] [12.12 am
Adley, Robert Brooke, Hon Peter
Aitken, Jonathan Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)
Alexander, Richard Browne, John
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Bruinvels, Peter
Amess, David Bryan, Sir Paul
Ancram, Michael Buck, Sir Antony
Ashby, David Budgen, Nick
Aspinwall, Jack Bulmer, Esmond
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Butcher, John
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Butterfill, John
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Carlisle, John (N Luton)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Carttiss, Michael
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Cash, William
Batiste, Spencer Chalker, Mrs Lynda
Bendall, Vivian Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Berry, Sir Anthony Chapman, Sydney
Best, Keith Chope, Christopher
Bevan, David Gilroy Churchill, W. S.
Biffen, Rt Hon John Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Body, Richard Cockeram, Eric
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Colvin, Michael
Boscawen, Hon Robert Conway, Derek
Bottomley, Peter Cope, John
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Cranborne, Viscount
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Critchley, Julian
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Crouch, David
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Currie, Mrs Edwina
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Dicks, Terry
Bright, Graham Dorrell, Stephen
Brinton, Tim Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Dover, Den Lang, Ian
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Latham, Michael
Durant, Tony Lawler, Geoffrey
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Lawrence, Ivan
Eggar, Tim Lee, John (Pendle)
Emery, Sir Peter Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fallon, Michael Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Farr, Sir John Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)
Favell, Anthony Lightbown, David
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Lilley, Peter
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Lloyd, Ian (Havant)
Fookes, Miss Janet Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Forman, Nigel Lord, Michael
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Luce, Richard
Forth, Eric Lyell, Nicholas
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman McCurley, Mrs Anna
Fox, Marcus MacGregor, John
Franks, Cecil MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Freeman, Roger Maclean, David John
Fry, Peter McQuarrie, Albert
Gale, Roger Madel, David
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Malins, Humfrey
Glyn, Dr Alan Malone, Gerald
Goodhart, Sir Philip Maples, John
Goodlad, Alastair Marland, Paul
Gorst, John Marlow, Antony
Gow, Ian Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Gower, Sir Raymond Mates, Michael
Grant, Sir Anthony Maude, Hon Francis
Greenway, Harry Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Gregory, Conal Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds) Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Mellor, David
Grist, Ian Merchant, Piers
Grylls, Michael Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Gummer, John Selwyn Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Miscampbell, Norman
Hampson, Dr Keith Mitchell, David (NW Hants)
Hanley, Jeremy Moate, Roger
Hannam,John Monro, Sir Hector
Harris, David Montgomery, Fergus
Harvey, Robert Moore, John
Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Mudd, David
Hawkins, C. (High Peak) Murphy, Christopher
Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk) Neale, Gerrard
Hawksley, Warren Needham, Richard
Hayes, J. Nelson, Anthony
Hayhoe, Barney Neubert, Michael
Heathcoat-Amory, David Nicholls, Patrick
Henderson, Barry Normanton, Tom
Hill, James Norris, Steven
Hind, Kenneth Onslow, Cranley
Hirst, Michael Oppenheim, Phillip
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Osborn, Sir John
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Ottaway, Richard
Holt, Richard Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Hooson, Tom Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Hordern, Peter Patten, John (Oxford)
Howard, Michael Pattie, Geoffrey
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Pawsey, James
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Pollock, Alexander
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Porter, Barry
Hunter, Andrew Powell, William (Corby)
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Powley, John
Irving, Charles Proctor, K. Harvey
Jackson, Robert Raffan, Keith
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Renton, Tim
Jessel, Toby Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Jones, Robert (W Herts) Rifkind, Malcolm
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Key, Robert Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Roe, Mrs Marion
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Rost, Peter
Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Lamont, Norman Ryder, Richard
Sackville, Hon Thomas Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Thornton, Malcolm
Sayeed, Jonathan Thurnham, Peter
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Shelton, William (Streatham) Trippier, David
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Trotter, Neville
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Twinn, Dr Ian
Shersby, Michael van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Silvester, Fred Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Sims, Roger Viggers, Peter
Skeet, T. H. H. Waddington, David
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Waldegrave, Hon William
Speller, Tony Walden, George
Spencer, Derek Waller, Gary
Spicer, Jim (W Dorset) Ward, John
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Squire, Robin Warren, Kenneth
Stanbrook, Ivor Watson, John
Steen, Anthony Watts, John
Stern, Michael Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton) Wheeler, John
Stevens, Martin (Fulham) Whitfield, John
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Whitney, Raymond
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Wiggin, Jerry
Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire) Wilkinson, John
Stradling Thomas, J. Wolfson, Mark
Sumberg, David Wood, Timothy
Tapsell, Peter Woodcock, Michael
Taylor, John (Solihull) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Younger, Rt Hon George
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Temple-Morris, Peter Tellers for the Ayes:
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter Mr. John Major and Mr. David Hunt
Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Alton, David Dalyell, Tam
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)
Ashton, Joe Deakins, Eric
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Dewar, Donald
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Dixon, Donald
Barnett, Guy Dobson, Frank
Barron, Kevin Dormand, Jack
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Douglas, Dick
Beith, A. J. Dubs, Alfred
Bell, Stuart Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Benn, Tony Eadie, Alex
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Eastham, Ken
Bermingham, Gerald Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Bidwell, Sydney Ewing, Harry
Blair, Anthony Fatchett, Derek
Boyes, Roland Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Fisher, Mark
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Flannery, Martin
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Foster, Derek
Bruce, Malcolm Foulkes, George
Buchan, Norman Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Caborn, Richard Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Garrett, W. E.
Campbell-Savours, Dale George, Bruce
Canavan, Dennis Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Godman, Dr Norman
Carter-Jones, Lewis Golding, John
Cartwright, John Hamilton, James (M'well N)
Clarke, Thomas Hancock, Mr. Michael
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hardy, Peter
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Harman, Ms Harriet
Cohen, Harry Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Conlan, Bernard Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Corbett, Robin Heffer, Eric S.
Corbyn, Jeremy Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cowans, Harry Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Craigen, J. M. Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Cunningham, Dr John Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Kennedy, Charles Nellist, David
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Lambie, David O'Brien, William
Lamond, James Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Leadbitter, Ted Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Leighton, Ronald Park, George
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Parry, Robert
Litherland, Robert Patchett, Terry
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Pavitt, Laurie
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Pendry, Tom
McCartney, Hugh Penhaligon, David
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Pike, Peter
McGuire, Michael Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Prescott, John
Maclennan, Robert Redmond, M.
Madden, Max Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Richardson, Ms Jo
Maynard, Miss Joan Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Meacher, Michael Robertson, George
Michie, William Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Mikardo, Ian Rogers, Allan
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Rooker, J. W.
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
". — (1) Neither the Greater London Council nor a metro-politan county council shall after the passing of the Act dispose of any land except with the consent of the Secretary of State.
5 (2) Any consent under this section may be given either in respect of a particular disposal or in respect of disposals of any class or description and either unconditionally or subject to conditions.
10 (3) This section has effect notwithstanding anything in section 123 of the principal Act (general power to dispose of land) or in any other enactment; and the consent required by this section shall be in addition to any consent required by subsection (2) of that section or by any other enactment.
(4) It is hereby declared that section 128(2) of the principal
15 Act (protection of purchasers etc.) applies to any disposal of land to which this section applies.
(5) In this section references to disposing of land include references to—
(a) granting of any interest in land;
20 (b) entering into a contract to dispose of land or to grant or dispose of any such interest; and
(c) granting an option to acquire any land or any such interest;
25 and references in this subsection to an interest in land include references to any easement, right or charge in, to or over land to a licence to occupy land."—[Mr. Patrick Jenkin.]

Read a Second time.

Mr. John Fraser (Norwood)

I beg to move amendment (a) to the proposed Lords amendment, in line 8, at end insert— '(2A) Before exercising his power under this section to grant or refuse consent, the Secretary of State shall specify the matters he is to take into consideration in granting or refusing his consent; and any consent or refusal of consent by the Secretary of State under this section shall be accompanied by reasons for his decision.'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take the following: amendment (d), in line 4, at end insert: 'and such consent shall not unreasonably be withheld, and shall in any event be extended to the disposal of such land a clear intention to dispose of which was evident prior to 13th July 1984.'.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Forward to