HC Deb 04 July 1985 vol 82 cc587-8
Mr. Terry Davis

I beg to move amendment No. 1, in page 4, line 34, leave out from 'August' to end of line 45.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 21, in page 4, line 39, after 'than', insert 'Easter Monday, or'.

No. 2, in page 5, line 2, leave out 'said' and insert Banking and Financial Dealings'.

No. 3, in page 5, leave out lines 7 to 12 and insert 'the authorised day to the statutory undertakers'.

Mr. Davis

The four amendments amend the Bill in two slightly different ways, but they relate to the same point. I should explain that amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are linked, and amendment No. 21 is an alternative.

On Second Reading, there were several references to the survey conducted among those who live near the proposed route for the motor race. In moving the Second Reading, the hon. Member for Hall Green (Sir R. Eyre) brought the survey to the attention of the House and told us that it showed 93 per cent. support for the race among the residents of the area where the event would take place. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Bevan) referred to the survey. I have already mentioned how his enthusiasm carried him away to the point where he thought that the survey had been conducted among all the residents of Birmingham. There was also a reference in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Howell). Fairly, he pointed out to the House that 36 per cent. of those who were given ballot papers had returned them. They voted with a majority of 4.5 to 1 in favour of a motor race. All the comments were fair — with qualification in the case of the enthusiasm of the hon. Member for Yardley — because the survey did take place.

However, I asked the city council for a copy of the letter that was sent with the voting papers to the people living in the area of the race. I discovered that they were asked to vote on the basis of a proposal for a motor race to take place on the August bank holiday. They were given the ballot paper with a covering letter from the chief administrative officer of the city council. The letter asked them to look at the plan and read the explanatory notes before voting. The first note informed the residents that it was suggested that a motor racing event be held on the August bank holiday Monday. It informed them that practice sessions would take place on the Sunday for perhaps four hours in the afternoon and that the racing would be held on the August bank holiday Monday.

However, the Bill makes it possible for the city council to hold a motor race on any bank holiday Monday except at Christmas and new year. That means that the city council can hold a motor race on Easter Monday, May day or the spring bank holiday Monday. The arguments made so often and so forcefully by advocates of the motor race that the people who live in the area want it are based on a survey that referred specifically to a proposed motor race on August bank holiday Monday. That is an important difference, because people were asked to vote in support of a motor race on one day in the year, and the city council and its advocates used the results of the survey to argue for a Bill that would enable the city council to hold such a race on at least three other days during the year.

I feel especially strongly about the inclusion of Easter Monday. As hon. Members will know, the Bill makes it possible — indeed, it will be essential—for racing car drivers to practise on the Sunday before the race. That would mean that cars would be travelling round the circuit on Easter Sunday. We must object to that. The city council told me that it was never its intention to hold the race on Easter Monday. In that case, why did it not exclude Easter Monday in the same way as it has excluded Christmas and new year? The council need only have added a few words to the Bill to make its intentions clear. I believe that the council changed its mind, and I do not criticise the draftsman of the Bill. He was told to include the possibility of Easter. I regard that as a con trick. I believe that there was a deliberate effort to extend the opportunity for a motor race to other days on the basis of a survey which referred only to August bank holiday Monday.

I do not feel so strongly about May day or spring bank holiday Monday, although there might be difficulties with May day. It is possible that the Labour movement will wish to hold processions and demonstrations through the centre of Birmingham on that day, and that could conflict with a motor race. I realise that the present city council would ensure that no such conflict occurred. I have less confidence in Councillor Neville Bosworth and his party giving precedence to a May day demonstration. However, I shall not pursue that point and amendment No. 1 because I understand that the hon. Member for Hall Green, on behalf of the city council, will accept amendent No. 21, which excludes Easter Monday. I hope that the hon. Member will assure us that the council does not intend to hold a race on the other two days, and that it is only a possibility, and I shall not press amendment No. 1 on that basis. It follows that amendments Nos. 2 and 3 could also fail.

Sir Reginald Eyre

I am glad to welcome amendment No. 21, which makes it clear that the motor race will not be held during the Easter bank holiday, and especially that the preparatory racing which the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Davies) mentioned, will not take place on Easter Sunday. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House welcome the amendment, and I give it my support.

Mr. Davis

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: No. 21, in page 4, line 39. after 'than', insert 'Easter Monday, or'—[Mr. Terry Davis.]

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