§ " . The Secretary of State shall by order taking effect on the abolition date make provision for the authority established by section 27 of this Act for each metropolitan county to exercise the following functions relating to highways and road traffic in that county to the extent and in the manner that such order shall provide—
- (a) the functions of the highway authority under the Highways Act 1980 in relation to principal roads within the county;
- (b) the functions of a county council and a highway authority for the purpose of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 in relation to principal roads within the county;
- (c) issuing guidance as to the manner in which in relation to non principal roads the councils of metropolitan districts should exercise their powers under the 1984 Act, for the purpose of ensuring that the exercise by such councils of those traffic powers in relation to non principal roads does not have an adverse effect on traffic or any class of traffic using principal roads within the county or any traffic or class of traffic in any area other than the area of the district council, as the case may be;
- (d) the functions relating to the construction and maintenance of bridges within the county which on that date are the responsibility of the highway authority;
- (e) the functions contained in the Road Traffic Acts 1972 and 1974 in so far as the same relate to road safety within the county; and
- (f) the collection, examination, analysis and dissemination of data required for the discharge of those functions."
Lords amendment No. 6, in page 4, line 3, leave out from first "to" to end of line 7 and insert
give effect to the transfer of functions relating to those matters—
- (a) from the Greater London Council—
- (i) in part to the London residuary body; and
- (ii) in part to the London borough councils and the common council; and
- (b) from the metropolitan county councils—
- (i) in part to the metropolitan county strategic transportation authorities; and
- (ii) in part to the metropolitan district councils."
§ Lords amendment No. 7, in page 4, line 13, leave out from second "the" to "and" in line 15 and insert "metropolitan county strategic transportation authorities and London residuary authority."
Lords amendment No. 8, in page 4, line 19, leave out from" metropolitan" to end of line 23 and insert
county strategic transportation authorities and London Residuary Body;
§ Lords amendment No. 24, in clause 27, in page 18, line 18, leave out "Passenger"
§ Lords amendment No. 25, in page 18, line 19, leave out "Transport" and insert "Strategic Transportation"
§ Lords amendment No. 26, in page 18, line 20, leave out "passenger"
§ Lords amendment No. 27, in page 18, line 20, leave out "transport" and insert "strategic transportation"
§ Lords amendment No. 28, in page 18, line 21, leave out "passenger"776
§ Lords amendment No. 29, in page 18, line 21, leave out "transport" and insert "strategic transportation"
§ Lords amendment No. 30, in page 18, line 23, leave out "passenger"
§ Lords amendment No. 31, in page 18, line 23, leave out "transport" and insert "strategic transportation"
§ Lords amendment No. 32, in page 18, line 27, leave out "passenger"
§ Lords amendment No. 33, in page 18, line 27, leave out "transport" and insert "strategic transportation"
§ Lords amendment No. 40, in clause 38, in page 24, line 17, leave out "passenger"
§ Lords amendment No. 41, in page 24, line 18, leave out "transport" and insert "strategic transportation"
§ Mr. Hanley
These amendments deal with the vexed subject of the trunking of the south circular road. As many Members will know, this road is a scar through the middle of an otherwise beautiful constituency. The level of traffic on it is totally unnecessary for the local area, and the road itself was not designed to take the level of traffic now on it. It is an unnecessary road, following the completion of the M25, and is totally inadequate.
There is no point in trying to upgrade the road, because, following what I hope will be improvements after a possible west London relief road has been constructed, this part of the south circular road will be rendered redundant. The main argument of my constituents is that under this Bill the trunking procedures required by the Highways Act 1980 are being abolished in the case of the south circular road. One can have public inquiries at any time up to the effective date of the Bill and at any time after the effective date of the Bill, but on the date the Bill is passed the rights of my constituents with regard to trunking will be removed.
One of the other worries of my constituents is that the south circular road just shovels in the problem front somewhere else. The headaches and miseries my constituents suffer as a result of the traffic, especially lorries, are totally unacceptable and before the road is trunked they would like to express their total opposition to the whole subject of trunking. As a result of the effective abolition of the Highways Act by this Bill, the rights of my constituents will expunged.
I am grateful to the Government for building the M25, which will take a considerable amount of lorry and car traffic out of the south circular road areas. But the M25 will take only approximately 18 to 20 per cent. of that volume. In any event it is not yet finished, and we do not know what will be its exact effect. The democratic rights of my constituents ought to be enshrined in public inquiries before trunking takes place.
I cannot speak too highly of the Minister of State for the way she has tried through public meetings and through letters and interviews with local journals to put her side of the story. She has assured my constitutents that there will be public inquiries prior to any road widening schemes. She also says that no road widening schemes are planned at the moment, but, without prejudice to the assessment studies being carried out at the moment, if there is any widening later there will be public inquiries.
My constituents are somewhat jaundiced about Government assurances following the abolition of the 275,000 aircraft movement limit at Heathrow recently, 777 and therefore wish to have the opportunity of a public inquiry so that the inspector can properly hear the views of people in this area.
One of the things my hon. Friend the Minister does not fully appreciate, but I believe that her officals do, is that there is a basic difference between public inquiries into trunking proposals and public inquiries set up for road widening proposals following this legislation.
A trunk road inquiry differs substantially from an inquiry into a local authority road proposal, because whereas a local authority requires a compulsory purchase order and then a side road order, line orders are not made for local authority roads. Unlike a trunk road, planning permission is required for the construction of a new road by a local authority and where an inquiry is needed into the refusal of planning permission or a called-in application for a new road it will normally be held concurrently with the inquiries into the CPO and the SRO.
The promoting local authority at a public inquiry will be required to prove its case up to the hilt. Before objections are considered it will have to call evidence establishing the need for the road and justifying the scheme as being the best way of meeting that need. By contrast—and this is where constitutionally the people of Richmond are getting a raw deal—the purpose of a trunk road inquiry is not to enable the Secretary of State's case for building the road to be tested in public, but to inform the Secretary of State of the weight and nature of objections to the scheme. The key tasks of the inspector are to take account of objections from people affected by the proposals, to report on those objections and to make recommendations on the proposals. But perhaps the most controversial aspect of road trunk inquiries is that questions on Government policy are outside their scope. The procedural rules specifically require the inspector to disallow any questions which in his opinion are directed to the merits of Government policy. We believe that any inquiry before trunking would give full protection to my constituents. They demand that right.
I can do no better than quote some of the demands made by an organisation called Richmond Residents Against the A205 Trunking. That group has acted non-politically and in a completely non-partisan way. It has worked hard to try to bring to public attention the constitutional disaster that trunking under the Bill produces. I agree with every statement that the organisation makes. It stated:We want to cross the main road with no more difficulty than now. We do not want to have to use bridges and tunnels. We want to be able to take our children to school and to shop without being buffeted by vehicles of all sizes or weights. We do not want pavements narrowed in the shopping areas. We want to be able to shop freely on both sides of the road.Communities are otherwise destroyed.
We do not want our main road run by a Whitehall department that sees it as a through route to somewhere else, attracting traffic through our constituency. We want the Government to accept any changes made by the House of Lords aimed at keeping London's roads under London control.The organisation wants a public inquiry.
My final worry is that, even if we had a public inquiry after the road had been trunked and were able to put forward the environmental matters that we believe should be considered with regard to any widening proposals of the south circular road, an inspector might have to resort to the Trunk Roads Act 1936, which describes trunk roads as: 778the principal roads in Great Britain which constitute the national system of routes for through traffic".In the face of that definition, an inspector would have to say, "I hear the environmental considerations put forward by the local community but, because it is a trunk road, in the national interest I shall order it to be widened." Our ability to complain has been eroded by the Bill.
§ The Minister of State, Department of Transport (Mrs. Lynda Chalker)
I understand the worries of my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley), because he has expressed them time and again, as is his right. While I fully agree that conditions on the south circular road are completely unsatisfactory and have every sympathy with those who live, work and shop nearby, the road cannot be altered without a public inquiry. The distinctions that he drew between a local road inquiry and a trunk road inquiry are theoretical. Government policy will always be discussed at a trunk road inquiry. There has never been one where that has not occurred. In practice, therefore, the Secretary of State for Transport must justify his case fully. I cannot accept what my hon. Friend was saying about the difference between the two types of inquiry.
Amendments (b) and (c) which my hon. Friend has tabled have problems. First, amendment (b) is incompatible with the power contained in schedule 4 for the trunking of some metropolitan roads on abolition date. Amendment (c) would stop any trunking order anywhere in the country between now and April 1987 at the earliest, because, as my hon. Friend is aware, the power to trunk contained in schedule 4 has been debated and approved by both Houses.
§ Mr. Peter Snape (West Bromwich, East)
The hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley) spoke to amendment (c), not (b).
§ Mrs. Chalker
I thought that I heard that mentioned before. I am asking the House to resist amendments (b) and (c), for the reasons that I have given. Amendment (c) would stop any trunking order anywhere in the country between now and April 1987 at the earliest. Given the correspondence which I frequently receive in which I am asked to trunk some roads, that would be in no one's interests.
We have debated the power to trunk contained in schedule 4, and it has been approved by both Houses of Parliament. Any proposals to trunk roads in London after abolition date would have to follow the procedures laid down in the Highways Act 1980. In other words, even if the residuary body conducted a review of metropolitan roads for 1987, any trunking proposals would still be subject to the provisions of the Highways Act 1980.
My hon. Friend is aware, and I repeat, that the ownership of GLC roads will be transferred to the appropriate successor authorities at abolition date. I resist amendment (b) because if we were to use the powers contained in the Highways Act 1980 there would be a long period of uncertainty, not just about the A205 in my hon. Friend's constituency, but about all the other parcels of land in the metropolis covered by that provision. It would 779 impose upon local ratepayers the cost of maintaining those major roads in the meantime. I do not believe that that is fair.
It is right for me and the Government to make clear what the transfer of ownership at abolition will mean. Similar transfers of ownership have been made through legislation before—in 1936, 1946 and in 1963 when the GLC was established.
My hon. Friend asked about improvements. He said, "When?" I say, "if'. While we are seeking to improve the environment along the south circular road and in other places, there is no certainty that any of the matters which he and his constituents fear will occur. As he correctly said, we have no plans to improve the road. If there were any proposals to improve the road, they would all follow the normal procedure of public consultation and inquiry, and the full provisions of the Highways Act 1980 would bear upon the handling of the improvement proposals. The power contained in schedule 4 gives the Department no authority to carry out improvements. I hope that that is clear once and for all.
I repeat what we said in Committee, on Report and in the other place, that we shall not revive the ringway road and motorway box ideas. Those plans are long since dead and buried. Those who say that there will be concrete in various places across London which today are the city's lungs are merely scaremongering. They have been financed through the GLC to act in that way.
§ Sir Geoffrey Finsberg (Hampstead and Highgate)
My hon. Friend said that there are no plans to revive the motorway box around London. Will she remind herself and others that the originator of the motorway box idea was the Labour-controlled LCC and not the Conservative party?
§ Mrs. Chalker
My hon. Friend is correct. Many of those living in the area which would have been affected by the proposal were devoutly opposed to it then, and we have never changed our position.
§ Mr. Tony Banks
Why was the Conservative administration at county hall between 1971 and 1973 so much in favour of the motorway box?
§ Mrs. Chalker
The hon. Gentleman knows that not every member of his party agrees council to council. I should have been surprised if after public inquiries those plans had then gone ahead. I am speaking for a large number of people, of whom I am one, living in the area. When the LCC proposed those plans, we knew what would happen if they were allowed to proceed. There are no proposals for a ringway road and a motorway box.
Amendment No. 4 seeks to transfer the GLC highway and financial responsibility to the London residuary body. I sympathise with some of the objectives of the clause, but it is unworkable and inconsistent. Perhaps I can tell the House why it is inconsistent with the general policy underlined in the Bill. The clause would retain a three-tier structure for highway responsibilities in London. It would introduce a new three-tier structure for traffic responsibilities, and it would run counter to overall policy on streamlining embodied in the Bill. It would greatly reduce — perhaps even completely do away with — those benefits which we expect from that streamlining. The residuary body is not a satisfactory body to run these responsibilities. The new clause envisages the GLC's 780 highway and traffic responsibility for metropolitan roads going to the residuary body, and that would be unsatisfactory, because it is only a temporary organisation for major functions such as highways and traffic, because they are permanent functions, and because the residuary body is only an appointed body.
Both Houses have rejected amendments to establish directly or indirectly elected authorities for metropolitan roads, and therefore metropolitan roads would go to the boroughs, when the residuary body would be wound up. The boroughs are competent to take on the responsibilities for these roads and they are suitable authorities to do so. They are also directly elected. The new clauses are unworkable because they are completely inimical to sensible transport planning for London.
It is true that the residuary body is given certain responsibilities, but these are not set within the wider framework of traffic and highway or London-wide planning duties. Even with the amendments to the Bill which the House has passed tonight, that would not be so. The provisions envisage, in certain cases, dual responsibility for traffic management for the same roads between the residuary body and the boroughs, and I see that as a recipe for trouble indeed. They also create duplication of the reserve powers, with both the Secretary of State and the residuary body having some, but there is no clear division of responsibility for exercising them. They also envisage dual responsibility for prohibiting or restricting the use of lorries, but not for making it clear whether the borough or the residuary body has the final say. They also give the residuary body powers to make grants to any group, as its fancy takes it—goodness knows what they might be—but they do not establish the duties or the systems of accountability in relation to such grants.
The clause does not make proper financial provision for the exercise of highway and traffic functions proposed for the residuary bodies. These are major flaws and they are not the only ones. It is not a matter of tinkering to put these matters right. If the House were to agree with the amendment, substantial parts of the Bill would require major revision. This is not justified when the residuary body is only temporary and when appropriate and competent alternative authorities stand ready and are qualified to take on the responsibilities.
We recognise the need to maintain expert teams, specialist equipment and information gathering. We have always recognised that from the earliest planning days of the Bill. One of the most important things is to maintain the UTC system in London. That is exactly why there is reserve power in schedule 5. We recognise the importance of maintaining data collection and analysis, including accident statistics. We are already discussing with the boroughs how best to maintain the systems and we see the residuary body as providing a home for such systems and staff until permanent arrangements are settled with the boroughs. We do not need a separate strategic body, because our proposals make effective provision for handling the London-wide issues. I can go through those in detail, but the House knows full well what they are.
§ Sir Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)
My hon. Friend is touching on important matters of great interest to our 781 constituents. Can she give any assurance that these matters, when they pass to the boroughs and also to her own Department, will be regularly debated by the House?
§ Mrs. Chalker
In so far as the boroughs have responsibility, these matters will be debated in the council chambers of those boroughs, but in so far as the Department has responsibility, just like any other responsibilities where the Department is answerable, we shall be answerable in the House. That is exactly the way it should be.
We are against the policy embodied in the new clause proposed by amendment No. 4 because the streamlining functions are there and we do not want duplication of administration and costs. The residuary body is not appropriate for these functions because it is only temporary and is only appointed. The detailed provisions are unworkable, wholly inadequate and, as I have said, would require major revision to remedy the defects. In any case, the highway and traffic responsibilities proposed to be transferred to the boroughs are primarily local in nature and are best handled at local borough level. The wider issues can be handled elsewhere where necessary. Those are the suitable arrangements about which I spoke.
The Government ask the House to disagree with the Lords amendment on the situation in the metropolitan county council areas because the clause also makes the arrangements proposed unworkable. It is particularly wrong to introduce into the metropolitan counties the three-tier structure of highway authorities which has already proved unsatisfactory in London. The strategic transportation authority was given a whole host of extra jobs to be done which should best be done at district level, such as traffic management guidance, taking over construction and maintenance of highway bridges, road safety and data collection—all things which can be done adequately at district level.
The provisions of the clause are attractive only to those who believe that everything should be integrated. There is scope in the clause for regiments of staff to produce plans to co-ordinate public transport and traffic across the metropolitan counties, but the real needs of those districts are very different. Road systems in the metropolitan counties consist of interlinking networks of principal and other roads. Almost every journey involves travel on a principal and other road. It is wrong to have separate highways and traffic management responsibilities. Opponents of abolition have made much of the cross-boundary problems, but under the clause district councils would have to consult not only their neighbouring districts, which they should do anyway, but the joint authority, about almost every traffic problem, even down to double yellow lines.
There is no need for a further tier of highway and traffic authorities in the metropolitan areas, and the district councils will talk to each other, as they do already, about the small proportion of highways and traffic management work which requires their co-operation. I do not believe that the great city authorities, like Coventry or Leeds, cannot manage their roads and traffic in sensible co-operation with neighbouring districts.
§ Mrs. Chalker
Nor do I believe that the boroughs cannot manage. They are highway authorities already and 782 co-operate across boundaries, as the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), the chairman of the GLC, knows well.
§ Mrs. Chalker
My point about the roads in the metropolitan county council areas is this. We understand that some traffic problems and some road problems need to be considered over a wider district, and that is true of the boundaries of any local authority anywhere in the country. At professional level authorities have good working relationships and joint working arrangements are well precedented, so while I am confident that sensible co-operation will usually prevail, as I have said before, from time to time, just as between other unconnected authorities, problems will arise. For this reason the original provisions provide a framework within which those districts can operate to ensure that wider considerations are properly taken into account.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
The Minister has just made the point that in most counties there is one authority. That is because in most counties the travel-to-work area is within one shire county boundary. Does she accept that some at least of the metropolitan areas, archetypically Merseyside, have at present a county area which encompasses one travel-to-work area? Therefore, for example, people do not suddenly cross the Wirral boundary, the Sefton boundary or the Knowsley boundary to Liverpool. They go in and out within that county, and for that county, if not for anybody else, to have no strategic authority higher than district level authority goes against all the logic and all travel patterns and movements.
§ Mrs. Chalker
I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is not quite right. The travel-to-work area in my region of Merseyside happens to be Wirral and Chester. Chester is in the Cheshire county council area and Wirral remains for a few months yet in Merseyside. Therefore, we continually cross between two county areas with no difficulty and good co-operation. However, that co-operation happens at local level. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that people observe where the boundary is most of the time, he is in difficulty, because, unlike the French, we do not have signs showing when one is going into or leaving an area.
Schedule 5 contains powers for the Secretary of State to issue guidance to local authorities on traffic management. If the guidance is disregarded, with the likelihood of adverse consequences for a wider area, then, but only in that case, would the Secretary of State intervene if he thought it necessary. Similarly, occasion other local authorities object to a traffic scheme affecting their areas, and if objections cannot be resolved the Secretary of State will, subject to consultation, be able to determine the issue.
One of the most important area-wide traffic management task is the operation of the urban traffic control systems. The Government are fully committed to ensuring continuity in London and the metropolitan counties, and the Bill provides reserve powers for that. If the districts are unable to reach a satisfactory agreement, the Secretary of State can take over such responsibilities. I do not believe that it will be necessary for the Secretary of State to do so, because I believe that in order to carry out their new functions districts will need specialist staff 783 and facilities from the metropolitan county council. A Government amendment from the other place, which we shall consider later, requires residuary bodies to consult successor bodies about likely needs. The residuary bodies can then take over special manpower facilities, and that will ensure a smooth transition on abolition day.
It is time for districts to get down to considering the ways in which they will meet their highway and traffic responsibilities. They are ready to do so. They do not need strategic authorities, which would simply perpetuate some of the worst features of the metropolitan county councils, and even add to them. That would not be a recipe for improved conditions. Therefore, I hope that the House will disagree with Lords amendment No. 5 as well.
§ Mr. Snape
I found the Minister's explanation singularly unconvincing, and I think that my hon. Friends will agree. I am the first to concede that the hon. Lady normally deals well with her brief. This was one of the rare occasions on which I have seen her reading the whole brief through from beginning to end.
§ Mr. Snape
I agree with my hon. Friend. I was just about to say that I do not think the Minister believed a word of her brief. She did not appear to convince too many of her hon. Friends, but then again she does not have to. As we saw in Committee, those Tory Members who bother to say anything about the legislation are few and far between, and those who do not bother to say anything vote for the Government anyway, so the Minister does not have too much to worry about.
It will be a sad day for the House when this undemocratic legislation goes through virtually on the nod, as it will by midnight tonight. It will destroy a tier of local government that, whatever its faults over the past 10 years, has proved, particularly in traffic functions, to have been exceedingly valuable and done much good work. The Minister's unconvincing explanation was an illustration of the fact that what the Government are doing tonight they are doing as a result of a Prime Ministerial afterthought in the drafting of the 1983 general election manifesto.
The Government are carrying through abolition without any consideration of the invevitable chaos that will follow when it will fall to those who are at present doing this work in local government to try to make some sort of order out of the chaos — they will try, as they always do. I shall come to the point made by the hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley) in a moment.
Lords amendment No. 4 deals specifically with London. During the passage of the Bill through the other place, numerous amendments were tabled with the aim of transferring the strategic highway traffic problems to an appropriate single authority to replace the GLC. Directly and indirectly elected bodies were proposed, with obvious local democratic advantages, as well as the London residuary body. In the many hours of debate on this important issue, cogent arguments from both sides of the other place overwhelmingly supported the need for London-wide co-ordination and for integrated solutions to London's complex problems.
Integrated solutions are necessary even though, these days, the Minister sneers at such solutions. Not long ago 784 she was a fervent and passionate advocate of them. She now has to follow a doctrine, but most people, including a majority of the other place, feel that integration for traffic functions is necessary. The Minister may have picked up her boss's habit of sneering at the word "integration", but nevertheless a majority of her party in the other place felt that integration of these functions was called for, and voted for it.
The way that the Minister read out her brief shows that perhaps she should spend some time in private discussons — we shall not embarrass her by urging her to make them public — with some of her political colleagues at the end of the Corridor, because on this occasion they have proved to be more progressive than she is. She normally likes to be thought of as the progressive, warm and humane voice of the Department of Transport and it must be a real problem for her to have to come to the House to read a brief that was more suitable for the abrasive tone of her boss the Secretary of State for Transport.
The Minister has failed to produce any sound arguments to explain how two Departments — [Interruption.] The hon. Lady has a patronising air. I know that she loves to see herself as the Marjorie Proops of the Government Front Bench. She dispenses advice such as fasten seat belts, do not drink too much, do not be naughty. That is her general philosophy. Tonight she has a brief that does not enable her to do that. She has to read something saying that integration and all the things in which she used to believe, and which she used warmly to endorse and recommend to the nation, if they would take the trouble to listen, are all in the past. These days, to keep her job, she has to prove that she is just as nasty, hard-line and Right wing as the Secretary of State for Transport.
The hon. Lady dismissed all the arguments for integration and for a London-wide authority for highways. The fact that she has said that it will not work does not make it so. The majority of the other place, and therefore the majority of the Conservatives in the other place, has decided that it will. For once, we have to believe it.
§ Mr. Corbyn
Does my hon. Friend agree that the performance of the Department of Transport in redirecting traffic from the M1 into traffic jams elsewhere makes it admirably suited to run every traffic scheme throughout London and the metropolitan counties?
§ Mr. Snape
We had exchanges on this point as recently as last Monday. Once again, when the Minister's inherent goodness was called in question by Labour Members, she stamped her foot and said that such criticism was terribly unfair. However, I do not wish to debate the M1 motorway now.
It is for the Minister of State to convince her hon. Friend the Member for Richmond and Barnes that she is not about to turn his constituency into a motorway. I do not know how convincing she was; no hon. Member will know until the hon. Gentleman comes to a decision at the end of the debate. However, I found the Minister of State's reply to her hon. Friend singularly unconvincing. It was as unconvincing as the rest of her speech.
The other place believes that there are considerable advantages in the amendment that the Government are seeking to remove. I am not allowed to refer directly to what was said in the other place, and I would not dream of doing so, but it is possible to paraphrase what was said by those Conservative Members of the other place who 785 participated in the debate. With one exception, the Government had no supporters. Some of the speeches should leave the Minister of State in no doubt about the lack of support that their proposals command and about the widespread concern that is felt in both Houses about their inherently undemocratic nature.
The Opposition believe that there are numerous advantages in amendment No. 4. The advantages that were incorporated by the other place mean that the substantial though negative powers of the Secretary of State have been removed. The old fashioned Conservative party would have supported their removal. It professed not to like over-centralisation. If Conservative Members believe that the Secretary of State is hardly the person to leave in charge of a whelk stall on a wet Whit Monday, never mind being in charge of London's strategic highways and planning functions, they ought so to indicate when they have the opportunity to vote.
Amendment No. 4 retains economies of scale arising from the handling of large-scale programmes. The Minister of State was singularly unconvincing about the fragmentation of these functions if the Lords amendment is rejected. The amendment retains a degree of centralised leadership regarding the assessment of priorities and there would be central funding of projects where that is most needed. Is there to be competition between the boroughs? That would mean that those who shouted the loudest, or put in their bids first, would get the financial wherewithal to carry out their role, instead of sensible, centralised planning for highways.
The amendment would provide the body concerned with sufficient breadth and a sufficiently large budget to sustain specialist teams with the computer back up and data collection systems that were referred to in Committee. Few hon. Members who heard the Committee debate would doubt the need for capital-wide planning for these functions.
As for amendment No. 5, the Government were found to have few friends in the other place for their metropolitan county council proposals. The other place made it clear, to say the least, that it was very unhappy about the Government's proposals, particularly about the proposal to devolve highway and traffic functions to district councils. Lord Molson referred to the unsatisfactory nature of the Government's proposals. Although the Minister of State is pulling a face at me for referring to Lord Molson, I think that it is in order for me to mention in passing what he said. Let me try the Earl of Cranbrook on the hon. Lady. He was the Chairman of the Select Committee which had some harsh words to say about the Government's proposals. It is no use for the Minister of State to hide her face and whisper. If she is cross with the more senior members of her party in the other place, that is a matter for her. The Earl of Cranbrook referred to bridge and highway design, major road schemes, urban traffic control, data gathering and travel demand forecasting and said that all such matters ought to be dealt with by a strategic transport authority.
It is significant that the Government's proposals for the metropolitan county councils have been found to be completely unsatisfactory. The Select Committee of another place has also published a report on the Government's proposals. I assume that a majority of 786 Conservative party members serve upon it. The noble Earl to whom I have referred is the Chairman of that Committee and at column 62 of the Select Committee's report he said:voluntary joint committees appear unlikely to be to resolve the inevitable policy conflicts, or lead authorities to resolve the conflict between their service role and their policy interests.The report then said that a more practical option would be a joint authority. It is remarkable when the, in our view, undemocratially appointed members of another place lecture an elected Conservative Government about local democracy. If somebody had said to me a decade or so ago that this would happen, I should have expressed great surprise. The Government have no friends for these proposals.
Amendment (b) was moved by the hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes. It is a wondrous thing, having the smallest Conservative majority in England—
§ Mr. Snape
No, I have not finished yet. The hon. Gentleman had a fairly good run. I think that I am on fairly safe ground if I say that he has the smallest Conservative majority in any London constituency. The hon. Gentleman appeared on television, which gave him the opportunity to explain the difficulties that his Richmond constituents will face if the Government's proposals are accepted. I ask again: Has the Minister of State fully satisfied her hon. Friend the Member for Richmond and Barnes? If so, he will let the House know, but I shall be surprised if he has been satisfied by the Minister of State's explanation. She said that if the powers contained in the Highways Act were used, her hon. Friend's constituents would face long periods of uncertainty. That was the Minister of State's phrase; I wrote it down.
I hope that the hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes will agree with me that uncertainty is exactly what his constituents are facing now. One of the reasons why they have written to him is to demonstrate that they are already suffering because of the long period of uncertainty caused by the Government's proposals. If the hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes is satisfied by the Minister of State's explanation, he will say so, but, if not, he will not complain if I exploit that fact. He has had a good run this evening, even though there was insufficient time to debate the matter in Committee because of the appalling, undemocratic guillotine procedure to which the Government have had to resort to get the legislation through this House.
If, like me, the hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes is denounced for scaremongering — that is what the Minister of State will say about him if he refuses to accept her explanation — he will have to live with it. Some of us will make sure that the Minister's comments receive fairly wide circulation not only in the hon. Gentleman's constituency but in the other parts of London where people are worried about these proposals.
The author of the Bill — the Secretary of State for the Environment — is not here. The man who builds the Boeing 747 aircraft has to fly one, but the right hon. Gentleman has disappeared. The Bill's pilot — the Minister for Local Government — sits beside the Minister of State, Department of Transport. The right hon. Gentleman has had a fairly good run during the Bill's 787 passage. In his humorous way, he has convinced many of his colleagues that the Bill's proposals are totally innocuous.
§ Mr. Snape
He has persuaded some and frightened others. Normally, he tries not to be too frightening. If there were ever two strong favourites for the political guillotine in October, it is the Secretary of State for the Environment and the Secretary of State for Transport, although the Secretary of State for Transport appears to have been temporarily reprieved. If the Minister for Local Government fulfils his ambitions and enters the Cabinet in October, it will, no doubt, be seen as a suitable reward for this appalling legislation. Like the Minister of State, the right hon. Gentleman knows that he would not reject this proposal if he were really master of his own Department—
§ Mr. Snape
—or master of his own ambitions, as my hon. Friend has reminded me.
I admire the Minister's sartorial elegance. His tie reminds me of a British Rail adverisement about black dots and red dots. In his case, the red dots are all the lies that have been told during the past 12 months or so about expenditure in local government and the democratic nature of the Bill's proposals. The black dots are some of the promises that have been made during the passage of the legislation, which will prove to be as worthless as other Government promises. Although the right hon. Gentleman might well receive his reward in October, it is likely to be short-lived. In the opinion of everyone concerned with the functions of local government, he has done local government no service.
§ Mr. Spencer Batiste (Elmet)
Whilst I agree with the principle of abolition and the Bill's main provisions, I believe it right to consider whether there are better ways of preserving some local centres of great excellence. My constituency, which is on the boundary of west Yorkshire and north Yorkshire, falls within Leeds and the urban traffic control area of the west Yorkshire metropolitan county council. I accept the arguments that have been advanced by my hon. Friend the Minister of State that an area on the border of different traffic authorities — the problem is exacerbated in my constituency as the Al goes through the middle of it — emphasises the importance of consultation and of working together. Nevertheless, I am concerned that the centre of excellence represented by west Yorkshire's urban traffic control system should be effectively preserved.
The system in west Yorkshire is one of the most advanced in this country, if not in the world. It is highly integrated and inter-active between a complementary range of services. Many of its ideas for road construction and embankments are especially innovative. The system is a considerable source of pride to the people of west Yorkshire.
It is possible for my hon. Friend the Minister of State to say that, with such a centralised system, a lead authority such as Leeds where the central computer is situated could be an effective way of running the system. However, when dealing with urban traffic control a number of priorities have to be balanced and local jealousies between different 788 district authorities might preclude the effective working of the system, particularly if the lead authority is especially large.
How will the Government ensure that that system is not broken up if the district authorities are not able to agree?
§ Mrs. Chalker
The expertise of the west Yorkshire team is very impressive. I have seen the team in operation. It is right that we should safeguard that expertise. That is where the residuary body can supply the temporary home. The officers of the west Yorkshire county council have said that they believe that they have a role to play. They have formed a company and could use their expertise as a privately run centre of expertise on offer to all districts in the area. That is exactly what we would expect them to do. The co-ordinating committees would have the duty to consider joint arrangements.
§ Mr. Batiste
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that comment.
I am especially worried about the time scale on which change will occur. The people who work for the urban traffic control system in west Yorkshire have very marketable skills. Many of them have been approached by consultants and other companies outside the public sector seeking to snap up their services. These people are highly motivated. They want to work within west Yorkshire's integrated system. Obviously, if they see an uncertain future, they may be tempted by some of the offers. Indeed, I understand that some have already gone to work elsewhere.
I am seeking a clear commitment from the Government that, if the district authorities are unable to co-operate to preserve the urban traffic control system in west Yorkshire, they will step in and ensure that this centre of excellence, which is so highly prized by the people of the area, is retained. The Lords amendment provides one means of doing this. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister of State can give sufficiently firm assurances of another.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
We are discussing one of the principal parts of the Bill. The other place took the view that transport planning should be "integrated" with the running of transport services. Two large amendments are being considered — the first concerns London and the second concerns the metropolitan authorities. I do not think that the Minister of State admits to understanding why we are so keen to persuade her that it would be better to agree with the Lords, so I shall remind her.
No one would say from choice that a body called the "London residuary body", which is a collective of people appointed by the Secretary of State, is the best organisation to take on the co-ordinated planning functions of transport in London. There are not many options available if the Government get rid of a directly elected strategic authority—the option of no co-ordinating body, or the option of something that is better than nothing.
The measure is strongly supported because many people, including most experts who have given evidence, would rather have a co-ordinating body that can consider the problems of London traffic and strategy as a whole. They do not want it to be a Minister.
To give a practical example, outside my street door there is a small road with a wall beyond it, and on the other side of the wall is a large open space that could well become a main road. I would far rather that the people 789 making decisions about what happens to that space, and whether it ever becomes a through road from the Bricklayers Arms down to Woolwich or anywhere else, were a group of non-elected people with special responsibility for all London. I would prefer that body — which could eventually, because it might survive a bit longer than the Government, be converted back into a group of elected representatives — to make the decision rather than that the Secretary of State did. I trust a group of people, and preferably a group of elected people, far more than I trust the Secretary of State to make a decision about the strategic planning of roads in London and what should travel on them.
§ Mr. Corbyn
Do I understand that the Liberal party is now in favour of quangos rather than directly elected authorities to look after planning in London, or is the hon. Gentleman in favour of centralising power? I think that the country needs to know, and the SDP needs to be told.
§ Mr. Hughes
The SDP and the Liberal party will tell the hon. Gentleman — he now knows it because he has heard it often — that we entered into the debate on the Bill knowing our policy for London and not having to announce it this morning, as did the Leader of the GLC on the radio and elsewhere. Our policy has always been that London needs a regional authority directly elected which should cover these powers and many others. The new super-expanded GLC, for which the present GLC chairman and others will be fighting, is a concept that they have adopted from us, and we have been arguing it for a long time. I am sorry they are so slow at reaching the right conclusion, but that is not unusual. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about quangos?"] We do not want a quango, but we do not want the Secretary of State deciding what should happen in London transport in strategic planning terms.
As regards outside London, according to the amendment, the strategic highway functions which are now governed by the county councils should go to the passenger transport authority which is being set up under the Bill. In the course of debates, it has become clear that some very popular services are being produced by local government in the metropolitan counties. The Tyne and Wear Metro service is one, the public transport service in south Yorkshire is another. They are popular because they are good services, well used, and cheap and because expertise is co-ordinated in running them and in planning for the future. They link the number of people who want to use transport with the transport provided, be it roads or rail lines.
I ask the Minister to say that it is appropriate, as we proposed in the other place, to accept that in the metropolitan areas we, too, co-ordinate to avoid this muddle. The Government are asking us to believe that, in a series of discussions, the districts can agree on some of the most controversial issues. Such issues cannot be reconciled if one district believes that there should be a road while the other does not, and the two districts are adjacent.
I wish to comment on the amendment of the hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley). He has been under a lot of pressure from his constituents, quite rightly. We all know the effect of a power which allows the Secretary of State to make decisions about the trunking of roads in London and all the implications on the hon.
790 Gentleman's constituents and all the people who live along the south circular road, in the borough of Southwark and beyond of trunking in London. Given the Minister's intention that many roads like the south circular will be trunked, the result will be roads which have more traffic, more disruption and more environmental problems for the people who live and work alongside them.
The amendment is a modest one, and I am surprised that the Minister does not accept that the hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes needs her support. However hard the hon. Gentleman will have tried, he will have had to tell his constituents that I and others have argued the case that there ought to be a public inquiry before roads in London are trunked, but it fell on deaf ears — Tory deaf ears, Tory Government deaf ears and even the deaf ears of the Minister, who has her home not all that far from the south circular.
If the Government do not think again, the Lords may well stand by what they said last time and the Government may risk losing the Bill as a whole instead of enacting it with amendments that come from sane and sanguine proposals made by people who are trying to improve an appalling piece of legislation.
§ Mr. W. Benyon (Milton Keynes)
The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) is not alone in being worried about the accumulation of power to the Secretary of State which is the basis of the matters that we are now discussing. Due to a quirk of our procedure, amendment (a) tabled by the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) cannot be discussed in this section because it has already been debated.
There are obviously grave shortcomings about the residuary body for London. I am concerned about Lords amendment No. 4 only, and not about the other metropolitan counties. I had hoped that the Government would say that, because the other place has looked at the matter carefully, considered the various implications of what is proposed and decided that there should be a Londonwide body to carry out these functions, they would pay respect to that and, if we do not like the residuary body, would find some other way of operating this overall power.
As someone who has had a certain amount of experience of local government at county and district level, I cannot see how matters will work out in practice when we get down to the nitty-gritty of planning roads in London in future with the various traffic aspects involved, even if it is only a system of traffic lights. I cannot see how that will be worked voluntarily by the boroughs.
The power going to the Secretary of State will be considerable, and can be exercised only with an increased number of staff. I know this is rather like twice cooked meat — we have been round this course so often in the past in relation to the Bill. It is a question of how one views local government and forms one's ideas on that basis. None the less, I think it is sad that the Government are to resist the Lords amendment.
§ Mr. Wareing
The need for an integrated countywide authority is very great in an area like Merseyside. I am surprised that the Minister does not recognise the true needs of Merseyside and how these are likely to be jeopardised if the Bill—and particularly this part of it — is enacted.
791 On Merseyside, the principal road network takes up 10 per cent. of the total network in the area. Although the principal roads represent only 10 per cent., they carry 50 per cent. of the traffic. Most of the business traffic and heavy goods vehicles cross the boundaries between the various districts. Fifty per cent. of car drivers commute across district boundaries in Merseyside. I cannot accept the point that the Minister made in reply to the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes). The travel-to-work area for most of those people who live in the built-up parts of the Wirral, the old constituency of Wallasey and Birkenhead is undoubtedly across the river Mersey into the rest of the conurbation, and particularly into Liverpool.
If one looks beyond the highways, one finds that 80 per cent. of traffic signals on Merseyside are under central computerised control. Therefore, a countywide operation is essential, for which the districts are not automatically prepared. Urban traffic control cannot be managed in isolation from all the other traffic and highway functions such as the collection and analysis of data traffic management, road improvements and route signing, all of which are closely bound up with urban traffic control.
There are many specialist services which must be shared for economic reasons. It is clear that they are too costly to duplicate. I cannot conceive that Sefton, the Wirral, Liverpool, St. Helens and Knowsley will be able to provide services to provide urban traffic control, research and development, bridge inspection and maintenance, engineering laboratories, geo-techncial surveys and materials testing and development. All these services are highly costly.
It can be argued that it is possible for such services to be provided by someone else, and I think that the Government have someone else in mind. They are not concerned with replacing one democratic countywide authority with another such body, which might be elected indirectly by the people of Merseyside through their district councils. All the evidence would seem to point in the other direction. The authority that the Government have in mind is the Secretary of State for Transport. Heaven help us if he were to take control. One example of his control is the shambles of the Transport Bill that is before Parliament.
Districts do not necessarily have coincidental interests. There may be many conflicts between district councils over the need to provide, maintain or restore certain roadways. A district council could downgrade a vital strategic route either explicitly or by neglect at the expense of essential traffic that is generated elsewhere.
The real reason for the introduction of the Bill, and the reason why no adequate democratically elected control of authorities is envisaged within it, is that the Government dislike the present political control of the metropolitan counties. That is the sole reason for the Bill being before us. If Merseyside were run by the Conservative party, for example, the Bill would not be with us.
If the Minister of State is suggesting that the district councils will be able to afford to provide the services and functions that we are discussing, I believe that she is quite wrong. New clause 8 would forestall the real danger of continuing central Government encroachment on local responsibility for principal roads. That is why the House should approve it. It obviates the need for the reserve powers that the original Bill sought to give the Secretary of State.
792 There are those who say that the Secretaries of State for Transport and for the Environment genuinely envisage the district councils having more power over highways, that they are democratically elected and that there is nothing sinister about the Bill. A real sign of the Department of Transport's intentions on strategic highway issues is to be found in a guidance note that the Department issued recently to district councils to assist them in planning for their enhanced transport responsibilities. The existing strategic functions of the metropolitan county councils is scarcely mentioned and there is no reference to the relevant manuals and advice notes. Against that background, and with the reserve powers that are contained in the Bill being directed specifically at matters of more than local significance, it seems that the Department rather than the districts will be the de facto highway authority for principal roads under the Bill's original provisions.
A provision for a countywide highway authority would impede the covert increase in Government power and responsibility. That is why new clause 8 is essential even to support the Government's argument, which I do not think they believe in themselves, that there must be co-operation between the districts to obtain a countywide integrated highway system.
I invite the Government to issue a new guidance note. I suggest that they refer to the competent manuals on the subject. Let them ensure that there is democratic control and that the expertise of the teams of workers in areas such as Merseyside is maintained. The Minister of State has told us that she has been to west Yorkshire and has spoken to the experts in that area. She commends what they have done. I hope that she has visited Merseyside as well, whose experts are at risk of being thrown to the winds. They are people of substance and the enactment of the Bill could oblige them to seek employment in other areas. If we are to allow Liverpool, Sefton, the Wirral, St. Helens and Knowsley to have the same expertise as has been available in those areas and built up since 1974, the hon. Lady should examine closely the contents of new clause 8. I hope that the Government will adopt the clause, but I appreciate that I am entering into a dialogue with the deaf.
Unless there is a sign in the Government's response to these amendments that their intention is to keep local government local, it is inevitable that we shall be presented with a national network that will involve more bureaucracy from the centre.
§ Mr. Tracey
It has always seemed to me that roads, especially local roads, involve issues that become personal. Roads and associated considerations arouse strong sentiments when they are discussed by those who live near them. The Government have recognised that by providing that in the main the highway authority should be the local council. I do not dispute the views that have been expressed by my hon. Friends the Members for Elmet (Mr. Batiste) and Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley). I do not dispute the views that we have heard from the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) because I do not know the facts.
However, I am only too well aware of the story of two roads. I live close by the south circular road, which is notorious in London. I have knowledge also of a road that is yet to be born, we hope, which is the Kingston relief 793 road, which is within the royal borough of Kingston upon Thames. This road will have a serious effect on my constituents who are business men in Kingston.
The south circular road has been under the strategic control—I use the term loosely—of the Greater London council. The road is well known as a collection of signposts. It weaves its way across south London. If I had a pound for every time someone has stopped me in one of our suburban highways off the so-called south circular road to ask me whether they were still on it, I should be a very wealthy man. The south circular road is a positive disgrace and I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond and Barnes will confirm that. Over the years the GLC has failed completely to maintain a proper highway for those who want to cross south London. As a local resident, I would rather that the road fell under the control of the Department of Transport than under the GLC. I would prefer the local authority in my area, the excellent borough of Wandsworth, to deal with local matters.
The Kingston relief road is a classic case of how this fag-end Greater London council is behaving in a particularly partisan way. The GLC secured money from the taxpayer for some of the strategic road schemes in London by using various cases. One of the cases involved the Kingston relief road which, as is well known, is required in Kingston upon Thames. The GLC has that money from the taxpayer in its coffers, yet it refuses to hand it over to the council of the royal borough which is to take on the construction management of that road. It has instead, quite deliberately in my opinion, handed over the money to local authorities controlled by the Labour party in various parts of the GLC area.
That is the way that the strategic authority, the GLC, manages affairs, as far as I can see. I think that it will be better for the people of London, for whom I speak in part, if the responsibility rests with their local authority and, thereafter, with the Department of Transport. I support the Government recommendation that we should disagree with the Lords amendment.
§ Mr. Tony Banks
When the Minister was telling us why the Lords amendment should be opposed, she said that the reason was that it was not consistent with streamlining. I did not feel that she could say that without cracking into a large smile and then a big belly laugh because she cannot believe that the Bill streamlines anything in terms of either transportation or other services.
I ask the Minister to look carefully at the Bill to see how many successor bodies will inherit the powers of the GLC and the metropolitan county councils. I do not have the time to read through them, but they include joint boards, residuary bodies, co-ordinating joint committees and quangos — a total of 62 bodies. Then there are the Government Departments — the Department of the Environment, the Department of Transport, the Office of Arts and Libraries, the Department of Education and Science and the Home Office. That is another five. Then there are approximately 127 other local authorities. The grand total is 195. Has the Minister ever studied how many bodies will inherit from the GLC and the metropolitan county councils?
§ Mrs. Chalker
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, the chairman of the GLC, for giving way. He is speaking specifically about London so I shall confine my remarks to that. Has he considered how many times the requests of a London borough have to be rubber-stamped or gone through again by the GLC? Why does a borough that needs double yellow lines to make a turn-out from a service road safe have to go to the GLC transportation committee? That is the duplication that we are getting rid of. That is the streamlining that we are doing.
§ Mr. Banks
That is an interesting point. Has the Minister read the Lords amendment? The hon. Lady will see that the amendment that the Government now seek to overturn was careful to devolve traffic responsibilities on borough roads to the individual boroughs. They would become responsible for traffic signing, signals, parking, pedestrian crossings and speed regulation on the roads. That would considerably reduce duplication.
Whatever the Minister thinks about the GLC, she should not be opposing the Lords amendment. It gives her precisely what she just argued for at the Dispatch Box. She has not read the Lords amendment, and does not understand the consequences of the Bill with regard to streamlining. It is nonsense, and the hon. Lady knows it.
§ Dr. Ian Twinn (Edmonton)
I am surprised that the Opposition should be so vehemently opposed to greater powers being transferred to the boroughs. After all, they have been trying to criticise the Government in our long debates on the Bill, saying that not enough power is being given to the boroughs, that we are not devolving enough power, and that what Conservative Members have been arguing, which is that the whole purpose of the Bill is to give local people a say in local matters, is rubbish. Once they have an opportunity to see real powers being given to the boroughs, the Opposition oppose that.
From my point of view in the London borough of Enfield, it makes sense that the borough should be the responsible authority. It is already responsible for all but very few roads in the borough. The Bill will increase efficiency and reduce costs if the borough is responsible for the few remaining roads in the borough—
§ Dr. Twinn
I shall not give way because I think that some of the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends still wish to speak.
The GLC's behaviour on road matters has been extraordinary. It uses partisan tactics to stop boroughs that want to go ahead with road schemes in the interests of the local citizens from doing so. There is an example in the borough of Enfield, where the Barnet and Enfield lorry ban has been held up by the GLC, so that the local citizens will not benefit from relief from heavy traffic in the area. We have seen the same example in south London where the GLC, despite the advice of its friends in Southwark and Lewisham, has tried to stop the relief road from the Old Kent road being developed.
The local boroughs need to have those powers so that we can develop roads and road policy in London that are to the advantage of local citizens.
§ Mr. Cowans
My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) hit the nail on the head. It is patently obvious that the Minister of State either has not read the Bill or has not read the Lords amendment. 795 She said that there was duplication, but the contrary is the case. I have heard her speak on several occasions, and there are only two conclusions that the House can come to tonight — either that she had a poor brief or that she did not believe that brief. I think that it was both—she had a poor brief and she did not believe it.
The hon. Lady did not make a logical or reasoned case against the amendment when, having changed her mind, she said that those who supported the amendment were those who supported integration. She is perfectly correct. She used to he one of our number, but she has changed. May I drag her, kicking and screaming — it is a frank offer — into the real world?
§ Mr. Cowans
I think that the hon. Lady has to come into the real world. She will realise that after I have finished.
There was a Bill on local government in 1972. Being adaptable, local government conformed to the Bill. One of its requirements was that local government should integrate. Was it surprising that it did just that? That was the wish of the Government of the day. The unreasonable argument, "It was like that in the past, and the old county boroughs had those functions," is so naive that Opposition Front Bench spokesmen should not have to expose it. It assumes that nothing happened until the county boroughs became county boroughs. However, the contrary is the case. Because the metropolitan county councils and metropolitan districts were set up under the remit of a Conservative Government in the 1972 Act, services were centralised and systems integrated, such as the Tyne and Wear Metro, many bus services, the central control of traffic movements, and specialised teams to co-ordinate their areas of responsibility. It is no surprise that that happened, but it is surprising that the Minister does not believe that it happened.
If the Lords amendment No. 4 is not accepted, local authorities will be required quickly to dismantle everything that was set up under that Conservative Government. Many Conservative Members seem to favour the Bill so long as it does not affect their constituencies, and where it does affect their areas they have asked the appropriate Minister to make concessions and deviate from the Bill. They must also come into the real world, because that cannot be done.
§ Mr. Corbyn
Does my hon. Friend agree that it is significant that the Minister seeks to rush through the proposal to trunk 65 miles of London's roads without any public inquiry precisely because she has no answers to the type of objections that hon. Members have been raising on constituency grounds because of the obvious implications of trunking, widening those roads and further taking control of transport planning matters from local people in London?
§ Mr. Cowans
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, and I shall return to that relevant point.
I was talking about specialised teams. They are already starting to break up and, not unnaturally, to look elsewhere. The Minister is on record as saying that the Government recognise the specialised teams and would like to keep them, but they leave it to God and good neighbour and do nothing themselves to ensure that those teams continue to exist.
796 I now come to the point of my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn). Apart from integration, the Government believe that there is a strategic role, and that there should be overall planning and control in large areas. The basic difference between us is that the Opposition believe that there should be local democratic control. The Government have set themselves up in London as a de facto strategic body and, therefore, they obviously believe in overall planning and control. They believe that they should be in control and that the local voice should not be heard.
The strategic body in London for transport will be the Department of Transport, and it will have powers, to which it can add ad nauseam at any time. Even the Government's friends in the other place see through that kind of argument. On the Select Committee—I shall not quote from its report because I have no time — the Government do not even have a friend of their own persuasion. Time and time again professional people, hon. Members and their Lordships have rubbished the Government's arguments.
The Government have tried to hide the arguments by bringing the Bill back to the Floor of the House, and pushing it through at the speed of light. There is no substance behind anything that the Minister has said because integrated systems already exist. If we do not pass the Lords amendment, we shall leave overall control to voluntary co-ordination. I have news for the Minister — there is no such animal.
The Government want to ensure that the specialised teams continue to exist, but that will not happen. In the past where joint organisations have been set up and failed to agree, it has been to the detriment of those whom they serve.
I remind the Minister of the content of her speech. She spent 14 minutes on the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Richmond and Barnes (Mr. Hanley), seven minutes on amendment No. 4, which dealt with London, and the glorious sum of five minutes on a major alteration—
§ It being fifteen minutes to Eight o'clock, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the order this day, to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 198, Noes 304.799
|Division No. 257]||[7.45 pm|
|Abse, Leo||Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)|
|Alton, David||Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)|
|Anderson, Donald||Bruce, Malcolm|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Buchan, Norman|
|Ashton, Joe||Caborn, Richard|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Callaghan, Rt Hon J.|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Campbell-Savours, Dale|
|Barnett, Guy||Carter-Jones, Lewis|
|Barron, Kevin||Cartwright, John|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Clark, Dr David (S Shields)|
|Beith, A. J.||Clarke, Thomas|
|Benn, Tony||Clay, Robert|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||Clwyd, Mrs Ann|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Cohen, Harry|
|Blair, Anthony||Coleman, Donald|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Conlan, Bernard|
|Boyes, Roland||Cook, Frank (Stockton North)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Corbett, Robin|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Corbyn, Jeremy|
|Cowans, Harry||McKelvey, William|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||McNamara, Kevin|
|Craigen, J. M.||McTaggart, Robert|
|Critchley, Julian||McWilliam, John|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Madden, Max|
|Dalyell, Tam||Marek, Dr John|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)||Maxton, John|
|Deakins, Eric||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Dewar, Donald||Meadowcroft, Michael|
|Dixon, Donald||Michie, William|
|Dobson, Frank||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Dormand, Jack||Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)|
|Dubs, Alfred||Molyneaux, Rt Hon James|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Eadie, Alex||Nellist, David|
|Eastham, Ken||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)||O'Brien, William|
|Evans, John (St. Helens N)||O'Neill, Martin|
|Ewing, Harry||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Fatchett, Derek||Park, George|
|Faulds, Andrew||Parry, Robert|
|Field, Frank (Birkenhead)||Patchett, Terry|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Fisher, Mark||Pendry, Tom|
|Flannery, Martin||Penhaligon, David|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Pike, Peter|
|Forrester, John||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Foster, Derek||Prescott, John|
|Fraser, J. (Norwood)||Radice, Giles|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Randall, Stuart|
|Freud, Clement||Redmond, M.|
|Garrett, W. E.||Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)|
|George, Bruce||Richardson, Ms Jo|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Roberts, Allan (Bootle)|
|Godman, Dr Norman||Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)|
|Golding, John||Robertson, George|
|Gould, Bryan||Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)|
|Ground, Patrick||Rogers, Allan|
|Hamilton, James (M'well N)||Rooker, J. W.|
|Hancock, Mr. Michael||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Hardy, Peter||Rowlands, Ted|
|Harman, Ms Harriet||Ryman, John|
|Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Sedgemore, Brian|
|Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith||Sheerman, Barry|
|Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy||Sheldon, Rt Hon R.|
|Haynes, Frank||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Healey, Rt Hon Denis||Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)|
|Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)||Silkin, Rt Hon J.|
|Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Home Robertson, John||Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)|
|Howells, Geraint||Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)|
|Hoyle, Douglas||Snape, Peter|
|Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)||Soley, Clive|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport East)||Stott, Roger|
|Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)||Strang, Gavin|
|Janner, Hon Greville||Straw, Jack|
|John, Brynmor||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Kennedy, Charles||Thorne, Stan (Preston)|
|Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Tinn, James|
|Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil||Torney, Tom|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Wallace, James|
|Lambie, David||Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|Lamond, James||Wareing, Robert|
|Leighton, Ronald||Weetch, Ken|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Lewis, Terence (Worsley)||Winnick, David|
|Litherland, Robert||Woodall, Alec|
|Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|McCartney, Hugh||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|McDonald, Dr Oonagh||Mr. Jeremy Hanley and|
|McKay, Allen (Penistone)||Mr. Simon Hughes.|
|Adley, Robert||Evennett, David|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Eyre, Sir Reginald|
|Alexander, Richard||Fairbairn, Nicholas|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Fallon, Michael|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Farr, Sir John|
|Amess, David||Favell, Anthony|
|Ancram, Michael||Fenner, Mrs Peggy|
|Ashby, David||Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Fletcher, Alexander|
|Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Forman, Nigel|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)||Forth, Eric|
|Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)||Foulkes, George|
|Baldry, Tony||Fox, Marcus|
|Batiste, Spencer||Franks, Cecil|
|Bellingham, Henry||Fraser, Peter (Angus East)|
|Bendall, Vivian||Freeman, Roger|
|Bennett, Rt Hon Sir Frederic||Fry, Peter|
|Benyon, William||Gale, Roger|
|Best, Keith||Galley, Roy|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Gardiner, George (Reigate)|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Goodhart, Sir Philip|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Gow, Ian|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Gower, Sir Raymond|
|Bottomley, Peter||Grant, Sir Anthony|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Greenway, Harry|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)||Gregory, Conal|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Griffiths, Sir Eldon|
|Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard||Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Grist, Ian|
|Bright, Graham||Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)|
|Brinton, Tim||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Brittan, Rt Hon Leon||Hampson, Dr Keith|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Hannam, John|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Hargreaves, Kenneth|
|Bruinvels, Peter||Harris, David|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael|
|Budgen, Nick||Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)|
|Burt, Alistair||Hawksley, Warren|
|Butcher, John||Hayes, J.|
|Butler, Hon Adam||Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney|
|Butterfill, John||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Carlisle, John (N Luton)||Heddle, John|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Henderson, Barry|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)||Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael|
|Carttiss, Michael||Hickmet, Richard|
|Cash, William||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.|
|Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Hind, Kenneth|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)|
|Chope, Christopher||Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)|
|Churchill, W. S.||Howard, Michael|
|Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)||Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||Hunt, David (Wirral)|
|Cockeram, Eric||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)|
|Colvin, Michael||Hunter, Andrew|
|Coombs, Simon||Irving, Charles|
|Cope, John||Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick|
|Corrie, John||Jessel, Toby|
|Couchman, James||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Jones, Robert (W Herts)|
|Crouch, David||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine|
|Dickens, Geoffrey||Key, Robert|
|Dicks, Terry||King, Roger (B'ham N'field)|
|Dorrell, Stephen||King, Rt Hon Tom|
|Dover, Den||Knight, Greg (Derby N)|
|du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward||Knowles, Michael|
|Dunn, Robert||Lang, Ian|
|Durant, Tony||Latham, Michael|
|Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)||Lawler, Geoffrey|
|Eggar, Tim||Lee, John (Pendle)|
|Emery, Sir Peter||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Rowe, Andrew|
|Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)||Rumbold, Mrs Angela|
|Lightbown, David||Ryder, Richard|
|Lloyd, Ian (Havant)||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)||Scott, Nicholas|
|Lord, Michael||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Lyell, Nicholas||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|McCrindle, Robert||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|McCurley, Mrs Anna||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Shersby, Michael|
|MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)||Silvester, Fred|
|MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)||Sims, Roger|
|Maclean, David John||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Madel, David||Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)|
|Major, John||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Malins, Humfrey||Soames, Hon Nicholas|
|Maples, John||Speller, Tony|
|Marland, Paul||Spencer, Derek|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Mates, Michael||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Maude, Hon Francis||Squire, Robin|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Stanley, John|
|Mayhew, Sir Patrick||Steen, Anthony|
|Merchant, Piers||Stern, Michael|
|Miller, Hal (B'grove)||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Mills, Iain (Meriden)||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)||Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Mitchell, David (NW Hants)||Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)|
|Moate, Roger||Stokes, John|
|Montgomery, Sir Fergus||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Moore, John||Sumberg, David|
|Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Moynihan, Hon C.||Taylor, John (Solihull)|
|Mudd, David||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Murphy, Christopher||Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman|
|Neale, Gerrard||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Neubert, Michael||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Newton, Tony||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Norris, Steven||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Onslow, Cranley||Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)|
|Osborn, Sir John||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Ottaway, Richard||Thurnham, Peter|
|Page, Sir John (Harrow W)||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Tracey, Richard|
|Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil||Trippier, David|
|Parris, Matthew||Trotter, Neville|
|Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn)||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Pattie, Geoffrey||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Viggers, Peter|
|Pollock, Alexander||Waddington, David|
|Portillo, Michael||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)||Walden, George|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Walker, Bill (T'side N)|
|Powley, John||Wall, Sir Patrick|
|Price, Sir David||Waller, Gary|
|Proctor, K. Harvey||Walters, Dennis|
|Pym, Rt Hon Francis||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Raffan, Keith||Watson, John|
|Raison, Rt Hon Timothy||Watts, John|
|Rathbone, Tim||Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)|
|Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)||Wheeler, John|
|Renton, Tim||Whitfield, John|
|Rhodes James, Robert||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Wolfson, Mark|
|Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas||Wood, Timothy|
|Ridsdale, Sir Julian||Woodcock, Michael|
|Rifkind, Malcolm||Yeo, Tim|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Robinson, Mark (N'port W)|
|Roe, Mrs Marion||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Rossi, Sir Hugh||Mr. Carol Mather and|
|Rost, Peter||Mr. Tristan Garel-Jones.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.800
§ MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER then proceeded to put the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that hour.
§ Motion made, and Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment — [Mrs. Chalker.]
§ The House divided: Ayes 285, Noes 200.803
|Division No. 258]||[8 pm|
|Adley, Robert||du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward|
|Aitken, Jonathan||Dunn, Robert|
|Alexander, Richard||Durant, Tony|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael||Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)|
|Amess, David||Eggar, Tim|
|Ancram, Michael||Emery, Sir Peter|
|Ashby, David||Evennett, David|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Eyre, Sir Reginald|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Fairbairn, Nicholas|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)||Fallon, Michael|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)||Farr, Sir John|
|Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)||Favell, Anthony|
|Baldry, Tony||Fenner, Mrs Peggy|
|Batiste, Spencer||Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey|
|Bellingham, Henry||Fletcher, Alexander|
|Bendall, Vivian||Fookes, Miss Janet|
|Bennett, Rt Hon Sir Frederic||Forman, Nigel|
|Best, Keith||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Forth, Eric|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Fowler, Rt Hon Norman|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Fox, Marcus|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Franks, Cecil|
|Body, Richard||Fraser, Peter (Angus East)|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Freeman, Roger|
|Bottomley, Peter||Fry, Peter|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Gale, Roger|
|Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)||Galley, Roy|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)|
|Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard||Garel-Jones, Tristan|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Glyn, Dr Alan|
|Bright, Graham||Goodlad, Alastair|
|Brinton, Tim||Gow, Ian|
|Brittan, Rt Hon Leon||Gower, Sir Raymond|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Grant, Sir Anthony|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Greenway, Harry|
|Browne, John||Gregory, Conal|
|Bruinvels, Peter||Griffiths, Sir Eldon|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Grist, Ian|
|Budgen, Nick||Grylls, Michael|
|Burt, Alistair||Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)|
|Butcher, John||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Butterfill, John||Hampson, Dr Keith|
|Carlisle, John (N Luton)||Hannam, John|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Hargreaves, Kenneth|
|Cash, William||Harris, David|
|Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Chapman, Sydney||Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael|
|Chope, Christopher||Hawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hawksley, Warren|
|Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)||Hayes, J.|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Heddle, John|
|Clegg, Sir Walter||Henderson, Barry|
|Cockeram, Eric||Hickmet, Richard|
|Colvin, Michael||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.|
|Coombs, Simon||Hind, Kenneth|
|Cope, John||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)|
|Corrie, John||Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)|
|Couchman, James||Howard, Michael|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)|
|Crouch, David||Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)|
|Dickens, Geoffrey||Hubbard-Miles, Peter|
|Dicks, Terry||Hunt, David (Wirral)|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)|
|Dover, Den||Hunter, Andrew|
|Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Irving, Charles||Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick||Ridsdale, Sir Julian|
|Jessel, Toby||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)||Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)|
|Jones, Robert (W Herts)||Robinson, Mark (N'port W)|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Roe, Mrs Marion|
|Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine||Rossi, Sir Hugh|
|Key, Robert||Rost, Peter|
|King, Roger (B'ham N'field)||Rowe, Andrew|
|King, Rt Hon Tom||Rumbold, Mrs Angela|
|Knight, Greg (Derby N)||Ryder, Richard|
|Knowles, Michael||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy|
|Lang, Ian||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Latham, Michael||Shelton, William (Streatham)|
|Lawler, Geoffrey||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|Lee, John (Pendle)||Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)|
|Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)||Shersby, Michael|
|Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Silvester, Fred|
|Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)||Sims, Roger|
|Lightbown, David||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Lloyd, Ian (Havant)||Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)|
|Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Lord, Michael||Soames, Hon Nicholas|
|Lyell, Nicholas||Speller, Tony|
|McCrindle, Robert||Spencer, Derek|
|McCurley, Mrs Anna||Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)|
|Macfarlane, Neil||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)||Squire, Robin|
|MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Madel, David||Stanley, John|
|Major, John||Steen, Anthony|
|Malins, Humfrey||Stern, Michael|
|Maples, John||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Marland, Paul||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Maude, Hon Francis||Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Stokes, John|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Mayhew, Sir Patrick||Sumberg, David|
|Merchant, Piers||Tapsell, Sir Peter|
|Miller, Hal (B'grove)||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Mills, Iain (Meriden)||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.|
|Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)||Thompson, Donald (Calder V)|
|Mitchell, David (NW Hants)||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Moate, Roger||Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)|
|Montgomery, Sir Fergus||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Moore, John||Thurnham, Peter|
|Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)||Tracey, Richard|
|Mudd, David||Trippier, David|
|Murphy, Christopher||Trotter, Neville|
|Neale, Gerrard||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Neubert, Michael||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Newton, Tony||Vaughan, Sir Gerard|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Viggers, Peter|
|Norris, Steven||Waddington, David|
|Osborn, Sir John||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Ottaway, Richard||Walden, George|
|Page, Sir John (Harrow W)||Walker, Bill (T'side N)|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Waller, Gary|
|Parris, Matthew||Ward, John|
|Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn)||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Pattie, Geoffrey||Watson, John|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Watts, John|
|Percival, Rt Hon Sir Ian||Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)|
|Pollock, Alexander||Whitfield, John|
|Portillo, Michael||Whitney, Raymond|
|Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Wolfson, Mark|
|Powley, John||Wood, Timothy|
|Price, Sir David||Woodcock, Michael|
|Proctor, K. Harvey||Yeo, Tim|
|Raffan, Keith||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Raison, Rt Hon Timothy|
|Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Renton, Tim||Mr. Carol Mather and|
|Rhodes James, Robert||Mr. Robert Boscawen.|
|Abse, Leo||Godman, Dr Norman|
|Alton, David||Goodhart, Sir Philip|
|Anderson, Donald||Gould, Bryan|
|Ashdown, Paddy||Ground, Patrick|
|Ashton, Joe||Hamilton, James (M'well N)|
|Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)||Hancock, Mr. Michael|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Hardy, Peter|
|Banks, Tony (Newham NW)||Harman, Ms Harriet|
|Barnett, Guy||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter|
|Barron, Kevin||Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith|
|Beckett, Mrs Margaret||Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy|
|Beith, A. J.||Healey, Rt Hon Denis|
|Benn, Tony||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)||Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)|
|Benyon, William||Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Home Robertson, John|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Howells, Geraint|
|Blair, Anthony||Hoyle, Douglas|
|Boothroyd, Miss Betty||Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)|
|Boyes, Roland||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Hughes, Roy (Newport East)|
|Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E)||Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Hughes, Simon (Southwark)|
|Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)||Janner, Hon Greville|
|Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N)||John, Brynmor|
|Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)||Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Kennedy, Charles|
|Buchan, Norman||Kilroy-Silk, Robert|
|Caborn, Richard||Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Kirkwood, Archy|
|Campbell, Ian||Knox, David|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Lambie, David|
|Cartwright, John||Lamond, James|
|Clark, Dr David (S Shields)||Leighton, Ronald|
|Clarke, Thomas||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Clay, Robert||Lewis, Terence (Worsley)|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Litherland, Robert|
|Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Cohen, Harry||Lofthouse, Geoffrey|
|Coleman, Donald||Loyden, Edward|
|Conlan, Bernard||McCartney, Hugh|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton North)||McDonald, Dr Oonagh|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||McKay, Allen (Penistone)|
|Cowans, Harry||McKelvey, William|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||McNamara, Kevin|
|Craigen, J. M.||McTaggart, Robert|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||McWilliam, John|
|Dalyell, Tam||Madden, Max|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli)||Marek, Dr John|
|Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly)||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)||Mason, Rt Hon Roy|
|Deakins, Eric||Maxton, John|
|Dewar, Donald||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Dixon, Donald||Meadowcroft, Michael|
|Dobson, Frank||Michie, William|
|Dormand, Jack||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Dubs, Alfred||Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)|
|Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Eadie, Alex||Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)|
|Eastham, Ken||Moynihan, Hon C.|
|Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)||Nellist, David|
|Evans, John (St. Helens N)||Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon|
|Ewing, Harry||O'Brien, William|
|Fatchett, Derek||O'Neill, Martin|
|Faulds, Andrew||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Field, Frank (Birkenhead)||Park, George|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Parry, Robert|
|Fisher, Mark||Patchett, Terry|
|Flannery, Martin||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Pendry, Tom|
|Forrester, John||Penhaligon, David|
|Foster, Derek||Pike, Peter|
|Fraser, J. (Norwood)||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald||Prescott, John|
|Freud, Clement||Radice, Giles|
|Garrett, W. E.||Randall, Stuart|
|George, Bruce||Redmond, M.|
|Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John||Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)|
|Richardson, Ms Jo||Stott, Roger|
|Roberts, Allan (Bootle)||Strang, Gavin|
|Robertson, George||Straw, Jack|
|Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Rogers, Allan||Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)|
|Rooker, J. W.||Thorne, Stan (Preston)|
|Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)||Tinn, James|
|Rowlands, Ted||Torney, Tom|
|Ryman, John||Wallace, James|
|Sedgemore, Brian||Wardell, Gareth (Gower)|
|Sheerman, Barry||Wareing, Robert|
|Sheldon, Rt Hon R.||Weetch, Ken|
|Shore, Rt Hon Peter||White, James|
|Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)||Williams, Rt Hon A.|
|Short, Mrs H.(Whampfn NE)||Winnick, David|
|Silkin, Rt Hon J.||Woodall, Alec|
|Skinner, Dennis||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Smith, C.(lsl'ton S & F'bury)||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)|
|Snape, Peter||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Soley, Clive||Mr. Frank Haynes and|
|Steel, Rt Hon David||Mr. Robin Corbett.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ Lords amendment No. 4 disagreed to.
§ Lords amendments Nos. 5 to 8 disagreed to.
§ Lords amendment: No. 9, leave out clause 8.
§ The Minister for Local Government (Mr. Kenneth Baker)
I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this we may take the following: Lords amendment No. 10, on page 4, line 35, leave out subsection (1) and insert—() On the appointed day there shall be established in Greater London and each metropolitan county a body corporate to be known by the name of the London Waste Disposal Authority or by the name of the county with the addition of the words "Waste Disposal Authority", as the case may be.() Each authority shall consist of members of the constituenct councils appointed by them to be members of the Authority.() The constituent councils in relation to the London Waste Disposal Authority shall be the London borough councils and the Common Council.() The constituent councils in relation to a metropolitan waste disposal authority shall be the councils for the metropolitan districts comprised in the county.() Each authority shall be a joint authority within the meaning of Part IV of this Act and the provisions of that Part shall apply to this section as if this section were included in that Part.() The functions specified in subsection (2) below shall be discharged by the authority in respect of the area for which it is established.Amendments thereto: (a) in page 4, line 37, leave out 'authorities' and insert 'councils'.
(b) in page 4, line 42, after 'purpose', insert 'before 15th November 1985'.
(c) in page 5, line 3, leave out 'that' and insert 'the Abolition'.
(d) in page 5, line 4, leave out `may, after consulting the authorities concerned' and insert 'shall'.
(e) in page 5, line 8, at end insert—'(1A) For the purposes of subsection (1) above the Secretary of State shall have particular regard to the need for satisfactory arrangements in respect of hazardous waste.(1B) No person shall be a member of an authority established by an order under subsection (1) above unless he is a member of one of the councils for whose areas the authority is established; and any such order may make provision for enabling the Secretary of State to require the authority established by the order to submit to him a scheme for the winding-up of the authority and the transfer to those councils of its functions, property, staff, rights and liabilities.'.804 Lords amendment No. 11, in page 5, line 13, leave out subsections (3) to (5).
Lords amendment No. 73, leave out Schedule 6.
§ Mr. Baker
When the Bill left this House it provided for the responsibility of the GLC and the MCC for waste disposal and regulation to be devolved to borough and district councils. It also provided a reserve power so that if my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment was not satisfied that the boroughs and districts had agreed on adequate voluntary joint arrangements for the discharge of those functions he could impose statutory authorities for some or all of those functions in all or part of any metropolitan area. As amended in the other place, the Bill now provides for waste regulation and disposal functions to be transferred to a single joint authority in each area, without any opportunity for the boroughs and districts to put forward proposals themselves to assume those functions on abolition.
The other place was concerned in particular that there should be certainty about future arrangements for waste disposal, and especially for the disposal of hazardous waste. These concerns are shared by hon. Members in all parts of this House. The Government have always recognised the need for adequate arrangements for waste disposal after abolition. With regard to hazardous waste, the guidance note issued to authorities by the Department on 28 March made it clear that we wished to see the creation of a separate unit in each metropolitan area to coordinate these and other non-operational functions. These units could house the specialist staff and facilities which are necessary for these functions and about which there was particular concern in another place.
We do not accept that joint authorities need to be the only or necessarily the best means of achieving adequate arrangements and it is right that the Government should take account of the strong concerns expressed both in this House and in another place.
I believe that the boroughs and districts are in the first instance best placed to judge the most appropriate arrangements for their areas. The Conservative boroughs to which I have spoken take that view. I have also spoken in an unofficial capacity to several of the Labour-controlled districts outside London and they tell me that they take the same view. I appreciate that the Labour-controlled districts have some difficulty in expressing their full opinions on this issue. We propose, therefore, that waste regulation and disposal functions should be devolved to the boroughs and districts. If, however, my right hon. Friend is satisfied that joint arrangements could, with advantage, be made for the discharge of some or all of those functions in the whole or part of any metropolitan area, and adequate joint arrangements have not been made by 15 November 1985, he will have a duty — I stress that it will be a duty — by order to establish a statutory authority to discharge those functions.
§ Mr. Baker
In the continuing discussions there is considerable co-operation between many of the Conservative boroughs and the Liberal boroughs in London and in Conservative boroughs in the districts, but 805 the Labour boroughs in London have not joined in any discussions, and in the metropolitan counties the Labour districts have not formally engaged in discussions. We have every reason to believe that they have well developed plans, particularly in the constituency of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw). In many areas outside London it is clear that some subterranean planning has been carried out. I understand that the Labour leaders of the district councils have been unable to come out officially because it is still their policy not to co-operate before Royal Assent. The Government therefore thought it appropriate to extend the deadline to 15 November as the latest date by which the Secretary of State will have to exercise his duty.
§ Mr. Laurie Pavitt (Brent, South)
As the right hon. Gentleman formerly represented a constituency next to mine, he knows the problems of north-west London. How does he envisage the 32 London boroughs being able in any way to come to separate arrangements without massive joint arrangements, especially north and south of the Thames? There will have to be at least two, or even four, separate organisations. If it is intended to wait for some agreement between the different political complexions, how can the practical problems be solved by November?
§ Mr. Baker
The hon. Gentleman represents an area which is part of the "West Waste" group of boroughs, and plans for dealing with the disposal of waste in that area are far advanced. He will appreciate that the powers that my right hon. Friend will have under the Bill as amended will allow the imposition in parts of London of a joint arrangement if such an arrangement is not arrived at voluntarily. I suspect that in that area an arrangement will be arrived at voluntarily.
The five southern boroughs — Bromley, Croydon, Sutton, Merton and Kingston upon Thames — have had extensive discussions among themselves as to how they will co-operate, and I believe that they will be able to come to a voluntary a rrangement. A great deal of disposal is carried out on a geographical basis. The refuse that arises from the western parts of London will be disposed of out towards the west, that from the south to the south, and so on around London. The hon. Gentleman should not underestimate the interests of the boroughs themselves to co-operate voluntarily to provide this service.
§ Mr. Robin Squire (Hornchurch)
Taking London as an example, my right hon. Friend said that he could envisage circumstances in which if there was not co-operation in certain boroughs a joint authority would be set up under the instruction of the Secretary of State to look after the remainder of the boroughs which have not co-operated. Can my right hon. Friend hazard a guess whether if arrangements made by some boroughs collectively, including the letting of contracts, and so on, do not appear "satisfactory", the Secretary of State will have powers to overrule those contracts?
§ Mr. Baker
The Secretary of State will have powers which he has a duty to exercise by 15 November and which will allow him to set up a joint authority for the whole of a particular conurbation or for parts of it. In the southern part, the northern part, or wherever it may be, the various 806 district councils may have come together to work in a positive way. One of the factors which my right hon. Friend will have to consider is the way in which existing contracts are honoured. The contracts may be with the private sector or with the surrounding county councils.
In making his decision the Secretary of State will be required to have particular regard to satisfactory arrangements for hazardous waste. The Secretary of State will also retain the discretionary power to establish a statutory authority if initially satisfactory voluntary joint arrangements subsequently break down. To ensure, however, that there remains a real prospect of the devolution of functions even if statutory authorities are established under these arrangements, the authorities would be required within a reasonable time, probably 12 months, of their establishment to submit proposals to my right hon. Friend for their functions to be devolved to their constituent councils.
It may help the House if I explain in some detail the types of voluntary arrangements which my right hon. Friend would be prepared to consider and the steps which would precede his decision on whether to establish a statutory authority in any metropolitan area. The guidance note issued in March set out the types of arrangement which it seems to us would be sensible in each metropolitan area. As I have already made clear, we envisage special arrangements for hazardous waste. Those arrangements will generally need to be countywide, unless it can be clearly demonstrated that they would be satisfactory on some other basis. With regard to operational functions, some districts can probably operate in isolation, and they may well be Labour districts, but in other areas it will make sense for the districts to group together. It may even make sense in at least one county for all the districts to come together in an operational group. Where boroughs and districts produce proposals for groupings they can be either non-statutory or be enshrined in an order made under the reserve power. I emphasise again that we want to see arrangements made which are appropriate to each area, but we have to be assured that they are satisfactory arrangements.
We shall invite those boroughs and districts which have not already done so to submit to us, by 30 September, their detailed proposals for voluntary joint arrangements, in particular for hazardous waste. As soon as possible, and ideally within 10 days of that deadline, we shall — following discussion with those authorities as necessary — let them have our reactions to their proposals. We shall then invite them, as soon as possible, to work up those proposals, modified as necessary in the light of our comments, into the draft terms of a mutually binding agreement between them. If the terms of those draft agreements seem to us satisfactory, we shall then ask the boroughs and districts to submit signed agreements by early November. My right hon. Friend will then be able, in the light of those signed agreements, to reach his final decision by the statutory deadline of 15 November on whether the arrangements embodied in those agreements are, in his judgment, satisfactory. If he judges them to be satisfactory, he need do nothing.
§ Mr. Walter Harrison (Wakefield)
Does the Minister identify excess water as hazardous waste? Does he intend to refer to excess water?
§ Mr. Harrison
The Minister must not say that. I do not intend to resign. I do not intend to seek re-election. There is a difference between resignation and retirement. One is the more elegant way of expressing oneself.
§ Mr. Baker
I do not want to intrude into the niceties of what is happening in the Labour party. I was lucky to serve under the right hon. Gentleman, when he was a Whip, on my first Committee in 1968 on the Finance Bill. There was a historic moment when he was half inside and half outside the door for a Division, and I understand that it is so recorded in Hansard. I return now to the question of waste disposal. The functions will be devolved to the borough and district councils to be performed in accordance with those agreements on abolition day. If, on the other hand, my right hon. Friend judges those arrangements not to be satisfactory, he will be under a duty to establish statutory authorities to discharge those functions. We shall issue detailed advice to the boroughs and districts on the steps in that process, and on the criteria against which my right hon. Friend would judge the adequacy of their proposals for joint arrangements, immediately after Royal Assent.
I believe that the amendments we have now tabled represent a considerable strengthening of the reserve power. I am confident that, by placing my right hon. Friend under a duty to establish statutory authorities if he is not satisfied by 15 November 1985 that the voluntary arrangements are adequate, they provide the guarantee of satisfactory arrangements on abolition which, legitimately, both Houses have sought. At the same time, we have retained the flexibility to enable us to take account of the wishes of the boroughs and districts. The requirement for my right hon. Friend to have particular regard to the need for satisfactory arrangements for hazardous waste will secure the future of those vital functions. I believe that the provisions will ensure that satisfactory arrangements for waste disposal are in being on the appointed day.
The House of Lords, quite rightly, debated hazardous waste at some length. We are at one with Lord Cranbrook on the importance of maintaining existing centres of expertise and scientific advice, especially for hazardous waste. We are most grateful to him and to a Select Committee of another place, which he chaired, for their valuable advice on these aspects. We also recognise and appreciate the contribution of Lord Gregson both in the 1981 report with which he was associated and his subsequent actions. However, we consider that their concerns are fully met by our proposals.
I wish to deal with two points of some concern. The first is the concern of the home counties about the waste arrangements for London. I am, of course, well aware of 808 the views of the home counties, and in particular their common concern to see close co-ordination of the boroughs' arrangements for the disposal of London's waste. I have met representatives of the home counties on two occasions during the past eight months, and the proposals which we are now making in respect of waste regulation and disposal are intended to try to meet those concerns. Clause 9, as now proposed, would provide the certainty of stable voluntary arrangements, underpinned by binding contractual commitments, which were sought by the home counties. I have offered to meet the home counties' representatives again later in the summer when a more detailed picture of the arrangements proposed by the boroughs will be available.
I wish now to deal with the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Horrichurch (Mr. Squire) about guarantees for the private sector companies which have waste disposal contracts with the GLC and the metropolitan county councils. It will, of course, be important to ensure that the major contractors which actually dispose of most of the waste in London and the metropolitian counties do riot suffer as a result of abolition.
I am conscious of the importance of the role played by those contractors, and the heavy investment involved. We have made it clear to successor authorities that any large-scale abandonment of existing contracts would be unacceptable, and I am glad to have the opportunity this evening to reassure the House that this remains the Government's position.
In asking the House to disagree with the Lords in the said amendment, and to agree with the amendment that we are proposing, I believe that that will provide adequate and appropriate arrangements for waste disposal in both London and the metropolitan counties. I ask the House to remember that we have had representations, both officially and unofficially, from many of the London boroughs and district councils saying that they can co-operate voluntarily, one with the other, or in groups of three or four. The functions of disposal of waste can be properly devolved and delegated.
I wish to emphasise again that it is important that hazardous waste is dealt with on a wide basis.
§ Mr. Straw
I shall be as brief as possible as we now have only 18 minutes before the guillotine falls.
The Minister is a master in the art of soft soap. His praise for the noble Lord Cranbrook would be rather more credible had he accepted — and accepted in full — the advice of the Select Committee that the noble Lord chairs. Speaking on behalf of the Select Committee, the noble Lord pointed out that it was evident, and had always been evident, from the Government's reserve proposals that they lacked confidence in the system of devolution. They believed that it would take two months to take a step that we believe should have been taken now. The nettle should have been grasped and it should have been acknowledged that waste disposal, as opposed to waste collection, could not possibly be handled on a borough-by-borough basis.
The Minister accepted that in his speech today. He said that he thought that in one county — he did not say which, but he may intervene to tell us — all the districts could make up one group. That is a countywide function He suggested that in other counties and the GLC there might be a number of groups. It is extremely unlikely, 809 even with his political desire to devolve waste disposal, that there will be more than a handful of boroughs that will handle disposal themselves. The Government should have recognised that the counties and the GLC have a great success story. No one has criticised them in their efforts to improve and co-ordinate waste disposal since they were established 10 years ago.
It is quite unacceptable political vandalism to embark on proposals such as these and then bit by bit, and extremely reluctantly, to back off. The Government only back off when they have lost the vote, not the arguments. If my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) had intervened, he would have pointed out that we put forward amendments in terms similar to those put forward in the other place in respect of hazardous waste. They were brushed aside in Committee and in this place because of the Government's majority.
The Minister presents his change as a concession to the Lords amendments. I am unconvinced. It is true that, in place of a general reserve power, the Secretary of State now has to be satisfied about the district-wide arrangements or to trigger the countywide proposals. That is on the plus side. But, on the minus side, he has moved the deadline by some six weeks. If Labour-controlled authorities were co-operating as the Minister suggests — I do not claim much for myself but I do claim to be more in touch with Labour leaders than he is — that would be an argument for advancing the deadline from September, not for extending the deadline to November.
By November, four months after Royal Assent, if Royal Assent is received this side of summer, what will happen to the staff who run those county authorities? Faced with such uncertainty, many of the best staff in those units will seek other employment. That is the nature of the world. If the Minister leaves it until 15 November to attempt to establish joint arrangements or to satisfy himself that the district-wide arrangements are satisfactory he will find that the good staff are not available. I very much doubt that the Minister has taken account of that.
Waste disposal has always been the subject of music hall jokes, but the truth is that it is an efficient and effective system of collection and disposal and is one of the buttresses to civilisation. Without effective waste collection and disposal we would have no public health, and no decent cities and towns in which to live.
We believe that these arrangements are ill thought out. They will cause administrative chaos and may well cause disruption in the disposal of waste. The other place had it right when it proposed that there should be countywide arrangements, and we shall support those arrangements tonight.
§ Mr. Cartwright
This is another area in which all the expert opinion is against what the Government are proposing. The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) quoted the report of the Select Committee of the other place. In June of this year the Department of the Environment's hazardous waste inspectorate reported on the matter of hazardous waste in the United Kingdom. The report concluded that only the GLC and the West Midlands county council were dealing successfully with the problem, largely because of their size and their expertise. These officials, the Government's own officials, said:The HWI would view with alarm any prospects of these experienced hazardous waste management teams being 810 disbanded upon abolition of the GLC … The HWI attaches great importance to the retention of these experienced waste management teams and considers that any other action would result in chaos in hazardous waste management.That is the expert view of the people who were doing the job.
The Government's amendment does not inspire a great deal of confidence. It gives the Secretary of State authority to require the winding up of any of the new bodies which may be created. That hardly gives us great faith that they will last long. It certainly leads to the view that the Government are hankering after giving these powers to borough and district councils.
The date of 15 November 1985 is only the most recent of a long line of final dates from the Government on this issue. We were originally told that everything would be ready by July 1984. It was then December 1984. In Committee, the Minister told us that he was prepared to stay his hand until the end of February 1985. On Report, he told us that everything would have to be settled by September 1985. That date was given again in another place. We now have a further slippage to 15 November 1985.
§ Mr. Kenneth Baker
If the hon. Gentleman had heard what I said earlier, he would appreciate that I invited proposals until September. I have said that there must be contractually binding agreements by 15 November. At that stage obligations with the home counties or private contractors will have to be explained. Extra is being required.
§ Mr. Cartwright
The Minister is a past master when it comes to command of English prose but, on Report, he said that he would have to have settled on a future set of arrangements by the beginning of September 1985. That does not seem to be the receipt of proposals, but something much firmer than the Minister is now suggesting.
There must be some doubt whether 15 November 1985 allows enough time for a statutory joint authority to be created. As the hon. Member for Blackburn said, it will have to consider key staff, sort out budgets and prepare for the imposition of a precept. Are we to believe that all that can be done in four months? Those of us who have some experience of these problems have reason to doubt it.
We are being offered a choice not between a voluntary and a statutory system, but between a single strategic authority with the benefits of technical expertise, economies of scale and efficiency that that offers and a hotch-potch of groups of boroughs with some voluntary and some imposed functions. Faced with such a choice, the only intelligent and reasonable thing to do is to support the Lords amendment.
§ Mr. Harrison
I should like to express my appreciation to the Minister for wishing me all the best for the future.
I have trotted around the Chamber for quite a while and I have often thought that hon. Members were considered to be out of order for no reason that I could discern. As a Back Bencher, I find that whatever subject I raise, I am out of order. I therefore consulted my Front Bench to see if I would be in order talking about water and drainage. They said, "Oh, no. The debate is on waste disposal and the rest." The Minister gave way to me and allowed me to talk about water. When I thought of hazardous waste, I thought of what comes up the toilet instead of going down, which is what happens when there is flooding. Does 811 that get in order, Mr. Deputy Speaker? I have been in Wakefield for some time. I consider the matter to be in order and would like to enlarge.
§ Mr. Harrison
Thanks very much. I am anxious to cover matters that will not be debated again — flooding and drainage. Wakefield is flooded almost yearly. I have pleaded with the Lords and at least 12 Ministers and asked many questions about flooding but I am not getting much nearer a solution, as the matter is dealt with voluntarily. Even the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's Green Paper said that the Government are considering two possible options. What will happen when the Government get rid of the metropolitan councils? A previous Tory Administration delegated authority but forgot to include provision for land drainage. In the 1974 local government reorganisation, the Tories denuded my county, metropolitan district councils and my local water authority of power. They are having to go around with a begging bowl. The begging bowl gets 33 per cent. for a feasibility study from the Wakefield metropolitan area; 25 per cent. from the county; 10 per cent. from the quango Yorkshire water authority; and 32 per cent, from MAFF. If it had been two years later there would have been no percentage agreement, because in 12 months MAFF has dropped from 45 to 32 per cent. Which designated authority will deal with land drainage and flooding problems that will exist in my constituency if something is not done?
There may be people listening to me with whom I have pleaded in another place. They will not give me a copy of the feasibility study report which I could give to Wakefield metropolitan council. I have been refused a copy and I would be helped in my endeavours to try to solve the problems of flooding in Wakefield if I had a copy. Will the Minister look into this matter so that on this occasion the Government do not compound the mistake they made in 1974 on the reorganisation of local government?
§ Mr. Tracey
I have had a strong feeling from the beginning of discussion on this Bill that Opposition Members do not have their hearts in this amendment. That has been confirmed by what my right hon. Friend told the House, that behind the scenes, as so often happens, Labour authorities are keen and willing to take on these arrangements because they can see very distinct benefits. In the view of the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), my right hon. Friend is a master of soft soap. Of course, the hon. Member for Blackburn is well known as a dramatic and very often melodramatic speaker. I do not object to that, it is often very entertaining, but it does not necessarily add up to much.
We had a further example of that tonight when he sought, and he has just sought again through a sedentary intervention, to say that Labour authorities are very happy with the amendments they are putting forward and they are not at all happy with the Government's proposals. That remains to be seen, but so far I have not been able to put my finger on much evidence from the Opposition Benches that they are serious about the amendments. The hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright) gave us a detective story of dates in seeking to prove that the 812 Government were up to foul deeds behind the scenes on exactly when these arrangements were to be made. The point seems very clear. The people of this country, of London and the metropolitan counties, are concerned that their dustbins are emptied efficiently and that the waste is carted off to whatever multiple resource is there to burn it, dump it or bury it. The arrangements for London, for which I speak with a certain amount of authority I hope, amount to the Greater London council entering into contracts with certain large enterprises to dispose of the waste well outside the boundaries of the capital. It seems ridiculous that we should need a joint board simply to finalise a contract to do such a thing.
§ Mr. Tracey
I am very short of time so perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to continue. The local authorities could just as well finalise that contract on their own joint arrangement as can this joint board. There is great scope for the local authorities to be able to finalise contracts for greater cost-effectiveness, just as happened with Southend's local council and in various boroughs in London, including the notable example of Wandsworth, so often a forerunner in these matters. Surely that is what we are seeking here. The Government are very wise to seek to disagree with the Lords amendment, and I fully support what my right hon. Friend has said.
§ Mr. Pavitt
The House knows my concern with public health and hazardous waste. We have a system which is working and fully monitored and it is irresponsible suddenly to cut that up and destroy it. I accuse the Government of playing with the health of the people in all the county boroughs concerned.
§ Amendment (b) negatived Lords amendment No. 9 disagreed to.