HC Deb 24 April 1986 vol 96 cc541-2
Mr. Sydney Chapman (Chipping Barnet)

I beg to move amendment No. 66. in page 31, line 8, after 'environment', insert , providing employment for people who live in the area.'. I think mine is the only non-Government amendment between now and Third Reading so I shall try to detain hon. Members as little as possible. This amendment was partially inspired by the amendment moved by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) in Committee. He quite rightly drew attention in Committee to the importance of local employment prospects as a condition of Government grants.

The hon. Member for Perry Barr stressed that it was important that expenditure incurred under the powers of Part 3 should provide jobs for local residents. In reply, my hon. Friend the Minister expressed his sympathy for the idea of that amendment, but he quite properly drew attention to the difficulty of introducing any legal requirements. In Committee, I said that it would be difficult to enshrine a statutory requirement to provide local jobs. Backbenchers sometimes feel impelled, if I may use a slightly hackneyed phrase, to rush in where Ministers fear to tread. The creation of jobs for local people is one of the objectives of urban regeneration. The word "employment" does not occur in the introduction to part III of the Bill and I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will sympathetically consider my amendment.

My hon. Friend the Minister is responsible for a number of initiatives which have important employment benefits. I mention the community refurbishing scheme, under which unemployed local people work on turning round conditions on council estates. This approach should be more widely adopted, and I hope that my hon. Friend will accept this approach, which is the purpose of the amendment.

Mr. John Patten

We often pay compliments to one another in the House, sometimes rather excessively, just as we attack each other rather too excessively. My hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Mr. Chapman) has been tireless in his constructive contributions to this debate and in Standing Committee, and in his attempts to improve the Bill. We have found some of his amendments easier to accept than others. I have from time to time been defeated by him in Standing Committee, and I shall seek my revenge at a later stage in some other forum.

I believe that once again my hon. Friend has come up with a formulation which will improve the Bill. It reflects the general wishes of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker), and I pay tribute to the force with which my hon. Friend deployed those arguments. His amendment strikes the right balance and reflects an all-party agreement to try to do more for employment in these areas. It recognises the general will of Parliament, without taking us into the difficult territory of imposing mandatory requirements. I have great pleasure in accepting it.

Amendment agreed to.

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